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???Spotting Scope or Telescope for terrestrial viewing???

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Spotting Scope or Telescope for terrestrial daytime viewing between 1/2 mile and 4 miles?

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???Spotting Scope or Telescope for terrestrial viewing???

Postby mlacouague on Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:36 pm

My new home sits atop a hill with a very nice view. Im interested in being able to site see with either a spotting scope or telescope. I would say the most of my viewing would be from approx 1/2 mile to 4 miles away. I've had a lot of suggestions to go with a spotting scope, however Im concerned with not being able to get close-up views of object that are several miles away. I'm budgeting about $500-750. I have some interest in night sky viewing but it wouldn't be a primary use. I've been giving thought to a Celestron Regal 100 F-ED and possibly adding a Barlow lens in order to get up close with distant objects but I'm wondering if I should just go with a telescope.

Any information or suggestions would be appreciated.
mlacouague
 
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Re: ???Spotting Scope or Telescope for terrestrial viewing???

Postby Jne_K on Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:40 am

Hi

There is only so much magnification that the atmosphere allows you to use by day for terrestrial viewing and, most places, a maximum of 60x is what you can expect before images go too blurry to be useful. That's why most spotting scopes top out at 60x. Mirage, heat waves, air currents, dust, humidity all work against you, especially for objects close to the ground. I can almost never get up to 60x where I now live in northern Wisconsin and expect any kind of image quality. Out west, where the air is drier and thinner if you are at higher elevations, higher magnifications are possible, but I've never been able to use more than 80x - 100x on the best day and still get enough image quality to be useful.

Going a big telescope with the potential for more magnification won't get around this issue. The atmosphere is the limiting factor, not the scope. Going for a larger spotting scope that can use standard telescope eyepieces so you can get above the usual 60x when conditions allow makes sense, but, again, that doesn't guarantee that the daytime atmosphere at your location will allow you to use those higher magnifications. Things are different at night because we are looking up through the thinner part of the atmosphere. By day, looking out over the surface, you are looking at not only the thickest part of the atmosphere, but also the most turbulent.

A scope like a regal or a Pentax PF-80 or 100 that uses telescope eyepieces so you can go beyond typical spotting scope magnifications makes sense. Both are excellent scopes, but don't skimp on a tripod for a 100 mm scope. That's too much weight for a flimsy cheap tripod.
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Re: ???Spotting Scope or Telescope for terrestrial viewing???

Postby mlacouague on Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:16 pm

That was an excellent response, thank you so much!

However I would like to ask one more question...

What are the advantages of a spotting scope over a telescope that I just throttle down to about 60x? Space isn't much of a issue and it will be staying in the living room or just outside of it. So should I just go with a telescope so that I can occasionally use it for the night sky or are there reasons to stick with a spotting scope?
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Re: ???Spotting Scope or Telescope for terrestrial viewing???

Postby Jne_K on Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:21 am

Hi

I always recommend that you buy according to your primary use, in this case, that would be a spotting scope

Spotting scopes will always give you correct, upright, right to left images. Telescopes, depending on the type, will give you either upside down images, or reversed right to left images. You can correct this on some models with image recessing prisms, but it always comes at the cost of image quality.

Telescope mounts are designed for astronomy. Some, but not all, are capable of being used by day, but, inevitably, you will be paying for features you don't need for daytime work. For daytime work, a good photo tripod with a two way pan head is all you need.

On the other hand, any spotting scope can be used for some astronomy.
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