Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

AT80ED or AT102ED? Which tripod/mount?

Astro Tech Mount Tripod
  • Please log in to reply
40 replies to this topic

#1 Wenwald

Wenwald

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2023

Posted 27 November 2023 - 08:14 PM

Decisions, decisions.

 

Long story short, I've always messed with star / planet / moon observation with binoculars, prime lenses on Pentax cameras, and Raspberry Pis.

 

Now I'm interested in a proper telescope, but I want to do this properly and give myself something that will last me for a good, long while.

 

I certainly don't have a very large budget (I'd say about $1000), so after extensive research on this very forum, and elsewhere, I am fairly sure I have narrowed myself down to the AT80ED or the AT102ED. I'm open to redirections, though!  I don't have the budget to have a motorized mount yet, and my current camera cannot hold a shutter open for more than 30 seconds anyway and I am not quite ready to get a whole new camera setup.

 

Considerations:

  • I am somewhat interested in astrophotography; I already have done that a fair bit with regular cameras, albeit without a tracking mount (I keep myself to the rule of 500 / image stacking).  This makes me lean toward refractors with some protection from aberrations like the above scopes provide.
  • I want to see at least some planet detail --- messing around with my Pentax Q / 200mm old prime lens and being able to see Jupiter's moon to me has really struck me (that setup is around 20x magnification). It sounds like the AT80ED can show planet detail, but the AT102ED can show more.
  • I want to be able to easily move the setup in and out of my house with minimal teardown or setup. It sounds like the AT102ED could require a sturdier tripod / mount and result in a bit less of an elegant one-hand carry situation.

I'd say right now I'm leaning toward the AT80ED for ease of moving and being able to get away with a lighter tripod. Also, it costs a bit less and would leave me more in my budget to get eyepieces and a 90 degree attachment.

 

Tripods / mounts being considered so far:

  • Star-Watcher AZ5 - alt/az sounds super intuitive coming from camera tripods as I am. Also sounds like a really moveable / easy to move in-and-out of the house tripod. Downside is adding a motor in the future seems not like really a thing. Maybe a wedge?
  • Omni CG-4 - equatorial tripod/mount has the option to add a motor later, which seems great. Sounds like it might be a bit sturdier than the AZ5? Equatorial sounds harder to learn how to use. Sounds like it might be more difficult to move around than the AZ5 in and out of the house. I have read several reviews online that the metal threading eventually strips on the latest models of these, which makes me SUPER hesitant. Has anyone else seen this?

Both of the above tripods / mounts seem to have mixed reviews with regard to holding the AT102ED. Every person who talks about using either of the above tripods say that they are "at their limit" with the AT102ED - not a great thing to hear for someone who wants something easy to use.  I don't want to have worry about things slipping or going off balance.

 

Any other tripod recommendations or thoughts?

 

Also, hearing my above considerations, any suggestions comparing the AT80ED and AT102ED?


Edited by Wenwald, 27 November 2023 - 08:16 PM.


#2 bobzeq25

bobzeq25

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 34,143
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2014

Posted 27 November 2023 - 08:47 PM

For starting out in DSO astrophotography, the 102 would be a really lousy idea.  You're not talking about a mount remotely "good enough".

 

Even the 80 is questionable on those mounts.

 

DSO imaging is _nothing_ at all like visual astronomy.  In visual, the scope is the most important thing.  In DSO imaging it's the mount.

 

Honest.  Here's someone who was exactly where you are.

 

"The recurring theme and BEST PIECE OF ADVICE BY FAR I received over and over again was a) the mount is king and everything else comes second b) start with a widefield refractor and build your skills and go from there. There is so much involved and building good practices and habits and foundational building from the start will save you a lot of wasted time and heartache."



#3 Jlex

Jlex

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 374
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2022
  • Loc: Lexington, Ky

Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:10 PM

I think you'd get hooked on astrophotography with a good tracking mount and refractor.   



#4 Wenwald

Wenwald

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2023

Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:29 PM

For starting out in DSO astrophotography, the 102 would be a really lousy idea.  You're not talking about a mount remotely "good enough".

 

Even the 80 is questionable on those mounts.

 

DSO imaging is _nothing_ at all like visual astronomy.  In visual, the scope is the most important thing.  In DSO imaging it's the mount.

 

Honest.  Here's someone who was exactly where you are.

 

"The recurring theme and BEST PIECE OF ADVICE BY FAR I received over and over again was a) the mount is king and everything else comes second b) start with a widefield refractor and build your skills and go from there. There is so much involved and building good practices and habits and foundational building from the start will save you a lot of wasted time and heartache."

Thanks much. Your thoughts make a lot of sense, especially about making sure you have a good mount for any photography. Any suggestions?

 

That said (and maybe I could have highlighted it a bit more in my post), DSO photography is not necessarily my primary desire.

 

I toy with photography of the night sky, but I also just like looking at stuff.

 

I almost feel I could use something middle-of-the-road that can do some short-exposure photos, but also just some visual gazing as well.  Ability to upgrade might be nice...


Edited by Wenwald, 27 November 2023 - 09:29 PM.


#5 AA5TB

AA5TB

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 55
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2014
  • Loc: Texas

Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:36 PM

Just my 2 cents, I have both an AT80ED and an AT102ED. They are both great telescopes. I get out to visually observe every chance I get, but I will say that I use the AT80ED 80% of the time. The AT80ED works fine on my small Bresser Alt/Az tripod/mount (ES Nano equivalent). For my AT102ED, I needed to upgrade to an ES Twilight tripod/mount. The AT102ED setup is twice as heavy as the AT80ED setup.

 

I only do minor astrophotography of the planets, sun, and the Moon so I don’t really have an opinion, except that the wider field of view of the AT80ED has been helpful.
 


  • Wenwald likes this

#6 bobzeq25

bobzeq25

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 34,143
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2014

Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:37 PM

Thanks much. Your thoughts make a lot of sense, especially about making sure you have a good mount for any photography. Any suggestions?

 

That said (and maybe I could have highlighted it a bit more in my post), DSO photography is not necessarily my primary desire.

 

I toy with photography of the night sky, but I also just like looking at stuff.

 

I almost feel I could use something middle-of-the-road that can do some short-exposure photos, but also just some visual gazing as well.  Ability to upgrade might be nice...

You cannot possibly overestimate how much more mount you need for imaging, compared to visual.  The difference is night/day.

 

Good entry level imaging mounts are the CEM26, the GEM28, and the HEQ5 Pro.  All about $1400.  They'll handle the 80.  If you want headroom for a bigger scope later, you'll need more mount.

 

If that's outside your budget, the economical option is to replace the scope with a camera lens.  Then you can use a $500 camera tracker.  The setup looks like this, and it's a great way to get started in DSO imaging.

Attached Thumbnails

  • skytracker-with-camera-and-lens-444x545.jpg

Edited by bobzeq25, 27 November 2023 - 09:37 PM.

  • hyiger, rodsager and Wenwald like this

#7 ShaulaB

ShaulaB

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,543
  • Joined: 11 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Missouri

Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:45 PM

Have you considered something like a Skywatcher Star Adventurer tracker for your camera? I think you would enjoy using it a lot. https://www.skywatch...star-adventurer

That would be $300.

 

Then the AstroTech 80ED f7 https://www.astronom...a.html?___SID=U

Around $400

 

This scope can be mounted on an Explore Scientific Twilight I mount. https://www.astronom...mount-2581.html

$350

 

Ouch, that puts you over budget, and you still need a diagonal, finder, and eyepieces for the telescope. Can you save up another two hundred dollars?


  • Wenwald likes this

#8 Wenwald

Wenwald

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2023

Posted 27 November 2023 - 10:01 PM

the economical option is to replace the scope with a camera lens.  Then you can use a $500 camera tracker.  The setup looks like this, and it's a great way to get started in DSO imaging.

That's a great suggestion - thanks for pointing out such a piece of tracking equipment exists.

I have some decent camera stuff already; I could probably use a camera tracker with that in the future for tracking DSOs if I wanted to dive into that.

For a telescope, I could mainly focus on visual (maybe take some planet photos through the thing).


  • bobzeq25 likes this

#9 Wenwald

Wenwald

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2023

Posted 27 November 2023 - 10:03 PM

Have you considered something like a Skywatcher Star Adventurer tracker for your camera? I think you would enjoy using it a lot. https://www.skywatch...star-adventurer

That would be $300.

 

Then the AstroTech 80ED f7 https://www.astronom...a.html?___SID=U

Around $400

 

This scope can be mounted on an Explore Scientific Twilight I mount. https://www.astronom...mount-2581.html

$350

 

Ouch, that puts you over budget, and you still need a diagonal, finder, and eyepieces for the telescope. Can you save up another two hundred dollars?

Awesome links... thanks.  Any reason you suggest the ES Twilight I?  I assume it's similar to the SW AZ5?

 

Yeah, all of the things you link would put me over budget, but I could just start with a scope / mount first for visual enjoyment, and consider a camera tracker down the road if I want to up my astrophotography game, which I'm managing somewhat without a tracker.


  • ShaulaB likes this

#10 ShaulaB

ShaulaB

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,543
  • Joined: 11 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Missouri

Posted 27 November 2023 - 10:55 PM

Awesome links... thanks.  Any reason you suggest the ES Twilight I?  I assume it's similar to the SW AZ5?\

I only mentioned the Twilight because I am familiar with it. I don't know much about the SkyWatcher.

 

You are wise to go slowly and thoughtfully, I see too many people spend a LOT of money and get frustrated when the gear is not right for them.



#11 Oldfracguy

Oldfracguy

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,739
  • Joined: 23 Sep 2021
  • Loc: San Diego, CA

Posted 27 November 2023 - 11:27 PM

Although others may disagree, I doctored a picture I took of an AT102EDL on a SW AZ5 to remind me:

 

101_1466 (2).jpg

 

Since you are interested in Astrophotography, some kind of GEM would seem to be a better idea.  At least you could track manually using just the RA axis for short exposures.

 

I just do visual observation myself, and really do like Alt-Az mounts.  A Celestron CG-4 converted to Alt-Az mode will definitely carry and AT102ED.  Here is mine with the next larger Astro-Tech scope, an AT115EDT:

 

101_1568.JPG

 

Regarding a comparison of the AT80ED and the AT102ED...the SW AZ5 mount seems like it was made for 80mm refractors:

 

101_1453.JPG

 

I have had two ES Twilight I mounts before.  The SW AZ5 is better, and more stable.  The long mount arm of the Twilight I, coupled with that shallow 30° angle with which it attaches to the mount, are its downfall in my experience.  Some people like them even for a scope like at AT102ED, but I felt there was too much instability.  They also need regular maintenance.

 

Both the AT80ED and AT102ED are very good scopes.  You will see a little more of everything with the larger AT102ED, but it will need a larger capacity mount than an AT80ED.


Edited by Oldfracguy, 28 November 2023 - 09:38 AM.

  • vtornado, Lookitup and Wenwald like this

#12 Wenwald

Wenwald

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2023

Posted 28 November 2023 - 06:27 AM

Since you are interested in Astrophotography, some kind of GEM would seem to be a better idea.  At least you could track manually using just the RA axis for short exposures.

 

I just do visual observation myself, and really do like Alt-Az mounts.  A Celestron CG-4 converted to Alt-Az mode will definitely carry and AT102ED.

 

These images really put things into perspective! Seeing the telescope mounted on a few things helps. Thanks!

 

So at102ed on an AZ5 is a definite no-go. 
 

I have read a few reviews talking about the CG-4 stripping its threading and becoming unusable. Do you think this a concern?



#13 jcj380

jcj380

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,133
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Out in the night, in the whispering breezes

Posted 28 November 2023 - 09:21 AM

I found my AT102ED to be a bit too much on my SkyWatcher AZ5.  It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great.  YMMV.

 

I went back and forth about buying an AT80ED versus the 102.  I went with the 102 for aperture, but sold it - too bulky for me right now - and bought an AT72EDII which is a bit smaller and lighter than the 80.  I really like the 72, but might try an 80 one of these days just for S&Gs.


Edited by jcj380, 28 November 2023 - 09:25 AM.


#14 Wenwald

Wenwald

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2023

Posted 28 November 2023 - 09:40 AM

I found my AT102ED to be a bit too much on my SkyWatcher AZ5.  It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great.  YMMV.

 

I went back and forth about buying an AT80ED versus the 102.  I went with the 102 for aperture, but sold it - too bulky for me right now - and bought an AT72EDII which is a bit smaller and lighter than the 80.  I really like the 72, but might try an 80 one of these days just for S&Gs.

Are you using an AZ5 with your at72? Curious how that is going for you. I imagine it would be similar to an AZ5 + at80 as far as handling. 
 

Also, forgive my ignorance - what is S&G?



#15 Oldfracguy

Oldfracguy

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,739
  • Joined: 23 Sep 2021
  • Loc: San Diego, CA

Posted 28 November 2023 - 09:53 AM

These images really put things into perspective! Seeing the telescope mounted on a few things helps. Thanks!

 

So at102ed on an AZ5 is a definite no-go. 
 

I have read a few reviews talking about the CG-4 stripping its threading and becoming unusable. Do you think this a concern?

I have used my CG-4 configured in Alt-Az mode without the need for counterweights to mount this:

 

101_1933.JPG

 

That's a 21-lb 8" f/5 Newtonian.  The CG-4 was about maxed out, but did OK.  The rated payload of a GEM is that over and above the full complement of counterweights needed to balance the scope.  In Alt-Az mode, the CG-4 is not carrying any counterweight load, so it can get by with an OTA weighing a little more than its rated 20 lb. capacity.  There are two Allen screws underneath the RA and DECL axes that control the clearance between the gears inside the mount, and those need to be tightened or loosened depending on the payload the mount head is carrying.  If you notice a little slop, or hysteresis in the position control rods as you move the scope, then a little tightening of those two Allen screws will solve that problem.  Tight, but only as tight as needed to eliminate the rotational slack, is all it takes.

 

If you are talking about the encoder gears that people add to the CG-4 to control the position of the RA and DECL axes when tracking during an imaging run, then I have no experience with that.

 

On the other hand, people have reported issues with the gears inside the SW AZ5 mount head not engaging properly.  I had some trouble with the AZ5 I used to have as well.



#16 Agatha

Agatha

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 8,189
  • Joined: 04 Jun 2012
  • Loc: Wisconsin

Posted 28 November 2023 - 12:05 PM

Are you using an AZ5 with your at72? Curious how that is going for you. I imagine it would be similar to an AZ5 + at80 as far as handling. 
 

Also, forgive my ignorance - what is S&G?

S**ts and giggles.  


  • jcj380 likes this

#17 Oldfracguy

Oldfracguy

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,739
  • Joined: 23 Sep 2021
  • Loc: San Diego, CA

Posted 28 November 2023 - 12:14 PM

S**ts and giggles.  

I thought the "G" stood for "grins" lol.gif


  • Agatha likes this

#18 aa6ww

aa6ww

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,161
  • Joined: 23 Oct 2011
  • Loc: Sacramento, Calif.

Posted 28 November 2023 - 01:20 PM

An AT-102ED is a nice light weight refractor, you should be very happy with it. 

I had one and used it on my CG-4 which handles the weight of the OTA even with 2" eyepieces very nice.

The optional Motors for the CG-4 are nice, I just recently purchased that package from Amazon and it was a snap to set up and use. Just set the mount to your latitude and even an eye ball polar alignment works very well for visual observing.  

Even in my mediocre skies, a 4" refractor will let you observe most of the Messiers and the scope puts out nice views of the objects  you are most familiar with.

For casual back yard observing, this is a very lightweight robust package. I'm currently using my CG-4 with all my small refractors and C5 SCT. Currently, the largest refractor the CG-4 can hold solidly is with my Celestron 100ED Omni Celestron F9, but my AT-92 gets used the most with my CG-4 because set up is simple and fast and which  helps with cold weather.

 

You can pick up both a CG-4 mount with tripod and a used AT-102ED and have money left over to buy the tracking motors. 

 

Good luck with whatever direction you go with this.

 

Ralph


  • mogur and Oldfracguy like this

#19 Steve Cox

Steve Cox

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,353
  • Joined: 19 Jan 2017

Posted 29 November 2023 - 07:42 AM

I use my AT102ED on an ES Twilight 1 with much success.  For visual use I have no complaints with the combo even at high powers.



#20 jcj380

jcj380

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,133
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Out in the night, in the whispering breezes

Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:38 AM

Are you using an AZ5 with your at72? Curious how that is going for you. I imagine it would be similar to an AZ5 + at80 as far as handling. 

I have used it in the SW AZ5 without any problems, but I almost always run my current scopes on my ScopeTech Zero.  The Zero is lighter than the AZ5 and I prefer the Zero's ergonomics.



#21 Auburn80

Auburn80

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,290
  • Joined: 01 Apr 2013

Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:39 AM

I use my AT102ED on an ES Twilight 1 with much success. For visual use I have no complaints with the combo even at high powers.


Do you set the arm vertically or tilted back? I'm trying to decide on an altaz for my 4" and smaller scopes.

#22 balcon3

balcon3

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 270
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2021

Posted 29 November 2023 - 09:53 AM

I think you are on the right path. With your combination of criteria you are going to have to make some compromises, but that is fine. As other people have mentioned, you should start by choosing the mount.  This will influence your choice of scope.  I get the feeling that you are rather interested in doing some astrophotography. For that reason I would recommend an EQ mount because it is basically essential for imaging and you can use it for visual too. If you went with an Alt-Az mount, you could do some quick snaps, but I imagine that pretty soon you would be asking yourself if you should get an Eq mount to be able to do longer exposures. If you were only interested in visual I would recommend an Alt-Az since it is a bit simpler to use.

 

You are looking at the CG4, which is a clone of the old Vixen SP and GP mounts. The Vixen mounts are no longer made, but you can often find them used for a few hundred dollars and they are better made  than any of the clones. In addition there are other clones that you can buy new, including the Skywatcher EQ5 and the Celestron SVP (Skyview Pro), They are all basically the same as the CG4 but if you are worried about the metal shredding on the CG4 you could get one of the others. I have the EQ5 and it has held up pretty well. I think the SVP might be the best of the group. The thing is, these mounts are not that light. I don't know if I'd want to carry one of these mounts with its attached scope in one trip. You could go to a lighter EQ mount such as the EQ3, but it would be less stable. It could an option for light imaging with an 80mm scope. I would think about it seriously, But no way would I use it with a 100mm. You also need to take into account counterweights, which are needed for EQ mounts but not for AltAz. All in all, EQ mounts are needed for imaging but I would say that they are a likely a two-trip set up.

 

Doing visual with an EQ mount takes a little time to get used to but pretty soon it becomes routine.  If you add motors, you only need the RA axis motor, which will allow you to track while imaging. Motors are also nice for visual since the object stays in your field of view. RA motors are not expensive for these mounts, less than $100.  You will want to buy and use a polar scope to polar align your scope if you intend to use it for imaging. Again, not a big deal but something to learn. 

 

Once you have chosen your mount you need to choose your scope. I think given your stated criteria, the 80ED would be more appropriate. I have an 80EDL (similar but with even better color correction) and I can see a lot on the planets. With one's eyes you can details on Jupiter, its moons, and Saturn's moons as well and with imaging you will see even more. All astrophotographers recommend starting with a smallish refractor. It's just easier.  And an 80ED is a fine and serious instrument. A 100ED will need a larger mount, especially if you want to do a little imaging. Yes it will show a bit more. But you pay the price in portability and need for a heavier mount.

 

I will be interested to hear what you finally decide.


  • Oldfracguy and Wenwald like this

#23 Steve Cox

Steve Cox

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,353
  • Joined: 19 Jan 2017

Posted 29 November 2023 - 07:03 PM

Do you set the arm vertically or tilted back? I'm trying to decide on an altaz for my 4" and smaller scopes.

I set the arm back, otherwise I'd have a huge observing hole around Zenith and I don't want that.  If the scope was short enough I'd leave it straight up, but the 102 is just too long to do that.


  • Auburn80 likes this

#24 Oldfracguy

Oldfracguy

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,739
  • Joined: 23 Sep 2021
  • Loc: San Diego, CA

Posted 29 November 2023 - 08:29 PM

Here is an ES Twilight I mount with an 80mm f/11.4 achromat refractor, a Vixen A80Mf, which is longer that the AT102ED:

 

101_0887.JPG

 

and here's a picture of the Twilight I with its mount arm in the vertical position.  Like Steve says above, you can see why it would be virtually impossible to point the scope at the Zenith in that configuration.  It works great for daytime terrestrial viewing, though, where most of what you are looking at is horizontal, or nearly so:

 

101_0951.JPG


Edited by Oldfracguy, 29 November 2023 - 08:34 PM.

  • Auburn80 likes this

#25 Steve Cox

Steve Cox

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,353
  • Joined: 19 Jan 2017

Posted 29 November 2023 - 10:59 PM

I posted a copy of my 102 here a few months back but will post it here again.  This will give a good idea of the size of the scope vs mount.  Again, for visual use it's wonderful.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 102.jpg



CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Astro Tech, Mount, Tripod



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics