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Help deciding on a 180mm refractor

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#26 supermucho

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 11:12 PM

StartAlert, thanks for the info and advice.  I was also told by a writer from Astronomy Technology Today that the Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector works best for visual and it's quite expensive and probably not capable of eliminating all the "filth and muck" and choosing an optimal site/target works better.  I am in the San Diego area and it is no different than yours, to find better targets I have to travel to Indio, the Mojave Dessert or similar places and the one problem we have in this day and age, which has nothing to do with Astronomy, is that it has become quite dangerous to travel to remote locations in CA with expensive equipment.  It looks like you are happy with your TEC but it appears that you have not done any imaging with it.  Your APM binos must be awesome for visual!  Thanks for your help



#27 supermucho

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Posted 31 March 2021 - 11:21 PM

BlueMoon, thanks for the input and comments and as soon as I can decipher how to generate half-decent images with the new scope, I will certainly post them with a helmet in place to protect me from the rocks coming my way!



#28 Nippon

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 12:22 AM

Nippon, the Gutekunst Compact Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector is one of many components found in TEC's inventory and I believe it is also offered by APM.  I had not even heard of it myself, but I got quite an education from the folks at TEC and then I contacted the writer at Astronomy Technology Today who has also been giving me his advice on scopes and he claims that this absolute top notch corrector will make a substantial difference in visual and should also help in imaging. I was told that it corrects the effects on the telescope image caused by the atmospheric dispersion and helps maintain the full optical performance of the telescope. Heck this corrector alone is $4400 from TEC and even more expensive from APM!  At this pace my 401K retirement will evaporate into a dark hole!

Yes this this hobby like most can get expensive. The scopes I have are modest in size but of good quality. My largest is a Tak Mewlon 180 Dall Kirkham reflector and a good 4" apo for me is absolutely essential. I used to just marvel at some of the dream set ups I'd see at star parties and think how nice that must be. At some point though I got to a point where I knew the gear I have is good stuff, very manageable and I own it rather than the other way around. The point is to enjoy the hobby no matter how humble or elaborate your set up is.


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#29 Codbear

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 02:18 AM

I owned a  TEC180 and loved it so much I sold it and bought a TEC200! 

 

What I loved about the 180 was that it was always ready to go with no acclimation time at all (whereas my 200 does need a bit of time and is more sensitive to seeing conditions).

 

I remember my best 3 minute observing session I ever had. In January a couple of years ago I walked out to my backyard, took the Telegizmo365 off of my 180, pointed it at M42 and immediately saw E and F in the Trap for the first time - perfect dots for stars.

 

I have the ADC from Yuri, which I use primarily for planetary observing. It makes a huge difference by compensating for the dispersion caused by Jupiter and Saturn being low in the sky where I am in Northern California. Since it will be a few years before they move higher up in the sky, the ADC was well worth the price for me.


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#30 bobhen

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 06:57 AM

TEC, APM and CFF have long histories of producing 180mm apo refractors of high quality.

 

Stellarvue has not even released one of their 180 refractors and does not have a track record of producing 180mm refractors as serial production items. Their .99 Strehl claim (which for 180mm triplets is not that easy) has yet to be proven or independently tested. Because there’s no proven track record, you will be taking more of a risk with the Stellarvue 180. They might be great refractors, but the quality risk and risk of delay is just higher.

 

Between APM, CFF and TEC the quality will all be excellent but (other than cost and weight) some other considerations might be important…

 

TEC and CFF use oil-spaced objectives. These will acclimate quicker than large, air-spaced objectives. Both of my 6” Astro-Physics oil-spaced triplets acclimated surprisingly quick, even in cold temperatures.

 

TEC will be the closest to you, which might offer a degree of comfort, if service is ever needed.

 

Availability will also most likely be a consideration. Depending on stock on hand, APM “might,” offer the quickest delivery time.

 

High quality focusers, flatteners, reducers etc. are usually available for each of the above.

 

Good luck - nice problem to have.

 

Bob


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#31 Wibo

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 08:54 AM

I would take LZOS because I think an air-spaced lens is more robust and I never worry about the storage needs to do.



#32 supermucho

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 09:10 AM

bobhen, thanks for your great advice.  I have not been able to find a Stellarvue user nor one who knows about their 180mm, which seems to be a ghost at this time.  I believe you are 100% correct about Stellarvue's history with 180mm instruments. In addition, some folks have indicated that their .99 Strehl claim is strictly a "number at the lab" and not on location during an average night.  As you indicated, top notch focusers, flatteners, etc. are found with TEC's regular inventory, in fact, someone at Starlight Instruments told me that Starlight works constantly with TEC in their design of their focusers.  When I decided to dive into this hobby I concluded that I would probably have a maximum of two or three instruments of the absolute highest quality I could afford.  I tried to land an Astro-Physics even though they don't offer the 180mm to my knowledge but no luck at all. I tried to buy the Astro-Physics 92" but had to settle for a TAK 106EDX4.  At this point in time I am heavily leaning towards TEC.  Again thanks  



#33 StarAlert

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 11:32 AM

Since this is going to be a lifetime acquisition, I certainly would appreciate and welcome any thoughts from the group related to your experiences with these wonderful instruments and manufacturers, including the instruments and respective customer service experience.  I have learned a lot just from reading some of the members’ posts.  Cloudy Nights has some expert members, which truly step out of the box in a very responsible, scientific and unbiassed fashion to offer data only found in professional astronomy resources.   I have also settled on a refracting instrument since I prefer not to deal with the maintenance and idiosyncrasies of reflectors; however, I am fair game to reflector enthusiasts and willing to listen to you all. Thank you all in advance; keep this wonderful site moving forward and I look forward to your responses.

This made me laugh. Quite frankly, I think the info you get on CN is mostly biased opinions... including mine.lol.gif


Edited by StarAlert, 01 April 2021 - 11:33 AM.

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#34 Jeff B

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 12:25 PM

So my ~2.2197652 cents worth.

 

If you live across the pond in the EU, I would advise a serious look at CFF.  Here are my comments and testing with my CFF 160 F6.5:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ion/?hl=cff 160

 

A superb instrument in all respects.

 

If you live in the US, to me, TEC is a no-brainer.  I have four samples: 

 

A 140ED and a long term loan of a TEC 140FL:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ation/?hl=140fl

 

A TEC 160ED:

 

https://www.cloudyni...-ed-evaluation/

 

A TEC 200ED (my most used):

 

https://www.cloudyni...ent/?hl=tec 160

 

And, finally, a TEC 7 Mak (I've also owned TEC 6 and TEC 8 Maks too).

 

It's actually easier to find a needle in a hay stack than a used CFF180.  However a used TEC 180 is a little easier, being more like a needle in a bale of hay, but with both, you would need to be prepared to immediately jump and be ready to buy.  Or, just float a "wanted" ad here an in a-mart for a used one of either.

 

A used AP180 is also extremely desirable but, for me, the upcharge for the AP badge is not, IMO.

 

It's a lot of reading and I hope it helps. 

 

Honestly, there are no bad choices for the scopes you are considering.

 

Jeff


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#35 supermucho

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 12:50 PM

StarAlert, you may want to check out Jeff B's several posts regarding the issue.  Folks like Jeff B is exactly the type of responsible, knowledgeable contributor I was alluding to in my post, which obviously must have sounded like Comedy Central to you!



#36 StarAlert

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 02:31 PM

StarAlert, you may want to check out Jeff B's several posts regarding the issue.  Folks like Jeff B is exactly the type of responsible, knowledgeable contributor I was alluding to in my post, which obviously must have sounded like Comedy Central to you!

I would agree with Jeff. There isn't a bad choice among the 180mm refractors on your list. 


Edited by StarAlert, 01 April 2021 - 02:31 PM.


#37 NikhilJoshi

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 03:22 PM

With the TEC you also have the option of using the Astro-Physics quad-TCC to go down to f/5 if you want a wider field and faster optics.

 

I use the Q-TCC on my TEC-140 and it's fabulous.

 

-nik



#38 supermucho

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 03:42 PM

NikhilJoshi do you image with your TEC-140?  Thanks for the info.



#39 Suavi

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 06:18 PM

Some more reading - CN members impressions of their large refractors:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ght/?p=10458285

 

https://www.cloudyni...ions/?p=7456539


Edited by Suavi, 01 April 2021 - 06:20 PM.


#40 bortle2

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 09:32 PM

I just went into CFF's site and they appear to offer premium instruments.  They have a 185mm with a focal length of 1260mm and f/6.8.

Actually, they don't have 185mm any longer. Just like, say, 165mm. Those were limited series, and as of right now CFF only sells 180mm and 160mm (in those aperture ranges, I mean).



#41 supermucho

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 09:40 PM

Thanks bortle2 for the info.  Many folks like CFF and TEC but I am leaning towards TEC just because it's local and a premium scope manufacturer, as well.  CFF really seems to be outstanding but dealing with a manufacturer overseas somewhat concerns me.  Again thanks for taking the time out to respond.



#42 NikhilJoshi

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 10:45 PM

NikhilJoshi do you image with your TEC-140? Thanks for the info.


Yes, almost exclusively for imaging. I’m actually a bit embarrassed about how rarely I’ve used it with an eyepiece.


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#43 Nippon

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 11:00 PM

I see that you are open to consider reflectors. So as much as I love refractors a 7" refractor is a large, heavy, awesome, expensive small telescope. Key word there is small. The same money will give you a much larger premium reflector.  



#44 Dwight56

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Posted 02 April 2021 - 04:36 AM

I would go with the Stellarvue 180. The reason why you haver support in this country. I just recently purchased and had it out once a Stellarvue 140 and the optics look really good I also have Stellarvue 70mm from 5 years ago and it is sharp as a Tac.

 

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#45 GilATM

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 09:04 PM

If open to other optical configurations, I'd lean towards the celestron 14 sct. Versatile with f11, f6, or f2 with faststar. A favorite of planetary observers.

#46 weis14

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 10:53 PM

eyeoftexas, I just went into CFF's site and they appear to offer premium instruments.  They have a 185mm with a focal length of 1260mm and f/6.8.  Don't know much about it.  All these instruments have a focal length of 1260mm.  Will continue to search for info and again, thanks   

I have a 160mm CFF and have previously had an AP130GTX and a TEC160.  The CFF gives up nothing to either scope either mechanically or visually at the eyepiece.  

 

If I were ordering new, I might go with TEC just because they are in the U.S.  My former TEC160 needed the objective cleaned and reoiled when I bought it used.  TEC being in Colorado made that process very simple.  I just removed the objective per TEC's emailed instructions, packed it and shipped it UPS overnight insured.  Shipping was more expensive than the servicing.  I am much more concerned about what will be required should I ever need to have something similar done to the CFF.



#47 supermucho

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 11:22 PM

weis14, thanks for the info.  Your experience helps in the decision making factor.  At the end of the day, TEC is right up there with the best; however, your need for service, clearly shows how critical having access to source is and we are talking about a substantial investment.  I think optically, Takashima is at the top of the list; however, their 150 is their biggest refractor.  In fact, I just plan on having two telescopes, the TAKAHASHI FSQ-106EDX4 QUADRUPLET and then the 180 or 200.  Again, thanks for taking the time out to help.



#48 payner

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 06:51 PM

One can indeed have a large Takahashi. One that I know about was installed in Texas (FCT-200). So, a 200, 250 or the pictured FET-300 are available, with requisite mounts. These are triplets with CaF2 lenses. The FET-300 lens took about three years to complete.

 

 

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#49 base16

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 08:59 PM

I hope you have seriously considered the weight of these instruments. I consider anything beyond the 160mm to be extremely large... and I'm not even 40 years old yet and I consider myself reasonably fit for my age. The older you get the more difficult it's going to get to move these.. and even to balance the instrument on a mount.

 

 

Anything above 160mm (I have the TEC 160 on order), in my book, needs to be a reflector or EAA. Even if I can afford the item, I think it's just too much physical hassle.

 

As for me, just like you, I don't like existing reflector designs other than the RASA due to the collimation and other maintenance issues. I have the TEC160fl on order, and I plan to use it with a night-vision device for faint fuzzy targets, and with an extender to view planets. Sharing it here just in case you have this aspect really taken into consideration.



#50 supermucho

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Posted 05 April 2021 - 09:34 PM

base16, thanks for the advice.  I am 73 and if I go with a 180 or 200 instrument it would be permanently mounted in our property and would rely on one of my sons if I decide to travel with it.  There is absolutely no way I would attempt to take such a large instrument to other locations by myself.  I do have a son who is also interested in astrophotography and at 6'4 and 260 lb, he would be able to handle it with ease.  I feel about reflectors as you do.  In fact, several well-known experts in astrophotography claim that good refractors have better contrast than good reflectors by nature of their respective optical designs.  I also looked at the RASA instruments and they are indeed, very attractive specially for astrophotography.  I think your TEC 160 is a great choice.  I don't know if you are aware that Astro-Physics has the 0.72x Quad Telecompressor Corrector for the TEC 160 Refractor (QUADTCC-TEC160), which will turn your TEC 160 into an 806mm F/5 instrument.  It is pricey at $1,520 but in my opinion, well worth it.  I do plan to get one if I buy a TEC since they make it for several sizes.  The other issue to consider with TEC or any other instrument with "oil-spaced" lenses is that with time the instrument may have to be fixed by issues caused by oil.  At least one person who owns a TEC pointed that out in this forum and the individual also indicated that TEC fixed his oil related issue free of charge.  Everyone praises TEC not only for their quality but for their customer service.  Again thanks and your advice is appreciated.  




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