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 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!
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?
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
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.
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
Celestron NexStar 8SE - - Goto Schmidt Cassegrain
SCT style telescope – computer assisted and motorized so it will find the targets and then track them.
Meade LX85 6" Mak on GoTo Eq mount
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- My second choice for the proposed use would be an 8” f/6 Dob.
- 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.
- 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.