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blakemulder

Evostar 90 Eq2 - My "opinion" differs from the reviews I have read...

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Its been many years since I last looked through a scope - but since my early years I have been interested in the night sky - when I was about 6 or 7 I started corresponding with Patrick Moore - he was such a kind, generous man.. I think I was about 9 or 10 when he invited me to his house for the day - I didnt have a scope then so he offered me one of his! only I didnt have a lorry to get it home!

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My interest has never gone away, but with all the other distractions life throws at us its a hobby that I come back to that generally coincides with the frequency of the sunspot cycle!  Im now 49 and find that once again I want to point a scope at the heavens - So I decided I wanted a sope mainly for the planets and wanted the bare minimum that would keep me interested - and if I didnt get on with it I wouldnt have spent a fortune on another useless ornament.

I spent weeks reading reviews on scopes on the net, and had pretty much decided on a 8inch dob - they get universally good reviews and are a pretty safe bet - but knowing how OCD I am with my road bikes and spending more time maintaining them than actually riding them, i was concerned that my dob would spend more time with a colimator in the eyepiece whilst I tried in vain to align the optics to micrometer precision than using it in anger - so for my sanity I decided on a no maintenance refractor with a long focal length.  The Evostar 90 EQ2 seemed to have a lot of praise including comments such as "Jupiters red spot being visible with better eyepieces", "polar caps on mars visible" etc - praise indeed for such limited aperture.  On the basis of these reviews I spoke to Neil at Tring astro.  Now I dont have any affiliation with this company, just they are local to me and I much prefer going to a shop than ordering blind from the internet.  Neil was cautious about my decision, pointing out that the EQ2 mount was not very stable, the achromatic objective showing some colour, limited aperture etc but the reviews were so positive i thought it would make a good starter scope and it was looking like a bit of a bargain - indeed one reviewer said it was as good as scopes costing 10 times the asking price! 

I duly placed an order and the scope arrived the next day...

Wow - this scope is well packed - an outer box, an inner box, then individual boxes for all the components...

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Putting the scope/mount together was pretty straightforward - but the setting circles have cellophane on and it doesnt want to come off!

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When I attached the slo mo controls things didnt improve...

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The outer plastic has been cut too short!  not pretty...

So, the scope is set up and I'm still pretty excited to have a look through - and I had clear skies!

The scope resides in my out house and its chilly in the there - this scope doesnt need cool down time!  but wait!  I have a sheet of astro film so I appoint my wife to knock up a suitable attachment for the scope and I can test it in the daytime and get familiar with the scope without fumbling in the dark!

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So, filters for scope and finder in place, scope is in the garden and here we go for a first look at the.sun.  25mm eyepeice - rack focus out - sun snaps into sharp focus and the sunspots on show look glorious - view is great! as the sun slowly drifts across the field of view I realise my scopes mount is not set up properly - as I adjust the declination control its pretty obvious this EQ2 mount could best be described as "agricultural".  The RA controls is actually pretty smooth but the declination is truly ropey.  I then switch to the 10mm eyepiece looking forward to a visual feast, but focusing the scope on this mount is a real problem - at 90x its nigh on impossible to get this thing sharply into focus, and the previous bright display has dimmed significantly - maybe this is because the astrofilm just doesnt let in enough light to use a higher powered eyepiece - Ok, I already know whats going to happen when I use the 2x barlow - the image is so shaky I'm never going to achieve focus - and crikeys this image is reallly dull.

I leave the scope where it is as the clear skies are forecast overnight as well - venus is really bright and its still quite light outside - the view is crisp in the low power eyepiece - switch to the 10mm and the first thing to notice is the chromatic aberation - really quite noticable and boy this scope is hard to focus! everytime I adjust the focuser the image is dancing all over and its an excercise in frustration - I go back to basics and check that everything is tightened down ok, and I already made sure the tripod is as low as possible.  

I swing the scope over to jupiter and the view once again through the 25mm eyepice is really sharp - very satisfying - the 10mm eyepiece - when I can get the scope close to some form of focus - reveals two distinct bands - I spend quite a lot of time trying to pick out more detail - didnt one of the reviews I read say they could see a lot more detail than this? Maybe the laser eye surgery I had some years ago has affected my sight, but hang on Jupiters moons are present and I swear I can see a shadow of the closest moon on the planets disc - 

The view of the moon, again in the low power eyepiece, snaps into view and its great to see my old friend again in this detail - even the 10mm eyepiece shows good views - when I can get some sort of focus - 

I'm left thinking the OTA might actually be quite qood but the 10mm eyepiece still leaves a lot to be desired - yet reviews I have read say its rather good in this scope - something doesnt seem right here.  

Next idea I have is to convert a webcam so I can take some pictures that will at least give hubble a run for its money, right?  It takes me half an hour to convert not one, but two old webcams I have into something that resembles those of others I have seen on the net - but I begin to doubt these are going to work - life is never that simple.

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And much to my suprise they work! (well, kind of)

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More time spent researching on the net and I think I have a partial answer to at least some of this setups problems - an electric focuser - I duly order one from FLO and it arrives the next day - great service!  After a bit of head scratching its fitted in 10 minutes - I set the scope up and have a look at my neighbours chimney at the bottom of the garden - OMG!  This device is just amazing - with the 10mm eyepiece in i can actually get a tight focus! Ok, the image still isnt that bright - but no more wobbles when I look through the scope - Its clear this little device is going to get me out of a hole, as I had been thinking I bought the wrong scope...

Next day the sun is out and, filters in place, have a look at the sun - the focuser is working great! - the image remains steady and all is almost well with the world - 

So I've had the scope 2 weeks now and waiting for the weather to improve so that I can give it another test - questions remain but in summary...

Neil at Tring astro was dead right in his comments - but my next scope choice was more than twice what I paid for the Evostar 90 - you know my wife has a saying - never just make do, if you can afford the item you REALLY want then get it!  I hate it when she is right! which is most of the time...

I wonder if better quality eyepieces would make a significant impact or is the cost of better eyepieces false economy (the scope was, afterall, under £140)

WOW the electric focuser is a godsend - I'd say that the EQ2 mount is virtually useless at high power without it - 

I cant understand the reviews I have read stating how sturdy the EQ2 mount is/how much you can see with this scope - Did I buy a lemon?  I dont think so - the OTA shows promise but I'm hoping, now that I have that damn fine focuser, the limiting factor is the 10mm eyepiece.

I think the bottom line is I need to evaluate whether its financially viable to upgrade the eyepieces/add motor drive etc or simply save my pennies and beg/borrow/steal the finances for a better scope and keep this one for my Son, who is 7, and a chip of the old block.  Whilst his peers are into gaming/computers etc he has asked for a microscope for his birthday!

Please understand this write up is based only on my limited knowledge/time with this scope, I do feel my experinces so far do not echo the fine reviews I have read on the Evostar 90, but still I am having a lot of fun and that must surely be a good thing!

I welcome your comments/suggestions and..clear skies to all!

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When they sell a scope and mount package the mount tends to be the smallest and most light weight one they can get away with.

They also happen to be the cheapest.

Being honest I doubt anyone here would sing the praises of the EQ2.

Most would suggest avioid if you can afford the 3-2.

And an equal amount would say get the EQ5 if you have any sense.

Magazine reviews are close to useless.

I do not know of a single one ever that has said "Better if you do not buy it and get something else."

Equally it is difficult to say spend an extra £100, if a person is looking at a setup for £250 then suggesting an alternative for £350-400 is not always welcomed.

If I had said "You're an idiot, don't touch it, spend double the amount on ABC scope!"

Would you have listened ?

Or would you have gone with people saying it will do you even if not the greatest.

Edited by ronin

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Thanks for the reply, some of the positive reviews I have read came from users of this very site!  I reasoned that people writing reviews here would be somewhat impartial!   Perhaps I was Naive? Otherwise how does one know a "good" review from a "bad" review? - Are you suggesting theres no point to this part of the forum? - Dont believe what you read? I made every effort to get as much information as possible before deciding on my purchase - sorry you didnt like my write-up - as you can tell I dont write for magazines!

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Very good report. I had a 114mm Newt on an EQ2 and that was quite "interesting." Very wobbly, but I got the scope mainly for the OTA. You must also remember that some reviews are by inexperienced members, who have just seen the craters on the moon for the first time through pretty decent optics, and are thunderstruck. They often don't know what a stable mount looks like.

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I have owned the Helios branded EVO 90 and I was more than happy with it. I was actually shocked at how much I got to see through it despite being well aware of the scopes limitations.

You will find that using the 10mm eyepiece the image begins to dull over the 25mm as the exit pupil is only 1mm. It is possible to go as small as .5mm but is really only best suited to bright objects like the moon or Jupiter. Most people suffer from distracting floaters in their eyes at such a small exit pupil so it's really down to the individual. The MA eyepieces supplied with telescopes are not of a good quality and are really only to get you up and running so to speak. It would be worth considering getting something like the BST Starguiders at some point http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Skys-the-Limit-Astro-and-Optical/BST-Starguider-ED-/_i.html?_fsub=2568750014 as this would give a noticeable improvement over the stock 10 & 25mm eyepieces.

I would have took the advice from Neil on the mount but hey if only we had hindsight the world would be a happier place no doubt. As already mentioned the EVO 90 would be far better on an EQ3-2 or even an AZ3 mount with it's slow motion controls. The trouble is had you got the beefier mount for the EVO you'd be paying near enough the same as a 6" dob. Although saying that my guess is your not far off that with what you have paid for the EVO/EQ2 and auto focuser. Most people stress over the thought of collimation but the 150P holds collimation well and it would have been great on planets with it's 1200mm focal length.

I'm sure once you become more familiar with your setup and you get some better eyepieces the you will start to enjoy it more.

Edited by spaceboy
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Spaceboy that is a really helpful post, thankyou.   I will check out those eyepieces and nice to know I can improve the views through this scope.  Yes those "floaters" are problematical, and I wonder, from your experience, what, realisticly, is the highest USABLE power that would be ok to use on the brighter planets with this scope using the BST Starguiders?

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Thanks for posting your views on your Evostar 90 - they were interesting to read :smiley:

Thanks for the reply, some of the positive reviews I have read came from users of this very site!  I reasoned that people writing reviews here would be somewhat impartial!   Perhaps I was Naive? Otherwise how does one know a "good" review from a "bad" review? - Are you suggesting theres no point to this part of the forum? - Dont believe what you read? I made every effort to get as much information as possible before deciding on my purchase - sorry you didnt like my write-up - as you can tell I dont write for magazines!

All reviews and reports here are posted entirely voluntarily by members and they are free to post things as they find things, just as you have I'm sure. One thing you will notice as you spend more time on the forum and read more viewpoints is that individuals often do have differing personal viewpoints on the performance of the same piece of kit whether it's an eyepiece, a scope and practically anything else !

Your scope should be good for 180x with seeing conditions are good so the 5mm BST Explorer is probably worth having in your eyepiece box for such occasions. Floaters are an issue for many and become more prominent as the exit pupil generated by the scope / eyepiece combination gets small. With a BST 5mm and the Evostar 90 you will have a .5mm diameter exit pupil which is getting small and may cause more floaters to be seen when you are viewing a bright extended object such as the Moon. This varies person to person.

I've owned a couple of EQ2 mounts by the way. They work fine for short tubed scopes up to 4-5 inches in aperture but not so well for a longer tubed scope such as the Evostar 90. The tube length is the major factor here, not necessarily it's weight. Your supplier was correct to express these reservations to you but at the end of the day, its your decision of course.

Hope you continue to enjoy the scope :smiley:

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I second replacing the 10mm supplied eyepiece :) The 25mm modified achromat eyepiece isn't that bad, but the 10mm shows a lot of lateral chromatic aberration etc. 

I second the BST range if you wear glasses for observing or just wan't a nice comfy eyepiece, but if you don't need glasses to observe, i.e to correct astigmatism, and you wan't the sharpest views with the lowest aberration then consider the 10mm Baader Classic Ortho (BCO) at the same price.  

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/baader-planetarium/baader-classic-ortho-bco-eyepiece.html

p.s. I've had the Evo 90 on the AZ3 and thought it was a cracking scope for the money. I've not owned an EQ2 so can't comment on that particularly.

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I cant understand the reviews I have read stating how sturdy the EQ2 mount is/how much you can see with this scope - Did I buy a lemon?  I dont think so - the OTA shows promise but I'm hoping, now that I have that damn fine focuser, the limiting factor is the 10mm eyepiece.

I think the bottom line is I need to evaluate whether its financially viable to upgrade the eyepieces/add motor drive etc or simply save my pennies and beg/borrow/steal the finances for a better scope and keep this one for my Son, who is 7, and a chip of the old block.  Whilst his peers are into gaming/computers etc he has asked for a microscope for his birthday!

Please understand this write up is based only on my limited knowledge/time with this scope, I do feel my experinces so far do not echo the fine reviews I have read on the Evostar 90, but still I am having a lot of fun and that must surely be a good thing!

I welcome your comments/suggestions and..clear skies to all!

Morning, enjoyed the review, and I have to say your opinion of the scope and mount combo is inline with my thoughts..  I managed to pick up a second hand one as a gift for my brother who has shown a passing interest and I thought I'd see if I can stoke it abit further..

He's used the same terminology on the mount "agricultural" and he works for a construction steel work & fixings manufacturer so should know a bit of what is a good product and what could do better..

After quickly checking my content on here I don't think I have heaped a massive amount of praise on the evo90, but I do find it a handy & capable scope..

in fact I've done a couple of family vacations to the Cotswolds and lake district, and due to space saving in the car the Evo90 has been my go to scope, and under dark sky's I've not been disappointed, yes it was on a very stable AZ4 mount, and I have advanced my EP collection on some what, but the OTA, I think can produce good viewing..

In fact id say the view of the orion nebular over new year in a very dark Cotswolds (with a bit of moon) was as good as I've had from a light polluted north Yorkshire in a 200p, shows the impact dark adaption can have..

Id agree with the thoughts on the 10mm supplied... although I did notice that in the last stargazers live during a live "in the field report" a group were looking through a fantastic vixen refractor, no doubt worth £000's and, to my bemusement at least, the EP said "super 10" on it!! So apparently they do have there uses. (keeping mine for when my 6 year old nephew wants to look though... sticky fingers!)

Maybe keep your eye on astro buy & Sell for a slightly better mount, like the AZ3 or EQ3-2 as previously mentioned, and at F10 the scope is kind on many EP's..  the BST are popular but if eye relief is no issue some humble plossls might just advance your viewing too..

(I had a cracking view of Jupiter last year with the Evo 90 and a revelation 15mm plossl from a very light polluted garden)

Keep having fun.. and clear skys

Fozzie

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Spaceboy that is a really helpful post, thankyou.   I will check out those eyepieces and nice to know I can improve the views through this scope.  Yes those "floaters" are problematical, and I wonder, from your experience, what, realisticly, is the highest USABLE power that would be ok to use on the brighter planets with this scope using the BST Starguiders?

Despite having a selection of larger scopes my Helios 90 actually got a lot of use due to it being easy to handle, quick to cool down and performed well on the moon. I found that on the moon a 6mm (x150 / 0.6mm exit pupil) eyepiece was as short as I'd happily go with out the views becoming too dim and an 8mm (x112 / 0.8mm exit pupil) eyepiece on Jupiter. This gives you a rough guide for what worked for me but as previously mentioned it is down to the individual what works best for them at the end of the day.

When you up the magnification the views do become larger in the eyepiece but also dimmer as the exit pupil reduces the light hitting your retina http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exit_pupil. What you have to remember is that while what you see in the eyepiece is larger it is no more resolved than it would be at x90. The only difference is your less likely to be at the mercy of seeing at x90, the views are going to be brighter and offer more contrast and floaters are going to be less of a distraction.

"Apparently" there is a sweet spot magnification for each scope much as there is for a camera lens but in my experience mother nature is the biggest player in how well a scope performs so don't get disheartened if you go out one night and the views are pants.

If I had the EVO90 again and had to start fresh I would get BST starguiders 8mm then 15, a good quality x2 barlow then the 25 and finally the 12mm. The 90mm performs well on brighter DSO objects but it's strengths lie with lunar, planetary and double stars so while I had a 32mm eyepiece to hand, it was rarely in the focuser. With the 1.25" focuser you'd not gain much over the 60° AFOV of the 25mm BST anyway.

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Sounds like a perfectly fair review to me. Ronin's comments about the mounts are spot on, almost scopes sold as a mount and scope combination have mounts that frankly are borderline for the scope they sell. I have the Bresser equivalent of that scope and I partly got that because it came with the EQ3 mount. Similarly in most packages the eyepieces are basic Plossl style eyepieces which is fine at the 25mm focal length but they show up their limitations in the shorter focal lengths. I upgraded with a few BST explorers which are a lot more usable. I'm not sure how the skywatcher and Bresser focussers compare but they are best described as "basic", they do the job but there's no finesse or precision in the mechanism.

What might help is adding weight to the tripod to help stabilise it, getting better eyepieces for the shorter focal lengths and a strip and rebuild of the focusser, though your electric focusser might obviate the value of that.

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I've been unfortunate enough to use two EQ mounts and both were absolutely horrible to start with.

They were rough as a badgers bottom in DEC and RA using the slo-mo controls. Luckily they are very simple to strip down and I would heartily recommend you do the same and remove all the horrendous gloop that the factory calls 'grease' and apply some quality grease of your own.

You can also use a bit of engineers Blue to check the gears are meshing well. You might find one area of the Dec/RA gears meshes better than the rest. i found an 80deg sweet spot that meshed nicely on RA with my first eq3 and moved that around to face the front where it got used the most using the RA slo motion wheel. Must have been due to manufacturing 'tolerances', but the rest of that ring didnt mesh well and really felt rough!

Once its all built up properly - which i presume you can as you mention about maintaining bikes - see how it feels. If its still too wobbly then you can do a couple of tricks. First it to hang a big weight off the bottom of the EQ mount bolt that holds it to the tripod. 10kg or more if you think the tripod will take it. The heavier it is, the less the vibration will affect the mount but you will always get some with such a long telescope. You could also try filling the tripod legs with sand to make that heavier too.

Obviously, if the shake is all down to the EQ head being too badly manufactured and play is evident in the connections, it wont make any difference! But give it a try, you might be surprised!

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Firstly thankyou so much for the helpful replies, the addition of the electic focuser has made a huge improvement now that I can achieve focus without the wobbles, and its reassuring to know that a change to quality eypieces will make a noticable improvement too.   Ideally I would like to get the EQ2 mount adjusted and leave it set up in the garden and just bring out the scope when needed - I'm assuming even with a warterproof cover the mount is going to suffer from damp air - I'm not short of space - i have a 160ft garden but not the funds for an observatory to go with it!

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Fair comments there.  Manufacturers can skimp on some items in a 'bundle', in this case the EQ2 isn't wonderful, but I have used it in the past with moderate success.  The 10mm eyepiece does give an 'okay' view if you don't wear glasses, but otherwise the eyerelief is pretty useless.  I have kept it though, as it is useful for showing the public and also my son's cub scout group the moon - it gets smeared but who cares...

The OTA is in my humble opinion a little gem.  Lightweight.  Cheap.  Good objective lens. Yes, the focuser has some to be desired but the objective does give sharp views. I have managed the GRS with this OTA, but be aware that this feature doesn't jump out at you, one REALLY has to look for it, but it is there, very small and in salmon pink.  And you need good seeing to do it.

Some worthwhile upgrades which make this little scope actually very useable are:

Some decent eyepieces.  BSTs have been mentioned and have excellent reviews and following.  I use Celestron XCels, again, love em.  Mega eye relief as I wear glasses and they are sharp as a pin.

A good diagonal.  The diagonal is part of the optical train and is as important as the eyepiece. 

A sturdy AZ mount.  I use the EVO 90 on the AZ4 with steel legs.  No problems, no vibrations, just pure pleasure to use, swinging about the sky. With practise and correct setting of the clutches, you can manually track at high power.   The EVO 90 manages x180 just fine, with the right eyepiece and diagonal. 

Having said all this, it is still only 90mm.....but what I think are it's good points are it's weight, small(ish) size and price.  £140 ?  Say no more...and you can sell the EQ2 2nd hand and get a few quid back.

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They were rough as a badgers bottom in DEC and RA using the slo-mo controls. Luckily they are very simple to strip down and I would heartily recommend you do the same and remove all the horrendous gloop that the factory calls 'grease' and apply some quality grease of your own.

What grease did you use? I'm tempted to do a strip and rebuild on my EQ5 to try and reduce the periodic errors I see.

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I wouldn't want to recommend a grease on a motorised mount where PE is critical.

on my manual eq mounts, I used a quality general purpose motor grease - JCB blue - on heavy friction areas and for all other parts including between washers etc, I used a bike chain lube called 'dry lube" which is a ptfe dry coating for minimal friction and corrosion resistance.

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That's a lovely photo of...you?...with Sir P. What a great memory to carry with you. Was that the scope he offered? Wow...what a guy! Singlehandedly, he was such a motivator for young stargazers.

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That's a lovely photo of...you?...with Sir P. What a great memory to carry with you. Was that the scope he offered? Wow...what a guy! Singlehandedly, he was such a motivator for young stargazers.

My thoughts as well. 

Such a scope would surely have some historical value today. 

But as you say - not many of us have a lorry in that age.

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It wasnt the one in the picture (or this one) but another one of his reflectors which I remember was huge!  I was on his book list so all his new books came to me straight from the publisher -  he sent me  a postcard that was drawn by his mother and I have other letters and sighned books. Regret not having the scope though!

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well, I'm a bit late but going to chuck in my two pennies because the clouds have rolled in and I'm too awake to sleep.

I really like my Evo 90 EQ2. I have nothing to compare it to as I am new to the hobby. Having never set hands on a proper telescope before I was able to set it up shimples. My budget was based on the fact that my wife was buying it for my birthday and as a sub £150 scope this looked a good buy according to both press and user reviews. Maybe I should have asked for the money in vouchers and put some more in to buy something bigger, however I didn't want to spend a lot of money in case I just didn't get on with the hobby. I also wanted a refractor as I travel between my garden and the in-laws farm where skies are much darker. As a newbie to the hobby I would say it's money well spent, I have seen more than I expected.

Jupiter: a couple of times I have observed the GRS. Granted it's a struggle to see, however if you can really relax your eye, wearing an eyepatch and can perch comfortably over the eyepiece you can make out the curl of colour in the lower band. Shadows of the moons are clearly visible.

Venus: Used to be a chromatic blur at higher magnifications. However I invested in a 99% quartz diagonal after scratching the factory one and now it looks much better.

Saturn: So low in the sky and lots of wobble from the haze. However during brief moments of good seeing the Casini division is visible at higher magnification.

Moon: Looks great. I get lost for long periods of time gazing at it.

I know what you mean about the mount. I bought a motor drive for the RA as I was sick of grinding my soft southern fingertips on the ham-fistedly engineered slow-mo control wheels over long periods of observing at high magnification. Also they cause a lot of wobble and you loose concentration as you touch them. Whilst the motor is good once you have the target in the eyepiece, you have no RA slow-mo any more. So it's no good for the moon as you cannot move around it very easily. 

I also invested in some used Plossls off ebay. A good investment and improved views a little over the factory provided eyepieces, especially at high magnification. I now have a 6.4, 12.4, 26 and 32. Plenty (in fact too many) options along with the Barlow. 

Overall I have absolutely no buyers remorse as a first timer, I really enjoy my scope and I insist you can't really go wrong if you're on a bit of a budget and looking for a first scope. Of course I am now already considering my next scope. Likely to be another refractor so I can transport it easily, however it doesn't mean I am any less eagerly anticipating a clear night and getting out in the garden as early as possible at the slightest clearing of the clouds. 

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ive been using an evostar 90 for some years always had some nice views through it....I swapped the eq2 mount for something else.....its performed well a good starter scope...only reason im not using it now is ive joined the computerised revoulution...

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In this class, at this price, the Evostar is a decent performer. Despite the inevitable frustrations, it still delivers good views of the moon, sun, and occasional planet for half the cost of a premium eyepiece.

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I've had a few of these scopes and I still rate them for grab and go.

I'm no fan of the EQ2 mount, these work better on the AZ3 in my opinion, but I've seen some of my best views of the planets with these scopes.

Mine works well with a Baader Fringe Killer and an old style Celestron Ultima 7.5mm.

I've seen the Cassini division, shadow transits of Jupiter etc with this set up.

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