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Carton Japan 60mm F12 refractor first thoughts


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Earlier this week a well packed box arrived..it contained a lovely 1980s 60mm F12 (F11.8 to be exact) in immaculate, original condition..

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The scope came complete with full equatorial mount, tripod, high quality finder, camera holder/adapter, 3 0.965" eyepieces and matching Tak style prism diagonal with rotating collet to secure eyepieces.

The little scope oozes quality and is virtually unmarked: the manuals (in Japanese!) are present, and the lens cleaning cloth has never been opened!

 

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This afternoon I got a chance to set up the scope.. I quickly noticed that the supplied wooden tripod, whilst of good quality, is much too short for comfortable observing for anyone much over 5' tall, (I'm 6')..so I mounted the equatorial mount onto a Skywatcher tripod from an EQ2mount..this setup is rock solid with this light setup (grab and go is what I bought the scope for), and the scope sits beautifully on this tripod.

Whilst setting the scope up I noticed that in fact the mount can operate in both equatorial mode, as shown above, but also in Altazimuth mode too, which I'm delighted about - rather like the Zeiss Telementor mount😉. Here are some quick photos I took earlier today in very grey skies:

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You will see, just In front of the tube collar that secures the scope to the mount, an additional black painted additional collar which is quite weighty and can be used to help balance the tube if extra weight is to be carried: I managed to remove the original 0.965" tube end to reveal what I believe is a 36.4mm Vixen thread..if I'm right about this ,I should be able to use modern 1.25" eyepieces and diagonal, and I have ordered an adapter to test this out!

So far, I'm very happy with this little chap!

Thanks for reading,

Dave

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Edited by F15Rules
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Oh, and the eagle eyed among you may have noticed in the first photo the original black focus knobs..in the later ones I have swapped these for a larger pair of spare knobs from my Tak FS128 - and they fit perfectly. Being larger they make fine focusing much more accurate too!

Dave

Edited by F15Rules
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Nice thread 👍

A long while ago I had a 60mm Vixen that I should never have sold....as above it originally took 0.96” eyepieces but a simple swap of the screw in adapter and it accepted 1.25” diagonal & eyepieces.

It was great for double stars. The small aperture gave fat airy discs, I recall Castor in particular looked fabulous. Lots of fun in a no hassle grab & go package !

Enjoy....Ed.

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Thanks Steve, a bit like a tiny Andromeda!🤣😂.

Here's another shot in equatorial mode..it only takes a turn of a spanner to lock/unlock the polar axis. Straight up at 90 degrees and it is an altaz mount. Or tilt the axis to 53 deg north and it's an equatorial..simples!

I really don't understand why modern mount makers like Skywatcher don't just make a simple design change to allow their manual equatorials to convert to altaz mode..? The cost would be minimal and yet you'd have two mounts for the price of one🤔??

DaveIMG_20201211_135251564.thumb.jpg.f0125b3b456f4e43593885a71d86857f.jpg

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47 minutes ago, F15Rules said:

 

I really don't understand why modern mount makers like Skywatcher don't just make a simple design change to allow their manual equatorials to convert to altaz mode..? The cost would be minimal and yet you'd have two mounts for the price of one🤔??

Lovely scope Dave.

It's not just Skywatcher, they're all like that. Even my lovely Tak mount is EQ only. The mount that came with the Prinz 660 I bought from you is EQ/Alt-Az, I fettled it to fit on a Horizon tripod, it works nicely as a grab and go but the 660 is a bit long for it really.

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Looks lovely Dave, though you may have to change your forum name soon! 😉

The mount seems more substantial that many I’ve seen for these little 60mm scopes  which  hopefully means it will be nice and stable.

Everything looks in excellent condition too, really nice! Hope you get a good first light soon.

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On 11/12/2020 at 17:35, Stu said:

Looks lovely Dave, though you may have to change your forum name soon! 😉

The mount seems more substantial that many I’ve seen for these little 60mm scopes  which  hopefully means it will be nice and stable.

Everything looks in excellent condition too, really nice! Hope you get a good first light soon.

Thanks Stu.

I must say the build quality of the mount is very good, I could see it easily taking an 80mm ota of up to say F9 or F10.

I think the photos do make the scope look larger than it actually is.. I'll have to take a picture of it on its own much shorter tripod next to the FS128 for scale 😁.

Dave

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Well, I got out for an hour unexpectedly this evening..

I'd hoped to see the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, but sadly it's too low and hidden by our house to see it..I'd have to go about half a mile away to see it over some flat farmland horizon.

I wanted to do a star test on Cassie the Carton (:rolleyes2:), so I used Capella for that.. the 1.25" adapter I'd ordered came two days ago, so I was able to use modern eyepieces no problems at all, nice concentric rings either side of focus, and nice tight stellar point with the quite large airy disk typical of long focus refractors.

I also looked at the Pleiades and had a lovely view with a Carton 28mm 55 degree ep, the whole cluster sharply displayed in one field. 

I then checked out M42 with the Carton, still very low down at c 7.45pm, and little more than a grey smudge. I could only see the Trap as a shimmering blur - but in fairness M42 couldn't have been much more than 15 degrees above my horizon at the time.

By now more clouds were scudding across but I couldn't resist getting the Tak out for a quick look at M42 as well..although much brighter than the Carton it was still not a great view, too much wind and turbulence.

I did get a quick and nice view of Mars (much smaller disk now)..I tried both blue and orange filters, but the best view was unfiltered tonight, with the Morpheus 17.5mm with the Baader 2.25x zoom Barlow, giving about 130x. I tried the Nagler 12 with the Barlow but it was just too much tonight at 195x.

The Carton showed a nice sharp, bright small disk at 59x with the Nagler T2 12mm, but too small a disk now to show identifiable detail at that magnification.. also, there is so much moisture in our atmosphere now and I'm starting to fear it is becoming semi-permanent - I can't recall the last really steady and transparent night we had here..

I did get a couple of shots of the two scopes, including one of the 60mm Carton with the big Nagler in it! I bought this scope for those odd holiday and quick half hour sessions, and I'm well pleased so far. I just need a bit of prolonged clear sky to see just what this little scope can really show me😊👍.

Dave

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Edited by F15Rules
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Last night was unexpectedly very clear early on, but sadly I had stuff to do so couldn't get out til quite late, at about 10.50pm..of course, by then cloud had begun to drift in, but I did get 30 minutes or so of dark, clear and steady skies - the best seeing for some weeks, actually.

I was keen to do some testing on the little Carton 60mm Comet Seeker, having only had minimal star time with it so far.

I used an excellent Tal diagonal with equally good Carton zoom 7-21mm, and briefly my "mini hand grenade" Nagler T2 12mm☺️.

The Carton mm is just such an easy scope to whip out, get set up and running in less than 2 minutes. I set up the scope in Altaz mode, as in the photo below..( the black metal ring around the tube just behind the dewshield provides useful additional weight when using heavier eyepieces such as the Nagler T2).

I turned first to M42, which had been such a washout the other night..this time much more detail showed, and I could see 3 stars of the Trapezium, individually resolved, with much more suggestion of the Batwings visible. A good start.

Next to Rigel, to hopefully resolve it's mag 7.8 companion at a distance of 9". The companion was well seen at c 12.30 o'clock position to the primary, and sitting just on or on the outside edge of the first diffraction ring. A lovely split at about 90x (using the Carton 7-21mm zoom). Rigel was a lovely tight, white stellar point, and the improved steadiness and transparency of the atmosphere last night was the major change factor versus the views a few nights ago.

Then onwards to the Belt trio..l went first to Alnitak, the lower left most easterly star of the belt trio. This is a triple system, with Alnitak B a close 2.3" separation - similar to Delta Cygni distance wise, and some might say even more tricky to resolve. Well, last night the pair was clearly and cleanly separated at 100x, and Alnitak C at some 58" seconds distance was very easily visible (the C component is thought to possibly be an optical alignment, not physically linked to A and B).

I then turned to Mintaka, the "highest" (most westerly) of the Belt stars, and it's 7th magnitude companion at c 54" distance was a very easy split.

In all cases the primary stars were clean, sharp stellar points with no visible CA (at a focal ratio of F 11.8 I wouldn't expect much, but it really did seem as low on CA as an F15 system). The stellar views through this scope remind me very much of the views through a lovely Pentax J60 F12 scope I owned around 10 years ago.

By now the clouds were gathering at pace from the west..I did finish off the short session by looking at the Mizar system in Ursa Major, one of my favourites, and where the sky was still dark and clear. Consisting of 4 stars (not necessarily all physically connected), Mizar A and B are both bright (although A noticeably brighter than B), and well separated at 14.5", and Alcor, the famous naked eye 4th magnitude companion, was very bright in the Carton, and the 4th star, the oddly named Sidus Ludovicanum, at magnitude 8, was also very clearly and crisply visible with direct vision, about half way between Mizar A and Alcor.

Using my Nagler T2 12mm 82 degree "porthole", the whole vista was like 4 pinpoint bullseyes of varying brightness against a dark black background.. beautiful..

A short session to be sure, but enough to confirm that this little scope is a keeper, and as good optically as it looks aesthetically!

Thanks for reading😊

Dave

 

 

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Edited by F15Rules
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1 hour ago, F15Rules said:

Last night was unexpectedly very clear early on, but sadly I had stuff to do so couldn't get out til quite late, at about 10.50pm..of course, by then cloud had begun to drift in, but I did get 30 minutes or so of dark, clear and steady skies - the best seeing for some weeks, actually.

I was keen to do some testing on the little Carton 60mm Comet Seeker, having only had minimal starting with it so far.

I used an excellent Tal diagonal withe equally good Carton zoom 7-21mm, and briefly my mini hand grenade Nagler T2 12mm☺️.

It's just such an easy scope to whip out, get set up and running in less than 2 minutes. I set up the scope in Altaz mode, as in the photo below..

I turned first to M42, which had been such a washout the other night..this time much more detail showed, and I could see 3 stars of the Trapezium, individually resolved, with much more suggestion of the Batwings visible. A good start.

Next to Rigel, to hopefully resolve it's mag 7.8 companion at a distance of 9". The companion was well seen at c 12.30 o'clock position to the primary, and sitting just on or to the outside edge of the first diffraction ring. A lovely split at about 90x (I was using a Carton 7-21mm zoom). Rigel was a lovely tight, white stellar point, and the improved steadiness and transparency of the atmosphere last night was the major change factor versus the views a few nights ago.

Then onwards to the Belt trio..l went first to Alnitak, the lower left most easterly star of the belt trio. This is a triple system, with Alnitak B a close 2.3" separation - similar to Delta Cygni distance wise, and some might say even more tricky to resolve. Well, last night the pair was clearly and cleanly separated at 100x, and Alnitak C at some 58" seconds distance was very easily visible (the C component is thought to possibly be an optical alignment, not physically linked to A and B.

I then turned to Mintaka, the "highest" (most westerly) of the Belt stars, and it's 7th magnitude companion at c 54" distance was a very easy split.

In all cases the primary stars were clean, sharp stellar points with no visible CA (at a focal ratio of F 11.8 I wouldn't expect much, but it really did seem as low on CA as an F15 system). The stellar views through this scope remind me very much of the views through a lovely Pentax J60 F12 scope I owned around 10 years ago.

By now the clouds were gathering at pace from the west..I did finish off the short session by looking at the Mizar system in Ursa Major, one of my favourites. Consisting of 4 stars (not necessarily all physically connected), Mizar A and B are both bright (although A noticeably brighter than B), and well separated at 14.5", and Alcor, the famous naked eye 4th magnitude companion was very bright in the Carton, and the 4th star, the oddly named Sidus Ludovicanum, at magnitude 8, was also very clearly visible with direct vision, about half way between Mizar A and Alcor.

Using my Nagler T2 12mm 82 degree "porthole", the whole vista was like 4 pinpoint bullseyes of varying brightness against a dark black background.. beautiful..

A short session to be sure, but enough to confirm that this little scope is a keeper, and as good optically as it looks aesthetically!

Thanks for reading😊

Dave

 

 

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Nice collection of scopes there Dave. And great report. You probably covered elsewhere, but do we know why it’s called Comet Seeker (having such a long FL)?

Jeremy
 

PS Mightily impressed by your collection of handles. I counted 6 on the shears and 4 on the bikes. You are going above and beyond on the handle malarkey. 

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Thanks Jeremy👍.

I too was puzzled by the Comet Seeker moniker: as you say, you'd expect a true Comet Seeker scope to be a short FL widefield instrument, perhaps of F5 or F6..

The most likely explanation is that this name was more of a marketing device than anything else: the scope dates from the mid 1980s according to the previous owner (who direct imported the scope from Japan), and this of course was when Halley's Comet was a memorable and famous sight in the night skies of Spring 1986. So that I think fits?

If the name was for marketing purposes, I suspect that it may have backfired: anyone knowing much about refractors and wanting a suitable instrument with which to observe the Comet would surely have looked for a short focal length scope rather than this relatively long one..

Regarding the handles, you missed the two on the garden chairs (from which they hang on the wall)..:rolleyes2:

Dave

Edited by F15Rules
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1 minute ago, F15Rules said:

Thanks Jeremy👍.

I too was puzzled by the Comet Seeker moniker: as you say, you'd expect a true Comet Seeker scope to be a short FL widefield instrument, perhaps of F5 or F6..

The most likely explanation is that this name was more of a marketing device than anything else: the scope dates from the mid 1980s according to the previous owner (who direct imported the scope from Japan), and this of course was when Halley's Comet was a memorable and famous sight in the night skies of S

pring 1986. So that I think fits?

If the name was for marketing purposes, I suspect that it may have backfired: anyone knowing much about refractors and wanting a suitable instrument with which to observe the Comet would surely have looked for a short focal length scope rather than this relatively long one..

Regarding the handles, you missed the two on the garden chairs (from which they hang on the wall)..:rolleyes2:

Dave

Yes that timing (80s + Halley) fits well 

For some reason (probably the way it looks) I thought it was an older vintage.

BTW, Did I miss Four Candles among the gardening equipment.? 🙂

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Quick update:

I've now made a few small, but I think worthwhile, improvements to the Carton scope:

- I had a spare pair of good quality Takahashi aluminium focuser knobs. These are bigger and much more robust than the original ones - overkill, perhaps, but being larger they can make finer focus adjustments, which is useful at higher powers.

- I really like the original finder scope (6x30), it has probably the best crosshairs and sighting reticule I've seen on a scope..but I do prefer RACI finders for comfort, and as I already had a nice Skywatcher RACI 6x30, I thought I'd try it for fit. To my delight, it fits perfectly onto the original black finder scope bracket, see photos. I think it also matches the black SW finder quite well👍.

I've also fitted a 1.25" adapter so I can use modern eyepieces, but I also have a 0.965" adapter to allow the use of the scopes original eyepieces, which is nice.

I will of course also keep all the original parts safely.

Finally, the black solid metal collar you can see behind the objective on the white OTA is a great accessory..it is intended to counterbalance an SLR camera if used: but as it clips on to the tube and can be pushed along the tube to any location, it's really useful for balancing heavier eyepieces..for example, using the collar up where it is shown in the photos, and the tube pushed well up, I can use my Morpheus 17.5mm and Nagler T2 22mm eyepieces without the scope being unbalance or straining the mount head which is great.

Due to the recent lousy weather and the very bright moon until recently, I've had precious few chances to use the scope properly..but the scope is a great little performer from what I've seen so far, and I'm really looking forward to an extended session with it. And being able to switch easily between altaz and equatorial modes is the icing on the cake!

Thanks for reading😊.

Dave

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Edited by F15Rules
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  • 2 weeks later...

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