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  1. My eyeballs. Being under starry sky the first time is magical. As I automated more and more of my setup I often miss the good ol’ days of having nothing but just a planisphere and my eyes. And of course I missed the days when I wasn’t as nearsighted as I am now… Equipment-wise, I wouldn’t say my first scope which is a Celestron C5 on a CG-4 was a great scope. My first look through a telescope was an 80mm long FL achro, and my best look through a scope probably either came from a 4” Tak, my current NP-101, a 6” Newt, or a C8. My C5 was *good* and it went to places with me, but it never was the views never really impressed me. That said, I do miss it from time to time given how light and compact it was…
  2. Technically, Borg is but a division of Tomytec and the Famisco predates Borg — if you know about anime, it’s like the film “Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind” is considered a Ghibli Studio film, even if it predated Ghibli itself. The story behind Borg is a similar story: the Famisco was so successful that Tomytec decided to enter the industry permanently. The first Borgs rolled off the production line in 1991. Internally it was heralded by 3 people initially, including then-new joiner Noboru Nakagawa who would go on to become the head of Borg department. He would continue to work for Borg for the next 28 years until he retired in 2018, having finished working on the 107FL (I believe). I think he now works at Sightron/Syumitto Japan which is a telescope vendor. Theres an interview of him from 2008 in Japanese: http://www.astroarts.com/hoshinavi/magazine/shokunin/004/index-j.shtml I always found it amazing that Tomytec somehow still maintains the Borg department after all those years, even getting their lens from Canon-Optron. But given a bit more thought it probably makes more sense; it’s probably highly lucrative, easy to maintain since they can probably use other Tomytec machineries, and have very few staff members. In Borg’s perspective, Tomytec’s wide connection with the industry, its distribution and marketing network are something many telescope makers dream of. That’s why even through the pandemic, Tomytec can continue to sell us (albeit beautifully machined) metal rings for £30 a piece…
  3. Hey, if he didn’t ask for a refund then it’s mission accomplished — he got the bragging rights and you got the commission.
  4. Money going toward mechanical performance is probably more satisfying than either though. Especially in mounts and/or going from *really* cheap scopes to cheap, but capable scopes. An example would be like going from an 130mm EQ-2 to an 130PDS with upgrade focuser and an EQ-3-2. Suddenly you go from focuser slop and shaky mount to something actually quite decent.
  5. For me it was definitely topped by views I’ve gotten in my APOs lately — well thanks to me coming back to astronomy after a hiatus I guess. I guess another part was that my first view through a telescope was through a telescope that I came to hate (130mm newt on an EQ-2 mount…). Sure it was extremely impressive seeing through it the first time, but my APOs gave me bigger wows.
  6. One interesting thing to note is that my old school did the sensible thing and upgraded their equipment. The EQ1s and EQ2s are gone and replaced by EQ3-2s, and it seems they even got an HEQ-5 and some Skywatcher ED scopes. They’ve even got a Dob now. I suppose those who joined the hobby after me at the school would be pretty happy with the equipment they have.
  7. It might be two things; one is that I looked through the an 80/100ED and a Tak 4” (I remember it’s a 4” for Tak very clearly for some reason). There might have been a discrepancy in aperture but I do remember the Tak showed less false colour and was more sharp. Both of course were leagues better than the achros we brought, but since my personal scope was a SCT, I was very sensitive to CA. The second might be because who owned those scopes. The Synta was owned by another high school and had taken a bit of abuse — but it was still fairly well maintained. The Tak however belonged to a guest personally and was in an immaculate condition. The difference was not *that* big, but fairly obvious is what I am saying. For the price difference the biggest improvement would be mechanical imo because that stock focuser — as you might have imagined — was terrible after being abused by high school students.
  8. For me I do buy the “best” scope I can afford, but I am specifically drawn to Takahashi and Tele Vue for a reason. See, when I started the hobby it was in a school. And we used cheap scopes; by that, I mean *really* cheap scopes like the plastic 60-80mm refractors. A long 80mm refractor and an EQ-2 was considered good. The best we had was an 150mm newt with a CG-4 which was a bit too wobbly. We technically had a Nexstar 8SE, but the electronics were broken and we were never allowed to use the OTA on other mounts. As you might’ve imagined, those scopes sucked mechanically if not optically. The Synta 6” Newt was perfectly fine optically but the focuser slip was horrible. The EQ-2s and EQ-1s were often too loose and sometimes the clutches would fail. The cheaper plastic refractors we had… well, it’s bad. My experience with cheaper scopes was horrible, probably made worse by the fact that I was the person who setup all the equipment, but I digress. Back then I read about APOs, specifically Taks and TVs with great envy, but I had no ways to afford them. Now that I can afford those scopes, of course I would go for them. It should be noted however that back then there was a big gap between premium optics and mass produced ones. The sharpness and contrast between Synta APOs and Taks (I looked through some at a star party) was quite obvious, not to mention the mechanical quality of the scopes. Now, the gap has narrowed significantly, and some of the Chinese scopes (like the StellaMira/TS 90, the Meade Quad, or the Esprits) are serious contenders for best optics in their aperture class. The difference in mechanical quality also decreased, but not as much as the optics imo. The catch, of course, is that the great Chinese made optics are more expensive than before, even if they might still be cheaper than some of the more prestigious brands (sometimes they can actually be more expensive).
  9. I think the recommendations here are very sensible but I’d add a few things personally: 1. Get a red dot finder regardless of what people say. The Baader finder is like, £40. It’s very helpful if you are observing manually and while yes, you can get away without using the red dot finder, you will actually get confused under darker skies because there are too many stars — as funny as that sound. 2. To Goto or not, it is a question only you can answer. A Goto mount will take *longer* to setup than a simple alt-az mount. The AZ5, scope tech zero, or like the Altair Astro Mini-AZ are all cheaper than the AZ-GTi and can carry more load. I have both a RST-135 which I often use as a Goto Alt-Az mount, and it takes about 15 min to fully setup + align. My Mini-AZ takes about three minutes: level the tripod, puts in the scope, done. Of course, the RST-135’s Goto means you can just click a target on your phone and the scope will slew to it, which saves a lot of time, especially under light-polluted skies. It’s ultimately your choice. 3. The 72ED is a fine telescope but it is a bit of a small one. An 80mm or larger scope will be a significant improvement, but of course those are a lot bulkier. 4. Not sure whether you 100% need 100 degree eyepieces or the 2” diagonal. Those things are heavy, and given how wide the 72ED’s view already is you might not need it.
  10. Hi Ken, I will be very interested in your experience with the 72FL. I got rid of my 90FL which was a fantastic scope, but had a bit too much CA to be a good astrograph. I also hear Borg f’d up the matching reducer with the 90FL so it shows a lot of CA, but they fixed that with the 72FL. I got a NP-101 instead and *then* I realised it’s so heavy and hard to move around. So now I need a portable scope again and I am staring very, very hard at the 72FL which apparently controls CA better than the 90FL. I also have a Feathertouch focuser already and I only need the lens assembly and the tube. Also, if you are struggling with in-focus, you can always buy an 150mm Borg tube and add extension tubes to achieve focus.
  11. It will be like one day every week where I have to go to the London office. My company has another office in Reading which I can use if I don’t have to meet my London colleagues in person.
  12. I mean, Reading is apparently maxed out at B7 compared to London’s B8-9, so it’s slightly better. The bigger reason to move there would be the cheaper rent which means I would be able to get a larger place/a place with garden more easily. It is harder to commute from than St Albans though…
  13. The GEM28/CEM26 are by far the most capable of the choices listed, but since you are doing planetary imaging their additional stability and guided precision don’t matter as much. A second hand HEQ5 will have more capacity and probably will be better than all of those for futureproofing. I had the EQ3 non Goto before. I liked it, and it managed my C5 relatively well, but I would not personally recommend the Goto version because how expensive it is. The Goto version is almost £500, the mount itself being £250… you are really only getting £250 worth of mount and Goto slapped on it. The EQ3-2 has its slate of problems: stiction, severe backlash (you can kinda feel it even with manual control), and being shaky if you put even just a 6” newt on it… all of that can be forgiven for how cheap it is and the fact that it’s the cheapest serviceable equatorial mount imo. But spending an extra 250 to upgrade it? I don’t think it’s worth. The EQ5-PRO might be something you want to look at. It’s essentially the old CG-5, a Vixen GP clone, but better built. It’s not that much more expensive than the EQ3 Pro and should be more stable. No idea about the Exos, but the cheaper one seems to have some bad rep.
  14. Anything better than London I take that as a W since I am planning to go narrowband anyways…
  15. I visited a few weeks ago and I liked it. It’s more expensive than one of the other place I was thinking of (Reading) though…
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