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Guest post: A few thoughts about the Orion SkyScanner and other scopes, including the Bushnell Ares 5

July 8, 2012

Here’s the first guest post by frequent commenter and dedicated deep-sky observer Terry Nakazono. Actually “dedicated” is an appalling understatement, since Terry regularly challenges himself and his scopes by (1) observing faint deep-sky objects, mostly galaxies, (2) with small scopes he can carry on public transportation and by foot, (3) from light-polluted skies in and around Los Angeles. I’ve been looking forward to reading about Terry’s scopes and his observing techniques, so this guest post is most welcome–hopefully there will be more to follow.

I’ve been using the Orion SkyScanner the past 2 years for nearly all of my deep-sky observing needs because it’s so easy to transport and set up – crucial if you rely on public transport and your own two feet to get to darker sky sites. For a package weighing in at 6.2 lbs with scope and mount combined, 100mm of mirror is a lot of aperture.

Both scope and mount fits snugly in this Adidas Schmidt backpack. All that’s needed is a tripod to attach the mount to, and a solid Manfrotto weighing in at only 4.5 lbs. (but with a 15.5 lb. weight load capacity) provides a strong, stable support.

Factor in the eyepieces, star charts and other accessories, and you’re only transporting about 12-13 lbs. of equipment on your body. By comparison, the Orion StarBlast 4.5 weighs 13 lbs, while the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is 17.6 lbs. Both cost about twice as much ($199.99 and $239.99, respectively) as the SkyScanner ($109.99) and both add only 14mm of additional aperture to the mirror. As Joe Roberts says, you will not likely find a scope that will show more for the cost.

For deep-sky work, superb optics isn’t as critical compared to planetary and double star work, so a 100mm Newtonian reflector works well (for me). Despite not having a collimatable primary mirror, collimation can be achieved by center spotting the primary mirror and adjusting the tilt on the secondary with the help of a collimation cap, significantly improving the views of the planets and double stars as well as deep-sky objects.

Here, you can just see the notebook reinforcement ring I put on the center of the primary mirror; the secondary mirror is collimated by adjusting the three allen screws surrounding the main screw in the center of the secondary holder with an allen-head screwdriver.

Having said all that, I’m no longer wedded to the SkyScanner as my sole dark-sky instrument.

I now have an Orion shoulder bag that I can carry my Orion VersaGo II mount and Bushnell Ares 5 in.

I also have a Vixen Mini-Porta mount which will support my Celestron C90 Maksutov-Cassegrain (C90Mak, top) and Orion ShortTube 80-A (ST80A, bottom) telescopes. I just ordered a smaller Orion shoulder bag that will carry the aforementioned mount and one of these two scopes. These Orion bags are ergonomically well-designed and make it easy to carry both scope and mount over your shoulder without causing major strain.

I suspect that despite their better optics, both the C90Mak and the ST80A will not allow me to see “deeper” into space (i.e. detect fainter objects) than the SkyScanner. But I’ll need to perform a “shoot-out” between these scopes outside of light-polluted urban skies to confirm.

Right now, I see the collapsible tube Bushnell Ares 5 (BA5) as the scope that will eventually replace the SkyScanner as my deep-sky instrument once I’ve gone as far as I can with the latter. This is an F/5 130mm Newtonian which thanks to its unusual design, weighs only about 6.5 lbs. for the OTA. At only $164.99 (with no shipping or sales tax) from Optics Planet, this is probably the best scope deal in the country right now.

Here is the scope with the tube collapsed, mounted on an Orion VersaGo II (because of its bulkiness, I’ve discarded the 6.5 lb. tabletop mount that came with this scope).

And here is the scope with the tube extended all the way out.

I’ve created a light shroud made out of black felt to cover the open tube and protect it from the elements while observing.

In the limited amount of time I’ve used this scope in both light-polluted and semi-dark skies, I’ve had a tantalizing taste of what 130 mm. of light gathering power can show. In my light-polluted front driveway with direct vision, I was able to see the ring shape of M57 for the very first time, using only 65X magnification. With the 100mm SkyScanner, I can barely make out shading within the interior of the oval-shaped disk at 80X or more using averted vision in darker skies. Less than two months ago, I took my BA5 out to a semi-dark (orange-zone) site for the first time. M13 looked nothing like the views I saw through the SkyScanner – at 130X, this globular was just exploding with stars all over the place. Ditto for M5.

As Matt has shown us through his reports on using “Stubby Fats” in the desert, you can do some serious deep-sky observing with a 130 mm F/5 Newtonian in semi-dark or dark skies.

But the BA5 has to wait until I’ve exhausted all the possibilities of the 100mm F/4 SkyScanner.

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33 comments

  1. Brilliant write up Terry. Could not have expressed it better myself being a SkyScanner user and fellow SkyScanner buddy 😉


  2. Thanks Darren! I’m still very interested in seeing how the Skyscanner stacks up through the eyepiece against the Starblast 4.5, given that both are F/4 scopes with only a 14mm difference in aperture. Also, when they say that the Starblast has a “diffraction-limited” mirror while the Skyscanner does not, what does that mean in terms of the quality of the views?

    In terms of performance, you mentioned that you could detect almost no perceptible difference between the two – very interesting.


  3. Terry,

    An excellent report and very entertaining read. I have always been amazed at the results you’ve achieved with the little SiyScanner, dark skies and all. Most intriguing was how much more detail you were able to see (and from your driveway yet), and at lower magnification, by just going up 30mm——more fuel, as if we needed it, to heat up aperture fever!

    I still await your maiden voyage with your StarBlast 6, and you’ll be stunned at the resolution and brightness of images the SB6 serves up. Not the ideal scope to haul around on your back and on the bus though. The whole SB 6 rig weighs only 23 pounds, but it is “mattress weight”, that is not heavy in absolute terms, but very unwieldy and cumbersome to move, though a friend of mine up here says, once sequestered in the custom Orion SB6 soft case with shoulder strap, it’s much easier to move around with. So give it some thought.

    What kind of experiences have you had with your ST-80, especially vis a viz the SkySkanner and Bushnell? Ditto your C90.

    Thanks for a great read, Terry. I always learn something from your posts, and look forward to your next guest column. Make it soon.

    Doug


  4. Thanks Doug. Based on my limited experience with the Ares 5, the jump from a 3.9-inch to a 5.1 inch really makes a difference in the views. But only when I’ve thoroughly explored the night skies with the Skyscanner in both semi-dark and dark skies will it cease to be my main observing scope (and I still have a ways to go). The Orion Funscope 76mm Newtonian was the first scope I bought when I got back into astronomy in Feb 2010, but I used it for only 4 months at a borderline white-red zone site before moving up to the Skyscanner, and I’ve never used it since. I still feel guilty for abandoning it so “soon” and I won’t make the same mistake again with the scope that it replaced. .

    However that doesn’t mean I won’t use my other scopes (bigger and smaller than the Skyscanner) from time to time,

    Regarding the Starblast 6, I already have the Orion soft carry case custom built for this scope, and it makes both scope and mount easy to carry across one’s shoulder. Ergonomically well-designed just like their line of other scope/mount carry bags. But I also plan to use the scope on my VersaGo II mount rather than the tabletop mount and the Orion carry-bag seen in this article should fit the Starblast 6 OTA as well.

    My other small scopes have more specialized purposes (e.g. C90Mak for planets and double stars, ST80 for solar observing, GalileoScope for travel abroad). But of course I still want to compare the views through these scopes with the SkyScanner on deep sky objects, especially the ST80A & the C90Mak.


  5. Hi Terry.

    Please post again when you have done some brighter DSO observing your both your short tube scopes. I think this will be a fascinating comparison.

    I like your attitude here, that is exhaust the performance of one scope (the SkyScanner, in this case) before moving up, as this mades even the familiar “new” in one way or another.

    I am also waiting to here from Matt, re his results with the little Celestron Travel Scope 70. For some reason, I find this little rig intriguing, and the reviews on it are generally positive.

    Clear skies to you in Malibu. Or your driveway.

    Doug


  6. Doug, a couple of things you (and everyone else) may finder interesting:

    – Ed Ting’s review of the Short Tube 80.

    – Don Pensack’s thoughts on moving up a magnitude in scope size. Every time I get too excited about the possibility of a bigger scope, I think about that post and the thousands of objects that my scopes can show, that I haven’t seen yet.


  7. Terry,

    I have previously read Ed Ting’s review of the ST-80 and remember two sentences from it: “And then . . . and then? Well, I got kind of bored.” and “So, should you get one? Of course! It’s almost a rite of passage.” Kind of contradictory messages.

    Thanks for the Don Pensack post. I like this one, and I tend to agree that this whole aperture fever thing can quickly get out of control, and to what end? As you correctly say, even with our 6″ (and smaller) Dobs, we can never exhaust what the skies have to show us. Thanks for this reminder, and a voice of reason!

    You know, at this point (I just started this in February of this year, so I am a Noob-Cubed) I much, much more enjoy scanning around with either my 15 x 70 Skymasters, or the 9 x 50 RACI to set up great views in my SB 6 and just hugely enjoying all the glorious star clusters and groupings that fit in a 15x to 30x FOV. Most of them unnamed and/or unnumbered. I did find Cr 350 and IC 4765 a few nights ago as our skies up here are now at least semi-dark vs. the charcoal gray they have been for what seems months and I was able to spend about 15 minutes with each, doing sketches of both. And since then, i have come across several star groupings in that vast ocean of stars south and west of Vega that are as, or even more, impressive than either 350 or 4765 AND fit in a 4-5 degree FOV. At this point, I derive much more enjoyment/satisfaction from these kinds of sights than I do scoring yet one more dim smudge.

    A good reason, at least for me, to have some wide FOV rich-field instruments.

    In the interim, I have a long time to stretch the limits of the SB 6.

    Please keep us posted on your results with your ST-80 and C90.

    Doug


  8. I have previously read Ed Ting’s review of the ST-80 and remember two sentences from it: “And then . . . and then? Well, I got kind of bored.” and “So, should you get one? Of course! It’s almost a rite of passage.” Kind of contradictory messages.

    Well, it’s useful to think of telescopes as tools. An ST-80 is a fine tool for certain applications–quick peeks, widefield scanning, and low-mag work. Someone whose main interests lie in those areas might use one all night and not get bored.* But in his other reviews Ed shows a preference for pushing the magnification on scopes and going after fainter fare. He even described one of the small TeleVue scopes–either the TV-60 or TV-76, can’t remember which now–as a “one hour scopes” because you can see about everything they have to show in an hour. So his opinions (operative words) about small refractors are at least consistent across the price spectrum; he doesn’t treat the ST80 any more harshly than the high-end stuff.

    * Because I contrast someone with these interests with Ed Ting, a veteran observer by any standards, it might seem like I am implying that being interested in widefield scanning and low-mag work is somehow for beginners or those with less experience. But I don’t mean that at all. There are some very experienced observers who have the same preferences. David Levy comes to mind–you don’t have to read more than a few pages of his writing to find him extolling the virtues of sweeping the sky at low magnification with no set plan, just to discover what’s up there. So, different strokes for different folks.

    Thanks for the Don Pensack post. I like this one, and I tend to agree that this whole aperture fever thing can quickly get out of control, and to what end? As you correctly say, even with our 6″ (and smaller) Dobs, we can never exhaust what the skies have to show us. Thanks for this reminder, and a voice of reason!

    Ha, yeah, that thread got a little heated because certain parties were suggesting that you can’t do serious work without scopes in the 20-inch-plus range. Well, bullcrap. Leslie Peltier observed for two solid years with a 2-inch spyglass, and made literally thousands of variable star observations during that time. So anytime someone suggests you can’t do serious work with a small scope, you can knock them down with a one-two punch of Leslie Peltier and Jay Reynolds Freeman.

    You know, at this point (I just started this in February of this year, so I am a Noob-Cubed) I much, much more enjoy scanning around with either my 15 x 70 Skymasters, or the 9 x 50 RACI to set up great views in my SB 6 and just hugely enjoying all the glorious star clusters and groupings that fit in a 15x to 30x FOV….At this point, I derive much more enjoyment/satisfaction from these kinds of sights than I do scoring yet one more dim smudge.

    Hey, man, follow your dream. I recently became aware of SLAP observers–people who stick to Solar, Lunar, And Planetary targets. Now, I love the sun, moon, and planets, but I get hungry for deep sky pretty fast. And few things are more satisfying to me than starhopping to one of those dim smudges and seeing how much detail I can pull out of it. As much as I enjoy low-power sweeping–and I do at least a little almost every time I am out under dark skies–it starts driving me nuts because I want to identify and log all of those things!

    Fortunately the sky provides enough variety for all of us to find what we enjoy. I am happy that there are people who like very different kinds of observing than I do. I am just far enough along in my development as an observer to see that I am still learning what I like. In time, I may come to find other kinds of observing more appealing than what I do now. That will happen more readily if there are SLAP observers, and comet hunters, and eclipse chasers, and so on, to share with me their particular fascinations and the attitudes and tricks that make observing rewarding for them. May a thousand gardens grow.

    In the interim, I have a long time to stretch the limits of the SB 6.

    Indeed. I strongly suspect it will be a lifetime scope, even if you move on to others. I sold my 6″ Dob but found that I really needed a portable planet-killer, so I got an Apex 127 Mak with very similar performance. Just another tool in the arsenal.


  9. […] Last night rocked. Terry Nakazono was out from LA, and we had been planning for about two weeks to spend the night observing up on […]


  10. Terry,

    At this point, I am pretty much stuck to observing from my back patio and front courtyard in more or less typical suburban skies which, as I described in prior post, more a medium charcoal gray than black. Hence, my guess is that my difficulty in scoring dim DSOs is more a result of mediocre skies than of either my equipment or still entry-level observing skills. For example, M4 shows large and obvious on the star charts, right there big and bold a few degrees west of Antares. Finding it seems a done deal. But when I go there, even with the SB6 at 125x, nothing by empty sky. It can get discouraging.

    So picking up all these glorious groupings via wide field viewing is both hugely satisfying/enjoyable and relatively easy. But I can see where this could quickly make me lazy, so each time out I spend at least some time trying to run down this or that Messier or NGC/IC. Sometimes with success, sometimes not.

    What I need to do is drive about 40 miles out of town to this state park that is the site of local star parties and see what observing under an actual dark sky looks like.

    Your comments about Leslie Peltier and Jay Reynolds Freeman are spot on, and an instant dismissal of those who decry small scopes as amateur toys. I just picked up Peltier’s The Binocular Stargazer (formerly Leslie Peltier’s Guide to the Stars) and find it both inspiring and useful. But still, even with his advice as well as that of Sue French in her fine Celestial Sampler, you find many of their sentences beginning with “Under dark skies . . . ” or some similar qualifier.

    I have had my Skywatcher 90mm Mak (same one Matt has) out and scored jaw-dropping (for me) views of Saturn, this over a month ago and may take it out for some brighter DSO hunting one of these days. Let us know how your C90 does if/when you use it on deep sky stuff.

    I just read Matt’s post, re the all-nighter the two of you did atop Mt Baldy and he mentioned that your star chart of choice is The Night Sky Observer (I think that was the title). LIke Matt, I use primarily the PSA and wonder if TNSO might be a good supplement. I noted your comment (in his post) that there sometimes weren’t enough stars in the PSA, and I have found this to be true when it comes to trying to pin down the specific location of some of the wide field clusters I am sketching. There usually just aren’t enough stars in the PSA to figure it out. So I go to Will Tirion’s SA2K that I have on more or less permanent checkout from the library and the greater number of stars usually lets me identify the exact location. So maybe the TNSO can take its place as it sounds like the charts are laid out well, and the user reviews are raves.

    Thanks for your contributions to the blog. Hope you post your own observing report on the Night on Mt Baldy marathon.

    Best,

    Doug


  11. Terry,

    Quick addendum: What in your experience makes the Observer’s Sky Atlas so valuable? SIze of charts? The layout? I ask because if I read the description correctly, it only goes to Mag 6 on stars vs the 7.5 on the PSA. But it would be nice if the charts in the OSA were larger and covered a broader, more integrated field as the one gripe I have about the PSA is that it is broken up into too many small chunks and you have to keep flipping back and forth between say, pages 53 and 64 to get a more complete panorama.

    Doug


  12. For example, M4 shows large and obvious on the star charts, right there big and bold a few degrees west of Antares. Finding it seems a done deal. But when I go there, even with the SB6 at 125x, nothing by empty sky. It can get discouraging.

    Four things. First, you’re a thousand miles north of me, so M4 is really down near the horizon, so it may just be getting extinguished by having to look through so much air. You can see Omega Centauri from here if you have a clear southern horizon, but sometimes it is barely there for the same reason. Any near-horizon haze, even dozens of miles away, really sucks the light out of these extended objects.

    Second, if M4 isn’t working, try M5 up in Serpens Caput or M13 in Hercules. Both of those are high in the sky after dark right now. Work the zenith!

    Third, be patient, keep working on your observing skills. I used to have a terrible time with M71 even when it was dead overhead. Now I can almost always find it, unless the transparency is really bad.

    Fourth, another part of your observing skillset is learning to read the sky. The first thing I do when I go out in the driveway is look at the Little Dipper and see how many stars I can find naked-eye. This is a classic test of limiting magnitude. On a poor night, with lots of haze to bounce the LP around, I may only get three stars. I know on nights like those that looking at galaxies is a lost cause–it will have to be solar system objects or double stars. On a good night, after the rain has flushed all the smog and crap out of the sky, I might get five or seven stars, and then I can get most of the Messier galaxies with 70mm binoculars. YMMV, but I find that LP varies a LOT from night to night and seasonally, depending mostly on how good or bad the transparency is.

    So picking up all these glorious groupings via wide field viewing is both hugely satisfying/enjoyable and relatively easy. But I can see where this could quickly make me lazy, so each time out I spend at least some time trying to run down this or that Messier or NGC/IC. Sometimes with success, sometimes not.

    Sound pretty much like my program for observing from home. I don’t see everything I try for. But on good nights I am often pleasantly surprised at how much I can see.

    What I need to do is drive about 40 miles out of town to this state park that is the site of local star parties and see what observing under an actual dark sky looks like.

    Yes. You do need to do this. You need to make it a top priority. It will be a whole new sky. Take your biggest scope, take plenty of water and snacks and warm clothing–once you start cruising truly dark skies with the SB6, you will not want to stop.

    I have had my Skywatcher 90mm Mak (same one Matt has) out and scored jaw-dropping (for me) views of Saturn, this over a month ago and may take it out for some brighter DSO hunting one of these days. Let us know how your C90 does if/when you use it on deep sky stuff.

    You probably knew I was going to say this, but…to do deep sky work with a 90mm Mak you really *need* dark skies. A few things may punch through the LP–open clusters, some globs and planetaries–but they’ll look much more rewarding in the SB6, no matter what the sky conditions.

    OTOH, the greater magnification of the 90mm Mak may help on some objects by darkening the sky background. As Timothy Ferris said in Seeing in the Dark, you can’t catch any fish unless you get your line wet. So give it a shot–just don’t be surprised or disappointed if you get skunked.

    I just read Matt’s post, re the all-nighter the two of you did atop Mt Baldy and he mentioned that your star chart of choice is The Night Sky Observer (I think that was the title).

    Close–it’s The Observer’s Sky Atlas, by Erich Karkoschka. Nice little book–I’m thinking hard about getting one to go in my travel observing kit. It’s small enough that it would fit in a binocular case or the shaving kit I use for the SV50–something the PSA can’t do.


  13. Matt/Terry,

    Either of you know anything about a third sky atlas, Objects in the Heavens (by Peter Birren)? While I find the PSA an excellent resource, I am thinking about adding a second atlas option, at this point probably either The Observer’s Sky Atlas or Objects in the Heavens. Unfortunately, neither has the Search Inside sampler so I have no idea of what the charts in either look like.

    I am guessing that The Bright Star Atlas by Will Tirion is probably too elementary.


  14. The highlight of the Observer’s Sky Atlas is the enlarged chart sections showing stars down to mag. 9.5 that accompany the naked eye (mag. 6) charts, which allows you to find 250 of the best nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters in the night sky – including all 110 Messier and 140 NGC and IC objects. These inset maps show more magnitude 9 stars than Uranometria 2000 does (it’s true, I checked), making star-hopping to find these jewels of the night sky easy. The book uses a coding scheme that rates each DSO based on its detectablity with an opera glass, binocular, 76mm spotting scope, or a 6-inch Newtonian. It also indicates whether the object is a difficult target because of low surface brightness (despite its overall magnitude).

    Although the Tri-Atlas B Set of charts (showing stars down to 11th mag.) is currently my main field atlas, I always have the Observer’s Sky Atlas handy whenever I want to revisit any of the DSO’s in that book, or when I want to take a break from deep-sky observing and do some double star observing.


  15. This is exactly what I need to supplement my PSA. I will order it tomorrow. Thanks, Terry.


  16. […] another guest post by Terry Nakazono (his first is here). […]


  17. […] a link to a post I did on the SkyScanner (and other scopes) on the 10 Minute Astronomy website: Guest post: A few thoughts about the Orion SkyScanner and other scopes, including the Bushnell Ares … […]


  18. […] of years was an Orion Funscope, and his most-used scope is his SkyScanner 100 (see his review here). With the SkyScanner 100 and more recently a StarBlast 4.5, he has logged over 400 deep-sky […]


  19. […] on this scope (and others) on the following astronomy website ("10 Minute Astronomy"): Guest post: A few thoughts about the Orion SkyScanner and other scopes, including the Bushnell Ares … Attached […]


  20. “Either of you know anything about a third sky atlas, Objects in the Heavens (by Peter Birren)? While I find the PSA an excellent resource, I am thinking about adding a second atlas option, at this point probably either The Observer’s Sky Atlas or Objects in the Heavens. Unfortunately, neither has the Search Inside sampler so I have no idea of what the charts in either look like.”

    Just stumbled on this site. Terrific set of equipment, and all very portable. That’s important because the best scope to use is the one you are able to get out with most often.

    I’m the author of “Objects in the Heavens.” It’s in Edition 5.1 and a few inside spreads can be seen at my website: http://www.birrendesign.com/astro.html I’d be glad to answer any questions about the details and offer my opinions on astronomy in general.


  21. Hi Peter,

    Wow, many thanks for stopping by and commenting! Thanks also for pointing us to the inside spreads from the new edition of “Objects in the Heavens”–very useful, and for offering to answer questions. I see on your page that you started the OitH project with a 6-inch reflector. If you don’t mind me asking, what is your most-used scope right now, and has that changed over time? Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

    Best,

    Matt


  22. Hi Peter,

    Yes, thanks for your comments. Glad you like my scopes!

    Terry


  23. Hi, Matt.

    I still have that 6″ scope, a refurbished 1974 f/8 Edmund Scientific “Super Sky Ranger” that I rescued from a friend’s garage. Won a 6″ f/5.3 at a club drawing, did side-by-side comparisons and decided to give the short tube to my son. The EdSci is all I really need because the guy I go out viewing with regularly has a 15″ Obsession. We play musical scopes between the two as I can find things quicker, then we use his to see more detail. I’ve made a lot of changes including recoating the mirror (twice now), new secondary, new focuser (and looking to get a 2-stage one), new tripod and mount. I also use Bushnell 12×50 binoculars on a balance beam mount I fabricated and a seat patterned after the Denver chair that’s fully adjustable. Like to get a big refractor but that means big dollars. “Dance with the girls ya got, not the ones you wish you had.” (saying from my mother-in-law 🙂

    – Peter


  24. […] that don’t suck include the Orion SkyScanner 100 (4 inches, ~$125, observing reports here and here), Orion StarBlast 4.5 (4.5 inches, ~$200), Orion XT4.5 (4.5 inches, ~$260), and the Astronomers […]


  25. Hi,
    Enjoyed reading these posts tremendously!I also have a starblast 6 and I consider it to be a wonderful scope.Also have an ST80 which I enjoy and am considering a Skyscanner for wide views but not sure if my ST80 would be better in that regard?
    T%hanks to everyone for their posts.

    Tom


  26. Thanks, Tom. Terry may have some thoughts of his own, but here’s my $0.02: the only objectionable thing about the ST80 is the false color at higher powers. But if you’re using it for widefield scanning, that won’t be an issue. Out of those two, I’d pick the ST80 – in my experience, the crispness and clarity of unobstructed refactor views is especially pleasing at low power. And with no central obstruction and little to no coma, the ST80 will give up surprisingly little in terms of light grasp and resolution to the slightly larger SkyScanner. It does cost about twice as much, which is certainly a consideration. But you really can’t go wrong with either. Since you already have a dob, I’d say get the ST80 and take a dip in refractor land.


  27. Strong second here to what Matt says. I have had both, ended up selling the SkyScanner and keeping the ST80. Not that the SS wasn’t a good scope, it was, and easy to tote around and set up. But you do have the inverted image, not a problem for most, but I never liked this aspect much. The ST80 optics are surprisingly crisp and clean, excellent resolution and sharpness. At lower powers for wide field scanning, there isn’t much difference between the ST89 and my Stellarvue SV80ED. At higher magnification, a different story. I also have a StarBlast 6 and my take is that a larger Dob and a smaller refractor for wide field viewing (pretty good on the moon, too) would make a good combo plate for you. Different kinds of scopes, different kinds of experiences.

    If you do opt for the ST80, pony up another 50 bucks for a Celestron 8×24 zoom for a one-size-fits-all grab and go.

    Doug


  28. Thanks Matt.Your insight is great and much appreciated.


  29. Hi Doug.Thanks for your advise too.I also have the Starblast 6 and it is one great telescope.I’m sure the ST 80 will complement it very well.


  30. Did something just get fixed with this site? I’d forgotten all about it since posting 3 years ago and just now I’m getting comments. Yippee!


  31. Ha Ha,yep I guess the comments just take a few years to get posted lol


  32. I found this site a few weeks ago and must say that I’m absolutely delighted to read so many great comments from everyone regarding small scopes.


  33. […] I’ve been interested in Orion’s SkyScanner 100 tabletop Dob ever since 2012, when I got to look through the SkyScanners owned by Terry Nakazono and Doug Rennie. In particular, the evening I spent stargazing with Doug up in Oregon that October is in my short list of all-time favorite observing sessions. See that observing report here, and be sure to check out Terry’s guest post on the SkyScanner 100 here. […]



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