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Those of us who are getting older--questions on downsizing.

Observing Reflector Refractor SCT Maksutov Classic
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#1 Stevencbradley


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 12:34 PM

I originally posted this in the "classic telescopes" forum, but it was recommended I begin a new topic elsewhere. For those who have seen this post before, you are not confused. I'm just reposting in a place that seems to fit better.

I have some questions: I consider you all to be some of the most knowledgeable folks around as to observational astronomy. I have been in the hobby myself (on and off) for a long time, and I'm now retired, with several hobbies & some productive work to keep me busy. I say all this to ask a couple questions:
1. What do you all agree on that you like the BEST? Refractors (size?)? Cats? Newts?
At present, I have: a Questar. A Parks 60mm refractor. A C5. A c8. An Intes 6" Mak Newt. The Intes, I think, was made in a cannon factory. It's heavy. The c8 is still manageable for now, but the MN may not be.
I'm curious, because most of you are either around my age or a bit younger--how did your choice of scopes change as you aged? At this point, I'm thinking of exchanging the MN for a 4" refractor (no Takahashi's--that would cost as much as my house). Are those the kinds of decisions you've made? I know I'm going to have to go lighter.
I live on a hill and everything is either down or up. I think I'm fine with the c8, but the Intes is not going to work. However, what's next, as I downsize? I have binoculars, so I'm ok there.

Edited by Stevencbradley, 08 April 2021 - 12:40 PM.

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#2 ShaulaB



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Posted 08 April 2021 - 12:43 PM

Don't you like your Questar?

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#3 Stevencbradley


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 12:45 PM

Don't you like your Questar?

Absolutely, and I intend to keep it. It's not ideal for some things, though.
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#4 ddegroot


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 01:09 PM

For visual I would go with a dob.  Something like a 12" truss tube design which is very manageable for transport.  I would probably sell the others including the Questar and also get something like a 76~90mm doublet on an alt-az for grab n' go and wide field viewing (I say this as a Questar owner).


I'm not saying you're wrong, but I do always have to laugh when responds to a question about downsizing by suggesting a bigger telescope...! 

To the OP: were I you, I'd consider selling some or all of your telescopes for a top-notch (but lightweight) 4" doublet, like a Takahashi FC-100DC. If you pair that with, say, a VAMO Traveller mount and a Report tripod, you have a really lightweight, no-fuss setup that can show you more than your Questar, and afford better views of some objects than your C8 allows. Alternatively, you could pair the apo with your C8 for a really nice combination. 

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#5 Supernova74


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 01:15 PM

Hi it’s funny how your mind works at times isn’t it,!?im not necessarily old at 47 and there are certain tasks I cannot do now then I could do let’s say ten years ago now,in a young lads mindset yeah!? i can lift that easy peasy lemon sqeezey.then the slighty more mature man says no it’s not worth the risk as your body says otherwise!?.firstly in the ideal situation an observatory of some description would be ideal,however not all of us and I’m one of them are unable to do at the moment 

for more obvious reasons really the additional cost as not every one of us can afford one,also would it be feasible in the first place as you might not have the space.


the philosophy I’ve gone by is live for the now and don,t worry about tomorrow however admittedly we cannot always think like that as time seems to fly by very quickly we have to think what’s practical and what isn’t.however there is always a solution to the initial problem at hand,and I’m sure there would be some alternatives from let’s say an observatory.and what I’ve started to see more recently is more amateurs having a more permanent kind of arrangement outside in there back yard with either an pier,or tripod then puchase something like a telegizmos 365 scope cover which is kind in the name as it’s designed to protect your scope from the elements or year round.then after your observing session if you cannot be bothered 

to disconnect all the electronics maybe you could water proof them some way.or perhaps if it’s not to much of a chore jsit bring them in which will only take a few minutes or so.


Another method you could consider is spreading the load more evenly and I don,t recommend you hire a crane or something!?.something like a scope dolly that can easily be wheeled out from your shed or garage could work for you.there also is other devices and gadgets you could puchase online like a small scissor lift jack either electric or can be pumped up like a jack system.so there are some options for you which I feel might be worth considering in the furture.

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#6 wrvond



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Posted 08 April 2021 - 01:17 PM

I have determined the absolute size limits for my telescopes. I've settled on a Sky-Watcher 120 ED Apo on a CG-5 mount, a C-8 ASGT (also on a CG-5 mount), and I have an Orion XT10g. 

However, the XT10g is a solid tube with a base that is heavier than it needs to be but not as stable as it should be, so I am currently building a 12.5" truss Dob. I'll enjoy a bit more aperture  from a scope that breaks down into lighter sections for easier transport.


What I didn't plan for was how heavy my eyepiece cases are! lol.gif

#7 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 01:19 PM

1. What do you all agree on that you like the BEST?





I'm pretty much in agreement with myself about what I like best, what works the best for me. Beyond that, some might agree that if they were in my situation, they'd probably have scopes similar to mine but that's about as far as getting anyone to agree goes.


The year before I turned 70, I downsized my biggest scope from a 25 inch F/5 to a 22 inch F/4.4..  It's all relative. 


What do you enjoy observing the most?  What kind of mounts do you prefer? How often do you observe? How long is a typical session?


What's the seeing like, how dark are you skies? What's the weather like?


A 4 inch refractor is a nice scope.. There's some very nice 4 inch refractors around $1000 or even less..


4297812-TV NP-101 at Jewel Valley.jpg



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#8 stevenwav


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:09 PM

I would keep the Questar and the C8 and sell the rest.  Use the sales cash to supplement with an easy grab-and-go refractor with a wider field - a TV85 with a lightweight alt/az mount and tripod - TV Telepod perhaps. 


The Questar is a jewel and a portable observatory in a box. The c8 is your largest useable aperture so you need to supplement with something manageable and provides a different experience/view, thus the TV85. If you had the funds, I would have suggested purchasing the new style AP Stowaway and call it a day. I anticipate a lot of these will become more readily available on the used market - hardly used and at prices approaching the original price eventually. My 2-Cents

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#9 havasman


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:16 PM

I'm pretty sure the only "best" scope I will ever own is my NP101is. It is a wonderful instrument that, for me, is likely the best widefield observing tool available. But it is not my favorite scope. To observe in the way I most enjoy I require aperture. So I recently attempted to "downsize" to a 12.5" premium Dob from my 16" Starmaster. While it may have been a good idea it has not yet proven successful for myriad reasons still subject to potential resolution.


So my recommendation for a relatively healthy old (I'm 70 and old) amateur astronomer is to hit the gym and become more capable. Nowadays that gym may be the garage or a corner of the bedroom but building strength can be safely and relatively easily accomplished even as we approach our dotage. My original downsizing intent was to shortly end up with a 2-scope package: the NP101is and the 12.5". That may happen but just as likely the pair will be the Starmaster and TV refractor as a high capability interim solution. Eventually that would morph into the refractor on a loaded Rowan AZ100 mount beside a C9.25 HD for a good lightweight portable observing package.


As Jon said, it's a relative set of solutions. Big and small are never absolutes. So we try to find what works for us. But I do think the relative burden of big and small can also become somewhat controllable.

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#10 paul hart

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:25 PM

I am sort of in the same boat. I'm thinking of selling my 14" dob and maybe going back to a 10 inch. The 14 gets heavier every time I use it.smile.gif

#11 chrysalis



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Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:43 PM

Yikes how timely!!


I was thinking of an 8" Dob that would be much easier to move than my 12", but I think instead it's time to just get a good hand truck...


I've got nearly zero experience with refractors, my strong memory being hat objects move backwards when you push the telescope from what the do in the reflector. I would think a 6" refractor should be awesome for a serious but casual observer like me ... right?

#12 sg6


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:48 PM

I have never gone "big" but just about all I have will be useable for the forth coming years.

All are basically refractors. Two are 100mm, one is a Tal 100RS which I suppose is long if nothing else but a classic looking scope. The other 100mm is a 102 f/6 that is really for outreach.


The others are: 90mm ED, 81mm ED, 81mm triplet, 72ED, 61ED.


My thoughts are my "main" ones are all decent quality and will last me. I have always liked/preferred the idea of easy, and none are difficult. If I cannot fit a 61mm ED on to a mount then just shoot me.

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 03:01 PM

I'm 73 and still have and use scopes from 2x constellation binos to the 36-inch Behemoth. In that sense... I'd define my ~Best~ prioritized as >>>


My 4-inch APO Refractor... ancient TeleVue Genesis 100mm F/5 and then others --- many others.


My most often observing is just from the back deck... Sun, Moon, Planets, Deep Sky. Lunt 80/80 for Solar visual and imagery.

I still use the 100mm and 16-inch binos and even the 36-incher --- but not nearly as often. Ergonomics, exercise, and weight-control can substantially mitigate geriatrics.  Tom

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#14 airbleeder



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Posted 08 April 2021 - 03:35 PM

   I started with a 8" GEM mounted reflector. I now have a 8" dob and a 4" ED refractor. At 69, I have no plan to change any equipment. I never upsized so I don't need to downsize.

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#15 sevenofnine


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 04:11 PM

 I have to laugh too lol.gif  you want recommendations for a lighter scope and no Taks. What do you get? Heavy scopes and a Tak. confused1.gif  I do think you're on the right track though thinking about a 4 inch apo refractor. Our sponsor has the Astro Tech ED 102 for $599 that gets very good reviews. I keep looking at it.hmm.gif  Good luck with your decision. waytogo.gif   

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#16 Stevencbradley


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Posted 08 April 2021 - 04:52 PM

Not to laugh too much at this, but you're right. Everyone means well. "Oh, a 4-inch Zeiss, coupled with a 6 inch Tak. That should do it."
Reiterating (gently, I hope) I. Live. On. A. Hill. 200+ foot driveway, too. If I should decide on a 16-20" "dob on wheels," I will invite everyone over to video. One of those videos will surely win "America's Funniest Home Videos." I'm also in the AZ mountains, with Bortle 4 skies and normally decent seeing. Light pollution from "the valley" is intrusive if there is haze. Whatever I buy has to be easily moveable. So far, the idea that appeals most is a 4" apo, exchanged for my 6" Mak-Newt, and possibly a C9.25 instead of my C8. I will take my time & decide. In the meantime, thanks for your responses, and keep doing so. I appreciate everyone's ideas.
For some food for thought: I Have owned many of the scopes you mentioned, with the exception of a really big Dob. I had a 12.5" Starmaster back in the day, as well as a TV-101, a C9.25, a Discovery 10" Dob, a Stellarvue 80mm. Semi-apo, bUt no Taks. Why? I did own a pair of Takahashi Astronomers, but it just didn't seem to me that they were THAT much better, despite the hype.

Edited by Stevencbradley, 08 April 2021 - 05:05 PM.

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#17 Tony Flanders

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 07:28 PM

I was thinking of an 8" Dob that would be much easier to move than my 12", but I think instead it's time to just get a good hand truck...

Gosh, I can't imagine owning my 12.5-inch Dob without a hand truck. Otherwise I would have to disassemble the scope every time I move it.

To give you a sense of how useful a hand truck is, this winter I frequently chose to use my 12.5-inch Dob instead of my 80-mm refractor on a photo tripod, because the Dob was stored outside fully assembled and tied to the handtruck (actually vice versa), whereas the refractor was stored inside and separate from the tripod. Wheeling the Dob 200 yards on the hand truck was considerably easier than attaching the refractor to the tripod and maneuvering the combo through the main door and the storm door -- despite the fact that once outside, the refractor-tripod combo is easy to carry in one hand. Sure the Dob weighs a ton, but that's almost irrelevant when using the hand truck.

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#18 BRCoz



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Posted 08 April 2021 - 10:23 PM

I retired last October and Tuesday of this week I hit 65. 


As others, I have collected some scopes over the past 20+ years and will need to get rid of some. 

I can still lift the C11 up and use it for another year or two.   (Should have gotten the C9.25)     

Meade 8" SCT.  102mm mak Don't get used

Refractors I have 80mm, 102mm, 130mm and 152mm. 

Mounts:   Twilight I, ASGT, GM8 (thank you mother in law RIP) G11.


My plan will be goodbye C11, Meade 8", ASGT.  When I am not able to mount the 152 it and the G11 will go.

The 130 will be next.


I gave away a Meade AR5 to someone I worked with last year. 


So my older years will be an 80mm and 102mm.  Twilight I and GM8.  


One thing time is flying by since I retired.  


Everyone enjoy your equipment. 

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#19 jcj380



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Posted 09 April 2021 - 02:46 AM

I bought a C8 with wedge 30+ years ago, but pretty much stopped observing for a few decades for several reasons.

Fast forward to a few years ago and I decided to get back into it. I could handle the 8 easy enough, but it was bulky to transport and kind of a hassle to set up. If I could have stored it on a wheelie, I might have kept it.

After reading reviews and such here, I bought an ST120 on an alt-az. Works pretty well and it’s an easy grab-n-go, which was what I needed.

After more reading here, I decided to try an ST80 and then a 90mm Mak for lunar. After using all three for a few years, I think I could be happy with just the 80mm. It’s five pounds and a little over a foot long - hard to beat the portability (I’m in bad LP) and wide FOV for my needs.

There’s a bit of an itch though to sell all three and get a 90mm or AT92 for a bit more aperture but still a smaller form factor than the 120.

#20 edwincjones


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Posted 09 April 2021 - 04:27 AM

A hard question to answer because it all comes down to personal preference

and what you use the most.  

My thoughts are to eliminate what you do not use often

and what is too big, too heavy to use without pain.



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#21 clearwaterdave


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Posted 09 April 2021 - 04:29 AM

I'm fortunate that I can observe from home off my deck where I built a mount that stays outside.,It holds my refractors and makes it easy to get setup.,I have a hand truck for the dobs but it hurts my back viewing through them so they may be going soon.,I'm happy with the refractors.,and the 127 is still easily managed.,but if push comes to shove the AT 102ed will stay longest.,

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Edited by clearwaterdave, 09 April 2021 - 04:30 AM.

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#22 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 05:23 AM

Gosh, I can't imagine owning my 12.5-inch Dob without a hand truck. Otherwise I would have to disassemble the scope every time I move it.



I personally find wheel barrow handles work better than a hand truck but I think either way, Steven is not interested in a Dob.


In any event, a good hand truck is just one of those tools that are useful enough, it's got many uses, every household needs one.



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#23 epee



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Posted 09 April 2021 - 07:24 AM

I'm in my early sixties and have been using a 12" for well over a decade now. When I recently upgraded to what I'm considering my "forever" scope, I downsized by not getting something bigger.wink.gif

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#24 alphatripleplus


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Posted 09 April 2021 - 08:02 AM

I knew what my limits were a couple of decades ago, so now I just deal mostly with smaller scopes (nothing bigger than a C8). Perhaps if I had an observatory and permanent set-up it would be different.

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#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 08:22 AM

I'm in my early sixties and have been using a 12" for well over a decade now. When I recently upgraded to what I'm considering my "forever" scope, I downsized by not getting something bigger.wink.gif


I was in my early 60's when we bought our place in the high desert.  It took me a while to realize I was in a good situation to use a large aperture scope so I started looking for something larger than than my 16 inch F/4.4. Soon enough I found a 25 inch F/5 Obsession.


As I was approaching 70, I decided standing on a ladder, observing alone, 50 miles from the nearest hospital,  just was too risky, despite the fact that I was using an industrial steel ladder with railings etc. 


So I downsized to the previously mentioned 22 inch F/4.4.  The eyepiece is only 8 feet at the zenith instead of 10 feet.  I took this photo after I bought the 22 inch but before I sold the 25 inch. It also shows the 16 inch and the 12.5 inch..


It mostly shows all things are relative, all things are individual. These scopes work for me because of my situation and my priorities and personal characteristics.. still reasonably strong for a guy in his 70s.


4 Dobs plus Jon.jpg
A lot happens between 60 and 70, at least it did for me.  At 60 I felt strong and vigorous,  I could ride a 20 km time trial on my bike at over 24 mph and finish in the top half of the field of all riders, the vast majority much younger.  I lost the stamina to train and the strength.  My health has been generally good, the dreams are still there but the battery is running low.

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