Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Checking out telescopes

So in addition to the SkyScout, I've been looking at telescopes with an eye to upgrading from my current one: a 4"-aperture Newtonian on a very rough Alt-Az mount. Current candidates are:
  1. A plain-old 6" or 8"-aperture Dobsonian: inexpensive at $300-$400 CDN, very easy to set up and use, but bulky (we don't have a lot of storage space), can't track the sky, and the focusser is a basic rack-and-pinion.
  2. An 80mm refractor with high-quality ED glass on an EQ-3 computerized (i.e. Go-To) German equatorial mount, with a Crayford-style focusser, somewhat similar to this one: more expensive at $1099 CDN (though this would have been almost twice the cost 2 years ago), less light-gathering power but much sharper optics, comes with a metal case.
  3. This one looks very nice too, comparable to the previous but a bit higher-end for about the same cost. This is just the optical tube though, not a package deal, so I'd have to sort out my own mount (and mounting rings) and shipping, and that would bump up the cost by a couple of hundred.
One plus with the Dob is that I'd feel comfortable leaving it at the cottage for my nephew and nieces to use (with parental guidance), but then again there isn't much storage space there either.

At the moment I'm tending towards the second (could you tell?)


m@ said...

Is portability important?

I live in an area that has a lot of light pollution. When I want to get some decent viewing in I usually need to drive about 20 minutes north so portability is important for me.

I had a Celestron NexStar 5. At only 5" this thing was still a lot to handle even with the metal case ;)

What I loved about the NexStar was the ability to control it with my PocketPC. The software I used had a real-time star map and with just a touch of the stylus I could have the NexStar locked on an object in seconds.

I ended up trading this in for the highly portable and timeless classic, the Astroscan. It's also very inexpensive.

Nick Edgar said...

Yes, portability is a big factor. I also don't want it to be too bulky in the car. While we're beyond the crib and stroller stage, we still usually cart around a ton of junk.

Thanks for the info on the NexStar 5 and the pointer to the Astroscan. Interesting that it has a parabolic mirror. Is it quite sharp as a result?