Well, I figure I have a $3,000 budget...and I'm uncertain which scope to buy.
First, I should mention I'm currently using an Orion StarMax 127mm MCT on an EQ-3 mount. I've only been doing this since Christmas...so, I'm still a newbie.
I've decided that I really enjoy this hobby and I'm ready to make a serious investment. I just don't want to get aperture fever and buy a scope so large that I'll never use it. I figure that most nights I'll still use the 5" scope and pull the 'light bucket' out on clear nights when I can spend hours observing or taking pictures.
Well, along with another brand, the 'C' word, I've narrow my choice to two Meade product lines: LX90 or LX200.
With the 8" LX90 I can save some money and probably still have all the scope I'll need for years to come. It's larger aperture and GOTO will improve my observing sessions and it's still quite portable.
With the LX200 line, I can afford the 7" MCT, 8" SCT or 10" SCT. Obviously, the 8" being the least expensive gives me some cash left over for a wedge, dew prevention and any minor accessories I might need...the 7" MCT and 10" SCT will consume my entire budget.
Also, please keep in mind, I do have some minor back problems and feel that the 10" might be more scope than I'm prepared to heft by myself...and I don't have anyone close by to help me with this stuff on short notice...so, I'm leaning toward the 8" SCT.
Unless there's a pressing reason to get the LX90, it boils down to the difference between the 7" MCT and the 8" SCT as far as maintenance (collimation...something I've never had to do with my MCT) and contrast (I've heard the MCT optics give better visual results...and it's a slightly longer focal length).
Since I'm doing some astrophotography already, I'm figuring I should skip the LX90...the GPS will be perfect for finding faint DSOs and tracking things like the ISS. Also, I won't have to worry as much about alignment if I head to a new (darker) observing site. I'm not sure how much of this the LX90 can do as well as the LX200. I know they both have AutoStar...is there a difference in their alignment/tracking capabilities?
Any advice appreciated. I don't want to throw my hard-earned money away on a scope I'll never use or one that doesn't live up to my expectations. I can save a lot of money by getting an 8" SCT on an EQ mount...so I'm taking this investment seriously.