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Oops.... sorry Derek I've lusted after one of these since I saw Shane's similar scope quite a few years ago. This is the third scope I've had off Mike73, and it looks like a beauty again. Very light given its size, and quite manageable with my back as it is. This is a VX12L f5.3 1/8th wave but with a 0.987 Strehl ratio, i.e. Pretty good! Mike has part flocked the OTA (the important bits top and bottom) and has fitted a TelRad and 9x50 RACI, both heated via a small control unit. The balance seems excellent and the motion very smooth. The focuser is also surprisingly good, with a clicklock fitted plus a Howie Glatter Parallizer. Should be a good'un. Great for home, and quite manageable to take to dark sites. A Tak 4", C925 and 12" dob. That's ok isn't it?
I've had this scope for some months now but last night was the first time I managed a look through it. Only about 45mins unfortunately, and earlier in the evening so that although it was dark, Orion hadn't come into view. I'll save that pleasure for another night. I didn't bother to collimate it, being short of time, but a quick star test showed it to be pretty close despite picking it up from Exeter, and then a fruitless trip to Lucksall and back. This is the third lovely scope I've bought from Mike73 . Even with my 80mm finder and Telrad on, the balance was pretty good, no need for any counterweights or use of the friction break. I only used three eyepieces, a 40mm TMB Paragon, 24mm Panoptic and a 12.5mm BGO. These gave a nice spread of mags, and the 40mm was very handy as a finder. The scope is crying out for a 21mm Ethos though really, but that will have to wait and I suspect balance will need address with one of these lumps in the focuser. Somewhat infuriatingly, the sky later on was even better than when I was observing. The seeing looked very steady and Orion was beautifully clear! However, I got to use the scope so that's what's important. Quite a few lower targets were obscured, so the Double Cluster seemed like a good place to start. I still prefer a good frac on the DC, despite the obviously brighter and deeper view through the 12". The other night, through the 4" fluorite the stars were just stunning; last night, far more stars were resolved, but I didn't get that same warm glow. There's nothing wrong with the optics, 0.987 strehl, 1/8th wave is good enough for me, but it does illustrate the difference. I thought I would check Polaris to see just how well it performed on resolving the tiny secondary. The answer was... beautifully. Even with just the 24mm Panoptic in at x66, the secondary was a very tight pinpoint sitting on one of the diffraction spikes. I suspect with better collimation the views with doubles will be excellent. The dual speed focuser on the scope is very smooth and accurate, a joy to use and it is fitted with a Baader Clicklock, heated dewstrip and a1.25" Howie Glatter Parallizer, all great kit which works well, I had no issues with dew despite the damp conditions. M36 and 38 showed the real benefits of aperture. In the four inch under these skies they are nothing to write home about, but last night they resolved beautifully into proper open clusters, a lovely sprinkling of stars, particularly M38. My old favourite of NGC457 gave me my normal smile when I saw it, a great fun target. Last target in this short session was Caroline's Rose. Under a dark sky this is a lovely target, but even last night it was great to see. Quite subtle with the LP but lovely features becoming visible with time, the dark curved lanes creating the petals of the rose quite clearly. Averted vision helped, but considering that I wasn't very well dark adapted it was a nice view. So, another long report about a short session . Nice to have finally used the scope and for it to deliver what I hoped for. The optics seem excellent and it has been modded in a way which gives me everything I could want, including flocking of the top and bottom thirds of the OTA. Nice and quick to setup, next stop M42, and who knows, perhaps the Pup