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Planetary Replacement for 8" Dob

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#1 pregulla

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 01:32 AM

Hi All,

 

Currently I am using 8" f/6 SW Fexltube Dob for the Moon and planetary observing from home, visual only. (I also have 12" Lightbridge for travel to darker locations). 

I have bought used Berlebah Uni-17 tripod with GR-III mount for my 120mm achromat. Now I am thinking about replacing the dob with OTA that I can put on the mount, mainly for improved mechanics. 

 

I am considering something in 6" range, for lighter, quicker set up. 

SkyWatcher 150P 6" F/5 - Cheapest option, basic focuser, 47mm secondary.

SW 150PDS 6" F/5 - dual speed focuser, more back focus, 52mm secondary.

TS Photon 6" F/6 - Seems like it has better focuser than 150P, 45mm secondary. 

 

I wonder how important is secondary size, considering it is going to be mainly a planetary scope. I am currently thinking to get either Photon - F/6 seems like an interesting option, or 150pds, and then maybe it will replace 120mm achro as a wide field instrument as well.

 

I have also thought about getting MCT, but for much higher price it doesn't seem to offer much of a benefit for my purposes. 

 

Thoughts, comments and suggestions?

 



#2 ABQJeff

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 02:04 AM

Did someone mention a 150mm Mak!?….grin.gif

 

Thank you for thinking about a 6” MCT.  You are correct a Newt of same aperture is less expensive.  And you are an experienced Newt user, so are familiar with collimation.  A Newt will also allow you to do wider field targets than an MCT (when you get bored of planets).  Both will have no CA and generally equal optical performance (if getting regular mass produced versions of each).

 

But what you get with an MCT over a Newt of same aperture:
1) More compact size
2) Longer focal length (so doesn’t have the wide field performance but more forgiving on EPs and can use longer focal length EPs and still get good magnification)
3) Easy thermal management (wrap in reflectix and you are done, no cooling, no fans, instant observing)
4) Closed tube (no dust on internal main mirror)
5) No collimation unless you hit the scope with a hammer
6) Ability to do terrestrial/correct image viewing
7) View from the back

 

Up to you if those matter to you or not.  They do to me (why I am all Cats and Fracs) BUT I admire and hold no ill will or poor opinion for Newts.  My best observing buddy has an 8” Dob he brings out with us and I enjoy viewing thru it, and I eventually plan to get a big Dob.

 

I hope you get some good comments regarding the reflectors you listed.

 

CS!


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#3 CeleNoptic

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 04:12 AM

Now I am thinking about replacing the dob with OTA that I can put on the mount, mainly for improved mechanics. 
 
I am considering something in 6" range, for lighter, quicker set up.

 
Hmmm... you really want to trade (sacrifice) resolution for improved mechanics? Larger aperture is always better. If you want a dedicated planetary Newtonian, probably make sense to think about installing the fan blowing accross the Primary Mirror removing the surface termal layer. Looks like easier to do it on truss/collapsible than on solid OTA. And  I can't imagine quicker setup than a Newtonian on a Dob mount. Well, I haven't tried collapsible OTA, setting it up and collimating might be annoying though.


Edited by CeleNoptic, 23 October 2021 - 04:19 AM.

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#4 Echolight

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 04:06 PM

I have this little Vixen made Tasco 8V 125mm f/8 Bird-Jones that I converted from 0.965 to 1.25 eyepieces, on an EQ2, that I’m going to try out tonight as a planet wounder. I know a C6 or 6 inch Mak would probably be better. But this was almost free. So I figure I’d give it a whirl. Hoping it’ll beat my ED80 that has shown the Cassini Division recently. If it works well I’m going to put it on an old Nexstar8 mount.

1182FF32-E0DE-4D9B-BEC4-8C0CF0348DD3.jpeg

 

I also have a new to me Celestron C6-N f/5 newtonian that I’ve been using a bit lately. I think it has a 44mm secondary mirror.

D35ED067-4704-4367-B962-CEB43E2912BD.jpeg

It’s pretty convenient for a 6 inch scope. But likes a bigger mount. I’d like to convert it to 2 inch eyepieces for use as a richest field scope. But I might just buy a Startravel 102 for this role.

 

From your choices I’d pick the F/5 with the smallest secondary for an all-arounder. But the f/6 with the smallest secondary would likely be the best for high power.

 


Edited by Echolight, 23 October 2021 - 04:13 PM.


#5 ButterFly

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 04:32 PM

What exactly are the mechanical issues you are having that you feel a new scope would solve?  Building or buying a platform for tracking with your 12" seems like a better use of money.


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#6 Keith Rivich

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 05:00 PM

Years ago I bought a used 8" f/7 newt which I mostly use for moon and planets. Easy to transport, easy to collimate. I just set it on my tracking platform and i'm ready to go. 

 

No matter what, though, the view through the 8" doesn't come close to the detail I can see in the 25".



#7 vtornado

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 10:34 PM

Aperture rules on planets too.

 

Going down to a 6 inch scope is going to diminish your views.

Is the GR-III the Giro 3?   A nice mount but no tracking.

 

I have a 6 inch f/5 and for planetary, it is really hard to focus.  The f/5 focal ratio has a very shallow depth of focus.

A two speed focuser is highly desired.

 

A lot of the obstruction size is over blown.  I have not experimented a lot with it.   Large differences are probably

noticeable.  A few percentage points one way or the other can be easily swamped by other factors.

If you want to see tape a black paper disk to the back of your 8 inch f/6 dob.


Edited by vtornado, 23 October 2021 - 10:41 PM.

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#8 BlueTrane2028

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 11:20 PM

My best planetary performers are probably the C8 and both the 12 inchers. Aperture rules even for planets and my C8 is especially sharp for some reason.

One of the best planetary scopes I had however is one I no longer own, the Sonotube Celestron Starhopper that's in my profile pic.  8" f/6, but had an absolutely tiny secondary.  It is fair to say that scope was optimized for planetary viewing and not wide fields.  It was the sharpest thing on the observing field when I had it out at star parties.  I was kind of dumb to sell it, but it had real drawbacks.

1. The focuser, 1.25" and not exactly premium in quality.
2. The tube was MASSIVE for the mirror set contained inside it.  I could only move the optical tube in my largest vehicle, where every scope I presently own, even the LX200 can fit into our smaller cars.  Observing at home isn't really a thing, I'm always driving to a park or something to observe.
3. The altitude adjusting system involved shifting the entire CG of the optical tube.  It worked great but it wasn't as simple as an Orion tension spring or Skywatcher tension knob.  I also use magnets on the metal tube Dobs to help alter the balance, sonotube doesn't let you stick magnets to it.

Others criticize the single stalk secondary and the diffraction spike it causes, but that wasn't a big deal to me.  I have a slight astigmatism anyways, there's always a spike even if the scope doesn't make one, LOL.

When I got my 12" Dob, I wanted that 2" focuser on everything and I found it strange that I needed a truck for my 8" Dob but could move the 12" in a Honda Civic.  So, it left.  I chased greener grass.

In the time after I sold that telescope, I made an important discovery.  2" focusers are TO ME a lie on 8" f/6s as they are presently mass produced.  Truly wide field eyepieces, like my ES82 30mm, vignetted terribly in my Skywatcher as it came from the factory.  I installed a 10mm larger secondary (58mm, stock was 48mm) and it solved the issue.  But, I could have just as easily said "well, the 24mm 68* is the lowest widest" and moved on.  As the scope sits now, it's an absolutely joyful "the whole sky is on the menu, go as wide or as narrow as you need" experience, but it's not a planet killer.

Well, if all goes well, tomorrow I'll be getting another 8" Sonotube Starhopper.  I may just get back my original planet killer.  The "new" one has a black base instead of the white one.  I prefer the looks of the old one but it's the mirror set that's important... hope it's in good shape.  I already got the seller to admit that the scope wasn't stored covered...  But then again my old one as dirty when I got it too.  Might get lucky twice.  The price we agreed on allows for a recoat without going totally underwater.

If I do anything to modify this incoming telescope, it would be a higher quality focuser, but I would keep it at 1.25", or if all I can find is a 2" focuser, only use 1.25" eyepieces in it.

The real question is, how am I going to sneak another huge Dob into the house when "she who is sick of my collecting" is watching... 


To go back to your original parameters of something that's good on planets that fits on a specific mount...

I had a 5" Orion Apex Mak.  It was great.  I had it on a NexStar 6SE mount.  A situation where I got the two parts separately and put it together.  Long story short, I ended up with a C6 OTA and it was across the board better than the Apex, so I sold the Apex.  I then realized that my C8 wasn't much more effort to get setup and aligned than the 6SE, but significantly better than the 6SE, and so I sold the 6SE.

Without checking weights, it's my guess that a 150mm Mak and a C8 are going to be similar in weight....

Which brings me back to the very first sentence in this long, drawn out post (thanks for reading this far!)...

My best planetary performers are probably the C8 and both the 12 inchers.

So, C8, or C6 if that's too heavy.

Or, shrink the secondary on that 8", if you don't need it for wider fields.


Edited by BlueTrane2028, 23 October 2021 - 11:27 PM.

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#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 23 October 2021 - 11:35 PM

In the time after I sold that telescope, I made an important discovery.  2" focusers are TO ME a lie on 8" f/6s as they are presently mass produced.  Truly wide field eyepieces, like my ES82 30mm, vignetted terribly in my Skywatcher as it came from the factory.

 

Here is the thing:

 

There is some vignetting with an eyepiece like the ES 30mm but it's one of those things one has to look for.  

 

But what you get with a 2 inch focuser is a good quality Crayford focuser and that is a very good thing whether you are using 1.25 inch or 2 inch eyepieces.  I have owned 2 of the Sonotube Celestrons.  The focusers were not good.  

 

In this situation, I don't see stepping down to a 6 inch F/5 or f/6 as an upgrade in terms of a planetary scope.  Giving up aperture, going faster, going from a Dob mount to a tripod mount, these are counter productive.  It won't be a quicker setup than the Dob and the views won't be as good.

 

Jon


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#10 pregulla

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 12:24 AM

Thanks to everyone for your replies. 

 

Just to clarify - I don't observe with 12" from home. I observe from a roof top with a narrow staircase leading there and getting 12" there is not something I want to do on a regular basis. I am also happy with the mechanics of the 12". I have thought about upgrading the base of 12" to make it lighter, but the lower tube is large and heavy as well. There are also cooling down issues. 8" cools much faster.

 

It says GRIII on the mount, I believe it is for Gyro 3.

 

The dobsonian mount of the 8" sticks on both axes, especially azimuth. Since I already have quality mount I thought using it instead of trying to fix the dobsonian base might be  better route. Since I can't put rings properly on flextube I though going cheap and light. 

 

Seems like going for base upgrade is the better road after all.


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#11 BlueTrane2028

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 01:19 AM

Here is the thing:

 

There is some vignetting with an eyepiece like the ES 30mm but it's one of those things one has to look for.  

 

But what you get with a 2 inch focuser is a good quality Crayford focuser and that is a very good thing whether you are using 1.25 inch or 2 inch eyepieces.  I have owned 2 of the Sonotube Celestrons.  The focusers were not good.  

 

In this situation, I don't see stepping down to a 6 inch F/5 or f/6 as an upgrade in terms of a planetary scope.  Giving up aperture, going faster, going from a Dob mount to a tripod mount, these are counter productive.  It won't be a quicker setup than the Dob and the views won't be as good.

 

Jon

I do not disagree that vignetting is always going to be a thing with an extreme wide field like the ES82 30mm.  However, it was especially bad in my Skywatcher 8".

I got along just fine with that eyepiece installed on the Apex 127, C6, C8 and my 12" Skywatcher Dob.  Math suggests that it should've been bad in the smaller cats too, but for some reason it wasn't offensive.  The secondary I found for my 8" Dob was an easy install and I enjoy that scope a lot more for my purposes with it vs without it.

I also agree that the stock focuser on the Sonotube Starhopper is subpar, so a replacement is likely long term.  As previously stated, that would not be a scope that I'd seek wide field views with. 24mm 68* will be the "finder" eyepiece, regardless of what focuser finds its way bolted onto the tube.



#12 BlueTrane2028

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 01:25 AM

Thanks to everyone for your replies. 

 

Just to clarify - I don't observe with 12" from home. I observe from a roof top with a narrow staircase leading there and getting 12" there is not something I want to do on a regular basis. I am also happy with the mechanics of the 12". I have thought about upgrading the base of 12" to make it lighter, but the lower tube is large and heavy as well. There are also cooling down issues. 8" cools much faster.

 

It says GRIII on the mount, I believe it is for Gyro 3.

 

The dobsonian mount of the 8" sticks on both axes, especially azimuth. Since I already have quality mount I thought using it instead of trying to fix the dobsonian base might be  better route. Since I can't put rings properly on flextube I though going cheap and light. 

 

Seems like going for base upgrade is the better road after all.

I see you are in Israel, so forgive the US seller, I'm sure something similar will be available in country.

I solved my altitude issues in my own 8" Skywatcher with a pair of these magnets:

https://www.harborfr...pull-36904.html

I wrapped them in felt so they can slide easily and not scratch the tube.  I've done full observing sessions and completely forgotten to install the Skywatcher tension handles, that's how good the balance gets with those.  Since it's balanced without adding friction, the movement is very smooth in altitude.

My 12" Dob uses a heavier magnet with the same treatment:
https://www.harborfr...pull-36905.html

The curvature of the tube didn't allow the single heavier magnet to attach to my 8".

I've also seen this lazy suzan suggested for Dobsonians, may help your azimuth issue.

https://www.rockler....-susan-slimline


Edited by BlueTrane2028, 24 October 2021 - 01:28 AM.


#13 pregulla

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 04:54 AM

I see you are in Israel, so forgive the US seller, I'm sure something similar will be available in country.

I solved my altitude issues in my own 8" Skywatcher with a pair of these magnets:

https://www.harborfr...pull-36904.html

I wrapped them in felt so they can slide easily and not scratch the tube.  I've done full observing sessions and completely forgotten to install the Skywatcher tension handles, that's how good the balance gets with those.  Since it's balanced without adding friction, the movement is very smooth in altitude.

My 12" Dob uses a heavier magnet with the same treatment:
https://www.harborfr...pull-36905.html

The curvature of the tube didn't allow the single heavier magnet to attach to my 8".

I've also seen this lazy suzan suggested for Dobsonians, may help your azimuth issue.

https://www.rockler....-susan-slimline

Balance isn't the issue, especially for planetary with RDF and 1.25 zoom eyepiece.  It is the friction/stiction.

I tried using hard soap as lubrication. It works for a while but doesn't last very long, so I may upgrade to lazy suzan. There is also central bolt, that has some wobble room inside plastic sleeve so the base slides before starting to rotate. I may replace it with bearing and properly sized shaft. 

Then there is altitude movement. I may try same material that work well on LightBridge - velcro, the felt side on the base and teflon band on the bearing.



#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 07:19 AM

I got along just fine with that eyepiece installed on the Apex 127, C6, C8

 

Those three scopes have very small rear ports and relatively severe vignetting.

 

Jon



#15 BlueTrane2028

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 11:24 AM

Those three scopes have very small rear ports and relatively severe vignetting.

 

Jon

And the fact that it was only offensive in my 8” f/6 is surprising. No matter. That scope is fixed, 127 and C6 are gone and I enjoy the C8 regularly. 


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#16 BlueTrane2028

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Posted 24 October 2021 - 11:26 PM

My "new" Star Hopper is in the middle of a mild rebuild, pausing for the evening will finish tomorrow.

The mirrors came out dang near perfect, which is a miracle.  They were filthy.

I verified the size of the secondary on that scope.  It's the minimum for an 8" f/6, 38mm, 1.5".

Closest I found readily was a 40mm, if you want to try to eke more out of your current 8" f/6 at the sacrifice of edge of field brightness.

https://www.ebay.com...00AAOSwng1ghNDe

Of course, YMMV if you install that.



#17 JoshUrban

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Posted 26 October 2021 - 07:23 AM

Yeah, I vote for tinkering with the base of the 8" dob.  I was experimenting with a 10" GSO dob, and the lazy susan option was WAY too loose.  I installed some new teflon on both sets of bearings (I think the lowers had furniture sliders), and tried a few different lubricants.  

 

  A longer focus, bigger scope seems the way to go, and cooling fans might be worth experimenting with.  Good luck!



#18 pregulla

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Posted 26 October 2021 - 08:50 AM

I've started base improvement process. So far I have replaced central bolt and plastic sleeve, that had a lot of slop, with sleeve bearing and properly sized shaft. Now it rotates properly without sliding few mm sideways first.

I have placed teflon band over altitude bearings so the friction is from the clutches only and not from supports. 

It also feels like central teflon washer is too thick - the base is a little wobbly and doesn't come in contact with all 3 teflon pads at the same time, so I need to either replace it with something thinner or sand it down.  


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#19 Mcloud

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Posted 27 October 2021 - 11:54 PM

An 8 inch F/6 Newtonian, to me, in my experience, is as close you can get to the ideal APT telescope. I had a 4 inch APO on a go-to CG5 mount which I carried out in one piece. One frigid night I did a hard slide on the ice and the telescope went down on concrete with both me and the mount falling on top of it. Scrapped. Repair estimate made buying a new one the way to go. Meanwhile, Celestron gave a very low estimate for mount repair but a very high estimate for return time. I decided to pick up a beater Dob from Orion until I got the real mount back and replaced the OTA with a real 4 inch ED unit.
So the Dob shows up and goes together in a snap with clear skies waiting. Cynically, I thought it will have to do for now and did a careful collimation and set up.
The first target I aquired was Saturn and right than I realized that I did indeed have a REAL telescope. It eclipsed my excellent 4 inches in every way. And the difference was not subtle. I couldn't believe it. I bought a Telrad and full set of Based Hyperion's as well as a couple of 82 dereee wide fields
I set up next to a gentleman with a 5 inch Takahashi on Tak mount to boot. He was using high end orthoscopic eyepieces. His words, not mine, were that my telescope was easily putting up the better views of Jupiter, and it really was. He actually ordered one himself.
Now the tracking issue, I don't mince words or try to down play it. Some guys can hand track a Dob with good mechanic at insane high powers. I cannot and have no desire to learn how. I don't think that a no tracking mount makes for a good only or primary telescope. In the case of mine, the views were so good, you really didn't want to cheat yourself by having them fly across the FOV. Fortunately today we have tracking platform and tracking Dobs.
In your case, I would keep what you have and improve it as your needs grow. Find ways to minimalize the trips inside and out. I have a rule. If I can't carry scope, mount, accessories and chair out in one trip, I don't want that rig. And I have perfected my method. Of course were I to move to the dark country, this rule is subject to change. Maybe a hand truck or wheels, but I would want to take advantage of the dark skies with as much aperture as I could handle.
So sorry for the long rant but I really believe that you are right where you need to be scope wise and just need a plan or method to make it more convenient. Whatever you decide, clear skies to you my friend.
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#20 DSalters

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Posted 28 October 2021 - 05:39 PM

I recently acquired my 8" Dob (XT8 f/6). It took a long time to realize that I had been chasing something for around 15 years that was nearly impossible to find...until now. After multiple scopes that I thought were the grab-n-go solution for planetary viewing, pretty much everything disappointed in one way or another. Most small refractors and Cats smaller than 8" are too dim in my skies. (Admittedly, an older C5 is the one scope I would buy back if I could.) In my light polluted and tree filled suburban skies, this 8" Dob is the best compromise I've seen yet of aperture and convenience.

 

Three sessions on Jupiter and Saturn over the last two weeks are revealing details I did not know could be seen in a scope of this size. These details I've read about people seeing but figured they must have outstanding skies and loads of patience. Instead, they're right there for the taking and that's even with rather mediocre seeing one of those three nights.

 

I now know that I don't need yet another scope. I need to make the most of this one that I am convinced can perform. Simplifying this approach is already allowing me to be much more content.


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#21 vtornado

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Posted 28 October 2021 - 07:06 PM

I have a 100 f/9 ED excellent telescope does everything a 4 inch telescope can.

 

However in side by sides, transits are specs in the 100, disks in the dob.

The great red spot is hard to see in the frac, In the dob it is easy to see and a little red.

Belts are more or less straight in the frac, wavy full of detail in the dob.

 

If you are in the midwest, I would say a 8 or 10 is best as seeing is limited to 300x.

and 9/10 nights it is capped at 200x.

 

For me Jupiter is best viewed with a .7mm exit pupil.   200/.7 = 285.

250 / .7 = 357.   I like to have a little gas left in the tank.

 

If you live on the coast with super steady air you can go bigger.

 

SCT's are maligned but you can also get 8 inches in a compact package and have tracking.

They are more money than the dob.

 

I still have the 100,  no cooling just plunk it down and go.


Edited by vtornado, 28 October 2021 - 07:07 PM.

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