Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are a serious amateur astronomer, this is for you!, 3 Feb. 2014
Sky-watcher Skyliner 300P Flextube.

General Thoughts

Putting the base together wasn't an issue. I didn't really require instructions - it was straightforward. Slightly bigger than I expected though, but you can still manoeuvre it through standard doors.

The scope is not light, but the plus point is that there are a lot of grip in there which made moving it around a bit easier than my GSO 10" solid tube. I'd say, heavy but not awkward to carry. Aesthetically the tube is a beauty. I don't think photos give it justice. Even the wife - who never believed telescopes looked particularly homey or eye catching sitting in the lounge - thought the scope looked pretty. Phew!!

I am certain a lot of flextube owners will agree that these scopes are quite solid precision engineered instruments. I have to say it felt sturdier and more solid than I thought it would be.

Having put everything together my first thought was...phew!! I'm glad I didn't go for the 14". Having moved things around a bit I thought this is certainly the limit of what I can handle for my current set-up, Imagine this awkward mug handling a 14" scope...it's a disaster waiting to happen. The base goes through the door OK, but only just...and frankly I wouldn't describe it as ''light''. You can carry it and manoeuvre it a bit, but don't expect to shove it on your shoulder and run with it :D I think the base size and weight was my first turn-off element when I considered the 14". Until I've had an observatory or a roll in and out mechanism, I doubt I would go bigger than the 12-inch.

Skywatcher and GSO (Revelation)

Although my 10" GSO had an adjustable altitude tension knobs which was a very nice touch, I found that the Sky-watcher more naturally balanced and easier to grip and tighten up. The Sky-watcher base is more beautiful - although made of the same type of cheap wood. One thing I can't get my head around, what were the Sky-watcher people thinking when they decided not to use a plastic knob for the base declination tension screw? Really Sky-watcher - do I need to use a wrench every time I want to adjust the rotation tension..REALLY?!! Actually, you require 2 wrenches; one to spin and one to hold (both included by the way).

GSO (Revelation) always gives you better accessories with their scope. With the Sky-watcher 300P I received two ''mildly coated'' 10mm and 25mm Plossls. Would it hurt to include at least one widefield eyepiece?! :D Anyway, I guess it's just a standard.

The Focuser

Perhaps most of you will expect me to talk down the Sky-watcher stock focuser. Ah well...I don't think so. It's brilliant actually. Nah, just yanking ya! It's absolutely a piece of rubbish...I've had it replaced with a moonlite focuser before I even received the scope. Steve from FLO kindly fitted the focuser for me before sending everything over to my address. Call me a snob, but I honestly can't cope with a single speed focuser, let alone one that doesn't use compression rings. And you guessed it, the 300P Flextube focuser has both disadvantages.

The GSO 10" came with a really nice quality dual speed focuser. Way better than those used on Sky-watcher 350P and 400P. I just don't understand why Sky-watcher goes all the way producing fantastic optics and then when they come to the focusers they just trash them. OK, I could reluctantly live with a single speed focuser, but why do they still use thumb screws instead of compression rings?! I can see them going the other way producing anti-marring eyepieces to tackle this issue :D

Moonlite CR2 Focuser

Very beautiful and very solid piece of engineering indeed. However - you didn't see that coming, did you?!! :) - I had problems reaching focus in most of my eyepieces. Only the Explore Scientific 24mm, 20mm 100-deg and 14mm 100-deg did reach focus ...only just. I had the draw the tube all the way back. Deloi, Skywatcher and Hyperion EPs failed miserably. I believe I need an extension. Will probably have a word with the guys at FLO to see what my options are.

First Light

I had two hours of testing last night. 10 to 15 minutes precision aligning the finders and 10 more minutes trying to find the finder screw that I dropped in the dark :D

Cool down time is noticeably longer than the 10", but shouldn't be a problem..just give it extra 10-15 minutes and you're good to go.

Objects are also noticeably brighter and slightly more defined than in the 10". I heard a lot about a 2" step up won't show much difference, but based on last night's session I beg to differ. While the difference is not mind-blowing like you would expect, it was however worth the upgrade. My first target was the Double Cluster (easy target for aligning and testing) and was blown away. I think it was probably the feeling I had when I first compared the 6" refractor with the 10" GSO Dob. You can definitely see more fainter stars. Having got things in line, I decided to go looking for the supernova in M82 using the Explore Scientific 20mm 100-deg. The supernova was immediately spotted, however what caught my attention was the unusually bright M82 and M81...I can readily see a bit more subtle details. Even in 20mm EP and without any filters M1 was nicely defined. It was very close to the views in the 10", but there was a subtle improvement. I think some objects will require only a slight increase in light collection to show their magnificence, M33 was a good example.

It was a short session, but enough to test the scope capabilities and make sure everything was working OK.

What's Next?

Apparently I need a focuser tube extension. Not being able to use all your EPs is frustrating.

I will probably invest in a light shroud - or make my own for the time being. You could immediately see how contrast deteriorated whenever there was some intrusive light source.

Any Mods?

Yep, I already replaced the secondary mirror adjustment Alan key screws with these . They fitted perfectly and made collimating the secondary quite a breeze. Well, you all know that fiddling with an Alan key on top of the primary is not particularly a comfortable idea.

I also installed a rubber door stop on the inside of the base to prevent the tube from banging against the wood.

It seems that there's the potential of flocking in the near future.

Conclusion

So far I'm quite happy with the scope. If you exclude the focuser and the base declination adjustment screw, then everything else is wonderful.

Also, bear in mind that the base is also a brilliant toy for kids. My little one loved riding the base. Well, no harm in that...she's still much lighter than the scope :D
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Location: Hants, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 5,045