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Beginner Buyer with about $1,500 to Burn

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#1 TacticalMuffintop

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 01:51 PM

What I'm looking to do:

 

  • Primarily planetary, comet and Lunar viewing. This is going to be most of my viewing, heading out to the mountain during notable events like oppositions and comets.
  • I will be doing some DSO viewing, but it's secondary. Nebulas, clusters and galaxies don't really change much, so once seen, I don't find they have much more to offer for live viewing. They'll be much more interesting if I decide to take up astrophotography.
  • My viewing conditions can be very, very good. When I go up to Timberline on the mountain for special events, I'll be at 6,000 ft. AMSL and very far from any major source of light pollution. It's cold, even in the summers.
  • On mundane nights, I'll want to take my scope out where I live just to do some basic, impromptu viewing of major objects in the solar system and notably bright DSO's (e.g. Orion nebula, Pleiades). I live in a lot of light pollution and near sea level, so I'm certainly not expecting anything spectacular from my backyard viewing.

 

For this, I'm currently eyeing a Sky-Watcher Quattro 200P. I'm attracted to the more compact build of the 800mm focal length as opposed to the more common 1000mm 8" reflectors. In addition to its more compact size, it also has some upgrades in other areas as well, such as its borosilicate mirrors and dual-speed Crayford focuser. The price for the OTA is $640, leaving about $860 remaining for some eyepieces, mount and tripod. I'm alright with a nice Barlow and one or two eyepieces as that collection can grow with time. I would be interested in as tight of an FOV as I can get with the 800mm focal length. I'm alright artificially enlarging the image after passing the 400x magnification point just to make the object fill the view more.

 

I don't need electronics in the mount, but the ability to fine tune the positioning of the scope is a must for me. Nothing's more frustrating to me in astronomy than to lose an object because I moved the scope a little too far and I can't get the object right back into view, having to go back to the finder scope to get it back.

 

I had played with the idea of a 12" Meade Lightbridge trussed reflector, but not sure if I can even fit the OTA onto the back seat of my Honda sedan. 

 

The final scope I had looked at was the Meade 8" LX85 Newtonian. It comes with starter lenses, mount, tripod and even includes go-to electronics for $1,149. It feels very mediocre for the quality of sky that I have available to me, but it is a simple all-in-one purchase.

 

These are just what I've found on my own and what I think of them. I'm completely open to options outside of these if anyone has suggestions. Thanks in advance!


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#2 vtornado

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 02:12 PM

Hello and welcome to the forum.

 

what are you planning to mount this scope on?  These tubes are fairly big, A sky view pro might work, it depends upon how fussy you are.

I had an f/5 800mm on the SVP and it was kind of shakey.   The big newt gem setup is kind of heavy.   The tube is rougly 20 lbs, Tripod and head 20 lbs and you will use 20 lbs of counter weight.   Once it is setup it is hard to move.   For example to tree dodge.

 

Also do you realize that a newt on a gem can have the eyepiece pointed straight up or straight down.  Making viewing hard.

There are solutions to solve this problem called wilcox rings.  They are expensive if purchased new, but if you are handy

you can mock one up.

 

F/4 may need a coma corrector so the outer field of veiw is sharp.

 

Unless you live in place with ultra calm air like the coast, 400x will be rarlely obtainable due do atmopheric turbulence.

 

I don't use goto, so I really can't comment on that.  goto's are not magic.  There is an alighment process that must be followed each time the scope is setup.  Some people don't have the patience to learn.   They are very good in light pollution, because finding dim targets is challenging.   I would never want to own a goto scope that didn't have clutches so I can

move the scope manually without using the hand set.   Also gotos chew through batteries so either you need a permanent power

source, like your home, or you will have to get a medium sized 12v recharable battery.

 

 

 

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I want you to go into any purchase with eyes wide open.


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#3 sevenofnine

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 02:20 PM

Well you can burn it $$$$ pretty quick in this hobby lol.gif  The Quattro series is more compact but it is an imaging scope. Not really recommended for visual astronomy. They are really two different hobbies with different equipment requirements. If planets, lunar, solar and brighter DSO's are your main interests then I suggest looking at a 5 inch Mak possibly on a go-to mount. Maks are very rugged scopes that stand up to travel real well without losing collimation (alignment). The scope fits in a small duffel bag and the mount is pretty compact too. This scope is also known for it's "refractor like" views. By that I mean an expensive one not a cheapo. The scope is well within your budget too. Good luck with your decision! waytogo.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 23 January 2021 - 08:29 PM.

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#4 mrsjeff

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 02:20 PM

I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice, but I will start with this: you need not worry overmuch about your light pollution if you're mainly interested in lunar and planetary observing. That's some of the best astronomy for urban light conditions because they are so bright themselves.


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#5 Migwan

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 02:22 PM

I'd say the 12", but doubt you'll find one available except from the scalpers at Amazon.   Might watch the classifieds for one.     

 

jd

 

Agree with the notion of a Mak being great for planetary. 


Edited by Migwan, 23 January 2021 - 02:25 PM.

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#6 Sky Muse

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 02:46 PM

If you're wanting a Newtonian, another option is a 6" f/5; for example...

 

https://www.highpoin...tonian-ota-6f5n

 

You may then attempt to find a manual equatorial or alt-azimuth mount with slow-motion controls.

 

I have an 6" f/5, and I had a blast with it, on a manual alt-azimuth...

 

6 f5rb.jpg

 

You might manage about 200x with a set-up like that.  I would then use the rest of the kitty for nice eyepieces and accessories.  

 

I also have an 8" f/5, but that's a whole other ball of wax.


Edited by Sky Muse, 23 January 2021 - 02:49 PM.

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#7 Sky Muse

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 03:06 PM

If you're really wanting an 8", this 8" f/5 would serve...

 

https://www.telescop...2160/p/9788.uts

 

It would be most practical to mount it à la Dobson however...

 

https://www.astrogoods.com/index.shtml

 

Or, you can make the mount yourself; for example...

 

https://stellafane.o...ount/index.html

 

https://www.instruct...ELESCOPE-MOUNT/

 

An f/5 Newtonian would be easier to collimate, and may not require a coma-corrector.  I don't use one for my 6" f/5, and the views are fine.  


Edited by Sky Muse, 23 January 2021 - 03:06 PM.

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#8 Tony Flanders

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 04:10 PM

  • Primarily planetary, comet and Lunar viewing. This is going to be most of my viewing, heading out to the mountain during notable events like oppositions and comets.
  • ...
  • My viewing conditions can be very, very good. When I go up to Timberline on the mountain for special events, I'll be at 6,000 ft. AMSL and very far from any major source of light pollution. It's cold, even in the summers.

Planets and the Moon, on the one hand, pose completely different observational challenges from comets. Viewing comets requires essentially the same skills, equipment, and site characteristics as deep-sky observing. In fact a number of nebulae famously resemble comets. You need dark skies.

 

For viewing the Moon and planets, by contrast, light pollution is either irrelevant or arguably beneficial. What these objects need is steady air -- which is not necessarily easy to find in the mountains. They may well be better observed from you backyard than from a remote site.


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#9 Jim Haley

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 04:33 PM

What I'm looking to do:

 

  • Primarily planetary, comet and Lunar viewing. This is going to be most of my viewing, heading out to the mountain during notable events like oppositions and comets.
  • I will be doing some DSO viewing, but it's secondary. Nebulas, clusters and galaxies don't really change much, so once seen, I don't find they have much more to offer for live viewing. They'll be much more interesting if I decide to take up astrophotography.
  • My viewing conditions can be very, very good. When I go up to Timberline on the mountain for special events, I'll be at 6,000 ft. AMSL and very far from any major source of light pollution. It's cold, even in the summers.
  • On mundane nights, I'll want to take my scope out where I live just to do some basic, impromptu viewing of major objects in the solar system and notably bright DSO's (e.g. Orion nebula, Pleiades). I live in a lot of light pollution and near sea level, so I'm certainly not expecting anything spectacular from my backyard viewing.

 

..........

These are just what I've found on my own and what I think of them. I'm completely open to options outside of these if anyone has suggestions. Thanks in advance!

R U Sure planetary, comet, and Lunar viewing is all you want to see?  Only two planets regularly show changing detail, Mars comes and goes on faint detail, and Venus and Mercury only show phases.  There is a ton to see on the moon and most scopes throw up a decent lunar image.  

 

"Special Events" are usually either planet and/or moon conjunctions (2 or more in same area of sky).  They are almost always Naked eye events and/or low magnification wide field of view events.   The spectacular comets are usually binocular or Naked eye events (require wide field of view).  Most other comets are just tiny fuzz balls in a telescope or binoculars.  

 

Yes the detail in DSO's almost never change night to night.  However, there are probably hundreds of different DSO's in and 8" reflector, thousands in a 10+ inch scope.  

 

Let us know what observing experience you have (Naked eye, binoculars, telescope) and what books you have read (Nightwatch by Dickinson, Turn Left at Orion, any atlases etc) so we can suggest reasonable equipment.   Spending $1K before spending time with just naked eye, with Binoculars, and before reading a few observing guides is dangerous to the wallet.  


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#10 DavidWasch

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 05:22 PM

Just a couple of things to add--

 

- For a first scope, focus on what will be easy and pleasant to use. Getting the greatest light gathering or sharpest optics should come after considering convenience and fun-- what will get you out under the stars the most. For example, this could mean going for a dobsonian mount instead of a gem; or a smaller ED refractor over something that requires frequent collimation or a long cool down. You can always sell and trade up if you take care of your equipment.

 

- If you're going with a gem or alt/az mount, you will likely look to spend more on the mount than the scope given your stated budget. Opting for a dob mount significantly frees up funds for other things.

 

- If you buy used, you can get much more from your budget. I'm guessing that in a few weeks, when retail shop stocks are replenished, there will be a good number of folks selling older gear. Fast reflectors like those you are considering often show up with great discounts.

 

- Starting with 2 eyepieces and a barlow is smart way to start out. The way you wrote the OP it is clear you've done some research and are thinking this through well. I'm sure you'll make some good choices.


Edited by DavidWasch, 23 January 2021 - 05:23 PM.

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#11 aeajr

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 06:16 PM

What I'm looking to do:

 

  • Primarily planetary, comet and Lunar viewing. This is going to be most of my viewing, heading out to the mountain during notable events like oppositions and comets.
  • I will be doing some DSO viewing, but it's secondary. Nebulas, clusters and galaxies don't really change much, so once seen, I don't find they have much more to offer for live viewing. They'll be much more interesting if I decide to take up astrophotography.
  • My viewing conditions can be very, very good. When I go up to Timberline on the mountain for special events, I'll be at 6,000 ft. AMSL and very far from any major source of light pollution. It's cold, even in the summers.
  • On mundane nights, I'll want to take my scope out where I live just to do some basic, impromptu viewing of major objects in the solar system and notably bright DSO's (e.g. Orion nebula, Pleiades). I live in a lot of light pollution and near sea level, so I'm certainly not expecting anything spectacular from my backyard viewing.

 

For this, I'm currently eyeing a Sky-Watcher Quattro 200P. I'm attracted to the more compact build of the 800mm focal length as opposed to the more common 1000mm 8" reflectors. In addition to its more compact size, it also has some upgrades in other areas as well, such as its borosilicate mirrors and dual-speed Crayford focuser. The price for the OTA is $640, leaving about $860 remaining for some eyepieces, mount and tripod. I'm alright with a nice Barlow and one or two eyepieces as that collection can grow with time. I would be interested in as tight of an FOV as I can get with the 800mm focal length. I'm alright artificially enlarging the image after passing the 400x magnification point just to make the object fill the view more.

 

I don't need electronics in the mount, but the ability to fine tune the positioning of the scope is a must for me. Nothing's more frustrating to me in astronomy than to lose an object because I moved the scope a little too far and I can't get the object right back into view, having to go back to the finder scope to get it back.

 

I had played with the idea of a 12" Meade Lightbridge trussed reflector, but not sure if I can even fit the OTA onto the back seat of my Honda sedan. 

 

The final scope I had looked at was the Meade 8" LX85 Newtonian. It comes with starter lenses, mount, tripod and even includes go-to electronics for $1,149. It feels very mediocre for the quality of sky that I have available to me, but it is a simple all-in-one purchase.

 

These are just what I've found on my own and what I think of them. I'm completely open to options outside of these if anyone has suggestions. Thanks in advance!

If your focus is planets and the moon, then a Mak, SCT, or ED refractor, would be my first response.  Something in the 5" to 8", 127 mm to 203 mm range.   These can be on GoTo or manual mounts with slow motion controls.   And they will easily fit in a small car. 

 

Different types of Telescopes

https://telescopicwa...-of-telescopes/

 

 

You don't need a lot of aperture for the moon and planets, but comets benefit from aperture and more aperture will give you better resolution on the moon and planets. 

 

Depending on the seeing, the steadiness of the air you may be limited to around 200X or you might be able to reach that 400X.  It all depends on the atmosphere and your aperture. 

 

As for the 12" Meade Truss Dob.  The very nature of a truss Dob is that you can take it apart so it will fit in your car.   You don't mention what Honda you have.  Civic?   It will fit!

 

 

LX85 - what is the mediocre quality that you reference?  How do you feel this is deficient?

 

Here are some for your consideration, within your budget. 

 

Meade ETX 125 -– About 25 pounds  ( I own an older version of this one)
127 mm Mak GoTo scope – Computer assisted and motorized so will find the targets and then track them.
https://www.telescop...erver-telescope
Video
https://www.youtube....h?v=obEErEHwDpI
Videos

https://www.youtube....h?v=045x8tJLNEg

https://www.youtube....h?v=AwgstpHxIrM

 

 

Celestron NexStar 6SE  – 30 pounds
6” SCT GoTo Scope - Computer assisted and motorized so it will find the targets and then track them. 6”/150mm
https://www.astronom...-go-to-sct.html
https://www.youtube....h?v=QDXyBIRooRA

 

 

Celestron NexStar 8SE - - Goto Schmidt Cassegrain
SCT style telescope – computer assisted and motorized so it will find the targets and then track them.
https://www.astronom...-go-to-sct.html
Video
https://www.youtube....h?v=Kz_MJQF37lY

 

 

Meade LX85 6" Mak on GoTo Eq mount

https://www.astronom...cassegrain.html

 

 

Just for reference, as noted in my signature, I have a spread of scopes including a 12" Newtonian/Dob, a 5" Mak and have a 4" ED refractor on order.  


Edited by aeajr, 23 January 2021 - 06:35 PM.

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#12 SeattleScott

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 06:35 PM

I kinda like the idea of 5” Apo on Eq Mount. Good on planets with wide field capabilities for hunting down comets. Comets can be tricky because they move, and often are not visible to naked eye. So the wide field would help.

8” F5 would be better than 8” F4 for planetary. Between the CO, the collimation and the required coma corrector, an 8” F4 isn’t well suited for planetary. 8” F5 can get by without coma corrector as long as you keep AFOV reasonable. And with a tracking mount small targets will stay in the coma free center. Tube rotation isn’t a big deal if you are only looking at a couple targets in the same part of the sky. Still collimation and cooling to deal with.

A 6” or even 7” Mak could be interesting as well, although not as good for comets.

Scott
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#13 aeajr

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 06:38 PM

I kinda like the idea of 5” Apo on Eq Mount. Good on planets with wide field capabilities for hunting down comets. Comets can be tricky because they move, and often are not visible to naked eye. So the wide field would help.

8” F5 would be better than 8” F4 for planetary. Between the CO, the collimation and the required coma corrector, an 8” F4 isn’t well suited for planetary. 8” F5 can get by without coma corrector as long as you keep AFOV reasonable. And with a tracking mount small targets will stay in the coma free center. Tube rotation isn’t a big deal if you are only looking at a couple targets in the same part of the sky. Still collimation and cooling to deal with.

A 6” or even 7” Mak could be interesting as well, although not as good for comets.

Scott

Scott,

 

Can you do these in a $1500 total budget?  I didn't think so.  A 5" APO OTA is going to be that or more by itself without the mount or accessories.


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#14 GoFish

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 06:55 PM

My take:

  1. I would not suggest the 8” f/4 Quattro for the proposed use. A better focal length for planetary viewing would be at least f/6. This gives a smaller secondary mirror for better contrast, and more eye relief at high magnification. Also, f/4 is a lot more trouble to keep collimated, and you will see coma around the periphery. 
  2. A Newt on a GEM is a nightmare for visual (my opinion) unless you have some good rotating rings. Wilcox rings are cheap and easy to build, but aren’t a perfect solution.
  3. Planetary viewing with my 10” f/5 Dob is much better than any other scope I own (list is in sig below). If you don’t mind wrestling a scope that size, that’s what I’d suggest.
  4. My second choice for the proposed use would be an 8” f/6 Dob. 
  5. Third choice would be an ED refractor, around 4” f/7, mounted on alt-az mount and sturdy tripod. Not as much focal length as the reflectors, so high magnification is tougher. But beautiful views and simple to transport and set up. 
  6. The Mak option sounds good, too, but I’m not as familiar with observing with Maks. 

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#15 SeattleScott

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 07:27 PM

Scott,

Can you do these in a $1500 total budget? I didn't think so. A 5" APO OTA is going to be that or more by itself without the mount or accessories.

Valid point.
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#16 TacticalMuffintop

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 07:42 PM

Hello and welcome to the forum.

 

what are you planning to mount this scope on?  These tubes are fairly big, A sky view pro might work, it depends upon how fussy you are.

I had an f/5 800mm on the SVP and it was kind of shakey.   The big newt gem setup is kind of heavy.   The tube is rougly 20 lbs, Tripod and head 20 lbs and you will use 20 lbs of counter weight.   Once it is setup it is hard to move.   For example to tree dodge.

 

Also do you realize that a newt on a gem can have the eyepiece pointed straight up or straight down.  Making viewing hard.

There are solutions to solve this problem called wilcox rings.  They are expensive if purchased new, but if you are handy

you can mock one up.

 

F/4 may need a coma corrector so the outer field of veiw is sharp.

 

Unless you live in place with ultra calm air like the coast, 400x will be rarlely obtainable due do atmopheric turbulence.

 

I don't use goto, so I really can't comment on that.  goto's are not magic.  There is an alighment process that must be followed each time the scope is setup.  Some people don't have the patience to learn.   They are very good in light pollution, because finding dim targets is challenging.   I would never want to own a goto scope that didn't have clutches so I can

move the scope manually without using the hand set.   Also gotos chew through batteries so either you need a permanent power

source, like your home, or you will have to get a medium sized 12v recharable battery.

 

 

 

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I want you to go into any purchase with eyes wide open.

No need to apologize. I'm here to make sure I don't miss any pitfalls in my purchase that may make me sad later. You explaining all the problems is exactly what I need, so thank you! I've had a go-to on a telescope before, and wasn't too impressed with it for the same reasons you stated.

 

You brought up something curious to me though; about how the ocean is good viewing. I have access to both high elevation up the mountain and the ocean as a day trip. I go up the mountain because I figured the thin, cold atmosphere would result in clearer viewing than lower, warmer elevations, and, well, I figure if it's where the big boys set up their observatories, that's where I'd want to go. Is it the immense amount of water at the coast that absorbs latent heat, clearing the air? I can go from 0 ft AMSL to 6,000 ft. AMSL with a 3 hour drive. One of the best reasons to live in the PNW. Both have locations I can find which are equally dark. If you lived in my situation, which would you choose? The only time I take such trips is when there's a significant event happening (e.g. Neowise), and I want to view it with every advantage I can get.

 

Well you can burn it $$$$ pretty quick in this hobby lol.gif  The Quattro series is more compact but it is an imaging scope. Not really recommended for visual astronomy. They are really two different hobbies with different equipment requirements. If planets, lunar, solar and brighter DSO's are your main interests then I suggest looking at a 5 inch Mak possibly on a go-to mount. Maks are very rugged scopes that stand up to travel real well without losing collimation (alignment). The scope fits in a small duffel bag and the mount is pretty compact too. This scope is also known for it's "refractor like" views. By that I mean an expensive one not a cheapo. The scope is well within your budget too. Good luck with your decision! waytogo.gif

The only difference as far as measurements that I could see was the 20% reduced focal length. Are there more differences I'm unaware of with an imaging scope? I was thinking labeling it as an "imaging" scope was just marketing. A lot of people are suggesting Maks, so definitely going to see what I can find out there for those. When you say "refractor like" views, I want to make sure I understand what you mean. Do you mean as far as sharpness and contrast of the image?

 

If you're really wanting an 8", this 8" f/5 would serve...

 

https://www.telescop...2160/p/9788.uts

 

It would be most practical to mount it à la Dobson however...

 

https://www.astrogoods.com/index.shtml

 

Or, you can make the mount yourself; for example...

 

https://stellafane.o...ount/index.html

 

https://www.instruct...ELESCOPE-MOUNT/

 

An f/5 Newtonian would be easier to collimate, and may not require a coma-corrector.  I don't use one for my 6" f/5, and the views are fine.  

I can't help but wonder why it's $259 for an 8". That seems low, even for a reflector. I want as much aperture as possible, of course, but I don't want to lose the advantage of the larger aperture by losing stray photons inside the optics.

 

R U Sure planetary, comet, and Lunar viewing is all you want to see?  Only two planets regularly show changing detail, Mars comes and goes on faint detail, and Venus and Mercury only show phases.  There is a ton to see on the moon and most scopes throw up a decent lunar image.  

 

"Special Events" are usually either planet and/or moon conjunctions (2 or more in same area of sky).  They are almost always Naked eye events and/or low magnification wide field of view events.   The spectacular comets are usually binocular or Naked eye events (require wide field of view).  Most other comets are just tiny fuzz balls in a telescope or binoculars.  

 

Yes the detail in DSO's almost never change night to night.  However, there are probably hundreds of different DSO's in and 8" reflector, thousands in a 10+ inch scope.  

 

Let us know what observing experience you have (Naked eye, binoculars, telescope) and what books you have read (Nightwatch by Dickinson, Turn Left at Orion, any atlases etc) so we can suggest reasonable equipment.   Spending $1K before spending time with just naked eye, with Binoculars, and before reading a few observing guides is dangerous to the wallet.  

I've had a couple of scopes in my life. I had a small, 3-or-so inch refractor in high school that I spent possibly hundreds of hours with and enjoyed immensely. I also had a 125mm refractor most recently for a bit that I enjoyed. I was amazed at how much of an improvement it was over the store-brand one I bought from Walmart when I was in high school. I've never read any books. I've probably spent hundreds of hours over the last 3-5 years watching instructional videos from channels on YouTube like CatcingPhotons and similar channels and have found as many articles on this site and others that explain the basics of the function of telescopes, how each measurement affects what you see, and more, all the way down to why you don't want to cheap out and get a light-weight tripod.

 

If your focus is planets and the moon, then a Mak, SCT, or ED refractor, would be my first response.  Something in the 5" to 8", 127 mm to 203 mm range.   These can be on GoTo or manual mounts with slow motion controls.   And they will easily fit in a small car. 

 

Different types of Telescopes

https://telescopicwa...-of-telescopes/

 

 

You don't need a lot of aperture for the moon and planets, but comets benefit from aperture and more aperture will give you better resolution on the moon and planets. 

 

Depending on the seeing, the steadiness of the air you may be limited to around 200X or you might be able to reach that 400X.  It all depends on the atmosphere and your aperture. 

 

As for the 12" Meade Truss Dob.  The very nature of a truss Dob is that you can take it apart so it will fit in your car.   You don't mention what Honda you have.  Civic?   It will fit!

 

 

LX85 - what is the mediocre quality that you reference?  How do you feel this is deficient?

 

Here are some for your consideration, within your budget. 

 

Meade ETX 125 -– About 25 pounds  ( I own an older version of this one)
127 mm Mak GoTo scope – Computer assisted and motorized so will find the targets and then track them.
https://www.telescop...erver-telescope
Video
https://www.youtube....h?v=obEErEHwDpI
Videos

https://www.youtube....h?v=045x8tJLNEg

https://www.youtube....h?v=AwgstpHxIrM

 

 

Celestron NexStar 6SE  – 30 pounds
6” SCT GoTo Scope - Computer assisted and motorized so it will find the targets and then track them. 6”/150mm
https://www.astronom...-go-to-sct.html
https://www.youtube....h?v=QDXyBIRooRA

 

 

Celestron NexStar 8SE - - Goto Schmidt Cassegrain
SCT style telescope – computer assisted and motorized so it will find the targets and then track them.
https://www.astronom...-go-to-sct.html
Video
https://www.youtube....h?v=Kz_MJQF37lY

 

 

Meade LX85 6" Mak on GoTo Eq mount

https://www.astronom...cassegrain.html

 

 

Just for reference, as noted in my signature, I have a spread of scopes including a 12" Newtonian/Dob, a 5" Mak and have a 4" ED refractor on order.  

As to what I mean by the mediocre, that's as in relative to the Sky-Watcher Quattro or 12" Dob. I don't think it's a "bad" scope by any stretch.

 

 

My take:

  1. I would not suggest the 8” f/4 Quattro for the proposed use. A better focal length for planetary viewing would be at least f/6. This gives a smaller secondary mirror for better contrast, and more eye relief at high magnification. Also, f/4 is a lot more trouble to keep collimated, and you will see coma around the periphery. 
  2. A Newt on a GEM is a nightmare for visual (my opinion) unless you have some good rotating rings. Wilcox rings are cheap and easy to build, but aren’t a perfect solution.
  3. Planetary viewing with my 10” f/5 Dob is much better than any other scope I own (list is in sig below). If you don’t mind wrestling a scope that size, that’s what I’d suggest.
  4. My second choice for the proposed use would be an 8” f/6 Dob. 
  5. Third choice would be an ED refractor, around 4” f/7, mounted on alt-az mount and sturdy tripod. Not as much focal length as the reflectors, so high magnification is tougher. But beautiful views and simple to transport and set up. 
  6. The Mak option sounds good, too, but I’m not as familiar with observing with Maks. 

 

I've been looking into Maks today. I've been viewing "live view" videos (as in they're not stacked renders, but I know they're not fully indicative of what you'd see in person, I think they give an alright approximation for the most part). I'm really pleased with what I'm seeing, and I'm not surprised all the expertise here pointed me in this direction.

 

At this time, the Explore Scientific FirstLight 152mm Mak is looking pretty good at $1K with mount and tripod which include fine tuning knobs. That, as I understand it, will get me to 300x max useful magnification on those rare, pristine evenings without going too overboard. https://www.bhphotov...2_5_alt_az.html

 

If I choose this, what should I pick up for optics? Do Barlows come with any drawbacks over having an eyepiece that's natively an equivalent shorter focal length?


Edited by TacticalMuffintop, 25 January 2021 - 09:28 AM.


#17 whizbang

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 08:14 PM

I like Maks.  I've owned a 102mm and a 127mm.  Good scopes.  However, I could never get excited about a 6 inch Mak.  For the same weight, and nearly the same size, one can get a C8.

 

I have also played with a Twilight 1 on a couple of occasions.  I think a C8 or 6 inch Mak with be pushing the load limit a bit and views will be a tad shaky.

 

You might consider a C6 on a Twilight 1.  You can get a new C6 for $460 and the mount for about $300 ($760 total), leaving you with some cash fro accessories.


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#18 spaceoddity

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 09:24 PM

With your budget, I'd be looking at an 8" scope at minimum. Aperture rules for visual astronomy. An 8" dob will be the most cost effective, have a much wider field of view, and easily best a 6" mak or any other 6" scope on any object. The savings can then be used on needed accessories like eyepieces. An 8" f/5 Newt on an EQ mount like the Orion skyview 8 or else an 8" SCT(nexstar 8se) would be the next best with the SCT being easiest to transport, although an 8" dob isn't too bad. Good luck finding anything in stock right now. It might be useful to keep an eye on the CN classifieds. 


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#19 GoFish

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 10:24 PM

The only difference as far as measurements that I could see was the 20% reduced focal length. Are there more differences I'm unaware of with an imaging scope? I was thinking labeling it as an "imaging" scope was just marketing.

 

The main differences between the 8” f/4 “imaging” scope and the f/5 and f/6 “regular” versions, beyond just the focal length:

  1. Imaging scopes frequently have an upgraded focuser, with a handy fine focus feature. 
  2. Imaging scopes frequently have the eyepiece and secondary further down the tube, away from the front opening. Makes them less sensitive to ambient light. Usually they have better internal baffling, too. 
  3. Imaging scopes frequently have a larger secondary mirror, sized to assure even illumination across the entire field of view. This is of very little, if any, benefit for visual, particularly for planetary observing. And the larger mirror means more obstruction, more diffraction effects, and reduced contrast. 
  4. At f/4, collimation is both more important and more difficult. Even the slight change to f/5 makes a noticeable difference in keeping your scope collimated. 

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#20 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 11:45 PM

Primarily planetary, comet and Lunar viewing.

The requirements for observing comets are quite different from those involved in lunar and planetary work, as Tony said.  I've observed a lot of comets over the years and the majority of them have been faint, tailless fuzzballs that are best seen with considerable aperture.  Dark skies are essential when it comes to viewing most "hairy stars".


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#21 TacticalMuffintop

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:48 AM

I like Maks.  I've owned a 102mm and a 127mm.  Good scopes.  However, I could never get excited about a 6 inch Mak.  For the same weight, and nearly the same size, one can get a C8.

 

I have also played with a Twilight 1 on a couple of occasions.  I think a C8 or 6 inch Mak with be pushing the load limit a bit and views will be a tad shaky.

 

You might consider a C6 on a Twilight 1.  You can get a new C6 for $460 and the mount for about $300 ($760 total), leaving you with some cash fro accessories.

I can't for the life of me find the weight of the Explore Scientific FirstLight 152mm Mak anywhere, not even on their own site. I would guess the OTA would be pretty close to 20 lbs., so what you're saying makes sense. When it comes to my research, I've focused heavily on the optics. The mounting hasn't been something that I've learned much at all about; though I know sturdiness is important, even from my own experience. Anyway, the point I'm trying to get to, is what might you suggest for a manual tripod with fine tuning knobs for an ~20 lbs. payload?



#22 aeajr

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 10:31 AM

It will probably be similar in weight to the Orion.  It may even be the same OTA.

https://www.telescop...uts?keyword=Mak

 

Orion says it is 11.5 pounds.   Add Tube rings, a diagonal and finder and 14 to 15 is probably a good estimate.  Pop in a nice 2" eyepiece and add 2 pounds. 

 

The ES should be pretty close to the same weight. 


Edited by aeajr, 25 January 2021 - 10:41 AM.

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#23 Sky Muse

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 11:21 AM

I can't help but wonder why it's $259 for an 8". That seems low, even for a reflector. I want as much aperture as possible, of course, but I don't want to lose the advantage of the larger aperture by losing stray photons inside the optics.

Because it's bare-bones; no finder, no tube-rings, just the OTA un-embellished.

 

I really don't understand "losing stray photons inside the optics".



#24 TacticalMuffintop

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 11:30 AM

Because it's bare-bones; no finder, no tube-rings, just the OTA un-embellished.

 

I really don't understand "losing stray photons inside the optics".

I'm assuming. I should ask instead. What I presumed is that since nothing's absolutely perfect, some photons will get absorbed by the various materials they pass through and reflect off of, some photons may be reflected or refracted into the side of the tube because of imperfections, etc. I figured this loss may be better or worse depending on the model line offered.


Edited by TacticalMuffintop, 25 January 2021 - 11:33 AM.


#25 Sky Muse

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 11:42 AM

I'm assuming. I should ask instead. What I presumed is that since nothing's absolutely perfect, some photons will get absorbed by the various materials they pass through and reflect off of, some photons may be reflected or refracted into the side of the tube because of imperfections, etc. I figured this loss may be better or worse depending on the model line offered.

That's true with any telescope that uses mirrors, including Maksutovs and Schmidts.  With a mirrored telescope, you have a secondary-obstruction, and resulting in the loss of photons, but there's nothing to be done about that; the nature of the beast.  Even refractors lose a few, to a lesser extent.  Quite frankly, you'd never miss them(the lost photons); a negligible loss.


Edited by Sky Muse, 25 January 2021 - 11:42 AM.

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