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Looking for a decent wide-field, grab-and-go scope

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#26 russell23

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 10:36 AM

A lot of fellow astronomers love those cheap achros that aren't cheap performers, thats what counts not the $ sign  All the numbers and diagrams are meaningless when you are gazing sky ward on a dark, clear nite

As long as the cheap achromat is on a solid mount and comes with an acceptable star diagonal and focuser it should provide plenty of great views of star clusters and other DSO.  And for a beginner the views of the Moon and planets will be quite inspiring.

 

I think what happens is with more experience it becomes easier to see the advantages that come with the ED glass.  The blurring effects and loss of contrast from CA become easier to see and the improved hardware that come with the ED scopes start to become important. 

 

Despite mostly using ED doublets I have a couple standard achromats that I very much enjoy when I decide to get them out.  The key is that they do have good optics and focusers and I have the mount needed to hold them stably and star diagonals that do not hamper the image.


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#27 LDW47

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 11:27 AM

As long as the cheap achromat is on a solid mount and comes with an acceptable star diagonal and focuser it should provide plenty of great views of star clusters and other DSO.  And for a beginner the views of the Moon and planets will be quite inspiring.

 

I think what happens is with more experience it becomes easier to see the advantages that come with the ED glass.  The blurring effects and loss of contrast from CA become easier to see and the improved hardware that come with the ED scopes start to become important. 

 

Despite mostly using ED doublets I have a couple standard achromats that I very much enjoy when I decide to get them out.  The key is that they do have good optics and focusers and I have the mount needed to hold them stably and star diagonals that do not hamper the image.

Two things happen every time 1. The critical poster never, ever identifies what level of CHEAP scope they are talking, what make / model they are calling cheap, hopefully not everything Achro but you never know with ....... and 2. I have a scope or 2 with FPL53 lenses but I think the performance of my half dozen achros are as good on the average to good nite  So what does CHEAP really mean except to insult ......... taken in context of the ........



#28 Ben the Ignorant

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 03:09 PM

I knew some achro owners might not feel good about the comparo with ED scopes but Ixeth is not asking how to love an achro he already has, he's asking which refractor to get for viewing the deep sky and planets. So before he spends his cash and experiences the views, he has to know the facts, and I wouldn't be honest hiding what I have found with experiments, improvements and real-world testing.

 

The facts are an achro with a plastic cell will not reach the powers, 160x for an 80 as an example, that a refractor is supposed to achieve while keeping the image sharp. And 160x not even much, so less than 160x is nothing to be enthusiastic about. An achro doublet in a metal cell will be better adjusted from the factory or maybe adjustable by the user, but it seems they disappear from the market because semi-apos don't cost much more and perform much better.

 

So, as Ixeth is looking for a decent multi-purpose portable scope and his budget is 400$, the matching result is the 80mm ED doublet.


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#29 lxeth

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Posted 23 July 2021 - 10:00 PM

Thank you to everyone for all the information and the advice!

 

So far, it seems like the consensus is either for the 70ED f6 or 102 f5...no one seems to be in favor of the 90mm f5!

 

Actually, it seems far more that the consensus is for an 80ED or the 102, and in either case, move up to 2 inch EPs!

 

I can't disagree with everyone's reasons, but since I already have a 80mm scope - and more importantly, I don't want to get to rid of it (being my first real scope - has a lot of sentimental value!) or (worse!) consign it to sitting in the house and never getting used - so I'd rather go to a bigger or smaller aperture.

 

I am planning to move up to 2 inch EPs someday, but I don't want to get a good scope and then have to cheap out on a 2 inch diagonal, so I'm going to wait until I refill my wallet to get a decent 2 inch diagonal and a couple of long FL EPs for it.

 

Considering I almost never get out to a dark site, and am going to be contending with street lights and the neighbors house lights, is the extra aperture of the 102 going to give me better views of the clusters and asterisms I'm hoping to see, or will it just let in more of the light pollution? In which case, the 70mm would be better - darker but crisper and more contrast views?


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#30 Rutilus

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 07:55 AM

While the the scopes mentioned will do wide field, it would appear

that you will always be up against wide exit pupils in a light polluted

sky. I have an 80mm f/7, it will do 4.7 degrees with 2 " eyepieces. Depending

on what eyepiece I use am running into exit pupils from 5.7 up to 7.1.

 

Given the expense of another scope and upgrading to 2" eyepieces and fittings,

I would be tempted to go to a charity shop and pick up a pair of old Japanese binoculars

to try first and see how you get on. In the past couple of years I've picked up

a pair of Swift Saratoga 8x40 for $10 and swift Audubon 8.5x44 for $20.

The shops around  my hometown always seem to have an never ending supply of Japanese 

10x50's that crop up every couple of months for around $10.  


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#31 Echolight

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 09:44 AM

I think an 85 to 95mm ED is possibly the apex of viewing versatility and the practical limit for optimum stability on many smaller mounts.

 

But.... the price is generally elevated to a point that makes it far less desirable to the ordinary astronomer who has to factor in economics.

 

As far as a 102 f/5 being too large of an aperture to be effective in light polluted environments. I’d say no. I regularly use a less grab and go 6 inch, and many others use a wheeled 10 or 12 inch under similar conditions.

For my always set up one hand grab and go to the back yard... or possibly take on a month long dream trip to Hawaii.... Right now I have an ST80 that could go on a small affordable tripod like a Slik Master Classic, which I don’t have yet.. But if a 102 f5 appeared I’d certainly give it a try on the same tripod.


Edited by Echolight, 25 July 2021 - 09:59 AM.

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#32 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 10:10 AM

I knew some achro owners might not feel good about the comparo with ED scopes but Ixeth is not asking how to love an achro he already has, he's asking which refractor to get for viewing the deep sky and planets. So before he spends his cash and experiences the views, he has to know the facts, and I wouldn't be honest hiding what I have found with experiments, improvements and real-world testing.

 

The facts are an achro with a plastic cell will not reach the powers, 160x for an 80 as an example, that a refractor is supposed to achieve while keeping the image sharp. And 160x not even much, so less than 160x is nothing to be enthusiastic about. An achro doublet in a metal cell will be better adjusted from the factory or maybe adjustable by the user, but it seems they disappear from the market because semi-apos don't cost much more and perform much better.

 

So, as Ixeth is looking for a decent multi-purpose portable scope and his budget is 400$, the matching result is the 80mm ED doublet.

 

This is what lxeth wrote:

 

"I'd also like to use this new scope as a grab and go (my scopes are stored on the second floor of our house, so I want something that is a little easier to carry down stairs and around corners; the 80mm f11 and 60mm f15 aren't too bad, but their length makes them a little difficult to maneuver), and so I'd like to be able to use the scope on planets and the Moon as well (a little CA wouldn't bother me, and I realize I probably won't be able to see details on the planets)."

 

I originally suggested that the Svbony ED-80 would probably be the best fit but like any telescope, it's about balance.  A 102mm F/6 or F/6 achromat will go deeper than an 80mm ED as well as be cheaper.  

 

Roland Christen calls FPL-51 doublets "ED Doublet apos", semi-apos are something else..  

 

Jon



#33 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 10:16 AM

Thank you to everyone for all the information and the advice!

 

So far, it seems like the consensus is either for the 70ED f6 or 102 f5...no one seems to be in favor of the 90mm f5!

 

Actually, it seems far more that the consensus is for an 80ED or the 102, and in either case, move up to 2 inch EPs!

 

I can't disagree with everyone's reasons, but since I already have a 80mm scope - and more importantly, I don't want to get to rid of it (being my first real scope - has a lot of sentimental value!) or (worse!) consign it to sitting in the house and never getting used - so I'd rather go to a bigger or smaller aperture.

 

I am planning to move up to 2 inch EPs someday, but I don't want to get a good scope and then have to cheap out on a 2 inch diagonal, so I'm going to wait until I refill my wallet to get a decent 2 inch diagonal and a couple of long FL EPs for it.

 

Considering I almost never get out to a dark site, and am going to be contending with street lights and the neighbors house lights, is the extra aperture of the 102 going to give me better views of the clusters and asterisms I'm hoping to see, or will it just let in more of the light pollution? In which case, the 70mm would be better - darker but crisper and more contrast views?

 

Sentimentality and attachment are personal decisions, only you can make those.  The ED-70 will be something of a let down for most objects from your 80mm F/11 so that complicates things.

 

Another way to go is buy a 2 inch eyepiece, diagonal and focuser for your 80mm F/11.  This will provide a 2.9 degree field of view and be a pretty good all around scope.  

 

In the long run, saving up for a 102mm ED is probably the best route.. 

 

Jon


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#34 Auburn80

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Posted 25 July 2021 - 11:10 AM

Looking for advice on a refractor to use primarily as a wide-field scope (not really interested in a reflector or a mak). I do a lot of double star observing (have a Vixen A80Mf f11 and an old Vixen 60mm f15 for this), but I want to look at some larger clusters, like Melotte 20 or the Hyades, and asterisms such as Kemble's Cascade or the Coathanger.

I'd also like to use this new scope as a grab and go (my scopes are stored on the second floor of our house, so I want something that is a little easier to carry down stairs and around corners; the 80mm f11 and 60mm f15 aren't too bad, but their length makes them a little difficult to maneuver), and so I'd like to be able to use the scope on planets and the Moon as well (a little CA wouldn't bother me, and I realize I probably won't be able to see details on the planets).

I do all my observing from the front driveway and small back yard with lots of light pollution from the neighbors and some nearby street lights. Not ideal by any means, but I have managed to spot M57 and M27 when the seeing was good, so not horrible either.

I'm thinking of three options (I'm planning to use a Porta mount):

1) Svbony SV503 70mm ED f6 (I'd really love to get the AT70ED, but can't get it shipped to Japan)
2) Svbony SV48 90mm f5.5 achromat
3) Skywatcher 102mm f5 achromat

Open to other options as well, but as you can tell from my choices, my budget is around 300 - 400 US. I may want to upgrade to a 2-inch diagonal someday, but I already have a lot of 1.25" and .965 eyepieces, so I'm planning on using a 1.25 diagonal with the scope. And, I've thought about the Svbony 503 80mm ED f7, but its a little above my budget and I'm not sure the extra aperture and smaller field of view would be worth it for what I want to observe.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this post and any advice you can give!


Does any of your research show a 102 f6.5 achro? I have a Celestron labeled version (XLT 102AZ) and it does pretty well all things considered. Definitely more aperture than an 80, a lot of CA but does show good planetary and lunar detail for its cost/design. It's lightweight, with an ok metal focuser, fixed dew shield and what looks like a plastic lens cell - could be a problem as described earlier or could be ok.
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#35 lxeth

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Posted 27 July 2021 - 01:36 AM

Sentimentality and attachment are personal decisions, only you can make those.  The ED-70 will be something of a let down for most objects from your 80mm F/11 so that complicates things.

 

Another way to go is buy a 2 inch eyepiece, diagonal and focuser for your 80mm F/11.  This will provide a 2.9 degree field of view and be a pretty good all around scope.  

 

In the long run, saving up for a 102mm ED is probably the best route.. 

 

Jon

Jon,

 

Thanks for the advice, on both points. I hadn't really thought of putting a 2 inch focuser on the 80mm f11. I'm a little wary of swapping out the focuser on my own - I'm afraid I would put it out of alignment, but it's definitely something to think about.

 

Reading everyone's advice, I'm coming to think that you are right - saving up for a 102ED may be the best route. It was something I was thinking of getting in few years in any case...guess maybe I need more patience!


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#36 lxeth

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Posted 27 July 2021 - 01:46 AM

Does any of your research show a 102 f6.5 achro? I have a Celestron labeled version (XLT 102AZ) and it does pretty well all things considered. Definitely more aperture than an 80, a lot of CA but does show good planetary and lunar detail for its cost/design. It's lightweight, with an ok metal focuser, fixed dew shield and what looks like a plastic lens cell - could be a problem as described earlier or could be ok.

Thanks for the advice!

 

Actually, I have thought about that scope! They pop on auction here somewhat frequently, and usually for less than $200. I've read generally good reviews of the scope and its lens on this site (similar to what you say), and it has intrigued me. The one thing that has stopped me from picking one up is the need to also pick up a 2-inch diagonal and at least one wide-FOV eyepiece to turn it into a really wide-field scope...

 

But, It seems everyone is pushing me in the direction of a 2-inch focuser in any case! SO, maybe I should just listen!



#37 Bkoh

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Posted 27 July 2021 - 10:31 AM

Jon,

 

Thanks for the advice, on both points. I hadn't really thought of putting a 2 inch focuser on the 80mm f11. I'm a little wary of swapping out the focuser on my own - I'm afraid I would put it out of alignment, but it's definitely something to think about.

 

Reading everyone's advice, I'm coming to think that you are right - saving up for a 102ED may be the best route. It was something I was thinking of getting in few years in any case...guess maybe I need more patience!

1. 50mm RACI finder with interchangeable eyepieces. Most of these are f4, the Astro-Tech one is f5, either way you'll get 5-6 degrees TFOV at low power, and you can easily reach 50x with them, after which your 80mm scope can take over. If you decide not to use it as a standalone scope, you can leave it permanently mounted on your 80mm.

 

2. AT60ED. This is f6 and takes 2-inch eyepieces. You can go as low as 9x and as high as 120x. It does cost USD 400, which takes money away from that 102ED you are saving up for.


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#38 lxeth

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Posted 27 July 2021 - 08:39 PM

1. 50mm RACI finder with interchangeable eyepieces. Most of these are f4, the Astro-Tech one is f5, either way you'll get 5-6 degrees TFOV at low power, and you can easily reach 50x with them, after which your 80mm scope can take over. If you decide not to use it as a standalone scope, you can leave it permanently mounted on your 80mm.

 

2. AT60ED. This is f6 and takes 2-inch eyepieces. You can go as low as 9x and as high as 120x. It does cost USD 400, which takes money away from that 102ED you are saving up for.

Thanks for the suggestions. Interesting idea about the 50mm RACI finder. I have one without interchangeable EPs on my 80 f11 now, but I'd never thought about upgrading that finder and using it in tandem with the larger scope!

 

Don't know if you have heard of this podcast The Actual Astronomy Podcast but the two hosts did a similar thing - using a 50mm Mini Borg as a combination finder and wide-field scope. Several of the episodes discuss the process and the issues they dealt with. Quite interesting!



#39 Bkoh

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 12:27 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. Interesting idea about the 50mm RACI finder. I have one without interchangeable EPs on my 80 f11 now, but I'd never thought about upgrading that finder and using it in tandem with the larger scope!

 

Don't know if you have heard of this podcast The Actual Astronomy Podcast but the two hosts did a similar thing - using a 50mm Mini Borg as a combination finder and wide-field scope. Several of the episodes discuss the process and the issues they dealt with. Quite interesting!

 

Thanks for link to the podcast. Do you know which episodes discuss the 50mm mini Borg? Typing "borg" or "finder" into the site's search box doesn't show anything.

 

You may find these informative:

 

https://www.cloudyni...-a-finder-r1269

 

https://www.cloudyni...45-50mm-f5-rft/

 

The two approaches differ greatly in cost, but the idea is the same.


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#40 Wilsil

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 02:24 AM

My only scope is the Skywatcher ED80 F7.5 and I very happy with it.

It's my first scope and my intention is too keep it as an easy "grab and go" if I decide to go bigger.

Sure, there are targets which are too far away for this scope and there are targets to big as well.

But as a novice a great scope to learn the ropes and get hooked on it.


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#41 lxeth

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 04:52 AM

Thanks for link to the podcast. Do you know which episodes discuss the 50mm mini Borg? Typing "borg" or "finder" into the site's search box doesn't show anything.

 

You may find these informative:

 

https://www.cloudyni...-a-finder-r1269

 

https://www.cloudyni...45-50mm-f5-rft/

 

The two approaches differ greatly in cost, but the idea is the same.

Thank you for those links! They both look really interesting. Looking forward to reading through them over the up coming weekend.

 

Sorry you weren't able to find the episodes. Try this link:

 

https://actualastron...ean.com/page/2/

 

I think episodes 128 and 122 are what are i was thinking of. If I remember correctly, 124, 125 and 126 deal more with what they observed. 



#42 lxeth

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 04:56 AM

My only scope is the Skywatcher ED80 F7.5 and I very happy with it.

It's my first scope and my intention is too keep it as an easy "grab and go" if I decide to go bigger.

Sure, there are targets which are too far away for this scope and there are targets to big as well.

But as a novice a great scope to learn the ropes and get hooked on it.

I love my 80m f11 - but that is because it is my first scope. If I had known what I know now, I would have either saved up and bought an 80 ED, or spent a little less and got an ST-80 as a starter scope. I sometimes feel like I have a scope that is good at lots of things but not great at any of them. Which I guess, in a way, makes it a good starter scope as well!



#43 Simoes Pedro

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 04:57 AM

There are several 60mm F6 FPL53 doublets on the market. Are these out of you budget?




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