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.
- 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.