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What makes Questar so special?

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#26 Optics Patent

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Posted 20 June 2021 - 10:01 PM

Analogies can be helpful for explaining but not for persuading. A Questar is like a Rolex in some ways but not others.

One big difference is that a Rolex might have a manufacturing cost in the neighborhood of 10% or retail price. Like many luxury brands and fashion products. A Questar likely has a manufacturing cost closer to 50% of retail (perhaps more).
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#27 Gordon Shumwy

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 06:13 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?

As a former owner of one, I can vouch for its quality and versatility, whether observing the night sky, watching bees pollinate flowers or entertaining friends.

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#28 RMay

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Posted 21 June 2021 - 04:09 PM

My eyes are bleeding! 😳
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#29 justfred

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Posted 23 June 2021 - 08:46 AM

Tom,

 

There is more to this hobby than aperture. Find what makes it fun for you. 
 

Fred


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#30 Les Aperture

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Posted 23 June 2021 - 04:29 PM

Hence, my nom-de-plume: "Les Aperture".

 

Would I like a >18' Obsession? Sure. Would I use it as much as my Q-50, inconceivable!

 

"Les"


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#31 kansas skies

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 12:22 PM

I was reading through this thread with a bit of amusement (it pays to maintain a sense of humor when visiting pretty much any of the forums here on CN). I'm reminded of a time when I enjoyed perusing the beginner's forum, and even offering a little advice now and again (I'd been an active telescopic star-gazer for over a quarter of a century prior to joining CN). It seemed that the most popular question in the beginner's forum was (and probably still is) that of what might be a suitable scope for entry into this hobby. My recommendation was always to look for a small german equatorial mounted refractor (new or used). Above all, make sure it's portable enough that you would have no problem setting it up on a moment's notice. Avoid go-to at first, then go forth and learn the night sky (after all, that's really what this hobby is all about).

 

Now, I realize that my recommendation wasn't the best choice for everyone, but I felt my reasoning to be sound. Invariably, however, the influx of recommendations were prefaced with the comment, "most bang for your buck". This was always followed with a very persistent steering of the newcomer toward an eight or ten inch dobsonian.

 

Looking back, I still stand behind my recommendation. First, I have to admit that I'm really not a fan of dobsonian telescopes. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with them, I just prefer equatorial-mounted, clock-driven, telescopes. Still, my recommendation of a small refractor offers more than just an observational "Wow!" prior to moving on. In my experience, a small, equatorial-mounted refractor offers more of a teaching experience. You learn how to compensate for the movement of the Earth against the sky, as well as how celestial coordinates equate to those of the terrestrial. You quickly learn to use your trusty star atlas as a roadmap of the sky, while the smaller aperture forces one to work a little harder to ferret out fine details, all the while ingraining that information into the brain for future reference.

 

I guess, what I'm trying to convey is that, in my experience, the smaller, equatorial mounted refractor offers a much more intimate viewing experience than that of the larger dobsonian. Furthermore, if the GEM is equipped with decent setting circles, the option is there to further enhance ones learning experience (I once used the setting circles on an Orion EQ-3 to take in almost half of the Messier objects in couple of hours with a 90mm refractor). Then again, the requirement for regularly checking collimation of a dobsonian mounted Newtonian telescope is pretty much not necessary with a small refractor, along with the time required for thermal stabilization, both of which can wreak havoc with a larger Newtonian.

 

Which brings me to the question of what makes a Questar so special. My answer is that the diminutive Questar offers a viewing experience that's even more intimate than that of the small refractor. It's hard to describe, but everything is just right there where it needs to be. And, it doesn't hurt that the optics are near perfect for a Maksutov, which includes an almost complete lack of false color. To give an example, my wife and my granddaughter, neither of who share my enthusiam for telescopic star-gazing, still haven't forgotten the views of both Jupiter and Saturn on a really clear and steady night through my Questar Standard. It wasn't difficult to see that the images they were presented with were well beyond their expectations. As for me, I regularly ferret out faint-fuzzies with the Questar that my star atlas lists as challenging in a 4" to 6" telescope. In this regard, I find it to be more about contrast than actual aperture. All this is enhanced by the fact that Questar somehow figured out how to reduce the cooling time of the 3.5" Mak to pretty much that of a small refractor. In contrast, my older Celestron C90 Astro (which I really love as well) takes forever to cool down.

 

Finally, I think it's important to understand that the Questar Standard offers a complete and extemely high quality observatory in a very small package. I'll be the first to admit that, visually, it has its limits compared to that of much larger scopes. But, then again, those limitations are the very things that are most responsible for its strengths. Will it take the place of my myriad of other scopes? Probably not. Is it worth the price? To me, yes - to others, no. It all depends on what one is looking for.

 

Bill


Edited by kansas skies, 05 July 2021 - 02:56 PM.

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#32 Erik Bakker

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Posted 05 July 2021 - 12:52 PM

Well said Bill!


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#33 Simoes Pedro

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 09:01 AM

It is the most telescope you can buy per cubic inch. 


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#34 justfred

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 07:25 PM

I agree with Simoes - specifically in terms of fun/init can’t be beat.

 

Fred



#35 kel123

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 08:13 PM

It is the most telescope you can buy per cubic inch.


Yeah. For deep pocketed individuals

#36 RMay

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 08:30 PM

Well, money is money and I don’t discount the depth of one’s pocket or their individual circumstances, but when you can pick up a used Standard for around $1800 on a good day or spend $600 for something that’s painfully average… that’s a $1200 difference that you’ll forever get back if and when you sell it.

Consider it another asset class. I don’t know of any buyer who ever regretted it… Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a person who had buyer’s remorse and returned a Q because it was too expensive.

Just my two cents…

Ron
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#37 dnrmilspec

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 10:03 PM

So a new Questar is in the $6K price range.  Many people posting here have OTAs that cost that much.  An AP would easily top that and to add one of Roland's mounts almost double it.  An AP Stowaway OTA with any kind of a decent mount is going to be pretty much as expensive as a Questar.

 

If look at the information below many CN participants posts we see equipment costs that would easily dwarf that of a Questar.  So, oddly enough, I think it is fair to say that a Questar is no more of an anomaly money wise than an AP Stowaway.  Though we do not much think about it a Celestron CGX-L 925HD 9.25" SCT with EdgeHD High Definition Optics costs more than a Questar but would not get much more than a glance at the club star party.  You could buy about three fully decked out Questars with every option for the price of Meade's top of the line scope.

 

And yet, here we are, once again, frantically trying to rationalize the amount of money we spend on something that is, like most every other telescope, an item with which we entertain ourselves.  Compared to other hobbies, a Questar is quite inexpensive.  Price a nice sailboat lately?  A good sail set alone cost more than a Questar.  A bass boat would buy a spectacular Astrophotography outfit.  As a matter of fact, as hobbies go, astronomy is on the fairly affordable side of things. 

 

So is it jewelry like a Rolex?  No.  Neither is a bass boat.  Or an airplane. Or a hang glider.  Or great scuba gear for that matter. 

 

I have known a few Questar owners in the past and it was my experience that none of them bought it for bragging rights.  Of course they were proud of their scopes.  But just look at the thing.  It is gorgeous.  Gorgeous like a Porsche not a Rolex.  Like a Porsche, it punches above its weight.  A Rolex (and I own one) does not.  It is a vanity item.  Nothing more. 

 

I love what Kansas Skies said, "Which brings me to the question of what makes a Questar so special. My answer is that the diminutive Questar offers a viewing experience that's even more intimate than that of the small refractor."

 

"Intimate" is exactly the word (I can only imagine) to describe time so comfortably seated with one of these gems.  I think it is more like a fine automobile than a Rolex. 

 

I had a Porshe Macan.  There was no way in the world that it was the most rational SUV unless getting to Home Depot faster than anyone else is your thing.  It did not hold more stuff.  It did not go more places.  It did not get the best mileage and, though pricey, was not even the most expensive midsize SUV.  But it was very special.  It drove better than any other car I have ever owned.  The experience of driving it, settled back in the leather, car so responsive that it seemed to be reading your thoughts, very powerful but even more refined....Just simply a different thing. 

 

That is what I imagine is the real allure of these little gems.  They are just a different thing altogether. 

 

I think I just figured out what is going to be on my Christmas list. 


Edited by dnrmilspec, 07 July 2021 - 10:09 PM.

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#38 kel123

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Posted 07 July 2021 - 10:29 PM

The thing is that there is no doubt that The Questar is an exceptional telescope with excellent optics and no one needs to justify to anyone why they spent approximately 4k on a new 3.5" mak. It is their own money and it is their own fun. It is worth it as far a they are concerned.

But once one starts making absolute statements like "It is the most telescope you can buy per cubic inch" or "it can't be beat" , we enter a gray area where some others will beg to differ as far their own pockets or conditions are concerned.
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#39 Optics Patent

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 06:23 AM

A used Questar costs a little less than many good current Canon lenses like a midrange zoom f2.8 that is the normal lens for a pro or enthusiast. (Not referring to the big white ones you see at sports events, those are over $10k).

Ask me how I know.

Truly, a middle class person who wants to spend $2000 on a telescope is perfectly capable. Spouse permitting. Bear in mind that a used Questar can confidently resell tomorrow or in 10 years for what it costs, so it is an asset not an expense. Unlike a vacation or set of custom golf clubs.
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#40 Spikey131

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Posted 08 July 2021 - 09:27 AM

I bought the original ETX 90 EC in the 90s for $400.  I thought it was a poor man's Questar, and I was a poor man.  I used it a lot.  The optics were good.  The mount and finder were frustrating.  The motor in the mount died a few years ago, so I deforked it and used it on a manual AZ mount for a while before giving it to my son.  Want to guess what it is worth now?

 

I probably could have bought a good used Questar in the 90s for 2-3x what I paid for the ETX.  If I had, I would probably still have it, and everything would still work like new.  And I could probably sell it at a profit.

 

Cost vs value.


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#41 Bomber Bob

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Posted 09 July 2021 - 08:48 PM

Beautiful to Look At, and always Enjoyable to Look Through...

 

Questar - L330 Solos S02.jpg

 

My 1958 Standard -- the 59th with Cumberland Optics.


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#42 Wisconsin Steve

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Posted 09 July 2021 - 08:52 PM

Beautiful to Look At, and always Enjoyable to Look Through...

 

attachicon.gifQuestar - L330 Solos S02.jpg

 

My 1958 Standard -- the 59th with Cumberland Optics.

Great pic BB!



#43 Terra Nova

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Posted 12 July 2021 - 04:53 PM

So a new Questar is in the $6K price range.  Many people posting here have OTAs that cost that much.  An AP would easily top that and to add one of Roland's mounts almost double it.  An AP Stowaway OTA with any kind of a decent mount is going to be pretty much as expensive as a Questar.

 

Exactly! And a used Questar, nicely outfitted and in excellent condition can be had for half that amount. Moreover, the Questar comes with an extremely stable equatorial fork mount with a clock drive capable of precise tracking, and very usable setting circles, and several excellent Brandon eyepieces. A new AP Stowaway, if you can get someone to sell you theirs will cost 3 to 5K and that’s NO MOUNT, NO EYEPIECES. Incidentally, they’re both 90mm apochromats.


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#44 kalafrana

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Posted 19 July 2021 - 10:17 AM

Bomber Bob's photo above shows a Questar in its most effective mode of operation - looking attractive in the lounge.  I kept my (purchased new) Questar for only three years and gratefully sold it to a friend of mine who was looking for a quality portable telescope. I hope he wasn't expecting to see any DSOs through it, because if he was he'll be disappointed by now - maybe that's why he hasn't spoken to me for a few years. I didn't expect to be impressed with the Questar's light-gathering power, but I did (perhaps naively) expect to get good results in terms of sharp stars - which I didn't. I've never owned a decent refractor, but I would expect a 90mm APO to be emphatically superior in image quality to what I saw through the Questar. I would be interested to hear from people who are in a position to make that comparison...


Edited by kalafrana, 19 July 2021 - 10:23 AM.


#45 RMay

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Posted 19 July 2021 - 11:34 AM

A few months before I bumped into my Seven I had purchased a Zhumell Z8 8inch Dobsonian. It was a real light bucket and I still consider it to be the best $500 telescope on the market. But even with careful collimation, it never gave me the visual accuracy of my 3.5 or my Seven. The stars in your 3.5 should have been pinpoint pinpoint sharp, or it should have gone in for adjustment and servicing.

My thoughts,

Ron

#46 kalafrana

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Posted 19 July 2021 - 11:49 AM

A few months before I bumped into my Seven I had purchased a Zhumell Z8 8inch Dobsonian. It was a real light bucket and I still consider it to be the best $500 telescope on the market. But even with careful collimation, it never gave me the visual accuracy of my 3.5 or my Seven. The stars in your 3.5 should have been pinpoint pinpoint sharp, or it should have gone in for adjustment and servicing.

My thoughts,

Ron

It did go back to Questar for replacement or adjustment (I was hoping for a replacement, but didn't get it), but when it came back it was no better. I came to the conclusion that I was simply expecting too much - hence my decision to sell it to someone who just wanted a portable scope. It's a pretty piece of engineering but not the ideal small astronomical telescope - which I suspect might be an APO. Maybe I'll get one of those.


Edited by kalafrana, 19 July 2021 - 11:50 AM.

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#47 Optics Patent

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 01:42 PM

I'll risk an off-topic post as opposed to an off topic thread:
What is the best first telescope as an alternative to a $2000 Questar?   A friend is willing to spend hundreds but not thousands of dollars. Moon and planets are initial desires, but they are in very dark skies.  I'd be shopping used, but open to used choices.  C90?  Meade little Mak?



#48 Gregory Gross

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 02:24 PM

Since this is the Questar forum, and since I am very much a fan of the Maksutov-Cassegrain design, I'd suggest, at bare minimum, an Orion StarMax 90mm TableTop Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope. Same table-top form factor as the 3.5" Questar with excellent optics. If a better mount is desired (and I would be the first to desire a better mount after I had gotten my feet wet), one can go for any of the single side-arm alt-az mounts that are out there (e.g., Vixen Porta Mount, etc.). As mounted, the scope would perform well for both astronomical and terrestrial applications.

 

To complete a first-rate optical train from corrector lens to eyepiece eye lens, I'd definitely upgrade the diagonal to something like an 1.25" Orion Dielectric Mirror Star Diagonal (our sponsor Astronomics also sells an identical version, both made by Long Perng) and a 14.5mm Orion Edge-On Planetary Eyepiece. Those Orion Edge-Ons (also made by Long Perng) don't get the credit they are due for planetary observing. Excellent optics, very little if any ghosting even on something as bright as Jupiter, all for a good (not great, but good) price. Perhaps a Tele Vue 25mm Plossl would be a good full-disk lunar eyepiece. A quality 2x Barlow may be added later if desired for additional magnifications.

 

More aperture is more aperture, so an Orion StarMax 127mm Equatorial Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope with the diagonal and eyepiece upgrades as listed above would represent a significant step up.

 

To pull my post back to the topic of this thread -- "what makes the Questar so special?" -- I think the question so often is this: the price one pays for a Questar vs the value it delivers. A non-Questar Mak gives you 80-90% of the value for perhaps 10-20% of the cost.

 

My very first scope that I bought for myself as an adult back in 2014 was an Orion 4" Mak. Along with the diagonal, 14.5mm eyepiece, and AstroView mount I mentioned above, I was out with it just a few nights ago and had a look at Jupiter and Saturn. Stunning detail, excellent contrast, etc. all in a small, lightweight package. The optics of those Chinese-built Synta Maks are first rate. Sound familiar? A Questar delivers all of this, too, but it does so with so much more convenience and much less clunkiness. I am continuously amazed what value my lowly 4" Mak delivers. The "Questar experience" was the thing that was lacking. Is the "Questar experience" worth the money? That's for the individual to decide.

 

Any scope will perform better under dark skies no matter the aperture. My 4" Mak under dark skies shows me what a 6" aperture would show me in the city.



#49 Gregory Gross

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 03:06 PM

Not to tout the Synta-built Maks too much on this forum, but just yesterday I took the attached images with my Canon EOS M200 mirrorless camera coupled with my 4" Mak via the T2 threads on the visual back and this adapter. I was about 30 feet away from our hummingbird feeder. Images taken at about 4:30 in the afternoon. 1/1000-sec exposure, ISO 2500. No alterations except cropping and size reduction to conform to file size constraints. Again, I really like the optical performance of those Synta-built Maks. Highly recommended.

 

Especially where photography is concerned, one gets the same versatility with a mass-produced scope as one does with a Questar. It's that last 10-20% improvement in optical performance and that less-than-quantifiable "Questar experience" one doesn't get with a more run-of-the-mill but still very capable scope.

 

Incidentally, I learned via this thread that Meade's ETX line has been discontinued (I haven't dug too deeply, but a cursory internet search seems to confirm this). Great optics but really poor mount and drive mechanics, I hear from others, especially when compared to a Questar.

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#50 Wisconsin Steve

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 05:26 PM

As a gentle reminder, here is what the topic of this thread is:

 

What makes Questar so special?

 

Thanks!

 

Steve


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