Celestron C8-S Schmidt-Cassegrain
(with XLT Coatings)
I choose the Celestron 8 inch SCT as my first scope. The Schmidt-Cassegrain is a Catadioptric type scope, wich means it is 1/2 refractor and 1/2 reflector. The advantage of this type of scope is that it is rather smaller in size for the same power of either a pure refractor or reflector. The disadvantage is that the images are not as sharp and crisp as a refractor and more expensive then a reflector.
I was pondering different sizes, up to even the 14 inch size. However, in the end decided to go for the 8 inch and spend more money on better quality eypieces, filters, and accessories.
I of course read a bunch online about all types of scope. One comment I read was that people are almost never disappointed with the scope they finally get, so just make a decision and get one. I have to agree with that. Calgary, as it turns out, is one of the worse places for observing the heavens, and any smaller a scope would have made viewing many deep sky objects difficult. Even with the 8 inches many so called bright objects are barely visible. Plus the 8 inches isn't so large that it is difficult moving.
I highly recommend this scope for anyone wondering what to get, if you have $2000 to spend.
Celestron 8 inch Dew Sield
No matter where you live in the world you will no doubt find a dew (or when it gets cold, a frost) remover or shield a great asset. As I discovered on my fist night observing it is a must have. Otherwise dew or frost will build up on your lense preventing you from observing much longer then an hour or two.
There are many dew removal or shield systems out there. While waiting for my dew shield to arrive in the mail I created my own from large sheets of construction paper which worked fine. I recommend just puchasing the one made for your scope. Considering the scope was $1700, the shield at $30 was a small cost. Although smaller then I though it would be, the Celestron dew shield does it job perfectly.
There are also mirron/lense heaters. These work as well and possibly even better. However, there are a lot of cords and wires which make using them a hassel, specially if you pan around the sky a lot over the evening. I recommend the shield over the heaters.