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Getting a GoTo - Dob vs AltAz

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#1 ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 01:20 PM

I'll apologize in advance for likely being the 100 millionth person to ask this question.

I already have a 90mm AZ Pro refractor - I'm happy with this for a grab and go scope, and just for coasting around at lower power.

 

I'm looking to get a GoTo scope largely for home use in Bortle 4-5.
I'd like to be able to see some DSOs that would be challenging hand sight with the given ambient light. I like the idea of being able to have the higher magnification track for bit 20-30 minutes without constantly moving knobs.

Having the aperture of like an 8-10" Skywatcher DOB is really appealing, but monetarily now we're getting $1300 -$1700: there's a lot of options for that kind of money.

I'm not interested in an EQ mount.
Something like the iOptrion AZ Mount Pro seems ideal for: ease of use, loaded with features, and expands up to 33lb payload. It seems like a very future proof mount with a lot flexibility in how you use it.

Then it becomes a question of what OTA and also not getting into >$2k cost.
Something like a 150mm MAK is appealing for the size and not needing constant collimation, but then cost per inch of aperture is higher, regardless because of the design limitations and what's commercially available, 7" is the max anyway.

That's kind of where I'm hung up.
Does it make more sense to get the DOB - or get GoTo Az + OTA.
Or even, should I get the GoTo and trying using that with the refactor before worrying about what OTA throw on it.

I also know there are GoTo mounts in the $300-$500 that would be fine for the refractor - but all those are so payload or tripod limited - there's the part of me that thinks I should skip those options because you get what you pay for I'll end up needing the step up later anyway.

Obviously COVID makes this more complicated - there are not any meetups right now and let alone people wanting to share gear.

 

---

TLDR - I'm asking the existential every person who has owned a telescope has asked - please tell me what my perfect scope is! wink.gif


 


Edited by ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope, 01 March 2021 - 01:22 PM.


#2 SeattleScott

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 01:29 PM

There is no perfect scopes. All have compromises. That’s why there are so many. If there was a perfect one, it would be the only one.

You have a small grab and go for short sessions. A 6” Mak on that mount is a great combination (a buddy of mine uses that). Would be a good midsize scope. More of a goto scope. The mount technically can be used manually but not optimized for that.

An 8-10” Dob would be a good bigger scope, although some here would consider that small.

Goto is helpful for finding targets in urban areas. Orion has there Intelliscope option that gives a computer to find stuff but no motors to keep cost down. No tracking though.

You are thinking of all the right things. There isn’t really a right or wrong choice, although I would prioritize a bigger scope over a medium one in your situation. If you put a reflector on the iOptron mount, you would be limited to maybe an 8” F5.

Scott
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#3 S.Boerner

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 01:32 PM

I'll start by saying that I have the 12" SkyWatcher goto dob and love it.  I understand your concern about cost.

 

More aperture is going to be better for DSOs so I'll recommend the biggest dob you can afford.  If it isn't a goto think about adding a paper az setting circle and using a digital inclometer for altitude.   After aligning your setting circle and OTA to north, all you'd need to do to find a DSO is look up the current alt/az coordinates with Stellarium, SkySafari, etc., move the OTA to the az using the setting circle, and alt via the inclometer.  You'll find the OTA is pointed fairly close to your target and you can find it with a small effort.

 

Pdfs for the paper setting circles can be found here on CN.

 

Good luck!


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#4 Zwick

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 01:45 PM

As cost seems to be a significant concern, you should definitely look at the used market. Craigslist and such sites often have good deals on scopes like you describe for various reasons. DIY setting circles as S.Boerner mentioned are also a great cost saver and are pretty straightforward.


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#5 ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 02:33 PM

Thanks for all the feedback so far!

I wish I could find anything used locally or otherwise that is in the vein of what I'm after (or at an appreciable cost difference from new)!
Even in the new market it looks like 60% or more of the scopes on every site I go to being on back order, it would seem people are "gearing up" for spring laugh.gif.

As far as reflectors go - is there any "definitive"  or "objective" measure of how often collimation has to happen?
I've looked at A LOT threads and at least for the more budget friendly OTAs - one person on one thread will be like "..ohh I never have to collimate that thing..." and then somebody will be like, "...if I blink at it wrong it goes out of collimation..."

Starting on a refractor I'm already kind of used to tack sharp images without much fussing.
I don't mind learning collimation and having to-do it - but if literally every time I take the scope out it, it needs to be fussed with or everything is gonna be blurry, that's not going to be enjoyable to me.

The 6" achros are interesting, but then it goes back to mount requirement dampening problems.

---

I feel like maybe this pushing me more towards Mak - buy having only ever used refractors, it's hard to know how over stated or understated collimation is pushing me a way from a reflector.


Edited by ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope, 01 March 2021 - 02:36 PM.


#6 CowTipton

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 03:01 PM

Collimation with a reflector is so easy that it's not really something you need to worry about.

 

I do it every time I move the scope out of the garage for viewing and it takes maybe a minute at most.

Does it go out of collimation?  Yes, but never so much that it takes any sort of bothersome effort to correct it.  We're talking a 1/4 turn of a knob here and there.

Don't let collimation turn you off of a nice dob.  Washing your hands so that you don't get skin oils on your gear takes longer than collimating your telescope.


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#7 Hexley  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 03:17 PM

I have a Celestron 6SE SCT and an Orion XT8 Dobsonian.

 

My honest opinion is that if you want GoTo convenience, you're going somewhat against John Dobson's philosophy of simple. Granted, that man would craft his mirrors by hand, patience of a monk literally - truly something else.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'd never close my front door on a GoTo Dob showing up, but I happen to like my little 6" SCT for the fully-automatic astronomy mentality. My big Dob (most would say an 8" isn't that big but it is to me) is all about me and the scope, sweeping the sky slowly, exploring. I kinda feel like Isaac Newton himself when I'm out there.

 

You might look into the Celestron 8" Evolution (I would skip the 8SE, the 6's mount is taxed too much with such a heavy tube on there). Push-to Dobs are fun too, you have the choice of automatic help, but ultimately you're still tracking the object. Just something you have to decide. My biggest issue with GoTo on a Dob is that it weighs the **** thing down like bags of concrete.


Edited by Hexley, 01 March 2021 - 03:21 PM.


#8 sevenofnine

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 03:46 PM

No perfect one scope is right. I suggest saving some $$$$ by buying the largest manual Dob you feel comfortable with. Maybe an 8 inch if you want to keep it simple or a 10 inch if you don't mind needing better eyepieces and possibly a coma corrector. This way you have your grab-n-go for quick sessions and your light bucket for deep sky. Later add a midsize scope on a go-to mount (or not) and you're pretty well set for a long time. Good luck on your choices! scratchhead2.gif


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#9 SeattleScott

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 03:52 PM

When I had a mass produced F4 newt, I was kind of lazy about collimation and generally just waited until I couldn’t get sharp views at 100x to collimate. That was roughly about three uses before the views were considerably impacted.

The lower the F number, the more sensitive to collimation. The higher the magnification, the more sensitive to collimation. Some people upgrade to stiffer springs so they don’t have to collimate as much. If you collimate every time, it doesn’t take long because you get really good at it, and it just takes a small tweak. If you wait until the views deteriorate, then the return beam isn’t even in the bullseye, meaning you have to spend several minutes looking all around the scope and your walls (if indoors) to figure out where the beam is going and get it back on the bullseye. Then you can play around with getting it centered. So do you want to spend five minutes each time out or 15 minutes every three times out?

I met a guy with a 10” Dob who primarily used two eyepieces, a 30mm and a 17mm. He said the atmosphere rarely supported any more magnification. I have the same skies and wonder if the issue is really the atmosphere or his collimation.

Scott

#10 whizbang

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Posted 01 March 2021 - 10:20 PM

The unfortunate thing about astronomy gear is that a lot of choices are a matter of personal preference.

 

Dobs are awesome scopes.  I started with one.  Hated it. 

 

My sister has two DOB's and wished she had a third.  Go figure.


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#11 ayadai

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 01:10 AM

...Dobs are awesome scopes.  I started with one.  Hated it. 

 

My experience in a nutshell.

 

OP: Given your needs and struggle to come with terms with too many options, getting the OTA, basic accessories, mount and tripod as a package from the manufacturer may be a good option that gives you the plug and play functionality you seem to crave. The Celestron NexStar 8" line seems to click all of the boxes, including  tracking, as well as giving you an affordable, yet powerful scope that's still easy to handle and store. Price and availability may be the most important factors to consider, so don't discount the 8SE as a matter of course, it's still a great scope that's ready to go right out of the box.
 


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#12 Mrcloc

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 07:43 AM

This dilemma sounds much like mine. I really want a 7" Mak, but before that, I want to get a goto mount. To get a goto mount is going to allow my current OTA to track the sky more or less, which I've decided I can just do with a simple motor drive on my current mount. But then I don't have a mount capable of the 180 Mak. The mount is something like $1000, and then the 180 Mak is in the $1300 range (for me). But then I only get 7" of aperture. My first proper scope was an 8" Dob (which I no longer own), and I want to buy myself a 10" Dob because they're a joy to use, and with that aperture, many things are possible. That would drop $1000 which could be going towards the 180 Mak setup I'm so keen on... And money is very scarce at the moment.

 

I think I'm leaning to the 10", but still, it is a dilemma. Good luck, and I'm very keen to hear updates on what you choose.


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#13 ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 09:15 AM

Appreciate all the additional insights and advice!

It's good to know that collimation isn't too bad.

I had not mentioned it, but I also have the balancing act of my preferences vs. what other family members are able to-do as well! flowerred.gif

I know that if I get some big DOB, it will always be on me to move it out, setup, collimate, find things, etc.

Then part that dilemma to, for me personally, I don't have interest in a GoTo that doesn't have enough aperture to see things I can't just hand track.

To throw one more mitigating factor in, I'm 1hr away from a Bortle 1-2 dark site - this befuddles my choice more yet (but maybe it shouldn't?)
 

--

I think that's all still leaning me towards a 6-8" compound GoTo in the short-term and then longer term getting a 10-12" DOB.

Looking for that moment of clarity.
I know common a theme I've seen is "buy all the things and sell what you don't like" - so maybe that's a route too.

Tweaking what whizbang said into an Yogi Berra-esque quotable
"The unfortunate thing about astronomy gear is that there are a lot of choices."


Edited by ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope, 02 March 2021 - 09:44 AM.


#14 Hexley  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 09:37 AM

 

I think that's all still leaning me towards a 6-8" compound GoTo in the short-term and then longer term getting a 10-12" DOB.

Looking for that moment of clarity.
 

That's pretty much what I do. I own a Celestron Nexstar 6SE which is a fully automatic GoTo scope. It weighs about 22 pounds with the lithium battery, and I carry the mount/tube under one arm and the tripod/accessories in a backpack. I also keep my late dad's 8" Orion XT8 Dob, the OTA sits in the car's backseat with the base in the trunk - that setup is maybe 40ish pounds all together, no batteries required.

 

I'm 36, fairly healthy, but get very annoyed by heavy telescopes and unwieldy optical tubes... far as I'm concerned, those stay in the garage or are permanently mounted in an observatory. 

 

They're opposite sides of the astronomy coin, they both have their strengths and weaknesses... depends what I'm doing, what skies I'm going to have, etc etc.

 

If you've got a family, remember how big telescopes are, even smaller ones. With a wife, two daughters and an 80 pound doodle... there's no room for my scopes in a car, I usually bring my Canon 15x50s on vacation, no telescope.  One more thing that a lot of people discount: the difference between 6 and 8" of aperture isn't huge... heck, the difference between 8 and 10" also isn't. Stuff starts to get a bit more exciting right around trussed 14" models, but at that point, your telescope and astronomy is probably a lifestyle, not a hobby. The best thing you can have is a dark sky... aperture will barely compensate for city light pollution or a full moon. As such, living under Bortle 7 with only Bortle 3 nearby and Florida weather, I only keep smaller scopes around - wouldn't have it any other way. If I lived in southern Arizona, I might make very different choices.


Edited by Hexley, 02 March 2021 - 09:38 AM.

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#15 jnmacastro

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 07:19 PM

If you look at 6-8" compound GoTos/Alt-Az, staying <$2k, you have Celestron NexStar SE, Evolution, CPC ($1999 for 8 inch), Meade LX65, LX90 ($1979 for 8").  I think iOptron was at one time selling a MAK in combination with the AZ Mount Pro.  I don't know if they still do.  If you go with 8 inch goto dobs, both Orion and Skywatcher 8 inch goto dobs are similar in price to 8 inch SEs and LX65s. 

Of course, the big question nowadays is, when will the scopes be available?  smile.gif

 

Jeff



#16 ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 11:06 AM

The iOptron bundle is really tempting - it comes with everything you'd need to get going sans a cheapie 55mm ish Plossl to get a broader 1.4* view.

The TFOV on the F12.5 6" is similar to my 3.5" refractor at the same mags:
https://www.televue....LCULATE#results

According to Televue the max theoretical mag is 350x on both.
From what I've read on the forums - the 6" mostly makes up for the loss aperture by being Rumak vs. Gregory.

That and shorter temperature equalizing.

As above - if I still have aperture fever down the line - getting a DOB at that point seems to be a no brainer.

--

I really like the idea of F15 7" Maks but TFOV is small than I'd like:
https://www.televue....LCULATE#results

That then you need to buy extra counter weights, dew cap, misc other doodads - bumps the cost further and father away from target max.


Edited by ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope, 03 March 2021 - 11:13 AM.


#17 SeattleScott

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:55 PM

The TFOV will tend to be the same at a given magnification regardless of the scope. The difference is some scopes can hit lower magnification than others.

I don’t know that Rumak or Gregorian has anything to do with effective aperture or cooldown. The Rumak will generally be a bit better corrected for SA and FC as I understand, so there is some benefit. Fairly subtle though I would say. Certainly wouldn’t compensate for say 2” extra aperture. You don’t specifically say how much aperture it is supposed to compensate for.

Either Gregorian or Rumak would be the same in terms of cooling. Basically rather slow, or rather immediate, depending on whether or not the tube is insulated.

I do have the iOptron Mak. It’s a nice scope and a good pairing with that mount (a couple buddies have a 6” Mak with that mount). Certainly not discouraging you from getting the Mak. Just want to make sure you have your facts straight.

Scott

#18 ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 01:32 PM

Sorry for not being clear! I kinda jumped around weirdly there.

For TFOV - I was considering that in the respect at the F15 scope I was looking at the best you can get being like .98* - and that being too small for general use (at least for me). F12.5 at 1.4* with a 55mm is relatively close to the 18mm I use for most hopping around on my F6.77.

 


Edited by ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope, 03 March 2021 - 01:35 PM.


#19 Bigal1817

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 06:43 PM

Appreciate all the additional insights and advice!

It's good to know that collimation isn't too bad.

I had not mentioned it, but I also have the balancing act of my preferences vs. what other family members are able to-do as well! flowerred.gif

I know that if I get some big DOB, it will always be on me to move it out, setup, collimate, find things, etc.

Then part that dilemma to, for me personally, I don't have interest in a GoTo that doesn't have enough aperture to see things I can't just hand track.

To throw one more mitigating factor in, I'm 1hr away from a Bortle 1-2 dark site - this befuddles my choice more yet (but maybe it shouldn't?)
 

--

I think that's all still leaning me towards a 6-8" compound GoTo in the short-term and then longer term getting a 10-12" DOB.

Looking for that moment of clarity.
I know common a theme I've seen is "buy all the things and sell what you don't like" - so maybe that's a route too.

Tweaking what whizbang said into an Yogi Berra-esque quotable
"The unfortunate thing about astronomy gear is that there are a lot of choices."

If you believe you will want a larger Dob in the future, you might consider a smaller dob now. The experience of owning and using an 8" dob has been valuable to me. Even after the basics like where to store, where to set up, and transportation are figured out, there is far more learning to be done. Solving problems and building skills like collimation, avoiding stray light, eyepiece selection comes to mind. The 8" dob is one of the most widely owned and recommended telescopes. You might consider an 8" dob for today to pave the way for a 12" or larger down the road. Also, do some research on "push-to" as others have suggested, it can be a nice compromise.  For the record, I don't have any difficulty tracking objects in my dob, even at higher magnifications, and I don't believe you would either if you were to buy one and learn to use it. Good luck!


Edited by Bigal1817, 03 March 2021 - 09:43 PM.

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#20 ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope

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Posted 08 March 2021 - 06:58 PM

Here's my slightly out of left field purchase smile.gif Ended getting an IOptron CubePro on slight sale.

 

---

After much discussion and thought, the priority was refined from more aperture + GoTo, to just having a quality/easy GoTo with the existing refractor.

 

That still has enough overhead to cover a lightweight 6" reflector or compound later.

The pricing shift to anything that is more future proof (4-5" long F ratio refractor (double/triple), 6" heavy compound or 8" plus anything) starts pushing $700+ (very likely over a thousand).

Basically finding more ways to use what we already have!

 

If it really gets to the point we need more horsepower - can always sell that mount for at least half of price paid (if not 2/3).

 

All entirely too practical (or as practical as owning things you do not need to live like telescopes are wink.gif  ) - but that's life sometimes!

 

----

Also helps that when COVID slows down our club has once a month access to a 16" RC bow.gif  and 7" MAK through a local school district.
 


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#21 72Nova

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Posted 08 March 2021 - 11:52 PM

My first telescope (Feb 2020) was an 8” dob zhumell z8 and it is an incredible bang for the buck for under $500. I spent 3x that amount on eyepieces the rest of the year. The dob is bulky and starhopping is rewarding but time consuming.

In January 2021 I purchased an azgti, an 80mm refractor (at80ed) and a skymax102. Although this setup can’t match the views of the dob, I’m outside almost every night with this grab and go setup and I’m learning the pros/cons of the different scopes. Goto is a lot of fun and helps me find dso’s. Yesterday I ordered a celesteon c6 to use with my azgti. At 8.5 lbs, The c6 is pushing the limits of my azgti mount.

I am really enjoying my Azgti mount but it’s 11 lb weight capacity limits my options. If you want goto and larger aperture it will cost you but I think you are on the right track. You just need to dial in your priorities.

Edited by 72Nova, 09 March 2021 - 12:21 AM.


#22 geoffl

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Posted 09 March 2021 - 02:30 AM

Here's my slightly out of left field purchase smile.gif Ended getting an IOptron CubePro on slight sale.

 

---

 

I use my CubePro with a selection of my OTAs. This is my review of the mount on the Stargazers Lounge web site

 

https://stargazerslo...bepro-az-mount/

 

Geoff


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#23 ItsNotTheSizeOfTheScope

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Posted 09 March 2021 - 05:01 PM

I use my CubePro with a selection of my OTAs. This is my review of the mount on the Stargazers Lounge web site

 

https://stargazerslo...bepro-az-mount/

 

Geoff

Thanks for the detailed usage review!



#24 dmgriff

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Posted 09 March 2021 - 07:59 PM

 

I'm not interested in an EQ mount.
Something like the iOptrion AZ Mount Pro seems ideal for: ease of use, loaded with features, and expands up to 33lb payload. It seems like a very future proof mount with a lot flexibility in how you use it.

Then it becomes a question of what OTA and also not getting into >$2k cost.
Something like a 150mm MAK is appealing for the size and not needing constant collimation, but then cost per inch of aperture is higher, regardless because of the design limitations and what's commercially available, 7" is the max anyway.
 

 

I would go with the Ioptron AZ Pro mount. 

 

Have you looked at the GSO Classic Cassegrain 8 inch f/12? 

https://agenaastro.c...-ota-white.html

 

Weighs 20 lbs. Add a ST80 or such on the opposite side of the AZ Pro. Within 33lbs limit.

 

Good viewing,

 

Dave


Edited by dmgriff, 09 March 2021 - 08:00 PM.


#25 MalVeauX

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Posted 09 March 2021 - 09:40 PM

Heya,

 

All this sounds great until you have to actually set it up and break it down. Put a lot of thought into this. The bigger you go, the more fuss it will take to set it up and break it down.

 

The iOptron Pro AZ is fantastic for a visual mount for this purpose for 8 inch mirrors and 6 inch refractors. And the dual saddle bit makes it great to have something big and something small and wide together. A 4" ED/APO refractor with a C8 SCT is a fantastic pairing. Compact. Easy to deal with. A 8" F5 or F6 newtonian is also an incredible instrument for this purpose, great all-purpose scope. Again pair with a small 3~4" ED/APO and you have an excellent combo.

 

But, you can have excellent and it not do much if you don't like setting it up or fussing with collimation, etc. This is the problem with the simplicity of being told "get something huge" and then realizing its just too much physical volume of equipment to move around, store, or comfortably use.

 

There's no perfect way to discover this short of physically doing it yourself.

 

But I will say this... no matter what directly this journey is going, make it as convenient and simple for yourself to setup and use. Choose convenience over complex and heavy. Everything has compromise, and at the end of the day, the scope(s) you use MORE often are the best scopes because they generally are the fastest and simplest to setup and enjoy rather than a chore you fear and kick yourself for wanting to use but end up not wanting to due to the effort it takes.

 

If you want to end-game it now, get a 8" or 10" mirror and a night-vision eyepiece for EAA.

 

Very best,




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