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Dobsonian Telescope Questions

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#1 HNS

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:15 PM

Hi All,

I am thinking it may be time to step up from my childhood refractor (I have had a lot of fun with it over the years), and it seems that the general advice is that an ~8" Dobsonian is a decent choice. (I definitely do not want a computerized mount. Hobbies are analog time). I am mainly considering used equipment (most everything new is out of stock). I have not ever used one, and the local astronomy club isn't meeting for star parties due to the pandemic, so trying a club scope is out right now. I have a couple of questions.

My back yard is somewhat sloped (front yard is out due to an annoying street lamp). Does this rule out a scope not on a tripod or table? How easy is an 8" Dobsonian to transport in a small hatchback? Is learning to collimate a telescope relatively straightforward (ie, I can learn from a YouTube video or 2), or will I need mentoring? Finally, are there other telescopes I should be seriously considering (I know this is a loaded question)? I don't want anything much heavier than what I am seeing for an 8" Dobsonian, because I think moving the scope would be a barrier to using it (I am a woman, have back and shoulder pain at times, and anticipate moving the telescope solo most of the time). I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

Edit: One more question. A number of used scopes listed state that there are dents in the optical tube. How big a deal is this? If they collimate OK do i assume they are good? Sometimes the incident that caused the dents is unknown, as some have been with multiple owners.

Edited by HNS, 08 May 2021 - 11:50 PM.


#2 Augustus

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:17 PM

Slope doesn't matter with Dobs unless it's really severe. If it bothers you, just put a brick or block of wood on the low side.

 

An 8" Dob is not very heavy. Tube and base are each about 20 pounds. A 10" isn't much worse and will show you a lot more...

 

I transported a 12" in my mom's hatchback. 8" is easy.


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#3 Stellar1

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:30 PM

You'll love an 8" dob, its the workhorse of telescopes in my opinion and can be easily transported considering I would regularly stuff my old 12" lightbridge into my even older 2001 Corolla.

collimation is not a steep  learning curve especially once you've done it a couple times. It will provide great views of an endless list of objects especially under dark skies, it is a durable light

weight scope which will serve you for years to come, it is an easy choice for a scope. As for your physical limitations, have a look at some youtube videos on an 8" dob so you can get a feel

for its size, maybe it will help in deciding if it is something you can comfortably deal with.


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#4 GUS.K

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:44 PM

Moved to Reflectors forum for a better fit.


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#5 ravenhawk82

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:45 PM

You're asking all the right questions :)

If the slope of your yard is severe enough to make the telescope want to swing to the low side I'd just balance it out with whatever you can pile up to make a small flat surface. Wood blocks, packed dirt, bricks, whatever. It doesn't take much space to have a level platform for the base to sit on and it doesn't need to be perfectly level.

Transporting an 8" will be easy. I used to move a 10" dob around in a '96 Mazda Protege which most likely has less space than your hatchback. I'd strap the tube into the back seat and wedge the base between the front and rear seats over the top of it (or put it in the front passenger seat if I was traveling solo). In your case I think the easiest way to move it would be to put one of the back seats down and store it parallel to the car but I guarantee you'll have plenty of space.

Collimating is disorienting at first as you get used to how the mirrors work but quickly becomes second nature when you get the hang of it. A collimation laser with an angled view window is the best tool for the job because you can sight the laser from the back of the scope while you adjust the primary.

Regarding other scopes... Probably not. As you recognize, it's a loaded question, but considering your use case an 8" dob is probably the best tool for the job. Other options I can think of to compare with such a scope cost much more and come on computerized mounts. Dobs are the best value possible for a nice visual-use light bucket. There's no other 8" scope out there that comes with a usable mount for the cost of an 8" dob. 

Best of luck!


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#6 Barlowbill

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:48 PM

An 8" scope is going to be heavy.  I'm a 71 year old man an have had an 8" Orion for a few years.  It is NOT light.  Collimation is not, in my opinion, as easy as most folks say. It takes equipment, study and a lot of practice.  If you are not a heavy lifting person, you might think about a 6" Dob.  It would be lighter.  Good luck 


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#7 Augustus

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:53 PM

Collimation is not, in my opinion, as easy as most folks say. It takes equipment, study and a lot of practice.  

Not really. If collimation takes you more than 2 minutes at f/6 you're overthinking it. The key is to not mess with it too much in the first place. Only tools needed are either a collimation cap (can make one for free) or Polaris. Spending money on collimation tools for anything above f/5 IMHO is legitimately a waste.

 

Fear of collimation led to me avoiding an 8" Dob for a first scope, which is probably the dumbest mistake I ever made in this hobby.


Edited by Augustus, 08 May 2021 - 11:54 PM.

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#8 HNS

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 11:59 PM

Thanks for all the responses. I am a scientist by training and am confident I can learn to collimate a telescope, as I can calibrate equipment. I am just trying to determine if I will likely be able to figure it out on my own, as I don't know anyone nearby to show me, and the astronomy club is virtual meetings only right now.

The places in the back yard I would put a telescope do not have a terrible slope.

Edited by HNS, 09 May 2021 - 12:04 AM.

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#9 SeattleScott

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 12:17 AM

The more you collimate the faster you will get. People who talk about collimating in two minutes do it every time, and have no tools collimation. If you do it every time, you get really good at it, and it never gets off very much. So it just needs a minor tweak to one mirror mostly. With practice you can actually learn which screw to turn to get the dot to move which direction, as opposed to “let’s turn this screw and see what happens.” Technically it really isn’t that challenging, unless you get into centering secondary and such, but that would be more of a one time thing.

Slope can be an issue with Dobs. A slight slope probably isn’t a big deal but my backyard at my old house was steep enough for a little sledding in winter, so I never got a Dob. My yard at my new house is also sloped but not as steep, might be worth considering a Dob. You can imagine it would be pretty annoying if the tube kept sliding to one side. Using bricks or blocks isn’t so simple because you need a relatively flat surface for the rubber feet. If the ground is sloped, the brick will be sloped. You might really need something more like a wedge. But it just depends on how sloped.

Scott
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#10 ButterFly

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 01:35 AM

Thanks for all the responses. I am a scientist by training and am confident I can learn to collimate a telescope, as I can calibrate equipment. I am just trying to determine if I will likely be able to figure it out on my own, as I don't know anyone nearby to show me, and the astronomy club is virtual meetings only right now.

The places in the back yard I would put a telescope do not have a terrible slope.

Watch the videos and ask questions if you need to.

 

Remeber these two touchstones as you learn (that apply to any system):

 

1) one adjusts the tilts of the components so that the optical axis of the objective coincides with the optical axis of the eyepiece (or the normal to the sensor); and,

2) one adjusts the positions of the components so that the entire light cone makes it to the eyepiece (or sensor) symmetrically.

 

For visual, #1 is several orders of magnitude more important that #2.  If any of the tilt adjustment screws need tools, replace them with knobs right away.  Don't forget to touch up collimation throughout the night as needed.  Check once an hour or so until you learn how your scope reacts to weather and what not.

 

A handtruck makes transport very easy, if the terrain permits.  Most bigger dobs have wheel barrow handles.  No reason why you can't do that to your dob one day.  Put it in a shed and the mirror is close to ambient temperature as well.  Very quick.

 

A dent could just collimate out, or could block a part of the objective.  What else could have gotten damaged in the fall is an important question there.


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#11 EricSi

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 02:51 AM

I think a 10" Dob is the sweet spot between aperture and portability. Not too hard to carry, and you don't need to go to the extra hassle of a truss tube. But if your car is pretty small you should measure it and check the specs on the tube length. My car is a Scion xB, and I have no problem getting the 10" into it without even needing to use the front passenger seat for anything.

 

As for collimation, that is something I still am not very good at, but unless the collimation is really terrible it won't be a problem. And with a solid tube, unlike a truss tube, you don't have to collimate all that often.


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#12 EricSi

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 04:00 AM

(I definitely do not want a computerized mount. Hobbies are analog time).

As you wish, but I have found that a Push To system (not motorized, but with a hand controller that tells me where to aim the scope) is a real game changer. I spend most of my time observing objects rather than trying to find them or wondering if I'm looking at the right one. It's the difference between observing 10 or 12 objects in a session vs. observing 30 or 40.....


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#13 RobertMaples

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 06:56 AM

...Collimation is not, in my opinion, as easy as most folks say. It takes equipment, study and a lot of practice...

As far as equipment, you can get very good results with a $7.50 collimation cap.  You can spend a lot more, and if you want dead on collimation you will likely need to, but I find that's not really necessary.  Even when the collimation is a little off, my reflectors far outperform my refractors of less aperture.  The only time I worry about collimation is when I'm trying to get the absolute most magnification I can, usually when doing planetary viewing.  Even then, as long as it's close, the seeing usually limits magnification before collimation does.


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#14 RobertMaples

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 07:01 AM

I think a 10" Dob is the sweet spot between aperture and portability. Not too hard to carry, and you don't need to go to the extra hassle of a truss tube. But if your car is pretty small you should measure it and check the specs on the tube length. My car is a Scion xB, and I have no problem getting the 10" into it without even needing to use the front passenger seat for anything...

In addition, the biggest difference between most commercial 8" and 10" dobs as far as portability is concerned is the weight.  That's because most 8" dobs are F6 and most 10" are F4.7 - F5, so they have very similar tube lengths.  For example, I have both an 8" and 10" and the OTA on my 10" is only 1" longer than the 8".  Of course, the 10" is also bigger around, but I usually find the length the more limiting factor.


Edited by RobertMaples, 09 May 2021 - 07:03 AM.

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#15 Bill Jensen

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 08:15 AM

Hi All,

I am thinking it may be time to step up from my childhood refractor (I have had a lot of fun with it over the years), and it seems that the general advice is that an ~8" Dobsonian is a decent choice. (I definitely do not want a computerized mount. Hobbies are analog time). I am mainly considering used equipment (most everything new is out of stock). I have not ever used one, and the local astronomy club isn't meeting for star parties due to the pandemic, so trying a club scope is out right now. I have a couple of questions.

My back yard is somewhat sloped (front yard is out due to an annoying street lamp). Does this rule out a scope not on a tripod or table? How easy is an 8" Dobsonian to transport in a small hatchback? Is learning to collimate a telescope relatively straightforward (ie, I can learn from a YouTube video or 2), or will I need mentoring? Finally, are there other telescopes I should be seriously considering (I know this is a loaded question)? I don't want anything much heavier than what I am seeing for an 8" Dobsonian, because I think moving the scope would be a barrier to using it (I am a woman, have back and shoulder pain at times, and anticipate moving the telescope solo most of the time). I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

Edit: One more question. A number of used scopes listed state that there are dents in the optical tube. How big a deal is this? If they collimate OK do i assume they are good? Sometimes the incident that caused the dents is unknown, as some have been with multiple owners.

You have gotten a lot of good advice above (especially the hand truck suggestion). Just a few other suggestions. Our local club offers loaner scopes which include both an 8 and a 10 inch scope. You may want to ask your club if that is an option. Also, someone in the club may actually be looking to upgrade their scope, so you may get one that is well cared for if one is for sale. 

 

You may want to budget a bit for some better eyepieces, depending on what you own now with your childhood refractor. If you already have a good set, great, but if not, perhaps the seller of the used scopes you are considering will throw in a few. 

 

Also budgeting for an adjustable chair will help given you are dealing with back and should pain. An adjustable chair was one of the best investments I made . There are several threads regarding this here on CN. 

 

you indicated no computerized scopes, however keep an open mind to a dob with digital setting circles (DSC), such as the Orion XTi series (the "i" indicates the addition of their intelliscope module). Depending on your light pollution locally, it will make finding dimmer targets much easier, after your do the initial setup of finding two bright stars and getting them centered in the eyepiece. I live in a 'burb just outside of DC, close to a local mall, so the light pollution really limits my ability to see pointer stars using a Telrad . Using the digital setting circles means I still push it to the point the computer indicates, so it is not "go to" but it really is easy to use with an 8 inch scope. The information that is provided when you reach the target is pretty nice too, as the computer will tell you (among other things) the limiting magnitude of the target. You can also start to create lists of targets, and ultimately add a connection to a program like Sky Safari, which will greatly expand the ability to search on objects and provide detailed information. That said, just starting with a DSC (or adding it later if not equipped) is a great way to increase your time at the eyepiece, rather than straining to find something that may be rather dim in the first place. I have also found it very useful when I change an eyepiece while on a target. If I bump the scope too far when putting in the new eyepiece, i can easily recenter the object. Again, this may be dependent on your local skies (whether dark so you can easily see pointer stars) and your own knowledge of the sky. 

 

A final note, you will love seeing Jupiter and Saturn later this year in the evening thru an 8 inch dob. It is not just about DSOs. 


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#16 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 10:31 AM

An 8" dob is an excellent selection. At f6, it is very forgiving regarding collimation. If it is a bit off, you will still have good images. Usually the atmosphere causes far more problems than minor mis-collimation.

A little bit of slope is not a problem for the scope.

Tube dents are also not normally an issue, as long as they are not blocking the mirror.

Transporting an 8" dob is easy. The base has a handle and it should easily fit in the back of a small car. The tube can be carried with 2 hands, or with one if you add a handle or straps. Lay it across the back seat and strap it in with the seat belts.

If the pieces are too heavy, a hand truck with a long tongue, some foam rubber padding and pneumatic tires will make transporting it easy. Just make sure you strap it to the hand truck so you don't lose it if you go over rough ground.

I strongly suggest contacting your local club. Someone will surely have an 8" dob, and you can check it out before deciding if one is for you.

Edited by Paul Sweeney, 09 May 2021 - 10:32 AM.

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#17 HNS

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 11:07 AM

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I will contact the local astronomy club again, and specifically ask about trying an 8" or 10" Dobsonian. I know the club has loaner telescopes. On most days I can sling hay bales and 50 lb feed sacks around, so I am pretty confident that I can move an 8" scope and base most of the time. (I am somewhat concerned about having the motivation to do so in the evening. The refractor is excellent in this regard,as grabbing it, acclimating it, and using it are fast and easy. However the mount is subpar, and I get annoyed). If I want to observe planets or the moon on a pain day, the old refractor is an option though.

I honestly hadn't thought about the advantages of a computer controlled mount in light polluted skies. I actually don't usually observe at home much due to light pollution (bortle 6/7), but wanted to do so more frequently. Maybe I can talk through this with the local club.
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#18 gene 4181

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 11:32 AM

    The 10 inch  starts too "feel "  awkward  IMO, unless you put a handle on the tube.  Get yourself a 2 wheel dolly  and strap the dob too the dolly . Cover the support frame of the dolly with  pipe insulation / taped on  to protect the dob tube . Now you can roll anywhere , add a chair , eyepiece case ,  Google it  and you'll find all kinds of add on contraptions. I have to admit that the 8inch Orion while being sparse in  provided  accessories is  nice at 20 pounds  x 2 pieces.  After using your dob though  coming back in , store it horizontally  so the dew doesn't pool on your mirror . 



#19 TomK1

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 12:28 PM

If your budget allows, there is a new premium 10 inch STS dob in process on the teetertelescopes.com website.   Encoders and computer would provide the flexibility of easily locating many very faint objects (actually all objects) if star hopping to that certain object proves elusive. It's a push-to system. I'm sure you could have the encoders installed (think of them as a safety factor) and hold off on buying the computer if you initially want to go "all analog".  Once the secondary mirror is centered, a bright laser collimator and tublug  makes collimation a two minute process in daylight or in total darkness (I typically do a second collimation to re-tweak alignment 2 to 3 hours into my observing session).   A fan will improve the visual image.    A 2 speed focuser is a must have option.  At f5, you might be able to forgo the coma corrector.    New premium hardware adds up quickly.  But, once done, you'll own and use a scope which will go down in history as one of the best ever made and which provides fantastic views: notice the scope has a thin Zambuto mirror.  The scope and rocker box are well within your 50lb slinging weight and easy to transport.   If your budget doesn't allow, I'm sure well taken care of used dob equipment will give very good results, you'll save thousands, and you'll be wowed at the views. 

 

Don't forget the adjustable chair.


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#20 Angeles

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 12:39 PM

The 8” dob is ok but i think there better
As said the 8 dob is 20 lbs tube and base so total 40

U will need a table to raise it or chair. The height is about 4.5 ft tall at the tallest so your on your knees

Some people say put it onna bucket im not convinced it will hold it stable, if ot vibrates then it no good

Astro chairs r expensive 300 so add either to the cost

Then there zero tracking u do it by hand for low to medium power thats ok at high power it’s harder

Planets need more power

At 200 x item will be out fov in 40 seconds at 250 x 30 seconds if you viewing with few people it wont work

Dob tracking us 600 and wayy more for custom

Consider the 8se
Its still 8 size but 1/3 the lenth of a 8 dob , its f10 for high power but with a reducer its f6.3 almost the same as the f5 dob

The se mount has goto and tracking and the whole setup is still 5 lbs lighter and u dont need a chair or table

I carry one with 1 hand tripid mount and scope its only 35 lbs

U said no goto but u can just slew to item and not use the goto as well

Finally u can find these used and its proven track record , they been around since 1999

#21 Bill Jensen

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 01:28 PM

The 8” dob is ok but i think there better
As said the 8 dob is 20 lbs tube and base so total 40

U will need a table to raise it or chair. The height is about 4.5 ft tall at the tallest so your on your knees

Some people say put it onna bucket im not convinced it will hold it stable, if ot vibrates then it no good

Astro chairs r expensive 300 so add either to the cost
 

The Vestil brand chair (same as my chair, although the brand name was different) runs  $123 new at Amazon, and other places, not $300.

 

I don't think a bucket or table is needed with an 8 inch f/6, depending of course on one's overall height. I never had to get on my knees with my 8 inch f/6, or my current 10 inch f/5 dobs. If something is that low to the horizon, it is probably "in the muck" and not worth looking at until it gets higher. I have gone down fairly low with my 16 inch f/4 in high desert if the horizons support digging that low (at times they do) but otherwise, I take what the sky gives me. 


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#22 hcf

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 02:34 PM

There are 2 popular 8" Dob lines, the Orion SkyQuest and the Apertura AD8.

The Apertura AD8 is a little more expensive but has a better base and comes with more accessories.

The Orion SkyQuest however is lighter by about 10 lbs.

 

Note tha Orion also sells the more expensive Skyline 8" Dobs which are much the same tube and base as the Apertura.



#23 JamesDuffey

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 03:22 PM

If you stack bales and haul feed sacks, an 8 inch Dob won’t strain you much. A 10 inch is a bit more mass, but neither are as heavy as the bales or feed sacks, especially when broken down into the stand and tube. 

 

If you calibrate instruments or have done any optical alignment, collimation and learning how to collimate will be a straightforward exercise. So, it sounds like you are perfectly capable of learning to collimate on your own. The essence of collimation is analyzing what you see through the collimation cap or sight tube and transferring that to adjusting the collimation screws on the primary and initially, the secondary. Some people can do that easily, others have problems. There are lots of internet resources on collimation, varying from good to misleading to just plain wrong. I always learn better from reading a book than seeing a video, and Vic Menard has a good one on collimation < https://www.catseyec...rspectives.html > . He is also active here on Cloudy Nights and if you post a picture of your collimated scope, preferably through a collimation cap, he and others are generous with their advice on how to correct any problems. 

 

You should  look through the scope before you purchase it, and preferably do a star test at high magnification. Then you should be able to determine if any physical damage is affecting the view. Most minor damage to Dobsonian telescope tubes will not significantly affect the view though.

 

There are other considerations, but I suggest putting aside some money to purchase good eyepieces if the scope comes with what are the usual standard issue eyepieces. It also pays to sit down with pencil and paper (or spreadsheet) to see what kinds of views various combinations of scope and focal length eyepieces will give you. Also, a 10 inch f/4.7 will be more demanding on eyepieces (read more expensive) than an 8 inch f/5.9. 

 

Not to offend anyone, and I say this mostly in jest, if you ask an owner of a large aperture Dob whether you should get an 8 inch or 10 inch Dob, they are likely to tell you to get a 12 inch, and, by the way,  collimation is no problem. laugh.gif


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#24 Spile

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 03:48 PM

I am very happy with the Skywatcher 8” and it is the right balance of aperture, size and weight for me. Ive added to it as can be found here...

https://astro.catshi...st-impressions/


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#25 George N

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Posted 09 May 2021 - 04:11 PM

.....

 

Not to offend anyone, and I say this mostly in jest, if you ask an owner of a large aperture Dob whether you should get an 8 inch or 10 inch Dob, they are likely to tell you to get a 12 inch, and, by the way,  collimation is no problem. laugh.gif

Pretty much everything has been said I guess -- and I own TWO 8-inch Newt's - neither a Dob - one is an 8" F/3.9 astrograph, and the other is an 8" F/8 ATM 'planetary scope'. I also own a 6" F/5 (ATM scope) - and a 20-inch F/5.

 

I always recommend an 8-inch Dob as a 'first scope' that will probably be used for a life-time - even tho I don't own one. I highly recommend a 'push-to' encoder system - even if aftermarket. I've seen too many beginners who put a new scope in the basement because they can't find anything.

 

My one 'issue' with using the typical 'commercial' Dob in this size range is that I have to bend over to use it, or get in a poor siting position (https://www.astronom...dobsonians.html - remember -- CN members get a discount!!). It really needs to go on 'something'. I've never tried a plastic crate (https://www.milkcrat...yBoCINAQAvD_BwE) but they might work. It might need some added reinforcement. Such a 'box' could perform added duty providing transport/storage space for the 'stuff' that will go with the scope.


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