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It’s hard to describe how much I’m enjoying my AT80ED, but I’m gonna try!

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#1 thecelloronin

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 05:28 PM

I started astronomy with the Grand Conjunction, moving from an Astromaster 114EQ to a 10” GSO dob fairly quickly. Since then, I’ve also owned (and sold) a C90 and C6.

I bought those scopes looking for a good grab n go to complement my dob. No a 10” dob isn’t too hard to set up, but it is hard to move to work around my yard’s uneven horizon. But the C90 lacked guts and FOV, and the C6 didn’t really do anything my dob couldn’t do better while still being bulkier and heavier than I had hoped.

The AT80ED, however, has proven to be the absolute sweet spot. Not only is it one-hand cartable, but it does something my dob doesn’t.

To be fair to my dob, I do have a nice 70mm DIY finderscope on it built from a Carton objective and 3D printed parts, but it’s not super robust as I haven’t made time to iterate and perfect the design. It also doesn’t allow for usage of my favorite 2” eyepieces.

But enough context, I just want to share my near-spiritual experience with the AT80ED.

Last night, my SQM-L exceeded 21 MPSAS for the first time since buying our house and moving out rural. While I’m used to it getting fairly dark, last night was exceptional in terms transparency and good in terms of seeing-far better than I’m used to. I pulled my wife out of the tub with towel on hair just to show her the absolute grandeur of the Milky Way; not the first time surely but certainly the most memorable. She said she’d never seen so many stars in her life!

Anyway, I have the AT80ED set up on an Innorel RT90C and Scopetech Mount Zero, with only a GLP and a 22 Nagler for finding stuff. Normally, I split my attention between the sky and Sky Safari, because hey, I’m still learning where everything is. Especially the Summer skies, since last summer was particularly rainy and cloudy.

But my phone pretty much stayed in my pocket. At 25x @ 3.18* and with a pair of 2x54 owl eyes, there was far more to see than I could possibly catalogue. The heavens were wide open, with M8, M24, and M18 all obvious to the naked eye, and M17 absolutely jumping out with the owl eyes.

Pointing the AT80ED in this directly sent me into fits of audible laughter in my front yard. Palpable delight surging through me as I saw familiar objects in a new way!

Yes the dob is brighter and sure I could get a similar perspective with the 70mm Carton, but the AT80ED had a certain ease to it. It’s hard to explain, but I genuinely forgot the scope was there as I swept slack jawed through the Milky Way running unencumbered by trees or clouds or haze over the length of my entire property.

There’s really something to be said for having a bit more aperture to play with than finders or binoculars offer while still having ample of field of view. The diamond studded velvet caresses the eye as it meanders through the sky, stopping only to marvel at an errant, unnamed globular or lingering on a new patch of nebulosity. Open clusters offer a physical thrill with this perspective.

To be honest, the infinite terrifies me in an existential way. But not last night. My little refractor brought it home in an intimate, comforting way. The weather was balmy but not swampy, the crickets ablaze with song, and my 11 year old cat gently purring and nuzzling beneath my observing chair. The naked eye sky and the view in the scope were congruous rather than sudden and stark. Everything felt connected and right.

It brought me back to a time I never knew that many of you probably long for; the old days when one could sit in a suburban lawn and still see plenty with a small telescope thanks to dark skies. A feeling of absolute contentment and a sense of place.

I don’t think I’ve honestly felt anything quite like it in this hobby, even if I have enjoyed some absolutely memorable nights observing with my local club (something that happens all too seldom now that has prices are up).

When my eyelids go heavy, I just picked up my scope and chair, and ambled into the house in an absolute buzz. It was all just so darned easy.

They (well, you all) say that one of the biggest hurdles (light pollution aside) for newbies is allaying frustration caused by the wrong gear. It’s worth repeating that the scope basically disappeared, leaving no barrier between me and the night. Zen and bliss.

That’s all I really have to say about it. I can’t give you performance specifics or shootout comparisons or anything more than the warm fuzzy flashbulb impression that is still riding around with me on this cloudy afternoon. I love it, and I love my AT80ED.
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#2 thecelloronin

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 05:38 PM

Also worth mentioning how cool it was to realize it was late enough for the planets to be up high enough for me to see them again at long last (I am NOT an early morning person!) and being able to pick up and scoot down the back yard for a glimpse between the trees. I pushed the BHZ+2.25x Barlow as far as it would go (about 160x) and neither the AT80ED nor the Mount Zero offered even an iota of resistance. A Billie Holiday song through an old tube radio couldn’t be sweeter.


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#3 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 05:39 PM

Diego,:

 

Glad you're enjoying your AT-80 ED..

 

It's a slippery slope, be careful.. :)

 

Jon


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#4 ButterFly

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 06:12 PM

Pop that h-beta on the 31 and have a go at Cygnus.  Forget the phone for a bit.  Spend the time looking at rather than looking for.  Just start at Gamma Cyg and spiral around slowly.  Then do it again with the NPB to catch the OIII regions as well.

 

The eye dark adapts like nothing before when the eye is constantly at the eyepiece.  When looking away, close that eye.  At the same exit pupil, the nebula are just as bright in the 80mm as in the dob, only smaller, so more of it fits in the view.  Cygnus is full of gigantic blobs.



#5 Scott in NC

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 06:13 PM

The AT80ED really does give you a lot of “bang for the buck.”  Yes, I have several “nicer” and far more expensive scopes.  But the little AT80ED still puts a big grin on my face whenever I use it. :ubetcha:


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#6 thecelloronin

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 06:52 PM

Pop that h-beta on the 31 and have a go at Cygnus.  Forget the phone for a bit.  Spend the time looking at rather than looking for.  Just start at Gamma Cyg and spiral around slowly.  Then do it again with the NPB to catch the OIII regions as well.

 

The eye dark adapts like nothing before when the eye is constantly at the eyepiece.  When looking away, close that eye.  At the same exit pupil, the nebula are just as bright in the 80mm as in the dob, only smaller, so more of it fits in the view.  Cygnus is full of gigantic blobs.

I will definitely give that a shot!



#7 pointedstick

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 07:46 PM

I know exactly how you feel because I wound up with an almost identical setup! Like literally almost identical: AT80EDT telescope vs AT80ED, and SIRUI AM-284 tripod instead of Innorel RT90C, but those are small differences. I agree with you that such a setup can provide a magical experience, especially when sky conditions are right. And the Nagler 22 + BHZ with barlow constitute just a great do-it-all two eyepiece collection with a scope of that focal length.

 

Eventually I upgraded to a bigger refractor, but having had the 80mm ultralight experience first, I was very careful to retain one-hand portability and large field of view. There's something magical about that combination.


Edited by pointedstick, 27 June 2022 - 08:09 PM.


#8 Scott in NC

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 09:44 PM

They’re fun during the daytime too!

 

9B7524E4-B471-4A46-8A3B-76ED006BEBA9.jpeg

 

 


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#9 thecelloronin

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 12:32 AM

I know exactly how you feel because I wound up with an almost identical setup! Like literally almost identical: AT80EDT telescope vs AT80ED, and SIRUI AM-284 tripod instead of Innorel RT90C, but those are small differences. I agree with you that such a setup can provide a magical experience, especially when sky conditions are right. And the Nagler 22 + BHZ with barlow constitute just a great do-it-all two eyepiece collection with a scope of that focal length.

 

Eventually I upgraded to a bigger refractor, but having had the 80mm ultralight experience first, I was very careful to retain one-hand portability and large field of view. There's something magical about that combination.

I saw and liked your post in another thread. Glad to see I’m not the only one to whom this set up made an awful lot of sense! Glad you enjoyed it. What did you end up upgrading to?



#10 thecelloronin

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 12:34 AM

They’re fun during the daytime too!

 

attachicon.gif9B7524E4-B471-4A46-8A3B-76ED006BEBA9.jpeg

A nice Herschel wedge is a medium term goal of mine! Out of curiosity though, why did you go for a 2”? So far as I can tell, I’d only use 1.25” eyepieces for solar. I know the 2” are supposed to disperse excess heat better, but they’re quite pricey.



#11 Scott in NC

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 05:59 AM

A nice Herschel wedge is a medium term goal of mine! Out of curiosity though, why did you go for a 2”? So far as I can tell, I’d only use 1.25” eyepieces for solar. I know the 2” are supposed to disperse excess heat better, but they’re quite pricey.

The main reason I wanted a 2” diagonal is that most of my eyepieces that I use for solar observing either have 2” barrels or are large and heavy 1.25”-ers (Baader 8-24 zoom, Vixen LVWs, Panoptics).  I like the extra security that a larger diagonal provides when using large eyepieces.  Oh, and I bought my Baader Herschel wedge used, just as I’ve done with most of the rest of my gear.


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#12 eric_zeiner

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 03:41 PM

I received my AT80ED about a month ago and I love it.  I purchased it as a compliment to my AT102ED and I am not at all upset.  What really surprised me about this scope is that it performs very well on double stars.  I also had it on the Moon a couple of weeks ago and at 175X, it seemed like I could have gone higher.  No color and very crisp resolution.  It's a keeper for sure.


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#13 mac57

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 06:17 PM

Another fan here of the AT80ED. Nice scope for the money.  It can split some easy doubles. I use it mostly when seeing is so-so and clusters are the target.  Mark



#14 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 07:48 AM

I received my AT80ED about a month ago and I love it.  I purchased it as a compliment to my AT102ED and I am not at all upset.  What really surprised me about this scope is that it performs very well on double stars.  I also had it on the Moon a couple of weeks ago and at 175X, it seemed like I could have gone higher.  No color and very crisp resolution.  It's a keeper for sure.

 

Eric:

 

The real question is: How does your AT-102 ED feel about the AT-80 ED, is there a sibling rivalry developing?  :)

 

jon


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#15 eric_zeiner

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 08:58 AM

grin.gif

Eric:

 

The real question is: How does your AT-102 ED feel about the AT-80 ED, is there a sibling rivalry developing?  smile.gif

 

jon

It's a matter of symbiosis, one benefits from the other.grin.gif


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#16 eric_zeiner

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 09:00 AM

In all fairness though, the 80 puts up better star images than the 102.  I don't know why.


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#17 pointedstick

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 12:12 PM

I saw and liked your post in another thread. Glad to see I’m not the only one to whom this set up made an awful lot of sense! Glad you enjoyed it. What did you end up upgrading to?

Orion EON 120 on a Stellarvue M002C mount with handle and column, on an Innorel LT364C tripod. The key to making it one-hand portable is the handle on the mount. I can approach the scope from the front, rest it on my right shoulder, and then lift the entire thing from the handle using my right hand. Then my left hand is free to open doors. It works great despite the 30 ish pound weight. I can be observing in about 35 seconds, which I'll admit is more than the roughly 20 seconds I've timed myself using the AT80EDT setup. But it's still fast enough to be grab-and-go for me.


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#18 thecelloronin

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 12:33 PM

Would you be willing to share a pic of your setup?



#19 pointedstick

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 01:43 PM

Would you be willing to share a pic of your setup?

Sure thing:

 

Telescope small.jpg

 

 

It's been working really well for me since I got everything set up this way. It's gone out every clear night since.

 

I have no plans to go any bigger, as I think the weight or tube length (or both) would become unmanageable. Just about the only telescope I could see being a manageable upgrade would be an NP127is which would only be a few pounds heavier, but for its going price, it just doesn't make sense given how little it would add for my visual-only usage. And all the 140+mm short astrographs I've seen are ridiculously heavy and expensive. So this is my new lifetime grab-and-go scope, at least for the moment. smile.gif


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#20 ButterFly

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 01:52 PM

Filter wheel on a widefield refractor is so nice!


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#21 pointedstick

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 01:55 PM

Oh yes. Yes it is. Can't live without it now.


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#22 ButterFly

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 02:08 PM

Oh yes. Yes it is. Can't live without it now.

I get a Princess Vespa feeling as well ... .

 

I added thumbscrews instead of the hex screws for quicker access.  M3x12mm worked out just fine for me.  Captive filters are as displeasing as fiddling with an allen key in the dark.


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#23 eyespy

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 09:05 PM

Hi Eric,

 

Regarding your Post #16, I have noticed a similar situation when observing ‘easier’ double stars and I believe that it may be due to the slightly larger Airy disk and first diffraction ring seen in the smaller scope.  Maybe it is more comfortable to the eye.

 

Doug.....



#24 Sacred Heart

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 10:09 PM

Diego, I feel the same way. I've been in astronomy since 1997.  I bought my first refractor last year.  The way I feel about refractors, I have two of them now - a 76MM and a 92MM, if I had bought a refractor back then I would have never bought a Maksutov.   They are easy, versatile, FUN.   With the right eyepiece, clean, crisp and sharp.     Joe



#25 eric_zeiner

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Posted 30 June 2022 - 06:12 AM

Hi Eric,

 

Regarding your Post #16, I have noticed a similar situation when observing ‘easier’ double stars and I believe that it may be due to the slightly larger Airy disk and first diffraction ring seen in the smaller scope.  Maybe it is more comfortable to the eye.

 

Doug.....

Hi Doug, perhaps that is it, but I would have assumed that being the same f ratio that the airy disc would have been the same.  Then again, if I use the same EP in each scope, I would have certainly gotten a different magnification.  I am still puzzled.




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