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Grab n' go refractor choice

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#1 Bridgehouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 10:11 AM

I'm really starting to get to grips with the NP101is. It was always destined for AP/EAA, and I'm starting to pull together a rig which hopefully should be up and running in the new year. I have a Losmandy GM811G on order for mounting, and I think I'll be going down the ASIAIR Plus route for convenience - at least certainly to start with. Much longer term I'm lucky enough to have a space in the garden for a home observatory dome, and so I can see it being mounted permanently in there on a pier. 

 

However, I do want to add a cheap and lightweight refractor to the mix for grab n' go visual observing either when I'm imaging, or just for those quick looks when I don't have the time for the faff of setting up. Of course, an observatory would negate a lot of that, but that's some way off, and I still think it will be dedicated to imaging or EAA from the comfort of the house (especially in winter). Plus, it would be nice to have something quick and easy to stick in the back of the car and take away. Doubt I'll ever take it on a plane tho. 

 

I've got a TV Gibraltar mount, which otherwise will be unused - so there's a bit of me that thinks something like an old Ranger might be a good grab n' go, but the Gibraltar isn't exactly light - and might end up being an ornament most of the time. 

 

I'm also tempted by something like an AZ GTI, with goto for ease of use. That's got a 5kg payload all up. So, what do you think I should be shortlisting?

 

- New or used - happy to go used to save some cash

- Under 5kg all up in case I do go down the lightweight goto route

- Cheap end of the budget - up to $500 say

- Visual observing - mixture of solar system and brighter DSOs - I have Bortle 4 skies most of the time

- I'm thinking something around 70-80mm and in the F6-9ish range 

- I'm probably looking at an ED doublet - I'm not overly bothered by CA but would prefer to minimise it for visual, and it would be nice if it was sharp and reasonably well corrected

 

Thoughts?

 


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#2 petert913

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 10:43 AM

I just ordered an Astro-Tech 70ED for my grab and go.   Can't wait for arrival.


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#3 Bridgehouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:08 AM

What's that Antares one?



#4 Bridgehouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:09 AM

I just ordered an Astro-Tech 70ED for my grab and go.   Can't wait for arrival.

They look good - but I'm UK based - do you know if they are available from other brands that might be easier to get over here? I'm assuming they get branded up by different distributors?



#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:10 AM

In my opinion, you have the right scope, the NP-101, you just need the right mount for it. 

 

Jon


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#6 Echolight

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:13 AM

Not for imaging, but I’d like a Startravel 102 f/5 for a biggest small refractor for a light travel scope. Of course the mount it comes with would not be my choice.

I love looking at the star fields in Cygnus and Orion with my binoculars, and I figure the 102 f5 would one up the 8x56 more so than an 80mm.

An ST120 might be a touch too big for one hand out the door or for being able to pack away when space is very limited for car travel.

 

I think an AT72EDII would work for a small visual scope that would crossover to imaging on a small mount well.



#7 Bridgehouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:13 AM

In my opinion, you have the right scope, the NP-101, you just need the right mount for it.

Jon


Oh it’s the right scope - but it’s destined for imaging. I want something for doing a bit of visual whilst it’s doing it’s imaging thing, and something for sticking in the car. I can’t justify another 101 OTA just for that!

#8 dmorrow

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:13 AM

AT72EDii or equivalent.  



#9 Bridgehouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:16 AM

AT72EDii or equivalent.


Looks like that’s the Skywatcher 72ED DS Pro over here.. I’ll take a look
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#10 dmorrow

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:24 AM

Looks like that’s the Skywatcher 72ED DS Pro over here.. I’ll take a look

This could be an option too . . . https://www.teleskop...-Objective.html



#11 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:28 AM

Oh it’s the right scope - but it’s destined for imaging. I want something for doing a bit of visual whilst it’s doing it’s imaging thing, and something for sticking in the car. I can’t justify another 101 OTA just for that!

 

If it were me, I would be looking at a 102mm F/7ED like the Astro-Tech.  I have 80mm F/6 and 80mm F/7 FPL-53 doublets and they are nice and handy but a 4 inch is enough more capable that I would go that route. 

 

Jon


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#12 Scott in NC

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:28 AM

My favorite scope that is truly light enough to be “grab and go” (which I define as being able to pick up the scope, mount, and tripod all attached together, and carry it out my front door to my observing spot in one trip) is an 80mm f/6 apo refractor.


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#13 Jethro7

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:37 AM

 

 

Thoughts?

Hello Bridgehouse,

I am with Jon Isaacs, post #7  you have the right scope. With the NP 101 mounted on a Stellarvue M2C mount would make a awesome grab and Go. 

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro



#14 Bridgehouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:58 AM

Hello Bridgehouse,

I am with Jon Isaacs, post #7  you have the right scope. With the NP 101 mounted on a Stellarvue M2C mount would make a awesome grab and Go. 

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro

Yeah, I do agree - and it's fantastic visually.

 

Sadly, I can't ram an eyepiece and a camera into the visual back at the same time :) 

 

Hence why I'm looking for something to accompany the NP101 whilst I'm imaging and fancy a quick visual observation as well. 


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#15 Lagrange

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 11:58 AM

They look good - but I'm UK based - do you know if they are available from other brands that might be easier to get over here? I'm assuming they get branded up by different distributors?

You see the same scopes from brands like William Optics, Tecnosky, TS-Optics, Altair Optics, Svbony and probably a few others. Optically they should be essentially the same although brands may differ in the package they offer as well as their approach to quality control and minimum standards.


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#16 Bridgehouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:09 PM

You see the same scopes from brands like William Optics, Tecnosky, TS-Optics, Altair Optics, Svbony and probably a few others. Optically they should be essentially the same although brands may differ in the package they offer as well as their approach to quality control and minimum standards.

Yes, browsing around the astro shops over here they do seem to pop up with different branding/colours but essentially the same. 

 

There seems to be a similar amount of choice in the 70-80 range as there is in the 100-120 as well. 

 

 

My favorite scope that is truly light enough to be “grab and go” (which I define as being able to pick up the scope, mount, and tripod all attached together, and carry it out my front door to my observing spot in one trip) is an 80mm f/6 apo refractor.

 

If it were me, I would be looking at a 102mm F/7ED like the Astro-Tech.  I have 80mm F/6 and 80mm F/7 FPL-53 doublets and they are nice and handy but a 4 inch is enough more capable that I would go that route. 

 

Jon

Ah the aperture dilemma! I'm leaning to smaller at the moment for weight and portability reasons, but I am a bit worried I've been spoiled with the NP101 visually...


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#17 bobhen

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:18 PM

If it were me, I would be looking at a 102mm F/7ED like the Astro-Tech.  I have 80mm F/6 and 80mm F/7 FPL-53 doublets and they are nice and handy but a 4 inch is enough more capable that I would go that route. 

 

Jon

I agree with Jon. Unless travel or portability is the "ultamate goal", for visual, a 4”-class refractor is really a nice jump up in performance over anything 80mm and smaller, especially if solar system objects are on your observing list.  

 

The Astro Tech 102mm F7 at $599 would be my choice.

 

You might be able to get it to work with your TV Gibraltar mount.

 

Bob


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#18 LDW47

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:27 PM

Hers a 102mm, f6.25 on my ..........., a 10lb scope incl. the diagonal and 2" ep, I usually have it mounted on a very capable but liter Porta II  Why the photo is sideways, who knows in these forums but I know it isn't in my album, lol

 

04AFA10A-D739-437B-9980-9C2EE89382E7.jpeg


Edited by LDW47, 17 October 2021 - 01:37 PM.

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#19 turtle86

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:28 PM

I agree with Jon. Unless travel or portability is the "ultamate goal", for visual, a 4”-class refractor is really a nice jump up in performance over anything 80mm and smaller, especially if solar system objects are on your observing list.  

 

The Astro Tech 102mm F7 at $599 would be my choice.

 

You might be able to get it to work with your TV Gibraltar mount.

 

Bob

 

I agree with Jon and Bob, and would also recommend something like the AT 102.  If you've been spoiled by the aperture of the NP 101, then an 80mm might not be enough aperture for you.  


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#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:35 PM

Ah the aperture dilemma! I'm leaning to smaller at the moment for weight and portability reasons, but I am a bit worried I've been spoiled with the NP101 visually...

 

 

My story:

 

13 years ago, I had the opportunity to test and review the very first AT-102ED.  At the time, I had my William Optics 80 mm F/7 FPL-53 doublet (which I still have.). I really liked the AT-102ED, I liked it so much, I bought it.. 

 

I liked it so much that I decided to buy the NP-101..During the 2 years the 102ED was my main 4 inch refractor, WO 80mm just sat in the shelf.. the added punch of a 4 inch is significant..

 

Jon


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#21 gwlee

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:37 PM

I'm really starting to get to grips with the NP101is. It was always destined for AP/EAA, and I'm starting to pull together a rig which hopefully should be up and running in the new year. I have a Losmandy GM811G on order for mounting, and I think I'll be going down the ASIAIR Plus route for convenience - at least certainly to start with. Much longer term I'm lucky enough to have a space in the garden for a home observatory dome, and so I can see it being mounted permanently in there on a pier. 

 

However, I do want to add a cheap and lightweight refractor to the mix for grab n' go visual observing either when I'm imaging, or just for those quick looks when I don't have the time for the faff of setting up. Of course, an observatory would negate a lot of that, but that's some way off, and I still think it will be dedicated to imaging or EAA from the comfort of the house (especially in winter). Plus, it would be nice to have something quick and easy to stick in the back of the car and take away. Doubt I'll ever take it on a plane tho. 

 

I've got a TV Gibraltar mount, which otherwise will be unused - so there's a bit of me that thinks something like an old Ranger might be a good grab n' go, but the Gibraltar isn't exactly light - and might end up being an ornament most of the time. 

 

I'm also tempted by something like an AZ GTI, with goto for ease of use. That's got a 5kg payload all up. So, what do you think I should be shortlisting?

 

- New or used - happy to go used to save some cash

- Under 5kg all up in case I do go down the lightweight goto route

- Cheap end of the budget - up to $500 say

- Visual observing - mixture of solar system and brighter DSOs - I have Bortle 4 skies most of the time

- I'm thinking something around 70-80mm and in the F6-9ish range 

- I'm probably looking at an ED doublet - I'm not overly bothered by CA but would prefer to minimise it for visual, and it would be nice if it was sharp and reasonably well corrected

 

Thoughts?

I don’t believe 5 kg is  a realistic total weight for a low cost, grab&go refractor and tripod unless you can tolerate a very shaky scope. At 16#, my AT72ED2 is under mounted on an aluminum photo tripod except for special circumstances when maximum portability is essential. At 19#, on a heavier photo aluminum photo tripod, I consider it adequately mounted. 


Edited by gwlee, 17 October 2021 - 12:54 PM.


#22 LDW47

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:54 PM

I don’t believe 5 kg is  a realistic total weight for a low cost, grab&go refractor unless you can tolerate a very shaky scope. At 16#, my AT72ED2 is under mounted on an aluminum photo tripod except for special circumstances when maximum portability is essential. At 19#, on a heavier photo aluminum photo tripod, I consider it adequately mounted. 

Show us a pic or two of these scopes on a 'photo tripod '



#23 Bridgehouse

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 01:21 PM

Thanks for the thoughts so far guys. I must admit I’d not thought of going as big as 4” for a grab and go. Thought 3” would be the limit for weight.

What’s the lightest 4” about at the moment?

#24 cdh79

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 01:56 PM

I am primarily imaging, but I have a Tak FSQ-85 on an Avalon M-Zero mount, which is very portable, but definitely not in that price range..

 

..or for an ultra-portable setup I have a WO SpaceCat and just got an AzGTi (which I will use in EQ mode) for it and a carbon tripod (RT90C.. probably overkill, but it's still very light).. I can lift the whole setup with one hand, so this is really "grab and go".


Edited by cdh79, 17 October 2021 - 01:59 PM.

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#25 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 02:05 PM

Assuming that you have a keeper Np101, then I'd be looking for a complementary scope if you want to have some for an extra usage scenario.

 

Given the desire for grab and go, I would be looking for something 80mm or perhaps even a little less.

 

Refractor scaling moves fast, and everything compounds. I have an earlier (somewhat longer/heavier) Televue 101, and it really needs a much bigger mount than my Orion 80mm carbon fiber (comes in at about 5lb).

 

And yes, sure you can see the difference between 80 and 101.6, but in the grand scheme of things these are relatively small differences.

 

Here's a sense of scale for my 101 vs. 80. I'd expect your NP to want a similar quality of mounting. The 80 set up comes in at 14lb--it's one hand and out the door.

 

80v101.JPG

 

 

 

 


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