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Why do really expensive scopes sell and what attracts us to them ?


John
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6 hours ago, F15Rules said:

What a fascinating thread John👍..

Just to offer a very personal perspective? I think that the time of life plays an important role in informing our scope purchase decisions.

For example, many of us got into the hobby as teenagers, back in the 1960s and 70s..in those days, the 60mm long focus achromats were almost always the starting point for scope ownership, as they were relatively affordable, but never what I'd call really cheap for working class families..

My first proper scope, a Prinz 550 60mm F15 refractor from Dixon's Photographic store in Coventry, cost £39.95 in c 1972. At the time that was about a weeks wages for my dad, and my parents bought it for me for Christmas on the basis that they paid £20, and I would pay the balance on credit over 9months from my Saturday job pumping petrol.

I was so chuffed with that scope..it was a decent Circle T lens, and came with eq mount, finder, wooden tripod and several 0.965" eyepieces. It showed me so much, and my first view of Saturn and it's rings is etched forever in my memory.

At that time, I'd never heard of an "apochromatic" scope at all, or "chromatic aberration"..indeed, my then astro books such as the Observer's Book of Astronomy taught me, in the late, great Sir Patrick Moores' own words, that Vega "is a beautiful bluish white star" in Lyra..I had no inkling that my scope (and most other refractors of the time) were actually adding the bluish tinge to the image! Even my then "dream scope", a Vixen SP102m 4" F10 refractor was an achromat, and in the 80s it would have cost around £750 for a complete setup including Super Polaris or Great Polaris mount - simply out of the question for youngsters like me...we could drool over the adverts though!😂

Anyway, I had the scope for about 3 years, and sold it as I began to get interested in rock music (and girls😁), and started to learn to play guitar, and joined a band..after that, I got married, into buying a house, better job etc etc, and didn't really come back to the hobby seriously until my 40s, by which time, although I was earning reasonable wages, I had 3 children under 12, and so not a lot of spare cash for scopes.

When I finally did get into a position to buy another scope, I went for another achromat, as that was what I knew, but over time as I read more magazines and later the early internet, I discovered ED "semi apos" and full apos, which were at mind boggling costs (I recall the Vixen Atlux 6" ED refractor was around £4000-5000 all in, and bigger Televue scopes were if anything even dearer).

It was when Celestron and Synta began to offer their ED100 4" F9 scopes at far more affordable prices that I began to really take notice, and over the early 2000s onwards I owned several of these great scopes..the build quality was not in the same league as the Vixen SP102 etc...but the ED glass was excellent, and you could now get a relatively short F9 4" visually virtually colour free scope at a far lower price than ever before.

As my family circumstances and finances improved, I was able to aspire to scopes like the wonderful Vixen ED and FL ranges (always bought used), and I also began to crave a bit more aperture..

I had a very nice Meade AR 127 F9 achromat, which was excellent for the cost, and I came to feel that a 5" refractor, for me, would be all I could ever want. But the introduction to ED glass also made me want colour free 5" viewing.

I did buy a wonderful 5" D&G F15 refractor, which I significantly upgraded, and it was the first scope I ever spent over £1000 on, including all the mods (done superbly by Mark Turner at Moonraker). This scope, now quite familiar to some members here on SGL, "Andromeda" was and is a superb performer, very nearly visually colour free, at F15 (1905mm!!), and could have been my lifetime scope.

Sadly, however, I had to let her go due to the physical difficulty of mounting her properly (almost 2m long), and the fact that I was diagnosed with 2 hernias (not the scope's fault!). 

So Andromeda found a great new home with Steve (@saganite) here on SGL, and I began to look for a more manageable high quality 5" refractor (once you've looked through a good 5", it is HARD to go back to a 4"!😊).

And so it was that, having read everything I could about Takahashi's legendary FS Fluorite range, I decided to set my sights on one. After quite some time (there aren't that many in the UK so far as I know,), a beautiful, mint example became available in summer 2016, complete with Takahashi EM2s mount and tripod and accessories. 

I never dreamed I could buy this wonderful set up, but thanks to the owner's willingness to hold the scope for me for as long as I needed to raise the funds, my dream scope become mine in April 2017. It took me a full 9 months to raise the funds, and involved selling most of my other astro equipment, but I have never once regretted the purchase, and, sad old git that I am, I too still pop into the storage room where "Trinity" lives (yes, I named her too!🤣) to have a quick peek and a touch..

Thanks for staying with me..my real point is, that 30-40 years ago, the pinnacle of my astro dreams was a Vixen 4" F10 achromat..scopes like the FS 128 either didn't exist in my universe, or if they did, were only found in observatories belonging to super rich people or organisations.

Since that time, financial means and availability of superbly performing scopes has pushed our aspirations upwards: I have friends who, having owned a 125cc motorbike in the 70s/80s, have now, in their 50s and 60s, returned to biking, spending £15k-£20k on a brand new Ducati, Triumph, etc - simply because they now have the means to..and besides they are now within their financial reach - families grown up, mortgages paid off, perhaps a legacy received (I wish!!) etc..

People will always aspire to the best they can afford if their means allow it.

I feel so blessed to now own my dream scope. If I never own another scope but this one, I will be quite content..it took almost 50 years from my first scope, but was so worth the wait!🤗😊

Dave

FS128onTakFC-Ltripod2.jpg.682fb26e93980c7401c2373e97f732a1.jpg

Great read Dave. It seems to be a very common pattern for people to have been huge astronomy fans in their teens, let the hobby slide for twenty to thirty years and then rediscover their passion in their forties and fifties. I’ve yet to reach the stage of owning my dream Tak, but I can feel it coming!! 🙂

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20 minutes ago, RobertI said:

.... I’ve yet to reach the stage of owning my dream Tak, but I can feel it coming!! 🙂

It would be very interesting to compare, in detail, a refractor such as your Altair Starwave 102ED-R and something like a Tak FC100-DF.

The 102ED-R, rather like the FLO's Starfield ED102, seem to be really nicely made, very well featured, and excellent performers from what I've read of them. Just what does the FC100-DF provide for the additional £1,500, apart from the famous marque ?

Maybe there is a comparison report somewhere ?

 

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16 hours ago, F15Rules said:

What a fascinating thread John👍..

Just to offer a very personal perspective? I think that the time of life plays an important role in informing our scope purchase decisions.

For example, many of us got into the hobby as teenagers, back in the 1960s and 70s..in those days, the 60mm long focus achromats were almost always the starting point for scope ownership, as they were relatively affordable, but never what I'd call really cheap for working class families..

My first proper scope, a Prinz 550 60mm F15 refractor from Dixon's Photographic store in Coventry, cost £39.95 in c 1972. At the time that was about a weeks wages for my dad, and my parents bought it for me for Christmas on the basis that they paid £20, and I would pay the balance on credit over 9months from my Saturday job pumping petrol.

I was so chuffed with that scope..it was a decent Circle T lens, and came with eq mount, finder, wooden tripod and several 0.965" eyepieces. It showed me so much, and my first view of Saturn and it's rings is etched forever in my memory.

At that time, I'd never heard of an "apochromatic" scope at all, or "chromatic aberration"..indeed, my then astro books such as the Observer's Book of Astronomy taught me, in the late, great Sir Patrick Moores' own words, that Vega "is a beautiful bluish white star" in Lyra..I had no inkling that my scope (and most other refractors of the time) were actually adding the bluish tinge to the image! Even my then "dream scope", a Vixen SP102m 4" F10 refractor was an achromat, and in the 80s it would have cost around £750 for a complete setup including Super Polaris or Great Polaris mount - simply out of the question for youngsters like me...we could drool over the adverts though!😂

Anyway, I had the scope for about 3 years, and sold it as I began to get interested in rock music (and girls😁), and started to learn to play guitar, and joined a band..after that, I got married, into buying a house, better job etc etc, and didn't really come back to the hobby seriously until my 40s, by which time, although I was earning reasonable wages, I had 3 children under 12, and so not a lot of spare cash for scopes.

When I finally did get into a position to buy another scope, I went for another achromat, as that was what I knew, but over time as I read more magazines and later the early internet, I discovered ED "semi apos" and full apos, which were at mind boggling costs (I recall the Vixen Atlux 6" ED refractor was around £4000-5000 all in, and bigger Televue scopes were if anything even dearer).

It was when Celestron and Synta began to offer their ED100 4" F9 scopes at far more affordable prices that I began to really take notice, and over the early 2000s onwards I owned several of these great scopes..the build quality was not in the same league as the Vixen SP102 etc...but the ED glass was excellent, and you could now get a relatively short F9 4" visually virtually colour free scope at a far lower price than ever before.

As my family circumstances and finances improved, I was able to aspire to scopes like the wonderful Vixen ED and FL ranges (always bought used), and I also began to crave a bit more aperture..

I had a very nice Meade AR 127 F9 achromat, which was excellent for the cost, and I came to feel that a 5" refractor, for me, would be all I could ever want. But the introduction to ED glass also made me want colour free 5" viewing.

I did buy a wonderful 5" D&G F15 refractor, which I significantly upgraded, and it was the first scope I ever spent over £1000 on, including all the mods (done superbly by Mark Turner at Moonraker). This scope, now quite familiar to some members here on SGL, "Andromeda" was and is a superb performer, very nearly visually colour free, at F15 (1905mm!!), and could have been my lifetime scope.

Sadly, however, I had to let her go due to the physical difficulty of mounting her properly (almost 2m long), and the fact that I was diagnosed with 2 hernias (not the scope's fault!). 

So Andromeda found a great new home with Steve (@saganite) here on SGL, and I began to look for a more manageable high quality 5" refractor (once you've looked through a good 5", it is HARD to go back to a 4"!😊).

And so it was that, having read everything I could about Takahashi's legendary FS Fluorite range, I decided to set my sights on one. After quite some time (there aren't that many in the UK so far as I know,), a beautiful, mint example became available in summer 2016, complete with Takahashi EM2s mount and tripod and accessories. 

I never dreamed I could buy this wonderful set up, but thanks to the owner's willingness to hold the scope for me for as long as I needed to raise the funds, my dream scope become mine in April 2017. It took me a full 9 months to raise the funds, and involved selling most of my other astro equipment, but I have never once regretted the purchase, and, sad old git that I am, I too still pop into the storage room where "Trinity" lives (yes, I named her too!🤣) to have a quick peek and a touch..

Thanks for staying with me..my real point is, that 30-40 years ago, the pinnacle of my astro dreams was a Vixen 4" F10 achromat..scopes like the FS 128 either didn't exist in my universe, or if they did, were only found in observatories belonging to super rich people or organisations.

Since that time, financial means and availability of superbly performing scopes has pushed our aspirations upwards: I have friends who, having owned a 125cc motorbike in the 70s/80s, have now, in their 50s and 60s, returned to biking, spending £15k-£20k on a brand new Ducati, Triumph, etc - simply because they now have the means to..and besides they are now within their financial reach - families grown up, mortgages paid off, perhaps a legacy received (I wish!!) etc..

People will always aspire to the best they can afford if their means allow it.

I feel so blessed to now own my dream scope. If I never own another scope but this one, I will be quite content..it took almost 50 years from my first scope, but was so worth the wait!🤗😊

Dave

FS128onTakFC-Ltripod2.jpg.682fb26e93980c7401c2373e97f732a1.jpg

Dave what a brilliant thread and such an enjoyable read.

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The most expensive scope that I bought was an Astro Tech 4" ED frac and so regret selling it.

Over the years I always wanted to use a Questar 3.5mm and 3 years ago I had the opportunity to use one on a mountain top next to the Lick Observatory in California. It was great to see Venus but I would never buy one although they look brilliant.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to be with a number of fellow SGL members. I was able to observe through two different scopes which was so fantastic I now want both. First off was a StellaLyra 16" Dob and the view of the Witches Broom using a 31mm Nagler and an Astronomik O-111 filter will not leave me. Secondly Stu let me view the Sun through his Tak 4" with a Baader HW and a Leica zoom - the detail in the sunspots and the surface detail I have not experienced before and my Astro Tech was very good but not to this standard.

What John stated above it would be great to compare the Altair Starwave 102ED-R , Tak FC100-DF. and the new FLO's Starfield ED102 side by side.

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16 hours ago, F15Rules said:

I began to get interested in rock music (and girls😁), and started to learn to play guitar, and joined a band.

 

15 hours ago, John said:

I did get into rock music (still am, really) but could never seem to learn to play an instrument

Is it just me or is there a connection between musical abilities/aspirations and an interest in astronomy? My mum was a piano teacher and I was brought up playing music, though never took it further. There are many famous astronomers who were/are also musicians. William Herschel, Brian May, Brian Cox and even Sir Patrick Moore played the zylophone. I think the connection is something to do with numbers. Astronomy is a science that is made up essentially of numerical data and musical composition is completely mathematical as well.

As regards learning to play an instrument @John, I've seen a photo of you when holding that huge 6" refractor you had and you're quite a big chap, so it may be due to sausage fingers.🤣

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7 minutes ago, Franklin said:

 

Is it just me or is there a connection between musical abilities/aspirations and an interest in astronomy? My mum was a piano teacher and I was brought up playing music, though never took it further. There are many famous astronomers who were/are also musicians. William Herschel, Brian May, Brian Cox and even Sir Patrick Moore played the zylophone. I think the connection is something to do with numbers. Astronomy is a science that is made up essentially of numerical data and musical composition is completely mathematical as well.

As regards learning to play an instrument @John, I've seen a photo of you when holding that huge 6" refractor you had and you're quite a big chap, so it may be due to sausage fingers.🤣

I've often thought so.  I've played in bands (bassist) for more years than I care to remember and a number of musicians I've played with down the line have also been keen astronomers.

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2 hours ago, Franklin said:

Astronomy is a science that is made up essentially of numerical data and musical composition is completely mathematical as well.

Very interesting Tim..I agree with you on the above, but I myself don't fit that bill..I failed Maths O level twice (never did pass!), but I am good with arithmetic...I can't read music but have a good ear for tuning and can keep a beat..:glasses12:I reckon I might even be a bit dyslexic, as I find written instructions hard to follow if I buy a new TV for instance, but find watching a video tutorial or being shown how to do something much more comfortable.

I think another connection between the two disciplines is an emotional response: I've always liked music that touches me inside..in my case it's mainly rock music and guitar in particular..artists such as Paul Kossoff, Rory Gallagher, Robin Trower, Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti pull out sounds that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. So do vocalists like Paul Rodgers, Eddie Vedder, Myles Kennedy, Amy Lee and Ian Gillan, to name but a few.

In Astronomy, my observing reactions are much more emotional than "scientific": I am blown away by the variety, the beauty and sheer scale of what I'm looking at, and it makes me marvel at how wonderful is the Universe that we are a small part of.

(Sorry to veer a bit off topic John!😱🙂).

Dave

Edited by F15Rules
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2 hours ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

What John stated above it would be great to compare the Altair Starwave 102ED-R , Tak FC100-DF. and the new FLO's Starfield ED102 side by side.

+1 for that suggestion, Mark, would be very interesting!

It would also be interesting to do that exact same comparison both here in UK conditions, and also somewhere with "ideal" conditions, such as the Arizona desert: I suspect that the latter conditions would allow any real superiority of the Tak optics to be more obvious to observers..too often here in the UK, atmospheric conditions are so often the limiting factor as to what we can see with any scope!

..if I am right in this, it really does beg the question -"Why do we buy such expensive scopes if our skies will never let them perform to their absolute potential??" 😱🥴😂

Dave

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On 29/11/2021 at 11:34, Sunshine said:

lol, I recall working in a scope shop in my teens when a young, wealthy man came in and insisted on the most expensive scope, I sold him the 12" LX200 we had in stock. With it I sold him every acssesory

we possibly had including several TV eyepieces and a wedge to boot. Even vibration pads, when I say wealthy I mean stinking,  I made commission and he kept asking for whatever we had.

I was the fortunate person on the other end of a story like this. I came across my Celestron 9.25 Evo on ebay for an excellent price. It came with lots of goodies and was such a good deal that I was quite wary to begin with. I engaged the seller in conversation and it turned out he was a dealer selling it for a customer, whom he said was a "collector of fine things".  Took the plunge and when it arrived it was pristine. The points on the tripod had never seen ground by the look of it. It was probably set up in a drawing room somewhere and never used.

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1 hour ago, F15Rules said:

and also somewhere with "ideal" conditions, such as the Arizona desert: I suspect that the latter conditions would allow any real superiority of the Tak optics to be more obvious to observers..too often here in the UK, atmospheric conditions are so often the limiting factor as to what we can see with any scope!

No need to go to Arizona desert to do such test. All you need is stretch of grass about 200m long where you can on the one end put a smart phone or tablet on a stand and on the other scopes in question.

You'll then need very sharp planetary eyepiece (good ortho), good lens, about x10 focal length of eyepiece (this does not need to be very precise) and DSLR. A piece of black cloth acting as a shroud between eyepiece and lens will be needed as well.

Put image of favorite planet - let's say Jupiter on the phone, aim the scope at the phone and focus image as best you can, put DSLR + lens at the back of the scope where eye would go. Make sure no outside light gets into lens except what comes out of eyepiece (use sleeve/shroud for that) and take image.

Do that with every scope and only processing that you should do to images would be to reduce their size (resample them) to optimum sampling rate for particular DSLR - or even simpler - make Jupiter look right size on the screen and reduce size of each image the same.

Then compare images for similarities and differences. Of course - you can also do visual assessment and testing against various targets - either on phone, or maybe some small piece of fruit placed on a tripod :D (so called nut test :D )

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1 hour ago, F15Rules said:

Very interesting Tim..I agree with you on the above, but I myself don't fit that bill..I failed Maths O level twice (never did pass!), but I am good with arithmetic...I can't read music but have a good ear for tuning and can keep a beat..:glasses12:I reckon I might even be a bit dyslexic, as I find written instructions hard to follow if I buy a new TV for instance, but find watching a video tutorial or being shown how to do something much more comfortable.

I think another connection between the two disciplines is an emotional response: I've always liked music that touches me inside..in my case it's mainly rock music and guitar in particular..artists such as Paul Kossoff, Rory Gallagher, Robin Trower, Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti pull out sounds that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. So do vocalists like Paul Rodgers, Eddie Vedder, Myles Kennedy, Amy Lee and Ian Gillan, to name but a few.

In Astronomy, my observing reactions are much more emotional than "scientific": I am blown away by the variety, the beauty and sheer scale of what I'm looking at, and it makes me marvel at how wonderful is the Universe that we are a small part of.

(Sorry to veer a bit off topic John!😱🙂).

Dave

No problem Dave - it was a good "veer" :smiley:

Rory Gallagher is probably my favourite all time guitarist. I'm so pleased that I managed to see him a couple of times playing live in Bristol :icon_biggrin:

Closer to the topic, my observing is more emotional than scientific as well. I enjoy finding out a bit more about what I've been looking at but that is usually after the "wonder" bit :icon_biggrin:

When I have been comparing high quality optics, it is when the conditions have been particularly good that any differences have shown themselves. But, as has been said earlier in this thread, it is nice to have really good optics for those times when things do all fall into place.

 

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7 hours ago, F15Rules said:

if I am right in this, it really does beg the question -"Why do we buy such expensive scopes if our skies will never let them perform to their absolute potential??"

 

10 hours ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

Secondly Stu let me view the Sun through his Tak 4" with a Baader HW and a Leica zoom - the detail in the sunspots and the surface detail I have not experienced before and my Astro Tech was very good but not to this standard.

I think these two quotes can be related, and support the fact that there is a benefit to buying the best kit you can afford. I disagree with the confirmation bias comments in many cases and think this is somewhat disrespectful to people who own top end kit, particularly if the people making the statements haven’t had the opportunity to compare.

My FC100DC is my favourite scope for a variety of reasons. I could summarise it simply as ‘amazing views in a very compact, lightweight and versatile scope’. It does most things very well and a few things brilliantly, plus it can always be with me because it’s so compact. A 100ED f9 may get close, but it’s not airline portable for instance. I’m not blind to the Tak’s limitations and am on record a number of times on the forum saying that my Heritage 150p has humbled it on targets such as Zeta Herculis. This may be hard to swallow but is a fact.

As an example, I used to have an Astrotech 106mm f6.5 fpl53 triplet apo which I bought as a demonstrator for not far off Tak money. In fact the very same scope was reviewed by our own @steppenwolf 12 years back here:

I always thought this was an excellent scope, fantastic on widefield with an OIII and 31mm Nagler giving a 3.6 degree field of view. I also used it for Lunar and planetary, plus solar with a Lunt Herschel Wedge. I was always happy with the views at the time. I can’t recall exactly why I sold it, but it’s eventual replacement was a Tak FC100DC.

The Tak has a slightly longer focal length (740mm vs 650mm) so was not as good at those widefield views (I now use a Genesis for that). However, I saw a distinct improvement with lunar and planetary observing in terms of contrast and detail seen. Particularly details on Jupiter and views of the shadow and moon transits were clearer in the Tak.

Another improvement was in solar observing. Even with the Lunt Wedge I saw detail which was sharper and finer than in the Astrotech, but when I added the Baader Coolwedge there was a further incremental improvement at higher powers, then the Baader Zeiss Mark IV binoviewer and Zeiss Orthos all helped. Getting everything optimised in the optical train really does help maximise the visible detail and by that I mean granulation cells and penumbral ‘petal’ structures at high powers eg x200 and more. I see people say white light solar is boring, but it rarely is in the Tak. Often people say that a fast achro for solar is fine because you can use a continuum filter to remove CA. That’s all well and good, but SA kills the fine detail that you can achieve with a decent apo (or even a very well corrected long focal ratio achro).

I’ve always advocated the use of good value entry level kit where I think it performs well eg Heritage 150p, and I push back against constant recommendations that it should be Televue, Pentax eyepieces or nothing. Some one entering the hobby can have many years of enjoyable observing with a relatively cheap scope and a set of BSTs. BUT, high end kit does have its benefits which are still realiseable (is that a word? 🤪) in the U.K. when conditions are right.

A final example was when observing the Trapezium with Gavstar, my apologies I can’t recall if it was with the TEC160 or AP 130GTX though I suspect the former. Anyway, viewing E & F in the trap has always been a challenge for me, particularly with F as it’s there one minute, gone the next. In this scope they were just ‘there’ rock solid and clear all the time, best I’ve ever seen. Now, I know the conditions were good, but the scope certainly made the most of them.

Will I ever shut up? 🤣🤣

Last thought. Use and enjoy what you’ve got and can comfortably afford, but don’t disregard high end kit and if you get a chance to have a look through some, grab it 👍.

The end 🤪🤪
 

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As a provider, I can't say I've noticed a particularly large number of musical astronomers.  Some, certainly, like Peter Vasey who is an accomplished singer. What I have noticed is a remarkable number of flyers who enjoy astronomy.  We've had a fast jet pilot, airline captains, helicopter pilots, lots of PPLs, glider, hang glider and parapente pilots. We've had five people here who've built their own aircraft (with no connection between them other than that fact.) It's a connection which really does stand out - and I can think of a good few SGL members who fly as well. Two ways of enjoying the sky? Who knows?

Sorry for the diversion, John, though I think your post is more about people and their motivation than it is about telescopes.

Olly

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52 minutes ago, Starwatcher2001 said:

I was the fortunate person on the other end of a story like this. I came across my Celestron 9.25 Evo on ebay for an excellent price. It came with lots of goodies and was such a good deal that I was quite wary to begin with. I engaged the seller in conversation and it turned out he was a dealer selling it for a customer, whom he said was a "collector of fine things".  Took the plunge and when it arrived it was pristine. The points on the tripod had never seen ground by the look of it. It was probably set up in a drawing room somewhere and never used.

Like finding a gold nugget, few and far apart those are.

great find!

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6 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

Sorry for the diversion, John, though I think your post is more about people and their motivation than it is about telescopes.

Olly

No problem at all Olly. I think you may be correct in that :smiley:

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15 minutes ago, Stu said:

 

I think these two quotes can be related, and support the fact that there is a benefit to buying the best kit you can afford. I disagree with the confirmation bias comments in many cases and think this is somewhat disrespectful to people who own top end kit, particularly if the people making the statements haven’t had the opportunity to compare.

My FC100DC is my favourite scope for a variety of reasons. I could summarise it simply as ‘amazing views in a very compact, lightweight and versatile scope’. It does most things very well and a few things brilliantly, plus it can always be with me because it’s so compact. A 100ED f9 may get close, but it’s not airline portable for instance. I’m not blind to the Tak’s limitations and am on record a number of times on the forum saying that my Heritage 150p has humbled it on targets such as Zeta Herculis. This may be hard to swallow but is a fact.

As an example, I used to have an Astrotech 106mm f6.5 fpl53 triplet apo which I bought as a demonstrator for not far off Tak money. In fact the very same scope was reviewed by our own @steppenwolf 12 years back here:

I always thought this was an excellent scope, fantastic on widefield with an OIII and 31mm Nagler giving a 3.6 degree field of view. I also used it for Lunar and planetary, plus solar with a Lunt Herschel Wedge. I was always happy with the views at the time. I can’t recall exactly why I sold it, but it’s eventual replacement was a Tak FC100DC.

The Tak has a slightly longer focal length (740mm vs 650mm) so was not as good at those widefield views (I now use a Genesis for that). However, I saw a distinct improvement with lunar and planetary observing in terms of contrast and detail seen. Particularly details on Jupiter and views of the shadow and moon transits we’re clearer in the Tak.

Another improvement was in solar observing. Even with the Lunt Wedge I saw detail which was sharper and finer than in the Astrotech, but when I added the Baader Coolwedge there was a further incremental improvement at higher powers, then the Baader Zeiss Mark IV binoviewer and Zeiss Orthos all helped. Getting everything optimised in the optical train really does help maximise the visible detail and by that I mean granulation cells and penumbral ‘petal’ structures at high powers eg x200 and more. I see people say white light solar is boring, but it rarely is in the Tak. Often people say that a fast achro for solar is fine because you can use a continuum filter to remove CA. That’s all well and good, but SA kills the fine detail that you can achieve with a decent apo (or even a very well corrected long focal ratio achro).

I’ve always advocated the use of good value entry level kit where I think it performs well eg Heritage 150p, and I push back against constant recommendations that it should be Televue, Pentax eyepieces or nothing. Some one entering the hobby can have many years of enjoyable observing with a relatively cheap scope and a set of BSTs. BUT, high end kit does have its benefits which are still realiseable (is that a word? 🤪) in the U.K. when conditions are right.

A final example was when observing the Trapezium with Gavstar, my apologies I can’t recall if it was with the TEC160 or AP 130GTX though I suspect the former. Anyway, viewing E & F in the trap has always been a challenge for me, particularly with F as it’s there one minute, gone the next. In this scope they were just ‘there’ rock solid and clear all the time, best I’ve ever seen. Now, I know the conditions were good, but the scope certainly made the most of them.

Will I ever shut up? 🤣🤣

Last thought. Use and enjoy what you’ve got and can comfortably afford, but don’t disregard high end kit and if you get a chance to have a look through some, grab it 👍.

The end 🤪🤪
 

Very interesting Stu - thanks for posting :icon_biggrin:

When I've put the Herschel Wedge on my Tak FC100 the white light views have been better (sharper and more contrasty) than I've seen through my other refractors I have to say.

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2 minutes ago, Captain Magenta said:

One thing that has struck me is how many SGL “equipment“ photos, often in the “postie” thread, have a guitar in the background. Also I’ve made two eBay purchases of astro equipment, and on collection, guitars were present too.

Magnus

I'm just listening to "Whiskey in the Jar" by Thin Lizzy on the radio as I type this. Eric Bell's riffs send shivers up my spine even though I could not play them !

 

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46 minutes ago, vlaiv said:

No need to go to Arizona desert to do such test. All you need is stretch of grass about 200m long where you can on the one end put a smart phone or tablet on a stand and on the other scopes in question.

You'll then need very sharp planetary eyepiece (good ortho), good lens, about x10 focal length of eyepiece (this does not need to be very precise) and DSLR. A piece of black cloth acting as a shroud between eyepiece and lens will be needed as well.

Put image of favorite planet - let's say Jupiter on the phone, aim the scope at the phone and focus image as best you can, put DSLR + lens at the back of the scope where eye would go. Make sure no outside light gets into lens except what comes out of eyepiece (use sleeve/shroud for that) and take image.

Do that with every scope and only processing that you should do to images would be to reduce their size (resample them) to optimum sampling rate for particular DSLR - or even simpler - make Jupiter look right size on the screen and reduce size of each image the same.

Then compare images for similarities and differences. Of course - you can also do visual assessment and testing against various targets - either on phone, or maybe some small piece of fruit placed on a tripod :D (so called nut test :D )

Sounds fascinating Vlaiv...  but I think I'd find it simpler (probably not cheaper though!) to go to the Arizona desert!🥴😊

Dave

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1 hour ago, vlaiv said:

No need to go to Arizona desert to do such test. All you need is stretch of grass about 200m long where you can on the one end put a smart phone or tablet on a stand and on the other scopes in question.

Trouble with that is you need to cover the 200m and press the shutter in less than the 30s before the phone-screen times out. Not impossible, but in my case I’d have to factor in hurdling a couple of barbed-wire fences along the way 😁

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1 minute ago, Captain Magenta said:

Trouble with that is you need to cover the 200m and press the shutter in less than the 30s before the phone-screen times out. Not impossible, but in my case I’d have to factor in hurdling a couple of barbed-wire fences along the way 😁

Can't you just leave phone screen permanently on? There is option for manual lock - not timed one.

It does not really need to be phone, I used phone as an example - you can print out Jupiter image (again - I'm using image of Jupiter because we are familiar with that target) and shine a torch at it.

You can also use any sort of small object with intricate detail, low and high contrast areas and so on as test target.

Point of the test is:

1. place target far enough so that spherical is small enough

2. reduce impact of atmospheric turbulence (avoid doing it over concrete or water)

3. remove observers (bias) from equation by comparing images

We need camera+lens and eyepiece to be able to record easily even smallest detail (hugely over sampling in such combination). Camera at prime focus won't be sampling at critical resolution for faster scopes (we would need barlow and so on). Scope + eyepiece is also closest to observing setup.

This is interesting test for also comparing eyepiece sharpness - use same scope and put different eyepieces, or other parts of optical train - such as prisms/diagonals - shoot with/without diagonal and compare images.

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23 hours ago, Franklin said:

I'm dreading the day my daughter announces her intentions of marriage. I may have to sell my telescopes!😪

Ha ha, I'm already finding out how expensive these weddings are... this is however my own... got engaged a couple of months ago on holiday and we've now booked venues, dress, cars, photographer etc etc, so it's been an expensive few months and more to come, before the big day itself next November 🤣

However, whilst I've been tidying up a bit (been letting a few less used items go), I've still managed to add two new Taks to the herd (although one is an upgrade rather than new scope)... both incoming this week hopefully 🤞

Sticking to the theme of this thread... I just find that Takahashi usability, build and optical quality, work for me and I as I fully intend to have these scopes around as long as I can physically use them, am more than happy to spend a little more for what will hopefully be "lifetime" scopes 😀

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I did a lot of terrestrial testing when shopping for a decent spotting scope.
My comparison was a 90mm Vixen f/11. Same aperture as the scopes I was testing.
My targets were fine print on coloured product labels. Scopes mounted on tripods.

It is easy to be fooled by vegetation looking wonderfully sharp. Ooh-ah! :icon_eek:
Try the same with text and you have no choice but to try and read it.

I have frequently checked all my refractors on 500m distant woods. It is easily possible to see flies at that distance.
Both visually and with a ZWO 174MM + SharpCap + 27" HD monitor.

My spotting scope shows the fine detail in a blackbird's eye at over 200m.
That was visually using 96x. 12-60x Zoom + 1.6x extender.
I don't have any astro APOs for comparison.

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