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What makes Questar so special?

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#1 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

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Posted 14 June 2021 - 11:49 PM

I was a little hesitant to ask this question. I’m still rather new to astronomy. When I browse the classifieds I notice that Questars come at quite a premium to comparable scopes (in terms of size). So there must be a reason.

So this is an honest question out of the desire to inform myself in the field. Would you mind shedding some light for me?

#2 dswtan

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:08 AM

Rolex vs Timex. Same thing. The one time I looked through a Questar, the view (of Jupiter) was notably really nice. 


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#3 chanrobi

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:10 AM

I was a little hesitant to ask this question. I’m still rather new to astronomy. When I browse the classifieds I notice that Questars come at quite a premium to comparable scopes (in terms of size). So there must be a reason.

So this is an honest question out of the desire to inform myself in the field. Would you mind shedding some light for me?

Rolex

Bentley

Gucci

Bulgari

Ferrari

 

I think you get the point


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#4 chanrobi

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:11 AM

Rolex vs Timex. Same thing. The one time I looked through a Questar, the view (of Jupiter) was notably really nice. 

My $15 Casio FW-91A has better timekeeping then $10k+ rolexes, at +/- 1s per month


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#5 jimr2

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:21 AM

Yes, but your $15 Casio FW-91A doesn't have the pzazz (nor the amount of gold) that a $10K Rolex has!

 

(BTW, I wear a Casio also...)


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#6 RMay

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:38 AM

Questar makes the finest handmade telescope in the world. I suggest you take a look at the “Welcome to Questar” posting in the first topic in his Forum, and go through the exact post heading titled ‘See why Questar is Tops in Quality” to get some terrific information regarding the scope, its quality, and its performance.

Ron
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#7 markb

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:38 AM

Some ETX90s had stunning, essentially perfect optics (I had one, not enough aperture for me by far), but Questars are said to have mechanical perfection as well. Sorely almost laughably lacking in the ETXs. Not all Questars have had awesome glass but most are said to be great.

 

If I happened on a big pile of cash I doubt I could resist the urge to buy one of the leather cased ones sold during the '60s and '70s. Just so cool. And I would expect superbly sharp optics.

 

It showed in the pricing when new (I'm sure they were very expensive to manufacture) and they have a dedicated user base that maintains demand and the high used pricing.

 

The watch analogies are not totally misplaced. But in telescopes you don't find oddities like NASA approving both a Casio G Shock and an Omega X33 for ISS use. And yes, the early non temperature compensated omega X33s keep worse time than a Seiko despite both being quartz designs.


Edited by markb, 15 June 2021 - 12:40 AM.


#8 markb

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:44 AM

RMay's post reminded me of the old Packard ads, 'Ask the man who owns one.'

 

That would be my first stop in figuring out the reason that they are so beloved.



#9 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:58 AM

Questar makes the finest handmade telescope in the world. I suggest you take a look at the “Welcome to Questar” posting in the first topic in his Forum, and go through the exact post heading titled ‘See why Questar is Tops in Quality” to get some terrific information regarding the scope, its quality, and its performance.

Ron

I have to admit that after reading that article, I might just be sold. 
 

thank you for pointing that out to me.



#10 havasman

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 01:15 AM

jewelry, nice jewelry but jewelry

 

And yes, though I have never owned one I have used them in both 7" and even smaller apertures. Jewelry.


Edited by havasman, 15 June 2021 - 09:13 AM.

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#11 kel123

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 01:45 AM

As noted by orders, it is a "designer" telescope for the big boys. Aesthetically, it looks like something for the kings and queens. A beautiful form factor. A toy for those with deep pockets.

I learnt that it has spectacular views but there are less than half as expensive triplet and even doublet refractors with better aperture and views.

Yeah. Frankly, the allure for some owners go beyond just a telescope to get greater views. It is an ostentatious article for astronomy.

If wishes were horses, I would ride too.

#12 TOMDEY

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 02:51 AM

There are a few brands in our hobby that have earned Top-Shelf Premium reputation. Fit, form and function are all uniformly superlative. If you're ready, willing and able to step up to the plate... belly up to the bar... that could be for you. For nearly all of us astronomy hobbyists, the cost of entry is sufficiently prohibitive to make one think once, twice or forever. Q-3.5 $3-5K, Q-7 $9-12K, Nikon 10x50 WX Binocular $6-7K, Zeiss 20x60 S Binocular $9K... ditto premium refractors, eyepieces, cameras, mirrors, mounts... If you got the dough, there are exclusive manufacturers there to cater to your desires. Whether something is "worth" the five, ten, twenty times price tag vs other average offerings is a personal matter. The advantages are impeccable reputation, unquestionable quality, and bragging rights. The risk may be overextension. A good rule of thumb is to never buy some discretionary play-thing unless you can comfortably afford double or more the price without even breaking a sweat. Some of these manufacturers offer ~easy payment plans~. If that is a consideration, then ain't "easy" or even prudent. The only reasonable approach is, "I'll take one; here's the cash."

 

We had Field-Hardened Questar Sevens at work that we used in the optics labs as cute little collimators. I always wanted to take one home and forget to bring it back.  Tom



#13 Stellar1

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 05:44 AM

Your questions would be laid to rest if you could just inspect one in the flesh, let alone use one. You know you're handling something very unique and special when its on a tabletop in front of you,

it leaves no questions as to its price tag and reputation.


Edited by Stellar1, 15 June 2021 - 05:50 AM.

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#14 Spikey131

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 06:12 AM

The Questar was designed to be the finest portable telescope that could be made, packaged as a complete observing platform in a very small form.  In that regard, it is unique.  And although the design goes back 70 years, there is still nothing else like it, and they are still making them today.  It is a pleasure to use because it is a complete package of excellent optics and mechanics, ingeniously designed and very well executed.

 

But it is a small telescope.  And it has a narrow field of view.  One can certainly purchase instruments of equal or better optical quality for less money.  But like many things, the whole of the Questar is more than the sum of its parts.

 

All of this said, if one is new to astronomy and trying to decide where to best spend a limited hobby budget, the Q may not be the best choice.  My used Questar was my 8th telescope purchased, after over 40 years in the hobby.


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#15 JMKarian

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 06:51 AM

The Questar was designed to be the finest portable telescope that could be made, packaged as a complete observing platform in a very small form.  In that regard, it is unique.  And although the design goes back 70 years, there is still nothing else like it, and they are still making them today.  It is a pleasure to use because it is a complete package of excellent optics and mechanics, ingeniously designed and very well executed.

 

But it is a small telescope.  And it has a narrow field of view.  One can certainly purchase instruments of equal or better optical quality for less money.  But like many things, the whole of the Questar is more than the sum of its parts.

 

All of this said, if one is new to astronomy and trying to decide where to best spend a limited hobby budget, the Q may not be the best choice.  My used Questar was my 8th telescope purchased, after over 40 years in the hobby.

Very, very true.



#16 RMay

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 09:43 AM

Incidentally, I bought my Q3.5 new in 1983 and it has served me well for now almost 40 years. Others on this forum have had their own scopes for years longer. Don’t hesitate to look at the secondary used market for a terrific 3.5 in the $1,500 to $2,000 range; you can always send it directly to Q for refreshing and refurbishing.

Like any hobby item, a scope is only as much fun to use as it is easy to use. My very first scope was a C8, which I sold after only a few months to get the Q. If you want to take a quick look at the moon, Venus, Jupiter or Saturn, and be up and running in under 3 minutes, I believe there’s no better scope available.

Try to take a look through one if you can... local astronomy clubs, universities, or just post a message and meet up with a nearby enthusiast - I met a great friend through this forum to share our love for these tiny gems. ‘Jewelry’ indeed! 😉

Ron

#17 Mike Allen

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 10:33 AM

I find the Questar telescope special for the following reasons:

 

1.  Comfort while observing.  When paired with a tristand or similar tripod, I can star hop across a large swath of the sky without changing the position of my chair.  Chasing the tail end of a refractor, or the top of a Newtonian, can become a real workout after a few hours.  I like to sit comfortably while cruising the night sky.

 

2.  Portability.  The Questar 3.5 is the ultimate grab and go telescope.  Light weight, compact, easy setup.  Take it with you on an airplane, in your car to a dark sky site, or out the back door of your house for a quick session.

 

3.  Quality optics.  I find that I can push the limits of this scope beyond where I would normally go with an 89 mm optic.  From double stars, lunar, and yes, even deep sky. Difficult double stars such as Delta Cygni are easy.  11th magnitude planetary nebulae are possible.  I have viewed Lunar features down to about 3 kilometers.

4.  Company support.  Questar Corporation is there with superb support.  They have cleaned and repaired my scope in the past since 1999 without any issues.

 

5.  The control box.  The back end of a Questar 3.5 has controls for the Dakin barlow and the finder.  This allows an observer to star hop to the position of an object, flip a lever to view it through an eyepiece, then flip a lever to view the object at higher magnification with the barlow, in a matter of seconds.  No more twisting your neck to look through a finder, or fumbling in the dark for another eyepiece.  An added bonus is that the control box rotates around the tube to help maintain a comfortable viewing position.  With these features I can view the polar region while still facing south and not changing the position of my chair.
 

Quality, comfort, easily portable, and company support.  It doesn’t get much better than this in the world of small astronomical telescopes.


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#18 Optics Patent

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 11:41 AM

My $15 Casio FW-91A has better timekeeping then $10k+ rolexes, at +/- 1s per month

I can see much better images of the moon and planets on a $100 internet device than through a fine telescope.


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#19 HasAnyoneSeenMyNebula

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 11:52 AM

Incidentally, I bought my Q3.5 new in 1983 and it has served me well for now almost 40 years. Others on this forum have had their own scopes for years longer. Don’t hesitate to look at the secondary used market for a terrific 3.5 in the $1,500 to $2,000 range; you can always send it directly to Q for refreshing and refurbishing.

Like any hobby item, a scope is only as much fun to use as it is easy to use. My very first scope was a C8, which I sold after only a few months to get the Q. If you want to take a quick look at the moon, Venus, Jupiter or Saturn, and be up and running in under 3 minutes, I believe there’s no better scope available.

Try to take a look through one if you can... local astronomy clubs, universities, or just post a message and meet up with a nearby enthusiast - I met a great friend through this forum to share our love for these tiny gems. ‘Jewelry’ indeed!

Ron

Ron,

So if I was to do something like this, buy any Questar I can find for a decent price and just send it to Questar to have them look over it, how does that work? Does Questar charge a single refurbishment fee or is it a-la-carte? It seems like this would be a good way to end up with one in good condition.

 

Thank you everyone for walking me through this. I did expect a little back and forth from owners vs non-owners. I have been intrigued by them and thought I would ask the field.

 

Tom



#20 Spikey131

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 12:41 PM

Ron,

So if I was to do something like this, buy any Questar I can find for a decent price and just send it to Questar to have them look over it, how does that work? Does Questar charge a single refurbishment fee or is it a-la-carte? It seems like this would be a good way to end up with one in good condition.

 

Thank you everyone for walking me through this. I did expect a little back and forth from owners vs non-owners. I have been intrigued by them and thought I would ask the field.

 

Tom

Don't do this.

 

If the optics need replacing, it is $1000 to $1500 just for this, plus another $500 for the service.  It can get to the point in which you would be better off with a new Questar than buying used and getting it serviced.

 

So if you buy used, you need to carefully consider the state of the optics.



#21 kel123

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 02:15 PM

I can see much better images of the moon and planets on a $100 internet device than through a fine telescope.


Apple vs oranges. Seeing something virtually is not the same as seeing them in pictures in any universe.

#22 RMay

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Posted 15 June 2021 - 02:34 PM

I think the operative word in your post is ‘any’ in reference to purchasing a used Questar. As with the purchase of any used item, you want to be very selective in your purchase criteria, and as others have pointed out, with a Questar telescope the optics are 99% of the purchase decision.

I was able to replace a defective motor drive on a 30+ year old Questar Seven with a brand new motor supplied by Q for just a few hundred dollars, but new optics could have cost well into several thousand dollars. As with any piece of optical equipment, you want to make sure that the glassware, lenses, mirrors, and any optical surfaces are clean and clear, and free of any blemishes, mold, mildew, scratches, chips, cracks, or any other imperfections. You also want to be ready to step away from any scope where the optics are not in fairly superb condition. These are sturdy but delicate instruments and being well taken care of means you can find a scope that’s it decades old but still in excellent condition.

I would suggest that you call Questar and speak to Jim Reichert about not only the cost of refurbishing but also timing, and he can probably give you some pointers as to what to look for when deciding on a used scope. Many of the scopes that end up for sale on eBay, craigslist, or even Cloudy Nights tend to get referenced here on various other forum site pages, and there are many who will chime in with opinions about the optics and whether or not the purchase decision would be a wise one. That was the case with the Seven that I recently purchased and I couldn’t be happier.

Take your time, do your reading, and know that there are any number of many people on this site who would be happy to share their thoughts. As someone else said, buying the best is usually a bargain.

Enjoy the search, and good luck.

Ron

#23 cbwerner

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Posted 16 June 2021 - 07:35 PM

Apple vs oranges. Seeing something virtually is not the same as seeing them in pictures in any universe.

I'm pretty sure that's exactly the tongue in cheek point that Ben was making . . .

 

To the OP - my answer is here . . .


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#24 Optics Patent

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Posted 17 June 2021 - 06:13 AM

So if I was to do something like this, buy any Questar I can find for a decent price and just send it to Questar to have them look over it, how does that work? Does Questar charge a single refurbishment fee or is it a-la-carte? It seems like this would be a good way to end up with one in good condition.

Spikey gives good advice.  It's something like $600 to have Questar inspect, clean, polish.  If major work is needed, it's extra.

Some people get peace of mind from having it blessed by the factory, but it probably does not significantly increase the market value.  It's easy to find a good scope that needs no service or repair, and to enjoy it for generations without ever sending it in.  The ones needing service are a good value only if you will enjoy learning how to service them (see the videos linked in my signature).

 

One exception to the service value is if the drive slow motion controls slip, it needs a routine replacement of the drive discs (a wear item) and this the factory does for very little (maybe $100 per axis).
 



#25 Kfrank

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 02:16 PM

Yes, but your $15 Casio FW-91A doesn't have the pzazz (nor the amount of gold) that a $10K Rolex has!

 

(BTW, I wear a Casio also...)

Comparing a Questar to a Rolex isn’t a good comparison at all.  First of all, a $10,000 Rolex most likely has absolutely no gold at all, anywhere in it.  The Rolex Submariner, one of Rolex most popular watches, runs pretty close to $10K and that’s with a stainless steel case and band.  
 

Secondly, Rolexes are mass produced watches, made pretty much entirely by robots.  Rolex produces hundreds of thousands of watches a year.  Certainly not a valid comparison to a Questar.

 

I've never owned a Questar but I have owned a Rolex and IMO they are one of the most overpriced and overrated watches in the world.  


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