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Captain Harlock

Optical quality vs portability : searching for the best travel telescope

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I am the happy owner of a SW 200p Dobsonian, which I always use in my back garden with great pleasure (when I am not cursing at the clouds, living in the UK).

Although being a great value for money, it is also quite BIG for my liking, meaning I wouldn't be able to carry it around easily to get out of town (I ride a scooter), and even less to travel (when I visit my family abroad).

I am now looking for a backup option, which would be easy to carry, and could withstand being sent as a check-in baggage on the plane.

After a bit of research, I came across the Skywatcher Evostar 80ED DS-Pro, which seems to tick many boxes :

- Is relatively small (600mm focal length)

- Has good reviews (optical quality)

- Is a refractor (no collimation)

- Hard case available (outer dimensions: 67 x 30 x 20 cm)

- Would fit within a max budget of £500, leaving enough £££ for a used EQ3 mount.

I understand that the 100ED and 120ED would be optically better, however the footprint is substantially bigger (the hard case outer dimensions are 96 x 29 x 21 cm).

In terms of mount, I am leaning towards a EQ3, which seems relatively light (7.5 kg) compared to a EQ5 (11.1 kg).

Do you think this package would be a good compromise between optical quality / portability / price ?

Are there any other models I should be considering within this price range ?

Many thanks,

Hugo.

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The 80ED has a very good rep, and is hard to beat for the money. My APM triplet has shorter build (480mm focal length) and is superb, but more expensive.

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Daniel-K    3,349

I am the happy owner of a SW 200p Dobsonian, which I always use in my back garden with great pleasure (when I am not cursing at the clouds, living in the UK).

Although being a great value for money, it is also quite BIG for my liking, meaning I wouldn't be able to carry it around easily to get out of town (I ride a scooter), and even less to travel (when I visit my family abroad).

I am now looking for a backup option, which would be easy to carry, and could withstand being sent as a check-in baggage on the plane.

After a bit of research, I came across the Skywatcher Evostar 80ED DS-Pro, which seems to tick many boxes :

- Is relatively small (600mm focal length)

- Has good reviews (optical quality)

- Is a refractor (no collimation)

- Hard case available (outer dimensions: 67 x 30 x 20 cm)

- Would fit within a max budget of £500, leaving enough £££ for a used EQ3 mount.

I understand that the 100ED and 120ED would be optically better, however the footprint is substantially bigger (the hard case outer dimensions are 96 x 29 x 21 cm).

In terms of mount, I am leaning towards a EQ3, which seems relatively light (7.5 kg) compared to a EQ5 (11.1 kg).

Do you think this package would be a good compromise between optical quality / portability / price ?

Are there any other models I should be considering within this price range ?

Many thanks,

Hugo.

ed80 great scopes but a eq3 isn't ideal for going abroad a decent monfotto with a geared head would be a better option if your looking for portability

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DirkSteele    1,279

If you are looking for ultimate portability, have you considered an Alt Az mount?  Something like the Tele Optic Giro Mini would be more than up to the job of an ED80 with minimal or no counterweights and weighs little more than 1kg.  Pair that with a decent photo tripod and you have a very portable visual use system.

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nmoushon    311

Ill echo everything said above. ED80 is a great choice. You could step up to a triplet but more money. I would not go with a EQ mount and would suggest an Alt-Az type mount. They tend to be much lighter and smaller as well. Some are a bit pricey but you can find some good deals to. You can even find some with goto if you have the extra cash, but downside is you need power for the goto and motors.

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pete_l    542

Well, you like your dob, so how about something like this:

td8_403.jpg

What is it, I hear you ask? Apparently it's an 8 inch dobsonian.

td8_001.jpg

If the website owner can make this, there's bound to be someone,

somewhere (like Explore Scientific) that is selling something similar.

Edited by pete_l
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ed80 great scopes but a eq3 isn't ideal for going abroad a decent monfotto with a geared head would be a better option if your looking for portability

Wow, this is brilliant...

I actually have a Manfrotto tripod with a geared head for my camera. I never realised I could also use it for a light telescope. Sir, I owe you a beer !

The APM Triplet sure looks nice, but 4x the price of the 80ED is also quite substential. I am sure it is worth every penny, but I understand that passed a certain price level, the cost per value increases dramatically. I am trying to find the optimal point between both.

Thanks for sharing the picture Pete. This Dobsonian sure looks original.

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Excellent quality  and very small 

Blimey, I've just seen some amazing pictures made with this tiny little scope, really impressive.

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D4N    823

I have a C50 mini mak that is incredibly portable. The EP is exchangeable and the scope has a T2 thread built in, this is good since the stock EP isn't great. I put it in checked baggage and not had a problem yet. It's also very cheap so if it does break I won't be too upset.

I use a manfrotto tripod with it.

Here's a solar shot I took with it to give an idea of what the view is like:

post-37404-140872342133_thumb.jpg

Obviously it's a huge step down from a big dob if your doing visual but it is a nice blend of portable and cheap ;)

TSED70Q, iOptron Smart EQ pro, ASI-120MM, Finepix S5 pro.

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ronin    3,793

I would check out the actual size of an ED 80 then check if it can 100% go as cabin baggage on all airlines.

What you do not want it for it to be assigned to the hold and risk possible damage in there.

Weight could also be an aspect concerning cabin baggage.

I am working on the basis that you want it to appear in an undamaged state at the other end both when going out of the UK and returning. And that is best if it is in the cabin. Do not assume that because you think it is cabin baggae size and weight that airport staff will also.

Edited by ronin

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pete_l    542

I would check out the actual size of an ED 80 then check if it can 100% go as cabin baggage on all airlines.

What you do not want it for it to be assigned to the hold and risk possible damage in there.

The Skywatcher ED80 flight case is 66cm long.

Ryanair's cabin luggage limit is 55cm x 40 x 20

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szymon    147

Well, you like your dob, so how about something like this:

td8_403.jpg

What is it, I hear you ask? Apparently it's an 8 inch dobsonian.

td8_001.jpg

If the website owner can make this, there's bound to be someone,

somewhere (like Explore Scientific) that is selling something similar.

Oh wow, that is awesome :-)

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Wow, this is brilliant...

I actually have a Manfrotto tripod with a geared head for my camera. I never realised I could also use it for a light telescope. Sir, I owe you a beer !

The APM Triplet sure looks nice, but 4x the price of the 80ED is also quite substential. I am sure it is worth every penny, but I understand that passed a certain price level, the cost per value increases dramatically. I am trying to find the optimal point between both.

Thanks for sharing the picture Pete. This Dobsonian sure looks original.

My triplet was not 4 times the price of an 80ED, as it is not the LZOS version.

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ollypenrice    18,798

Unless you want to image don't carry an equatorial! They are heavy, need counterweights ( :eek:  :eek: ) and are slow to set up. Fly with a simple manual Alt Az but not the camera tripod kind because they go out of balance as you approach the zenith.

Why this terror of the aircraft hold for scopes? I know the handlers are abusive to your stuff but I've flown about 60 times with my bicycle in the hold and they are vulnerable, bulky and hard to protect. A scope in its hard case, itself wrapped in the rest of your stuff in a large soft bag, is incredibly shock proof. How do all these scopes reach the UK suppliers from China and Japan?

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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I would check out the actual size of an ED 80 then check if it can 100% go as cabin baggage on all airlines.

What you do not want it for it to be assigned to the hold and risk possible damage in there.

Weight could also be an aspect concerning cabin baggage.

I am working on the basis that you want it to appear in an undamaged state at the other end both when going out of the UK and returning. And that is best if it is in the cabin. Do not assume that because you think it is cabin baggae size and weight that airport staff will also.

No offence, but I will never fly with slobs like Ryanair ever again. Been there, done that, and I now prefer to pay slightly more for the "privilege" of not being treated like stinky cattle.

I was aiming to purchase a refractor scope, and pack it in a proper flight case, so it could withstand being sent as a checked luggage, not taken as cabin luggage. Does that sound reasonable, or would you guys only take a scope in the cabin with you ?

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Why this terror of the aircraft hold for scopes? I know the handlers are abusive to your stuff but I've flown about 60 times with my bicycle in the hold and they are vulnerable, bulky and hard to protect. A scope in its hard case, itself wrapped in the rest of your stuff in a large soft bag, is incredibly shock proof. How do all these scopes reach the UK suppliers from China and Japan?

Olly

I sure like this post :D !

It would be interesting to find out if someone in this forum has experienced sending their beloved scope in the old conventional way.

Although taking it as cabin could be a possibility, I usually give priority to my camera bag + laptop.

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pete_l    542

I was aiming to purchase a refractor scope, and pack it in a proper flight case, so it could withstand being sent as a checked luggage,

All airlines have roughly the same size restrictions on hand luggage. Also, who you fly with is frequently defined by which carriers operate a route, rather than on who you'd prefer to use.

No matter which airline you travel with, all the ground operations are handled by the same people: airport staff.

Having seen what happens to checked luggage and seen it loaded, my suggestion for a conservative test would be that if you aren't prepared to drop your flight case from 10 feet onto concrete, then it isn't ready to go in the hold. A more rigourous test would be to drive over it. :shocked:

I would always prefer to keep my expensive, fragile optics firmly in my hand than to surrender them to the mercies of the luggage handlers.

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pete_l    542

Why this terror of the aircraft hold for scopes? ... . How do all these scopes reach the UK suppliers from China and Japan?

Because sometimes they arrive, like my Dob did earlier this year, like this:

dob10.jpg

If you look at the back of the tube, you can see the 12 inch mirror on its side.

Oddly, the shipping carton was intact.

Edited by pete_l

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A fair point Gentlemen.

It's always better to get such feedback via a forum, than experiencing it in the flesh.

The limit with BA for cabin luggage being 56cm, I guess I might try my luck with the 67cm flight case of the 80ED...

Unless someone owns the SW Equinox Pro 80, and is kind enough to let me know if it comes with a smaller flight case (since its focal length is only 500mm) ? Pleeease ? 

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Moonshane    10,782

if I were looking for a travel scope I would not be bothered about higher power moon/double/planetary views. I can get those easily at home. I'd be after low-medium power views (20-100x) of faint things and low things I cannot see at home. this allows for  quite a small scope and (shock horror) a small fast ED refractor is likely to be the best option. Maybe something like a 72mm William Optics Megrez (very compact) on a mini giro and photo tripod. Or even a 80mm Startravel Skywatcher if worried about theft/damage. These can double up as a white light solar scope and rich field scope at home.

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nightfisher    6,892

I toyed with getting an 80ED, so i got the Vixen VMC110, this is like the travel version of my TAL 100rs, being about 30cm long

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AndyWB    527

if I were looking for a travel scope I would not be bothered about higher power moon/double/planetary views. I can get those easily at home. I'd be after low-medium power views (20-100x) of faint things and low things I cannot see at home. this allows for  quite a small scope and (shock horror) a small fast ED refractor is likely to be the best option. Maybe something like a 72mm William Optics Megrez (very compact) on a mini giro and photo tripod. Or even a 80mm Startravel Skywatcher if worried about theft/damage. These can double up as a white light solar scope and rich field scope at home.

Hmm. Interestingly, I keep kicking around that sort of idea myself, though I find I keep looking at the Altair Astro Starwave 70 ED. I reckon they'd fit in the Large Impact Case from Maplin, along with a solar scope: http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/large-high-impact-case-with-pre-cut-foam-interior-n14gr - and that it would be small enough to be hand luggage for most airlines.

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D4N    823

Most consumer goods are delivered by ship, generally only urgent stuff and small packages go by air freight.

It works out at about £10 per kilo air freight to send consignments from China, it's around £0.1 per kilo if you fill a container up and send it by ship.

I have seen bags thrown out of a 747 onto the tarmac in Paris, your right that your flight case needs to be very sturdy to cope with that.

TSED70Q, iOptron Smart EQ pro, ASI-120MM, Finepix S5 pro.

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