Alright ladies and gentlemen! I would appreciate your help in commencing our exercise of finding the ultimate grab & go set up without completely breaking the bank! My family likes to camp, hike, watch wildlife, travel, and we also like to visit our parents that winter in Florida and Arizona. As such, I'd like to be able to find a scope to bring with us for all of these activities but all I have is a Dobsonian scope right now. This can be a bit large for packing our SUV and it's impossible to bring for trips with air travel. So please allow me to establish some parameters and see what this incredible and intelligent community can come up with!
1. Budget: <$2000
2. Need scope, mount/tripod, & diagonal. Anything else I'll need?
3. Needs to fit in backpack or possibly carry-on if I can be assured they wont try to make me check it. I have an Apache 4800 case that seems like it would qualify for a carry-on so that might be an option.
4. Scope will be used for visual observing & probably for day use too. If the scope could someday be used for extremely basic photography that would be a plus.
5. Refractor - I'm thinking I'd prefer having a scope that produces wide field views which would complement the Dobsonian when I can use both at home for regular use. So I think those little travel maks are out for me.
6. Probably an alt/az mount for easy beginners use.
7. Maybe a mount that can be used with sky safari 7 pro for go-to and tracking? Maybe we are getting too expensive but I could see my family might want to try this scope more than the dob so something easy and intuitive for them.
8. Mount will also need to be light and compact. I would like to be able to bring the whole setup with me in a backpack while hiking to incredible locations but at the very least it will need to fit in a personal bag or carry-on.
Here are some scope options that I have been looking at:
1. AT80EDT: pros = very compact and light, on sale but cons = not fcd100 or fpl-53 glass?
2. AT80EDL: pros = fcd100 glass but cons = longer and heavier
3. AT90CFT: pros = fcd100 glass & larger aperature but cons = expensive and not in stock
4. AT72EDII: pros = ultra compact & light but cons = not enough aperature?
5.Sky-Watcher EvoStar 80: comes with finderscope and diagonal (don't know if this is a pro or con) at f7.5 it might be getting too long
6. Orion ED80T CF: pros = fpl-53 triplet glass cons = ?
Mounts/tripod - I don't really know quite where to begin here. I hear some people say to avoid photo tripods and then others say they work just fine with smaller scopes. I'd love to learn more about mounts/tripods from you all. Most astronomy tripods look too big and bulky for travel or hiking but maybe I'm mistaken on that. It seems like even the most robust photo tripods are still lighter and fold up much smaller. I'm curious about a hybrid. What if I used a photo tripod rated for over say 20 pounds and then used an astronomy mount on top of that. Wouldn't a combo like this be getting me a tripod & mount that is stiff enough for astronomy yet with a more compact size and lighter weight for travel? As an example of what I mean, what if I used an ioptron skyhunter portable az mount or a stellarvue M002C mount on top of one of the Leofoto LS Ranger Series or Benro travel tripods?
I also don't know anything about diagonals so if anyone could fill me in on what options work best there that would be great. All I know is that I want it to allow for 2" eyepieces so that I can get some really wide views and the ability to attach filters to the diagonal.
Thanks everyone! I appreciate any help you can provide and I look forward to learning more about what works or doesn't work for all of you.