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Skywatcher Heritage 76 Mini Dobsonian

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The cheapest telescopes currently available from the main manufacturers are small table-top Dobsonians, usually with a 3 inch aperture and a focal length of 300mm.  Celestron, Skywatcher and Orion (USA) all market such scopes, for a price of around £50, and doubtless others are available.  There are some minor differences between the different models, for example in the types of eyepiece provided and whether or not a finderscope is included.  This review assesses the Skywatcher version (the Heritage 76), which is supplied with 10mm and 25mm eyepieces (providing magnifications of 12.5x and 30x respectively) and a 6x magnification finderscope.  In particular, consideration is given to the views that a newcomer to astronomy, using only the eyepieces provided (with one exception mentioned below), could expect from this telescope.

The telescope is well-packaged, needs no assembly, and is compact, robust and attractive.  It is suitable for children, but has neither the look nor the feel of a toy.  The focuser is a reasonably smooth rack and pinion that accepts standard 1.25 inch diameter eyepieces.  Whilst the eyepieces provided are not the best (especially the 10mm), they are serviceable and are as good as can reasonably be expected for the price.  The finderscope is flimsy, but it does its job – it makes it straightforward to align the telescope with objects visible to the naked eye.  A table-top telescope inevitably relies on having a fairly steady table.  However, I had no problems using the telescope on a standard cast iron garden table, with the simple Dobsonian mount making it easy and intuitive to use.

The performance of the telescope was assessed over two nights in December, observing from a garden in suburban Cardiff with significant light pollution.  The targets for viewing included Jupiter (which was close to opposition), the moon (at third quarter) and a number of bright deep sky objects.  Jupiter showed up nicely using both the provided eyepieces, the planet appearing as a small, intensely bright milky disc with the four Galilean moons clearly resolved.  With the 10mm eyepiece occasional hints of banding were glimpsed.  To explore this further I tested the 10mm eyepiece in conjunction with a 2x Barlow lens (a Skywatcher version that is not provided with the telescope) and was rewarded by a clear view of two cloud belts across the planet.  The waning half-moon gave a pleasing view with the 25mm eyepiece (even better was the 4-day old moon, with most of the disc illuminated by Earthshine, observed with this eyepiece a couple of weeks later).  Switching to the 10mm eyepiece with allowed innumerable craters to be seen. 

I began a survey of deep sky objects with the renowned double star Albireo.  This showed up very well in the 10mm eyepiece, with the stars well resolved and displaying the expected striking contrast in colour.  Moving on to open clusters, the Pleides (M45) were an enchanting sight through the 25mm eyepiece in particular, with about 30 or so stars visible in total.  M35 in Gemini was also pleasing and the double cluster (in Perseus) was found without difficulty, though it was a less impressive sight than M45.  Of the three well known open clusters in Auriga, only M36 was seen.  The next object examined was the Andromeda galaxy (M31).  This was easily located and the bright core of the galaxy showed up well.  However, I was unable to see either M81 or M82.  The final target examined was the Orion nebula (M42).  This gave the best views with the 10mm eyepiece, with the nebulosity clearly apparent and the four brightest trapezium stars resolved as a tiny cluster.  No bright globular clusters were in the sky at the time, but I would anticipate that M13 would appear as a small ball of greyish light.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the telescope.  It is extremely easy to use, and whilst it’s modest light gathering capacity was apparent at times, such as when scanning for open clusters in Auriga, it was able to provide good views of the brighter deep sky objects examined.  As expected, considerable detail could be seen on the Moon, and Jupiter showed up well, though the limited magnification with the provided eyepieces made it difficult to see the planet as anything more than a bright disc – the addition of a cheap Barlow lens made an appreciable difference. 

I had a lot of fun trying the telescope out.  It would be a good present for a child of almost any age interested in astronomy and could be recommended for anyone looking for the lowest cost entry into astronomy (a cheap pair of binoculars would be an alternative).  Due to the limited light gathering capability and magnification, any budding astronomer would likely feel the urge to upgrade sooner rather than later.  Even so, I consider this a telescope that is much more likely to encourage users to pursue an interest in astronomy than to put them off.

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A nice review that largely mirrors my own findings. A wonderful little scope and much easiee to use than a pair of binoculars for a young child. My son loves his 'cause it is just like Daddy's big telescope (200p dob).

Sent from my LG-D802 using Tapatalk

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That's a nice review. For the cost I have been considering buying one of these and leaving it in Shanghai as from May I move to the UK but will be backwards and forward as we have two countries of residence.

I have a large open balcony with heavy thick plinths on the walls it could sit on. Light polltion is terrible so viewing the Moon and Jupiter would be the limits when the sky is clear, spending much more would be a case of diminishing returns. If we head to the country LP would still be an issues today in most parts of Chinese with the exception of Xinjiang and Gansu provinces in the NW and West, Yunnan in the SW and Tibet in the SSW.

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/\ Just ordered it's bigger brother the 130 from FLO. I t will be delivered to the UK and I will bring it out to Shanghai and leave it here as my grab and go....no need to warn about bad seeing as we have it 90% of the time, but I need something here for when I am visiting,

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