Top positive review
256 people found this helpful
A great place to start... looking forward to going further...
on 20 January 2011
[Also see my moon images submitted as user images above]
This is a first telescope for me and a first trip into the world of astronomy. I've wanted a 'scope for years and have wanted to know more about the stars etc, but this is me actually taking the plunge. Possibly the first plunge, depending on this experience.
I researched telescopes over a few weeks and kept coming back to this one. I toyed with 'go-to' scopes but realised that a) that was defeating the object of learning about the skies - I'd just be saying "Show me this, nice. Now show me that." and b) the quality of the 'scope itself would be offest by the cost of the go-to computer. At just over 130 quid (with an RRP of 200 quid) it was in the price bracket I was looking at, and the spec seemed pretty high and ideal for a starter like me.
I wanted to see what I was likley to be able to see with the scope, I wanted to get some idea of just how much of the sky the scope was going to reveal to me that I couldn't see with the naked eye.. it's just a start, by my moon images attached to this product page should help give you some idea of what's acheivable by someone with no experience using a telescope after just an hour of playing around.
Another thing missing in most reviews I read was any mention of how easy it was to take photos through this 'scope. I couldn't find any that review that specifically showed images taken with this'scope and a DSLR... so with this review (and my user images) I'll try to fill that gap in my own small way.
I unpacked the scope and 'set it up' - by which I mean put the bits together - in about 20 minutes. Unpacking was alittle tricky due to the way things were packed with bits poking into other boxes so a bit of care has to be taken to not damage anything. But then, thisis a telescope so you're always going to be careful when handling it!
On the whole it looks like you get a lot for your money - the scope tube and mount are built well and feel solid. But the tripod does seem a little flimsy. Not that it won't hold the scope, there just seems to be a bit of movement from the tripod even when minimally extended.
The 'German Equatorial' mount is also very solid and seems very well built. If the weight of it is anything to go by its good quality, then you have to fit the supplied weights to it! These mounts require a bit more learning than other mount types to use properly, but by loosening the locking bolts a little you can still just swing the scope around to find things before setting things up properly.
The 10mm lens is of very good quality - metal bodied and supplied in a holder. The 20mm lens, on the other hand, is cheap plastic and comes in a plastic bag! The 20mm lens is an erecting lens though, so is useful for lining up on objects if nothing else.
You also get a mounted red dot finder (of which more later), a motor drive (of which more in the next paragraph), and a couple of CDs.
The motor seems a bit flimsy being mounted oon a bit of circuit board and covered in a rubbery plastic cover (not a box, a cover!), but I guess it kind of does the job for basic use. Unfortunately the 9v batter supplied with my scope to power the motor was corroded and dead on unpacking - luckily I had a spare in a drawer to test things with. The motor is now disconnected and will only be reconnected at a later date if I fancy playing with it. The difference in price between the MD model with the motor and the non-MD version was only 6 quid, so I don;t think I wasted my money, but I don;t think it's really needed unless I'm going to try long-exposure astro-imaging.
Another thing to consider with the motor is that there is no easy 'clutch' on the motor to disengage it - you have to loosed the coupling screw between the motor to be able to use the relevent adjustment knob!
Was it a waste of money paying the extra for the motor? At 6 quid I'd have to say no, but don't pay a lot extra for it.
I actually quite like the red dot finder - despite what a lot of people have said. Maybe I will become frustrated by it when I am trying to find fainter objects, but on initial use (after lining up) it actually seems pretty good. A lot of people are mentioning the fact that your can't see the lack rings in the finder at night - you're not supposed to, its a reddot finder not a black ring finder! The black rings help you align the finder with the scope (do it in daylight, center a distand object in the eyepiece manually, then adjust the finder so that the same object is in the center of the two rings when they are concentric - simples!), but in use you sinmply align the two red dots - the brighter one and the dimmer one - with each other and the object. The two dots are created by the same spot being illuminated on the two planes on the finder and therefore you are aligning three points to gain a straight line in line with the scope itself. The more distant the object the more accurate the alignment.
COLLIMATION ON DELIVERY:
It seems my scope has been delivered out of alignment and so needs collimating. One frustration for me is that if the scope arrives out of alignment I don't think I should have to shell out another 40 quid for a collimating eyepiece to be be able to align it! I'm going to try manual collimation just by eye, but I fear I coud be heading for trouble there... we'll see. Essentially I get pretty good images, but they are off to one side of the view through the eyepiece so some tweaking is needed. This isa regular maintenance thing on a Newt Refelctor apparently, so I may as well get learning now!
Once the scope was built - I say built as I have not aligned the axes at all or performed a proper collimation so I don't really consider it 'set up' yet - I took a look at the moon.
Even finding the moon can be a bit tricky on a first attempt because the narrow view through the scope even with the 20mm lens is narrower than a newcomer like me is likely to expect. However once I foudn it I was wowed. Sticking the 10mm lens in I was wowed more - the detail I could see was pretty astonishing, ad this was on a pretty hazy night.
SECOND USE - QUICK, GET THE CAMERA!:
A few nights passed that were overcast, and then a completely clear night...
Scope out again and the Celestron 'Omni' Series X2 Barlow Lens had turned up by this time so time get a closer look at the moon.
The photographs I've uploaded to Amazon were taken after about 15 minutes of fiddling around. Remember this scope is not properly collimated yet, and I'm just pointing it usingthe red dot finder and adjusting manually with the slow-mo knobs. Also, the camera, a Pentax K10D Digital SLR Camera with the supplied 18-55mm lens, is just being hand held uin front of the eyepiece to capture these images. No T-adapter, no camera mount, just the camera, the 'scope and a /fairly/ steady hand.
The pictures aren't perfect, but considering how they were taken and only on the second night of using the 'scope (and the fact that they are actually taken through a window!) I think they are pretty good, and show off well that this 'scope is capable of very good things.
When set up properly I imagine the quality of the viewed image will improve further, and with an SLR mount I may well be capturing far better images as well. Though it's worth considering that the Barlow Lens is apparently required on this telescope to increase the focal distance to the secondary mirror to a length that your SLR will be able to focus on - that's from reading forums and reviews elsewhere, I haven't tried it yet myself.
I'm really looking forward to getting to know the telescope over the next few months (I am expecting to have to learn - but that's the point! next stop EQ mount alignment...) and am looking forward to what it will show me. I've already recommended this scope to friends, with the caveat that I really don't know what I'm talking about! But if I can see what I am seeing, and take the pictures I am taking with this kit when I really don't know what I'm talking about, imagine what can be done with it when you do know.
Very pleased with this purchase - and it looks great sat in the back bedroom just waiting to show me more!