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Not done a lot of viewing recently in this continuing poor weather, so I got to thinking how I feel about my 'scopes - usage, performance, preferences even.  Current thoughts:

8 Inch SCT on GoTo: Easy to use, good aperture, but (GoTo nothwithstanding) the narrow field can be claustrophobic.  Also, brighter stars lack sharpness - this can be a problem when trying to split certain doubles.  (Collimation checked - OK!)

ST120 Fast Frac: A nice low cost 'scope.  Manageable size, at the expense of magnification.  Some CA, but that doesn't bother me.  Good wide field.  The jerky focuser is its weakness - I've greased and adjusted it to minimise this effect, but it persists.  (Tried a Crayford, and it slipped a lot under load.)

10 Inch Dobsonian: Good value for the aperture, reasonable FOV, high mag.  Collimation is easy.  As for use - well, it is a bit bulky to set up, and nudging it for small movements and tracking can be tricky.  Star images good.  A fine all-rounder, although perhaps just a bit less easy to use than the others.

ED80 Apo Triplet: Very easy to use, with super-wide views.  Limited mag of course.  A big plus is the fact that it can also be used on the GoTo mount, where it almost reaches the zenith.  Stars really sharp.  Beautifully smooth DS focuser.  Because I really enjoy using this instrument, it is currently my 'scope of choice.  (It also serves as a guidescope for the SCT when they are both on the SkyTee II mount, with the very convenient slo-mo controls.)

Where next?  I feel the future is frac - an ED127 Apo would replace the ST120 and fill the gaps in the ED80's performance (mag, aperture).  Large FOV, quality views, manageability.  Waiting for the rain to stop can get expensive - better start saving!

Doug.

 

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Interesting thoughts Doug :icon_biggrin:

Lots of clouds and rain do tend to prompt this sort of review. That, and lots of equipment tinkering !

The only thought that I have to offer currently is that refractors seem to get quite a lot larger and harder to mount steadily when they exceed 120mm in aperture. 

 

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Doug an interesting thread. I have had too many scopes over the years and now I have just 3. The 12" Dob is large and heavy - I keep the base in the garden shed and the OTA in the utility room. Its an effort to set it up but the views are fantastic. The 6" Newt is a great grab and go and sits on an AZ5 mount. Finally the Heritage 130p - incredible little scope.

I keep thinking of a 4" APO and then perhaps a 5 or 6" Mak/Cass or maybe the 6" original Cassegrain. 

As you say Doug the weather has not helped our hobby plus Jupiter and Saturn being too low for a few years yet. So Doug perhaps you should sell some of your OTAs and get that 5" APO that you really want.

 

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1 hour ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

Doug an interesting thread. I have had too many scopes over the years and now I have just 3. The 12" Dob is large and heavy - I keep the base in the garden shed and the OTA in the utility room. Its an effort to set it up but the views are fantastic. The 6" Newt is a great grab and go and sits on an AZ5 mount. Finally the Heritage 130p - incredible little scope.

I keep thinking of a 4" APO and then perhaps a 5 or 6" Mak/Cass or maybe the 6" original Cassegrain. 

As you say Doug the weather has not helped our hobby plus Jupiter and Saturn being too low for a few years yet. So Doug perhaps you should sell some of your OTAs and get that 5" APO that you really want.

 

Mark - so far I've sold on a 130 Newt, a 70mm frac, and a 127 Mak.  I miss that Mak.  

And Yes - something else will have to go!

Doug.

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Doug, your original post nicely summed up the thought process I have been through in the past 2-3 years, in my case bought on by retirement/reduced income prospects, but also by what I might call "scope choice fatigue" - ie the continual debating with myself as to which scope to use on a given night.

I concluded that for me, a good 5"/127mm class apo would be as close to being my ideal all round scope as I could get, and so I now have just 2 scopes, a 128mm apo and an 80mm traditional long achromat, as I have always had a soft spot for that kind of scope. But 90% of my observing these days is with the 128mm, and I now spend far less time dithering with decisions!😀👍

I've also gone through the same process with eyepieces and now have just 5 "keepers", plus one good barlow, covering from c 3.5mm to 30mm focal lengths, and am pretty content with my gear now.

Just wish the weather was a bit more consistent!

Good luck with your own deliberations!

Dave

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Scope choice fatigue, what a great name, love it as it is so true.

As to scope churn to find an all rounder, good luck with that Doug, I like so many others have tried and still chasing the one allrounder. 

Apochromats do give a super view, but at a cost, even though reduced these days.

My favoured scope these days are Newtonian for value, ease of use so I can sit comfortably using them.

My less favoured scope is my wonderful Vixen ED103s, super sharp views and very crisp stars, but

not comfortable for my back or knees now, so used far less than I should.

So in conclusion, the scope you use most and most comfort is my driver.

Really not sure if that’s any answer to the original post though, but good luck Doug.

 

Edited by Alan White
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Nicely summed Doug. Tricky choice for a larger ‘frac as unless you get a solid goto mount that could handle it, you’d have to use it on the Skytee2 and loose any goto option on the 8SE mount. If you don’t mind just using it manually then I’d sell the ST120 and get something like a 120ED, or if budget allows a 150ED. The Skytee2 would cope with the weight of these OK. I always found that I got better double stars with my ‘fracs all round than with my old C8 SCT.

Currently got my scopes down to a Skywatcher 10 inch Newt, a Celestron 120mm Omni ‘frac, and an AA 80ED Starwave Ascent ‘frac. Using a Skytee2 again, but wanting a good sturdy goto mount that will hold the Omni well, and if doable also the 10 inck Newt too. 

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A lot of your thoughts are the same as I've been thinking.

I have a C8 but it's not as sharp as my maksutov or newtonian (it is however a lot of aperture in a small and light ota).

I'm not surprised about your 80mm being used a lot. I'm having a great time with my st80 at the moment as it's so easy to use.

I've been thinking for some time about a mid sized refractor and initially thought something like a 120mm f7 to f9 would be ideal, but I checked them out at the stoneleigh show last year and they are bigger and heavier than I had hoped and require a serious mount. The issue if they take much effort to set up  is that they would be competing with my vx14 and would likely not see so much use. So I have come around to the idea of a 100mm or so apo probably being more complementary in my case.

Edited by Paz
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Thanks for all the responses - very helpful as usual!  I had considered parting with the 8SE, but even though it's not as sharp as a Newt or frac, I do like the GoTo and tracking, and I can use the ED80 on that mount.  Thanks for the warnings re a 127 frac (John, Paz)- longer than the short focus ST120 - but as Gus says, the SkyTee II should handle it well, and the ED80 again could go on there for guiding.

What then about the ST120?  Well, it's very easy to use. especially on the AZ4 - useful for taking away from home.

So it's status quo for the present, with thoughts still on an ED127 - as Dave says, close to being a quality all-rounder.

Doug.

 

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The Skytee II should handle an ED127 triplet OK if it is on a sturdier tripod than the stock 1.75 inch one. A 2 inch steel tube legged tripod or even better a Berlebach Uni should be investigated.

Even then you would probably have some vibrations to deal with at higher powers I reckon.

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6 minutes ago, John said:

The Skytee II should handle an ED127 triplet OK if it is on a sturdier tripod than the stock 1.75 inch one. A 2 inch steel tube legged tripod or even better a Berlebach Uni should be investigated.

Even then you would probably have some vibrations to deal with at higher powers I reckon.

Thanks John.  The Skytee goes nicely on the AZ4's hefty tripod, so I'd try that first!

Doug.

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My thoughts were to keep my rich field Newtonian, then sell off all my other gear (WO FLT132, 98, TS70, Meade ACF SCT 6", C9.25) 

and put it towards a new quality refractor which will take me into retirement and beyond.

The refractors been great so far, but i still enjoy those low power rich field views with the 12".

 

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