I can't simply type in words in this box that would effectively communicate how happy I am with this product. I bought this telescope to take my first steps into astronomy, and in the first nights of usage I've seen so much more than I expected to see. I used to fool around with an old Tasco 60mm refractor telescope that gave me my first glimpses of Saturn's ring, Jupiter and its moons, Mars with no detail at all, and Venus and its phases. Let me tell you, the differences between these scopes are from dead to alive.
I'll tell you about my experience from unboxing the telescope to hours and hours of observation.
The assembly of the scope was piece of cake, if you know how to follow instructions and how to use a screwdriver, you'll need no more than 30 minutes to get this thing completely assembled without rushing. The construction is pretty solid, and the optics' quality is way above average. Once set up the movements are smooth. Having the telescope already assembled, I decided to check for collimation. It was completely off for some reason, and one of the spider vane fins was detached. I thought it was missing a screw but I later found it in the plastic wrapping inside of the box. It seems that some one read "unbreakable" instead of "fragile" while handling the box. The small collimation cap made collimation really easy. All reflections were centered in a few minutes. Just make sure to do these adjustments in daylight or in a room with plenty of light. Also one might find some trouble trying to align the EZ finder, which is not a pretty good accesory, but it gets done.
After having this baby look just like it looks in the picture, ready to go, I took it outside along with my laptop and let the observing begin. I live in a small town in the Dominican Republic where light pollution is not that bad, but still matters, specially from my current observing location (my rooftop) where street lights smack my eyes directly. Fortunately my dish antenna gave me good cover from direct lighting from the nearest street light, a few meters away accross the street. Despite that, I could easily see magnitude 5 stars under a very bright moon trying to spoil the fun, with the naked eye.
I started off with one of my favorite objects to observe, Saturn. I pointed that yellowish bright "star" with the red dot finder, to see what would my eyepiece see.
BANG! there was the planet, dead centered, at 48x magnification it looked beautiful, small but very bright with noticeable details, like cloud bands and some of it's moons. Then I decided to play around with different magnifications as I own a small Orion Kit that includes a 2x barlow, a 20mm plosll and a 7.5mm plossl. At 120x (20mm + 2x barlow) the view on Saturn made my jaw hit the floor! MY GOD! it wasn't missing anything! the cloud bands were undeniably cloud bands, the Cassini Division was evident, I could see a subtle shadow of the planet on the ring, the look was extremely beautiful and amazing. With the 7.5mm eyepiece (160x) it was almost just as bright, and everything was more evident, but it gave up FOV and eye relief. I thought it would be crazy to crank it up to 320x using the Barlow, but I like doing crazy things, specially when they are rewarding. I did use the 7.5mm eyepiece + the 2x Barlow lens to achieve that magnification, and guess what, the conditions were PERFECT! I remember shouting WOOOW and getting goosebumps while seeing the Cassini Division showing up as a very dark gap in the ring, it was amazing.
Having enjoyed enough of Saturn, I decided to go after Mars. I was astonished. The terminator was visible, the color was perfect and the polar ice cap was evident at 160x and it was crearly visible at 320x. Lower magnifications didn't show much of the ice cap, but the terminator was still visible. I tried using a #25 Red filter to try and see surface details, but nothing showed up. Maybe I'll be luckier in even better conditions.
When a few hours passed by, more of the night sky arose from the east. Even tho conditions were good and light pollution was not a big deal close to the zenith, the eastern sky was drowned by distant lights, so I had to wait till everything got closer to the zenith. I was patient and took a look at the moon waiting for more to show up. The craters were visible even as the sun was illuminating them from the top. The landscape was very detailed and the moon filter improved the contrast a lot. It was very interesting to look at, and much more interesting under higher magnifications.
When the time came, I spotted Lyra and aimed my scope to Vega. I was not expecting a star to amaze me! The bluish color was strong. I felt like someone from another space and time pointed a flashlight at me. Being already in Lyra, I remembered the Ring Nebula was close! I found it really quick. The view was nothing I didn't expect. Without any filter, a full moon, and a lot of street lights close to me, I saw the small ring with no colors at all. Still it was noticeable. Then I visited Cygnus and checked out Albireo, a beautiful double star. You can see the different colors. Later on I decided to hunt down some of the Messier Objects, for this I opened Stellarium from my laptop, a helpful skymap. My victims are listed below below.
M4: A faint and relatively small star cluster in the constellation of Scorpius. It was very hard to spot at the first time and I had to keep looking at the center of the eyepiece for a few seconds to notice it. Regardless, it had some mesmerizing feeling on it, it even made me smile.
M7: This open cluster was quite noticeable, I could see the different colors of its stars. This one made me go crazy, it looked like some sort of stamp in the sky and it covered the whole FOV of my 25mm plossl.
M6, the Butterfly Cluster: Close to M7, still in Scorpius, this smaller cluster showed blue stars and the reddish HIP 86527. Just beautiuful.
M25: An open star cluster close to Sagittarius.
M13, The Great Cluster in Hercules: It was a big dotted stain that looked like a nebula.
M92: Another globular cluster in Hercules with a stainy look on it.
M32, The Andromeda galaxy: At 4am it was too close to the horizon and light pollution to the east didn't help at all. I just managed to see a grey Stain.
Bottom line is, the scope is worth every cent, for a relatively small tube it does a lot. With a better finderscope like a 9x50, some filters as an O-III filter, a Sky Glow filter, and a UHC filter, much more could be seen. If you buy this scope I hope it makes you as happy as it made me.