Posted 10 October 2021 - 02:51 PM
Hi LightTrapper, 2021 is an exciting time to get into (or back into) astronomy I think!
I also think there is no ideal, simply because personal tastes, likes & dislikes are so varied, even taking money out of the equation.
Also logistical situations vary. Will you transport your scope? Do you have a place to store it? What physical shape are you in?
All those disclaimers can be huge factors. But having given those disclaimers, here's my dream setup I think, I'm most of the way there already!
I like visual observing, and have no interest in astrophotography. I like pushing my scope manually, I have no intetest in Goto or computers.
I also like deep-sky targets and am not that much into planetary observing, so that's a big influence on my choices in scope and so-forth.
For a scope, I've been very happy with my 12.5" f/5 Discovery truss tube Dob, it's old but built like a tank with good optics. But you are asking for ultimate. For me I decided on New Moon Telescopes, I have an order in now. Something to last a lifetime, that's my plan. You could get the biggest one that works logistically for you. Fast like f/3.3 or even f/3 would be good for NV tubes, and good for wider fields.
You could even get a 2nd smaller one (rich fields and more travel friendly) to complement your large one.
Get a Tele Vue Paracorr with the fast Dob.
Get an equatorial platform, it's super nice at higher power especially.
Get an Astrocrumb filter slide.
I live in Michigan so heaters are mandatory on eyepieces especially, to prevent fogging. I like Kendrick.
For the NV device, bino is mandatory for me, I have been previously spoiled too much by my wonderful Binotron 27, there is no going back to mono after that (for me). I would want excellent EBI and FOM specs. White phosphor. Continuous manual gain control. Support for prime focus, afocal, and camera lenses. OVNI-B is one device that checks all those boxes, and is the device I bought. Also Jonathan (joko) was outstanding to work with. To say I've been thrilled with OVNI-B would be an understatement!
For prime focus, a set of Barlows are useful. I recommend Harry Siebert.
For afocal, Tele Vue 67mm Plossl is a must. 40mm is also useful. Others if you wish. The apparent field with NV is 40 degrees, so you can use Ethos and Panoptics and such but they can be heavy and the wide apparent fields are wasted (unnecessary) with NV.
For camera lenses, I already owned many Canon EF lenses and they work great. I use a sturdy tripod and heavy video head with the 200mm f/2L which I highly recommend. Shorter lenses like 135mm f/2, 85mm f/1.4 or f/1.8, 50mm f/1.2, even 35mm f/1.4 are lots of fun handheld. (Note: the new Canon RF lenses will not work.)
A 90 degree mirror mount is also a very comfortable way to view with a camera lens, there are at least a couple of us here on CN who have enjoyed NV that way. My mirror mount is a now-discontinued Oberwerk binocular mirror mount, I'm not sure what is available nowadays but I've loved that thing for many years with my 25x100 binos...and now also with NV.
An adjustable-height observing chair is a must for me, I don't recall the brand but I got it many years ago from Astronomics, you can see pictures in one of my recent posts, it's an awesome chair, I think lots of CN folks have this same chair.
For filters, 2" are required for afocal. I have Chroma 8nm and 5nm H-alpha and like them. I also have Baader 6.5nm and 3.5nm f/2 H-alpha and like them. I also have other Astronomik and Baader filters: 12nm H-alpha, 685nm IR, 645nm IR, 610nm IR, I forget which is which brand (I'm on travel currently) but they are all good. For your ultimate setup, get them all,they are all useful.
To find what's in the sky, in general I much prefer a printed atlas, I like Interstellarum to see what's around, then I go to Millenium for star-hopping and for additional targets. Love it. I also use a large heated magnifying glass, since I'm no spring chicken and my eyes are bad.
For the really big-picture atlas, my fav by far is Cambridge Star Atlas. Deep Map 600 is also quite nice, I've used them both a ton.
For solar system bodies, I like Sky Safari Pro on my Android phone.
I have several other phone and computer apps, I like them all but Sky Safari Pro is my fav. I think I also probably own close to every printed atlas (as a collector, not because I need them all), and the above-mentioned ones are my personal favs in the field.
Well there you have it, my dream setup. I am truly fortunate in that money is no issue at this stage of life, I can have whatever I want. Only piece missing is my New Moon order, once that's filled then it will be complete!
Obviously these are highly personal choices, other folks will have very different but equally valid choices for their specific needs.
Also there are other fine telescope makers out there, I'm in no way implying New Moon is the only high-end choice.