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Altair Starwave Ascent 102ED f7


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The Altair Starwave Ascent 102ED is my second refractor. The first being a Skywatcher Startravel ST120, so I honestly don't have a great deal of refractor experience. However during the short period of use last night I was impressed by this FPL51 ED instrument.

The scope arrived via DHL the day after ordering. Double boxed and securely packaged. If you're using your own finder, a saddle needs to be purchased unless as I did, you have one spare.

I used an LED street lamp to align the finder and I was initially astonished at the total lack of chromatic abberation through the Celestron X-Cel 25mm. Only once my eyes settled and I moved off axis did I notice the faintest slither if purple. Still a massive improvement over the ST120 kaliedoscope.

Turning to the Bortle 7/8 sky (various sources disagree - an urban area 5 miles from the city centre. 13 Stars naked eye visible in Orion). Seeing was OK (rather than 'good'), and transparency poorish.

Sirius was surprisingly CA free also, until the magnification was increased significantly, but again compared to the achromatic, not massively intrusive.

Despite the moonlight, turning to M42, the winged wisps of nebulosity could be seen, with slightly more detail under similar conditions using the Skymax 102 recently, and comparable with the 150P reflector, with the addition of improved contrast and pinpoint Trapezium stars. Changing to an OVL ES-UWA 82° 16mm increased the detail and contrast.

M45 fitted into the 25mm fov and looked like  a lovely glistening clutch of diamonds.

Moving onto the yellow tinged moon, I could not detect any CA along the limb, even when adding a BST 8mm and GSO 2.5x ED barlow for 224x. The view maintained its sharpness and I spent a quite a while observing features along the northern limb and Mare Serenitatis.

The telescope is relatively light at 4.2kg including tube rings, so weighs in at just under 5kg with a Skywatcher 1.25" dielectric mirror diagonal, plastic generic red dot finder and eyepiece. The mount used on this occasion was the AZGTI and for the most part I didn't have issue except I noticed when viewing the moon, and racking out the draw tube, there was some droop despite the altitude clutch being fully tightened. I'll look at the balancing again, but this may be due to the AZGTI's poor clamp. Next pay day I may invest in the ADM saddle.

The gloss white sheen finish to the tube, nice CNC machined tube rings and obviously decent objective glass are great but the focuser was a revelation. Very smooth and the fine focus wheel worked really well, helping me to tease out smaller lunar features, and the Trapezium at low magnification.

Despite the Ascent 102ED sitting at the lower end of the apochromatic price range and the FPL51 glass, it looks and feels like an expensive instrument which I enjoyed using very much. It's smaller than it looks in pictures, is very easy to move around and the sliding dew shield aids storage. Great for grab n' go.

If you're on a tight budget but fancy trying a new 'Apo', I agree with Sky at Night Magazine, the Ascent 102ED is worth punt.

I'm smiling here...

1075227774_IMG-20210130-WA00012.thumb.jpg.5231ccc4f4d12840db78bc07c091c693.jpg

 

Shiny...

1632978833_IMG_20210129_1708484802.thumb.jpg.719c18527b8aa2e3217cff6b12ea7d66.jpg

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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The Altair Starwave Ascent 102ED is my second refractor. The first being a Skywatcher Startravel ST120, so I honestly don't have a great deal of refractor experience. However during the short period o

This telescope continues to impress. Doubles are wonderful. Algieba and Beta Monoceros tonight were fantastic at 255x through an excellent GSO 2.5x ED barlow and OVL 7mm ES-UWA 82° eyepiece. I ne

A final update; Last night I had a most excellent two hour lunar session using this telescope. The Skywatcher AZ5 and steel tripod held the scope admirably. After a couple of sessions now, t

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49 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

The Altair Starwave Ascent 102ED is my second refractor. The first being a Skywatcher Startravel ST120, so I honestly don't have a great deal of refractor experience. However during the short period of use last night I was impressed by this FPL51 ED instrument.

The scope arrived via DHL the day after ordering. Double boxed and securely packaged. If you're using your own finder, a saddle needs to be purchased unless as I did, you have one spare.

I used an LED street lamp to align the finder and I was initially astonished at the total lack of chromatic abberation through the Celestron X-Cel 25mm. Only once my eyes settled and I moved off axis did I notice the faintest slither if purple. Still a massive improvement over the ST120 kaliedoscope.

Turning to the Bortle 7/8 sky (various sources disagree - an urban area 5 miles from the city centre. 13 Stars naked eye visible in Orion). Seeing was OK (rather than 'good'), and tranparency poorish.

Sirius was surprisingly CA free also, until the magnification was increased significantly, but again compared to the achromatic, not massively intrusive.

Despite the moonlight, turning to M42, the winged wisps of nebulosity could be seen, with slightly more detail under similar conditions using the Skymax 102 recently, and comparable with the 150P reflector, with the addition of improved contrast and pinpoint Trapezium stars. Changing to an OVL ES-UWA 82° 16mm increased the detail and contrast.

M45 fitted into the 25mm fov and looked like  a lovely glistening clutch of diamonds.

Moving onto the yellow tinged moon, I could not detect any CA along the limb, even when adding a BST 8mm and GSO 2.5x ED barlow for 224x. The view maintained its sharpness and I spent a quite a while observing features along the northern limb and Mare Serenitatis.

The telescope is relatively light at 4.2kg including tube rings, so weighs in at just under 5kg with a Skywatcher 1.25" dielectric mirror diagonal, plastic generic red dot finder and eyepiece. The mount used on this occasion was the AZGTI and for the most part I didn't have issue except I noticed when viewing the moon, and racking out the draw tube, there was some droop despite the altitude clutch being fully tightened. I'll look at the balancing again, but this may be due to the AZGTI's poor clamp. Next pay day I may invest in the ADM saddle.

The gloss white sheen finish to the tube, nice CNC machined tube rings and obviously decent objective glass are great but the focuser was a revelation. Very smooth and the fine focus wheel worked really well, helping me to tease out smaller features, and the Trapezium at low magnification.

Despite the Ascent 102ED sitting at the lower end of the apochromatic price range and the FPL51 glass, it looks and feels like an expensive instrument which I enjoyed using very much. It's smaller than it looks in pictures, is very easy to move around and the sliding dew shield aids storage. Great for grab n' go.

If you're on a tight budget but fancy trying a new 'Apo', I agree with Sky at Night Magazine, the Ascent 102ED is worth punt.

I'm smiling here...

1075227774_IMG-20210130-WA00012.thumb.jpg.5231ccc4f4d12840db78bc07c091c693.jpg

 

Shiny...

1632978833_IMG_20210129_1708484802.thumb.jpg.719c18527b8aa2e3217cff6b12ea7d66.jpg

Brilliant, good for you. 

Nice report too 😎

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  • 2 weeks later...

This telescope continues to impress.

Doubles are wonderful. Algieba and Beta Monoceros tonight were fantastic at 255x through an excellent GSO 2.5x ED barlow and OVL 7mm ES-UWA 82° eyepiece. I need to try some harder ones!

The only time I've observed CA is, as mentioned previously on my first time out, a hint when looking at an LED street lamp and when applying magnification on Sirius. 

Tonight I even spotted M66 from home after trying for two years including with an 8" dob.

The AZGTI handles the telescope OK, but there is definitely some previously unnoticed play in the saddle I need to look at.

Next time out I'll go manual alt az on an AZ5 for a change.

Overall great. 👍

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A final update; Last night I had a most excellent two hour lunar session using this telescope.

The Skywatcher AZ5 and steel tripod held the scope admirably.

After a couple of sessions now, the GSO 2.5x ED barlow and OVL 7mm ES-UWA 82° pairing has turned into my favourite combination. 255x with no noticeable loss of clarity, comfortable eye relief and very few floaters.

Even at the maximum theoretical magnification and up to 297x (the GSO barlow + a 6mm Skywatcher Planetary) there was absolutely no hint of chromatic abberation whilst observing the 40% moon. Despite the wobbly seeing, the 297x was still useable. I felt some sharpness was lost with a hint of defocus, but features previously observed at 255x were still discernable.

Anyone wishing to dip their toe into the 4" ED refractor world, but doesn't want, or cannot spend more than £500 on an OTA should really consider this fantastic little scope. I couldn't be happier with the purchase. It does everything I need it to do, is built well and impresses every time it's used. I don't envisage replacing this great looking instrument for a long time, if ever. The Altair Astro Starwave Ascent 102ED really feels like a 'keeper'.

Thanks!

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42 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

A final update; Last night I had a most excellent two hour lunar session using this telescope.

The Skywatcher AZ5 and steel tripod held the scope admirably.

After a couple of sessions now, the GSO 2.5x ED barlow and OVL 7mm ES-UWA 82° pairing has turned into my favourite combination. 255x with no noticeable loss of clarity, comfortable eye relief and very few floaters.

Even at the maximum theoretical magnification and up to 297x (the GSO barlow + a 6mm Skywatcher Planetary) there was absolutely no hint of chromatic abberation whilst observing the 40% moon. Despite the wobbly seeing, the 297x was still useable. I felt some sharpness was lost with a hint of defocus, but features previously observed at 255x were still discernable.

Anyone wishing to dip their toe into the 4" ED refractor world, but doesn't want, or cannot spend more than £500 on an OTA should really consider this fantastic little scope. I couldn't be happier with the purchase. It does everything I need it to do, is built well and impresses every time it's used. I don't envisage replacing this great looking instrument for a long time, if ever. The Altair Astro Starwave Ascent 102ED really feels like a 'keeper'.

Thanks!

Good to hear you are happy. Sounds a great scope

When you say final update, I hope you will post more reports 👍🏻

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Great to read these reports on this scope.  Every time I'm near Aylsham in Norfolk I peer into the Altiar shop window and look at this scope... I must get one one of these days...

Enjoy

Clear skies

Mark

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This was a great review, thanks. I've been looking at exactly the same scope myself.

In fact, I'm currently deciding between a ST120 (just to get a feel for navigating the sky, at a lowish entry price – I'm still a beginner) and this Altair, which I understand is a much better scope and, I gather, more of an all-rounder. Did you find planetary viewing with the ST120 pointless because of the CA?

Also, do you happen to have any thoughts about FPL51 v FPL53 glass? The price jump is so substantial I can't imagine it's worth it (given I won't be doing imaging to any great extent)

Thanks again for the excellent review 

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Incidentally – are any of these EP doublets (Altair or otherwise – I hear Tecnosky, TS-Optics etc are all basically the same device, rebranded) actually in stock anywhere?

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10 minutes ago, Basementboy said:

Incidentally – are any of these EP doublets (Altair or otherwise – I hear Tecnosky, TS-Optics etc are all basically the same device, rebranded) actually in stock anywhere?

The basic one is showing as available at Astroshop but not sure about shipping to UK.

https://www.astroshop.eu/telescopes/ts-optics-apochromatic-refractor-ap-102-714-ed-ota/p,51026

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Just now, johninderby said:

The basic one is showing as available at Astroshop but not sure about shipping to UK.

https://www.astroshop.eu/telescopes/ts-optics-apochromatic-refractor-ap-102-714-ed-ota/p,51026

Thanks, good to know. I've stopped ordering anything from the EU, though. I'm still waiting on a piece of cork from Portugal I bought 10 weeks ago. Maybe once they sort out the border issues?

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4 hours ago, Basementboy said:

This was a great review, thanks. I've been looking at exactly the same scope myself.

In fact, I'm currently deciding between a ST120 (just to get a feel for navigating the sky, at a lowish entry price – I'm still a beginner) and this Altair, which I understand is a much better scope and, I gather, more of an all-rounder. Did you find planetary viewing with the ST120 pointless because of the CA?

Also, do you happen to have any thoughts about FPL51 v FPL53 glass? The price jump is so substantial I can't imagine it's worth it (given I won't be doing imaging to any great extent)

Thanks again for the excellent review 

Planetary viewing with telescopes like a Startravel isn't 'pointless'. Both Saturn and Jupiter were observed with the ST120. The view was probably comparable to a 130/650mm reflector I had. Saturn's rings with a clear Cassini division and Jupiter displaying cloud bands. All great stuff for a beginner. It's about managing expectations. 

The cheaper entry level 120mm refractor has bit more aperture, but the 102mm more expensive instrument has better everything else and does more than just be a low power widefield scope.

I'm not qualified or experienced enough to advise on the difference between FPL-51 and FPL-53 glass. All I can say is the Altair ED telescope out strips the expectations I had for it. I cannot see the point in spending much, much more cash for fancier objective glass that in my opinion, won't actually greatly improve the observing experience, help me see substantially more objects or detail.

That debate is a bit like car geeks arguing over whether a Lamborghini or Ferrari is the best, when I'd be happy with either!

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Thanks. That all makes a lot of sense. A lot of what I'm doing here is trying to understand expectations in order to manage them, so I really appreciate the advice. I don't even have a 1989 Dodge Omni yet so the difference between Ferrari and Lamborghini is essentially esoteric

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A lot of the F/5 achromats that I've used (and a few of the F/8 and slower ones as well) have shown spherical aberration (SA) as well as the expected amounts of chromatic aberration (CA). In my view, SA does more to scrub off contrast and sharpness, especially at higher magnifications, than CA does.

I also feel that SA, even more than CA, is why these F/5 achromats seem to be better suited generally to low and medium power magnifications. Of course there will be exceptions to this.

 

 

Edited by John
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On 21/02/2021 at 14:11, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Planetary viewing with telescopes like a Startravel isn't 'pointless'. Both Saturn and Jupiter were observed with the ST120. The view was probably comparable to a 130/650mm reflector I had. Saturn's rings with a clear Cassini division and Jupiter displaying cloud bands. All great stuff for a beginner. It's about managing expectations. 

The cheaper entry level 120mm refractor has bit more aperture, but the 102mm more expensive instrument has better everything else and does more than just be a low power widefield scope.

I'm not qualified or experienced enough to advise on the difference between FPL-51 and FPL-53 glass. All I can say is the Altair ED telescope out strips the expectations I had for it. I cannot see the point in spending much, much more cash for fancier objective glass that in my opinion, won't actually greatly improve the observing experience, help me see substantially more objects or detail.

That debate is a bit like car geeks arguing over whether a Lamborghini or Ferrari is the best, when I'd be happy with either!

I've really enjoyed this excellent review about your new 4" ED ScouseSpaceCadet. You've really touched on everything that's important, and pointed out the real beauty of such an instrument.  It makes me want to buy one!

If it wasn't for this pandemic, you'd be able to observe alongside some of the Liverpool Astronomical Society members who also own Apo ED's.  Irrespective of glass type or brand, I'd be pretty confident you'd come away with a very big smile on your face.  ☺

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8 minutes ago, mikeDnight said:

I've really enjoyed this excellent review about your new 4" ED ScouseSpaceCadet. You've really touched on everything that's important, and pointed out the real beauty of such an instrument.  It makes me want to buy one!

If it wasn't for this pandemic, you'd be able to observe alongside some of the Liverpool Astronomical Society members who also own Apo ED's.  Irrespective of glass type or brand, I'd be pretty confident you'd come away with a very big smile on your face.  ☺

Thanks Mike. Coming from you that's a huge compliment. I'm actually a prospective LAS member. The pandemic's scuppered the voting in process. 🙄

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A final, final update. 🙄

The replacement ADM saddle arrived this week and after a painless installation, was used last night for the first time. I should've got one of these sooner. The Starwave was solidly held.The sag and rebound when changing eyepieces has gone. Balancing is less precarious. GoTos improved too!

Last night, a ninety minute early evening lunar observation and a late ninety minute doubles session left me wanting more. The 4" really shines at the upper end of its magnification limits. At 200-250x the star shapes, colour rendition and lunar resolution are fantastic (to me at least). The Altair has really turned me on to coloured double/multiple stars, which were previously largely ignored.

Tonight is forecast to be clear. I know where I'll be...

 

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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On 21/02/2021 at 09:34, Basementboy said:

Incidentally – are any of these EP doublets (Altair or otherwise – I hear Tecnosky, TS-Optics etc are all basically the same device, rebranded) actually in stock anywhere?

TS in Germany also have them, about 10 left in stock.

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On 21/02/2021 at 09:45, johninderby said:

The basic one is showing as available at Astroshop but not sure about shipping to UK.

https://www.astroshop.eu/telescopes/ts-optics-apochromatic-refractor-ap-102-714-ed-ota/p,51026

I have bought a few things from Germany recntly, TS service is as quick and sometimes quicker even the FLO (a day earlier actually). I have experinced nothing but good things when dealing them, which is more than I can say for two well know UK based astro suppliers. There is lots of talk about getting hit for addittional taxes when your item arrrives in the UK, that's certainly not my experince. 

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Under £135.00 there should be no charges but above that then the duities, VAT and processing charges apply. I checked out some things over £135.00 and found the shipping charges were nearly £80.00. 🙀

Edited by johninderby
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On 26/02/2021 at 07:16, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

A final, final update. 🙄

The replacement ADM saddle arrived this week and after a painless installation, was used last night for the first time. I should've got one of these sooner. The Starwave was solidly held.The sag and rebound when changing eyepieces has gone. Balancing is less precarious. GoTos improved too!

Last night, a ninety minute early evening lunar observation and a late ninety minute doubles session left me wanting more. The 4" really shines at the upper end of its magnification limits. At 200-250x the star shapes, colour rendition and lunar resolution are fantastic (to me at least). The Altair has really turned me on to coloured double/multiple stars, which were previously largely ignored.

Tonight is forecast to be clear. I know where I'll be...

 

I have really enjoyed your reports on this scope. I often regretted selling my 4 inch Astro Tech ED frac and your statements about this particular frac has got me thinking. This does appear to be good instrument at under £500

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