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About neilmack

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  1. Given a straight choice, and ignoring the price differential, which to choose, and why? Emphasis is on portability, reliability and accuracy of Goto system. Not into astrophotography.
  2. I should like a lightweight goto mount to carry a 60mm shortish refractor (Takahashi FS60Q). The object is to have a compact, lightweight instrument that's very portable, and, importantly, quick to set up. It's for visual use only. The short list - Celestron Nextstar SLT iOptron Cube Pro iOptron SmartEQ Pro+ Skywatcher Allview Multifunction These are all in the same price range. The first two look the most interesting, but I haven't had the chance to examine any of them (I'm out in the wilds!) If I have read the reviews and specs correctly the supplied tripods are equally wobbly - but are any of the mount heads good enough? Thanks NEIL
  3. " I'm sorry, Sir, but the cheese is now all offshore" (or maybe next to Eigg and Rhum?)
  4. There's no perfect telescope, or mount. On planets or double stars, at high power, you would most definitely prefer an equatorial, but a dob mount is quite usable on most other targets. The EQ3-2 mount is fairly lightweight, and won't have a great margin of stability with a six inch reflector, and would be unsuitable for anything bigger. If you decide to go the equatorial route, stretch if possible to the more robust EQ5 - they come up very cheaply in the used market. The optimal choice depends on what sort of observing you major on : but since, as you say, you haven't owned a scope before that's a question not easily answered. Beg, wheedle, or ingratiate yourself with a club or individual who can show you these type of scopes in action. If you're anywhere near Loughborough I can offer some help. If it stops raining! cheers Neil
  5. Celestron has an alternative, and more expensive, "Edge HD" range, which tackles the same issues as the ACF design. In principle a flatter coma-free field is desirable, but the price premium on the Edge HD is substantial, and once an SCT stops being 'a lot of aperture for the buck' it's given away its key advantage in the market place. An expensive flat field SCT would struggle to justify its existence against a good Maksutov-Cassegrain, especially for visual use. Good luck with your project, Neil
  6. Carl one other thought : have you ruled out a Newtonian? Aperture for aperture a good one will comfortably see off an SCT. The only downside is bulk and weight, which may be an issue for you transporting to a dark sky site.
  7. Hi Carl The demands made of the mount are considerably less with visual use. The CGEM is a well specified mount. My only concern would be that it's quite heavy for its carrying capacity. It would certainly be a viable platform for astrophotography. Recommendations on the choice between Celestron and Meade are the stuff of which wars are made. Sufficient to say that the C9.25 has design features that have made it a consistent favourite over the years, and Meade doesn't have an equivalent. One other manufacturer to consider is Vixen. Their range (and availability) are more limited than Meade and Celestron, but quality is high, and their equipment has given lasting pleasure. Whereabouts in the country are you? If you are anywhere near Leicestershire I can offer to show you what a good refractor can do before you make your choice. cheers Neil
  8. Welcome to the group. You will need to draw your requirements more tightly. Visual observation of what? Photography of the solar system, or widefield long exposure imaging of the deep sky? Have you any experience of other equipment, or of astrophotography? What are your expectations of your equipment? If you are looking for an all-rounder, I doubt you will find one. For instance a fork mount SCT could be be a prime choice for planetary photography, and pretty hopeless for any wide-field application. If it is ultimate flexibility that you want, since your budget is substantial, you might want to consider buying an SCT on a german equatorial mount, and leaving enough to buy something like an 80mm refractor to use for widefield observation and photographic work. Only you can decide whether equipment is too heavy or awkward to handle. If you can't get to handle the actual equipment before you buy, the painless way to find out is to get the dimensions and weight of the kit you like the look of, and build a mock up out of boxes, wood, scrap metal, and glue. It doesn't need to be anything more than vaguely the same shape as the scope in question. Practice carrying your masterpiece in and out at dead of night ..... you will soon decide what feels comfortable! There's plenty of choice, and you have a goodly budget, so the key thing is getting your statement of requirement tight. Then choice of instrument will seem a lot easier and more obvious. Kind regards Neil
  9. A 100mm telescope is decidedly easier to handle and mount, but apart from that the advantage lies with the 120mm. They both seem to be the same focal length according to the FLO website, and at 900mm are short for planetary imaging. For observing the moon and planets the 120mm scope looks the more interesting; if your main focus is on imaging then stick with the SCT. Have a look at the planetary images of Damian Peach Welcome to Views of the Solar System! and Christopher Go Saturn and see what can be achieved when imaging with SCTs only a bit bigger than your C9.25. Any five inch refractor, even a Takahashi or an Astro-Physics, won't be able to compete on planetary imaging, even though they're decisively better in other respects. best of luck, Neil
  10. According to the Telescope-Service website the Skywatcher EQ5 single-axis motor is suitable for the Vixen GP series of mounts. Does anyone have practical experience of using an SW motor on a Vixen GP or GP2? I'm only aiming to motorize the RA drive. Any advice gratefully received. It would save me several weeks on bread'n'drippin' if I could use the budget motor! Many thanks Neil
  11. Yesterday evening UKAB&S had an ad for an "illuminated rectal eyepiece". Now there's a thing you don't get offered every day ............
  12. Unfortunately this particular "manufacturer" has form on this sort of cynical mug's eyeful marketing. But it's also true that modern consumers want to believe that a few hundred pounds will buy them a telescope that will show the Encke Gap and the pulsar in M1, ten minutes after they plonk it on the lawn for the first time. Buying a precision instrument and spending hours learning how to use it are old hat. But surely beginners can do a simple reality check when buying a telescope : "please, I'd like a telescope, with sharp optics and a stable mount, hold the electronics, flim-flam and unrealistic claims". Why go to buy a telescope and spend most of the money on electronics? Today there are several middle market scopes out there where the optics are scarcely more than a throwaway accessory perched on top of an electronic marvel. But suitably marketed, and the punters turn up in droves. Sigh.
  13. If you're satisfied with your newtonian, why not go for a bigger newtonian?. An 8" would represent a real step forward, and a goto system would be a whole lot of fun. And of course, a 10" would be a terrific step forward. Whatever you have needs a stable and reliable mount, but it isn't clear that this has to be a big EQ mount : if you don't intend to do long exposure photography, then a driven (auto) dobsonian, or even a full goto dobsonian are options. Don't buy an EQ mount just because you might like to try long exposure photography sometime : lots of people seem to saddle themselves with cumbersome and complex EQ mounts they don't need. Unless you absolutely have to have the compactness, SCTs don't offer anything that a similar aperture newtonian can't do better. good luck Neil
  14. I owned four different C8s over a dozen years or so. For planetary observation the Televue Genesis and later a really good four inch fluorite doublet (Takahashi) I also owned provided much more attractive images. However the best of the C8s, properly collimated, and used on nights when the seeing allowed the use of a the bigger scope, actually showed a little more detail, albeit not easy to detect. The Takahashi fluorite scope in particular had great clarity and contrast; the Celestrons painted the universe in middling tones of dinge and murk. The deepsky also showed the four inch refractors outperforming expectation, while the C8s with their signature grey backgrounds and oddly imprecise focus almost always disappointed. Yet for planetary imagers the best of SCTs can produce marvellous results : as witness the masterpieces (is that too strong a word? I don't think so) of Damien Peach and the very fine work of Christopher Go in the Phillippines. It's also worth saying that a good refractor destroys any other design when it comes to double star observation, another interesting field that gets too little discussion these days. But all this optical lusciousness (note that copy writers always claim 'refractor-like' images as their highest accolade) comes at a huge financial premium. Fifty or sixty years ago J B Sidgwick (Observational Astronomy) advised enthusiastic but financially prudent amateur astronomers to invest in a sensibly proportioned and well-mounted Newtonian. That really remains the best advice; but there will always be a few hardcore refractor fiends for whom no sacrifice is to great. A nice example of Roland Christen's superlative 160mm refractor has just changed hands for $15,000!
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