Orion Skyview Pro 6LT EQ Redux

Over the past year and a half, I’ve managed to get some great observing out of this 150mm newtonian. With the great skies around Flagstaff, I’ve been able to see some incredibly beautiful sights, and a healthy dose of next-to-nothing sights. My main complaint has been with the responsiveness of the RA/Dec control paddle. Apart from that, everything else has been excellent: optics, tracking, sturdiness, portability. (The optional polar alignment scope also works great!)
Just this past week, I discovered that Orion Telescopes has apparently discontinued the Equatorial Mount package of this scope. The 6″ f/8 is still available as a dobsonian. Or you can purchase the tube, rings, dovetail bar, and mount as separate items for about the same as you could buy the 8″ EQ package. I think that’s really too bad. If I recall correctly, there was a $50 difference between the 6″ and 8″ SVP EQs when I purchased the scope in August of 2004. Which was a pretty measley difference. I could’ve easily gone with the 8″, but I wanted maximum portability, and was a bit concerned about stability of the 8″ on the SVP mount. Anyway, that choice is gone now. I wish they still offered it, since I would strongly recommend it to anyone in search of an affordable, portable, equatorial reflector. Still, I’ve heard the same great raves from the 8″ SVP owners, so it’s probably not as sad as I make it out to be.
I received an email today from a reader in North Carolina who ran across my M31 observation and was asking about how the 6″ scope handles on DSOs. I want to repost my response here, in case it might help anybody else.

Thanks for your email. I have been very happy with how the 6″ Orion newtonian performs. All of the telescopic sketches on my site represent things I’ve observed through that scope. A couple things I should note…from what I’ve been told, the sky darkness at some of the observing locations I go to are apparently among the best in the U.S., so I’m really able to strain out the best that the 6″ can give. Also, I am occasionally driven to spend loads of time searching for details that are really difficult to see in the 6″ even under the best of skies. As a result, I’ve been able to detect the Horsehead nebula, Stephan’s Quintet, and two of the dust lanes in the Andromeda Galaxy. However, none of those details were easy to see. (In the sketches, they appear more obvious than they were just at a glance through the eyepiece.)
As I understand it, the sky in the eastern U.S. tends to be less transparent than the southwest, due to the higher humidity. As a result, you may not be able to pick out as many faint details as in a drier climate. To compensate for that, you may want to hold out just a bit for the 8″ scope. The extra light gathering capability might be helpful. Although even with more humidity, if you have access to dark skies, a 6″ should still easily show you the Andromeda Galaxy and its companions. M51 and M33 should also be visible, although seeing finer details may be tough. Tons of open clusters, globular clusters, and bright emission nebulae would also be within reach. The f/8 6″ newtonian is also fantastic for planetary and lunar observing.
Keep portability in mind too. This scope with the tripod, mount, and accessories fits nicely in the smallish trunk of my Honda Civic. This was a key point in my decision. I wanted to be able to easily take it anywhere. Since then, it has occurred to me that the 8″ would have fit just as easily. But whatever you purchase, take a look at the online specifications, grab a tape measure, and be sure it will fit where you want it, whether for storage or transportation.
I also highly recommend taking a look at the forums at http://www.cloudynights.com. Searching the forums will reveal loads of information on just about anything.
Let me know if I missed anything or if there is anything I can clarify. Let me know how it goes!