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Buying ADVICE appreciated for a newbie...

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#1 Miyamo

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 01:04 PM

Well, I am new to telescopes and astronomy, so this is my journey thus far.

 

Beginning a couple of months ago I have been frustrated in my attempt to buy my first telescope as all the vendors seem to be on back order and delay, delay, delay. I have already ordered 5 different scopes but the more I read and research the more unsure of what to buy so I keep cancelling my orders. At this point I have probably spent some 50+ hours reading, researching specs, and watching youtube videos…but still have yet to own a scope. :(

 

I do own “Turn Left at Orion”, own “SkySafari” on both my laptop and iPhone, and a pair of quality 12x60 binoculars.

 

I was going to just get an Orion AstroView 90mm Refractor ($350) as it is basic without costing much with good reviews… and knowing I would upgrade to something better in a year or two. But I changed my mind again.

 

My strategy for the moment is to get an Orion Starmax 127mm Maksutov with EQ mount ($600), Orion 1.25 Lenses accessory Kit ($99), a planisphere, and dew shield ($50) hoping this will be pretty good quality to last me indefinitely for general usage.

 

I live in the suburbs and will more than likely use it to look at the planets, moon and some deep space learning all I can. It is very important to me that my system is small and light enough to set up and store in the corner of my dining room or den and easy to transport to my back yard. Although a little nervous about learning how to use an EQ mount, I am convinced it is the way to go. I want to avoid a “Go To” system as I suspect they can go bad and then not sure I could use the mount manually. Besides I really want to learn how to do it all and maybe eventually upgrade to a computer system.

 

If I grow to love this, in a year or two after saving some money I would like to buy my dream system - an Orion EON 110mm ED (f/6 and 660 mm focal length) APO Refractor with an Orion SkyView Pro EQ mount, Orion 9x50 Right angle correct image finder scope with cross hairs, and Orion 1.25 Lenses accessory Kit. This totals to about $2,000. I do not want a more basic refractor as I worry about CA color distortion. Or should I just buy this to start with? 

 

I also like the Meade LX85 115mm Triplet APO Refractor bundle with (F/7 and 805 mm focal length), but it costs $2,500.

 

Although I can manage this, it is a fair amount of money to me, but I’m not getting any younger. :)

Any ADVICE would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

 



#2 Maritime

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 01:16 PM

I love my 127slt mak, and you will find similar scopes portable, optically excellent and maintenance free. I have other scopes, some much larger, but this one is my all around favorite. 
 

buy the much used talentcell external battery and use only that if you can, never the internal batteries. 


Edited by Maritime, 03 March 2021 - 01:17 PM.


#3 ngc7319_20

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 01:29 PM

I think you've made a good decision already with the Orion 127 Mak.  The "bang for buck" is excellent.  And good portability.  And will let you assess where your interests are, and think about future directions.  You will probably get more use out of this, than the less portable / heavier APO set ups.

 

One thing I've learned about observing here in the Mid-Atlantic, is that if its clear, you need to grab a scope and head outside.  If you start some elaborate setup with many trips carrying parts outside, etc., theres a fair chance it will be cloudy by the time you are done setting up.  The APOs will have a bit more setup with heavier parts, so that weighs against them, in my view.


Edited by ngc7319_20, 03 March 2021 - 01:30 PM.

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#4 Hexley  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 01:39 PM

You've got scopes from $350 to $2500 on there.

What's your budget... that'll determine the best choices. I wouldn't recommend any newbie start with an equatorial mount, ever.

Here's the man, Ed Ting... take his advice, and remember to have fun!


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#5 SeattleScott

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 02:05 PM

The problem with the Mak is it has a fairly narrow view and it isn’t GoTo so it will be hard for a beginner to find stuff.

I started with an Eq Mount and I turned out ok. They aren’t the most intuitive but they work fine, and you don’t have to do a GoTo alignment to use tracking. You can go full GoTo or full manual or in-between (manual with tracking), depending on how much set up time you feel like committing to. That being said, there isn’t much point in an Eq Mount without at least tracking. You are getting all the negatives without the benefits.

A 110-115mm Apo on a medium duty Eq Mount isn’t that tedious to set up. Granted it isn’t grab and go, so there would be some nights you pass on stargazing because the setup time is too much for your short viewing window. But you will also be able to find stuff 4x as fast with a 4”+ Apo versus a 5” Mak, without using GoTo for either, so there is that. If you ultimately want the Apo then might as well start there. And for a few hundred more you can get an 8” SCT and throw it on the same mount for more aperture. The risk is you get it and decide it isn’t what you want. A 90mm on an alt as is more GNG.

The 115 is more expensive in part because it is better corrected. The 110 will still show CA on bright objects. Not as much as an achro, but it will be there. Some people have been able to offset this with the right prism diagonal. A mass produced 4” Apo can cost $600 or $1100. Same vendor, same aperture, same physical appearance. There is a reason one costs more than the other.

Scott

Edited by SeattleScott, 03 March 2021 - 02:10 PM.

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#6 rblackadar

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 02:14 PM

You must be having fun with the binocs -- I have 10x50 and 15x70 and yours would seem to split that difference very nicely.

 

The higher-power scope I use for just about everything is an 8" Newtonian on a non-goto GEM. Before I got that, my biggest scope was a Meade 390 achromat (similar to one of the scopes you mentioned) but I also had summer access to an Apex 127 Mak (ditto).

 

As others have responded, I found the Mak to be a convenient size, and it's great for planetary/lunar use, and for star clusters. Great for splitting the double double, and for seeing the Ring nebula. I liked it less for galaxies (M101 was impossible) and even M20 nebulosity just wasn't there. (All summertime targets.) Could be, others' experience would differ, but I do like the bigger aperture that I have now. For visual use I think I would prefer a 6" or 8" Dob over that Mak. The 90mm achro wouldn't be in the running, though it did serve me well for the 2017 eclipse.

 

One strategy (apart from Dobs, which maybe you should consider...) is to sink your early money into the mount. In my case, I bought my current mount before I had a scope to put on it. Then when I got the 390 used, it held that, and now it holds my 8" (with some counterweight help, cough cough). I would say, don't eschew go-to just because you don't need it now -- it's really nice to have tracking at least, and someday you might want to do AP.



#7 drd715

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 02:15 PM

The two cheap scopes will probably disappoint you - the eon is a nice scope - better for astrophotography,  but a little short for the higher power levels you would prefer for visual planets.  The meade 115EDT is a nice scope/mount.  There are other options in your price range.  If you want a pure simplicity smaller scope for planets/moon the Altair Astro 102ED F-11 on a alt/az mount will do a nice job. Or value oriented an 8 inch dob will get you started.  If you are going GEM mount you really should be getting a better quality mount and a bit heavier than you might think , maybe a CEM-40 size  mount (or a 60).  I will say a tracking mount is very convenient to keep planets in the view at higher powers.  



#8 SeattleScott

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 02:36 PM

The two cheap scopes will probably disappoint you - the eon is a nice scope - better for astrophotography, but a little short for the higher power levels you would prefer for visual planets. The meade 115EDT is a nice scope/mount. There are other options in your price range. If you want a pure simplicity smaller scope for planets/moon the Altair Astro 102ED F-11 on a alt/az mount will do a nice job. Or value oriented an 8 inch dob will get you started. If you are going GEM mount you really should be getting a better quality mount and a bit heavier than you might think , maybe a CEM-40 size mount (or a 60). I will say a tracking mount is very convenient to keep planets in the view at higher powers.

For visual a CEM40 or 60 would be rather overkill. A buddy has the CEM60. My wife says it makes my 26.5 lb capacity Eq Mount look like a toy. Also the iOptron mounts are really designed to be used as GoTo. Trying to use them manually or just tracking is surprisingly frustrating. The Meade LX85 is a fine size for a 110-115 Apo and can be used manually with tracking or full GoTo.

Scott

#9 PKDfan

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 04:41 PM

Hi miyamo!  My advice is to save and get what you really want. I did that and the totals for a satisfying experience turned out to be a rule of three, 1/3 for scope, mount and eyepieces each. Look at my signature and you are looking at just over 3k cdn.

 

I recommend a long focal ratio apo for high mags and good eyepiece performance. I've taken mine to over 250× in great seeing and it was perfect! Also it has a 3° true field.  Imho a must have is a significantly wide field for jaw dropping sweeps of the summer milky way. My 45× 1.8° view is mind blowing/expanding. Trust me its addictive!

Really no words to express how sublime the view through a fantastic 4" refractor is!

 

Good luck in your journey and really my best advice is don't compromise. Think hard on it or you will just get unhappy results and that is not fun. 

 

I had a sct c8 that was super sharp but a super hassle too.

I'm setup in ten minutes tops with my 4 inches, thats about 3 times quicker than the sct. Hated collimating! Massive dew. Awkward ergos. You get the picture.

Btw I'm completely noob on equatorial mounts and its easy really, don't understand peoples reluctance to suggest to use one for beginners. Jeez everybody was new to it once!! They are all doing fine now I'm sure.

 

Every scope purchase is an extremely personnal decision and what works for me might not be good for you.

 

Clear skies & Good seeing



#10 CounterWeight

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 04:49 PM

If you can wait a bit more, at some point the astro groups can meet again and there will be star parties that you can go to and 'see for yourself' what the different scope type / mount type combinations can deliver.  But that does mean waiting until we see the back side of the Covid efforts.



#11 Tony Flanders

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 05:34 PM

My strategy for the moment is to get an Orion Starmax 127mm Maksutov with EQ mount ($600), Orion 1.25 Lenses accessory Kit ($99), a planisphere, and dew shield ($50) hoping this will be pretty good quality to last me indefinitely for general usage.
 
I live in the suburbs and will more than likely use it to look at the planets, moon and some deep space learning all I can. It is very important to me that my system is small and light enough to set up and store in the corner of my dining room or den and easy to transport to my back yard. Although a little nervous about learning how to use an EQ mount, I am convinced it is the way to go. I want to avoid a “Go To” system as I suspect they can go bad and then not sure I could use the mount manually. Besides I really want to learn how to do it all and maybe eventually upgrade to a computer system.


I used that very same scope for a few weeks (borrowed), but on a SkyView Pro mount rather than the AstroView mount. I also used it on an alt-az mount, as described below. The SkyView Pro mount is a bit of overkill for visual observing with an optical tube that small, so I'm sure the AstroView will be adequate.

 

It's quite a nice little scope in its way, though like all Maks it does have a very long cooldown period, and is prone to dew. The lack of low-power capability can be pretty frustrating for a deep-sky observer. One way to remedy that would be to get a really good finderscope instead of the (adequate but small) supplied 6x30 finder. A good 8x50 finderscope can give a lovely low-power view that complements a Mak's narrow field of view well.

 

On the whole, I prefer using small scopes like this on an alt-az mount, for the simple reason that alt-az mounts are lighter and more compact. If you stay almost entirely in your backyard, that may be a non-issue. On the other hand, if you stay in a suburban backyard you will never get a decent view of a galaxy or nebula. The malign effects of light pollution on deep-sky observing cannot be overstated.

 

I'm baffled by the paragraph quoted above about EQ mounts and Go To; it sounds to me as though you are making some incorrect assumptions. Why do you think that lack of Go To implies that you need an equatorial mount? What do you think an equatorial mount will do for you that a manual alt-azimuth mount won't do?

 

And while we're on the subject, reflectors and SCTs are conspicuously absent from your post. Is there a reason for that?



#12 Bigal1817

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 06:31 PM

Welcome!  I liked your original idea of a small refractor and then upgrading, perhaps in part because that worked for me.  That said, I believe a good backyard astronomer becomes a collector of a few telescopes.  I don't own a 5" mak but I'm considering getting one for my 3rd telescope.  They seem to be a very good blend of performance and portability and do well in urban/suburban settings.  



#13 Miyamo

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 09:13 PM

WOW! Thank you so much for all the helpful comments. Now I have even more to consider.

 

My concerns about the Orion Starmax 127 Cassegrain as opposed to a nice APO Refractor has to do with sharpness of image and issues with Dew.

 

I do not want anything that has to be collimated or that is large and clumsy to transport like a Dobsonian or a Reflector.

 

I would be happy with a alt-alzimuth mount or an EQ mount (I believe that I can learn how to use an EQ as I am intelligent, tend to learn how things work and am persistent)…but the Alt-alz would be more intuitive and easy to use and less expensive.

 

Would I be crazy to consider something like a Takahashi Starbase 80 Achronomat Doublet Refractor on Alt-Azimuth Mount - STK08000 ($610) instead of the Orion Starmax 127 Cassegrain both being about the same price and not expensive but the Maksutov has a 127mm aperture vs the Refractor with only a 80mm. 

 

https://www.highpoin...escope-stk08000

 

Or

 

SkyWatcher Evostar ProED 80 mm f/7.5 ED APO - S11100 ($825) with a good mount in the $350 range.

 

https://www.highpoin...num-case-s11100

 

 

Both of these have GREAT reviews but my concern is that they only have an 80mm aperture - but they are affordable.



#14 starbug

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 01:04 AM

+$200 for finderscope and bracket for the Takahashi?

I'd say it is crazy. And orthos as starting eyepieces? Don't know.



#15 ngc7319_20

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 02:12 AM

 

My concerns about the Orion Starmax 127 Cassegrain as opposed to a nice APO Refractor has to do with sharpness of image and issues with Dew.

 

I do not want anything that has to be collimated or that is large and clumsy to transport like a Dobsonian or a Reflector.

 

Dew: you make or buy a dew shield.  Get a sheet of stiff black plastic and some big rubber bands.  Or buy one for $30:

https://astrozap.com..._list=grid-view

 

Image will be less sharp than a 127mm APO due to the central obstruction.  But shaper than an 80mm.

 

Collimation is not a big deal.  What is really sad is when you get a refractor that is out of collimation, but there is nothing to adjust since it is "collimation free." smile.gif


Edited by ngc7319_20, 04 March 2021 - 02:13 AM.

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#16 alder1

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 04:11 AM

I’ll share my experience: I have the Orion Astroview 90mm refractor. I’ve had it for years, and it was my first scope. The EQ mount was easy to figure out (the scope comes with a manual) and works well, although it’s a bit wobbly. It’s a great telescope for the money, and I’ve spent many, many hours with it, mostly looking at the moon. It was an excellent starter scope for me. I was lucky though, I got it for lunar observing and that’s what I ended up liking to do. It might be different for you; once you get into this hobby, it’s hard to say where your interest will lead you. A good reason to start with an inexpensive setup.
Oh, I’d wait on buying eyepieces too. Use the ones that come with the scope for a while and then get what you need. The ep’s that come in those boxed sets are generally not recommended here on CN.
Anyhow, welcome and don’t worry too much about gear. The binoculars you already have and a simple telescope can give you years of enjoyment.
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#17 therealdmt

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 05:04 AM

I’d say just get anything decent, of any design, that comes up used for cheap. Use that for 2 or 3 months (or more if you’re having fun) and learn what you like and don’t like about it, what features you’d like to have, your observing style, etc. Then, with that info and experience in hand, start targeting your first "good" scope.

 

Your may well still end up going for that Meade LX85 115mm Triplet APO Refractor bundle, but if you do at least you’ll have reason to be more confident that that big purchase is the right move for you. 
 

Another strategy would be to target an inexpensive scope that would be somehow complementary to your intended future main scope. Problem is, you may well find your wants changing as you gain experience, so like I said, just starting with anything cheap and workable could be a good way to go. Gotta start somewhere! ;)


Edited by therealdmt, 04 March 2021 - 05:08 AM.


#18 therealdmt

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 05:56 AM

Alternatively, you could just go for this bad boy plus 2” diagonal (w/ 1.25” adapter), alt-az mount w/tripod, and perhaps an affordable zoom eyepiece. Portable, no cool down time issues, no collimating, no anti-dew heaters, no central obstruction, no counterweights, no batteries, no noisy motors, no messing with hand controllers or polar alignment, decent color correction, high contrast, nice wide field of view...whole thing for right around a grand. But you prolly don’t like that kinda stuff.

 

Sorry, I couldn’t resist! lol.gif

 

Most important is to just get something useable and get started, then see how it goes from there smile.gif


Edited by therealdmt, 04 March 2021 - 06:25 AM.


#19 radiofm74

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 02:30 AM

I am very new to the hobby. In the space of 2 months, I have bought two OTAs: a 6" f/5 Newton and – barely a week ago – a 6" f/10 SCT for more portability on family trips. Both are mounted on a CG-4 equatorial mount. Here my thoughts on your situation.

 

1. Small tube or "big and clumsy"?

A key question that Tony asked above: is this gonna be a set-up that stays at home + occasional car trip to a dark site, or something you plan to go backpacking with? For backpacking, a small, compact Cat (5" Mak or SCT) has distinct advantages and even a small EQ mount will likely be too heavy. If it's home + car trips, and you don't have problems of space, you can be perfectly fine with an EQ mount and frankly I fail to see the advantage of a super-compact tube. I took my Newt and the mount on a small holiday and – given enough room in the trunk – it was not more difficult that it would have been with the C6. Once there, I could walk without problems a couple hundred meters to set up outside: one hand for tube in its bag, backpack for accessories, eq mount on shoulder. Set-up including polar alignment ≈ 5'. The one real advantage of the small tube I see for now is that it stresses your mount a lot less or lets you get away with a smaller, lighter mount. 

 

BTW: the EQ mount was a relatively short learning process, and I appreciate having manual tracking a lot. 

 

2. Rich field or high power

I'm yet to become familiar with the C6 but so far my experience is that the Newton is easier to use. Having that additional degree of FoV allows you to enjoy fully big objects like the Pleiades, the Beehive cluster or even M35, and makes it A LOT easier to find things. Tube rings let you position eyepiece and finder quite conveniently. The C6 has more inherent magnification, but more often than not (especially in a city) seeing conditions will set the limit of magnification much lower than the C6's (or even the Newt's) capabilities.

In any case: if you get a Cat with a small FoV it is CRITICAL that you invest in a good finder, as Tony said above. The Newt can benefit from one too, of course, but I find that a good 6x30 is adequate for it. Never so for a CAT: I have an 8x50 RACI and a red dot on the way.

 

3. Collimation

Both Cats and Newts need collimation – Newts regularly, Cats rarely. But the difficult collimation (collimating the secondary mirror) is the one that all three have in common – you do it once, it's a right PITA, but once done it's ok for long unless you drop the scope. Collimating the primary mirror on a Newt is something you may have to do every second observing session or so but it's NOTHING. Like tuning a guitar before playing, or perhaps a little easier. It's a non-factor. Just invest in a Cheshire and it's a breeze. 

If you want "no collimation" and minimum maintenance, a refractor is probably a good option. I've read several comments on CN, from some of the most experienced members, to the effect that chromatic aberration is not such a big problem after all. 

 

To conclude. I like both my C6 and my Newt, and am yet to make myself fully at home with the C6. In my experience, the Newton is an "easier" telescope and plenty portable enough to be set-up in the backyard or after a car trip. A Cat is also lovely for its compact size & light weight, translating in a more stable mount – but it's a little less of an all-rounder and it really requires an additional investment for a serious finder (or even two: optical and red dot). 

 

Whatever you do, you're unlikely to go far wrong waytogo.gif


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#20 JohnnyBGood

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 08:37 AM

I think the advantages of an SCT or MCT are largely lost when you put it on a German Equatorial Mount. However, in a fork mount with or without a wedge they become smaller, lighter packages. My 8" SCT, tripod, and wedge fit comfortably in the trunk of my Trans Am. I don't think an 8" Dob would fit.


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#21 DSOGabe

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 01:56 PM

Regardless of the scope you finally decide on I would recommend not getting the Celestron eyepiece kit. You can use that money to buy a couple of better quality eyepieces to supplement the one(s) that would come with the scope. The only filter you would need to start off with is a polarizing lunar filter; the color filters in the kit are something that you will not be giving enough use to justify buying the set.


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#22 Tony Flanders

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 02:19 PM

I think the advantages of an SCT or MCT are largely lost when you put it on a German Equatorial Mount.


I don't agree with that at all! On the contrary, the stubby tubes of the various flavors of Cassegrain work especially well on German Equatorial Mounts. Telescopes with longer tubes have a host of problems on GEMs, ranging from the tube banging into the tripod to an excessive range of eyepiece heights. You can track across the meridian before flipping the tube much longer with an SCT than with a refractor or a Newt of comparable aperture.


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#23 vtornado

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 06:29 PM

My thoughts  

 

I would go with  a moderately priced scope because this is your first scope.

That will give you a good idea what driving and using a scope is like, what 

objects excite you and what objects are blah.

 

Maks on a manual mount in light pollution make it hard to find deep space objects.

Planets, double stars, moon are easy because they are bright and easy to locate.

The dim objects are not even visible in a finder scope.  You will end up using

your main scope as a finder, and the mak with its narrow field make that hard for

a beginner.

 

In light pollution I prefer an atl-az mount because you can use a digital angle

gauge on the scope to verify the altitude.  If you live on a grid system of roads,

azimuth can be dead reckoned to get you close.

 

The setting circles on a CG4/astroview are usable

but they are small and take patience.   Which sometimes I have little of.

 

Most eyepiece kits are not well thought out.  They contain short focal length plossls

which are uncomfortable to use, and many times the included 2x barlow causes 

overlapping magnifications.   Half of the filters in these kits are very dark and cut

back too much light in a small scope.

 

Gotos as you suspect are not a panacea.  The have advantages in light pollution where

guide stars are few.  However there is an alignment procedure that must be learned.

And that has to be repeated if you have to move the scope to tree dodge.  Low cost

gotos do not have clutches to release the scope so it can be used manually.


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#24 SeattleScott

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 07:27 PM

I think the advantages of an SCT or MCT are largely lost when you put it on a German Equatorial Mount. However, in a fork mount with or without a wedge they become smaller, lighter packages. My 8" SCT, tripod, and wedge fit comfortably in the trunk of my Trans Am. I don't think an 8" Dob would fit.

There is some truth to this, however if one decides they want a GEM, a cassegrain will work very well with it. Key reasons for a GEM are ability to use tracking without doing a computer alignment process, ability to use GoTo or starhop equally well depending on one’s mood on a given night, and improved portability in larger apertures. Ever try to transport a 14” fork mounted SCT?

Scott

#25 COViewer

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Posted 10 March 2021 - 08:19 PM

I 2nd (or 3rd) saving for a nicer scope with go-to. I cannot tell you how easy it is to get burned out when you can't locate anything.


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


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