What is unusual here is that Round 2 has taken place almost 17 years after Round 1. The Orion ED 100 (f/9) representative in the original shootout from December 2004 was my 5 month old Orion ED, ordered shortly after these telescopes came out. I believe at that time Orion was the only distributor of these telescopes in the United States. This was before SkyWatcher sold them directly or thru various retailers in the United States. At the time I got mine the prices was over $1000.00. Compared to how the price fell over the next dozen or so years that price was pretty steep, but still a bargain compared to other 4" class scopes from TeleVue, Takahashi and some others.
The Achilles Heel of that 2004 vintage doublet APO was the mediocre two-speed focuser. Many needed tweaking or replacement either with a better working replacement or an aftermarket quality focuser from FeatherTouch or MoonLite. I opted for a FeatherTouch and that really put this telescope in a new league, mostly in terms of ease and accuracy of use. Anyway by the end of 2004, some members of my club (Pontchartrain Astronomy Society in New Orleans) elected to see just how various 4" telescopes stacked up. That test was reported on here on CloudyNights, see -
In addition to the Orion ED 100 we had 5 other scopes including a TeleVue NP101 f/5.4, a TeleVue 102 mm f/8.6 doublet, a Vernonscope Brandon 94 mm f/6.8, a Vixen 102 mm ED f/6.5 doublet and (drum roll warranted) a Takahashi FC-100N (f/10) apo. Please read the results of the linked shootout from 2004. Bottom line the TV NP 101 and the Takahashi FC-100N were clearly the best scopes tested, but the others, particularly the TV 102 f/8.6 and the Orion ED 100 f/9 were pretty good. The Orion ED 100's price point was justified by it's performance.
Flash forward almost 3 years and by this time the Takahashi TSA 102 triplet was now available. While my Orion ED 100 was good, all I was reading was indicating that the TSA took 4" refractor performance to a new level. A bonus check put some money in my pocket and I decided to satisfy my curiosity. The scope came in, it looked and performed excellently and in a comparison with the ED 100 it clearly showed it's superiority. Within a short time the ED 100 was sold (with the original focuser back in place and the FeatherTouch I had for it sold to a friend who wanted to upgrade his 4 inch ED 100). The TSA 102 performed flawlessly for the next 6 years but had to be sold when I needed to kick in some more money for a daughter's wedding. I kept a Tak EM 10 I had gotten for it, but it too was traded away a few years later in a 3 way trade for some other equipment.
Two years ago I was contacted by a nearby amateur astronomer who wanted to pay me a commission for selling his astronomy stuff that he had (basically getting out of the hobby). I had been having some success and earning some hobby income by serving as a broker in the sale of large astronomy collections. It paid well and I was able to add some good equipment to my personal collection. Anyway among this guy's collection of stuff was what I soon realized was the Orion ED 100 that I had sold to him some 12 years earlier back in 2007. It was very lightly used, virtually the same condition as when I had sold to him. Only difference is that he had removed the original stock focuser and replaced it with a red anodized MoonLite focuser. I was able to sell almost all his stuff, exceeding the price I had paid for his whole collection. I decided to keep my old telescope, the ED 100, but I did remove the MoonLite and I did sell it. I replaced it with a GSO 2 speed linear bearing focuser which I had on another scope, a ST120, which I also sold, putting the original focuser back on the ST120. I found that for outreach the ED 100 was very good, in fact very good. Not world class, but very, very good. I am happy with it. But......
Just recently one friend, a previously mentioned collector, who had me sell a large part of his vast collection, and a fellow who sold me some great scopes at good prices for my efforts, contacted me again with another proposal. He has resigned himself to the fact that with diabetes and the ravages it has inflicted, he had come to the realization that he should seriously start thinking about selling some remaining elements of his vast collection. Some, but not all of what is left includes a Questar 7 complete with tripod, a Takahashi FC-100N (f/10 version) with EM-100 mount, (this is the same FC-100N tested back in 2004) and a Takahashi FS-102NSV that was purchased back in 2005 but had never seen star light. In my visit and evaluation and picture taking I asked if I could take the Tak FS-102NSV home with me and evaluate it. He agreed.
I was curious as to just how good it might be. I wanted to see (by memory) how well it compared to my long sold TSA-102 triplet, and I wanted to compare it to my Orion ED 100. I have been reading the FS-102 vs TSA-102 comparisons and while most reports indicate that the TSA-102 is the superior scope in respect to flatness of field and utility for astrophotography, it could be argued that the fluorite element in the FS-102 rendered better images when used for Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. I had to see that for myself.
I finally had the opportunity to do an evaluation on Monday night, 11/22. It was a very nice night, we had a light breeze and relatively low humidity for New Orleans. Dew was not a problem. Temperatures were in the mid 50's (F), and I would rate the seeing at about a 7.5 to 8. I used my AVX successively with both scopes, first the FS-102NSV and then the Orion ED 100. I utilized my extensive collection of TV Nagler Type 6 eyepieces for the evaluation, 3.5 up thru the 13 mm, and also the 16 mm Type 5, the 17.3 Delos and the 24 mm Panoptic. The diagonal used was the standard Takahashi prism diagonal.
First targets with the Takahashi and the full complement of eyepieces included both Jupiter and Saturn. I also looked at some of the usual objects that look fairly good under city lights - the Double Cluster, the Pleiades, and several double stars including gamma Andromedae (Almach) and finally Rigel when it had risen to between 15 and 20 degrees above my horizon. Rigel was an easy split using all eyepieces between the 3.5 mm and the 16 mm. It was seen as a split, really not so much as a split as being able to see the fainter secondary as not being overpowered by the brighter primary with the 17.3 Delos. The 16 mm yields about 51x with the Takahashi FS-102 and the 17.3 mm yields 47x. I could not discern a split using the 24 mm Panoptic, which yielded 34x. With the 3.5 mm thru the 13 mm the split was easily seen and comfortable primarily because the contrast was very good and the light scatter was very well controlled, essentially not an issue at all. The later evaluation with the ED 100 was surprisingly similar in being able to separate the components of Rigel, but the primary differences noted was the noticeable lack of contrast and the increased light scatter. No one could argue that they could see no difference, there was an easily seen difference. In addition the Takahashi single speed focuser was much smoother than the GSO linear bearing focuser on the Orion ED 100. (Note - on my previously owned TSA-102 and the Tak TOA 130 that I had were both focuser upgraded with the FeatherTouch two speed pinion gear attachments. That focuser supplement would have made the Takahashi FS-102 even nicer to use the other night.)
Back to the planets - best combination of magnification without noticeable loss of sharpness (best balance) was with the 5 mm eyepiece yielding 164x. While the 3.5 mm Nagler was good, yielding 234X, I preferred the view thru the 5 mm eyepiece. (Both Jupiter and Saturn, especially, were not optimally high in my sky). I believe the 3.5 could have provided the optimal view had that been the case and I would have then regretted not having the 2.5 mm Nagler which I sold a few months ago.
So now the wheels in my mind are churning once again, can I justify adding a FS-102NSV to my fleet of scopes. It is clearly superior to the Orion ED 100, and is demonstrably great on the planets, the Moon and any work from home with multiple stars. It is for all purposes new, having seen star light for the first time on Monday night. I am sure it can be mine at a great price. Should I or shouldn't I?
Edited by BarrySimon615, 25 November 2021 - 11:38 PM.