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astronomer2002

What happens to all the old big amateur scopes?

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As I contemplate yet another "final" telescope purchase I have been surprised that so few bigger SCT's seem to be on the s/h market. A few years ago you would see a few Meade 16 inch ones around and a plethora of 14 inch ones. Given that the majority of the high cost equipment is sold to those whose mortgages and children have loosened their constraint on leisure spending I thought the supply would be getting greater as the owners inevitably age faster that their scopes.

I wonder how many Meade 16 inch SCT's are languishing unused in sheds or observatories?

I haven't seen any examples for years now and this is/was supposed to be Meade's flagship product. Even older 16's seem be as rare as hens teeth and there don't appear to ever have been any 14 or 16 F8 ACF's for sale s/h anywhere in Europe.

New prices for Meade F8's are just so high and a GSO RC 16 might be tempting but despite the tiny stars it isn't really a general purpose telescope and I have never seen any images taken through one in the UK or even seen a report about using one visually. 

In the same vein I have not heard any reports of UK based amateurs actually owning/using recent Meade 16 inch SCT's.

I am certainly not anti-Celestron but haven't seen any C14's for a while either and have never seen a C14 Edge for sale.   At F11 it isn't what I am looking for.

From talking to dealers and scouring astro sites for years it  seems that new sales of large amateur scopes have all but dried up and older ones have just disappeared.

There appears to be very little current usage of all the big SCT's that have been sold in the UK for nearly 30 years.  Has anyone here got an insight into where all these scopes have gone?

 

Ian B

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There is an astronomical society in Bedford which I believe has a 16" Meade.  The Abell observatory at the Open University also has one. Having seen the latter, I can see why there are not many of these in amateur hands. It's the kind of kit a University department would buy (and house).  The handbook says there is a tripod version (as opposed to pier/wedge mounted) but I imagine you'd need a team of porters to erect the scope.

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My astro society bought a used Meade LX600 12 inch ACF recently for a very good price compared with what they cost new - it was advertised on UK Astro Buy & Sell, but not for long !

 

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I have two 16" Meade SCT's , one 12" Meade SCT, two Celestron 8" SCT's and one 8" Meade SCT.   I like SCT's.   😀

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My local astro club has two of those 16" Meades languishing around, one in the big dome and one in a smaller dome. I've used both on rare occasions to view both nebulae and planets,  but considering their impressive stature, they are to me at least, seriously unimpressive as visual instruments. A good Newtonian or refractor would be a better visual choice IMO, at least from here in the UK. May be that's why you don't see many of them!?

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1 hour ago, mikeDnight said:

My local astro club has two of those 16" Meades languishing around, one in the big dome and one in a smaller dome. I've used both on rare occasions to view both nebulae and planets,  but considering their impressive stature, they are to me at least, seriously unimpressive as visual instruments. A good Newtonian or refractor would be a better visual choice IMO, at least from here in the UK. May be that's why you don't see many of them!?

My society already has an 18" NGT newtonian on a split-ring equatorial mount. It hardly gets used though because the eyepiece is too high for most folks and we don't like using ladders for outreach (which most of our observing is). The SCT design is compact (ie: a big one fits in our dome !) and the eyepiece is in a friendly place for most folks to get to.

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1 hour ago, mikeDnight said:

My local astro club has two of those 16" Meades languishing around, one in the big dome and one in a smaller dome. I've used both on rare occasions to view both nebulae and planets,  but considering their impressive stature, they are to me at least, seriously unimpressive as visual instruments. A good Newtonian or refractor would be a better visual choice IMO, at least from here in the UK. May be that's why you don't see many of them!?

Languishing???, they are our two most used telescopes!. It's the refractors that are gathering dust.   😀

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4 hours ago, astronomer2002 said:

I haven't seen any examples for years now and this is/was supposed to be Meade's flagship product. Even older 16's seem be as rare as hens teeth and there don't appear to ever have been any 14 or 16 F8 ACF's for sale s/h anywhere in Europe.
..
In the same vein I have not heard any reports of UK based amateurs actually owning/using recent Meade 16 inch SCT's.

Generally, people don't sell kit they are happy with. So the lack of a product on the s/h market is an indicator that either it has broken irreparably, or that the owner wants to keep it.
Of course there is the possibility that not many were sold in the first place, so there aren't many that could be sold s/h.

 

If I was spending £10k on a scope of that size, I would put a lot of time and effort into making sure it was what I wanted. While some may splash a few £k on an impulse buy and then get bored with it, at the higher end I reckon there is more consideration, so fewer become unwanted or are superceded by the next new toy.

Edited by pete_l

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2 hours ago, Peter Drew said:

Languishing???, they are our two most used telescopes!. It's the refractors that are gathering dust.   😀

OUCH!  Are you hiding the refractors again Peter?  :icon_biggrin:

 

 

 

 

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Not a very large one but I picked up a Meade 10” SCT that was being moved on by a local club. It’s an older one but still gives great viewing - in fact I was doing some lunar observing earlier and it didn’t disappoint at all. 

I guess that could be another reason they don’t come up - people see no reason to move them on. The truly big ones will be at least semi-permanently mounted and the smaller ones are nice robust scopes that give a lifetimes use. 

As a slight aside and in response to @mikeDnight, the big advantage I’ve found with the SCT is that you can use nice long final length eyepieces-even some meaty 2” ones- with really nice wide views but still be running reasonable magnification levels. You can stick them on a fairly modest mount without difficult too making them nice, high powered versatile things. 

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Thanks for all the replies - I can see there are at least 3 16 inch Meades out there, perhaps even being used.

I guess my point is that with the owners gathering years I would have thought that at least first generation of Meade 16 SCTs would be on the market regularly.

As you can see from my equipment list I do keep my scopes, and all the big ones are permanently mounted in domes. However, I am finding the open tubes of the RCX (yes, the tubes are effectively open) and GSO RC are making the mirrors deteriorate. I like the combination of F8 RCX (F6 with AP photo-visual reducer) for general viewing and some photography plus F11 C14 for planetary imaging as it covers most bases. I kept the F10 ACF as I am uncertain as to the longevity of the RCX.  Now having 3 14 inch telescopes is a bit greedy and I miss the extra light gathering of my old 16 inch classical cass.  The GSO 12 inch RC knocks the spots off all the other scopes in terms of star size, however, it isn't a visual instrument that can be used on planets and the central obstruction casts a large shadow that is hard to flatfield out. I bought it new and soon found out it was a mistake to think of it as a replacement for the RCX.

I have always balked at the Meade 16 new price and was warned off of the one that came up for sale about 10-15 years ago after which I went the 14 RCX route as a stop-gap.  RCX's are great but the electronics fail with time, the mirrors are open to the elements and have a metalic undercoat making re-aluminising impossible (in this country at least).

I like my big Newtonian, but it isn't convenient to use plus the mount isn't up to imaging with modern ccd's. At 3cwt the tube assembly needs a mount that costs as much as a house to make the most of it.

I can see TS have the 16 F8 at about £8,450 which if I was entirely convinced the Meade was going to be optically perfect I might go for, after selling a couple of other OTA's and pawning the wife's jewelry (she never wears it so I might get away with it). However, I prefer to buy SH where I can as there is usually the chance to look through what you are purchasing as well as forking out less money. By the 2/3 rule for s/h scopes I was hoping to get an OTA for under £6k, however 2 years of looking has turned up nothing. During the same period quite a few have disposed of scopes they can no longer use due to advancing years - but none of these have been 14-16 SCT's or 16 RC's. I recognise the clock is ticking for me too.

 

Ian B

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