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Anyone own/use a 4.5-inch reflector? What do you use it to see?

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#1 ProfConrad87

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 07:37 PM

Hello, fellow stargazers!

 

I know this forum seems to be for the 8-inch and up club (with the occasional 6-inch sprinkled in), but does anyone own or use a 4.5-inch reflector? If so, what do you use it for? And what is your favorite thing to look at with this scope?

 

Thanks for sharing!🤗


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#2 RLK1

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 07:57 PM

Hello, fellow stargazers!

 

I know this forum seems to be for the 8-inch and up club (with the occasional 6-inch sprinkled in), but does anyone own or use a 4.5-inch reflector? If so, what do you use it for? And what is your favorite thing to look at with this scope?

 

Thanks for sharing!

I put together an Orion starblast with DSCs for a relative of mine and you can actually see quite a bit with it. I recall looking at the ring nebula with it in front of my light polluted home and it was decent enough. Ditto for the Messier globulars in Hercules. Had no problem seeing cassini's division in Saturn, either. Since this aperture tends to be a short focal length design, make sure it's well-collimated. The starblast wasn't even in the ballpark but I got it tuned-up with a laser collimator without a problem. Just my experience with it... 


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#3 JoshUrban

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 08:43 PM

Yes!

 

  I've got a 4" Celestar f/8 reflector (it's old schoo...1957, made by Fecker), and it's SO COOL!  I've got some bigger scopes, too, but this lil' fella is so much fun.  

Something that I've noticed about astronomy is there are standard observing platforms:  8" dob, 100mm refractor, 8" SCT being some really popular ones, that might give the impression that anything else isn't worth using, and well, quite to the contrary.  

 

  The Messier objects are excellent targets, plenty of double stars, and of course, lunar and planetary work are a favorite.  This time of year my "greatest hits" list for the 4" would include:

 

- Orion Nebula

- M41 

- M93 and the other open clusters low in the south

- M44 and M67 in Cancer

- M35 in Gemni

- Auriga open clusters (M36-38)

- M81 and M82 in Ursa Major

- Alcor and Mizar

- Algieba (double in Leo)

 

And the moon has been so darn cool with it.  Just resolved a crater that's 2 miles wide with the 4".  

 

A "smaller" scope is "stellar" by standards of yesteryear, and for portability, enjoyability, and with real possibility to do serious observing (and hone skills for those times when you've got access to the 16" dobs, too), well, they're just cool!


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#4 ram812

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 08:54 PM

I still yard mine out for solar, lunar, and comet looking. Sometime it's easier to put up and take down for a quicky view session. I picked up a Alt./Az. go-to for it so I didn't have to set up a bigger mount. I dig looking at double stars (Alberio, for one, Mizar, etc.), M31,33,42,Veil with an OIII visual filter. And speaking of filters I have a slew of them I use on the planets using various EP's and Barlow combinations. Tons to see and I keep the collimation pretty spot-on so stars "Pop".😉 Tons of fun!
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#5 rocketsteve

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 08:56 PM

ABE5FF08-397D-4AA4-9760-DE6E35BA8109.png

My XT4.5 is a great grab-n-go telescope. While I mainly use it for impromptu viewing sessions in the back yard, it also works well at dark sky sites. While it doesn’t have the light grasp of a 6” or 8” reflector, it can hold it’s own when it comes to tracking-down DSOs. Fainter DSOs I’ve seen at dark sky sites include the Rosette Nebula, the Veil Nebula, Sombrero Galaxy, Thor’s Helmet, and a few others that I don’t recall at this moment.

IMHO, the XT4.5 is a serious astronomy telescope.
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#6 Lentini

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 09:11 PM

My first scope was a 4.5” Tasco equatorial reflector. I saw all kinds of good stuff with it from very light polluted skies in Springfield, VA. I recommend everyone who is starting out get a copy of Turn Left At Orion. It’s a great guide that has lots of good targets for such a scope, with easy to follow instructions for finding them. My favorite targets were globulars, planets, and the Orion Nebula. And the moon.


Edited by Lentini, 25 February 2021 - 09:13 PM.

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#7 barbie

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 09:53 PM

My Orion Starblast 4.5" f4 gets used often for observing away from home and at home as well. With a 4.5" f4, I got my best view ever of M51 at Cherry Springs State Park in P.A. back in 2007!! Under a REALLY DARK sky, a 4.5" reflector can show a lot!! From home, I use mine to view the moon, planets, brighter double stars and brighter Messier objects. It's a lot of fun with my homemade 17mm wide angle eyepiece!! I also highly recommend the book "Turn Left At Orion"!!


Edited by barbie, 25 February 2021 - 10:08 PM.

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#8 ProfConrad87

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 10:31 PM

Thanks for all your replies. My 4.5-inch telescope is very similar to the Orion Starblast. (I've looked through both in a side-by-side comparison). I was surprised by how many DSOs I could see with it. I've often used it as a "scouting" scope - to find things I want to see later with my XT8. I don't think I ever would have found Uranus without it, or the Veil Nebula for that matter. But, it's also my travel scope - remember the great total solar eclipse of 2017? I traveled 200 miles to see it and my 4.5-inch reflector was right there with me.

 

Your comments have renewed my enthusiasm for using this telescope.


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#9 James_5474

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 10:37 PM

ABE5FF08-397D-4AA4-9760-DE6E35BA8109.png

My XT4.5 is a great grab-n-go telescope. While I mainly use it for impromptu viewing sessions in the back yard, it also works well at dark sky sites. While it doesn’t have the light grasp of a 6” or 8” reflector, it can hold it’s own when it comes to tracking-down DSOs. Fainter DSOs I’ve seen at dark sky sites include the Rosette Nebula, the Veil Nebula, Sombrero Galaxy, Thor’s Helmet, and a few others that I don’t recall at this moment.

IMHO, the XT4.5 is a serious astronomy telescope.

I also got an XT4.5 recently. Haven't taken it out too much, but I've used it to look at the Orion nebula, the moon, and a few other objects from my porch or front stoop of my just-outside-Boston apartment. It's been great so far, and it's light and small enough that I can encourage myself to use it when it normally resides in a 2nd floor walkup. Can't wait to toss it in the car later in the year when we go up to some campsites in NH.
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#10 ProfConrad87

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 10:48 PM

My Orion Starblast 4.5" f4 gets used often for observing away from home and at home as well. With a 4.5" f4, I got my best view ever of M51 at Cherry Springs State Park in P.A. back in 2007!! Under a REALLY DARK sky, a 4.5" reflector can show a lot!! From home, I use mine to view the moon, planets, brighter double stars and brighter Messier objects. It's a lot of fun with my homemade 17mm wide angle eyepiece!! I also highly recommend the book "Turn Left At 

I wish I could get to a really dark site. I have Bortle 5/6 skies


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#11 TelescopeBah

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 10:48 PM

I had a Meade 4.5" that I used for years, it's best targets were the planets, and the moon. It was through my 4.5" that I first saw saturn, it was an unforgettable experience! I also enjoyed finding globular clusters, M42, and the Ring nebula. I still have the 4.5" but it doesn't get used much any more since I have my 12" now.
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#12 aeajr

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 11:01 PM

Hello, fellow stargazers!

 

I know this forum seems to be for the 8-inch and up club (with the occasional 6-inch sprinkled in), but does anyone own or use a 4.5-inch reflector? If so, what do you use it for? And what is your favorite thing to look at with this scope?

 

Thanks for sharing!

I have an Orion SkyScanner 100 mm/4 ".   Fun little scope.   

 

I have used it on DSOs, Planets, the Moon.   The only thing holding that scope back is a focuser that is a little course making it difficult to use it above about 120X, but optically it will go higher.  Just gets tricky to focus. 

 

As for this being the 8" and up club, well, more aperture is usually better for visual astronomy.  However lots of us have scopes of less than 8".  In fact, of my 5 scopes, only 1 is over 8" and I have a 102 mm on order.

 

Considering that at least 50 of the Messier objects are good binocular targets, a 4.5" telescope can show you hundreds of DSOs as well as reasonable views of the planets.  And the moon will be spectacular.


Edited by aeajr, 25 February 2021 - 11:02 PM.

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#13 RobertMaples

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 11:09 PM

My first real telescope was/is the Starblast 4.5 and I still get it out quite often even though I now have a 10" Lightbridge dob.  Even though I keep my Lightbridge setup on a dolly and ready to be rolled out of the garage at a moment's notice, sometimes for a quick view I'll use my Starblast (or one of my other smaller scopes).

 

There are also some things my Starblast can do that my Lightbridge simply can't.  One is wide field views, my Starblast has almost twice the maximum field of view that my Lightbridge has.  It's great for just cruising around the Milky Way, and some targets just look better with the wider field.  I also have an equatorial mount for my Starblast, so I use it when I want to use tracking.  One thing I enjoy with it is watching planets and bright stars into the daytime.  I've known for awhile now that you could see planets in the daytime, but fairly recently realized it's true for stars also, at least for one, Sirius is the only one I've tried so far.  I followed it one morning until about 9:00, when it went behind a tree.  With the EQ mount and a tracking motor, I can leave the scope for several minutes at a time without loosing my target, can't do that with my dob.


Edited by RobertMaples, 25 February 2021 - 11:11 PM.

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#14 hoof

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 01:29 AM

I got my 3rd Starblast last fall. Keep giving them away then getting another. Managed to somehow get a 1.25” Paracorr for it last month. Finally after all these years it’s potential as a rich field telescope was realized. The Seattle skies actually cleared a bit after the Paracorr arrived, and I was out cruising with a 13mm Ethos, sharp to the edge. Fun little scope. Took the last one I owned to Australia back in 2009 or so.

Sure I have other ‘scopes that can see deeper, wider, and better, but it’s fun taking a little $200 scope, putting an ultra rare paracorr and a $600 eyepiece on it and cruise the skies =). Call me crazy! Now if I could just source a better focuser for it...
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#15 ProfConrad87

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 07:40 AM

My first real telescope was/is the Starblast 4.5 and I still get it out quite often even though I now have a 10" Lightbridge dob.  Even though I keep my Lightbridge setup on a dolly and ready to be rolled out of the garage at a moment's notice, sometimes for a quick view I'll use my Starblast (or one of my other smaller scopes).

 

There are also some things my Starblast can do that my Lightbridge simply can't.  One is wide field views, my Starblast has almost twice the maximum field of view that my Lightbridge has.  It's great for just cruising around the Milky Way, and some targets just look better with the wider field.  I also have an equatorial mount for my Starblast, so I use it when I want to use tracking.  One thing I enjoy with it is watching planets and bright stars into the daytime.  I've known for awhile now that you could see planets in the daytime, but fairly recently realized it's true for stars also, at least for one, Sirius is the only one I've tried so far.  I followed it one morning until about 9:00, when it went behind a tree.  With the EQ mount and a tracking motor, I can leave the scope for several minutes at a time without loosing my target, can't do that with my dob.

I've seen the planets in the daytime before - I see Venus quite regularly, in fact. But, I've also seen Jupiter and Saturn. But, I've never tried seeing a star. Maybe I'll try looking for Sirius this evening. 

 

I agree with you about the wide angle view. The Pleiades is simply spectacular in my 4.5-inch! And, honestly, I enjoy looking at the Moon more in my 4.5-inch than in my 8-inch. One thing I've not yet tried is using an O-III filter. I've always thought the views would be too dim.


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#16 ProfConrad87

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 09:24 AM

My Orion Starblast 4.5" f4 gets used often for observing away from home and at home as well. With a 4.5" f4, I got my best view ever of M51 at Cherry Springs State Park in P.A. back in 2007!! Under a REALLY DARK sky, a 4.5" reflector can show a lot!! From home, I use mine to view the moon, planets, brighter double stars and brighter Messier objects. It's a lot of fun with my homemade 17mm wide angle eyepiece!! I also highly recommend the book "Turn Left At Orion"!!

"Turn Left at Orion" is a great book. The forward nicely explains why so many give up amateur astronomy. The Orion Nebula, the Swan Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula are all spectacular.

 

Have you ever used an O-III filter with yours? If so, how does that work?


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#17 Lazaroff

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 10:32 AM

I know this forum seems to be for the 8-inch and up club (with the occasional 6-inch sprinkled in), but does anyone own or use a 4.5-inch reflector? If so, what do you use it for? And what is your favorite thing to look at with this scope?

Yes, there's a real bias toward large and/or expensive scopes here at Cloudy Nights. I own an Orion XT4.5 and I'm puzzled by how infrequently it's recommended here. It's solidly built, one-hand portable, and easy to collimate. It works well with inexpensive eyepieces, and, best of all, it's optically terrific. It's also just right for families with kids.

 

The XT4.5 my at-home grab-and-go scope. I've used it for everything. It's wide enough at low power to take in larger DSOs, it has enough aperture to put some sparkle into globular clusters, and it gives beautifully sharp views of Jupiter and Saturn. The moon, of course, is stunning.

 

Every once in a while I come across a comment on this website that scopes like this can't be any good because they have spherical mirrors. Well, I also own a OneSky from Astronomers Without Borders. That scope has a 5-inch parabolic mirror, and it is noticeably less sharp and contrasty. I bought it as a travel scope because I couldn't easily fit the XT4.5 into my old VW camper, but if I could I'd happily haul my XT4.5 out into the desert instead.

 

Some readers may be interested in this Cloudy Nights review of the XT4.5:

 

https://www.cloudyni...-reflector-r813


Edited by Lazaroff, 26 February 2021 - 10:33 AM.

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#18 barbie

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 11:10 AM

"Turn Left at Orion" is a great book. The forward nicely explains why so many give up amateur astronomy. The Orion Nebula, the Swan Nebula, and the Lagoon Nebula are all spectacular.

 

Have you ever used an O-III filter with yours? If so, how does that work?

Under a dark sky, an OIII filter works quite well with this scope on the brighter Messier nebulae.


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#19 ram812

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 11:50 AM

I have the XT10 Eq. mounted and admit, it is a serious photon grabber. But my smaller newts actually get more use due to the ease of setup and takedown. Pop my 3" planet slaying newt. in the trunk and 15 minutes to a darker site. Or like I do once or twice a year, set 5 newts from 3" to 10" and have a family and friend star party and BBQ!😁
BYOB, of course!
CS Ralph
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#20 dmgriff

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 12:01 PM

 

"Back in the Day" a 4.5in f/8 was one of the most popular and affordable reflectors. The good ones were not cheap (Vixen, TAL, Parks manufacture. Discovery used to have 4.5in f/8 primaries on their price list 20+ years ago at ~85usd I think).

 

My first adult scope was a Tasco Luminova 4.5in f/8 newt on a eq1 20+ years ago. Added a simple box RA drive (no controller), a Celestron (Taiwan) ep/filter kit (32,15,9,6,4mm plossls, 2x barlow, 26mm Meade 4000 seperate purchase) and a 9x50 RACI.It sufficed for my needs for a couple of years or so. OEM primary was good for ~150x. Added a e-scopes/coulter 1/8 wave branded primary, which improved the optics to me (sharper and up to ~180x +).

 

Great little scope for lunar/planetary and larger dso etc imo.

 

Stable enough on a Vixen Porta II alt/az. For gems, needs at least a EQ3 for stability imo. Of course a EQ5 is pretty rock solid.....

 

DSC00107

 

DSC00129
 
As age and infirmities creep on me, I keep telling myself to get a nice Antares or similar secondary, maybe test the primary and have it refigured, etc. for "old age" usage. 
 
Good viewing,
 
Dave

Edited by dmgriff, 26 February 2021 - 12:32 PM.

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#21 RobertMaples

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 02:42 PM

...I own an Orion XT4.5 and I'm puzzled by how infrequently it's recommended here...

I think one reason why it's not often recommended is because of its price point.  Just looking at the XT classic line at Orion, to move up to the 6", goes from $300 to $350, only a 16.7% cost increase to get about 78% more light gathering.  From there going to an 8" or 10" is an increasingly larger percentage of cost increase for the same or smaller increase in light gathering (6-8, 28.6% more cost and 1.78% more light, 8-10, 44.4% and 1.56%) .  Of course if wanting more aperture each person has to decide how much aperture is worth how much money to them, but the benefit/cost ratio of going from the 4.5 to the 6 is so high it's hard not to recommend the 6 over the 4.5.

 

While a good scope, I really think the XT4.5 is priced too high.  You can get the 4.5 Starblast on an EQ mount or tabletop alt/az mount for $200, and the Starblast has a short focal length parabolic mirror, which from everything I 've seen should be significantly more expensive than the long focal length spherical mirror (which is perfectly acceptable for the focal length and aperture) of the XT4.5, so I just don't understand why the XT4.5 is $300.

 

As you mentioned there are definitely advantages to the XT4.5 - a longer focal ratio than any of the scopes I mentioned, making for easier collimation and more coma free views, lighter and more compact than the larger dobs, and a great size for children.


Edited by RobertMaples, 26 February 2021 - 02:45 PM.

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#22 pstarr

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 03:06 PM

I started out with an f-4 Starblast but wasn't at all satisfied with the optical quality. The actual diameter of the mirror is more like 4-3/8" rather that 4.5". I was able to buy an excellent 4.25" mirror from Terry Ostahowski that was a near direct replacement for the Starblast mirror. Just had to adjust the mirror mount a bit to the slightly smaller diameter. Using this scope with a nebula filter provided excellent views of the veil nebula from my suburban back yard. I am overall very impressed with the deep sky capability and portability of this small reflector. It also does very good on the moon and planets when adding a Barlow, Paracorr and quality eyepieces.

 

FE261F67-C7EF-4F1D-90EE-7C36859DECAB_4_5005_c.jpeg

 

7E5A724B-9AF4-4C44-A0E7-9F735B8E908C_1_105_c.jpeg

 

 

 


Edited by pstarr, 26 February 2021 - 03:08 PM.

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#23 RLK1

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 03:42 PM

I also have an old Coulter richfield F4 4.5" or thereabouts and I'd rate the star blast optics in the sample described in my earlier post as superior to the Coulter. I had the Coulter optics evaluated by Ed Jones with interferometry and the primary was ok but he recommended replacing the secondary.  Of course, these are all samples of one so I wouldn't hang my hat on individual reports...


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#24 James_5474

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 05:25 PM

I think one reason why it's not often recommended is because of its price point.  Just looking at the XT classic line at Orion, to move up to the 6", goes from $300 to $350, only a 16.7% cost increase to get about 78% more light gathering.  From there going to an 8" or 10" is an increasingly larger percentage of cost increase for the same or smaller increase in light gathering (6-8, 28.6% more cost and 1.78% more light, 8-10, 44.4% and 1.56%) .  Of course if wanting more aperture each person has to decide how much aperture is worth how much money to them, but the benefit/cost ratio of going from the 4.5 to the 6 is so high it's hard not to recommend the 6 over the 4.5.

 

While a good scope, I really think the XT4.5 is priced too high.  You can get the 4.5 Starblast on an EQ mount or tabletop alt/az mount for $200, and the Starblast has a short focal length parabolic mirror, which from everything I 've seen should be significantly more expensive than the long focal length spherical mirror (which is perfectly acceptable for the focal length and aperture) of the XT4.5, so I just don't understand why the XT4.5 is $300.

 

As you mentioned there are definitely advantages to the XT4.5 - a longer focal ratio than any of the scopes I mentioned, making for easier collimation and more coma free views, lighter and more compact than the larger dobs, and a great size for children.

I agree that it is priced a bit high compared to the 4-5" tabletops or if you step up to a 6" dob. However, there doesn't seem to be anything comparable in size/mount on the market, which might let them get away with charging a small premium.

 

You could step up to a 6" at that price point, but I think the XT4.5 is going to appeal to a different group of people than the ones who would jump on the 6". I know for myself, the size was a big factor in why I bought my XT4.5: it's big enough to use comfortably with a small chair, but not so big that it's cumbersome to move from my 2nd floor apartment to the outside, and it will probably travel well in my car when we go camping (since we never pack the car full anyway). It's also not so small that I need to find some sort of object to put it on top of. It's kind of a goldilocks size for me.


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#25 ProfConrad87

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 05:40 PM

Under a dark sky, an OIII filter works quite well with this scope on the brighter Messier nebulae.

Thanks. I'll have to keep that in mind. I have Bortle 5 or 6 skies.




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