Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

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Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Highbury Mark » Tue Apr 28, 2020 5:14 pm

The enforced Coronavirus lockdown has left me with lots of time - probably far too much time - to ponder how to upgrade my solar set up. I am visual only, and currently have a Lunt 60 with the 60mm DS filter. With help from George and others on Cloudy Nights, I’d decided to go for the LS80 DSII, having heard how concerns about haloes and glare had been mitigated by an additional polariser....
Then today I’ve thought of another option costing around the same amount of money.
How about buying a Solarscope 70mm filter, mated to my TeleVue 85 refractor, and double stacked with my existing Lunt 60fha? If the adaptors could be made, I could run this as a great 70mm single stack and 60mm double stack set up until some time in the (distant) future when I might be able to afford a second 70mm Solarscope etalon. But would the SS and Lunt filters be compatible, or should I just go for the LS80? I’ve emailed Solarscope to ask them, but I’d be very interested to hear the opinions of Solarchat members.


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by marktownley » Tue Apr 28, 2020 6:45 pm

Hiya Mark, welcome to the forum and to solarchat.

My question, what are you hoping to achieve by upgrading? How do you like to view - full disk, closeup? What do you feel you're not getting from the Lunt DS?

Mark


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Highbury Mark » Tue Apr 28, 2020 11:45 pm

Thanks Mark.
I’d like more resolution and contrast of the sun’s surface features (when they wake up again. Frankly both full disc and higher magnification details. The Lunt60 DS is good but want to push things a bit further to get best out of U.K. seeing


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by DeepSolar64 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 1:47 am

Highbury,
You sound a lot like me. I have a Coronado SolarMax II 60 DS and am considering upgrading to a Lunt 80 or a Lunt 100 preferably double-stack system. My Coronado wets my appetite but I feel it is not enough. I seek higher contrast, it seems that seeing details in the Coronado is sometimes a lot of work and I seek higher magnification capability as well as full disc. The SM60 is a low power full disc scope. I certainly have issues seeing stuff like spicules! A Lunt LS100Tha double stack system should fit the bill but costs 3+ times what my Coronado does. Less of a sweet spot and more even illumination would be a bonus too.

In time going into imaging is a goal too.

White light is so much easier and cheaper to upgrade.

Mark and I have conversed on another ongoing post on the same lines as this.

James


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by marktownley » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:40 am

To be honest, going from 60mm to 70mm the jump isn't huge and not sure you'll really reap any benefits. Given your talking about 70mm solarscope etalons i'm guessing budget isn't an issue here.

The Lunt 80 is a nice scope, have used one visually a number of occasions, it would be nice for visual and allow you to get closer with more resolution than the 60 you currently have. You could also keep the double stack etalon and mount this on their for those full disk views in DS that are great. There's the Lunt100 to consider too, which, you could double stack with your 60mm external etalon.

Bigger than this I would seriouslly consider your local seeing and would advise getting a SSM (maybe you can borrow one?) and getting an idea whether you can support the larger apertures. It maybe you already have a larger refractor in which case, you could consider a quark, or if you want to spend one of the solar spectrum etalons. Rupert from Astrograph stocks both solar spectrum rear etalons and Lunt scopes - you should check him out http://astrograph.net/epages/www_astrog ... _Observing


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Montana » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:56 am

A very warm welcome Mark :hamster:

That is a tough question and something James is also encountering. As you both enjoy looking visually then it is the question of how bright and contrasty the Sun will appear through the eyepiece AND how good is your eyesight (will be different for everyone).

I have limited knowledge, I only regularly view the Sun through either a double stacked PST at 40mm or the complete opposite of a Solarscope 100mm double stack. The difference visually between the 2 are like night and day with the Solarscope being so much brighter and crisper to see. But my eyes aren't that good, you can't see individual spicules on the surface like you can see in images, you can just make out the furry edge of the disc with good seeing. But then who knows what the view would be like with binoviewers and eyepieces that cost lots of money? However, the more your eyes get adapted to the dark you see more detail. But then if I stare long enough through the PST I can see nice prominences and active region detail. I am not sure how much a difference 1cm in aperture will make? I am sure it more depends on how bright the Sun's disc is as to what you actually see. It is a pity we can't get all telescopes of each make and size together and all have a visual comparison.

I don't think we could ever answer this question without setting them up side by side and you looking down them.

Alexandra



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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Astrograph » Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:15 am

Hi Mark,

As has been suggested it depends what you are ultimately trying to achieve. If you want more resolution and contrast then the answer to the first is aperture. In the UK up to about 130mm is the practical limit for consistent seeing. In my experience the difference between a 100mm and 80mm scope is night and day. If you already have a 60 then I think there is little point moving up to an 80 (or a 70). It would be a bit better but nothing major.

In terms of adding a Solarscope Etalon to a Lunt. Double stacking any old etalon does not just work. The filters used within the etalons can interfere with each other and lead you with a poor view or none at all. For instance the non Pressure Tuned Lunt 60 scopes cannot be double stacked with a Lunt DS module unless a matched etalon is ordered. Only the PT version can be stacked with an off the shelf DS module and that does not even guarantee you a perfect view. Its not to say it won't work but that is luck more than anything else. A Solarscope front etalon is a much higher quality item than a Lunt in terms of uniformity but other than that it would not guarantee you any more contrast or resolution than what you have.

Given the cost of a Solarscope front mounted etalon I would consider looking at a large rear mounted one. You have many benefits here.

1. Due to the nature of etalons it is very hard to may a big one and keep it uniform. To do it well at 100mm is pretty special which is why a big Solarscope front etalon is so expensive. Its also why for the Lunt 100mm scope, they use a small etalon internally and the DS module is another small etalon added internally. There front 100mm has 3 central obstructions in it which is how you do a big etalon on the cheap. Trouble with that is that get a reduction in contrast and diffraction effects. Even with Solarscopes skill it would be a tall order to make a 0.5A big filter so you stack two that will work with each other. Mega bucks. With a rear etalon it is kept small (up to 46mm max) and so the cost can be kept under control.

2. You can order a filter with a narrow bandpass. If you want contrast then that means having a system of at least 0.5A which is a double stack on a dedicated solar scope. With a rear filter you can choose. With Solar Spectrum its 0.65, 0.5 and 0.3A.

3. The filters bandpass is controlled by temperature. Tilting an etalon (as with front mounted types) requires you to tilt it to allow for wing shift. Tilting an etalon increases its bandpass and does not do a lot for image sharpness. To avoid tilting you can use air pressure, hence the Lunt PT system. With a temperature controlled etalon like a Solar Spectrum it can be heated AND cooled to suit so you can use it in all temperatures and keep it on band at the exact wavelength you want.

4. You can change the resolution of your system by putting the rear etalon on a different scope. That scope can also be used for white light and calcium.

Now you list that you have a Quark so I guess you have some experience of using a rear mounted filter. If you have been using it with your TV85 then I doubt it would have been a good experience (assuming you have a good Quark) as that scope is not compatible with a Quark. A Quark also has a small etalon so while OK for imaging, its not so hot for visual, but that does depend on if its optimised or not.

Finally, bear in mind that when buying a dedicated solar telescope, apart from being a one trick pony, the telescope part of it is an off the shelf item. A Lunt 100mm is based on a £700 ED doublet. The 152 is based on a £800 Achromat. Using similar scopes as the base and putting a truly high end filter on the end of one will result not only in a far superior solar scope but also one which has not actually cost you any more. It will have pro's and con's compared to a dedicated solar scope but overall you will have a significant extra bang for your buck.



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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Solar B » Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:59 am

Hello Mark ... I do hope your keeping safe and well.

I agree with all that's already been said , however I'm quite a lazy astronomer and much

prefer the grab n go option , you just can't beat taking a scope out of its case and

your away , I'm good with the solar-scout options but cannot be bothered with the quark faff ,

as I said I'm a lazy astronomer :)

Re Solar-scope is the gear available ? ... Ken sold the business a few years back , I had been in

touch with the new owner Helmut about 3 yrs ago but didn't think or realise he was in production.

Brian


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Highbury Mark » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:02 pm

Thank you all for your time and considered advice - it’s really appreciated.
Alexandra - it’s very interesting hearing your experiences with Solarscope.I guess even the best 70mm etalon in the world is still only 70mm, and can’t act as a larger filter. As I’m not an imager - at least not yet - getting a perfectly even image across the fov is less important than achieving greater detail and contrast, even if it’s within a sweetspot.
Rupert - you may remember, I I met you at the last Astrofest. We were discussing night vision astronomy which is another of my wallet-bruising interests.I’ve looked closely at Solar Spectrum and have been on the point of contacting you a couple of times, but the main stumbling block is getting an F30 system to work well in London seeing. My Quark is excellent on proms, and so far unimpressive on surface detail, which I partly put down to the level of magnification used (through a Takahashi FC-100 F/7.4 - TeleVue Plossl 40mm and 0.5x reducer). With better seeing I’d have ordered a Solar Spectrum 0.3A from you a while ago and had the perfect combination of full disk and close detail set ups. I’m going to absorb your advice anyway.
Thanks all - what a great response to my post :bow


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Montana » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:11 pm

Brian, as far as I last knew Helmut the new owner is producing Solarscope etalons now. He was going to attend the very recent astro meeting in March which was cancelled, so if he is doing a stand he must now be in full production swing.

Alexandra



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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Highbury Mark » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:14 pm

Yes, Solarscope are alive and kicking - professional website now. Will be interesting to see where the new owners take the business. Either follow the BMW model and use your brand image to spread more into the mass market, or do an Aston Martin and continue to target a small and specialist minority. Right now it’s around 7300 euros for a single 70mm filter, so no signs of going mass market yet....


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Astrograph » Wed Apr 29, 2020 1:00 pm

Solarscope is Manx Precision Optics. You can't mass produce these things at the quality they are. When you mass produce you get Lunt, Coronado and Daystar. Meaning you are more likely to see non uniformity. As with mass market optics there is a huge variation is quality. You can get lucky and get something very good, having spent very little but its luck. More often than not there will be something negative about it. Choose quality and yes it costs more but 99% of what you get will be what you expect.

As a supplier I can say that for optics, all those out of China need to be checked and usually worked on to deliver the quality I expect. They absorb a lot of my time. With premium optics, I rarely need to worry.

For solar I have never had an issue with Solar Spectrum and do not know of anyone having an issue with Solarscope. With Lunt I have returned product and with Daystar, Quark returns were easily 50% until they refused to take them back and that's when we parted company. Ultimately you can get some excellent products without spending a fortune but money spent on quality is seldom wasted.



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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Solar B » Wed Apr 29, 2020 1:39 pm

Hey that's great news that Solar scope are alive and well 💛

I had a spoken to Helmut a few times during the transition stage and he's a top bloke.

Having owned an SV50 in the past I've always hankered after an SV60 ... now thats the

ultimate grab n go ha scope for the lazy astronomer 👽

Brian


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by DeepSolar64 » Wed Apr 29, 2020 3:47 pm

Interesting thread everyone. I am thinking about upgrading too. To a Lunt 80 or 100. I am looking for more resolution and better magnification ability than my current Coronado SolarMax II 60 DS will do. I think Highbury Mark and I are in the same situation here.

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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Astrograph » Wed Apr 29, 2020 4:58 pm

Mark, I missed one of your earlier posts. I remember the chat at Astrofest.

On the subject of a good clear FOV. Visually you should be a lot more demanding of this than for imaging. With a camera sensor if the central part of the filter is good then it does not impact images. With visual, I for one don't like seeing dark patches, marks etc across the field of view.

Your current setup (without the reducer) should deliver views with high contrast. I had no problems with a 100mm F7 or F8 scope plus Quark back in the day. Having said this I have had Quarks returned that no longer show any detail. The thermostat internally seems to fail. I would say there is more chance of this than there being a fundamental problem with the system itself. Using reducers visually never works IMHO. It is better to use an eyepiece with more focal length. Generally the optical limit of a system means that a eyepiece focal length that is double the f ratio delivers the highest contrast. So F30 = 60mm. In reality that means either a 55mm Plossl or 50mm Erfle eyepiece. A 40mm plossl still holds up but as you like Night Vision you will need a 55mm anyway!

If you were to change to a Solar Spectrum filter on your FC-100 then you would use this with a 4x Telecentric. This gives you F29.6. Focal length will be 2960mm so the solar disc will be just under 26mm. If you were not worried about a full solar disc then using a Solar Spectrum Solar Observer 1.5 with a 25mm etalon will provide almost a full disc. As you can use this with a 2" eyepiece like the 55mm you will have a nice big almost full disc view at 58x. If you really want a full disc then you could opt for a 32mm etalon. You can still use the 40mm for a bit more magnification. I assume you have a front ERF?

The SS etalon is a different animal to a Daystar and you would find it is usable in all temperatures. It can't make up for poor seeing though. To avoid that observe early in the day.

The SS etalon does have dedicated telecompressors for it (reducers) but as mentioned these are intended for imaging not visual.



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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by marktownley » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:11 pm

Agree, a Solar Spectrum on the Takahashi would be an excellent choice, you should utilise the Tak.


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Highbury Mark » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:28 pm

Well I have slightly shocked myself today. Done something that I could never have envisaged, even when I started this thread. With apologies to Rupert after all his excellent advice, after six months of analysis paralysis, I’ve just ordered two Solarscope 70mm filters for my TeleVue 85.
This came about because I emailed Solarscope yesterday for the first time, to ask about compatibility with other manufacturers’ filters. In Helmut’s reply, it became clear that the (UK) price for Solarscope products was less than I had thought - just as Lunt and Coronado prices are more affordable in the States - and within my budget following a work bonus (and a lot of astro gear to sell off). So I pressed the button. Thought of a double stacked external system was too much to ignore. And hopefully in a few weeks’ time I’ll have a top quality solar set up to report back on. Least I can do after receiving so much good advice from you all!


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Solar B » Wed Apr 29, 2020 9:42 pm

Wow ..... congrats on the purchase Mark 👍... I'm dead jealous :mrgreen:

I do look forward to both seeing and hearing about the SF70s

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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Highbury Mark » Wed Apr 29, 2020 10:24 pm

Thanks Brian - will report back. Expecting 4 weeks until delivery.


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by RKBerta » Thu Apr 30, 2020 2:57 am

Astrograph,
You wrote that:
+++++++++
Now you list that you have a Quark so I guess you have some experience of using a rear mounted filter. If you have been using it with your TV85 then I doubt it would have been a good experience (assuming you have a good Quark) as that scope is not compatible with a Quark. A Quark also has a small etalon so while OK for imaging, its not so hot for visual, but that does depend on if its optimised or not.
++++++++++++++++++
Why isn't the TV85 compatible with a Quark? I have a Quark Chromosphere that I normally use with a Officina Stellare 80mm f6 APO triplet. I also have a TV 85 f7 APO and have used it a couple of times with a 1 1/4" diagonal. The scope won't work with the 2" diagonal as it doesn't have enough in focus. The Officina Stellare works fine with it allowing me to use a 2" diagonal so a better selection of longer focal length eyepieces which are more appropriate. With that setup I can get decent visual image comparable to double stacked scopes I have used.

My main scope is the OS 80 with a older US made Coronado 60mm Ha external front mounted etalon and tuner and the BF30 blocking filter straight through along with a 2" Astrophysics diagonal. That allows full disk viewing or high magnification. That is only single stacked but I get excellent resolution on Prominences and pretty good images of surface Chromosphere, including spicles and convection cells. With processing it yields very good images of both.

I am considering a larger 100mm aperture double stacked Lunt setup but it seems the chances to get a decent one are iffy so reluctant to spend the money if it is iffy as far as getting a marked improvement guarantee. While I am impressed with the old Coronado filters on either scope, the Quark is not as impressive. I know SS scopes are the best but they are priced way out of my range.

I want both a visual and a photographic capable scope. I know it is a balancing act for sure :seesaw



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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by DeepSolar64 » Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:41 am

Congratulations Highbury Mark. Your decision is made. I hope the new etalons meet or exceed your expectations.


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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Montana » Thu Apr 30, 2020 8:08 am

Wow!! you won't be disappointed :hamster: :hamster: :hamster:

Alexandra



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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Astrograph » Thu Apr 30, 2020 9:51 am

Highbury Mark, that's a shock. It will be a nice combo. I just hope it offers you the increase in resolution you are after.

RKBerta, My comment about the TV-85 plus Quark was not right. I forgot the TV-85 was an F7 scope and was think it was F6.3 like the TV-76 is. In the context of your 80mm F6 then my advice would have been that is not really compatible for the same reason. The reason being that a rear mounted etalon needs to have light passing through it that is parallel and perpendicular to it. This happens at approx F30. Below that the light rays through the filter are still converging and it will hotspot and work with a wide bandpass. The Quark has a built in 4.3x telecentric. At F7 the scope is running at F30.1 so it will actually allow the Quark to work normally. If at F30 it offered an 0.5A bandpass then thats what it would deliver. With the 80 F6 it will be running at F25.8. Daystars own information suggest this will mean that a 0.5A filter acts with a bandpass as high as 0.7A so you lose significant contrast. Certainly every time I saw a Chromosphere Quark on an 80 F6 the sun was far more featureless than on a scope with a higher F ratio.

If you want a visual scope then it would be good to know if you want to see a full disc or are happy with just a partial disc. All pure solar scopes will offer a full disc by default. Do get the same with a rear mounted filter requires a bit more thought in choosing the filter as I suggested earlier when advising Highbury Mark.



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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by DeepSolar64 » Sat May 02, 2020 2:37 pm

Highbury Mark,
I hope the 70 is good enough. That is only 10mm above a 60. That's why I prefer an 80 or more. Solarscope are said to be really good etalon filters though.

You do have a DayStar Quark. If you have a good one they do good for high-rez work don't they?

James


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Meade Coronado AZS Alt/Az Mount
Astro-Tech AT72EDII with Altair solar wedge
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Lunt, Coronado, TeleVue, Orion, Celestron and Sears eyepieces

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Highbury Mark
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Re: Solarscope 70mm double stacked with Lunt 60fha

Post by Highbury Mark » Sat May 02, 2020 7:33 pm

Fair questions James.
When I upgraded from an Lunt 50DS to a 60DS three years ago, I was impressed by the increase in detail (though in single stack it was a little disappointing. it really needed double stacking to achieve satisfying surface views). The 60 allowed me to observe at up to 75x without losing sharpness - maximum was probably around 50x with the LS50. So I’m hoping 70mm will produce another noticeable step up in resolution.
Last year I bought the Quark, which gives very nice prom views through a 4” frac (if seeing is good) but surface detail is poor. Even after extensive tuning readjustments.
Both set ups have given me plenty of pleasure. But neither was what I’m looking for as a lifetime solution.
Obviously the LS80 was a serious consideration this time - I almost ordered one several times, but I hesitated because of cost in the U.K. and concerns about the double stack unit. If I’d been offered an LS80DS with guaranteed 0.5A performance and no haloes, I’d have happily gone for it. Also worth remembering that if we have any problems with Lunt scopes here, they have to go back to Germany, as my LS50 had to. Not the same service you get in the US.
I had never considered Solarscope as an option - presumed they were out of my league. Clearly they have an outstanding reputation, so when I saw the 70DS package was not much more than the LS80, it didn’t take long for me to make a decision - particularly as I own a TV85 - perfect scope for the Solarscope filters. It may be 10mm less aperture than the LS80, but that’s with two unobstructed external etalons v two internal etalons. And I’ve read various reports from owners saying that these filters punch well above their weight. Alexandra seemed to rate the SF70 very highly, and I believe 70mm is more than enough aperture for my seeing in London if filters are top quality.
Ultimately, every solar ha purchase is a risk and a compromise. And I won’t know for a few weeks if I’ve made the right decision. But as a fellow trader-upper, I will follow your search with interest and keep my fingers crossed that whatever your choice, it produces the results you’re looking for.


TeleVue 85 + Solarscope SF70DS
Tak FC-100DC + Quark Chromosphere + Baader wedge

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