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Is anyone else tired of the hassle?

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#51 Terra Nova

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 09:45 AM

Thank you Allan. I will be spending my birthday with my daughter and grandson. Yes, I have become a great disciple of the laser finder myself. With my GLP aligned on the Genesis SDF, the SDF on the Gibralter Mount, one hand on the telescope, the other holding my 12x60 Oberwerk lightweight binoculars, I simply guide the laser beam to my target while watch through the binoculars. It makes short work of star hopping, and a pleasurable journey as well! It’s a great help in light polluted skies. It’s so much easier than those old 30mm straight-thru inverted image optical finders we used to use. I don’t know how we ever found anything back then. It was sheer perseverance, (and love for the hobby). ;)

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#52 AllanDystrup

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 09:54 AM

     Oh Sure Jon, I don’t question that it’s doable, even easy with the tools you mention.

      

     I just prefer my combination of a laser pointer + a 2” Amici diagonal with an 41mm panoptic WF EP on my fast f/6 refractor.

     

     No need for a finder scope. But On a GEM, yes. Just that and my analog star maps.

      I think we have a case of tomatos / tomaaatos here. Small differences, so a question of taste really.

     

     — Allan

     

PS Terra: Yeahh, Amen to that setup! Love it.

                 Also: yes, I use my laser that way with my 8x 30 bino too.

                 Easy and fun way to star hop! — sometimes I just switch on the laser and while I looking through my bino, I push the scope OTA with the other hand, thus guiding the beam all the way to my destination. That is just so cool lol.gif

 


Edited by AllanDystrup, 12 October 2021 - 10:04 AM.

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#53 kansas skies

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 10:35 AM

In my mind, it comes down to convenience at the eyepiece vs convenience of setup. For this reason, I very seldom use anything other than a motor driven, equatorial-mounted scope, whether GEM or fork. If time is not limited, I really like the viewing convenience of the big Vixen Saturn. If time is limited, or if I just don't feel like expending the time and effort required to set it up, I have many other options, not the least being the Questar, which is always ready on a moment's notice. If I need a little more aperture, the fork-mounted C8 is a five to ten minute setup, with the only downside being the time required to thermally stabilize.

 

That being said, I'm pretty much exclusively a visual observer, so exact polar alignment is really not a necessity. In this respect, I generally just align to Polaris and call that good enough. I still use my old Edmund Mag 6 star atlas most of the time, and can find just about anything in very short order. Other than the motor drives, I prefer to leave the electronic technology out of my viewing experience, as I tend to get way too much of that in my normal day-to-day existence. Then again, I will admit that I keep my trusty old flip-phone handy just in case I manage to drop that huge GEM on my foot in the dark.

 

Bill


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#54 ccwemyss

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 10:42 AM

Lasers are great if you don't have much air traffic. Here we have the eastbound Logan approach route to the north, the westbound departure route to the south, a C5 base to the SE, an F15 base to SW, and when the Bradley northern approach route is active, the flights turn just to the south of us. We also have a GA airport just a couple of miles away.

 

In an hour of observing from the school, I typically see 20 to 30 aircraft pass by, often quite close to areas where the telescopes are pointed (it's not uncommon for students to shout, "I just saw a plane!" while looking through a scope). So it takes a good deal of attention and care to use a laser under those conditions. 

 

Chip W. 


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#55 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 10:51 AM

Oh Sure Jon, I don’t question that it’s doable, even easy with the tools you mention.

     

     I just prefer my combination of a laser pointer + a 2” Amici diagonal with an 41mm panoptic WF EP on my fast f/6 refractor.

    

     No need for a finder scope. But On a GEM, yes. Just that and my analog star maps.

      I think we have a case of tomatos / tomaaatos here. Small differences, so a question of taste really.

    

     — Allan

 

Allan:

 

With my 4 inch F/5.4 NP-101, I do mount a red dot but primarily rely on the 31 mm Nagler (4.45°) and the 41 mm Panoptic (4.88°) for star hopping and generally just look at the region of the sky I want to point and then "shoot from the hip."

 

For double stars, I sometimes use an RACI finder so I don't have to keep swapping eyepieces.

 

I use the Telrad and RACI with longer focal length scopes. I dona lot of backyard urban observing with my 13.1 inch F/5.5 Dob so I need a finder.

 

Jon


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#56 Terra Nova

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 11:02 AM

    

Terra: Yeahh, Amen to that setup! Love it.

                 Also: yes, I use my laser that way with my 8x 30 bino too.

                 Easy and fun way to star hop! — sometimes I just switch on the laser and while I looking through my bino, I push the scope OTA with the other hand, thus guiding the beam all the way to my destination. That is just so cool lol.gif

Exactly Allan! I just discovered this method a couple of years ago. It’s a blast! My next investment in astronomy I think will be an image-intensified night vision eyepiece. I think I will enjoy observing at home a lot more, and I’m getting to my clubs dark site less and less so I need to up my game, so to speak.


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#57 Terra Nova

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 11:06 AM

I plan on using this ‘Dobsonian refractor’ tonight as long as skies clear as predicted. It’s the same scope as the other night, Vixen ED102SS (F6.5), but off the eq. mount I used Sunday that spurred me on to start this thread. It stands at the ready in my walk out basement. I’ll take the scope off of the mount of course before going out. The mount and tripod weighs close to 30 pounds but can be maneuvered out the double doors in one piece.

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Edited by Terra Nova, 12 October 2021 - 11:06 AM.

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#58 Terra Nova

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 11:22 AM

Lasers are great if you don't have much air traffic. Here we have the eastbound Logan approach route to the north, the westbound departure route to the south, a C5 base to the SE, an F15 base to SW, and when the Bradley northern approach route is active, the flights turn just to the south of us. We also have a GA airport just a couple of miles away.

 

In an hour of observing from the school, I typically see 20 to 30 aircraft pass by, often quite close to areas where the telescopes are pointed (it's not uncommon for students to shout, "I just saw a plane!" while looking through a scope). So it takes a good deal of attention and care to use a laser under those conditions. 

 

Chip W. 

That’s a very good point. I do have to be much more watchful and careful at my suburban home as opposed to a dark site out in the country. At that point a good 50mm optical finder used in conjunction with binoculars is an alternative. The binoculars again aiding in finding ones way amongst the stars in more light polluted skies where a limiting Magnitude of 3 or 4 is more the rule than the exception.


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#59 alnitak22

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 12:38 PM

I’m old school for sure. With regard to mounts, I got my first GEM fifty-five years ago this summer, a 5/8” shaft Edmund equatorial mount on the tall wood tripod. Since then, I’ve had lots of others. The bigger Edmund and Jaegers 1” shaft mounts, the Vixen line of Polaris thru Great Polaris, the Unitron GEMs- small, medium, and large, a couple of Zeiss equatorial mounts, Celestrons, Meades, the list goes on. In pruning all things back to a sensible number, given my age, physical condition, and living circumstances (I’m in good health, knock on wood, and will have completed 72 laps around the Sun come Friday), I’m down to just one GEM, a Meade LX70 with dual drives (this is a CG5/GP class mount), with a nice range of counterweights of various size to handle any of my present scopes. I chose to use this mount for my observing pleasure last night. The one thing that struck me setting up was what a PITA it is to use a German equatorial mount! As I said, I used to be a fan, but in selling all but one, My experience last night confirmed my logic and forever answered in my mind, the question of why I sold them. I hadn’t set one up in months.

 

I much prefer my alt-az mounts. My TV Panoramic and Gibralter mounts, and my big Orion U-mount are ergonomic dreams to use, and my Vixen Porta-II is my staple grab and go. The eyepiece and finder is always where you want it to be (no tube rotating), balance is easily achieved, and it either all goes out in one trip or in the case of the big U-mount, two (mount and tripod separately). With the GEM its more gear when you include the counterweight(s), power supply, controller, etc. then there’s the getting down on one’s knees to polar align, etc. it took me at least twice as long set up and to take down. I think after last night, I may even ‘Dobify’ my vintage Newt (I know, I’m a heretic), and be done with the madness! I’m getting to old for this! (Not observing, just observing with GEMs). I’ll keep the LX70 mount, for old times sake- a sort of artifact and reminder. I may even occasionally press it into service. But even it needs simplifying! I removed the drive motors this morning and returned to to a completely manual mount. That at least, eliminates sum of the extra ‘stuff’ to deal with (power supply, controller, cables). Being strictly an observer with zero aspirations for AP I don’t need the bother! I’m wondering, is anyone else tired of the hassle?

Terra...I understand your point. I use both modes in my situation. My TV85 is solid on the Bogen 475B and Telepod head and is fun to traverse the sky with. But I just got a 6” Mak for lunar/planetary and the driven mount is best for that....and I actually like it! 


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#60 Terra Nova

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 12:45 PM

Terra...I understand your point. I use both modes in my situation. My TV85 is solid on the Bogen 475B and Telepod head and is fun to traverse the sky with. But I just got a 6” Mak for lunar/planetary and the driven mount is best for that....and I actually like it! 

Yes, I an appreciate the need for a tracking mount and have no serious plan to really getting rid of mine because there are (occasional) occasions where it comes in handy. That said, I really enjoy alt-az mounts and want to maximize my limited time under the stars using them and minimize my use of my one remaining equatorial mount.


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#61 alnitak22

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 12:58 PM

Yes, I an appreciate the need for a tracking mount and have no serious plan to really getting rid of mine because there are (occasional) occasions where it comes in handy. That said, I really enjoy alt-az mounts and want to maximize my limited time under the stars using them and minimize my use of my one remaining equatorial mount.

Understand completely. I may wind up selling my Astroview mount which I’ve used with the TV85 a lot. But I think the 85 will mainly live on the alt-az setup now that I have the Mak and Skyview Pro mount. You have a great stable of scopes...enjoy!


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#62 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 04:55 PM

Once again a good topic    thanks T. 

 So  I like both. When I grab and go   it is on the alt az   like the twilight for smaller refractors   and I love the Unistar alt az for up to a four inch refractor.   And there is nothing like the NP 101 on the Gibraltar for wide field sweeping around.

 

The  gem 's are great for tracking  and at higher powers    I like them when time allows for set up 

  For outreach and sharing  it is so helpful to not have to nudge the mount between every observer

Healing the fractured Lumbar spine it is small 3 inch alt az only

 

It's killing me that it is planet season and I am on the injured reserve list for bigger scopes     

Patience     still learning it

l


Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 12 October 2021 - 06:36 PM.

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#63 oldmanastro

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 05:12 PM

I also like both GEMs and altazimuth mounts. The first GEM that I ever used was the one on my old Sears (AO) 76mm refractor. That was 54 years ago and in the beginning it was a hassle to get it polar aligned and properly set up. It took a couple of trips to get the tripod and mount outside and then the OTA. It still takes two trips. My altazimuth mounted 2.4" refractor could be picked up with one hand tripod and all. The setup took a minute. Over time I got to appreciate the GEM mount even without a drive motor. Now GEM mounts are my favorites but it doesn't mean that I don't like my older altazimuth mounted refractors. My heaviest GEM mounts are mounted on wheels now so setup is not an issue. I must confess that my observing spot on the roof is just a few steps from the telescopes and that makes setting up a telescope much easier. There was just one telescope that was a real hassle. It was my former Celestron C6R refractor on a Skyview Pro mount with a 16" extension. I sold the whole package some years ago. The rest of them, I can handle.

 

Before I forget, Happy Birthday Terra!


Edited by oldmanastro, 12 October 2021 - 08:22 PM.

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#64 CHASLX200

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 06:14 PM

Here was my fave mount.  I had Metro machining make me a set of rotating rings for a 8" F/8 Edmund i redid with a Sono tube.  The good old Edmund 1.5" mount lived outside and it was so easy to plop the OTA on the mount and start viewing.

 

Moved butter smooth with no drives to bother me at 450x. It's in the background on the left of the 12.5" scope. Really was my fav mount of all.

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Edited by CHASLX200, 12 October 2021 - 06:15 PM.

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#65 EJN

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Posted 12 October 2021 - 11:17 PM

I guess I'm spoiled by having tracking.

 

My Orion/Vixen ED102SS f/6.5 on a Mizar mount is probably as easy to setup as an alt-az. There is no hand controller, the battery pack hangs from a tripod leg, and the only controls are on/off & N/S, on the motor itself.

 

The Mizar head is significantly lighter than a SP/GP/EQ-5 class mount, but very solid.

 

It's a shame that there are no really good light/medium duty EQ mounts available now. IMO, the Mizar is much better built than the closest comparable modern mount, the CG-4/Astroview.

 

The closest comparable mounts I can think of are the Vixen Polaris and the Takahashi P2Z, both no longer made. Of course, neither is the Mizar.

 

And a refractor just looks right on a GEM.

 

EQ mounts now are geared towards imagers, who want mega-payload capacity and every bell & whistle imaginable.

 

 

 

But as far as Newtonians, I am all-in on Dobs. A chance encounter with John Dobson & The San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers in 1976 at the Grand Canyon "converted" me. No more need to be a contortionist, or rotate the tube when looking at different areas of the sky.

 

vx102ss-IMG_0138_f.jpg


Edited by EJN, 12 October 2021 - 11:37 PM.

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#66 bobhen

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 06:12 AM

My alt/az mounts get used a lot more than my GEMs.

 

I removed the motors on my CG5 years ago. A manual GEM with slow motion cables does have the advantage over an alt/az in that you only need to turn one axis to keep an object centered. Even so, my one-trip-out-the-door alt/az mounts get more use.

 

My 4 mounts listed in order of use…

 

1. My UA Macrostar gets a lot of use for solar and deep sky observing, where lower powers are used the most.

 

2. My DSV-3 twin mount with slow motion cables also gets a lot of use for duel scope deep sky observing and because it has slow motion controls it gets a lot of use for higher power observing on the moon and planets.

 

3. My manual CG5 gets used for more extended, single object lunar or planetary observing. I presume because of profitability and our “electronic culture” manufacturers don’t offer many GEMs that can be used manually with slow motion cables. Simplicity does have advantages. Hand tracking at 400x and keeping the object nearly centered is easy.

 

4. My Celestron AVX gets the least use. When I use it I realize it’s nice to have tracking but in the end the “hassle” of set up always seems to outweigh the somewhat limited benefit of motorized tracking for visual observing.

 

Some images below…

My DSV-3 with a Tak TSA 120 and a 102mm F5 refractor getting ready for some Night Vision deep sky observing

 

My manual CG5 with slow motion cables

 

Bob

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Edited by bobhen, 13 October 2021 - 06:12 AM.

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#67 LDW47

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 07:10 AM

I only ever owned / used one EQ  Never again


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#68 Tom Stock

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 08:14 AM

Yes.  Been using german mounts for the past 20 years.  Finally got tired of the number of trips back and forth to set up and no longer interested in imaging.  Sold all my SCT's and purchased larger dobsonians.  I am so much happier.

 

Tried a german eq mount again recently and it's just awful. No thanks!

 

They sure look great though.  Sort of like sailboats.


Edited by Tom Stock, 13 October 2021 - 08:16 AM.

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#69 luxo II

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 08:18 AM

Vixen ED102SS (F6.5), but off the eq. mount I used Sunday that spurred me on to start this thread. It stands at the ready in my walk out basement.

Very pretty rig, Terra, love the minimalism - no counterweights, no drives, no batteries, no electronic fandangles,  just you and the scope.

 

You've got me reaching for my copy of Norton's...

 

And happy birthday, for tomorrow...


Edited by luxo II, 13 October 2021 - 08:25 AM.

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#70 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 10:13 AM

It has to be said that equatorial mounts have their uses and benefits   there are pros and cons 

I am not giving them up.  But Hassel can be a non starter at times

 

Having said that    as folks move on from or try to minimize the "Hassel" due to life changes   (and dare I say it  aging)   it is easy to focus on the ease of a good Alt Az mount.  By way of example.....

 

Last week, 6 weeks after my fall off the ladder and fracture of the lumbar spine, in a period of good seeing I had someone set up my Tak em-10 mount and a good sized refractor    After dark  I found that  the hand controller failed to operate   I did my best to use it manually  and it was ng. Frustrated   I  got help removing the refractor and covered the mount and gave up......

 

Last night, with  really good seeing  I set up a fabulous yet  small scope ( the awesome FC-76 circa 1992) on the Unistar. At 7.45 Io was just starting its move to duck behind Jupiter. It was wonderful. Using my regular  everyday eyepieces, the Astro Tech ED Paradigms,  I was floored by the incredible detail on Jupiter. As power increased it just held wonderfully. With the Unistar mount it was all so simple and easy. Jupiter showed 6-7 bands and swirls I only get with the larger refractors.  Io closed the gap on the port side of the planet and eventually touched or set like the melting sun does  into the ocean in the West. It was 8.15 and Io still manifested itself as a mere pimple on the face of Jove and then she was gone....On to Saturn and then the half moon.

a great night  only possible with the Unistar Alt Az       just saying


Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 13 October 2021 - 12:33 PM.

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#71 Sarkikos

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 11:41 AM

I’m old school for sure. With regard to mounts, I got my first GEM fifty-five years ago this summer, a 5/8” shaft Edmund equatorial mount on the tall wood tripod. Since then, I’ve had lots of others. The bigger Edmund and Jaegers 1” shaft mounts, the Vixen line of Polaris thru Great Polaris, the Unitron GEMs- small, medium, and large, a couple of Zeiss equatorial mounts, Celestrons, Meades, the list goes on. In pruning all things back to a sensible number, given my age, physical condition, and living circumstances (I’m in good health, knock on wood, and will have completed 72 laps around the Sun come Friday), I’m down to just one GEM, a Meade LX70 with dual drives (this is a CG5/GP class mount), with a nice range of counterweights of various size to handle any of my present scopes. I chose to use this mount for my observing pleasure last night. The one thing that struck me setting up was what a PITA it is to use a German equatorial mount! As I said, I used to be a fan, but in selling all but one, My experience last night confirmed my logic and forever answered in my mind, the question of why I sold them. I hadn’t set one up in months.

 

I much prefer my alt-az mounts. My TV Panoramic and Gibralter mounts, and my big Orion U-mount are ergonomic dreams to use, and my Vixen Porta-II is my staple grab and go. The eyepiece and finder is always where you want it to be (no tube rotating), balance is easily achieved, and it either all goes out in one trip or in the case of the big U-mount, two (mount and tripod separately). With the GEM its more gear when you include the counterweight(s), power supply, controller, etc. then there’s the getting down on one’s knees to polar align, etc. it took me at least twice as long set up and to take down. I think after last night, I may even ‘Dobify’ my vintage Newt (I know, I’m a heretic), and be done with the madness! I’m getting to old for this! (Not observing, just observing with GEMs). I’ll keep the LX70 mount, for old times sake- a sort of artifact and reminder. I may even occasionally press it into service. But even it needs simplifying! I removed the drive motors this morning and returned to to a completely manual mount. That at least, eliminates sum of the extra ‘stuff’ to deal with (power supply, controller, cables). Being strictly an observer with zero aspirations for AP I don’t need the bother! I’m wondering, is anyone else tired of the hassle?

My first scope was 4.25" Edmund f/10 Newt on a pedestal GEM with setting circles.  Loved the telescope.  Hated the GEM.  I dislike them for all the reasons you mentioned, plus they are not comfortable for Newts.  Besides, I never liked using the setting circles.  

 

Since then I've bought several scopes that came with GEMs.  I ended up trashing or storing the GEMs. 

 

A decent alt-az mount is a much better match for what I want to do in astronomy ... and what I want to avoid.

 

I don't need tracking bad enough to use a GEM.  Besides, there are alt-az mounts now with tracking.  

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 13 October 2021 - 11:45 AM.

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#72 Sarkikos

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 11:53 AM

On most of my scopes now, when possible, I attach a laser finder and a small RACI.  First I align the laser with the main scope.  Adjust the laser finder until you see the laser beam pointing at the middle of the field of view in the telescope.  Then align the RACI with the telescope.  Now the laser beam should be pointing where the crosshairs cross in the RACI.

 

After aligning the finders in this way, you can go directly from the RACI to a moderately high power eyepiece in the main telescope.  No "finder eyepiece" necessary.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 13 October 2021 - 11:55 AM.

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#73 alnitak22

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 11:54 AM

I guess I'm spoiled by having tracking.

 

My Orion/Vixen ED102SS f/6.5 on a Mizar mount is probably as easy to setup as an alt-az. There is no hand controller, the battery pack hangs from a tripod leg, and the only controls are on/off & N/S, on the motor itself.

 

The Mizar head is significantly lighter than a SP/GP/EQ-5 class mount, but very solid.

 

It's a shame that there are no really good light/medium duty EQ mounts available now. IMO, the Mizar is much better built than the closest comparable modern mount, the CG-4/Astroview.

 

The closest comparable mounts I can think of are the Vixen Polaris and the Takahashi P2Z, both no longer made. Of course, neither is the Mizar.

 

And a refractor just looks right on a GEM.

 

EQ mounts now are geared towards imagers, who want mega-payload capacity and every bell & whistle imaginable.

 

 

 

But as far as Newtonians, I am all-in on Dobs. A chance encounter with John Dobson & The San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers in 1976 at the Grand Canyon "converted" me. No more need to be a contortionist, or rotate the tube when looking at different areas of the sky.

 

attachicon.gifvx102ss-IMG_0138_f.jpg

Great looking setup! The Mizar looks similar to the old Skyview Deluxe Orion and others sold. I’m told it was more solid than the Astroview, which I have for my TV85. It’s ok but swapping out the aluminum legs for some oak ones made it better. Heavier, of course, but not too much for me to handle with the 85.



#74 EJN

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 12:22 PM

The Mizar looks similar to the old Skyview Deluxe Orion and others sold. 

 

The Skyview Deluxe was a close copy of the Mizar mount made by GSO (Taiwan).


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#75 alnitak22

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 12:41 PM

The Skyview Deluxe was a close copy of the Mizar mount made by GSO (Taiwan).

Thanks. And the Mizar is different yet from the EQ mount TeleVue used to sell with their 4” scopes, right? I think that one was made by Carton? It was really nice looking and I’d love to have my TV85 on one. But the AstroView works fine...just doesn’t look as neat.


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