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Portable scope for BOTH Terrestrial and Celestial viewing and simple photography

Started by KBP, 03/14/2019 11:23PM
Posted 03/14/2019 11:23PM Opening Post
You would think after 50+ years of casual use of both reflectors and refactors choosing a new multipurpose scope to see and photograph nature would become easier. It has not. I am looking for other people's input as to what affordable scope gives the best "bang for the buck" That can be used for photography or viewing wildlife or used for Astronomy. i sold my 1980's Ultima 8 and other reflectors. My Swarovski vintage 80mm spotting scope for wild life observation is not the best to turn on the heavens or take photos. What portable choices are available for multipurpose uses? What are others using? Is this an impossible hunt?
Posted 03/16/2019 12:50PM #1
Wow! I guess its an impossible idea! 
Posted 03/16/2019 03:29PM #2
Nope....not impossible. The forums here are just not all that active. Combine that with the premise you used of "affordable" and that makes it quite difficult to address. "Affordable" covers a LOT of territory depending on your definition as does leaving the size question pretty open ended with the word "portable".

I have scopes ranging from 80mm f/6 to 9" f/16 and 20" f/5 and all of them are "portable" to a varying degree.....

Tighten up your definitions of affordable and portable a bit. So far based on your intended uses I can say a refractor is your best bet along with an EQ mount that capable of tracking for imaging. Which mount would be best is very dependent on what scope is going to be on it so narrow it down some regarding your definition of affordable and portable scope wise. I will say this much there are some smaller to moderate size wise mounts available that operate in both EQ and ALT-AZ mode that have tracking which would lend themselves to both astro imaging and wildlife observing/imaging available.

20" MidnighTelescopes f/5
8" f/16 Muffoletto Achro
Meade 6" AR6 f/8.0 Achro
Celestron C11
Parallax PI250 10" F/5 Newt
Vixen FL102S,NA140SS,R200SS
80mm Stellarvue Nighthawk with WO APOupgrade lens, 90mm f/16.67 Parallax Achro
LXD75/LX200, Mini-tower, GP-DX, CG5 ASGT, LXD650, GM-8, G11, GM-100, GM-150EX, GM-200 and a Gemini G40
4" portable AP convertable 44" or 70" pier
Stellarvue M7 Alt-Az, TSL7 Pier/Tripod
12.5" f/5 MidnighTelescopes DOB Swayze optics
Statham GA
Posted 03/16/2019 11:27PM #3
A used Celestron C5+ or the current C5 spotter would be good choices.  I have the former, my son has the latter.  We both use ours for terrestrial and celestial viewing, although I don't use mine as much as I used to for celestial viewing because I have two larger scopes.  For portability, the C5+ on the table-top wedge is a great choice.  For celestial viewing and astrophotography, I also have the Celestron Advanced VX mount.
Posted 03/16/2019 11:52PM #4
Thanks for all who replied to my post. Each reply has helped a lot. Any other comments or suggestion will be greatly appreciated! One comment peaked my interest about mounts and tripods. " there are some smaller to moderate size wise mounts available that operate in both EQ and ALT-AZ mode that have tracking which would lend themselves to both astro imaging and wildlife observing/imaging available."( thank you Greg Shaffer) I would love to know what these are and maybe pair them with a small scope around 127 or 150 mm in size. Moderate price is around $1500.00 or less. Not looking for a big heavy scope or major investment.
Posted 03/17/2019 12:14AM #5
There are two that I am aware of mount wise though I am sure there are others as well.....However if you are talking about buying new there went your budget on a mount as they are both approx $1400 ea

Orion Sirius Pro AZ/German Equatorial and the Sky-Watcher AZ-EQ5

You may however be able to squeeze that down quite a bit by buying used.....

Not sure you will squeeze a 127 to 150mm scope (at least not a decent one with an ED glass lens) and a mount even used on both out of 1500 though.

20" MidnighTelescopes f/5
8" f/16 Muffoletto Achro
Meade 6" AR6 f/8.0 Achro
Celestron C11
Parallax PI250 10" F/5 Newt
Vixen FL102S,NA140SS,R200SS
80mm Stellarvue Nighthawk with WO APOupgrade lens, 90mm f/16.67 Parallax Achro
LXD75/LX200, Mini-tower, GP-DX, CG5 ASGT, LXD650, GM-8, G11, GM-100, GM-150EX, GM-200 and a Gemini G40
4" portable AP convertable 44" or 70" pier
Stellarvue M7 Alt-Az, TSL7 Pier/Tripod
12.5" f/5 MidnighTelescopes DOB Swayze optics
Statham GA
Posted 03/17/2019 07:34AM #6
Originally Posted by Kenneth Pauling
You would think after 50+ years of casual use of both reflectors and refactors choosing a new multipurpose scope to see and photograph nature would become easier. It has not. I am looking for other people's input as to what affordable scope gives the best "bang for the buck" That can be used for photography or viewing wildlife or used for Astronomy. i sold my 1980's Ultima 8 and other reflectors. My Swarovski vintage 80mm spotting scope for wild life observation is not the best to turn on the heavens or take photos. What portable choices are available for multipurpose uses? What are others using? Is this an impossible hunt?
Gosh, I guess I just don't get it.  How long have you been into Amateur Astronomy?  There seems to be more choices out there today than there was 30 or 40 years ago.  Many companies making dozens and dozens of different designs and sizes should provide ample ability to find something that suits your needs.  I have to agree with Fred that the Celestron C5 offers amazing flexibility to do everything you are arguing for above.  I have a C5 750mm telephoto that is simply the optical tube of a C5 which works as a telephoto lens, and can be mounted to a tripod for nature observing and photography.  It takes great photos  

If you are looking for the astronomical version and want to save a few bucks, look for a used older C5 in the classifieds, with a Fork mount. Those are usually available and they work terrific for portable use.  Add a tripod and the equatorial wedge, and the scope has built in tracking of the heavens.  The nice thing about that is one can remove it from its fork mount and simply place the optical tube on a tripod and engage in birdwatching or other nature activity.  It is simple to attach a camera and start shooting.  For astronomical purposes the size is decent for planetary or even deep sky use under dark skies.   

I can almost guarantee you that you can pick up a C5 and the wedge and tripod for less than $700-$800 in used condition here in the classified ad section.  That would seem to provide you with everything you need.  Compared to the C8 that you previously used, the C5 tube demounted from its fork assembly is Much easier to handle as a telephoto or nature watching scope than the larger C8.  

You might want to read this review from a person here who is a member of Astromart.  

It is very informative:

https://astromart.com/reviews/telescopes/cats/show/review-of-the-celestron-c5-classic
Posted 03/17/2019 01:01PM #7
Rich is correct in that a C5 or even a C6 would be the cheaper way in to the aperture range you are looking for....as well as portability.....

20" MidnighTelescopes f/5
8" f/16 Muffoletto Achro
Meade 6" AR6 f/8.0 Achro
Celestron C11
Parallax PI250 10" F/5 Newt
Vixen FL102S,NA140SS,R200SS
80mm Stellarvue Nighthawk with WO APOupgrade lens, 90mm f/16.67 Parallax Achro
LXD75/LX200, Mini-tower, GP-DX, CG5 ASGT, LXD650, GM-8, G11, GM-100, GM-150EX, GM-200 and a Gemini G40
4" portable AP convertable 44" or 70" pier
Stellarvue M7 Alt-Az, TSL7 Pier/Tripod
12.5" f/5 MidnighTelescopes DOB Swayze optics
Statham GA