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Backyard urban refractor (NON-AP) - advice/recommendations for a novice?

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#1 whosthebadman

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 03:08 PM

I scored a good local deal on a SCT (Celestron Super C8) + mount + tripod.  Very exciting, but I know that this scope has a small FOV, even with a 2" diagonal, and no matter which eyepieces I try.

 

Since the mount is quite sturdy and capable (GoTo, 33+10lb capacity) and since I'm accustomed to the TFOV permitted by binocular viewing,  I am looking to add a used refractor to the setup.  Here's what I'd like to use a refractor for, primarily:

 

  •     Perhaps it may simplify to emphasize that I will be doing 100% visual observation, and have 0% interest in astrophotography.
  •     I live in Bortle 8/9 skies, and although I may travel to dark sites as I find my way, I would like to find a great (not necessary The Finest) refractor setup for visual experience from a Bortle 8/9 back yard.
  •     I will be shopping used, and will spend what it takes to have a decent APO, as I wish to see accurate/corrected colors.
  •     I am looking for value, but not necessarily minimized budget.  I don't want the newest triplet APO, if I could have instead a doublet + money left over for 2-3 eyepieces.
  •     Budget preference:  $400 - $800.  Would consider spending slightly more if there were a clear/obvious advantage to doing so.

 

Here is what I'm looking for opinions/advice about:

  1.     Are there (brand, model, formats) that specifically suit urban observation?
  2.     I have my eye on f/7-ish 80mm options, sub-$1k.  Is that foolish?   (Think Orion ED80, older Williams Zenithstar 80mm, etc)
  3.     Considering the limitations imposed by Bortle 8-9 skies, I welcome your inputs on "this is as good as it gets" advice re: where my money is best spent (maybe it's filters, or maybe it means to stretch to 100mm+ ... )
  4.     To other urban-sky-limited refractor users, please give your two cents

 

Thank you!


Edited by whosthebadman, 21 February 2021 - 03:11 PM.


#2 Supernova74

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 03:32 PM

Well refractors do seem to handle light pollution a little bit better over other optical designs bare minimal tho so don,t exspect leaps and bounds.the question I think I would ask myself is how much use would you get out of it firstly as unfortunately most deep sky targets are go to be hidden in light pollution,so that leaves you with the moon and planets and even the planets are not observable all year round so when it comes to actual useage time you will be limited I think and it will not improve things if anything be worse than the scope you already own.just a suggestion maybe you could try and improve on the existing kit you already own maybe something like UHC,filter and a baader contrast filter of some discription 

maybe you haven’t got a dew shield which will help prevent dew build up on the correcter plate and also helps to block unwanted stray light.



#3 JMW

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 03:55 PM

I started with a Celestron 80ED and I thought is was decently color corrected for a doublet. Adding some kind of LED pointer is very helpful. I am a big fan of alt/az mounts but mine are pretty premium so I don't have a recommendation for a starter setup. Having a reasonably stable tripod and mount is an important part of a good experience observing. 



#4 SeattleScott

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 04:03 PM

Hmm 80mm in Bortle 8/9? Are you wanting to see DSO? I don’t imagine you are adding a wide field refractor for planetary.

I felt like I needed a minimum of 90-102mm in Bortle 7 skies. I think you need to go bigger than 80mm. Maybe bigger than 100mm. A small wide field scope just doesn’t make sense in Bortle 8/9 to me.

There are some affordable 110 doublet options. They won’t be great for planets, but you could see DSO other than Pleiades and Beehive.

Scott
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#5 JMW

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 05:20 PM

I use a 90mm grab and go at my house. I am usually looking at planets, moon, open clusters and other bright stuff like the Orion nebula. It's easy because it is one hand out the door and stays setup in the house. 

 

The other advantage is you can easily take it with you to a darker sky. It is also useful for daytime looking the birds, boats, etc...

 

If you want lightweight but aren't set on a refractor, a 6 inch Dob will show you dimmer stuff.



#6 whosthebadman

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 05:24 PM

Adding some kind of LED pointer is very helpful. I am a big fan of alt/az mounts but mine are pretty premium so I don't have a recommendation for a starter setup. Having a reasonably stable tripod and mount is an important part of a good experience observing. 

Thanks, and you've reminded me what I didn't put in my OP:  I have a red dot finder, a Meade Giant Field tripod, and the mount is something called an iOptron AZ Pro, which looks very nice and should last a while.

 

Hmm 80mm in Bortle 8/9? Are you wanting to see DSO? I don’t imagine you are adding a wide field refractor for planetary.

I felt like I needed a minimum of 90-102mm in Bortle 7 skies. I think you need to go bigger than 80mm. Maybe bigger than 100mm. A small wide field scope just doesn’t make sense in Bortle 8/9 to me.

There are some affordable 110 doublet options. They won’t be great for planets, but you could see DSO other than Pleiades and Beehive.

Scott

Just what I'm looking for, thank you.  Wonderful questions.   Yes, DSO would be a serious plus, even if they are limited/hiding.  (Planetary can be handled by my SCT).

And yes, the notion of refractor is to cover some of the stuff an SCT can't, whether in the back yard, or at a dark site:  wider field, MW sweeping, etc.

What 110 doublets are you thinking of?


Edited by whosthebadman, 21 February 2021 - 05:24 PM.


#7 SeattleScott

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 05:31 PM

The Lunt 110mm comes to mind. Sold under different labels, I think including SV and WO at various points. FPL51 doublet so it won’t be color free but decent aperture for light pollution and roughly in your price range.

Scott

#8 peta62

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 05:58 PM

I would go shorter than f/7 to complement your SCT on MW and DSOs. You will use SCT for smaller ones, so you can go wider. You do not have to fear chromatic aberration, you will not use it on bright things. I was looking for the same as you, picked Bresser Messier 152S and I almost fell on my rear end when I saw whole Pleiades in the eyepiece. That brings me to one more topic, I would buy this refractor with 2" focuser, so you do not to keep two sets of diagonals.eyepieces etc.

 

Edit : I forgot, your SCT can become f/6.3 with focal reducer to give you more versatility.


Edited by peta62, 21 February 2021 - 06:28 PM.

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#9 Echolight

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 06:56 PM

If I ever found a good deal on a f/7.5 120ED I might give up my 6" f/8 achro.

 

The wider field of view, lighter weight, and shorter eyepiece articulation might be enough to take the place of the C6R as well as my 80ED.

 

Had a chance at an SV115 TMB w/ 3.5 inch focuser, but it just seemed a bit much in weight and price. And not quite enough aperture for the bulk of it as a visual only scope. And of course it was gone in a matter of hours.

The 120ED seems a better sidekick to my AVX mounted C8 as a suburban backyard team.

 

The 1.3 degrees TFOV with the 2 inch equipped C8 is really not that bad, and useable on a manual alt/az mount. But the cool down and dew factor makes it not so grab and go as a decent size refractor. Plus the 2.2 degrees TFOV of the C6R. And the 3.11 degrees of the f7.5 120 would be really ideal on the Unistar.

 

My SW 80ED is a nice little scope to have for absolute minimal effort, and not too expensive even new. But it don't hold a candle to my big 6 inch achro on any target. Yeah, Sirius is a little more photogenic at low powers. But the little scope is highly limited for resolution as a go-to everyday scope, and is quick to show diffraction rings on bright stars when pushing the magnification. And you won't see 6 stars in the Trapezium like the 6 inch achro will show.

Everything is bigger and brighter in the big achro.


Edited by Echolight, 21 February 2021 - 07:19 PM.


#10 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 07:34 PM

My two cents:

 

An 80mm-120mm refractor is a nice companion to an 8 inch or larger reflector.  The wider field of view is part of the reason but that's only part of it. On the right mount, a refractor can be an easy to manage, easy to use scope that offers something of the freedom the explore that binoculars offer.

 

A simple, manual alt-az mount makes set up quick and operation easy.  With its wide field of view, a 102 mm F/7 can be it's own finder.. Tying it to a substantial GOTO mount takes away the easy free aspect a refractor can offer.

 

Jon

 


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#11 ItsMeTony

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Posted 22 February 2021 - 12:00 AM

One item I highly recommend you get is the Celestron f/6.3 Focal Reducer/ Corrector. It costs about $160 new, attaches to the scope between the OTA and the diagonal and changes the focal ratio from f/10 to f/6.3 giving you a wider field of view. I too, am a visual observer and can add that an f/5 achro refractor is a great and inexpensive way to sweep the skies

Tony
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#12 bobhen

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Posted 22 February 2021 - 07:25 AM

As a few others have mentioned, consider adding a Celestron 6.3 reducer to your C8.

 

Consider adding a light pollution nebula filter like the UHC or OIII filters. These help when observing nebula under light-polluted skies.

 

I’m not a fan of (most) refractors under 100mm from light polluted locations. With that in mind...

 

Consider something like the ASTRO-TECH AT102ED 4" F/7 ED refractor. “New” from Astronomics the OTA is $599. A used example would obviously be less. HERE is a link.

 

If you want the refractor JUST for lowish power, wide field, deep sky observing, you might consider the fast 102mm and 120mm F5 Achromats.  These can usually be found (run a wanted ad)  from under $200 for the 102 and from $200 - $300 for the 120mm when purchased used. NEW, the Star Travel 102 F5 achromat runs around $300 including a mount. The Orion 120mm F5 achromat runs around $260 without rings, mounting bar or a finder. HERE is a link to a video review of the Orion 120mm F5 achromatic refractor.

 

Bob



#13 Wildetelescope

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Posted 22 February 2021 - 08:38 AM

I scored a good local deal on a SCT (Celestron Super C8) + mount + tripod.  Very exciting, but I know that this scope has a small FOV, even with a 2" diagonal, and no matter which eyepieces I try.

 

Since the mount is quite sturdy and capable (GoTo, 33+10lb capacity) and since I'm accustomed to the TFOV permitted by binocular viewing,  I am looking to add a used refractor to the setup.  Here's what I'd like to use a refractor for, primarily:

 

  •     Perhaps it may simplify to emphasize that I will be doing 100% visual observation, and have 0% interest in astrophotography.
  •     I live in Bortle 8/9 skies, and although I may travel to dark sites as I find my way, I would like to find a great (not necessary The Finest) refractor setup for visual experience from a Bortle 8/9 back yard.
  •     I will be shopping used, and will spend what it takes to have a decent APO, as I wish to see accurate/corrected colors.
  •     I am looking for value, but not necessarily minimized budget.  I don't want the newest triplet APO, if I could have instead a doublet + money left over for 2-3 eyepieces.
  •     Budget preference:  $400 - $800.  Would consider spending slightly more if there were a clear/obvious advantage to doing so.

 

Here is what I'm looking for opinions/advice about:

  1.     Are there (brand, model, formats) that specifically suit urban observation?
  2.     I have my eye on f/7-ish 80mm options, sub-$1k.  Is that foolish?   (Think Orion ED80, older Williams Zenithstar 80mm, etc)
  3.     Considering the limitations imposed by Bortle 8-9 skies, I welcome your inputs on "this is as good as it gets" advice re: where my money is best spent (maybe it's filters, or maybe it means to stretch to 100mm+ ... )
  4.     To other urban-sky-limited refractor users, please give your two cents

 

Thank you!

I agree with others.  I live in similar circumstances with respect to light pollution.  I find that 100 mm is the smallest aperture refractor that I enjoy looking at DSO’s with.  I often do solar system observing with as small as 60 mm.   A nice f7-9 ED doublet is doable near your price range.  A 120 mm ED would be better, if you can swing the higher price tag.  Your mount should handle either.   Good luck!  Have to say that nothing beats going out to a dark sky site if you can, so portability is a useful thing to consider as well.  A nice F7 102 like AT sells would fit the bill.  

 

Cheers!

 

JMD




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