What a Fun Combination by Ty Yun

 

I think I’ve finally reached nirvana (well, at least with my telescopes)!  After many years of using a Meade 10” LX90ACF both on the mainland and here on Hawaii Island as my primary telescope, I caught aperture fever and up-sized to a Meade 12” LX200ACF.  Of course, my backyard observatory allowed me to get a 12” because I have it permanently mounted on a pier and wouldn’t have to lug the beast around every time I wanted to observe – the 10” LX90 was already pushing hard on the threshold of “moveability” for me (notice I didn’t even use the word “portability”). 

 

So, after enjoying the somewhat but definitely noticeable increase in the brightness of the views, I began toying with the possibility of utilizing the more robust mount on the LX200.  What telescope would be a fine complement to the big SCT and mounted piggyback on top?  A widefield refractor was the answer that came immediately to mind.  I’ve never been too much of a fan of refractors because being a visual observer, light gathering power is the name of the game so here’s a chance for me to see what all the enthusiasm was about.  So, the LX200 would provide the aperture and magnification to pull in the faint fuzzies, planets, etc.; the refractor would provide contrasty, wide fields for the larger deep sky objects and just scanning the Milky Way every once in a while.  After doing quite a bit of research, I settle on a 4” refractor which would be a good combination of size, weight (even though the LX200 mount is very robust, I didn’t want to tax it too much and I do have it balanced) and capability.  This looked good on paper but I was still not totally certain of how I would like this setup.  So as a proof of concept, I bought an inexpensive 4” Orion Starblast refractor and piggyback-mounted it on the LX200.  This is what the photo shows.

 

Well, the concept works!  I can now go-to any object and look through each scope and compare views.  Sure, not every object is going to look good through both scopes but at least I can easily (just by moving my head about 6”) look at something through a 12” at f/10 then a 4” at f/6 to assess which view is better.  I’ve only had this setup for a few months and already know that I’m going to enjoy it for many years.  In fact, I decided to upgrade the Orion refractor to another 4” refractor with much better build quality, better color correction, with a dual-speed focuser and will take 2” eyepieces.  It’s f/7 which will give me a bit smaller field of view which is an ok tradeoff for the other advantages.  With the eyepieces I have (without using a Barlow or focal reducer) and what seeing conditions will allow, I can go from 455X @ .2°FOV on the LX200 to 19X @ 3.7°FOV on the refractor – that’s quite a range!   

 

I feel like I’ve maxed out the size of telescope that my observatory can handle plus maxed out (or as far as I’m willing to go) the LX200 mount with a 4” refractor so aperture fever can be kept at bay!  I’m a happy (happier is a better description) camper now!