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Why did you choose your present scope?


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With all the different varieties of scopes out there how did people end up choosing what was right for them?

I started off with A 6" goto but decided I was missing out with some of the fun of starhopping so moved to a manual dob before apature fever took over........

I have never even considered getting a refractor and to be honest I couldn't even tell you why!

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I got my scopes as a full equipment set up second hand, saw a few really positive reviews of the Altair Wave 115 EDT and just couldn't say no. Trouble is after looking at targets and image scale, I have this urge to buy a bigger one and a smaller one. ? 

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The one I'm commissioning at the moment is an ODK12. I had been thinking of a bigger / longer fL 'scope than my current 130mm apo, and was undecided between a cheapo GSO 12" RC or push the boat out for a CFF 300mm. I was at Astrofest, got talking with John at the OOUK stand and ended up splitting the difference in price for the ODK, which I got for below the show price.

At one time I was thinking of either the TEC or CFF 160mm triplet apos, but neither gave a significant advantage over my 130.

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My first scope (about 4 years ago) was a Christmas present of a Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ MD. For (somebody else's) €250 I got a wobbly manual mount and a Newtonian of dubious quality and a sticky, stodgy focuser. Wow was I impressed! Saw Jupiter and Saturn for the first time with the naked eye, and learned about the Orion Nebula. Spent ages looking for the Andromeda galaxy before realizing that a) my skies are too bright and b) the FOV of the scope was way too narrow.

Having previously had a liking for long focal-length SLR lenses, I upgraded to a Celestron C8 on a HEQ5. Great mount, nice scope but not the way to go for a beginner. I learned all about FOV, pixel ratios, tracking error etc. the hard way. Started actually listening to other peoples' experiences, and eventually understood why most people talk about 3-4" refractors with f/l of 400-600mm. Sometimes you have to learn your own lessons.

Now I've just gone for an Esprit 80 classic set-up. Hope to hone my DSO AP skills with this, learn the trade, and then later on go back to the C8 for smaller targets or possibly even planetary. I won't be getting rid of it any time soon, but a young relative may get a gift of an AM130EQ shortly :-)

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Hi All ?️

I'm still building my first imaging set-up, the first parts were ordered just before the C-19 global disaster hit, so it's been a bit painful getting stuff delivered from all over, but it's given me something to focus on (no pun intended - or was it ?)  

Before I spent any cash on my first 'proper' telescope, I did quite a lot of looking about and deciding what it was I wanted to do with it.
I decided early on that it was going to be for imaging rather than visual, and my chosen targets were DSOs so I wanted biggest light bucket for my £.
Refractors were casually disregarded by my own feeling that Reflectors were going to be better for imaging DSO (I'll wait for the flack on that decision!)

After some thought I decided on an 8" Astrograph (f4), and a Sirius Pro AZ/EQ GoTo mount (Should have gone for the Atlas (or similar) as the weight of all the additional kit I've stuck on has put me only 2KG under the Sirius weight limit, but I'll stick with it for the time being)
I probably should have got a better OTA, but after a few modifications and replacement parts (I've posted on how I had to modify the secondary mirror already), I'm happy with it at the moment (preliminary imaging without my rigid connections has resulted in some not too shabby results).

The last part of my optical train is scheduled for delivery tomorrow, so I'll be able to assemble things as I want them for the first time, quite exciting ? 

The jury is still out on whether I've chosen wisely or poorly, my choice of components was based on being able to use them on future OTA/Mounts (everything is based on 2" optical path right up to the camera) so the investment in 2" filters, motorised wheel, and robotic focuser should see me through several upgrades.
Everything seems to be working for remote imaging, the only things I can't do remotely are the focus on my guide scope and OTA covers, I can live with that!

When it's all set-up, I'll post a breakdown of my set-up in the 'Show us your astro gear' section.


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I have bought 2 scopes this year. The first is Skywatcher 200P-DS.  I've always liked Newts and this was great way to step into imaging.  Collimation was never a fear and it's great versatile platform. 

I found was some targets were just too big, so I brought forward my plan for next year and bought an Altair 72EDF. I've only used the refractor three times but it has impressed me. Setup and handling is super easy and I love how it fits so much sky into the frame.

I think the two compliment each other really well.



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My choices have all depended on what has been available on the secondhand market
Started with a 130p on an EQ2 in october 2019
upgraded to a HEQ5 mount just before Xmas

Next step was January a Revelation F6 80mm refractor which was better suited to Astrophotography.

 In June I spotted an Altair Starwave 115 ED which gave me better quality lenses and more apeture.

...next step will be either a Triplet APO to improve quality or maybe a RC or similar as I really like planetary nebula and could do with more focal lenth.


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Apart from a 'no label' 60mm I got as a kid, my first real 'scope was a Celestron C8 which I bought when I was 20 in 1980... Twenty five years later I bought a 10" reasonably 'fast' Newtonian. This was the early days of driven mounts (I think it was a 'Super Polaris' Vixen mount. It ran off a battery pack. It was dire. Astronomy went on the back burner for 25 years. 

The lockdown meant all of my 'usual' activities, particularly music (I play various instruments with various groups) stopped and apart from one small group which resumed two weeks ago, they all remain stopped. With retirement due in the near future, one of the reasons for me not doing much astronomy, namely it doesn't mix with work very well, would be going away. So the lockdown meant I had time to look around and for a number of reasons my attention turned back to astrophotography.

I wanted to get into 'modern' astrophotography, my last foray had been back in the 80s with Ektachrome slide film, a 35mm SLR camera, and a basic clock drive. I spent a lot of time on various forums looking at what people did, then a lot of time with Google and Youtube watching videos.

The result pointed to short-focus refractor and a modern GEM.

The big changes since I used to do anything are: high quality, relatively inexpensive, short-focus APO instruments; effective  GEM with electronics to provide reasonable quality tracking; digital imaging.

Although I still have my C8 and the 10", I decided to go for a completely new AP rig with an HEQ5 and an Esprit 100mm APO. The Esprit wasn't my first choice, I had wanted another instrument, but for some reason comms between me and the supplier seemed to go awry and e-mails disappeared into the ether. In the end I just ordered from elsewhere.

The weather since its arrival has been abysmal and I've only had one decent session imaging in 6 weeks.

The Esprit seems absolutely fine thus far. I do have some gripes in general about the way manufacturers set up and supply things. For example, the standard dovetail plate supplied with the HEQ5 is useless - it's way too short for use with most 'scopes to enable you to move it to allow for balancing. The same applies to the Losmandy plate with the Esprit.

There is no supplied kit to attach a camera to the HEQ5, which is what I wanted to do as I had a 3 month+ wait for my scope to arrive. It took several online orders and about £80 to arrive at a working solution. The solution? You need a dovetail plate with a slot that will take a 1/4-20 hex bolt. To be honest, I found that to be ridiculous. Why S-W don't have a list of optional extras that you can just tick a box and order beats me. I wasted £50 buying a nicely made ADM bracket, which 'works' but results in the camera hanging upside down... I eventually found the slotted dovetail... for another £30...   

The lack of cable management on the HEQ5 is I think rather poor. The 5mm 2.1 plug for the power input to the HEQ5 is also ridiculous and gives no reassurance that it won't just drop out. I think the menu system on the hand-controller is poorly thought through and the use of US style dates is a recipe for 'getting it wrong' (7th August or 8th July anyone?). That would be easily fixed with a settings option. I am pretty certain there is a bug in the code of the handset which causes it to not use the same data for alignment and 'goto', this leads it to pointing 90 degrees away from where it should. From what I've read online, I think these issues are pretty common until you move into the realms of mounts costing £5k up.        

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Posted by: @DaveS

The one I'm commissioning at the moment is an ODK12. I had been thinking of a bigger / longer fL 'scope than my current 130mm apo, and was undecided between a cheapo GSO 12" RC or push the boat out for a CFF 300mm. I was at Astrofest, got talking with John at the OOUK stand and ended up splitting the difference in price for the ODK, which I got for below the show price.

At one time I was thinking of either the TEC or CFF 160mm triplet apos, but neither gave a significant advantage over my 130.

I'll add that the camera I chose to go on the back of this lump was a Moravian G3 16200, as the best bet for me among the run of 16200 cameras, the SX 46 being a bit too much, though I suspect the quality is higher. The pixel and sensor size also looked to be the best fit at the time.

The mount was really a no-brainer, I just managed to get the last available ASA DDM85 from Astrograph, though I had to "make do" with their ex-demo one, which did, though, come at a discount. There really is nothing else that can touch the ASA mounts for quality.

I originally ordered Baader LRGB and 3.5 / 4.5 nm NB filters, but after waiting for Baader to get off their backsides and deliver the 3.5 nm H-alpha, I eventually sent the lot back for a full refund (As they were unopened) and pushed the boat out for a full set of Chroma ones.

Now I'm in the last leg of commissioning mainly software bashing ad a bit of fiddling with the obsy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have had an interest in astronomy for as long as I can remember. But several experiences along the way meant I almost never owned a decent scope.

A childhood experience of a 1" refractor, then teenage experience of a 60mm zoom, both on table top mounts confined my activity in the hobby to books.
At about age 30, I got hold of a long Prinz refractor that my father bought. There were some good views, but the combination of awful quality eyepieces with too high magnification, grotty focusser and wobbly mount meant it got little use. Back to the books.

Then I joined a local astro society. I was told they owned a big refractor housed in an observatory in some school grounds. At last a chance to look through a good scope. But these people never ventured beyond their monthly meetings in a council owned hall. Back to the books.

Eventually in my late 40s I went to the Widescreen Centre Nottingham shop (now long gone). I looked over a good number of scopes that were in my budget, as well as way above. As I was the only customer in the shop, I was able to spend a long time receiving a lot of good advice. With all the information rattling around in my head I returned home to mull over the choices. I narrowed it down to two Orion Optics scope packages. A 6" newt on EQ3 or 8" newt on EQ5. These giving good quality optics and a lot of light gather for the £££ spent. I was sure that I could learn how to set up and use an EQ mount. Looking at the price difference I decided on the 8" scope as it came with a much more rigid mount for little extra tube weight, and more light gather.

When I phoned Widescreen with a view to ordering, I was told the 8" would be too high magnification for me. So I went away to look at my choices. Mag calculations for the two scopes showed not a lot of difference due to the 8" being shorter FL. Anyway the man in the shop obviously knew much more than me about scopes, maybe I had misheard, maybe he had been thinking of a different scope. Orion offered various focal ratios. So I called again and was given the same 'too high magnification' answer. When I presented my calculations, he changed tack. It suddenly became "I can get you the 6" for Christmas delivery, but not the 8". OK it was a present. But I'm grown up enough to know that Santa doesn't actually visit every house in one one night and I would rather wait for the right scope. Suddenly this retailer did not seem to me to be the right place to buy a scope.

My next call was to Orion Optics to ask about their delivery times. They told me they had a few 8" mirrors in stock. F4, rather than the standard F4.4 but the same quality. Even better they were selling scopes with these last few mirrors at a lower price. The order was placed and delivery promised in time to be put on to Santa's sleigh.

When the scope arrived, Orion has messed up big time. The carboard packing box for an F4.4 scope, not F4, so the OTA dropped out of the polystyrene in the end of box. The tube back, holding the mirror cell was bent and the tube was no longer circular. Anyone with a brain cell to spare would have shoved extra packing behind the polystyrene. I called Orion, who at first tried to put the blame on me. Why had I signed for a damaged parcel? My response was the damage was not evident from the outside and was caused by failure to pack correctly. As it was by now very near to Santa time, they asked I hang on to the scope until the New Year to avoid it hanging around a shipping depot for a long time. They also said I could have a go at straightening the damage to get a bit of use out of the scope before returning it. A bit of 'tin bashing to straighten the scope was well within my capability, so I did this and got a bit of a result. Did someone say what about collimation?

During the Christmas holiday I visited a different astro society (one who used scopes) and they offered to take a peek at my scope with a view to improving collimation. After three of their experienced members struggled for an hour and scratched their heads, they declared 'send it back'. The focus tube and secondary mirror were out of line. Basically the focusser had been fitted in the wrong place. In the new year the scope was returned, so I eagerly awaited the replacement.

When the replacement arrived, there was a new tube, but the original (bent then partly straightened by me) rear end. I was not happy and called Orion. They got awkward. the person you need isn't in today, etc. The tube end is not bent. If you would like to bring the scope to us (many hours and miles driving) we will collimate it. In the end I got them to reluctantly send a new rear end and fitted it myself.

The 8" F4 scope gave me many many evenings of amazing viewing. At the time I was regularly travelling between two houses and risked the scope getting damaged. So I bought a 10" Orion Newt. Secondhand, local private sale and inspected before handing over the money. Since this time (2004) I have never bought anything else from Orion Optics.

I kept this 8" scope for some years before selling it to a gentleman in Ireland who was very happy with the view. It was well packed by me and safely delivered by UPS. I have bought many other scopes since. Refractors, reflectors and assorted compound. A few new but many secondhand and I seem to have held on to a lot more than I have sold. Some, like my Intes MN78 have been definite 'keepers'.

Maybe my obsession for buying scopes is a consequence of the difficulties experienced in the first 30+ years? I don't know.
I think the Orion experiences have resulted in me being prepared look carefully at faulty scopes and make informed judgements on whether I should dismantle and repair. Or leave it to someone with the knowledge and tools.

Hope I haven't bored you all too much. Assuming you have read to the end! 

Clear skies,


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