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Commanderfish

Antares Versascope VS60 10 x 60 RACI finder

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I recently did a lot of research into RACIs.  I wanted one with a quality prism where I wouldn't see a line.  I wanted the flexibility to change eyepieces.  I wanted a wide field and the ability to focus easily. I wanted rings and a synta-fit (Celestron/Skywatcher) bracket.

The Stellarvue seems to fit the bill but the price is huge, especially when you include the seperate rings/bracket.  Likewise, Baader do a good RACI but the price is high.  I was considering building my own finder based around a GSO prism diagonal (which gets great reviews and doesn't cost a lot) and some parts from Teleskop Service but then I found the Antares Versascope 10 x 60 RACI.  Having been very pleased with the quality and price of their 2" twist lock 99% diagonals, I thought I'd take a punt.

I didn't even have to import, as this can be purchased in the UK from Rother Valley Optics for £99.99.  This is half the price of the Baader and less than half the Stellarvue.  So is it half as good?

Definitely not.  What you get is a quality 1.25" prism, a decent aluminium 227mm FL 60mm diameter OTA, a very long dew shield, nice neat low-profile 6 point tube rings combined with a synta bracket, and a reasonable quality, surprinsingly wide-field eyepiece with non-illuminated crosshairs.

The daytime views are pin sharp with no lines or other artifacts, so the prism is definitely good.  The night views are really nice.  Definitely not as sharp and snap to focus as my other 'finder', the Explore scientific ED80 with 21mm Televue Ethos eyepiece, but the price is 10% of that combination - we're comparing it to an ED triplet here!  The field is very wide which I found surprisingly pleasing to view.  The stock eyepiece appears to give the same TFOV as my ES Maxvision 24mm 68 degree, which gives 7.2 degrees.  This is something of a puzzle in as much as I can't find any details of the provided eyepiece anywhere online, nor marked on the eyepiece itself.  The sales listing indicates a 25mm eyepiece which is a little confusing as it would give x9 mag rather than x 10, and neither the AFOV or TFOV are listed.  From looking through it,I'd guess it's about x9.

The dew shield is so long that I haven't had any issues in a few nights of use.  Rotating the dew shield also focuses the scope which is very easy to do.  There is lots of focus range, although I found that my ES68 24mm was just ever so slightly short of focus - a little extender ring would fix this nicely.

The prism is attached to the scope via an Antares 1.25" Twist-lock, which imeans you can easily unlock and change the angle of the eyepiece to the scope.  The prism has a thumbscrew to hold the eyepiece.

The eyepiece, whilst a little plasticky in the casing, has decent optics and positively refused to dew up despite being left uncovered for hours.  Somehow the plastic/rubber eyeguard outer assembly seems to resist dewing (note it hasn't been THAT cold recently, but that didn't stop my binocular eyepieces from dewing up on the first night).  The cross hairs work fine, and I can't imagine needing illuminated ones in UK skies (I'll check this next time I'm at a proper dark site.

The tube rings were very easy to align to my scope, and as they are low profile they don't tend to get banged about.

This scope can be used as a little independent scope of it's own (I've used it out of my bedroom window) and it can be used for guiding.

All in all I'm very pleased with the views, the ease of use as a RACI finder and the truly excellent value for money.  If you're in the market for a versatile, quality RACI/guidescope, I think this is a real cracker; personally I would now find it very hard to justify paying double or more for the better known equivalents, given that I'm at a loss as to what they can do that the Versascope does not.

Edited by Commanderfish
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I had a MiniBorg 60mm achro last year. It came with a Baader RACI prism and I happened to have a Borg helical focuser lying around. Put it all together, fit a widefield EP, and hey presto a super versatile mini telescope of excellent quality. Then I went and sold it.

After reading this review, I'm tempted again, only this will cost me a lot less new than what I paid s/h. There's just something about a tiny tele that I can carry about in my pocket that really appeals to me.

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Just to complete the thread, it’s 822g including caps, eyepiece and mount / footing.

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