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I want a 6 inch refractor. What can I see?

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#101 blackhaz

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 05:13 AM

Couldn't agree more with Sketcher. Having proper dark sky - with the lack of light pollution and good transparency - is important. I was out observing recently with 90 mm with a night vision monocular under Bortle 4, and I was amplifying sky glow. There was literally a sea of light background faint stars and fine details in galaxies vanished into. M97, the Owl, was considerably bright in narrowband H-alpha filter, but barely visible without filtering - poor transparency and light pollution just consumed it. The little 90 mm could have gone so much further if the sky was darker, with or without NV aid. With DSOs a bigger instrument should produce a brighter image at a bigger scale, but, as I understand it, the contrast (the signal-to-noise ratio) can be improved by lowering sky background, assuming we ignore intrinsic telescope aberrations, with proper dark adaptation of the eye for unaided view.


Edited by blackhaz, 20 April 2021 - 05:23 AM.

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#102 Simoes Pedro

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 05:58 AM

Regarding the mount, would it be the same for a newt on an equatorial I guess, I don't want Dobson mount

I am afraid not. A 6" is longer and heavier than a 8" newton. Although a newton is impractical in equatorial mount in my opinion.


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#103 barbie

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 08:46 PM

I would seriously consider the weight and mounting requirements for a refractor of this size!!


Edited by barbie, 20 April 2021 - 08:48 PM.

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#104 weis14

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 10:06 PM

I like refractors. I don't want to mess up with a big Newtonian, so I am wondering if a six inch refractor could still give some nice views, also on deep sky. What about clusters and nebulae? What can I expect to see? Any experiences there? I could reach a bortle 4 sky in 30min and bortle 3 in one hour.. otherwise I am in a city pulluted area..
Thanks

I consider a 6 inch refractor the ideal suburban/urban backyard scope, if you have the means for it and an appropriate mount.  I live in a Bortle 6-7 area, but can get to Bortle 2-3 skies within an hour or two.  

 

From my back yard, a large refractor is the ideal scope for the targets that are best viewed: planets, moon, open clusters and double stars.  A light bucket (I used to own a C11) was clearly superior on globular clusters, but the light pollution made galaxies uninspiring even in the C11.  More aperture may help, but I've never looked through anything bigger than the C11 except at a star party under dark skies.  Under good seeing conditions, the planet and lunar views are stunning.

 

Under dark skies, a 6 inch refractor dazzles.  Star fields and brighter DSOs are magnificent and thousands of fainter DSOs are within reach with varying levels of detail.  The FOV is wide enough to fit all of the Andromeda Galaxy in a 35mm Panoptic or 31 Nagler, but the scope can also take as much magnification as the seeing allows (unfortunately in Michigan, that usually is not very much).  Brighter globular clusters start to be resolved under higher magnifications.  Again, a light bucket will be better on faint galaxies, but inch for inch, a good 6 inch refractor is as good as a scope gets.

 

Mounting requirements really depend on a lot of factors.  With the CFF160, which is very nose heavy due to it being a triplet, I can get by with my GM811 on a Losmandy HD tripod for visual/EAA, but just barely.  A G11 would be better.  An AP Mach 2 or 1100GTO would be better still.  I'm still waiting to evaluate the CFF160 on my FTX, but that combo will almost certainly be a low power combination only.  If you get an ED doublet, or a short achromat, you might save enough weight that a much smaller mount (CG-5/AVX/M2C) becomes a possibility.  


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#105 jimandlaura26

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Posted 20 April 2021 - 10:15 PM

I'm a refractor astronomer, but at a smaller aperture scale; 80 to 102mm. When I asked the question you are asking, I concluded that I would sacrifice field of view for price, weight and other advantages of a 150mm Sky Watcher Mak-Cass that rode just fine on my existing AVX GEM and Discmounts & Stellarvue alt-az mounts. Great images that rival my refractors in many respects. And it offers better penetration for dimmer stars and brighter DSOs than my great refractors. Good decision for me. Good luck!


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#106 teashea

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Posted 21 April 2021 - 08:20 PM

 

Maybe someone should start a thread...

 

Indeed it is.



#107 Rutilus

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 06:21 AM

I like refractors. I don't want to mess up with a big Newtonian, so I am wondering if a six inch refractor could still give some nice views, also on deep sky. What about clusters and nebulae? What can I expect to see? Any experiences there? I could reach a bortle 4 sky in 30min and bortle 3 in one hour.. otherwise I am in a city pulluted area..
Thanks

In my light polluted sky I tend to find DSO's objects a bit of a disapointment with a 6 inch refractor,

my C9.25 SCT does better.  Here is a 5 second  single photo taken with my 6 inch refractor and f/3.3

focal reducer of the Leo triplet. This is a good re-presentation of how M65 and M66 appear in the eyepiece

to me with the 6 inch scope in my greyish skies.  If I had Bortle 3/4 skies then things would be different.

When I started out 50 years ago, both these galaxies were visble in 50mm binoculars from my backgarden,

sadly this is now not the case.  

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#108 CHASLX200

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 06:23 PM

In my light polluted sky I tend to find DSO's objects a bit of a disapointment with a 6 inch refractor,

my C9.25 SCT does better.  Here is a 5 second  single photo taken with my 6 inch refractor and f/3.3

focal reducer of the Leo triplet. This is a good re-presentation of how M65 and M66 appear in the eyepiece

to me with the 6 inch scope in my greyish skies.  If I had Bortle 3/4 skies then things would be different.

When I started out 50 years ago, both these galaxies were visble in 50mm binoculars from my backgarden,

sadly this is now not the case.  

 

In my light polluted sky I tend to find DSO's objects a bit of a disapointment with a 6 inch refractor,

my C9.25 SCT does better.  Here is a 5 second  single photo taken with my 6 inch refractor and f/3.3

focal reducer of the Leo triplet. This is a good re-presentation of how M65 and M66 appear in the eyepiece

to me with the 6 inch scope in my greyish skies.  If I had Bortle 3/4 skies then things would be different.

When I started out 50 years ago, both these galaxies were visble in 50mm binoculars from my backgarden,

sadly this is now not the case.  

Even my 18" deep sky is lack luster on most objects in my Mag 5 skies on my best nites M42 looks ok, brighter open clusters are ok and PN nebs hold up well.  Globs are cored out but looked washed out and forget galaxies. 


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#109 StarAlert

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 07:06 PM

Even my 18" deep sky is lack luster on most objects in my Mag 5 skies on my best nites M42 looks ok, brighter open clusters are ok and PN nebs hold up well.  Globs are cored out but looked washed out and forget galaxies. 

And this is why I bought a camera to put in my 6” refractor.  
 

Here is a 5-minute exposure (10x30s) of C23 as seen on an iPad... from my Bortle 7/8 backyard. Makes me wonder just how big a Dob I’d need to see that in an eyepiece from the same location. 

 
DFA807D6 8021 4C4F A034 34BBC5D80C77

Edited by StarAlert, 29 April 2021 - 09:05 PM.

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#110 CHASLX200

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Posted 29 April 2021 - 07:10 PM

And this is why I bought a camera to put in my 6” refractor.  
 

Here is a 5-minute exposure (10x30s) of C23 as seen on an iPad... from my Bortle 7/8 backyard. Makes me wonder just how big a Dob I’d need to see that in an eyepiece. 

Something i could never do.  



#111 dhferguson

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 12:16 AM

Cheers,

 

I own a fine SV125A ED OTA (AKA '5"'), f/7.75, one of the optically very good ones. I also own a Celestron 8" Edge HD (AKA "SCT") and a 14.5" f/4.3 Night Sky Dob with a fine John Hall mirror. I do most of my observing from my Bortle 6-7 backyard. For AP in particular, I drive 3-4 hr round trip to one of two Bortle 3-4 sites. Here are my comments.

 

First, re: mount, my AVX handles both the refractor and SCT just fine, both visually and during AP. I guess I got one of the good ones. Vibration is hardly noticeable visually, and shock absorbent pads are unnecessary. Given my light polluted skies, I really appreciate the "goto" feature of the mount and generally point it with a laptop running Starry Nights 8 Pro. The AVX is quite lightweight given the load it can support, and I simply carry the entire mount outside, then attach counterweights. The mount head fits in a Harbor Freight Apache 4800 Pelican clone case, which is great for remote sessions. This mount yields 1.2" rms guiding (both axes) using either the 5" or the SCT, which is better than the seeing at my backyard, and usually better than the seeing at the remote sites I use.  I am thrilled with the AVX mount and have zero intention of upgrading. I just hope it lasts. For AP, I would add there are a number of "tricks," like loading the RA axis to the east, and slightly offsetting the polar axis to preload the Dec axis. It also helps to experiment with the PHD2 software settings to optimize pointing, which is a good thing to do during full moon periods.

 

The 5" refractor: great on double stars, and my "go to" planetary/lunar telescope when I don't think the seeing is quite up to snuff for the 14.5", which is 90% of the time. I think visually the refractor yields slightly better contrast on planets than the SCT. However, the SCT seems to outperform it slightly on the very high contrast Moon. Galaxies (all) are just plain disappointing from my backyard, however. Globulars may or may not be partially resolved but, again, the 14.5" Dob blows the refractor away. Some of the brighter open clusters, however, are quite nice in the 5". The 5" and SCT OTAs weigh almost exactly the same and I--a healthy adult in his mid-sixties--have zero problem mounting either scope onto the AVX with legs fully extended. I think it is important to be a bit **** retentive when carrying/handling the 5" because it doesn't have a handle. I built the observing chair with a height-adjustable seat as described in the first edition of Phil Harrington's book "Starware." This is especially helpful when observing near zenith as the seat can be adjusted low--the "swing" is much greater than for the SCT, something that might be worse with a 6", depending upon one's f/ratio and lens weighting.

 

In comparison, the 8" SCT is slightly easier to mount than the 5" due to its shorter tube and convenient handle. Eyepiece "swing" about the sky is much reduced, too. DSOs are of course considerably brighter in the SCT, to the point where it even begins to get fun to locate galaxies from the backyard on transparent and Moon-free nights. I use 2" eyepieces with my SCT so the ~ 1.25 deg field (30mm ES 82 deg AFOV) isn't too bad, although the refractor clearly has the wider field. This only seems satisfying at dark sites, however, because the lit gray background of a wide field simply swamps fainter DSOs. The SCT will resolve the cores of the brighter globulars--M5, M13, and M22 for example. Needless to say, the 14.5" yields much brighter views of DSOs.

 

The 5" refractor is easier to setup and use for AP. I use an Evoguide 50mm guidescope with this OTA, and it locks on like a Gila monster. There is a bit of flexure, and dithering is your friend. I use a Celestron OAG with the SCT, however, and I sometimes must hunt for guide stars even at f/7. The COAG is also more sensitive to star SNR (see my post on this). That said, I use both often and like 'em both!

 

'Couple of things about using these telescopes visually. For a given magnification, the 5" has a smaller exit pupil than the 8" and a much smaller exit pupil than the 14.5". For those of us oldsters with floaters, a small exit pupil (~<0.7 mm) can be begin to be a problem. Then too, for a given magnification, the 14.5" yields a much brighter image, hence promoting better contrast detection, than either the 5" or SCT. 

 

Both the SCT and the 5" refractor "live" in quality cloth cases, and both are easy to transport to a remote site. The 14.5" must be disassembled into box/truss/base, etc. and is a real monster to transport to a dark site. Night Sky telescopes are quite wonderful but they are not at all light, following as they do more or less the design philosophy of Star Master scopes. However, the 14.5" has wheelbarrow handles and thus is the quickest scope to set up in my backyard. Like other posters here, I seem to require ~ half a dozen trips to/from the garage to fully setup with either the 5" or the SCT. Neither  the 5" refractor nor the SCT is "grab and go," and I am certain a 6" refractor on an equatorial mount would not be either.

 

So there 'ya have it! Honestly though, I kinda wonder about keeping three telescopes into my dotage. If I were limited to two, I'd keep the Dob and the 5". If allowed only a single scope, I'd keep the 8" SCT.

 

Happy observing always,

 

Don


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#112 gjanke

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Posted 30 April 2021 - 04:48 AM

So there 'ya have it! Honestly though, I kinda wonder about keeping three telescopes into my dotage. If I were limited to two, I'd keep the Dob and the 5". If allowed only a single scope, I'd keep the 8" SCT.

 

Happy observing always,

 

Don

Leo is up early enough and positioned in the sky high enough to make it a stop on the list for viewing. Using my 4.7 refractor Algieba is always stunning. I went to view M65 and M66, which should be easily framed together in a eyepiece and I will tell you I struggled with being able to actually see them. My skies are Bortle 6/7 so I did see them...I think. That's not the case with a 8" SCT. The light pollution makes star hopping a pain but if I am on an object with the SCT its clear what it is.

Your assessment is correct; given a choice between the three scopes the proper choice to keep would be the 8" SCT. Its functionality in diverse conditions is why it's considered the work horse for amateur astronomers.

I sold my SCT 8" when I picked up all my refractors and its the one I am truly regretting selling as we head into the spring galaxies.


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#113 Angeles

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 12:42 PM

How much you can see in a telescope strongly depends on how skilled and experienced you are as an observer. It is therefor quite difficult to predict how much YOU will see, based on other people's experiences, though they may serve as a general guideline. 

 

Under a dark sky, and in the hands of an experienced observer, a 6" refractor is a surprisingly powerful deep-sky telescope. I have one (APM 152 ED) and in my roughly Bortle 3 sky, I can take it down to around magnitude 15 on stars. This means that many globular clusters are at least partially resolved and numerous galaxies begin to show some structure. The very sharp optics mean that I'm often using MUCH higher magnifications, than I do with my reflectors (my 12" dob has very poor optics). This brings in fainter stars and allows better resolution of clusters, globular clusters in particular. 

 

BTW, be aware that a 6" refractor, especially if it's f/7 or longer, is a very heavy instrument that needs a suitably strong mount. You will need AT LEAST an EQ-6 class mount, preferably with an upgraded tripod, as the 2" steel pipe tripod on the EQ-6 mounts is their weakest link, by far.   

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

The 6" acro first came around 1999 they first came on a eq5 mount with alum legs,The newer eq5 are abit better and come on 1.75 steel legs ( almost none comes 2" legs anymore).

The 6" evostar weight same 22 lbs which is & was the same weight as the acro version that were popular by every manufactures. So weight is the same.

 

So the evostar 150 can go on a eq5 with steel legs. I use it this way and its fine. just wait 1 to 2 secs to dampen. Sure a AVx or LX85 would be better or a heq5 even as you say eq6 BUT the new eq5 can do it too.



#114 teashea

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 06:30 PM

I'm glad you are rolling your own OTA.  I love making refractor OTAs.

 

Here is one of mine based upon an Istar 6" F10 doublet achromat. The lens is very nice with the OTA coming in at under 30 pounds completely equipped to observe with bino-viewers.

 

I can highly recommend you make the scope "bino-friendly" as the low power views with, say, old Ultima 35 & 30mm, and 24 Pans & 24mm APM UFF class eyepieces is just stunning for deep sky.  

 

Jeff

Very cool



#115 teashea

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 06:36 PM

Even my 18" deep sky is lack luster on most objects in my Mag 5 skies on my best nites M42 looks ok, brighter open clusters are ok and PN nebs hold up well.  Globs are cored out but looked washed out and forget galaxies. 

I know that I get spoiled by the glorious AP images.  One needs to remember that to make one of those images, it takes tens of thousands more photons that the eye.



#116 teashea

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 06:40 PM

And this is why I bought a camera to put in my 6” refractor.  
 

Here is a 5-minute exposure (10x30s) of C23 as seen on an iPad... from my Bortle 7/8 backyard. Makes me wonder just how big a Dob I’d need to see that in an eyepiece from the same location. 

50 inch.  



#117 bobhen

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 06:24 AM

And this is why I bought a camera to put in my 6” refractor.  
 

Here is a 5-minute exposure (10x30s) of C23 as seen on an iPad... from my Bortle 7/8 backyard. Makes me wonder just how big a Dob I’d need to see that in an eyepiece from the same location. 

That is exactly why I wrote the following in post number 5.

 

Living in a city you might want to consider a 5” refractor on a GEM but add an inexpensive camera (like the Revolution II or similar) for quick shot EAA. Or you could take the money you saved by getting a 5” refractor and lighter mount over the 6” refractor and purchase an image intensifier. Both of the above will show you more deep sky objects and details from your light polluted location than traveling to a dark sky will.

 

And if you do EAA, you can capture that much detail in under 60-seconds. And by adding an intensifier, you can bring what can be seen in a ultra-dark sky right to your backyard. 

 

Bob


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#118 HydrogenAlpha

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 10:47 AM

I use a 5" refractor for imaging and I'd love a 6" if I could afford one. I've shot lots of galaxies and nebulae under my Bortle 8/9 skies, but I assume this post is focused on visual so I'll answer it in that aspect. 

 

As far as light pollution goes, there's no amount of driving that I could do that get any better than intense city light because borders are closed. I love the views of planets and star clusters from my 5" refractor. On a good night, I can see lots of detail on Jupiter, and star clusters show up as very nice pinpoints of light. Orion nebula is also a treat, especially at higher magnification on the trapezium region. Lower magnification would show a strong sky background which isn't particularly pleasant. 

 

That said, if you visually want to see faint fuzzies, there's no substitute for a dark sky. 


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#119 Destrehan Dave

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 07:52 PM

Had a gorgeous, world-class 6” APO... best view of Sirius ‘pup’ imaginable.

 

Now have a TAK-120, and for the most part, it’s a more wieldly instrument.

 

DSOs in my buddy’s C8 were for the most part much easier, but for those objects within it’s reach, there was no better view than the big refractor.  Studied the Trapezium and Double Cluster till dawn!

 

Seriously, the jump from 4” to 5” is amazing; 5” to 6” not so much.

 

YMMV...  Also agree EAA with SharpCap or Mallincam is the way to go.

 

DD


Edited by Destrehan Dave, 02 May 2021 - 07:53 PM.


#120 lwbehney

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 07:49 PM

In the "APO" world, on the lower price side , the F8 SW150 ED seems like a great deal and reasonable in size and weight.  Based upon my experiences with similar sized instruments (heavier actually) a Losmandy GM8 class mount with a Losmany HD class tripod will work just fine for high power visual work.  

 

In my direct experiences, my 6" refractors have real world light grasp similar to that of a C8, though, of course, resolution is lower.

 

Jeff

I will second Jeff's observations. I owned a C8 and the Lunt 152 simultaneously  and found the images in the refractor brighter  and the contrast was also better. I think that anything a C8 can adequately visualize regarding DSO's, so will an ED semi-APO six inch refractor. Jeff is also correct in that doublet six inch refractors are surprisingly light telescopes, even though they are long. I have a club mate with a triplet 130 mm refractor   riding on a Losmandy G8 just fine and the APM 152 is about the same weight, but not as front heavy and has a handle for the rings. I believe that Roland Christen himself said it was a waste to use his refractors solely for visual use. If you want perfect AP, a small triplet is the way to go, but for visual use, a doublet 6 niche ED refractor is perfectly sufficient and will probably beat any 8" reflector except for maybe a Maksutov/Newtonian or long focal length Newtonian on DSO's. 

 

-Larry



#121 CHASLX200

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 07:51 PM

You would have to luck into a freaky sharp 8"  SCT to beat out a well made 6" ED.  Most are just so so at best but there are some insane sharp SCT's out there.  


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#122 Deep13

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 09:53 PM

I didn't read much of this thread.

 

I don't know what kind of 6" refractor you have in mind. I've only looked through one. It was a Synta 6" f/8 achromat. We were looking at Jupiter and it had more purple haze than a Jimi Hendrix concert. I don't imagine that would be much of a problem on faint fuzzies.

 

My big refractor is 5" f/12. I mostly use it for planets. I brought it to a really dark site (Cherry Springs, PA) once in 2003 during the close opposition of Mars. I also looked at the summer showpiece objects. It did all right. The globs in Sagittarius looked especially nice. I haven't brought it back to Cherry Springs since then because, for DSO viewing, I prefer my 8" or 12.5" Dobs. So, what can I see with a 5" scope? Less than I can see with an 8" Dob. The 8" is actually better on planets too, but the big refractor can be EQ mounted and used easily with binoviewers, which makes planet-viewing easier. Incidentally, my refractor was home-built by the previous owner out of 6" aluminum tubing, so it's a bit over-sized. I mount it on an EQ6, which is barely adequate because of the scope length.



#123 CHASLX200

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 05:37 AM

My D&G 5" F/12 did great on all objects and color was not a problem. But at 6" F/8 forget it unless it is deep sky only..


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#124 JMW

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Posted 06 May 2021 - 10:56 AM

For portable use I would not be using a GEM for visual unless I was setting up for multiple nights such as a regional star party. I can get very steady views with my DM6/Planet while using the TEC 140 ED. 

 

I do setup an Astro-Physics mount when I want to image at a multi-night star party. I have a SVX130T that I can use for imaging while we are enjoying the TEC 140 ED on the DM6/Planet for visual.

 

My 8 inch f/6 Dob on a custom ApplePly base is much quicker to setup than my TEC 140 ED on the DM6/Planet or GEM. We bring the 8 inch Dob and TEC 140 ED because my wife loves the 140mm refractor and the Dob gives me something to do when observing next to her. If we bring only one scope the TEC 140 ED is the one because a happy astronomer spouse is happy camper. grin.gif


Edited by JMW, 06 May 2021 - 10:58 AM.

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#125 laedco58

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Posted Today, 11:34 AM

I’m currently considering a 6” refractor. I got bit by the refractor bug about 1 1/2 years ago. Bought a NP 127 for wide field observing alongside my 12” reflector. Then I acquired an 80 apo. Early last summer a 100 made its way into my possession.

For my nearly 63 year old eyes, aperture rules. It’s all about the image scale for me.  When Saturn and Jupiter were near opposition last summer, I had all 4 scopes deployed a few nights to compare views. I would always migrate to the 127 and Z-12.

When Mars cleared the tree line and was observable from my location, I spent many mornings with my FC100DL set up alongside my NP127. Both scopes provided gorgeous views of the red planet, but again I found myself migrating to the larger scope for the majority of my observation sessions. My 80 gets used the most as a spotting scope on my shooting range.  As fine a scope as my FC100DL was, I like and use my NP 127 more, and recently sold the Tak. I’m strongly considering acquiring a APM 152… 




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