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Equinox 120 - Skywatcher's Finest?


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Hi all,

Ok, I'm pretty excited about the impending arrival of my latest scope - the Skywatcher Equinox 120 ED, and I've been thinking about how Skywatcher have evolved over the years.

I own the ED80 and the ED100 Pro as well, and was 'around' when they were first launched. If I remember correctly, most refractor afficianados had one or two issues with the ED's in their 'out of the box' state.

For example, the 80ED focuser quite often was improved by smoothing the flat section under the drawtube to allow better motion and grip when pointing high up. People also noted that the interior wasn't as black as could be so sometimes remedied that themselves too.

The ED100 suffered from incorrectly sized lens spacers, that could be seen to produce diffraction artefacts in images taken through the scope. Again many people replaced the focuser (myself included) for a better third party one to improve scope performance.

The paint doesn't seem to stand up too well either, with marks becoming evident simply from using the included tube rings.

I'm not berating the scopes in themselves - they are wonderful and have brought a whole world (or universe) of joy to many users, but just noting that in each case there were improvements that many users added to them themselves to bring them up to a certain 'standard'.

Now, in anticipating the Equinox 120 ED, and having read about it in some detail, I'm wondering have Skywatcher finally produced a telescope that is, from a refractor-phile's point of view, complete and the best it can be?

I have read that the interior is much blacker than previous incarnations; that the focuser can hold a heavier load and still have good performance, and is fully rotatable (which many of the add-ons for the earlier ED's were); that the paint is better applied and more hard-wearing; that the general build quality is a lot higher than before. In pictures, I cannot see any evidence of the lens spacers intruding into the light path either.

So, without actually handling and using the scope, it appears to me that Skywatcher have produced what appears to be a vastly upgraded, almost premium level scope for a still affordable price. Note, I'm not saying anything about the glass used, the level of chromatic correction or anything like that, I'm just saying from a mechanical and tactile point of view.

Comments? :hello2:

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you're a lucky man :hello2:

It was all in the lens with the early ED's. The build doesn't stand up too well these days but the lens is a gem. Still take some beating. Bit like the Canon 300D (same era), the first affordable DSLR. The build was iffy but the pics great and still fares well today. Skywatcher did well bringing an APO to the masses, even if the telescope snobs wouldn't accept it was one.

The ED80 is an all time classic up there with the C8, ETX90 etc as one of those greatest milestones.

Russ

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All I can say is it looks so sexy in it's black paintjob.

And at just a tad under 5" of aperture should really deliver on those tight doubles.

And the price is very good indeed.

I think you have made a great choice.

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Hi - I've got the Equinox 80, bought off Solar B on the forum. I've got to say that it is beautifully built and is exceptionally well engineered. I know it's not exactly the same as your scope, but it's from the same stable, and I think you'll be very happy with your 120. I have had a brief look at the 80ED Pro (gold one) and it wasn't in the same league in terms of finish and engineering quality. Probably still excellent visually, but the Equinox has stepped the game up into another league.

Ed

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Thanks!

Yes, I think you've all caught on to what I'm suggesting. :hello2: And yes, the ED range launched with the 80 was a milestone in telescope history as far as I'm concerned. I completely agree with the comment about the ETX90RA as well - same case in point, although in its case it delivered Maksutov optics and a built-in drive at an affordable price and unique design, rather than affordable ED refractor optics.

My comments were brought about by looking (and drooling) over the publicity pics of the Equinox range. They do indeed look like the proper ED telescope that Skywatcher have wanted to build for so long. Compared with the older models, I have to say that for me they look the real deal and certainly I'll be as proud of my Equinox as I was of my TeleVue when I owned it. 8) (Assuming image quality lives up to the expectations).

Ant

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They've certainly come a long way in the last 3 or 4 years. The stand out scope for me at the time was the ED80, that OTA really changed peoples perceptions of what a Chinese company was capable of.

Agreed, bang for buck takes some beating & with UK seeing is all you will probably need IMHO. I am very tempted tho to get the ED120 :hello2:

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I have had my 120 for about 3 months now an I have only used it for visual observing but I must say I love it. I keep it in a very cold garage and I am outside and viewing in 5 minutes including mounting it on my WO EZtouch mount.

Even though I am pretty inexperienced I like the finish on the scope and the crayford focuser is light years ahead of the one on my Flextube 12".

The views are pin sharp right across the field of view and I have never noticed any false colour when viewing the moon and planets.

In short I prefer getting the 120 out as oppossed to the 12" Flextube because of the crisper views and I am sure it would be fantastic for astrophotography.

But then again that is my own limited experience

Happy viewing

Vlebo

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I've never looked through a Mak Newt. Maybe one day...

Yes, I am looking forward to comparing with my ED100 (which has a Baader rotatable Crayford) and will be certain to take lots of pics! 8)

Gaz, the ED80 really started a revolution in people's expectations of telescopes, didn't it. Suddenly anyone looking for a small refractor could consider an Apo, and suddenly anyone thinking of spending a lot on an Apo had a small cheap one to consider as a try-out!

Then the competition came in and the market for small (and medium) Apo's suddenly filled with a huge selection of choices. Wonderful times! :)

Just as an aside, Vlebo, it's interesting that you make that comment about the ED120 vs the Flextube. I quite often let people who have never used or rarely used a telescope look through mine, and invariably they say the view through the ED100 (or ED80) is "better" or "nicer" than through a Newt set up on the same night!

Of course I know that it's not that simple, but for first time viewers to make such comments shows the appeal that a nice apo refractor has, and is obviously why they are so popular. It's not all hype - it's enjoyment as well. :D

Ant 8)

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They've certainly come a long way in the last 3 or 4 years. The stand out scope for me at the time was the ED80, that OTA really changed peoples perceptions of what a Chinese company was capable of.

I agree with this - the Synta ED80 was a bit of a milestone - it was fascinating lurking on the Cloudynights and Astromart forums when it came out and seeing the penny slowly drop that here was a really affordable apo from China of all places - it's taken ages for it to be accepted though in some quarters :)

John

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Couldn't resist...! :laughing3:

The pics I took don't do it justice - it's really nice to touch and very sleek. I'll take a series of pics at the weekend for the gallery under daylight which will be much better. This shows it on my old GP mount, and it feels quite solid on it too, which is reassuring! I was initially surprised at how compact the tube was - until I extended the dew-shield!

Excuse the flash - it made the inside look bright but it's not really.

10540_normal.jpeg

(click to enlarge)

8)

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