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Good small reflector for planets and moon

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#1 sunistar

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 11:04 AM

I'm primarily a binocular observer. But I'd like recommendations for a small, easily transported reflector for the occasional peek at planets and the moon. I'd like to keep it under $1000, and ideally under $500.  Would be very interested to have suggestions.

Thank you.


Edited by BrentKnight, 05 October 2022 - 02:04 PM.


#2 vtornado

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 11:57 AM

The smallest reflector I like is a 130 f/5 reflector.

The AWB one sky is small and light weight because it collapses.

It is a table top dob.  Meaning it works great if you have a sturdy table.

If you don't you will have to try one of many home grown options.

 

The 130 can also be mounted on any tripod mount that has a vixen saddle.

Such as the explore scientific twilight 1 mount.

 

For a refractor, I would get a astro-tec ed80.  Same mount as above.

 

As far as reflector vs. refractor, a refractor is more efficient in getting light to the eyepiece.

Meaning a smaller refractor can compete with a larger reflector.  An 80mm refractor

might be about the same as a 100mm reflector.  The 130 reflector should be able

to present a better planetary image than the 80 frac.

 

refractors cool faster, and don't have the collimation issues that a reflector does.

In cold climates it is always ready to go.

 

the AT80 has a two inch focuser and can present a wider field of view than the

130 f/5 reflector, if you equip it with a 2 inch diagonal and 2 inch eyepiece.

Given your propensity for binoculars.  I think I would go with the 80mm frac.

It is more binocular like than the reflector.  Unless you feel like branching out.


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#3 drd715

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 12:10 PM

If lunar and planets are you main interest in using a refractor you will find longer focal lengths more advantageous.   This  may be counter productive for travel as the length maybe too long physically. Long (higher) focal ratios also somewhat mitigate chromatic aberration especially in an ED scope. There are F-15 Achromats that  can do a decent job for the lower price.  But you may want a shorter scope to carry around. Lower focal lengths will provide wider views,  but the planets will be rather tiny at the eyepiece. Low mm eyepieces can even things out a bit, but they can have rater small exit pupils. 

 

Price point is another thing. You often get rather poorer focusers and Achromatic objective glass in lower priced scopes. What I would choose is a ED doublet at least 80mm and F-8 as a minimum scope for planets. But a100/102 will resolve more details and a 127mm is abut the sweet spot in a transportable refractor. 

 

If you can handle the length the Skywatcher 100ed F-9 or the Altair Starwave or TS 102mm ED F-11 are excellent choices for the money.   If you can handle the cost the AT-125EDL  is a good buy in a larger scope. For something more compact the AT-102ED or EDL is good. The 80mm scopes are a bit small for planets!  But if size is limited an F-8  - 80mm ED will be a jump ahead  of your binoculars. I would not use an eyepiece lower than 7mm and prefer to get higher power through longer focal length. 



#4 vtornado

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 12:30 PM

Low mm eyepieces can even things out a bit, but they can have rater small exit pupils.  --

this makes no sense,  exit pupil is a function of aperture and magnification, and does not depend upon just the eyepiece.

 

A 80 f/15 at 80 power has a 1mm exit pupil at 80x, and requires a 15mm eyepiece to reach that.

An 80 f/7 at 80 power has a 1mm exit pupil at 80x, but requires a 7mm eyepiece.

 

For $65 the astro-tech paradigm has a 5, or 3.2 mm focal length eyepiece with 15mm 

of eye relief and a 60 degree field of view.  Goood and quite comfortable.

 

In my opinion anything more than 80mm (well maybe an 90???)  requires an upgrade in mount class, especially for high power lunar an planetary.   I have a ED100 f/9 and

it no longer works on something like a TW1 or Vixen porta mount, it requires too much

dampening time, and if it is breezy the scope does not settle.  I have to mount mine

on a sky-tee alt-az or a celestron CG4.  The mount and tripod are now in the 20-25  lb class.

 

I do agree with the premise that bigger is better, but OP said $1000 and easily transported.


Edited by vtornado, 05 October 2022 - 12:35 PM.


#5 KWB

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 12:56 PM

sunistar

 

You most likely will run afoul with the moderators here as if I remember correctly, it's against the TOS to start duplicate threads in separate forums.



#6 alnitak22

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 02:01 PM

For the moon and planets well under your budget, this is a great choice…

 

https://www.telescop...yCategoryId=398
 

I’ve had one 25 years and it’s beaten 4” apos costing thousands of dollars in side by side comparisons on the moon and planets. The handle is sturdy and I can carry it around fully assembled in one hand. My 6’ Mak is slightly better but needs a substantial mount while the Dob is totally self contained.


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#7 rhetfield

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 02:43 PM

The smallest reflector I like is a 130 f/5 reflector.
The AWB one sky is small and light weight because it collapses.
It is a table top dob. Meaning it works great if you have a sturdy table.
If you don't you will have to try one of many home grown options.

The 130 can also be mounted on any tripod mount that has a vixen saddle.
Such as the explore scientific twilight 1 mount.

For a refractor, I would get a astro-tec ed80. Same mount as above.

As far as reflector vs. refractor, a refractor is more efficient in getting light to the eyepiece.
Meaning a smaller refractor can compete with a larger reflector. An 80mm refractor
might be about the same as a 100mm reflector. The 130 reflector should be able
to present a better planetary image than the 80 frac.

refractors cool faster, and don't have the collimation issues that a reflector does.
In cold climates it is always ready to go.

the AT80 has a two inch focuser and can present a wider field of view than the
130 f/5 reflector, if you equip it with a 2 inch diagonal and 2 inch eyepiece.
Given your propensity for binoculars. I think I would go with the 80mm frac.
It is more binocular like than the reflector. Unless you feel like branching out.

for travel, I put mine on a small spotting scope tripod. It is not ideal, but the whole kit fits a daypack or airline carry-on. Heritage 150 is not much bigger.

#8 SteveG

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Posted 05 October 2022 - 07:09 PM

I'm a huge fan of the newer 5" f5 scopes. Their small, lightweight, and go beyond the reach of most if not all refractors below 4".

 

I have the OneSky version, but recommend the Zhumell solid tube 130, which comes with rings.

My OneSky is on a Porta II, alt/az mount, which I really enjoy.

 

https://www.amazon.c...sl_5ngkr8b1oz_e


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#9 dmgriff

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Posted 07 October 2022 - 10:16 AM

I'm primarily a binocular observer. But I'd like recommendations for a small, easily transported reflector for the occasional peek at planets and the moon. I'd like to keep it under $1000, and ideally under $500.  Would be very interested to have suggestions.

Thank you.

You may look at a 6in f/6 newtonian f=900mm. I look at them as a uptown 4.5in f/8. Same focal length, f=900, thus same magnification, with much more aperture. At f/6 ratio, no noticeable coma for most. ~330+usd for ota, crayford, rings, dovetail, finder. 33 inches in length.

 

https://agenaastro.c...lector-ota.html

 

A good lightweight alt/az mount, but, capable of supporting more than 20lbs, such as a Stellarvue M002c (with column ~490usd),  and a tripod of choice is a very sturdy platform.  A dwarf surveyors tripod (~100usd) is a short sturdy economical tripod choice for the newtonian. You will need to add a spreader chain, if not using on dirt/grass. For transport or storage the mount/column unthreads from the tripod and the tripod collapses.

 

https://www.stellarv...llarvue-mounts/

 

ex.

https://www.baseline...aUaAiWGEALw_wcB

 

Nice general purpose setup, easier to store or transport than a dob as everything lays flat, albeit more expensive due to the mount. Add a full size surveyors tripod to the mount and it will support a 4-5in refractor. Actually, the mount on mini or full size surveyors tripod will support any of the scopes in my signature (except the 10in newtonian).

 

Just a thought...

 

Good viewing,

 

Dave


Edited by dmgriff, 07 October 2022 - 10:30 AM.

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#10 MellonLake

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Posted 07 October 2022 - 11:03 AM

If you just want planets and the moon a 6" F/8 Dobsonian is a good bet. The larger aperture will give allow 300X in good seeing. The higher focal ratio means lower cost eyepieces like Plossls will perform very well.

They are little bigger for transport but still easy. The Dobsonian base makes them a very steady and easy to use mount system.

If cost was not an issue a 7" Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope (MCT) would be really ideal for planets and the moon.
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#11 havasman

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Posted 07 October 2022 - 11:17 AM

The AWB OneSky is a very good option at a surprisingly low price.



#12 Binojunky

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Posted 07 October 2022 - 12:05 PM

Zhumell 130 is the one I kept, however an Orion XT150 is a scope I regret letting gobawling.gif , mine was I believe an exceptional one optics wise, 


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#13 Eddgie

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Posted 07 October 2022 - 08:43 PM

I'm primarily a binocular observer. But I'd like recommendations for a small, easily transported reflector for the occasional peek at planets and the moon. I'd like to keep it under $1000, and ideally under $500.  Would be very interested to have suggestions.

Thank you.

When you say "Easily transported," what does that mean?  Dose it have to fit in a suitcase? Are you carring it down stairs? Can it lay in the back seat of a small car?

 

If it is the latter, then I recommend an 8" f/6 Newtonian. This will be in a different class from everything else mentioned thus far and will be in your budget range.  Something like the Apertura or the Skyline would be my recommendation. 

The tubes on these telescopes weigh in at about 25 lbs so almost anyone of average strength can eaisly get one to the car.  The mount base will also weigh about the same and likewise, is an easy carry to the car.

 

Many of the other scopes mentioned would need to be on a mount of some kind, and by the time you add in the cost and weight of a good mount, even though the telescope might be much lighter, the overall effort would not be that much different, and there are few things that yare as aggrevating as trying to do higher power observing with a cheap bass mount.

 

A dob like the Apertura/Skyline will have much smoother motion than most of the mounts you would use for small reflectors and this smooth motion is critical to being able to track at high powers. 

 

In addition, if you are a binocular guy, adding an inexpensive binoviewer with a Barlow (it takes a special kind or a high power one) lets you use both eyes and is a far more relaxing experience than using one eye. I do all of my planetary, lunar, and solar observing using binoviewers and highly recommend them. 

 

It is hard for me to recommend the 8" Flextube Skywatcher. I have the 10" and it does not balance well, and with binoviewers and counterweights, the poor bearing design makes tracking at planetary powers frustrating. Maybe the 8" is better, so that would be a good question for others on the forum.

 

Do yourself a favor though. If you can manage the 26 lbs of the 8" Newtonian, it is a far better planetary scope than others mentioned here. 


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#14 Takuan

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Posted 08 October 2022 - 12:12 PM

My first telescope was a Vixen newtonian 100/1000 and with the perspective of the years, I must conclude that it offered some very good planetary images (for its aperture).
I propose a 6" f8 or a 130/900.

They are not small, but in reflectors for planetary, small aberture and small size don't work so well.
Maybe a Maksutov..

Edited by Takuan, 08 October 2022 - 12:14 PM.

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#15 Dr. Megabyte

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Posted 08 October 2022 - 02:07 PM

I'm going to give a recommendation to watch out for a used Orion XT4.5.  Very easily transported, pretty long focal length so easily / not as picky on collimation. ... So it's a decent planetary scope ... 

 

The only issue: It seems to be discontinued.

 

If you wonder if I know what I am talking about, don't listen to me, listen to Ed Ting in his, "A Great Beginner's Telescope! (If you can find one) Review of the Orion XT 4.5 - the littlest XT!"


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#16 Chad7531

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Posted 08 October 2022 - 02:11 PM

The GSO 6” F5 or F6 would make a fine scope for your needs, and for $290 for the OTA. Edit, never mind I see they’ve gone up in price, but would still recommend.

Edited by Chad7531, 08 October 2022 - 02:14 PM.

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#17 briansalomon1

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Posted 08 October 2022 - 03:00 PM

If you end up hanging onto it, a $500 or $1000 dob makes sense, but if you eventually trade up or add to your collection it's an expensive way to find out what actually works for you.

 

Obsession 15UC regularly comes up used for 50% (or even less) of the new price. All UC telescopes compromise stiffness in order to keep weight down, but there is a very simple way to make the Obsessions UC as stiff as any telescope.  https://www.dropbox....bility.mp4?dl=0

 

The total weight of 15UC is 65lbs, and it takes about 15 minutes to assemble and collimate. I regularly get 475X on Saturn/Jupiter in fair to good seeing and I'm not tempted to buy anything bigger for DSOs



#18 daquad

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Posted 09 October 2022 - 09:09 AM

This is good and small enough.

 

https://www.msn.com/...516455aa6339c77


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#19 planet earth

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Posted 09 October 2022 - 10:05 AM

900mm.JPG

 

Here's one of my 114/900mm Tasco Newtonians.

Plossls 32mm,20mm,-TMB Planetaries 6,mm,9mm.

28X-45X,-100X,-150X

Mount stays outside, very stable.

2 inch pipe fittings, alt/az mode, very smooth.

Also used for my 8 f7.62 and 6 f8.3 scopes.

 

 


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