After spending more time than I care to admit reading, comparing and discussing different options I made a decision. I also came to realize that third party sellers may have idiots working for them that have no idea what they are talking about.
When I called around talking to vendors there were two that really stuck in my mind, funny enough they have almost the exact same domain name, telescopes.com and telescope.com. Here are their stories (dong dong):
Telescopes.com is a company named Hayneedle. They sell just about everthing, but have one website devoted to telescopes. They sell Celestron, Meade and Skywatcher primarily and were very friendly. After several conversations where I was explaining what I wanted to do and what cameras I had, etc, the salesman (Jeff) there sent me a quote on everything I would need to start based around the Meade Lightswitch 8″ SCT.
Telescope.com is the website for Orion Telescopes direct. The salesman there, Laker, was very professional but maybe not quite as nice as the one from Hayneedle. He suggested a setup based around the Orion Premium 110mm f/7 ED APO refractor on a Orion Sirius EQ mount. It was a little more expensive than the Meade.
Now came the comparison: The Meade had the new “lilghtswitch” technology which supposedly could automatically align the scope just like flipping a lightswitch. Set the scope up, press a couple of buttons, BAM! You were good to go. Sweet. It also had 8″ of aperture and everyone in astronomy knows aperture is king right?
The Orion on the other hand had a beefier mount that was a true EQ mount and not a single fork alt-az. This means it can support more weight and do longer exposures. To do that on the Meade I would need something called a wedge and that isn’t cheap.
Doing a little more looking at things it seems I would have to learn to do collimation on the Meade, and it has to sit out longer to adjust to the temps before I could use it. It also has a problem called coma that the Orion does not (different telescope design). On further reading, it seems that since the Meade has two mirrors it loses a lot of light due to scatter and the mirrors blocking some of the light, the Orion is a refractor and does not have these issues. It is also very easy to put another telescope on the Orion mount, not so for the Meade. Lastly, the Orion package includes an autoguider for really long exposures (it’s possible to do 15 minutes or more!) while the Meade is limited to about 30 seconds.
Once you look at all the differences the choice was easy:
Now all I have to do it put this stuff together and make it work!
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