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druthers; ES AR102 refractor vs orion Starblast 6i?

Started by JimPhelps, 02/10/2018 09:37AM
Posted 02/10/2018 09:37AM | Edited 02/10/2018 06:22PM Opening Post
I've had many kinds of telescopes over the last 40 years and I'm currently torn between 2 for my next. I still own an Orion 10" intelliscope dob reflector but my back yard has a number of trees that prevent my use of a goto or DSC alignment. I'm looking for a convenient grab&go that I can set up in my back yard to take advantage of what little areas of sky I can use. Currently I'm considering the ES AR102 with twilight mount, two speed focuser , 2" star diagonal, or the Orion Starblast 6" F5 intelliscope. I already have plenty of 1.25" eyepieces and a number of 2" eyepieces. I believe both scopes are light and portable enough to easily move around my property. The intelliscope feature means I could use it at viewing locations with plenty of access to alignment stars. A friend made me a mount composed of Celestron tripod wooden platform that would elevate the scope finder/eyepiece height for comfortable viewing and of course, it has the dobsonian ability to move (push-to) around while viewing. the AR102 has been reviewed as having very good lenses with little chromatic aberration, it has a wonderful 2 speed 2" focuser and diagonal, and, I'm told the twilight 1 mount handles the OTA (10.4 lb weight) well enough for most magnification except possibly high power. The AR102 & mount currently can be got for $600, while the 6i Starblast can be had for $429.00. I find myself going back & forth trying to decide between the two but I'm open to other opinions based upon experience. I am also getting away from equatorial mounts as I just sold an Omni 6" reflector, CG4 package . The cables on the Twilight 1 altaz mount appeal to me, as does the push to character of the Starblast dob. Over the years I've had and liked using 6" F5 reflectors, (I had a Discovery 6" F5 dob that was great, and the omni 6" F5 ota was very good I used it on a pipe mount. I'd like to pull the trigger before spring which doesn't seem to care to show itself any time soon. I'd appreciate any advice.
Jim Phelps
Posted 02/13/2018 07:03AM #1

Tough call. There are several pros and cons I can see with either package.


(1) Quicker cooldown vs. 6" mirror
(2) Lower focal length (663mm vs. 750mm) allows for a little wider FOV
(3) Ability to use 2"-eyepieces allows for MUCH wider FOV
(4) Higher f-ratio is easier on eyepieces, particularly widefields

(1) Chromatic Aberration. Not terrible, but definitely there. Can be offset somewhat by minus-violet filter
(2) Less aperture than the 6" Starblast
(3) Might be too low an eyepiece position when aimed towards zenith.

6" Starblast:

(1) More aperture than AR102
(2) Relatively lightweight
(3) Intelliscope design allows for quick location of DSO's
(4) No chromatic aberration. Zero. Zip. Nada.

(1) Longer cooldown vs. AR102
(2) Barely half the FOV as the AR102, owing to a longer focal length and limited to 1.25"-eyepieces
(3) Rack-and-pinion 1.25"-focuser leaves much to be desired. Can be swapped out for a 2"-focuser, but will likely require a dremmel tool and greatly ramp up the PITA Factor.

Clear Skies,