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We're at a bit of a crossroads here, since we're faced with what appears to be a tough choice.

We've got a Celestron 11" SCT tube with a Losmandy G11 equatorial mount, all bought in 1996. The mount has motors, but they're only capable of 5 tracking programs (Moon, deep space, etc). The tracking also doesn't appear to work quite well at the moment, but we may be able to fix that on our own.

We may, however, have an opportunity to acquire funding for an upgrade. We could upgrade the mount (or buy a new one), so that it is completely computerised and is capable of finding and tracking objects with ease. For that upgrade we've been given a ballpark of 2000$. I don't know where the number comes from, but let's assume we can have the desired upgrade with that sum.

Now, here's the question - wouldn't that money be better spent on buying another telescope, e.g. a Celestron Evolution 8 (same price range), which is already computerised, and is overall much easier to use? I realise there's a difference between 11" and 8", but I've had the opportunity to compare them in field and for our purposes, I couldn't find it.

We are a small astronomy club. Our activities with the telescope hardly go outside the scope of amateur astronomy - we look at the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, sometimes Mars. We do sometimes look at, e.g. the Orion nebula, but so far that's the extent of our endeavours. We do not expect to transition to astrophotography, beyond what can be achieved with DIY solutions, nor do we use the telescope for research or data acquisition.

All things considered, which option - the upgrade to our existing telescope, or to buy a new one?

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  • $\begingroup$ A decision-making strategy: never pass up the opportunity to invest in a new tool. $\endgroup$ – rob Oct 8 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ Some random questions: Do you keep your current telescope in a fixed site, perhaps with a dome or sliding roof, or do you transport it for observing? If you bought the new 8" would you then be able to use both telescopes? Does the quoted upgrade come with a warrantee, a manual, and an easy-to-use computer interface? I'm guessing the Celestron has all of those, but don't know for sure. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 8 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh - we transport it, and given it's around 50kg in assembled state, that's not easy. The newer Celestron is way lighter. We don't have a dome, we only do open air observations. I'm assuming the upgrade would come with all the things you mentioned, and we should assume so for the purpose of this question. $\endgroup$ – Gallifreyan Oct 9 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ Spend the money on a new mount. If you didn't already have the 11" then I'd say get the 8". But if there's nothing wrong with the optics of the 11" then it makes sense to keep using it. $\endgroup$ – Aaron F Oct 27 at 12:24

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