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MysticReverie

Best scope for planet gazing?

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Hello
I don't mind if it has no 'go to' capabilities. 
Any ideas for a decent but no crazily expensive scope mainly for planet gazing?
I saw there are two main types of telescope. One kind can leave blue or green outlines around the planets, but can give very sharp start viewing. I guess I'm after the other type then.
Thanks

Edited by MysticReverie

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If you can afford the 150mm Mak i'll vouch for that as a planet killer, most would agree, that is the same for the 127mm of course. Always go for the larger if you can afford because i guarantee 

if you don't now, you will be wanting bigger soon after. Its a disease called aperture fever, we all have it here on SGL, there's no cure.

Edited by Sunshine
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3 hours ago, MysticReverie said:

I saw there are two main types of telescope. One kind can leave blue or green outlines around the planets, but can give very sharp start viewing. I guess I'm after the other type then

There are a few more types but just as a general, albeit, superficial gist:

Maks: They can take a while to cool down and attract dew, both of which will interfere with views. They have very long focal length which means they are easy on eyepieces (you don't have to buy expensive ones) but do give a narrower field of view when looking through an eyepiece. Within reason they do not need collimation, they give good contrast, have very good optics and a larger exit pupil for any given eyepiece (this makes high magnifications easier on the eye). For their size they are surprisingly heavy, they're good at splitting double stars, good on planets, but generally not recommended for open clusters, wide-field views, larger extended nebulae etc.

SCTs: to my eye this system is similar to Maks. Relative to other types it is also quite short for its aperture. They tend to be lighter and reach ambient temperatures quicker but will attract dew. They have slightly less focal length giving a slightly larger field of view for any given eyepiece, have a larger secondary mirror which relative to the Mak may affect contrast and sharpness on planets and probably due to its lesser focal length, the 'faster' SCT is better on DSOs etc. They probably require a little more attention to collimation but like the Mak probably need very little tweaking and unlike the Mak should be more user-collimateable-friendly.

Reflectors/Dobs: They need cooling for planetary viewing but cooling is a lot faster than it is for Maks. They need collimating but this is easy to do and they don't attract dew like a Mak or SCT. They have a shorter focal length meaning they are more demanding on eyepieces but give a wider field of view. Inch for inch, they a lot cheaper than Maks or SCTS and because you can afford more aperture for less, you're getting more resolution, brighter images, and the possibility of going deeper. An SCT and Reflector/Dob probably throw up similar visual images on planets, but a Mak will probably be a tad sharper and a tad more contrasty on a good evening of seeing. Weight wise they're similar to Maks but because the light travelling through the tube only bounces twice before it reaches your eye, reflectors are generally longer in physical size.

Achromatic Refractors: These are the quickest to cool. They don't require collimation but the shorter focal length types will require shorter focal length eyepieces to reach higher mags which give a smaller exit pupil and a dimmer image. Unless its got quite a long focal length, an achromatic refractor will have chromatic aberration around bright objects like Jupiter which tends to cripple a telescope at higher magnifications. They ought to give good contrast, be sharp on stars, excellent for wider field, and good on many deep space objects. However, because they use a lens instead of mirrors, relative to price per inch of aperture they won't go as deep, or perhaps show as much detail as an SCT or Reflector. 

Taking this all into account, my own personal preference would be this. It will offer rich field viewing, won't have unpleasing narrow-field views, is very good on general deep sky observing, it will train you in the relatively simple art of collimation, you can get good magnifications on objects (limited like all the other scopes on atmospheric conditions), it already comes mounted so you don't have to buy one, like a refractor it isn't susceptible to dew formation, so techniques such as dew shields and heater strips become unnecessary, but unlike a refractor won't have chromatic aberration, it won't take as long to cooldown and although perhaps not quite as sharp as the refractor or Mak, on most nights it should give nice contrasty views on planets. If this weren't enough inch for inch it's also the cheapest option 😀

Hope that helps and sorry for putting a potential spanner in the Mak option 😋

Edited by Rob Sellent
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Hi @MysticReverie and welcome to SGL. :hello2:

Another vote for either a Mak or SCT. Shown below are mine...

IMG_0050.thumb.JPG.c0872271f6c819c91bd27977562ef11f.JPG.9e41d09a94ee4ca64a0f44e8d95d505d.JPG

post-4682-0-08081900-1394160327_thumb.jpg

...left Celestron C6 (SCT) ...right 're-modded' Meade ETX105 (Mak).

As they are notorious dew-magnets, a dew shield is a must have accessory. You can either make one from an exercise/yoga mat or buy one ready made.

Edited by Philip R
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A 200mm Newtonian Reflector (like Robs' suggestion of the 200P) is indeed the nearest thing to an all-round scope.

So much better than the department store refractors and reflectors that cost almost as much.  I shudder to think how many budding enthusiasts are discouraged forever with their "900x magnification - see the surface of the moon" small aperture scopes on flimsy mounts.

The simple construction of an eight inch dob means that almost all the money goes into the mirror, hence the decent sized aperture and chroma free viewing.

I have a fascination for all things mechanical so I have amassed quite a collection of scopes, a 127 Skymax Mak, a 120 evostar f8 refractor, an 8 inch celestron SCT, a 190mm Skymax Mak, an 8 inch Skywatcher reflector, and a 12 inch flextube goto Dob, so I have no particular bias.

Each has its own forte, lightness, portability, brightness, magnification power etc.., but if I was forced, (at gunpoint 🤓), to drop down to just one scope, it would be the eight inch Dob. (and even then, I could keep an Equatorial mount and rings for using it for Astro Photography.)

It's light enough to move quickly around between my front and back gardens (one has a view to the Eastern horizon and the other to the Western horizon).

 

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I'm another 8 inch Dob fan- bought one 5 years ago, it completely sucked me into astronomy and I still use it very regularly, despite having bought a number of other scopes since.

The one thing I'd flag is that they're physically quite big- assembled it's about the size of a dining chair. But for the money for visual astronomy they're just about unbeatable.

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Thanks all so much for the suggestions and guides.
Very helpful. It might have to be the 8 inch dob then!
It seems like the sweet-spot for various reasons, including that it's powerful enough to not want to upgrade it right away!

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@MysticReverieis there any chance you could pop along to a local astronomy club and try out some of their scopes? It's not always feasible, but if the opportunity were there.....:thumbright:

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I would also suggest an 8” Dobsonian. 

They cool quickly are easy to set up and give great views of the planets, Moon and deepsky objects too.

They are also the best value for money telescope you can buy.

First Light Optics are a good supplier.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html

Also download Stellarium for your computer - a very good planetarium program - and it’s free

 

Edited by dweller25
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Thanks again for the help and suggestions and sorry for the late reply.
There probably are astronomy clubs in my area.. I know I'm pretty close to an observatory too.

I got the Skywatcher Dob 200p as recommended here.
I assembled it but due to the cloudy weather here have not been able to use it.

A few questions before I use it if I may:

1. The scope comes with two 'adapters' that I need to put ion the scope before I can attach the eyepiece. Should I use both the adapters? This will increase the focal length and therefore magnification?  Or better to just use one adapter then add the eyepiece? I definitely need to put one on, or the eyepiece wont fit.. I'm confused why there are two though.

2. It came with 25mm and 10mm eyepieces. Would you recommend a 5mm or barlow or something also? If so, which ones are a good choice?

3. Is it really that important to get the scope to ambient outside temperature before use? I'm using it in my bedroom with the window open.

4. Can you recommend a good collimating device!?

Thanks.

There isn't much light pollution where I'm staying.. I look forward to a clear night so I can get stuck in.

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1. The scope comes with two 'adapters' that I need to put ion the scope before I can attach the eyepiece. Should I use both the adapters? This will increase the focal length and therefore magnification?  Or better to just use one adapter then add the eyepiece? I definitely need to put one on, or the eyepiece wont fit.. I'm confused why there are two though.

One adapter allows 1.25 inch eyepieces to be fitted, the other 2 inch eyepieces. You should use only one at a time. If you use both adapters, eyepieces will not come to focus.

2. It came with 25mm and 10mm eyepieces. Would you recommend a 5mm or barlow or something also? If so, which ones are a good choice?

A 2x barlow lens is a good way to double up your eyepieces, the 25mm becoming 12.5mm in the barlow and the 10mm, a 5mm. The standard Skywatcher barlow (the deluxe achromatic one) is not bad quality for what it costs. A 6mm eyepiece is also a very useful focal length for the 200mm F/6 dobsonians - it gives 200x which is a bit more useful than the 240x that the barlowed 10mm eyepiece gives. 

3. Is it really that important to get the scope to ambient outside temperature before use? I'm using it in my bedroom with the window open.

Ideally it's best to use the scope outside and when it's cooled to outside temperature. Inside a house you will be viewing though heat thermals coming out of the window which can degrade the views at higher magnifications.

4. Can you recommend a good collimating device!?

I use a simple cheshire eyepiece like this one:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/other-collimation-tools/astro-essentials-cheshire-collimating-eyepiece.html

 

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Thanks again.

Sorry to keep asking, but I don't want to buy a dud:

1. Which 6mm eyepeice would you recommend !?  
2. Is it worth getting a 3mm with my 8' scope or is that overkill?
3. Since FLO and Rother Valley websites have different stock I will have  to split my orders?  Both websites have moon filters, but I don't know which one to go for.
https://www.rothervalleyoptics.co.uk/skywatcher-nd-moon-filter-125.html
https://www.firstlightoptics.com/moon-neutral-density-filters/astro-essentials-nd96-0-9-1-25-moon-filter.html 

They also both have different Barlows and Collimators, but not the ones recommended to me:
https://www.firstlightoptics.com/other-collimation-tools/astro-essentials-cheshire-collimating-eyepiece.html   only avalable at FLO.
https://www.rothervalleyoptics.co.uk/skywatcher-x2-deluxe-achromatic-barlow-lens-125.html  only available at Rother Valley.
They of course have variants available, but I don't know if they are as good... The FLO Barlow on offer does not mention that it's 'achromatic'  for example.


Then I think I'm all set.. just need to clouds to go away !

Edited by MysticReverie

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2 hours ago, MysticReverie said:

... 1. Which 6mm eyepeice would you recommend !?  ...

Anything that has T e l e V u e on it!

Seriously, what is your budget? 

I have the TeleVue 6mm Radian and 3-6mm Nagler Zoom, (images below). TeleVue stopped making the Radian's a few years back, but they do show up secondhand from time to time. The nearest equivalents to the Radian at the time of writing if you are addicted by the 'Green & Black pill' is the DeLite 7mm or 5mm. TeleVue do 6mm in other eyepiece designs too. 

1053872347_TeleVue6mmRadian.jpg.a49170d1239f0e68529f9b4a2002827a.jpg984830843_Nagler3-6ZOOM_1.jpg.ce7c1d3dcad2a2bbe19117c21851c528.jpg1796048829_Nagler3-6ZOOM_2.jpg.772d8701180b66081cb9bb5835768fa5.jpg

left... 6mm Radian.      centre... 3-6mm zoom @3mm.       right... 3-6mm zoom @6mm.

 

The AFOV for the e/p's mentioned is: Radian 60deg - Nagler zoom 50deg - DeLite 62deg.

Other brands and designs are also available.

Edited by Philip R
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Hi and you have Chosen a great all round scope.

Regarding accessories

1. 6mm eyepiece - If you can stretch to it, I recommend the vixen slv for lunar and planetary

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/vixen-eyepieces/vixen-slv-eyepieces.html

It will give you a magnification of 200x which is more than enough and may even be too much. A 3mm will probably be overkill at this stage. If you get a 2x Barlow, then you will be able to turn your 6mm into a 3mm on nights of exceptional seeing.

Regarding moon filters, there are many opinions about the value - or not- of an neutral density filter. I have one but never really use it. They are good to cut out light from a full moon but you’ll soon get to know that full moon observing with a scope doesn’t show lots of detail. I Would suggest try viewing without any filters and see how it goes.

Although there are many brands of collimators and Cheshire’s, a basic one will do the job pretty well (as per your link above) if you want something slightly “better” then this is the option 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/other-collimation-tools/premium-cheshire-collimating-eyepiece.html

either will do the job pretty well, the slightly more expensive one has some extra features that are nice butnot essential. 

Barlows again there is a wide range, like all thinks Astro, the law of dismissing returns applies meaning that you can pay a lot more for little improvements. 

You could get either of these depending on your budget

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/barlows/bst-starguider-2x-short-barlow-lens.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/barlows/astro-essentials-125-2x-barlow-with-t-thread.html

Hope that helps

Steve 

 

 

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If you are concentrating on solar system objects then I'd suggest that the scope is a secondary consideration. From my perspective, what transformed my planetary observing was a combination of a tracking mount and beginning to sketch.

Either an equatorial platform for a dob or a tracking AZ or eq mount would be a great investment. An eq5 with drives would be fine with eg a 120mm refractor or 150mm Mak. 

All that said, the planets are great but have seasons when they are in and not in accessible positions and it might be worth thinking more generally. In such a case then if funds are tight, you won't go wrong with a manual 8" dob but start saving or making an equatorial platform and it will enhance your observing experience no end.

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Difficult to answer that question, I have one of most types of scope and at all different price points, I would agree with Shane above, a tracking mount greatly enhances any scope, well for me at least. I find the 180mm Mak that I have is very good on planets and for the money great value, but I would also feel you would want to look at other things. A 8 inch SC from either Celestron or Meade also has many plus points and can be good on other object too, so too can the Mak though this has a long focal length normally. If money is no object my choice would be a 6 inch APO, about 1000mm F/L , good on planets and large enough for other useful work but over 4 grand without a mount.

Alan

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Thanks again all for being so helpful
It's not only been a buyers guide, it's also been a bit of a lesson!
I'll dig around the recommendations and make some choices :D 

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23 hours ago, MysticReverie said:

Is it really that important to get the scope to ambient outside temperature before use? I'm using it in my bedroom with the window open

First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on your new telescope :thumbright:. The 8" Dob should last you many many years, if not a lifetime.

Now, I appreciate that nights can get cold ⛄ and on those occassions there's no harm done viewing from open windows but whenever possible try to avoid this option. As @John has already explained, looking from inside the house through open windows causes drafts 💨 and general air disturbance 🌪️ which will seriously compromise seeing. You may think, 'well, I'll just close the window.' And although a reasonable conclusion, again, it's not really going to help. The window's optical quality cannot match those of your mirror or eyepieces, so you're degrading the image once again.

10 hours ago, MysticReverie said:

Which 6mm eyepeice would you recommend !?

I'm going to put on my lectuer's cap on for a moment :evil5:. If possible take your time. Try to appraise your gear first and then you'll have a better idea of where you want to go and how you want to get there. I feel you ought not to upgrade or buy anything until you know you are missing something that is essential to your astro-sessions. If you've hardly used your scope, it's going to be tricky to make a sensible and informed decision.

For general observing, that is pretty much everything but planets, moon and double stars - I tend to just stick to 3 quality eyepieces and from time to time a decent x2 Barlow. There are as many tastes and budgets as there are colours, so it's tricky to say, x, y and z are the eyepieces you need, but for me, with something like an 8" f6, I'd like to work with a low power wide field between 20mm to 24mm (depending how dark my skies are), a middle power wide field around 13mm to 14mm and a tad higher power wide field around 10mm. That way - including the Barlow - I've got about 50x, 90x, 120x, 180x and 240x.

The lower focal length eyepiece is nice for general hunting and framing largish objects :bino2:, the middle grounds for globs, galaxies, nebulae 🤩, the higher powers for Saturn, Jupiter and Lunar work and the 240x for those exceptional nights with the planets, Moon or tighter double stars. If you got yourself a Baader solar filter from FLO, your 50x would also double up nicely for white light solar observations.

As it stands, then, I wouldn't recommend 6mm for your scope 😕. Maybe when you've got to know your kit and skies a tad better, you may feel the need for a dedicated high power but understand that 200x will probably be your maximum mean power during a given year, is not particularly suited for things like galaxies or nebulae or open clusters and seeing conditions will not always allow such magnification.

11 hours ago, MysticReverie said:

Both websites have moon filters, but I don't know which one to go for

It's a bit of dilemma to advise what's best because some prefer no filter, some prefer an ND filter, some prefer a variable polarising filter, some prefer Moon & Sky Glow filter, some prefer using colour filters, some prefer a neodymium filter, and so on. However, there is some good news 🤗.

I find the intensity of light isn't so much based on the scope itself, but rather what phase the Moon is in. So, again, lecturer's cap on, before going any further, it might be a good idea to observe the crescent Moon 🌜and see how you get along. If you still don't like the light's intensity, you'll probably need to experiment a little. Borrowing filters from an astro-mate is a possibility not many of us can enjoy, so failing that purchasing and trying out the filters is realistically the only way you will be able to find out what works best for your eyes.

Personally, I wouldn't bother with a Moon filter but if you did find the need, try to double its work 😅. For example, purchase a polarising filter for the Moon and Sun (with the solar filter, of course!), or purchase the neodymium filter with an eye also on Jupiter and Mars as well as the Moon, and so on.

11 hours ago, MysticReverie said:

They also both have different Barlows

I find that in general in this hobby you get what you pay for 🤑. Like eyepieces, like scopes and mounts, some Barlows are considered to be better than others. Needless to say, my general percept when it comes to buying stuff is to buy once and make it count. Although initially expensive, premium eyepieces or Barlows will turn out to be the cheaper option in the long run and are never going to be a waste of money. When buying premium you only cry once 😫. Or again, paradoxically speaking, "a poor person cannot afford not to buy premium."

Generally speaking, premium eyepieces/Barlows - unlike scopes - become lifers, you never have to upgrade again or you can always re-sell them without losing much money, especially if you have bought them already secondhand. Premium Barlows or eyepieces hold their value more than cheaper ones. They also offer an important psychological benefit. After a session, you are not left with any nagging feeling of 'what if...', for you know that this end of your optical system is about as good as it is going to get. If the view was poor, if you didn't get the expected detail, it will not be due to the eyepiece or Barlow in itself.

This ties in with what was said at the beginning. All you really need for your 8" are 3 decent eyepieces and a decent Barlow. And there is no hurry in accumulating them. If you start out buying cheap, you'll either lose a significant percentage of money when trying to resell, or you'll end up upgrading and again lose money, for in this case, not only are you buying the upgraded eyepiece, but you've already spent a load of money on the cheaper eyepiece.

Again, this ties in with what has already been mentioned. Get to know your kit. Get to know what you are missing that is becoming essential to your astro-sessions. Then you can set up threads here on SGL and get some tip-top advice 🤪.

11 hours ago, MysticReverie said:

They also both have different Collimators

This is the type of collimator I used for more than a decade before getting into Howie Glatter's dream collimator for a faster dob. The former is a good tool and as @Trikeflyerhas already stated, will do its job just fine. 

12 hours ago, MysticReverie said:

just need to clouds to go away

I'm not sure of the exact science involved but it seems that most astronomy gear, especially when it's new, emit Moiston molecules. Moistons group together to form huge clouds. The full Moon is capable of absorbing Moistons and thus giving us relatively clear nights on full Moon nights but reemits them as it ebbs towards becoming new again 🌚. Moistons also collect inside unopened telescope boxes and are released into the atmosphere whenever a newly purchased telescope (secondhand or not) is opened. This is the reason why companies such as FLO supply their telescopes with the warning, 'may contain clouds'. Here are a couple of pics which better describe the situation:

361291878_Moonabsorbingmoistons.jpg.6370ae6e6940a64499fbdfc7fee5ef06.jpg277189302_moistonsoffatelescope.jpg.2f78d382e05eb4b86e79d9fb9c0313e3.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Ha! Yes!
I've only just been able to have some clear sky this evening. The Crescent moon looked great through the x2 Barlow! Huge actually.

I did have a slightly smaller diameter scope a few years back (the type that sits on an EQ mount) so knew what to expect but it was great to see it again up close.
I can locate Planets easily thanks to Stellarium, but as yet I've not been able to get a clear image of Jupiter, with or without the Barlow.
My with my old scope I could see some detail of Jupiter, even with the scope indoors and looking out the window.  So far though I can only see a bright blob and some specks of light where Jupiters moons are. Very cool, but hopefully I will be able to get a clearer image. 
Maybe It's not totally clear this evening.. or maybe It's a collimation thing... or maybe the new scope is more affected by indoor thermals or something.

Thanks again all for the replies !

P.S.  I think it's not totally clear tonight, I'm sure that is probably having a big effect on the distant planets.
The sky looks clear, but I sometimes can see many more stars with my naked eye than I can this evening.
I live in an area with pretty low light pollution.

I'll wait for the last of the moistons to clear up then put the scope through it's paces more thoroughly  !

Edited by MysticReverie

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There r many scopes that can give u good planetary views. However if u want the best then it's an apo. But these can be expensive. 

An acro like 4"f10 is decent will give good views or 5inch f/8 or 9. Remember size is also important. Larger than a 5" they become heavy and large. Altho right now I have the 150mm skywatcher f/8 evo apo which I just replaced it with the Meade 152f9 apo(0lder scope)

I also have meade 6000 130mm triplet apo and a tak TSA 120 and a tak 102 TSA which are considered to be best in the world optics.

So best views are these however I got good views from these too

7 inch f15 mak just about almost as good as a 6 apo, slot cheaper but mak took 2 to 3 hrs to cool even with fans.

A 6 inch mak would be good too but again long cool down.

A reflector like people r saying could be good but your collamation has to be good. And at highter power with no slow motion controls, no drive will be bit hard on high power views. The object will leave the ep view after 20 secs. Do u want to keep hand moving it?

A eq version can work too but after 8 inch its becomes big and bulky.

Scts are very popular and sizes are very portable and views are good.

But best views would be a 4 to 5 inch apo. 5 if u could afford it. It can be a doublet doesnt have to be a triplet.

Joejaguar 

 

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1 hour ago, joe aguiar said:

There r many scopes that can give u good planetary views. However if u want the best then it's an apo. But these can be expensive. 

An acro like 4"f10 is decent will give good views or 5inch f/8 or 9. Remember size is also important. Larger than a 5" they become heavy and large. Altho right now I have the 150mm skywatcher f/8 evo apo which I just replaced it with the Meade 152f9 apo(0lder scope)

I also have meade 6000 130mm triplet apo and a tak TSA 120 and a tak 102 TSA which are considered to be best in the world optics.

So best views are these however I got good views from these too

7 inch f15 mak just about almost as good as a 6 apo, slot cheaper but mak took 2 to 3 hrs to cool even with fans.

A 6 inch mak would be good too but again long cool down.

A reflector like people r saying could be good but your collamation has to be good. And at highter power with no slow motion controls, no drive will be bit hard on high power views. The object will leave the ep view after 20 secs. Do u want to keep hand moving it?

A eq version can work too but after 8 inch its becomes big and bulky.

Scts are very popular and sizes are very portable and views are good.

But best views would be a 4 to 5 inch apo. 5 if u could afford it. It can be a doublet doesnt have to be a triplet.

Joejaguar 

 

Thanks for the info :)

I don't mind moving the scope too much. I have the viewfinder dialed in so its not to hard locating things again if they go out of view.
I'm pretty confident the scope I have is capable of much clearer planetary views than I've had so far. I've seen many youtube videos of Jupiter etc. The details were pretty good. I'm just unsure which factor is stopping me from getting similar results, but as I say, maybe the sky just needs to be clearer is all.

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If you are observing from the UK the factor that limits the results when observing Jupiter at present is it's altitude in the sky - it's very low and observing obliquely through the atmosphere takes it's toll on sharpness and contrast.

This opposition I've consistently found that my refractors (100mm - 130mm aperture) give better images of Jupiter than my 12 inch dobsonian. When Jupiter has been higher in the sky the 12 inch dob has delivered superb images of it.

 

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