My wife and I were fortunate to find a place in Torrey UT over the weekend - what I would call a dark Bortle 2 or a bright Bortle 1. We'd been there with the 10" SCT and thought it would be great for our first refractor experience. And we were right!
As I mentioned in the unboxing thread, the build quality is great. I attached a WO handle to the top of the rings, making it very easy to handle.
After my usual false start with the G11, we took a quick look at Venus through a 7MM Delite. Two things stood out - the clarity of the crescent and the almost total lack of CA, even though it was less than 10 degrees above the horizon. I could detect just the faintest intermittent bit of violet on the inside of the crescent, zero on the outside. Impressive.
On to Jupiter. Stunning. The moons, while not quite resolvable as disks at 140mm were the sharpest I've ever seen them. The planet looked perfect, no false color, the white border of the red spot only intermittently visible due to seeing (it was early in the evening). We cranked up the power to 312 with a 3mm Delite and it was every bit as sharp and clear as at lower power, with a hint of structure in the bands. I had the sense we could have gone a lot higher, but alas, no Barlow. Contrast, as with Venus, was superb.
Saturn was right next door, so why not, right? I left the 3mm in the focuser, and as with Jupiter, the sharpness and contrast was outstanding. Cassini was clearly resolved, as was banding on the disk of the planet. The sky was black. Beautiful.
Switching to a 27 Panoptic, we moved to Caldwell 14. The cliche "diamonds on black velvet" was apt here. Having used an SCT for the past 25 years, we weren't used to how striking an object it truly is, even with roughly half the aperture of the 10" Meade. The wider field took us by surprise; it took a few seconds to realize what we were looking at. This was true for the first few DSOs we observed.
The Veil was simply beautiful. For grins, I put in the 55 Plossl which I had to extend a bit from the diagonal due to not quite enough back focus. It was just barely large enough a field to frame the entire nebula with just a small part of the Western side outside the edge. I used a TV Type 2 Nebustar filter. No color, a hint of structure. Contrast, as with the planets, was amazing.
M31 - this is the first time I've been able to see much more than the core. Still using the 55, most of the length of the galaxy was visible. M32 was readily visible. Not to over-praise the FOV, but man, what a view. Switching to the 27 Pan and then the 14 Delos, more of the structure became visible.
M45 - beautiful, with a slight blue glow visible through the filter. Again, diamonds (this time on cotton) on velvet.
M42 - Started with the 27, giving us a great view of M42 and NGCs 1973, 5 and 7 next door. The 9mm Optimus was narrower, but four Trapezium stars were pretty little pinpoints and well-resolved. Switching to a 4mm Delite, a hint of a fifth star was visible; it came and went as Orion was still quite low. More structure was visible than in our 10" Meade, against the laws of physics, and likely due to my lack of collimation skills.
A rudimentary star test was perfect, as far as I could see. I used Albireo, mainly because I like to look at it, and aside from a bit of shaky atmosphere early in the evening, inside and outside of focus looked just like the textbooks - a few perfect rings.
The only real nit I have is the SV finder - it has a rotatable eyepiece which is very convenient, but it sometimes requires realignment of the whole finder, which is a bit of a PITA. It is sharp as a tack however, once you get the eye placement puzzle figured out. The FT focuser is fabulous - easy to use, easy to rotate, accurate, solid, etc. The only complaint are the three long screws used to secure the diagonal - not crazy about that part.
In short, everything was more than we expected. The pairing of premium glass with this premium APO justified the bundle spent acquiring the whole rig.