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TeleVue NP101 vs Skywatcher Black Diamond ED120 on Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 Synscan Mount


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Hi guys,

I'm feeling very tempted to add a nice quality refractor to my growing list of kit and was hoping for a little advice, please.

I'm heavily leaning toward one of the two mentioned scopes in the title and probably leaning towards the Televue NP101. I haven't actually had any experience with either. So would love to hear if you think I'm insane. Particularly considering it has 56% less aperture than the ED120 and is more than twice the price. I'm only really leaning this way for a couple of reasons... 1. I've read quite a lot of glowing reviews of the quality of the NP101... Some even say it's the best scope out there?! 2. It's almost half the size.

Anyone have any suggestions/thoughts they think I should add to my points of consideration before I go out and make the "wrong" decision?

As for the mount, I was entertaining a Losmandy GM8 G, but man, these are pretty expensive as well. Upon farther searching, I saw the AZ-EQ6 which looks like the perfect combination. Keeping I mind that whatever goes on here will probably end up being side-saddled with a Lunt LS60 THa DS50/PT/B1200 in the very near future. With a 20kg capacity, I imagine this mount should stand up to this setup, regardless of which refractor I end up buying?

Ok, please feel free to scrutinise as harshly as you like... Your advice/comments/outright abuse will be massively appreciated.

Oh, and btw... My current main scope is a Meade LX90 ACF 10".

Thanks guys, look forward to your replies.

Aaron

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Aaron, nice choice to have to make! I have not used the TV, but for me a 100mm versus 120mm refractor would depend on what I would use the scope for. What's your plan for the winner?

Edited by Luke
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Hi Aaron, I've looked through a clubmate's NP101.  "Superb" sums it up.  High contrast flat field (stars sharp to the edge) courtesy of the rear two lens elements.  Never seen a better star test, a defocused Capella was identical either side of focus.     I don't think either scope would be a mistake,  the SW 120 would be excellent I'm sure and would go a bit 'deeper' with the extra light grasp.

But I'd go with the guaranteed top quality of the NP101.

Mounting ?   No experience with what you mention, but 'overmounting' is a good idea especially if the rig will be in an observatory, but makes portability more of an issue.

Lots of folk will be drooling over your 'tough' decision  :grin:

All the best from the UK, Ed.

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The TV NP101 is much faster than the 120ED, and will show much bigger stretches of sky. It complements your main scope much better, as it will provide breathtaking wide-field views. With a 30mm 82 deg EP it will provide a magnification of 18x at 4.56 deg FOV, or 17.4x at 4.7 deg FOV with my 31T5. This complements a 10" F/10 SCT in the same way as my 80mm F/6 APM complements my C8. The much longer focal length of the 120ED does not give the same huge FOV. Essentially, what you lose in aperture by choosing the NP101, you gain in FOV.

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2 questions:

If you go for the ED120 rather than the NP101, is there something you could spend the savings on that would improve your astronomical experience more than having the NP101?

Second: are your skies clear / dark / transparent enough to fully utilise the potential of the NP101?

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Luke and Ed,

Thanks so much for your replies.

Luke, I figured that would be the first question. Funny, I find myself asking the same one when I read posts with such a general question like mine, so I really should have stated the purpose of the scope :) The idea behind this scope is to have a real nice grab and go. I love the LX90, but it is quite a beast to have to grab and set up for only a short session, let alone take to a different site. So, ideally, I want a scope that gives me quite a few options with what I can view. A wider field of view, yet also capable of getting in relatively close for smaller objects. To be honest, I think the main thing leaning me toward the NP101 (even though I know the aperture of the ED120 is probably more suitable) is that I have just purchased a few Ethos eyepieces (21mm, 13mm & 10mm) and for some reason feel like they belong in a Televue scope! Haha... I'm an idiot, I know!! Seriously though, the 540mm focal length (and 5.4 focal ratio) of the NP101 is quite appealing when compared with the 900mm focal length of the ED120 (and 7.0 focal ratio). Ultimately, I'd like to be able to basically have a nice view of all types of objects (not necessarily the most appropriate magnification, as I can use the LX90 if I want to get real close and personal) and also be able to get nice wide views with my Mallincam video camera. Does that help at all?

Allen, I've seen quite a few of your replies to other posts and, as usual, you're sounding like a good voice of reason. Plus, you've added another tick to the NP101 (and possibly cost me an extra $2400, mind you :))! It's great to hear another favourable comment regarding this scope. It is a big outlay for such small aperture, so it is great to hear encouraging words that help make the decision easier!

Thanks again fellas.

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Thanks Michael, that was along the lines of my thinking also. You sum it up beautifully... I want a scope that will compliment what I already have, as I am in no means looking for a replacement.

Really appreciate your advice. Again, I have seen heaps of your replies on other posts (and regularly follow your solar updates... Love them, actually!!) so am massively guided by your obvious expertise!

Thanks mate.

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They can't be compared optically or mechanically, with the TV in a different world. I had a Mk 1 'Pearl River' Genesis for many years. It was incredible, pumping up to 220x on the planets and coming down to 15x for views of the entire Veil complex, etc. The NP101 will be significantly better, too. The 120 might pull slightly ahead on the planets and pull out a bit more faint stuff but do you want that if you already have a bigger scope?

A screamingly fast 4inch apochromat of mind blowing quality is a unique scope capable of so many different things.

Olly

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And now for the much needed voice of reason...

Pete, you are absolutely right and tour on my biggest dilemma. The extra cost of the NP101 could go toward a lot of other things (half the cost of the Lunt, for example) and my skies are far from great (I live barely 1km from Sydney CBD)!!

However, I'm thinking this will be a setup that I will be keeping for a long while... And... At least some of the appeal is having a scope that I can comfortably take to our holiday house, which is under much nicer skies (not perfect, but far better) than home.

So, to answer your second question... Probably not. I'm sure I don't have skies nice enough to utilise the potential of any scope really. But even just the thought of getting the LX90 into the car is painful enough, so am quite happy saving that for muddy skies with a Mallincam.

Great questions though. My answers lead me to what is clearly the right logical choice, but the little devil on my left shoulder seems to have an invisible chain attached to my wallet :)

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Another notch on the NP101 belt then, Olly?

Guys, if you see my fiancé listed in the classifieds, know that you have swayed me on the more expensive scope... And please, offer me decent money for her, she's a lovely girl!! :)

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The NP101 would be a very fine scope to run alongside your 10" SCT as it delivers such a different set of capabilities. I was looking for something like that (a Genesis back then) when I came across my Vixen ED102SS which is a bit slower at F/6.5 and not quite in the TV quality league but fills a similar niche in my scope collection. As Olly says, the ability to show 4 degrees of sky and then support 200x + on lunar, planetary and binary star targets is so handy and these quality small refractors always seem to me to "punch above their weight" so to speak.

The big Skywatcher AZEQ mount would be overkill for a scope such as this on it's own for visual work - my Vixen sits very happily and solidly on a simple Skywatcher AZ-4 mount. I appreciate though that you are planning on mounting other stuff alongside the scope in question so the bigger mount may well make sense then.

I also have an ED120 and thats a fine scope as well but somewhat longer and heavier so not quite as "grab and go".

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The NP101 would be a very fine scope to run alongside your 10" SCT as it delivers such a different set of capabilities. I was looking for something like that (a Genesis back then) when I came across my Vixen ED102SS which is a bit slower at F/6.5 and not quite in the TV quality league but fills a similar niche in my scope collection. As Olly says, the ability to show 4 degrees of sky and then support 200x + on lunar, planetary and binary star targets is so handy and these quality small refractors always seem to me to "punch above their weight" so to speak.

The big Skywatcher AZEQ mount would be overkill for a scope such as this on it's own for visual work - my Vixen sits very happily and solidly on a simple Skywatcher AZ-4 mount. I appreciate though that you are planning on mounting other stuff alongside the scope in question so the bigger mount may well make sense then.

I also have an ED120 and thats a fine scope as well but somewhat longer and heavier so not quite as "grab and go".

This is exactly the pairing I had for several years, 10 inch SCT and Genesis.

As for selling the girlfriend, be sure to read The Mayor Of Casterbridge before you do that... 

:grin: lly

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Aaron, I prefer my ED100 to my 120 as a grab and go, so I would be very tempted by the TV.

My 100 gives sweet enough views on planets, also on white light solar if you go down that route, and maybe one day you might even put a big etalon on it to complement your Lunt 60 (I'm dreaming of a Solar Max 90 etalon at some point down the road). The 100 is a bit limited to the brighter and wide DSO's, but as you say, you have a big scope for that.

I would probably like to have a TV refractor one day - I blame Rik for letting me have a look through his very sharp Pronto! :eek:

Edited by Luke
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I found this scope interesting:

http://www.apm-telescopes.de/en/product.html?info=3307

Comes with Ricardi reducer reaching F/4.9. As I understand it, the price includes the reducer/flattener. May not be quite up to TV standards, but if it compares to my 80 F/6 at all it should be very good indeed.

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Hi

I got the TV101is.   I had a lot of telescopes in my time. In my opinion the TV101 is the best scope i ve owned.   Also because of the excellent optics i can push up the f ration by using a 2 x power mate .  However its the pinpoint stars and its ability to provide excellent images for astrophotography .  It even works nice on the planets with a 5 x power mate.   But got to say its biggest plus is the wonderful wide field vistas it provides with a good eyepiece, just stunning.

Paul J

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Thanks guys..

And thank you, Paul. The NP101 looks like a dream scope, but was too big an outlay for my first refractor, so I've just bought the TV-76. I'll see how I go with this first (my oh my, it is one beautiful looking/feeling telescope). I'm hoping it compliments my Ethos eyepieces, or vice versa, as well as I expect it to. I also just ordered a Gibraltar mount with Sky Tour... Overkill for the TV-76, I know, but I still have the NP101 on the brain! :)

In the meantime, I just bought a AZ-EQ6 Synscan to mount the TV-76 (overkill again, I know...) and, if all goes to plan, I'll add the NP101 as it's twin to the mount!

Now, if only these darn clouds would behave!! ;)

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Thanks guys..

And thank you, Paul. The NP101 looks like a dream scope, but was too big an outlay for my first refractor, so I've just bought the TV-76. I'll see how I go with this first (my oh my, it is one beautiful looking/feeling telescope). I'm hoping it compliments my Ethos eyepieces, or vice versa, as well as I expect it to. I also just ordered a Gibraltar mount with Sky Tour... Overkill for the TV-76, I know, but I still have the NP101 on the brain! :)

In the meantime, I just bought a AZ-EQ6 Synscan to mount the TV-76 (overkill again, I know...) and, if all goes to plan, I'll add the NP101 as it's twin to the mount!

Now, if only these darn clouds would behave!! ;)

You have stolen my thunder with the TV76 as I was about to say that the ED120 could never be described as a grab and go, the 101 possibly at a pinch, I would have advised the TV85 but I'm sure you'll be delighted with the 76. I'd love a NP101 myself but could never justify the expense, a true thing of beauty :Envy:

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Hi Aaron,  at your request.  Here are some pics of my np 101 with the 21 ethos (it also has the starbeam but not shown here).  It was my dream to have an ultimate grad n go.  This is it the np 101 on the DiscMount with sky commander XP-4.  The entire setup weights approx. 30 lbs and takes at most 3 minutes to set up.  the discmount needs no balancing so I can go from the 21 ethos or 31 nagler to a 6 delos and not have to do any balancing - it is in the engineering.  The sky cammander is simple and light.  Now for the np 101, as our colleagues commented it is a legendary scope by any standard.  the quality of the optics are first rate - the wide field views just can't be beat - can go to 5*- the contrast is wonderful and keep in mind this is a quad apo (4 lense petzval design).  It weights with ring and diagonal around 11 lbs  (very solid) and comes in a beautiful case for storage and travel.  Stars are pinpoint, planets and the moon are stunning, and large nebulae are just a dream.  A perfect complement to my Lx 90 8" because the NP 101 is not meant for globular or faint fuzzies.  So have the best of both worlds. But I now use the NP 101 much more.  As for portability when I want to view for a short period of time in the cold and/or in light polluted Los angeles, just pick up the mount and take it outside and just clip on the scope and ready to rock.  No cool down time.  For travel take apart the mount in a couple of minutes put in the car with the np 101 in its case and off to the viewing site --- Now that is what living and observing is all about.   With the TV EPs inserted I have lines of people at star parties bidding for views and hear lots of WOWS!.  It was my pre-retirement present to myself and loving every moment of it.  I hope my pics are attached if not perhaps someone could advise (I am not a techie). allen g 

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post-16210-0-34453300-1382414312_thumb.j

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Looks great, Allen. And thanks so much for stopping back in to share your pics. I must say, the discmount sure does look and sound like a great bit if kit. Extremely portable and am assuming it has full go-to function?

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The TV 76 is a great first frac. I think the 76 has the same focal length as my APM 80mm so it should offer the same kind of stunning wide-field views. I just love using the 80mm combined with either the 31T5 "Panzerfaust" or the 22T4 on wide-field views of the milky way, or M31 and M33. Especially from a dark site, a combo like that is hard to beat.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Having had the TV-76 for a little bit now, I completely agree, Michael. The views through it with both the 31 Nagler and 21 Ethos are absolutely outstanding. And that is without having had it under dark skies yet.

It's amazing comparing both these EP's with each other (even though I know they are entirely different beasts). At first glance, it seems obvious that the 31 Nagler has a narrower FOV, but then you look closer and realise just how much of the sky is captured within it... 5.3 degrees... Amazing!! It kind of messes with my mind comparing two very wide EP's, with one providing higher AFOV/ lower TFOV whilst the other provides higher TFOV/lower AFOV... Both beautiful, entirely different experiences! They've given me the perfect lesson on the difference between AFOV and TFOV!!

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I don't know if this helps but I was recently faced with a similar decision. Based on comments from other forums and when I was lurking on here,  I made my choice and went with the ED120. Its easy to pimp scopes, add finders, diagonals, focuser's, its not so easy to add aperture. I personally would not have thought the extra 3/4 of an inch would make much a difference, but then I would have been wrong. 

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