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Best grab-and-go when hiking to site

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#1 isolli

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 02:04 PM

Hi, I would like to observe from a site that requires a 10-15 minute hike. I have handled a friend's Heritage 130P, and it would be too heavy to carry comfortably.

 

As a beginner (upgrading from binoculars), I am looking at budget options. I have ruled out a Mak, as they are more expensive and probably harder to aim.

 

Any ideas for a lightweight setup? I welcome suggestions, but I've considered the following 2 options:

  • The Orion SkyScanner (100/400 Newtonian on a tabletop Dob, but can be mounted on a tripod as well);
  • The Orion ShortTube 80-A (80/400 refractor in its "astro" configuration, with 90-degree diagonal).

Is there anything that the ShortTube would do better than the Newtonian, besides offering the possibility of terrestrial observation? Refractors are sometimes praised for their crisp, contrasty images, but I'm not sure...

 

The SkyScanner is cheaper but the ShortTube has better eyepieces. However, for the price difference (€130 vs €180), I could afford an additional eyepiece (either a zoom eyepiece, or a wide-angle in either 6mm or 24mm).


Edited by isolli, 25 November 2021 - 02:21 PM.

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#2 ShaulaB

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 02:25 PM

If it were me, I would go for the Sky Scanner. But I always prefer more aperture. I have the Orion StarBlast 4.5 inch tabletop Dob and it is great for grab-and-go. With a Celestron 8-24mm zoom eyepiece, it is versatile: planets and deep sky objects are doable. This scope is easy to collimate, and you will have to do that for best views. Don't let the thought of collimation be scary--with this little scope it is easy peasy.

Regarding the often stated "refractors give crisper sharper images." it depends. A $4,000 100mm refractor from one of the high end manufacturers will certainly make that true. Bargain refractors can't really make that claim.
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#3 rollomonk

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 02:36 PM

For small size, durability for hiking but still crisp views, I'd recommend a fast 60mm-70mm ED refractor. There are lots to choose from. I use a 60mm and it works great but is pricey. A better value is the ASTRO-TECH AT70ED 2.8" F/6 ED. See: https://www.astronom...ractor-ota.html Put it on a lightweight camera tripod, add diagonal and zoom and have an awesome hiking setup. You wouldn't need a finder. 


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#4 isolli

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 03:15 PM

For small size, durability for hiking but still crisp views, I'd recommend a fast 60mm-70mm ED refractor. There are lots to choose from. I use a 60mm and it works great but is pricey. A better value is the ASTRO-TECH AT70ED 2.8" F/6 ED. See: https://www.astronom...ractor-ota.html Put it on a lightweight camera tripod, add diagonal and zoom and have an awesome hiking setup. You wouldn't need a finder. 

It seems great! Unfortunately, it costs 430 euros here in Europe, which is prohibitive...

 

https://www.teleskop...Fotografie.html



#5 isolli

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 03:22 PM

If it were me, I would go for the Sky Scanner. But I always prefer more aperture. I have the Orion StarBlast 4.5 inch tabletop Dob and it is great for grab-and-go. With a Celestron 8-24mm zoom eyepiece, it is versatile: planets and deep sky objects are doable. This scope is easy to collimate, and you will have to do that for best views. Don't let the thought of collimation be scary--with this little scope it is easy peasy.

Regarding the often stated "refractors give crisper sharper images." it depends. A $4,000 100mm refractor from one of the high end manufacturers will certainly make that true. Bargain refractors can't really make that claim.

It's true that the OTA of the StarBlast 4.5 is still lightweight! Unfortunately, the base is heavy, and the overall package is probably as heavy as the Heritage 130P (which I would not carry up this hike).

 

Maybe I should buy the cheaper version on the EQ-2 mount (€200) and see if I can get away with putting it on a lightweight tripod. What do you think?


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#6 ShaulaB

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 03:34 PM

I really don't know that telescope, sorry. If you have seen one up close it might help.

Have you thought about big binocs on a tripod? Not good for planets, but light pollution in town does not really degrade planet views. DSOs will pop nicely.
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#7 cookjaiii

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 03:36 PM

Are you sure the Starblast is that much lighter than the Heritage 130?  Their specs look almost the same weight - 6.2Kg vs. 5.9Kg.  Most of the weight in both will be in the mounts that come with them.  If you ditch the mount and set up with a sturdy photo tripod, you might be able to shave a Kg or two.

 

The low focal ratio of the Starblast (f/4) will suffer terrible coma at low magnification, will be more sensitive to mis-collimation, and the high magnification views of planets will not be very sharp.  The higher focal ratio of the of the Heritage (f/5) will suffer the same problems but much less.

 

The ST-80 will be your lightest option, but at f/5, it won't be very sharp on planets either.


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#8 isolli

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 03:49 PM

I really don't know that telescope, sorry. If you have seen one up close it might help.

Have you thought about big binocs on a tripod? Not good for planets, but light pollution in town does not really degrade planet views. DSOs will pop nicely.

Thanks for following up, and sorry for the confusion. I was actually asking about the StarBlast 4.5, which you said you owned. Do you think it could make sense on a lighter tripod?

 

I tried binoculars on a tripod, but I find it really difficult to watch objects near the zenith. It's actually one of the reasons why I'm considering an upgrade.



#9 isolli

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 03:56 PM

Are you sure the Starblast is that much lighter than the Heritage 130?  Their specs look almost the same weight - 6.2Kg vs. 5.9Kg.  Most of the weight in both will be in the mounts that come with them.  If you ditch the mount and set up with a sturdy photo tripod, you might be able to shave a Kg or two.

 

The low focal ratio of the Starblast (f/4) will suffer terrible coma at low magnification, will be more sensitive to mis-collimation, and the high magnification views of planets will not be very sharp.  The higher focal ratio of the of the Heritage (f/5) will suffer the same problems but much less.

 

The ST-80 will be your lightest option, but at f/5, it won't be very sharp on planets either.

Actually there has been a bit of a confusion in the thread. I was originally asking about the SkyScanner, which comes in at 1.5 kg (tube) + 1.3 kg (base). When someone suggested the StarBlast 4.5, I pointed out that it was probably as heavy as the Heritage.

 

I know neither the SkyScanner (100/400) nor the ST-80 are ideal scopes, but I'm looking for a budget option light enough to hike up to my observation site. Someone recommended a 70ED, but it's very expensive here in Europe.

 

Would you say that the various aberrations of the ST-80 are easier on the eye than those of the SkyScanner?



#10 rhetfield

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 03:58 PM

It's true that the OTA of the StarBlast 4.5 is still lightweight! Unfortunately, the base is heavy, and the overall package is probably as heavy as the Heritage 130P (which I would not carry up this hike).

Maybe I should buy the cheaper version on the EQ-2 mount (€200) and see if I can get away with putting it on a lightweight tripod. What do you think?

that same idea would work with the heritage 130. The 130 will do better at high magnification than the 4.5 due to being an f5 scope rather than f4. Google OneSky travel scope for examples of putting it on a small tripod.
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#11 sevenofnine

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 06:31 PM

Welcome to C/N! welcome.gif

 

The travel scopes you are considering are really for those traveling by car IMO not on foot. If I'm going to walk to the park, I take my C-90 that comes in it's own backpack and carry a tripod over my shoulder. Maks were designed for this. They also make good spotting scopes for nature walks. Best of luck to you and your choice! hmm.gif

 

https://www.adorama.com/CNC90N.html.


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#12 Stevegeo

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 06:49 PM

I use a celestron c90  (orange unit) 

Or my Meade 90 mak  ( pictured).. another great small scope , both handy and robust . 

A helpful hint ..if you get a scope with .965 eyepieces,  do yourself a big favor , BUY A .965 TO 1.25 ADAPTER  then you can enjoy about any night sky object with 1.25 eyepieces,  filters  and camera adapter. And dont forget a travel bag .. I use a toolbag from harbor freight. 

Stevegeo 

IMG_20190501_105942.jpg

 

 


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#13 Echolight

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Posted 25 November 2021 - 11:49 PM

If you can find a used ST80, I’d say go for it. Mines on a 6 pound Bogen 3021 with ball head. The whole rig is maybe10 pounds. It’s plenty sturdy.

F6742B88-15D4-4D45-B8DD-92864DD645CF.jpeg
 

I also have an old C90 that I would put in a backpack for a short hike. I’m going to be trying a .63 reducer on it very soon to give it a little more versatility. The C90 could be mounted like the ST80 is above. I have a deforked ETX90 also, that is a little sharper. But I haven’t figured a way to mount it the way I’d want for looking high overhead.

5D227EB8-5701-4C4F-8E1F-A4B352FB9701.jpeg
 

I’ll be trying both on a lighter tripod that collapses smaller pretty soon also. I’m not too sure how well I’ll like it though. I always thought the 3021 was probably the limit of a small tripod that was still stable without breaking the bank.

 

Sure, I’d like more aperture too. Or a higher end lightweight refractor that I don’t have. But these aren’t too valuable if they took a tumble. And wouldn’t want to pack much more than these two for a very long distance. Maybe a C5  if I had one and it could go on an equally light mount. But I have my doubts.

 

I would not get a 100mm newt.

 


Edited by Echolight, 25 November 2021 - 11:51 PM.

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#14 Escape Pod

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 12:09 AM

Maks and refractors are your best friends in terms of throwing them in a backpack (gently :) and not having to worry about collimation. 
 

Let me offer some advice that I only recently took myself. Binoculars are an amazing way to explore the night sky, Seeing bright DSOs like Orion Nebula or Andromeda Galaxy in their context (beautiful starfields) gives an experience that most scopes except the widest short tubes with the longest FL eyepieces can’t offer. Oh yeah…double cluster…
 

A monopod or a reclining crazy creek camp chair with a 12x or lightweight 15x pair of binos will knock your socks off and still be useful for terrestrial viewing. Here, let Oberwerk be your friend.

 

Feel free to ignore this for a year and go for the sexy telescope. I did. But when you find yourself yearning for the simpliciy of a dark site and a wide field of view, remember this post :)


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#15 Echolight

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 12:18 AM

Maks and refractors are your best friends in terms of throwing them in a backpack (gently smile.gif and not having to worry about collimation. 
 

Let me offer some advice that I only recently took myself. Binoculars are an amazing way to explore the night sky, Seeing bright DSOs like Orion Nebula or Andromeda Galaxy in their context (beautiful starfields) gives an experience that most scopes except the widest short tubes with the longest FL eyepieces can’t offer. Oh yeah…double cluster…
 

A monopod or a reclining crazy creek camp chair with a 12x or lightweight 15x pair of binos will knock your socks off and still be useful for terrestrial viewing. Here, let Oberwerk be your friend.

 

Feel free to ignore this for a year and go for the sexy telescope. I did. But when you find yourself yearning for the simpliciy of a dark site and a wide field of view, remember this post smile.gif

I could do the crazy creek camp chair. But I believe the OP said he was wanting to upgrade from binoculars.


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#16 Escape Pod

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 12:27 AM

I could do the crazy creek camp chair. But I believe the OP said he was wanting to upgrade from binoculars.

Ahhh__missed that in my skim. 
 

Still, I say bigger binos laugh.gif. My 15x70s weigh 3 pounds and look way too good for their price. I find them quite hand_holdable in a recline.

 

Too bad those C90s are so zoomed in. They look amazing. Perhaps a focal reducer could work nicely there too. 


Edited by Escape Pod, 26 November 2021 - 12:28 AM.

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#17 isolli

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 01:56 AM

I could do the crazy creek camp chair. But I believe the OP said he was wanting to upgrade from binoculars.

Yes, I already have a pair of 10x42. I have been considering a pair of 20x80 for a while, but I would definitely need a reclining chair and some kind of support to go with it. I'm done craning my neck to look straight up. Unfortunately angled binoculars are very expensive!


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#18 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 02:06 AM

https://www.amazon.d...la-748732463908

Here ya go. 80mm short tube on an az-3 mount. I had a 70mm f7 on the az-3, but found it too small for astronomy. 80mm will see deeper. The az-3 is super light and stable, has slow motion controls, and handles a small scope easily. You can leave the scope on the mount, fold the legs together, and carry it in one hand no problem.
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#19 isolli

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 02:26 AM

It looks like Maks have made a comeback as a recommendation. Apparently they won't get out of collimation like a Newtonian would (although I read they might be harder to collimate if they do...).

 

I'm just worried that, because of the high magnification, it would be harder to find my targets. Having trouble finding the moon with my friend's Heritage 130P has been humbling ;)

 

I also worry that it wouldn't be adapted to the first objects I would look at: the Orion nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, the Pleiades, the double cluster, etc.

 

Indeed, I had envisioned a Mak as my second scope, once I had gained some practice with a wide field one!

 

I wonder...

  • Is a focal reducer, as suggested, a viable option for large, bright DSOs?
  • Would a low power eyepiece be a better investment than a focal reducer?
  • At high magnification, would I need slow motion controls on the mount?

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#20 isolli

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 02:55 AM

Side note: it looks like almost everyone has a ST80 as a second grab-and-go scope, but somehow the 100mm Newtonian does not fit that niche. I wonder why...



#21 radiofm74

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 02:59 AM

 

It looks like Maks have made a comeback as a recommendation. Apparently they won't get out of collimation like a Newtonian would (although I read they might be harder to collimate if they do...).

 

I'm just worried that, because of the high magnification, it would be harder to find my targets. Having trouble finding the moon with my friend's Heritage 130P has been humbling wink.gif

 

I also worry that it wouldn't be adapted to the first objects I would look at: the Orion nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, the Pleiades, the double cluster, etc.

 

Indeed, I had envisioned a Mak as my second scope, once I had gained some practice with a wide field one!

 

I wonder...

  • Is a focal reducer, as suggested, a viable option for large, bright DSOs?
  • Would a low power eyepiece be a better investment than a focal reducer?
  • At high magnification, would I need slow motion controls on the mount?

 

Hi! I've been in your shoes or near enough, and here is my advice:

1. "Hiking-class" grab'n'go is extremely demanding. You need to shave off every gram and be aware that in the realm of mounts, "light and stable" means spendy. I know: I have settled on a Vixen Advanced Polaris, love it, but it was not cheap!

2. I'd go for a small refractor on a light alt-az and here's why.

a.   I have a C6 and love it, and I think a C90 would be fantastic for the application but not if you're a beginner using a manual mount. Even with a reducer, the field of view is narrow and finding objects would be a challenge. Unless you want to do lunar and major planets. In that case, all you need is accurate alignment with a red dot: you point at your naked eye object in the red dot and find it in your eyepiece. 

b.  Compond scopes tend to give you higher magnification and therefore be more demanding on the mount. 

c. A small refractor can be its own finder with a red dot to help. On my C6, even with a reducer, I find I cannot really function without a red dot and a RACI. And if you're going for a lightweight bargain mount, every accessory you add matters. 

3. As you have strict budget constraints, buy used. From a reputable shop, if you don't trust buying from privates. 

 

Last thing re: binoculars. A light parallelogram mount on a photo tripod might very well do the trick. I bought a scratch and dent "Parabino light" at Teleskop-Express and it's a very effective solution. 


Edited by radiofm74, 26 November 2021 - 03:31 AM.

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#22 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 05:01 AM

I agree that you should keep an eye on the used market. Sometimes you find great deals. I tend to buy only what I can pick up ( and test) myself.

Newtonians are good as a grab and go scope if you are only going out the back door. If you are hiking, you have to be prepared to collimate it before use. The ST80 doesn't require this.

Put a 40mm eyepiece in the ST80, and you have an 80mm 10x finder. The rad dot finder serves to get you in close, and you can easily find it in the ST80.

With the az-3, and most other az mounts, you can leave the clutches open and track by hand. High power is relative. Don't expect a ST80 to go much above 100-120x, if that high. These are more for low to medium powers.
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#23 Tony Flanders

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 05:04 AM

Hi, I would like to observe from a site that requires a 10-15 minute hike. I have handled a friend's Heritage 130P, and it would be too heavy to carry comfortably.


My guess is that you simply don't own the right pack. In a typical overnight backpack, the Heritage 130P would fit easily, and it would be a piece of fluff compared to a full load of tent, sleeping bag, pad, and cooking equipment.

Having said that, I don't think it's optimal for backpacking because it either needs to be placed on a stand -- not necessarily available at your destination -- or you need to sit cross-legged on the ground next to it.

For this kind of application I usually use a small, short-focus refractor on a photo tripod. The Short Tube 80 does the job splendidly, though more aperture is always nice. In my opinion, the Short Tube 80 is more versatile than the SkyScanner. They're pretty similar in what they can show, however.


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#24 rhetfield

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 08:10 AM

My guess is that you simply don't own the right pack. In a typical overnight backpack, the Heritage 130P would fit easily, and it would be a piece of fluff compared to a full load of tent, sleeping bag, pad, and cooking equipment.

Having said that, I don't think it's optimal for backpacking because it either needs to be placed on a stand -- not necessarily available at your destination -- or you need to sit cross-legged on the ground next to it.

For this kind of application I usually use a small, short-focus refractor on a photo tripod. The Short Tube 80 does the job splendidly, though more aperture is always nice. In my opinion, the Short Tube 80 is more versatile than the SkyScanner. They're pretty similar in what they can show, however.

As the OP has already suggested as an option, the starblast or heritage can easily be removed from the minidob base and go on a travel tripod. That makes stuffing it into a day pack or airline carry-on easy. Wider view than a mak and more magnification than an st80. OP just needs to decide budget, desired weight capacity, and what they want to see.
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#25 Escape Pod

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 08:17 AM

Yes, I already have a pair of 10x42. I have been considering a pair of 20x80 for a while, but I would definitely need a reclining chair and some kind of support to go with it. I'm done craning my neck to look straight up. Unfortunately angled binoculars are very expensive!

 

 

It looks like Maks have made a comeback as a recommendation. Apparently they won't get out of collimation like a Newtonian would (although I read they might be harder to collimate if they do...).

 

I'm just worried that, because of the high magnification, it would be harder to find my targets. Having trouble finding the moon with my friend's Heritage 130P has been humbling wink.gif

 

I also worry that it wouldn't be adapted to the first objects I would look at: the Orion nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, the Pleiades, the double cluster, etc.

 

Indeed, I had envisioned a Mak as my second scope, once I had gained some practice with a wide field one!

 

I wonder...

  • Is a focal reducer, as suggested, a viable option for large, bright DSOs?
  • Would a low power eyepiece be a better investment than a focal reducer?
  • At high magnification, would I need slow motion controls on the mount?

 

With this additional info I see several different paths here, each with tradeoffs:

 

First, a Mak combined with a focal reducer and a low power eyepiece,…you’ll need all the help you can get if you’re interested in both solar system and big bright DSOs. (Though I got by with a 38mm Agena SWA on an fl1800mm Mak just fine on Andromeda, Orion, Double Cluster until I got my short tube refractor. 

 

The main issue here is aperture. A C90 will give you enough for bright stuff (all of the above), but with less effective aperture because of the central obstruction. What would a 90mm Mak be equivalent to? A 70mm refractor? A 60mm frac?

This points back to Frac. But now you’re choosing between an achromatic refractor that is more affordable, but will require special filter to manage chromatic aberration, or a more expensive OTA with  ED glass. Here I would steer you away from the usual Orion / Skywatcher 80ED because they come in oversized 100mm tubes. Go for something more compact with a retractable dew shield. 
 

If you’re absolutely committed to getting a telescope, and only one, an 80mm ED seems like the way to go. It’s more expensive, but when you add up all the costs I think you’ll find (for better and for worse) that a $400 OTA was the least of your problems. If you’re going to invest in eyepieces and mounts (and likely filters for nebula…..), you might as well make the larger investment in a good OTA up front. 
 

If you’re open to going achromatic, minimalist (no filters) and want to manage your cost, I still say that two 70mm refractors is better than one 80mm, or a 90mm Mak with a central obstruction. Here I am talking about the Oberwerk 15x70 LW. https://oberwerk.com...ght-binoculars/ I think it is the largest mag bino that can be comfortably handheld when in the recline, amd easily the best deal in astronomy.

 

The conventional wisdom is that you can’t handhold above your 10x binos. Standing under the stars, I never found 10x all that enjoyable to handhold. But reclined on the ground, I found my 12x56 binos so immensely handholdable (and so much more engaging compared to a pair of 10x50s) that I decided to push it and get the 15x70 LWs a twirl. At 3 pounds, I can easily handhold them for good stretches while reclined towards the zenith. At lower altitudes, a monopod is also a great tool, and the Oberwerk version is a fine solution there too. And 15x was a world of difference even compared to 12x, while still maintaining a generous 4.3 degree fov. I think you’d find it immensely satisfying compliment to your 10x pair. And the optical quality is just so much better than a $140 pair of binos should be. Chromatic aberration is so well controlled that it might as well be ED, to my eyes anyways. And starfields are remarkably sharp in the center and extremely well controlled at the soft edge, 

 

If you’re car camping, they pair fantastically well with a zero gravity chair. I have this one. https://www.amazon.c...3905924292&th=1
 

If you’re backcountry camping, I have this “chair”: https://www.rei.com/...r-lounger-chair

 

One last option. If you’re really just out there for the stargazing and you want to open up to more magnification than handheld binos will allow, consider the Orion /Skywatcher 120ST. The Skywatcher comes with a servíciele alt az mount with slomo controls. It’s the kind of instrument that you will keep for life, and very few compromises for its intended target of DSOs. And it remains remarkably compact. https://www.bhphotov..._refractor.html

 

Keep us posted on what you decide!


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