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A Vixen FL102 f 8.8 arrived safely yesterday morning. It was well packed, very secure but even then the couriers had managed to slightly damage the SW alu-case.

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The doublet was born more than twenty-five years ago. I guess sometime between 1985 and 1993. The objectives are an external lens in glass and an internal lens in fluorite. The anti-reflective treatment is a gorgeous emerald green and even today the FL102 is recognised as one of the finest 4" refractors ever manufactured. 

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It was a warm, blue sky day, so I took the scope out to align the 6x30 straight through finder, to adjust the focuser and experiment with a little white light practice. Just as it's been for most of August there were no sunspots but today that hardly mattered. With the aid of a Lunt wedge and a Baader zoom the Sun surrendered a perfectly imaged 'blank' disc.

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As I sit writing this report the following morning I cannot express enough what a pleasant and relaxed experience yesterday's evening had been. Meandering across the night sky, from early evening Jupiter, up through the milky way and back again to Saturn. It was what an evening with a telescope should be. No pressure, no lists, no expectations.

Stars were absolutely exquisite, clean and sharp, perfectly colour corrected. Deep forests of clusters sparkled like sunlight playing on a summer's river. Nebulae such as the Ring, the Veil and the galaxy Andromeda were gorgeous grey mist spectres of the night. And Saturn. I've never seen Saturn quite like that. Perfectly executed is the way I would describe it.

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The focuser is the scope’s only limiting factor. It’s good, very good. It’s fluid and smooth, it handles weight and there is no image shift. In any other scope it would be more than suffice but the 102s optics deserve more. I’ll see if it can be optimized without invasive modifications by tweaking the tension screws and if that fails I will try inserting a number of precision washers under the small plate of the shaft. Perhaps that will make focusing more snap-to before considering other more expensive options.  

Although no heavier than a smaller TeleVue 76mm and lighter than most 4" fracs with its longer focal length the AZ4 jitters at high magnification. There is a brief settlement period, perhaps no longer than a second or two but it annoys me and although optically fine, I cannot get along with the straight through finder. It puts me into some compromising positions that seems unfitting for anyone my age.  

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All in all then, tonight felt very special, magical even. As I descended from the darkness I couldn’t help thinking that you don’t really need more than a good 4” refractor and stars to steer her by. The views from the FL102 were intoxicating. Such gorgeousness, such splendour. I have been humbled by the experience.

As I packed away, a rising Orion alluringly tapped on my shoulder. Pleiades sang to the olive and lemon tree but I told myself they would be for another day. So it was off to bed with a smile I went. On a swiftly tilting planet I pulled the bed sheets tight and until forgetfulness arrived, sipped on that image of a thousand gleaming stars in my eye.  

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Sounds as if you like it........a lot 😁

I’m sure I could too, your high quality but no frills kit is just what suits me.

Enjoy.......Ed.

Edited by NGC 1502
mistake
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Almost poetic there Rob 😁. Lovely skies and a lovely scope, no wonder you were happy. I had one of these for a little while, very nice indeed. Should you choose to, you can fit a moonlit focuser to it quite easily which will have the added benefit of giving you a couple of finder shoes to work with to add a RACI finder.

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17 hours ago, Stu said:

Should you choose to, you can fit a moonlit focuser to it quite easily which will have the added benefit of giving you a couple of finder shoes to work with to add a RACI finder.

I was digging around in my astro-boxes and came across an oldish TS 8x50 RACI which happens to fit perfectly in the old Vixen 😀 I have no idea where that RACI came from and I don't ever recall buying it but then again I said something very similar when I found £50 in one of my socks some months ago....

I worked on the focuser, filing down and placing in little washers and although it did smooth it out a little, it was still not to my liking. To be honest, the TV76's focuser isn't that special either but then I mainly use it for low-power viewing. However, the Vixen deserves more, especially as I think the limiting factor will be my eyes and the skies rather than the optics themselves.

I spoke to FLO and they're going to send me through a Moonlite just as you've suggested. It won't arrive for a good few weeks but there's no hurry. We're currently enjoying crazy weather here in Spain with floods, tornadoes, gail force winds and hailstones the size of golf balls :huh2:

Stu, what made you move on your Vixen and do you have any opinions on the scope you owned?

Edited by Rob Sellent

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19 hours ago, NGC 1502 said:

I’m sure I could too, your high quality but no frills kit is just what suits me

I think anything more complex would just 'do my 'ead in', Ed. I'm quite a simpleton at heart and don't like faffing too much. AZ mount, decent frac, a few eyepieces and map in hand, and off we go :) I've got a sneaky feeling you're a man of similar convictions which as far as I can gather is just another way of saying, great minds think alike :)

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On 29/08/2019 at 06:16, Rob Sellent said:

A Vixen FL102 f 8.8 arrived safely yesterday morning.

Very nice scope!

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I've just seen this thread - great write up of a superb 4 inch refractor :icon_biggrin:

 

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I have just seen it because of others posting, very nice scope Rob.
My vixen ED103s at f7.8 (i think) is really nice, but wow a bit longer and a Flourite element, no wonder it sings.

I loved your comments:

On 29/08/2019 at 12:16, Rob Sellent said:

I couldn’t help thinking that you don’t really need more than a good 4” refractor and stars to steer her by

Fully agree a good 4" refractor is a wonderful and versatile instrument to be the 'Guardian' of,
we never own scopes after all, a bit like cats!
 

On 12/09/2019 at 00:07, Rob Sellent said:

Ed. I'm quite a simpleton at heart and don't like faffing too much. AZ mount, decent frac, a few eyepieces and map in hand, and off we go :) I've got a sneaky feeling you're a man of similar convictions

I know Ed through my Astronomy Club (CPAC) and we observe together quite a bit.
You have him bang to rights 😁

I am of the same conviction too, make it simple, make it fun.

Hope you are still enjoying that fine piece of Fluorite.

Edited by Alan White
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Thank you all so much for your thoughtful, kind and supportive comments. Thank you :)

@Alan Whitefor too many months I was torn between the Vixen 103s and a Tak f7.4. Sure, they're different instruments but they both had their pros and cons. Then around summer I saw the Vixen f8.8 up for sale and I figured that was the middle-way to go. One foot in the Vixen camp another in the fluorite 😋 I guess at this level there's very little given away by any of these superb 4"s although I do wonder what @Johnf9 is like. Again, thank you Alan for a lovely post and yes you're right on both accounts fracs are like cats (both little darlings) and the ideal motto to live by: make it simple, make it fun :)

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Thank you @Rob Sellent, for the ideal motto idea, changed my signature to suit 😀

I can see why you were torn between the scopes you mention and I too wonder what John F9 is like, I have an idea.
I also wonder what his 103s Vixen is like too, it is shorter focal length to my one.

 

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19 minutes ago, Alan White said:

for the ideal motto idea, changed my signature to suit

Great idea :) Hope you don't find it tacky but I'm going to copy you 😋. I feel it's an outstanding motto for visual astronomy and, as we know, loaded with wisdom and years of experience (not to say good looks to boot) 😀

Edited by Rob Sellent

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