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Help - First Scope Analysis Paralysis

Beginner Maksutov Mount Refractor Observing
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#1 Mike49.285940

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 05:10 PM

Hi everyone. Long time lurker, first time poster. I need some help. I have been researching options for my first telescope and agonizing about the decision for weeks. I have spent an obscene amount of time reading articles, threads on CN and other forums, and talking to retailers. I am hoping you can collectively provide a sanity check to help me overcome analysis paralysis. Unfortunately, the pandemic has prevented me from getting outside with my local astronomy club to actually try things.

 

Here is what a “win” would look like for me:

  • Quality. A good quality OTA and mount that will provide jaw-dropping views (sharp, bright, close-up) of the moon, the planets, some Messier objects, ISS flybys, and the occasional celestial event: comets, meteor showers, moon landing (?), etc., to impress my 5-year-old. Where conditions allow, of course - I live on the rainy west coast. Cost is not a major factor - I am willing to spend for quality.
  • Portability. I live in an apartment building and will be viewing primarily from (a) the window of my living room; (b) local parks; and © infrequently, farther afoot at dark(ish) sky locations. Carrying a bit of weight is not an issue for me, but fumbling with a bunch of gear would frustrate. I mentioned the 5-year-old.
  • Simplicity. I would like something relatively simple to set up, operate, and maintain. I am not averse to an EQ mount and like the concept of how it works, though AZ seems simpler. A motorized or GoTo mount that requires batteries/power tank to operate seems like more of a hassle than one that can be manually operated (i.e., handles / knobs / slow motion controls), but will I regret not having that capability? Is there a mount that allows for both?
  • Visual, no AP. I have no desire to get into astrophotography in any serious way at this time. I may snap a pic of the moon or Saturn through the eyepiece with my phone, but that’s about it. I can accept that whatever I buy may or may not be suitable for AP and may require further purchases down the road. That's OK.

Here are a few options I found:

  • Sky-Watcher EvoStar 120ED: I have read nothing but good things about refractors, particularly APOs and this model. Seems like a can’t miss for quality views, portability (13.9lbs accessorized), and simplicity (minimal set up, no collimation, quick cool down). My challenge here is the mount. It seems I need something like an EQM-35, HEQ5, AZ-EQ5, or CG-4. I am concerned these mounts may hinder portability and add complexity to set up and operate. They also all seem computerized / motorized (other than CG-4) - does that mean I cannot just point and shoot/sweep across the sky manually to look around?
  • Sky-Watcher EvoStar 100ED: All the benefits of the 120ED, but in a smaller package (8.4lbs accessorized). Would fit on a simpler and lighter AZ5 mount. My concern is: will I regret not going for the larger aperture? Would that significantly limit views?
  • SkyMax 127: This one was suggested to me by a retailer. Similar aperture as the 120ED, but lighter (9.7lbs accessorized). Am told it would work on a simple AZ4 or AZ5 mount. My concern is the views may not be as crisp and sharp as the refractor, long cool down periods, the possibility of having to collimate periodically, and narrower fields of views that may hinder or limit what I can see.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate any insight you can provide.


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#2 Jethro7

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 05:55 PM

Hello Mike,  welcome.gif

I usually prefer to recomend  a 8" Dob for a first scope but a Dob does not seem to fit your situation. Here is my two cents. The Skywatcher refractors are good choices, take a look at the Astrotech AT102ED by Astronomics, I really love mine. For the mount I would recomend a Alt Az type mount something along the lines of a Stellarvue M2C mount. They are sturdy, robust and will handle my Celestron C8 Edge HD, it handles my AT102ED with ease.you can add digital setting circles, the "Nexus DSC's" are made by Astro Devices, that will help you locate various Celestial targets if you wish, you simply push to. I personally prefer finding my own targets myself, it keeps things real simple.  My AT102ED and Stellarvue M2C mount is my grab and go rig and weighs in at around 15 Lbs.  

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro

 

20210420 215359

Edited by Jethro7, 13 June 2021 - 06:03 PM.

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#3 DouglasPaul

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 06:00 PM

Welcome. One thing, viewing through a window doesn't work very well. If you can afford a EvoStar 120 as a first scope you would be off to a nice start. A Orion Skyview Pro or a Celestron Omni CG-4 should work well for you without the go to functions, but I'm pretty sure you can just slew the scope in any direction you want with those that come with controllers. It sounds like you've spent a lot of time reading up on this, I feel your pain with the weather.


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#4 sevenofnine

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 06:06 PM

Welcome to C/N! flowerred.gif  You will get lots of good information and suggestions for proper equipment here. First off I need to correct a few of your assumptions. You can not use a telescope from inside a house to look at the night sky. The heat from inside creates currents that ruins the view. The scope must be outside and cooled to ambient temperature to give good views. So the challenge for you will be choosing a scope and mount that you can transport to an appropriate viewing site. I think you are on the right path considering an ED refractor. However, the larger one's need heavy duty mounts that pretty much kill portability. The good news though is that high quality small refractors can be quite satisfying especially if you have the finances to get the right accessories like the mount and eyepieces. As long as you buy good quality equipment that you're certain to use then you will be fine. Remember, this is your first scope not your last.

 

Just personal experience here. I have the Dob, Maks and just arrived 3" ED refractor on a go-to mount. The mount is controlled by apps on a cell phone no less. I love the new refractor set up. I can easily pick up the whole thing and walk out to the deck in one move. The scope is an Astro-Tech ED80 on a Sky Watcher AZ-GTi. The lunar views were excellent using a Baader 8-24mm zoom eyepiece. Last night I split some double stars and enjoyed M81/82. Very nice! waytogo.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 13 June 2021 - 06:09 PM.

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#5 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 06:20 PM

You may have to temper your expectations.  Jaw-dropping views with a small aperture telescope are primarily going to be of the Moon.  The ISS can be rather difficult to track manually with many telescopes and only a bit of detail is visible.  Meteor showers are naked-eye events.  No earthly telescope has the resolution necessary to display any evidence of the Apollo landing sites.

In terms of portability, the EvoStar 100ED is going to be the best choice.  I own a 101mm f/5.4 Tele Vue apochromatic refractor (and a number of other refractors, Newtonians, and an SCT) and enjoy using it but for many objects a lowly 6" f/8 Dob that costs only a fraction of the original cost of the refractor is going to produce better images.


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#6 barbarosa

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 06:24 PM

let's skip the scope and mount issue and address portability and setting up with a child present. I used to find an 8" SCT, mount and tripod portable, if I was travelling by car and could roll rather than carry the cases for the mount and scope and etc. No child in tow.

 

I used to carry a 65 pound  CPC 1100 50' or 100' and set it up without compliant but not over rough ground.

 

So what are the constraints for you? What defines portability?

 

A plan to observe through a window is a plan for disappointment. Although a youngster might be very happy seeing the moon that way. window glass scatters, refracts and absorbs and the effect is visible. No scope can achieve a crisp view through a window.

 

An alt az go to mount is what you need for casual visual. EQ mounts are more for imaging.. Note that I say a go to mount. Sure some folks will weigh in with advice about learning the stars and constellations, but you can do that with any mount. What you want is frustration free time observing, not finding the target.

 

Refractor vs mirror?  Refractors are easy  to use and there are many nice ED doublets that people really like, something in the ~80 to 120mm range, in the f/5 to f/7 range. But you will at some point probably want to add focal reducer and a Barlow to give you options from wider field to higher magnification/ smaller targets.

 

Maks and small SCTs are both nice, but slow and with comparatively narrow fields of view. But again a .63x focal reducer and a Barlow can extend that.

 

So what would I buy if starting over? I think a refractor, an ED doublet at around 85mm at f/5.5 or so and add a Barlow for planets and the moon. I would mount it on a Skywatcher AZ or and iOptron mount. The budget and easy all in one would be something like the Startravel 102 AZ-GTe.

 

One thing that might be handy is to use the field of view tool at Astronomy Tools. It can show you the relative size of many objects in any scope and eyepiece combination.

 

If you go the other way and buy an expensive triplet on a super mount and it turns out you would rather play golf, used equipment is getting a good price these days. Speaking of which that is often a good way to find good gear when dealers are backordered. 

 

https://www.cloudyni...om/classifieds/

 

One last thought about imaging. If you want to extend whatever you buy an easy route even with an alt az mount is EAA or live imaging.  Some of us went there when we discovered the limits of our not so dark locations, we went to EAA and stayed there.

https://www.cloudyni...-astronomy-eaa/

 

The best of luck.


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#7 ShaulaB

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 06:32 PM

Greetings and welcome to Cloudy Nights!

I want to second everything Dave Mitsky said previously.

Don't forget about reading material. There are lots of choices out there. Learning which objects are best seen with your scope from your location will take some time. So find a copy of The Pocket Sky Atlas to get started. Another book that is a classic is called Turn Left at Orion.

My personal advice is buy the telescope you want without worry about your young child. Little ones have short attention spans. The Moon may the only thing understood for a while. People walked there! Then planets. Then in a few years, giant gas clouds.

Edited by ShaulaB, 13 June 2021 - 06:33 PM.

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#8 PNW

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 06:35 PM

Welcome aboard

"Will you regret not going for the larger aperture?" Absolutely. It's called aperture fever. Notice how everyone here has more than one scope. I'm thinking the 100ED on an Alt/Az mount is your best first scope. Do not fear a GoTo mount. The newer ones are pretty simple in terms of set up. You'll have to check out which one's will let you sky sweep. When I was 5 years old, we knew Christmas was going to be good when the stockings were full of batteries. Then as now, I'd rather spend my time looking at things rather than looking for things.


Edited by PNW, 13 June 2021 - 06:39 PM.

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#9 Tulloch

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 06:42 PM

The Celestron Evolution 6" SCT would be my advice. Small enough to carry around, but large enough to capture a lot of light, easy to set up and align, no need to place the tripod in a certain direction, just find 3 stars and go! Long focal length for spectacular views of the moon and planets, but still short enough for some of the wider objects. Build in battery so you don't have to worry about lugging them around, wifi to control from your phone, but still has a handbox. You can also upgrade the actual scope to up to 9.25" diameter (as I have) if you want closer views. It's also an excellent setup for imaging the planets with a DSLR, dedicated astro camera or (if you really have to) an iPhone.


Edited by Tulloch, 13 June 2021 - 07:13 PM.

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#10 BOSS3128

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 06:45 PM

Greetings and welcome as well!

 

I can second the recommendation of the AT102ED it is an excellent scope for the $$$$, but you will need to buy a diagonal, and a finderscope (if you want).  As you mentioned, you will need a pretty good mount to use the Skywatcher 120ED.  So not sure if it rules that one out because of the overall portability of the scope+mount, especially with a 5 yr old in tow. 


Edited by BOSS3128, 13 June 2021 - 07:21 PM.

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#11 clearwaterdave

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 07:41 PM

. Then as now, I'd rather spend my time looking at things rather than looking for things.

 

I kinda cringe every time I hear this.,When I am starhopping to an object I am able to view everything from my starting star to the target. I am spending my time "looking at things" the whole time. and quite often some of what I see is more appealing to the eye than the target itself.,There's tons of cool little asterisms out there that are missed by go-to's and are far more interesting to look at IMO than a small gray smudge.,I'd rather look at these then at a hand controller that's for sure.,

If you need goto because of LP or you just prefer it that's fine.,But what this statement sounds like is that you can't "see anything" or your wasting time until you find your target.,And that's just not true.,I enjoy every minute that I'm out under the stars and futtzin with my Stuff.,Best2all.,Try to enjoy the starry nights however you can.,waytogo.gif


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#12 Tulloch

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 08:13 PM

. Then as now, I'd rather spend my time looking at things rather than looking for things.

 

I kinda cringe every time I hear this.,When I am starhopping to an object I am able to view everything from my starting star to the target. I am spending my time "looking at things" the whole time. and quite often some of what I see is more appealing to the eye than the target itself.,There's tons of cool little asterisms out there that are missed by go-to's and are far more interesting to look at IMO than a small gray smudge.,I'd rather look at these then at a hand controller that's for sure.,

If you need goto because of LP or you just prefer it that's fine.,But what this statement sounds like is that you can't "see anything" or your wasting time until you find your target.,And that's just not true.,I enjoy every minute that I'm out under the stars and futtzin with my Stuff.,Best2all.,Try to enjoy the starry nights however you can.,waytogo.gif

... each to their own. My first foray into this hobby was a horrible little scope, on a shaky, manual eq mount. I got so frustrated trying to find anything that I just about gave up. It was a happy day when I bought the scope off ebay, and an even happier day when I onsold it to some poor shmuck a few months later. I got a 6" Evo on a Goto mount and haven't regretted it since.

 

Of course, getting a Goto mount doesn't stop you from star hopping if you want to - but if all you want is to find something quickly, you can't beat it (imho) :).


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#13 dnrmilspec

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 08:19 PM

I hope this is not unusual but there is an ad in the classifieds right now.  It says, "must be picked up in Sierra Vista, AZ but it might not be a bad idea to give the guy a message.  I have PMed the gentleman and he seems very nice.  This was once on my short list many years ago.  I am only 70 miles from him and I had to put violence on myself to not buy it.  Anyway it seems to fit what you are looking for pretty much exactly.

 

Used 1991 Tele Vue Genesis Telescope(101mm-4", fl:500mm, f/5), 4- element design with one element being Fluorite), Mount, Tripod & Accessories- in "collectors" condition! Scope is the original ivory colored tube with retractable dew shield. Includes the original brown hard case/keys(have the original foam-but am currently storing the scope with new foam), clam shell mount, front metal screw on cover, Tele Vue 90 degree 2"(with 1.25" adapter) diagonal, Tele Vue 26mm "smoothie" plossl eyepiece, tripod adapter mount for scope OTA, ash wood tripod & tray, Tele Vue(Carton)RSM equatorial mount, slow motion cables, battery operated R.A. motor drive & controller, polar scope, Tele Vue Star Beam finder scope, Tele Vue Sol Searcher solar finder, 4" glass solar filter, focus mate dual speed focuser, short "Vixen" style dove tail to use with different mounts, Pelican Air 1605 hard case for storing the mount. Includes a original 1991 Tele Vue price list, all manuals for the scope/mount/tripod and accessories stored in a 3-ring binder. I am the second owner, scope was stored for over 15 years, I purchased it and had it professionally cleaned and the collimation checked. This is the cleanest and most complete- Tele Vue Genesis/package that I have ever seen. Even have the original Tele Vue shipping box! Everything works like "New"! Lunar images were taken using this telescope. Over $4500 when purchased--- Asking $2000 for the package. No shipping, must be picked up in Sierra Vista, AZ 85650.

 


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#14 clearwaterdave

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 08:45 PM

I have dark skies and I have push-to on a few of my mounts but once I learned to starhop I don't use them much anymore.,I like the feeling of knowing exactly where I'm at and where I'm going.,

 I found with the push-to that if the target wasn't in the FOV I would scan around looking for it.,But if it was something that I could never see anyway I was clueless and would keep looking around not knowing exactly where it was.,When I starhop to a target I know exactly where I am and where the target is going to be.,If I can't see it after a minute or so I know my kit or the skies are the problem and I can move on .

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#15 f74265a

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 09:08 PM

All of this equipment requires, to function as intended, a level of care beyond the capacity of any five year old I’ve ever met. I expect you will be needing cleaning materials to get finger prints and other assorted things off of optical surfaces. A very stable, robust tripod would reduce the risk of the catastrophic event of all your kit knocked over and broken. I think it is great that you are doing this but be prepared for dirt and damage. Much of this equipment is fragile
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#16 vtornado

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 10:00 PM

I do not consider a 120mm or 100mm refractor a portable instrument.  They require a substantial mount to hold them steady.

A tube, a mount, an eyepiece case and some other incidentals and you have a three trip setup.

 

Does your apartment have and elevator, or are you going to have to carry gear up and down stairs?

How much light pollution do you have.  In heavy light pollution your main scope becomes your finder scope,

so a widefield is a plus.

 

An 80 mm ed refractor fits on a vixen porta mount and makes a setup that can be easily moved.

 

You will loose sharpness viewing through window glass and if it is double paned you can get ghosting.

 

You might want to consider something your kid can "drive" in a few  years. This means small, cheap and simple.

 

Besides a refractor consider something like the AWB.   It is cheap, has good optics, it is highly portable, and the extra aperture

will help your views over a small refractor.

 

I have an orion 127mak it is a sharp scope, does well on the moon and planets.   One thing that bugs me is the narrow field of view.

Star hopping with it in heavy light pollution is difficult.  A 127 mak and a 100mm ED have roughly equal quality views.


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#17 BlueMoon

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 10:07 PM

SW100ED APO on a Vixen Porta II mount is a nice combination IMO. Portable, fine optics, trouble-free, won't "break the bank" money-wise. About the only thing you'll run into, and this is true of any long tube scope, is that unless the mount is quite rigid and stable, at high magnifications the dampening time ('the shakes") can get annoying. It's the nature of the beast due to a longer moment arm and generally isn't bad at low to mid mags. My SW 100ED APO behaved quite well on it's mount but at magnification levels above 140x or so, such as when splitting binary stars, or doing high mags on the Moon,  the longer settling time was much more noticeable.

 

Clear skies.

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Edited by BlueMoon, 13 June 2021 - 10:14 PM.

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#18 aeajr

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 10:27 PM

snip...

 

Here is what a “win” would look like for me:

  • Quality. A good quality OTA and mount that will provide jaw-dropping views (sharp, bright, close-up) of the moon, the planets, some Messier objects, ISS flybys, and the occasional celestial event: comets, meteor showers, moon landing (?), etc., to impress my 5-year-old. Where conditions allow, of course - I live on the rainy west coast. Cost is not a major factor - I am willing to spend for quality.
  • Portability. I live in an apartment building and will be viewing primarily from (a) the window of my living room; (b) local parks; and © infrequently, farther afoot at dark(ish) sky locations. Carrying a bit of weight is not an issue for me, but fumbling with a bunch of gear would frustrate. I mentioned the 5-year-old.
  • Simplicity. I would like something relatively simple to set up, operate, and maintain. I am not averse to an EQ mount and like the concept of how it works, though AZ seems simpler. A motorized or GoTo mount that requires batteries/power tank to operate seems like more of a hassle than one that can be manually operated (i.e., handles / knobs / slow motion controls), but will I regret not having that capability? Is there a mount that allows for both?
  • Visual, no AP. I have no desire to get into astrophotography in any serious way at this time. I may snap a pic of the moon or Saturn through the eyepiece with my phone, but that’s about it. I can accept that whatever I buy may or may not be suitable for AP and may require further purchases down the road. That's OK.

Here are a few options I found:

  • Sky-Watcher EvoStar 120ED: I have read nothing but good things about refractors, particularly APOs and this model. Seems like a can’t miss for quality views, portability (13.9lbs accessorized), and simplicity (minimal set up, no collimation, quick cool down). My challenge here is the mount. It seems I need something like an EQM-35, HEQ5, AZ-EQ5, or CG-4. I am concerned these mounts may hinder portability and add complexity to set up and operate. They also all seem computerized / motorized (other than CG-4) - does that mean I cannot just point and shoot/sweep across the sky manually to look around?
  • Sky-Watcher EvoStar 100ED: All the benefits of the 120ED, but in a smaller package (8.4lbs accessorized). Would fit on a simpler and lighter AZ5 mount. My concern is: will I regret not going for the larger aperture? Would that significantly limit views?
  • SkyMax 127: This one was suggested to me by a retailer. Similar aperture as the 120ED, but lighter (9.7lbs accessorized). Am told it would work on a simple AZ4 or AZ5 mount. My concern is the views may not be as crisp and sharp as the refractor, long cool down periods, the possibility of having to collimate periodically, and narrower fields of views that may hinder or limit what I can see.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate any insight you can provide.

ED refractors are an excellent choice if you have the budget.   

 

You said you would be viewing from a window.  Do you have a balcony on your apartment?  That could be a good observing spot. 

 

 

Now, what does portable mean?

 

I have the Astro Tech AT 102ED which is an F7 scope.  This scope is the little brother to my 12" Dob.

 

The SW 100ED is an F9.  It is longer than my scope, taxing the mount more.  The SW 120 ED would likely need a heavier mount than what I am using. 

 

Here is my set-up:  New it would be around $1100 with mount.  That would not include eyepieces. Produces beautiful images.

 

AT102ED

https://www.astronom...ractor-ota.html

 

ES 2" Diagonal

https://agenaastro.c...-dd02-00cf.html

 

ES Twilight 1 mount

https://explorescien...wilight-1-mount

 

I only have it a few weeks so I am playing with finder scope options that I have on hand.  Red dot worked well last time.   Next time out it will have a green laser pointer/finder.  Overall I am very happy with the choice.  Does exactly what I wanted. 

 

My 38 mm 70 degree eyepiece gives me about a 3.6 degree field of view so I don't think I need a magnifying finder.  I tried a straight through magnifying finder and didn't like that at all. The positions I had to get into were quite awkward.  A 9X50 right angle finder would work.  It would give me 5 degree FOV but with the 3.6 degree eyepiece,  I don't think I need a magnifying finder.  

 

 

With the F7 AT 102 ED, the Twilight 1 mount was a little jiggly.  It was never a problem with my shorter 127 mm Mak but the longer tube of the refractor induced more jiggle.  I reinforced the arm with a couple of blocks of plywood and now it is solid.  I am very happy with the set-up.  Not sure how it would do with the longer F9 Skywatcher 100ED or the larger 120ED

 

 

Mount and tripod - 17 pounds

Scope, diagonal and finder - about 11 pounds

 

Is 28 pounds portable enough to meet your criteria?  

 

I carry it from the garage to the side of the house fully assembled.  Certainly using it through a window would work fine and the F7 tube would probably work well on a balcony. 

 

However, if you will carry it several blocks to your observing locations I would suggest you plan on some kind of wheeled cart.   Remember you would also want a chair and some set of accessories including eyepieces and such which could go in a backpack.  This would free up your hand to hold you son's hand.  

 

Cart ideas

 

https://www.amazon.c...cd_asin_2_title

 

https://www.amazon.c...23641022&sr=8-5

 

 

More aperture is always better, if you don't have to move or carry it.  In visual astronomy, aperture is king.   


Edited by aeajr, 13 June 2021 - 10:53 PM.

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#19 f74265a

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Posted 13 June 2021 - 10:37 PM

SW100ED APO on a Vixen Porta II mount is a nice combination IMO. Portable, fine optics, trouble-free, won't "break the bank" money-wise. About the only thing you'll run into, and this is true of any long tube scope, is that unless the mount is quite rigid and stable, at high magnifications the dampening time ('the shakes") can get annoying. It's the nature of the beast due to a longer moment arm and generally isn't bad at low to mid mags. My SW 100ED APO behaved quite well on it's mount but at magnification levels above 140x or so, such as when splitting binary stars, or doing high mags on the Moon, the longer settling time was much more noticeable.

Clear skies.


Note— I substantially improved damping with the porta ii mount with the shorter tv85 by switching that aluminum tripod out for a wood berlebach.
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#20 therealdmt

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 04:32 AM

mike49.285940, I know your "paralysis by analysis" well! — I originally joined this site back in 2015 but got paralyzed by analysis, put off a decision, life circumstances changed and I ended up just tabling the whole idea. Didn’t get a scope until getting re-energized in 2020, at which time I decided to give up on the quest for The One Perfect Scope and just started with a kind of toy scope to get myself going. Main lesson learned for me was that, to an extent, something is better than nothing. I say "to an extent" because something that is too big or complicated to use (like the scope I had as a kid) could be worse than nothing — it could kill your interest. In contrast, something that is a little too small can whet your appetite for more (though everyone is different — what works for me won’t necessarily work for you).

Anyway, after messing around with that toy scope for a few months I was better able to make a more informed decision about what scope and mount/tripod would suit me best, and I went with the Sky-Watcher EvoStar 100 ED on an AZ4 mount on a heavy duty tripod (note: the AZ4 doesn’t come packaged on a heavy duty tripod). It’s worked out really well for me, but my need/desire for the simplest alt-az mount possible wouldn’t suit everyone (for some, a fully computerized mount would suit them better, others might want something in between).

image1.jpeg
So simple, so convenient, so good smile.gif

20/20 hindsight thoughts?
1) a 100m f/7 ED doublet scope would be a little more portable and give a bit wider maximum field of view, but would yield a bit lower magnification for planets for a given eyepiece and, in the similar price range at least, would likely have at least somewhat more chromatic aberration on bright targets. It was a tossup and still is, but I’m happy with the way I went.
2) an f/7 120 ED doublet would yield slightly brighter views for DSOs while being a bit heavier and probably forcing me up a category in mount weight. Also, I’d more often have to wait a bit for the scope to cool down (with the 100 ED, I rarely have to give cooldown a thought other than to bring it out first while setting up). So, a little more brightness for a bit of loss in convenience and portability — it was and still is a bit of a tossup. Still intriguing to me, and I may at some point pursue a 120 ED. However, if I had to hand carry it farther than say 50 yards for viewing, going with the 100 ED or something smaller like an 80 ED would be a no-brainer

My thoughts for you: besides the Sky-Watcher EvoStar 100 ED or maybe an f/7 100mm ED doublet, you might want to consider going with something even a little smaller and more portable like an AWB OneSky tabletop reflector or an 80 ED refractor (in particular, if you have to walk any distance to that park you mentioned).

Good luck, and don’t get too fixated on hitting a home run at your first at bat — it’s okay if you learn from your first purchase and maybe decide to go in a different or supplemental direction later on


Edited by therealdmt, 14 June 2021 - 10:04 AM.

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#21 epee

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 08:18 AM

I don't think a 120mm will make enough visual difference over a 100mm to justify the additional size, weight, and price.

 

You might want to consider a Celestron C5 spotting scope and buying your own tripod (the Explore Scientific Twilight 1 works well with this scope). With a few accessories the C5 is an amazingly capable scope with a very small footprint, the optical tube is about the size of a gallon paint can; 125mm of aperture and slightly over a foot long.


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#22 Alan French

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 09:02 AM

Have you ever actually looked at anything in the night sky with a telescope?

 

I did note that you had been unable to visit the local astronomy club because of the pandemic, but things are starting to open up again some, and I don't think anyone should buy a telescope without getting some idea of what can be seen. Over the decades we've had lots of guests at our club's public star parties. Many have a great time and enjoy the views, but some are "That's all I can see?!" With the marvelous images prevalent today, it's not surprising that some folks have high expectations. 

 

I think it's important to know what to expect before buying a telescope.

 

Keep in mind that seeing all that a telescope can show, whether it's faint, barely visible deep sky objects or fine detail on the border of perception on the planets, is a learning experience, and requires investing time at the eyepiece. With experience, you'll see a bit more than you'll see at first. 

 

Clear skies, Alan


Edited by Alan French, 14 June 2021 - 09:16 AM.

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#23 aeajr

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 11:00 AM

If you want something small and highly portable, while you are figuring out the bigger investment, below are a couple of options.  They would be easy to use from your apartment to get a feel for what you will see.  These are tabletop scopes, 130 mm Newtonian reflectors rather than 102 or 120 mm refractors.  

 

You can also take these to the park.  They would fit in a back pack.  The key is you need a very steady table, stool or place to put one of these scopes to have a comfortable viewing height.  And they make a very nice companion to a larger scope later. 

 

These are 130 mm/5" Newtonian reflectors in the $200 range. 

 

 

 

Zhumell 130 tabletop reflector – 
Includes red dot finder and two eyepieces.  Consider adding a 2.5 or 3X Barlow lens for higher magnifications
https://www.highpoin...scope-zhus003-1
https://www.amazon.c...l 130 telescope
Review
https://www.thefreel......-a0499406822

 

 

 

AWB 'ONESKY' REFLECTOR TELESCOPE – Tabletop - 130 mm - 14 pounds – 
Reviewed in Dec 2015 Sky and Telescope – gets many good reviews.  Collapsing design makes it very compact for storage and for transport. Includes finder scope and 2 eyepieces
Frequent out of stock situations so plan your purchase.
Consider adding a 2.5 or 3X Barlow lens for higher magnifications.  
https://shop.astrono...ector-telescope
Video
https://www.youtube....h?v=-muZ9KRMY40
Product review
http://www.skyandtel...ds/3-scopes.pdf


Edited by aeajr, 14 June 2021 - 01:51 PM.

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#24 DuluthLaker

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 11:00 AM

Have you ever actually looked at anything in the night sky with a telescope?

I did note that you had been unable to visit the local astronomy club because of the pandemic, but things are starting to open up again some, and I don't think anyone should buy a telescope without getting some idea of what can be seen. Over the decades we've had lots of guests at our club's public star parties. Many have a great time and enjoy the views, but some are "That's all I can see?!" With the marvelous images prevalent today, it's not surprising that some folks have high expectations.

This is very true. About 10 years ago, I got ahold of an 80mm refractor scope for almost nothing. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. It really gave me my first few moments in the hobby that blew me away and wanting more.

My spouse initially had some excitement of sharing the hobby with me when I got that first scope, but took several looks through that scope and was instantly turned off. Fast forward to this year when I got a 130mm reflector and there was a bit of a rehash in their interest since it was a bigger scope. Two looks through it again and the interest was gone.

While I certainly love looking at Hubble type images and would love nothing more than having a scope in my yard capable of such things, I also enjoy tracking objects with my scope and seeing them in small scale, working my eyes to see any details I can and just marveling to myself about the distances, years and history of those objects.

But for my spouse... just a few looks through your average scope instantly ended the interest. So Alan is spot on above. It’s hugely important to understand what it is you’ll see and whether or not that’s enough for you. Finding something that meets your expectations while also meeting your specific criteria and situation is always the challenge.

Regardless - I hope you are able to find something that works for you and I hope you are able to share your enthusiasm with that little one! Astronomy is a great shared hobby.

Edited by DuluthLaker, 14 June 2021 - 11:01 AM.

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#25 BOSS3128

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 05:21 PM

Mike, it looks like you have a lot of members pointing to some sort of 100ED, as I did.  However an 80ED will not stress a lighter duty mount, which is what you may be using for trips to the local park.

 

I relied hard on this thread to decide AT102ED or Orion 80ED as a Grab and Go for my permanent outdoor mount:

 

https://www.cloudyni...d80-or-at102ed/

 

I went with the AT102ED based on the advice contained in it.  It is easy grab and go for my backyard.  One of the threads even stated "might as well start with a 100mm, you're going to end up there anyway"

 

But........ an Orion ED80 later came up at a good price and I picked it up.  I use it for terrestrial viewing as well as astronomy, and the color correction is excellent for daytime viewing with the FPL-53 glass. The Skywatcher EvoStar 100ED uses this glass as well.

 

One thing to consider is that the AT102ED is shorter at F/7, than the EvoStar 100ED at F/9.  The longer refractor will be asking a little more of the mount it is put on.

 

For astronomy alone, I would give the nod to the AT102ED (or other 100 mm ED) for the extra aperture, but it does need a decent (ie heavier) mount for stability to minimize vibration.

 

Please read the link, it gives some good information.

 

As the old adage goes, "the best scope is the one you take out and use."

 

bob

 

 


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