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!
I don't want to start an argument with you., But you may be the "100 millionth person" I have responded to by asking: Can you, and are you willing to drive to a place with darker skies? The darkness of the skies you view from can make a big difference. You mention you observe from Bortle 4 or 5 skies. I consider Bortle 4 dark but not real dark.
Rather than advise you as to whether to use a GoTo or simialr assist, or to star hop. Let me tell you what has successfully worked for me for over 35 years of observing thousands of DSO, and that is learning to read the constellations and star hop to find the dso's I am looking for. I have tried Go To or Push To assists and in some ways they can make it easier, but in other ways they just slow me down and get in the way. Besides, to me it's not the quantity of objects I observe in a given night, but more important is the quality of the time I spend getting the most out of the objects I observe, record and sketch. Star hopping and knowing how to navigate the sky like a road map is part of the joy of this hobby. There are people who have been observing deep sky objects for years and have earned Messier and Herschel awards, but they only did it by using setting circles EQ or fork mounts, or using a GoTo or PushTo and depending on them to find the objects for them, but if something malfunctions, well,, they are helpless to find anything because they don't know the sky well enough to find them without these assists.
I know saying this may upset some people here, but I am just trying to be honest in a tough love kind of way. I don't want to sound preachy, but some people in this hobby and well as other things in life are looking for easy answers and short cuts. And some people who get into this hobby are told, in one way or another, that you really don't need to learn the sky if you get an assist like a GoTo or setting circles.as a short cut.
If you are willing to do without like a GoTo or some sort of EQ mount then you should be able to buy a good 8 inch or 10 in Dob new for $500 to $700 dollars, and even less used like from the classifieds. There are no perfect scopes, and if there were you might not be able to afford it. And it's not just the scope; it's the skill of the person using it.
Edited by Scoper47, 09 March 2021 - 10:53 PM.