Schmidt-Cass or Refractor

Which kind of telescope should I buy in about a year to share with my children and grandchildren?

I have a degree in physics and astronomy and worked at several observatories with Newtonians, refractors, schmid-cass, RC and other telescopes. I have built Newtonians to 10" and worked with a 24" Tinsley, but most of my observing time has been on Newtonians and refractors. In fact I have spent more time looking through a 5" Alvin Clark refractor than anything else, but only at guide stars. I have also shared a few nights with an 8" refractor. But for a good 25 years I have done no observing.

The hassle with Newtonians was that they always seemed to be getting dirty - how the hell did a spider get in there anyway? - and I was always fiddling with them, collimating, resilvering, and so forth.

What I remember about refractors is, number one, that gorgeous hunk of glass up there, and two, you’re looking at the same sky through or alongside the telescope. It’s more visceral, more physically pleasureable - and I think the grandchildren would have a nicer feel of it that way. Oh, yeah, there’s also always a violet fringe - but I can accept that.

What about Schmidt Cass telescopes? Smaller and less chromatic abberation, sure - but I never spent that much time with them. How is the feel relative to a refractor? Less contrast, which the kids would appreciate (my eyes are already hazy enough I don’t think I’d see the difference). But you’ve got the same physical relationship to the sky - or even better, because IIRC the SC doesn’t invert the view like the refractor does. Never mind about photography or photometry.

I don’t ever remember being around a refractor getting cleaned, only reading logs about it. Is the Schmidt Cass that troublefree? Do you have to fiddle with recollimations and cleanings? Being protected by the corrector plate, do the mirrors last forever?

More specifically I have wondered about Celestron’s 4" and 6" refractors and 5" and 8" SC’s, all on simple mechanical equatorial mounts without any of that goto gps crap. Reviews generally all say they are nice and nicely made, $400 to $1000 or so (a very expensive apo would be preferable if I were rich.

What say you?

I believe you’re as, or more, qualified than anyone here to answer that question already.

All I can add is that if you take care of your Schmidt Cass (like not leaving it outside with the cover off for extended periods) it should be fairly trouble-free. Otherwise, you’ve already made most of the arguments for and against most of your options. You just have to decide what you’re most comfortable with.

Personally, I like the way the SC’s look. They remind me less of a spyglass and more of a serious instrument ready to get down to work. But that’s just me. :slight_smile:

The big brains at Mt. Hope Observatory actually suggested a good pair of binoculars - glasses of modest magnification. They’re less expensive, they have other uses besides skywatching, and if the kids turn out to not enjoy skywatching, you’re not out a lot of money. A good pair of binocs will allow basic skywatching anywhere, any place. If you really need stability, many binocs come equipped with a threadded fitting that allows you to attach a tripod adapter to them.

      • Binoculars are terrible, they are simply horribly uncomfortable to look up at the sky with.
  • For a beginner telescope, I like the idea of a small refractor best–as it can also be used for terrestrial viewing too. -But then, a major part of how interesting astronomy is has a lot to do with mow many biting insects are out at night where you live. :wink:

OK, more specifically - if you have a SC telescope, do you EVER have to collimate it or take it apart or clean the inside? Or have all the old C8’s in the world still remained unopened since the factory?