We just had a star party at the Lady Bird Johnson park last weekend. A bunch of people from the Salsa-Astro yahoo group (out of San Antonio). I'll certainly let you know about the next one. Thanks for all the kind words. I hope I'm doing this reply right, trying to figure out this web site interface.
It came down to a choice between the Orion f/4 and the AstroTech AT8IN f/4 imaging newtonian. The AT has a fully-baffled, extended tube, at the cost of an additionial 5 extra pounds, but the drawback for me was the B-270 glass as opposed to the BK-7 glass on the Orion model. They both cost the same, and it might be worth a look just to compare. AstroTech makes a great product. Happy hunting!
Ha, ha! I see you have already anticipated the queries of others by posting the great Doctor's prose right on your page! Took the wind out of my sails. At any rate, I haven't actually used by 8" f/4, which is made by Orion and was the subject of a feature article in the November issue, I believe, of Astronomy Magazine. I can't wait to try it out, but the astronomy gods are angry in these parts. I'll be sure to post some pics when I do!