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Grab and go, airline friendly second telescope


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Hi everyone. I hope your having better skies than me here :(

I have been considering getting a second telescope, with an emphasis on portability and ease of travel. Despite the current circumstances, I do find myself going around a bit, and I will make a point of getting my butt to at least 2000 m ASL as soon as that doesn’t land me in quarantine here in Germany (ergo, probably not that soon).

Anyway, 6 months ago I became the rather happy and satisfied owner of an 8” Dob, which has been a lot of fun to play with. However, portability is not exactly its strong suit, and I’m looking at something that:

a) I can take with me when flying 

b) I can take with me on the sidecar when the wife and I manage to escape from family life again, or in whatever room is left on a car when dragging a family with 3 kids around. 

My criteria are actually rather simple. It has to pack into as little volume as possible, allow me to mount it on a tripod or at best something like an AZ-GTi, and preferably no observable chromatic aberration on visual observation. I am ok-ish with waiting to buy something more expensive, with a somewhat limited aperture, and to fiddle a bit with it if needed. I like to do a bit of everything with the telescope, but I am also aware of the limitations these criteria impose. That being said, while the criteria are “simple”, the answers are all somewhat unsatisfying. 

I’ve considered getting a small, high quality refractor such as a Televue or Takahashi 60 mm (basically marrying that thing, because at those prices, buyer’s remorse is not an option), a small Maksutov (but then I compromise on DSOs), a SCT such as a C5 (also a compromise), or even strip a Heritage 130p of its mount and carry the damn thing with me.

I live under Bortle 4 skies, and have the possibility of getting away to dark sites relatively often (epidemics allowing), but most of the time I have to pack lightly.

Do any of you more experienced ladies and gentlemen have any recommendations or insights on something that I may have missed?

- Tiago

 

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Takahashi FC 76 DCU

Designed to be airline portable, light enough for simple light mounting and optically impeccable. I have a thread on it on here somewhere. I took it with me to India for the first 3 months of this year.

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8 minutes ago, JeremyS said:

Takahashi FC 76 DCU

Designed to be airline portable, light enough for simple light mounting and optically impeccable. I have a thread on it on here somewhere. I took it with me to India for the first 3 months of this year.

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks, I had not seen that one. It looks rather interesting, if somewhat conducent to a lower bank account balance.  🤔

Quick question, do you use the 6x30 finder scope?

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Tiago said:

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks, I had not seen that one. It looks rather interesting, if somewhat conducent to a lower bank account balance.  🤔

Quick question, do you use the 6x30 finder scope?

 

 

 

Yes I use the Tak 6 x 30 which is a gem in its own right. I’ve also used a red dot finder but never really got on with those 

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For sheer flexibility and ruggedness I don’t think you can beat a small apo refractor. Jeremy’s suggestion is wonderful if budget is no issue; I had a Tak FC76DC for a while and optically they are superb, really lovely scopes.

Another option might be something like the TS72mm or similar available from different brands. These are FPL-53 glass and although not in Tak Fluorite territory still excellent scopes.

The beauty of these scopes is, as I said at the beginning, their flexibility. They can provide widefield views from a dark site beautifully; showing objects like the Veil and North America Nebula with an OIII filter. They will also do surprisingly well on planets and double stars, nice crisp images and lovely star shapes. As an added bonus you can stick a Herschel wedge in for solar viewing or a 45 degree erecting prism to turn it into a very capable spotting scope.

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Bought my little Tak FS-60C/Q second hand a while back for airline travel and trips away. All I can say it’s a little beauty and for a scope with only 60mm aperture it punches way above its weight. I had it out last week and it was showing some outstanding detail on Mars & Jupiter. I bought mine on the back of Mathew @DirkSteele brilliant reviews on the FS-60 range and mighty glad I did!

957DCBE2-103A-40F5-8471-EFE441A2ACE0.jpeg

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34 minutes ago, Stu said:

For sheer flexibility and ruggedness I don’t think you can beat a small apo refractor. Jeremy’s suggestion is wonderful if budget is no issue; I had a Tak FC76DC for a while and optically they are superb, really lovely scopes.

Another option might be something like the TS72mm or similar available from different brands. These are FPL-53 glass and although not in Tak Fluorite territory still excellent scopes.

Well, budget is always an issue, but I’m far more inclined to spend more if it is a worthwhile, long-term purchase rather than a “consumer product” kind of thing. 

18 minutes ago, jock1958 said:

Bought my little Tak FS-60C/Q second hand a while back for airline travel and trips away. All I can say it’s a little beauty and for a scope with only 60mm aperture it punches way above its weight. I had it out last week and it was showing some outstanding detail on Mars & Jupiter. I bought mine on the back of Mathew @DirkSteele brilliant reviews on the FS-60 range and mighty glad I did!

Good to know, that one has always been appealing to me - although that 76 mm is really neat too, if significantly dearer to one’s pocket. If I understood that correctly there’s also an extender for old-school long f-ratios. 

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2 minutes ago, Tiago said:

Well, budget is always an issue, but I’m far more inclined to spend more if it is a worthwhile, long-term purchase rather than a “consumer product” kind of thing. 

Good to know, that one has always been appealing to me - although that 76 mm is really neat too, if significantly dearer to one’s pocket. If I understood that correctly there’s also an extender for old-school long f-ratios. 

Yes there are two types of extender for the FC 76 DCU. A 1.7 x CQ unit that extends the OTA; same unit that extends the FC 60 into a FC 60 Q ( a lovely scope as @jock1958 says - I have one too). Then there’s a Tak Extender Q 1.6 that fits between the OTA and the eyepiece. Both Tak systems are very flexible

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I was in somewhat the same situation as you for a little more than a year ago. I have a 10" dob and a pair of Helios Apollo 15X70 binoculars, that I've brought to Mallorca on holiday. This was great, and the lagoon, frigid and etc looked great with my OIII and UHC filter, I did, however, want some more flexibility with regards to magnification and decent performance on the planets. I highly considered taking the leap for a tak-60 or even the 76DCU, but ended with a much cheaper option, the Skywatcher Evostar 72ED DS-Pro. I use it one my Manfrotto tripod and alt/az mount head without much trouble even at 100X.

IMG_20200508_211850.thumb.jpg.8e1a184f56aa720e323dbf6c714adb9f.jpg

The view through it is far from bad, resolving detail on the Martian disk in May this year at a diameter of just under 9 arc seconds and the Cassini division in Saturns rings. I sadly don't have a 2" diagonal yet for my 24mm, 82 degree eyepiece, but I could imagine it could provide outstanding views of the NAN, Veil, Andromeda and etc. What I also really like is the focuser, which is surprisingly sturdy in my opinion. Chromatic aberration is little to none at high power on the planets, but a slight yellow hue is noticeable on the lunar limb. In my opinion this is not a problem at all, nor does it draw my attention from the target itself.

782977464_Moonwithskywatcherevostar72.thumb.jpg.b55faf9ba7a0df4ddfa8601daaad3a7c.jpg

I know you haven't mentioned imaging, but the Evostar 72ED is a very capable imaging scope with an OVL field flattener and a decent mount. I've used it to take some pictures with my star adventure mount on my Manfrotto tripod and DSLR.

467325021_PleiadeswithdustJPG.thumb.jpg.00d6056fe6c47f5268267514e64c1269.jpg

Good luck with your choice! I love my small refractor for it's portability;)

Edited by Victor Boesen
Wrong M45 image;)
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19 minutes ago, Victor Boesen said:

I was in somewhat the same situation as you for a little more than a year ago. I have a 10" dob and a pair of Helios Apollo 15X70 binoculars, that I've brought to Mallorca on holiday. This was great, and the lagoon, frigid and etc looked great with my OIII and UHC filter, I did, however, want some more flexibility with regards to magnification and decent performance on the planets. I highly considered taking the leap for a tak-60 or even the 76DCU, but ended with a much cheaper option, the Skywatcher Evostar 72ED DS-Pro. I use it one my Manfrotto tripod and alt/az mount head without much trouble even at 100X.

 

The view through it is far from bad, resolving detail on the Martian disk in May this year at a diameter of just under 9 arc seconds and the Cassini division in Saturns rings. I sadly don't have a 2" diagonal yet for my 24mm, 82 degree eyepiece, but I could imagine it could provide outstanding views of the NAN, Veil, Andromeda and etc. What I also really like is the focuser, which is surprisingly sturdy in my opinion. Chromatic aberration is little to none at high power on the planets, but a slight yellow hue is noticeable on the lunar limb. In my opinion this is not a problem at all, nor does it draw my attention from the target itself.

 

I know you haven't mentioned imaging, but the Evostar 72ED is a very capable imaging scope with an OVL field flattener and a decent mount. I've used it to take some pictures with my star adventure mount on my Manfrotto tripod and DSLR.

 

Good luck with your choice! I love my small refractor for it's portability;)

 

 

Hi Victor

 

Thanks for your input. I actually considered that telescope (and the TS 70mm) when I bought my Dob. While I certainly don't regret getting the light bucket, there's a certain allure in small refractors. How small does it pack?

As for imaging, I satisfied that bug with a Minitrak 3 and my camera. I cannot possibly be bothered to be outside with a laptop, heavy duty mount and fancy stuff - the 8" is at the limit of what I personally consider to be practical, and serious imaging is a deep, twisty rabbit hole I'd rather avoid. I do rather well with that minimalist setup - Minitrak, old Pentax K1, cheap achromat prime lens (135 mm). It's stupid easy to set up and I can even shoot galaxies with it :)

 

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19 minutes ago, Tiago said:

How small does it pack?

As you may know then, there's an aluminum carrying case included with the telescope, which fits a couple of eyepieces, my 1.25" diagonal and filters. I don't remember the size of the case, but I know for sure it meets the requirements as carry on luggage, but I'd happily measure it when I get home(an hour or so). The dew-shield can be removed which makes the OTA really short(will measure at home), and the telescope is very light at just over 2kg without accessories.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just to bring a (temporary) conclusion to this thread. Looking through local classifieds, I managed to get an ST-80 plus associated eyepieces, RDF and diagonal for 90 European Union credits. Considering I have guitar pedals way more expensive than that, I’m pretty happy, and I’m seeing that thing finding its way to the pelican case on my motorbike. 
Still saving for something fancy, though :)

Had a brief first light when the clouds opened. Crappy afocal photo with a crappy old phone, but it is nice to have a refractor again. 

049E3B56-3777-4634-8B34-81EA8326377A.jpeg

DDC396B4-6320-45F6-9390-564BCCA9D7C2.jpeg

Edited by Tiago
Typos
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