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:laugh: "Come take a look at what I brought for tonight's session."

:cool: "What the hell is this pathetic little thing? It's just a funny little toy!"

One hour later:

:laugh: "Stop fooling around with that Firstscope already and come take a look through the 12" dob."

:cool: "Nah, I'm good."

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the mighty Celestron Firstscope 76; and I put thit to you, this funny little thing is probably the best astro purchase I have ever made.

Ok, now, I'm fully aware that most of you will skip this review with derisive grin, but before you do, consider the following:

Optically, It is a fully capable newtonian refelctor with a primary mirror diameter of 76mm, which, given its inherent lack of chormatic abberation, will outperform most of the cheap entry-level acrhomats. And it gets better. With just 300 mm focal length, it gives low magnification and amazing widefield views, which is especially handy with some large objects you will struggle to fit in your large telescope's field of view. For example, Adromeda Galaxy is way more enjoyable in the Firstscope than in my 12" dob (despite the fact that the dob allows me to see the dustbands clearly), and I really mean it. Same goes with Pleiades, or moon/planet(s) conjunctions or large star clusters.

Supplied eyepieces are, as you would expect, fairly poor, but at least totally functional. But, if you are already into this astro business, chances are that you have some fairly decent eyepieces lying around unused, so why not use them with this little toy? I had a spare TS 17mm 70° ERFLE eyepiece myself, so I assigned it to this half-pint for good. Ok, the scope is 76/300, which means it is an F/3.9, which means, in case you are bad in math, that its a pretty "fast" scope. That means that you can't expect to see point-sharp stars across the entire field of view, even with a decent sort of EP, and distortions around the edges of the field of view are very noticible, but hey, don't be picky. It's a firstscope for Chist's sake, not some fancy hi-tech japanese triplet. Whatever eyepiece you stuff into this thing though, it will probably give something like 15-20x magnification, which means that all of the advantages describe above apply. And, since it has so low magnification, it means that you probably will do without a finderscope. But if you require one, there are some pre-prepared fixture bolts, intended for those terrible 30mm plasticky finderscopes you probably have buried deep down in your astro stuff drawer that is full of stuff you were too fond of to throw away, so problem solved.

The primary mirror sits solidly in the back of the tube, which means its uncollimateable (is that even a word?). However, the primary mirror is somewhat adjustable, so if you are skilled enough, alligning the optical assembly properly will not be a major issue. I myself made a centre spot on the primary and alligned the optics as best as I could using laser collimator; it was fiddly, but doable.

Build quality of this little dwarf is, considering its class, amazing. It is not some cheap department store telescope that breaks into little pieces in a light breeze. The tube itself is made from metal and the plastic focuser assembly feels solid enough to withstand for ages (if you treat it well). It all sits on a sturdy alt-az (dobsonian type) chipwood mount, which means that it is very stable, giving it advantage over a pair of big binos. Oh, and did I mention that it is a table top? What was I thinking - guys, it's a table top scope, allright? I bet most of us use table or a surface of some sort when observing, so no big deal. The scope then is small, robust and very light, so it is an ideal grab-and-go; I call it grab-and-throw actually, because I just take it as it stands and throw it into a boot of my car when I'm going observing. It's designed to take some battering (with children in mind), so it is unlikely that you will ever knock the optics out of allignment, or break anything.

Practicality-wise, it is as straight forward as it seems. You just grab it, put in on a table, remove the dust covers, and without it cooling down (image distortion with such low magnifications is negligible) you are ready to use it. No finderscope needed, you just aim from the hip and fire. One thing that seems a bit odd is the positioning of the focuser on the OTA, which makes it a bit awkward when you try observing something near the horizon, but hey, drill some extra holes in it an rotate it anyway you want it - even a toddler can do that.

Most significant I think is the Firstscope's didactic value - it scores high in quite a few areas. First, it is absolutely superb for when you want to explain to someone how a newtonian telescope works, because it is as simple and as clear as it can be. Then, it is utterly foolproof and totally intuitive to use; you must be a total idiot to not know how to use it. Learning-wise, it is not wrong to point out that the views from the scope are very basic, which gives you some idea as to what the pioneer astronomers saw with their modest equipment. It is wonderful to think that you see the Jupiter and its moons roughly as Galileo did. Moreover, the IYA edition was designed with astronomy outreach in mind, so you have the OTA covered with names of notable astronomers, so if you get even a little bit curious, you can google for hours, finding out why were they so significant to deserve a place on this telescope, which is absolutely magnificent in my book. Then, you have the fabulous IYA sticker on it, which, for me, was the main reason (I am not ashamed to admit it) why I bought this pigmy scope. The IYA project allowed me to access a wide range of educational resources on astronomy otherwise unavailable in my country, so I fell I owe it one. And I bet I'm not the only one.

So why was this little nipper the best astro purchase I have ever made? Well, I bought it brand new (auction of a last piece in stock) for the equivalent of only £24!!! I bet you will have little problem finding one second hand) Allow me to point it out: BRAND NEW FOR ONLY £24 !!! The eyepice I use with it was almost twice that price! Your significant other, your child, your toddler, your grandpa, your grandpa, your dog, your friends, they all can use it with ease. The wide field of view, the simplicity, the quality, the practically and above all, the amazing didactic value, and only £24 ??? I rest my case!

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I have the skywatcher heritage, same unit different sticker. Got it for my sons birthday £28.

the other evening we were doing some lunar and I was bopping between my etx and the 76. Pretty amazing performance for the money confirmed by my son not wanting to us my scope at all "his was better"

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

It is a great little scope, I had one...The only challenge I found was lining it up on the stars....

I find a bigger dob easier to point...

But having said that the image from the little scope was great, crisp and sharp..

Mark

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I bought a stack of them for the grandkids (boys and girls 8-12yrs)

before I could even finish telling them about telescopes and how to.........they had it out the box, on the table looking at the Moon , and later Jupiter!!!

Bang per buck - highly recommended.

(I also kept one to pull the mirror out for a spectrascope project....where else would you find a good 75mm/ 300mm mirror for 25 gbp!!!!)

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  • 3 weeks later...

It is a great little scope, I had one...The only challenge I found was lining it up on the stars....

I find a bigger dob easier to point...

But having said that the image from the little scope was great, crisp and sharp..

Mark

I remember yours at SGL6 Mark, with the dirty great Hyperion in it. On the basis of the views I sawe through that little scope I bought one myself and its a great example to folks of just what you can see with a scope like this

philj

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  • 1 year later...

My son also has the SW Heritage version. A little more expensive but has a finder scope and better supplied EPs, SW's usual 25 and 10mm Super MAs. A search will turn up my review.

Sent from my LG-D802 using Tapatalk

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