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robhatherton

Altair Ascent 102ed f7 on Skywatcher AZ Gti Mount

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Posted (edited)

Al

Having had these a month the last 2 nights are the first real opportunities I’ve had to get outside for more than 5 minutes.

 

Having had a 120 f8.3 on a CG4 for about 6 years which I had taken to using in alt AZ mode I wanted a upgrade which would give me a boost searching for targets my star hopping failed to find.

 

The scope arrived double boxed with a layer or peanuts between the two boxes and foam inserts supporting the scope inside. Those same insets fit snuggly inside a carry bag I have to store it in. It’s undoubtedly a well made good looking scope and looks a step up in terms of build quality. The dual focuser looks identical to those on other Altair scopes and those of some other manufacturers. The main focuser feels stiff at first though not if you use a hand on both sides but it’s smooth: the fine focus wheel is extremely smooth and very helpful at high mags. The scope weighs 4kg, is an fp51 doublet and is reputed to be virtually identical to the AT102ed (see the long and enthusiastic thread on Cloudy Nights where it’s considered excellent value for money)

 

With the mount I also ordered the short pier and the heavier duty Sky-Watcher tripod: apart from the bolt at the top this is the same tripod as the CG4, EQ5 and provides a more stable base. I use a 2” diagonal and right angle 9x50 finder which adds to the weight so I think that’s essential.

 

In use: this is an extremely quick to set up and capable outfit! At least it is now; like others I’ve had teething problems getting the mount set up but it is working well with Sky Safari on my iPhone or iPad now.

 

So the scope is balanced quite far forward with the diagonal, eyepieces, finder etc which is convenient for viewing - no more contortions with a long refractor and eq mount. As long as it’s balanced the mount’s motors cope perfectly well. Last night I did a one star align with the Synscan app then used Sky Safari to goto all targets and adjust the alignment when necessary. I will need more practice but it’s my impression the goto might be more accurate with the Synscan app alone  however it’s much more convenient using sky safari.

 

Astro twilight is the best we get at the moment so fainter targets are really out for the present. Looking at double stars around Arcturus: Alkalurops, Xi Bootis and Pi Bootis were easily split sharp pinpoints of light. Izar was showing a hint of a split at 150x that is they clearly showed as 2 stars and then a very clear split with black between at about 200x: orangey yellow and greeny blue. Might have been a hint of ca in there I’m not sure. The fine focus is a great help here as the mount is at its limit at this mag. It does cope but it couldn’t be called rock steady!

 

I had to look at Neowise, an easy find but my first comet. In the north it’s the more light polluted part of my sky but it showed up well enough. Various other targets too including a large smudge called Andromeda. At least I can find it easily now but I’ll look forward to darker skies to make more of it. Jupiter and Saturn still below my tree line.

 

The highlight of my evening was the Great Cluster in Hercules: using a recent acquisition, a 16mm 82deg Nirvana this was stunning. I could really view it in context with countless stars resolving. In my 120 achro it hasn’t been as clear and sharp. In conclusion I’m really pleased with the views through this scope; it’s just what I was looking for. The mount is easy to use and just what I wanted to find and track targets. The whole outfit can be lifted and moved in one piece if necessary. A detailed review can be found online at the Sky at Night magazine site.

tair Ascent 102ed f7 on Skywatcher AZ Gti Mount

 

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Edited by robhatherton
Deleted one photo
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Nice review. Been looking at the 80mm version of this recently but mainly for the Comet. I think I'll stick with the 120 Equinox for now but I'll be tempted again and your review gives me confidence! The colours for Izar sound right to me.

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Yes I believe they’re lovely scopes but this is as big as you’d want on this particular mount. It’s not so much the weight rather length would be the issue. 

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After much research and deliberation I pulled the trigger on the same scope earlier so it's very gratifying to read your report. I ordered a red dot finder but I would like to get a RACI finderscope - is that the SW you are using ?

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Yes I believe that’s the one - it’s some time since I bought it. You may find with the rdf and low power eyepiece you get on fine though. 

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That's a good review. I've also got a f7 102mm and the weight balance is far forward as you say. I have the scope rings as far back on the ota as they will go to be able to balance hanging a lot off the focuser.

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3 hours ago, robhatherton said:

Yes I believe that’s the one - it’s some time since I bought it. You may find with the rdf and low power eyepiece you get on fine though. 

Thanks for that, much appreciated. I'm very much looking forward to first light !

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