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Best Portable/Travel Scope


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Hi all, i'm in the market for a scope to take out and about. I have a budget of £200 and looking for something that i can stick in a rucksack and pack away easily. I've done a bit of research and have narrowed it down to these four. Maksutov - Skywatcher Skymax 90 OTA, Revelation 20-60x 80mm Spotting Scope, Meade ETX60 Special Telescope Package, Orion ShortTube 80mm Refractor. All 4 have had fairly good reviews from various sources and range from £107 to £179, my question is has any 1 had any experience of these scopes and could maybe show me a few pointers? Also have i maybe missed some others out? The thing is where i live in Gwent South Wales it's not that hard to find a dark site and get good viewing but can be a bit akward to view the skies from my backyard. So Something that's lightweight and has good optics could be just what i'm looking for.

thanks Lex

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I hestitate to post in case I'm accused of selling stuff but you might want to add the Vixen VMC95L to your list fro consideration. It's at the top of your budget though:

VMC95L

The dovetail plate also has a 1.4" thread hole for attachment to a standard tripod.

Cheers, Pete

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Hi Lex,

Here's another one for your list: Celestron TravelScope 70, at £60 it's well within your budget.

Don't know if it'll tick all your boxes :), there's a review - here on the forum.

The Revelation spotting scope is really only suitable for terrestrial use, don't know why Telescope Planet are suggesting it for stargazing.

Before spending your hard earned with them, or anyone else really, please have a read of the Supplier Reviews board.

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Hi, thanks for the replies i think i'm going to visit some telescope retailers personally and see what they like up front before i commit to buying. Never realised how much options there are in buying a telescope even on a budget.

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I have both a short tube refractor (megrez 72) and a small mak cass (skymax 102).

The key difference is that the refractor has a much wider field of view, but high power views seem crisper in the skymax. I'd rate them about the same for portability. If I were a planetary/lunar observer I'd use the skymax more but it's the megrez that comes with me on my travels, because I like the wide field and I can use it without a finder.

Short refractors at this end of the market will usually suffer from noticable chromatic aberration, so the equivalent priced mak cass will usually provide a sharper image, all other things being equal. It's worth noting that a maksutov will need a seperate dew shield for most of the year.

I would think that the Meade might be a bit small, aperture wise, to provide a significantly improved view over a pair of binoculars.

A spotting scope is not a bad idea at all, but be aware that zoom eyepieces can be a hit-and-miss affair.

Hope this helps!

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mmm good question.... how do you get to dark sites ..? in car ..on bus ? walk ?

i have 127 skymax goto , it is very portable , the whole scope can be carried fully assembled quite easily , this is bit out your budget , but you might find a second hand one ..

...celestron astro master 130 ...or skywatcher skyhawk 1145p synscan goto for under 200 !!

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I have two little refractors for travel: Celestron 80mm short-tube (which I believe is essentially the same scope as the Orion or Skywatcher) and Yukon 100mm folded refractor spotting scope.

80mm Pros: 90-degree diagonal for comfortable astro views; exchangeable eyepieces (with the possibility of using filters etc).

80mm cons: when you travel you need to take along accessories like eyepieces, finder etc, and think about what you'll carry it in.

Yukon pros: extremely compact, comes with a nice carry bag, built-in zoom, wider field of view than the 80mm with a Plossl at same magnification.

Yukon cons: 45-degree spotting scope eyepiece angle is less good for astro; can't swap built-in eyepiece for something of higher quality; use of mirrors in folded design compromises quality and light grasp so it's pretty much identical to 80mm in terms of what you see: I find the views less pleasing.

I would say that the 80mm is the better scope, but it's the 100mm that gets more use, because the pros outweigh the cons for me when it comes to the needs of travel (especially by air). I like the little touches like the built-in retractable dewshield, built-in finder etc. Means I only need the scope and tripod and that's it.

UK prices for the Yukon are too high for your budget but I got one new on eBay from a German dealer for under £200. When I bought the Celestron it was over £200 but came with EQ tripod - when travelling I always use a Manfrotto photo tripod so if I were doing it again I'd get the tube only.

If luggage space is really tight I take a pair of 15x70 binos, no tripod. BTW I'm a deep-sky observer - wouldn't rate either of these scopes for planets.

Edited by acey
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Depends where your going! I got an infinity 76... Its ACE! Sling it in my smallest back pack and theres still room for a thermos and sarnies, and head out for the hills... You can get a suprisingly stable view with it holding it while standing, and the old ordinance survey posts were custom made for me and my infinity.... jolly nice of them to go round the whole country building them for me on top of hills with good views, I appreciate your work lads! Its robust, having already survived some serious bashing... and at 30 squid, if I do break it of leave it somewhere it wont be the end of the world!:)

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I'd steer clear of the Meade - judging from posts and peoples comments they dont seem very reliable. When I was considering a grab and go I had two dealers tell me they wouldnt reccomend Meade because of the unreliability issues.

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