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?