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Equinox 120: First & Second Lights

A McEwan

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Hi all.

I've been lucky enough to use the Equinox 120ED on a couple of cold clear nights now, 2 hours first light and 1 hour second light. This is just a report of the viewing experiences with the scope - some other bits of information may come out later in a more complete review.

I set it up on my Vixen GP on Berlebach UNI-18 tripod. This mount combination carried the scope with ease, and vibration when focusing was not problematic at all. In fact, when fine-focusing it simply didn't exist.

Throughout the whole time I spent viewing, I was trying to compare mentally with the images that I get in my ED100. In order to succeed as a purchase, the Equinox had to be better than the ED100 all the time in as many ways as possible, and never any worse in any respect.

First Light:

In polar aligning the mount I racked the focus in and out some on Polaris. The diffraction circles were clear, sharp, smooth-edged, and completely concentric inside and outside of focus. In focus I did not notice any false colour at all. I tried the same thing on Vega, with the same results. NB: I always see Vega as not pure white, but white with a hint of blue. Even without a telescope or binoculars. Through the Equinox the view was exactly as I remember it being through the ED100, which is to say no halo, no fringing, just sharp and clear. I was not 'pushing' the magnification here, as I wanted to get a feel for the actual views rather than look for funny colours inside and outside of focus all night! :mrgreen:

First object viewed was M57, which was easily shown as a doughnut at 64x in my Pentax XL14. Stars were sharp across the field, but not much detail was seen within the 'ring' structure.

Albireo was gorgeous, with a bright golden component and a fresh blue companion. At 134x this was a fantastic view. The fine focuser really helped to bring the stars to a perfect focus. Very handy.

Epsilon Lyrae did not split very well. It took 134x to achieve and the seeing and low altitude of the stars meant that the view was not very clear.

The Pleiades were high in the sky, so I slewed over there with the Pentax XW30, for 30x and just over 2-degree field. I've looked at M45 in many scopes with many eyepieces over several years, and the view that I had through the Equinox was the BEST EVER. It was jawdroppingly stunning. The entire cluster framed within the field and the nebulosity was not just one or two small sections, it was everywhere you see it in the photographs. Absolutely one of the best views I've ever had.

Andromeda galaxy M31 was next, along with M32 and M110 in the same field. I'm used to using the ED100 to view this trio, and the view through the Equinox exceeded that by a noticeable margin. The halo of M31 reached the very edge of the field, and the variety in brightness of different parts of the halo was evident. M32 and M110 were not just faint little smudges, but were obviously distinct and definable. I look forward to using high magnification on these galaxies as separate objects and seeing what detail the scope will reveal.

Next was M42, which was low in the sky. Used the Pentax XW30 again and the view was amazing! The trapezium was easily split into 4 components at 30x, and the nebulosity filled the field, along with several of the other highlights of the Orion's Sword area. Increasing the power to 64x revealed the E component in the Trap, and it stayed there, solid and easy to see. I want ed to carry on hunting for F but my drive batteries failed, so I had to pack up...

Second Light:

M27 was seen. Not much detail, but it was low so that seems a reasonable excuse. Mizar and Alcor were stunning, and Epsilon Lyrae was much more pleasing this time around, with steadier views, easily discernable darkness between the stars, and individual diffraction rings around each tiny component! Lovely.

M81 and M82 were hunted down and shared the field of view at 64x in the Pentax XL14. Very nice image, with some amount of detail seen in each galaxy.

Rigel was split rather easily, which was disappointing as I always think of this as being a somewhat stiff challenge, especially when it's low in the sky. The companion star was steady and sharp, at the 7-o-clock position from the main star, and once seen it would simply not disappear!

Then the clouds rolled in.

Views fantastic. A noticeable step up from the ED100, but with none of the false colour that some have mentioned in the drop to f7.5 from f9, at least not to my eyes.

The rough focus was a bit lumpy and remains so. I may have to look at this. The focuser rotation feature squeaks and is not very reassuring as to whether it's locked or not. I may have to look at this also. The dewshield sliding mechanism is lovely and responsive, and the fine focus is a joy to use.

I like the views very much, and hopefully once I have sorted the rough focus and rotation features, I can then think of this as a premium scope for un-premium price.


(click to enlarge)


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I also have the 120 Equinox and have the same problem with the focuser rotation , it is very squeeky and not at all smooth to use so you are never sure if it is full tightened without using a lot of force . Apart from that it is fine and I also have some great views with my Pentax XW 30. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.


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Excellent - you got your XW from FLO too! I must admit I wouldn't consider the Ex 120 as g'n'g. I'd be interested in seeing the scope on your EZTouch mount. That would be a nice setup, but a bit heavy duty for 'casual looks' for me.

Glad you liked the report, Lee. :)

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Because I keep it in a very cold garage I am outside and viewing in literaly 5 minutes including setting it on the mount, Which is exactly why I went back to basics and bought the Equinox and the same goes for my Flextube.

Will post a pic as soon as I find out how to.


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  • 1 year later...

I too have an Equinox 120 and its a stunning scope considering the price!

I agree that the focuser feels lumpy to turn and I really didn't like the rotatable ring either so I fitted a Feathertouch focuser to it as I felt the top quality optics deserved a top quality focuser!

This is now my favourite scope to use, even against my Stellarvue 102 ABV, probably the best kept secret in astroland, enjoy while you can!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great review. Darn it, I have still to meet one of these. I have the other budget five inch, the Meade 127, and would like to compare them. I very much doubt that in visual use there would be much to choose between your scope and any premium apo at any price. Your mount looks great, too. I have never seen one of these either.

Well done on getting the M45 nebulosity. It is not at all easy, I don't think.


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I'm still in love with it! I've added a second counterweight to the mount to allow me to bring the weight up the shaft, closer to the head for reduced whatsamathingy (can't remember the word now - small weight at end of shaft VS big weight at top of shaft: you know what I mean)!

Also the Moonlite focuser has made it a Premium scope in my eyes.

Still haven't seen Mars through it though. Maybe this weekend?

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