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Everything posted by DevonSkies

  1. Thanks for the reply. I have now returned the scope, and I am awaiting a replacement.
  2. Hi, I recently bought a SW Startravel 102, which meets my need for a wide field grab and go / travel scope. I initially had some issues with the sloppy focus tube (solved by adjusting the tension screws) and focuser alignment (now adjusted as best I can by loosening and retightening the focuser mount screws). However, I find that when I perform a star test the collimation still does not seem satisfactory. I have managed to observe diffraction rings on one side of focus, but the central 'blob' (which has a magenta hue) is offset about half way between the centre and the edge of the pattern, a
  3. If you are flying, I should think the ST80 would be a more manageable hand luggage size. You might manage an ST102, but I think you'd have to remove the dew shield (it does come off, but it's a very tight push-fit), also bearing in mind that the lens cap won't fit without the dew shield in place. Another advantage of the ST80 is that I have seen neat carrying cases available specifically for this model, whereas I haven't seen anything similat for the ST102 or larger Startravel scopes.
  4. Good point. I don't have any filters yet, but I'll definitely be looking to get some soon. Despite being in a rural location we still have a quite a lot of light pollution from nearby towns.
  5. So I took a peep outside at about 7.30pm and was surprised to see an almost completely clear sky here in East Devon. I quickly carried my 10" Dob into the back garden, and within 5 minutes I had started observing. I just love how easy the Dob is to set up! I managed to bag a few new objects, which I was really pleased about. The highlight was the M37 open cluster in Auriga. At low magnification, it looked like a stunning box of jewels. After a couple of minutes concentration, I felt I could see structure in the distribution of stars, like filaments or rings. Beautiful. Its nearby companion M36
  6. So I pulled the curtains apart before heading for bed at midnight tonight and was surprised to see a sparkling clear sky! Well, the ST102 is supposed to be a grab-and-go, so I grabbed, and I went! I only managed 20 minutes outside before the clouds rolled in and it started to rain, but what I saw was very encouraging. My tweaks seem to have paid off. A star test on Sirius at 100x showed symmetrical rings either side of focus, indicating that after my adjustments the collimation is now more than good enough for a wide-field scope. I was able to easily split Castor at 100x using my BST 5mm EP. J
  7. Same here! It's so frustrating isn't it... Thursday evening looks like it might be good though, at least here in the south west - fingers crossed!
  8. After some thought, I'm giving the ST102 another chance. I still think this telescope is phenomenal value for money for a 102mm objective (£183 including the AZ3 mount!). If I can make it work for me then it will be money well spent. After all, it's only meant to be a secondary setup for holidays/grab-and-go. So, not to be beaten, I've had another fiddle with the scope. I've managed to nicely square the focus drawtube by tightening the front grub screw (furthest from the eyepiece), and then removed most of the 'rocking' from the focuser by tightening down the rear grub screw just enough. Since
  9. Thanks. Always good to see a picture! I think you're right - a smaller ED scope (70-80mm) would be ideal for holidays. Although I was hankering after more light grasp, the larger scopes will be harder to transport (I still have the SW102 in the house and it won't fit in a small flight case without removing the dew shield, which is jammed on pretty tightly!).
  10. Thanks Alfian, Paul and Mark. I still like the idea of a short-tube refractor, so I will certainly consider a better quality model, maybe even an ED if not too expensive (the Lightwave ones could be in my budget, but are smaller than what I was originally looking for). Any other suggestions for short-tube refractors would be very welcome! Ideally in the 80-100mm range. Ed
  11. Thanks for the advice. I note what you say about the focuser on the 130P. How do you feel about the robustness of the 130P for travel? Is it preferable to separate the mount, or can it be packed well as a single unit? I initially discounted it because I thought I refractor would be more robust and need no adjustment in the field, but having said that I am quite comfortable with collimating a Newtonian (having tweaked my 250PX a few times). I am also attracted by a small Newtonian because of the lack of colour fringing, compared to the CA inherent in the achromatic ST102 refractor. I'll also ta
  12. So I've spent some time over Christmas playing with the ST102 (including one clear night under the stars) and unfortunately I've been disappointed with the build quality of it. Maybe I was expecting too much from such a cheap scope, but issues with the sloppy rack-and-pinion focus tube and poorly aligned focuser assembly have destroyed my confidence in this scope. The sticky grease oozing from the focus rack is horrible, and tightening the focuser tension screws, whilst removing the slop, makes the focuser unacceptably tight. I hear much of this can be remedied by stripping down the focuser,
  13. Thanks for the nice report. Glad to hear I wasn't the only one up before dawn this morning!
  14. ...and my Startravel 102T arrived this morning! Already assembled it and briefly testing it with some terrestrial viewing. All feels sturdy and nicely put together. It's a sunny day here, so there's plenty of CA visible in high magnification terrestrial views, but that is to be expected. I'm hoping the clear skies will persist until tonight for a proper astro test, but I don't hold out much hope! Mine came with a 45deg erecting prism (standard with the AZ3 mount). Can anyone suggest a decent star diagonal (preferably 2")? Ideally around the £50 mark, but could go higher if need be.
  15. The BSTs are good for the price. The only one I didn't get along with was the 25mm, which was awful in the 10" f/4.7 Dob. I replaced it with the XCel LX 25mm, which is excellent by comparison. Ed
  16. I've been keen to try some planetary observations in my new 10" Dob, so I decided, optimistically, to set my alarm for 5.30 this morning based on a forecast of clear skies in Devon. I crawled out of bed and peeped between the curtains, to be greeted by a fantastic bright view of Jupiter, Mars and Venus. The excitement of my first chance to see the planets properly was enough to wake me up, so a few minutes later I was dressed, downed an espresso and set up the scope in the garden. I'm not an experienced observer, but I'd still like to document what I saw on here. Light pollution at my site is
  17. Great scope you have there. I got mine recently and I love it (apart from the weight!). You've had good advice so far. Mine came with adapter tubes for 2" and 1.25" eyepieces. The 1.25" tube has to be inserted before you can use the supplied eyepieces. Tighten it with the two thumbscrews. You have already discovered the focuser locking knob I think! Just take things slowly and don't panic! These scopes are quite simple and robust, so there's not much to go wrong really! Have fun with it.
  18. The AZ4 does indeed look good. I'll see how I get on with the bundled AZ3 before I think about upgrading though!
  19. LOL... I know I said I'd wait til the spring, but I couldn't help myself and just ordered the ST102 on AZ3 mount! Looking forward to some nice wide field views!
  20. I think I've decided on the Startravel 102, but I'm kind of tempted by the little Startravel 80 too - it's so cute! ;-)
  21. Good input, everyone - thanks! Does anyone know whether the dew shield is easily removable on the Startravel series? I'm just thinking about the overall length of the scope for transportation. The Evostar 80ED looks nice too, but really it's out of my budget!
  22. Thanks, I'm leaning towards the short tube refractor option at the moment. I can't justify an APO for occasional use, so CA is something I'm going to have to live with. Hopefully for star fields and deep sky CA won't be an issue anyway.
  23. Thanks for the input so far. The Vixen Porta 2 does look like a good option for a mount. For legs, I already have a heavy Manfrotto photo tripod which I could press into service. Having said that, the Skywatcher AZ GoTo mounts also look quite attractive, and an absolute bargain when bundled with a scope. Good point about the 15x70 binoculars. Perhaps I'll give that some thought too. Ed
  24. I recently bought a Skywatcher 10" Dob, which I am very pleased with as my first telescope. However, it's obviously large and heavy and I've come to the realisation that I will need to complement it with a smaller scope for travel (mainly caravan/camping holidays) and grab-and-go use. I anticipate it will be for use in good dark sky locations, so I'm mainly going to be targeting DSO's (planetary stuff I can do from my slightly light-polluted back garden!). I'm willing to sacrifice aperture in favour of portability (hoping dark skies will compensate), so I'm looking for something in the 3"-5" r
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