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Picked up a used ST80 on EBay as a wide-field companion to a SW Mak 127, and had only been able to point at terrestrial targets, align the RDF etc until last night presented an opportunity for a quick view of the moon, the only object visible through a blanket of high cloud. 

I was keen to do this as have read widely varying reports of ST80 performance on bright objects so the moon was a good "how bad can it be?" test. 

With a Baader Zoom and stock SW star diagonal (90 degree) quickly thrown on to a lightweight photo tripod I was really happy with the view - very crisp, bright, not difficult to achieve focus and a pleasingly wide field with no appreciable loss of quality from 17x - 50x. Terracing & hills in Copernicus small but really sharp for example.  I can see I am going to use this low magnification combination a lot as you can be up and viewing in 2 minutes. 

The much complained about chromatic aberration was not to my eye too disturbing and limited to a very narrow green fringe on the brightest edge of the moon's disc & not in evidence along the terminator.  Be interesting to see if this is more evident and the expected red/blue when the moon is at full  brightness not partially filtered by cloud.

Not that I plan to use it for the moon much given the Apollo 8 experience offered by the Mak, but it's good know the ST80 is perfectly fine for a quick peek  I suspect its one of those things where if I had spent a long time looking down expensive refractors I might be disturbed more, but as I haven't it has just left me kicking myself I didn't pick one of these up years ago.   

Looking clear tonight so now I have the dilemma of which scope to sneak out to the park... 

 

Edited by SuburbanMak
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Picked up a used ST80 on EBay as a wide-field companion to a SW Mak 127, and had only been able to point at terrestrial targets, align the RDF etc until last night presented an opportunity for a quick

ST80 = "Every home should have one"

Good to  know, particularly as I have an Orion one en route to me right now ! I also intend to recycle the stock diagonal and RDF from a mak , which are otherwise unemployed due to upgrades. I ha

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Good to  know, particularly as I have an Orion one en route to me right now ! I also intend to recycle the stock diagonal and RDF from a mak , which are otherwise unemployed due to upgrades.

I have the exact same mak, also a heritage dob. but wanted a fast set-up, grab & go to put on a photo tripod . I want to be able to nip out (and back in) in an instant when there's brief opportunities between clouds , the nights with brief windows happen so often compared with the 'worth putting the 'scopes out to cool' clear for hours ones, that I think I'll get a lot of use from it .

Last night, anticipating the arrival of the little 'frac I did some research about it, this was interesting ( I know it is the Skywatcher one, not the Orion I will have, but they come from the same factory !)

 

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It's worth tracking down some of the editions of the "Actual Astronomy" podcast, which cover ST80 and possible upgrades/hacks quite a bit. From memory, they were towards the end of last year. It's a pair of Canadian amateur astronomers discussing visual astronomy.

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Nice review, I've had lots of good times with an ST80.

It is also very light which means it doesn't vibe so much on light mounts.

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A decent camera ballhead on a photo tripod used like this gives a crude push to affair. The ballhead is dropped into the base grove and that gives the altitude up/down and the base gives the azimuth swivel.

Sketch286202032.png

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17 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

A decent camera ballhead on a photo tripod used like this gives a crude push to affair. The ballhead is dropped into the base grove and that gives the altitude up/down and the base gives the azimuth swivel.

Sketch286202032.png

I use this method with my Mak too.

IMGP3218.thumb.jpg.9ee080b6081831320adcd6668f36d0c5.jpg

Alan

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The more I'm reading about these ST80's, the closer one is to following me home; reviews like this are chipping away at the reasons not to.  For the price of one, I'd have probably dismissed it as a "toy" scope, but from what I've read on here and in other places my mind is changing and quite rapidly.

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18 hours ago, Tiny Clanger said:

Good to  know, particularly as I have an Orion one en route to me right now ! I also intend to recycle the stock diagonal and RDF from a mak , which are otherwise unemployed due to upgrades.

I have the exact same mak, also a heritage dob. but wanted a fast set-up, grab & go to put on a photo tripod . I want to be able to nip out (and back in) in an instant when there's brief opportunities between clouds , the nights with brief windows happen so often compared with the 'worth putting the 'scopes out to cool' clear for hours ones, that I think I'll get a lot of use from it .

Last night, anticipating the arrival of the little 'frac I did some research about it, this was interesting ( I know it is the Skywatcher one, not the Orion I will have, but they come from the same factory !)

 

This is great thank you, I will be certainly doing the black marker trick as soon as I feel brave enough!   

Also good to see it taken to bits and put back together again, its a robust piece of kit & yes my understanding is that all the Synta ST80s are essentially the same just with different finishes.    

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14 hours ago, BCN_Sean said:

The more I'm reading about these ST80's, the closer one is to following me home; reviews like this are chipping away at the reasons not to.  For the price of one, I'd have probably dismissed it as a "toy" scope, but from what I've read on here and in other places my mind is changing and quite rapidly.

Its certainly not a toy - once you take the dew shield off you realise just how short tube it really is & are struck immediately by just how wide the ratio of lens to focal length and how bomb-proof the whole thing seems, like something you would have seen bolted to the bridge of a WW2 destroyer :) 

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14 hours ago, happy-kat said:

A decent camera ballhead on a photo tripod used like this gives a crude push to affair. The ballhead is dropped into the base grove and that gives the altitude up/down and the base gives the azimuth swivel.

Sketch286202032.png

Another good tip here, too many handles and knobs to manage on my existing tripod, used to have an old Cullman ball-head so can imagine exactly how this would work. 

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18 hours ago, Pixies said:

It's worth tracking down some of the editions of the "Actual Astronomy" podcast, which cover ST80 and possible upgrades/hacks quite a bit. From memory, they were towards the end of last year. It's a pair of Canadian amateur astronomers discussing visual astronomy.

I'll certainly dig that episode out - I love this podcast btw, two very knowledgable chilled out dudes nattering about astronomy and tangential topics with a uniquely Canadian vibe  -30 degrees observing sessions disturbed by Elk etc, a great listen.

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1 hour ago, SuburbanMak said:

Its certainly not a toy - once you take the dew shield off you realise just how short tube it really is & are struck immediately by just how wide the ratio of lens to focal length and how bomb-proof the whole thing seems, like something you would have seen bolted to the bridge of a WW2 destroyer :) 

This is what I'm seeing in a few places.  After reading up on some of the tweaking for it, like matting the tubes, stripping and fettling the focuser and how it is a fair reasonable performer doing double duty, not just visual but imaging too (I doubt it'd be possible to find a similar performing 400mm/~F:/5 lens for an SLR for the same coin).  It's almost starting to feel like a no-brainer as not only for a little scope to keep handy for sitting on the balcony with (or to take off on holiday or to work when it's one of them nights) at the price it's something that'd would make a good learning aid for stripping and working on a scope without worrying about wobbly hands on an assembly that costs 10 times as much.

When the current raft of back orders are out the way....

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1 hour ago, BCN_Sean said:

This is what I'm seeing in a few places.  After reading up on some of the tweaking for it, like matting the tubes, stripping and fettling the focuser and how it is a fair reasonable performer doing double duty, not just visual but imaging too (I doubt it'd be possible to find a similar performing 400mm/~F:/5 lens for an SLR for the same coin).  It's almost starting to feel like a no-brainer as not only for a little scope to keep handy for sitting on the balcony with (or to take off on holiday or to work when it's one of them nights) at the price it's something that'd would make a good learning aid for stripping and working on a scope without worrying about wobbly hands on an assembly that costs 10 times as much.

When the current raft of back orders are out the way....

The same could have been true for the 72ED before the price increase. Being an ED it would also do well at high power should you need to. Someone might say he/she has other scopes to for that, but it's unlikely for him/her to carry multiple scopes on a holiday.

But with the latest price of £339 for the 72ED, ST80 is of much better value.

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4 hours ago, SuburbanMak said:

I'll certainly dig that episode out - I love this podcast btw, two very knowledgable chilled out dudes nattering about astronomy and tangential topics with a uniquely Canadian vibe  -30 degrees observing sessions disturbed by Elk etc, a great listen.

As a Canadian I must protest – moose, not elk!

I too am starting to covet an ST80, in my case for my first scope -- something cheap I can take around London to the parks (I can't observe too much in my garden) with a wide enough FOV to help me navigate but clear sharp views. And I like the sound of "bombproof"

Now if only I could actually find one...

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43 minutes ago, Basementboy said:

As a Canadian I must protest – moose, not elk!

I too am starting to covet an ST80, in my case for my first scope -- something cheap I can take around London to the parks (I can't observe too much in my garden) with a wide enough FOV to help me navigate but clear sharp views. And I like the sound of "bombproof"

Now if only I could actually find one...

I absolutely stand corrected.  No intention of starting an international Moose vs. Elk incident! 

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23 minutes ago, KP82 said:

The same could have been true for the 72ED before the price increase. Being an ED it would also do well at high power should you need to. Someone might say he/she has other scopes to for that, but it's unlikely for him/her to carry multiple scopes on a holiday.

But with the latest price of £339 for the 72ED, ST80 is of much better value.

I've not really seen that much of an increase on the 72ED here, it may happen or not.  One of the biggest draws for me with the ST80 (apart from that which I wrote above) is that it's priced less than what the insurance excess would be on a more endowed scope, a social scope if you will that I wouldn't mind breaking out if one of the nieces wanted an hour out the back or taking to a gathering.

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3 hours ago, BCN_Sean said:

This is what I'm seeing in a few places.  After reading up on some of the tweaking for it, like matting the tubes, stripping and fettling the focuser and how it is a fair reasonable performer doing double duty, not just visual but imaging too (I doubt it'd be possible to find a similar performing 400mm/~F:/5 lens for an SLR for the same coin).  It's almost starting to feel like a no-brainer as not only for a little scope to keep handy for sitting on the balcony with (or to take off on holiday or to work when it's one of them nights) at the price it's something that'd would make a good learning aid for stripping and working on a scope without worrying about wobbly hands on an assembly that costs 10 times as much.

When the current raft of back orders are out the way....

Agreed - like you I can see myself tinkering and learning a lot based on the video @Tiny Clanger posted earlier, all good experience for later becoming self sufficient in maintaining more exotic future equipment , which will inevitably follow :) 

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I've spent over 200 nights with the ST80 and love it. The more I use it, the lower the mag I want to use...  the extra widefield views under dark skies are amazing.. Agree about using it on the moon, fine for low power - up to x66 max and I find the CA no big deal at all. 

Enjoy 

Mark

 

 

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7 hours ago, SuburbanMak said:

Agreed - like you I can see myself tinkering and learning a lot based on the video @Tiny Clanger posted earlier, all good experience for later becoming self sufficient in maintaining more exotic future equipment , which will inevitably follow :) 

I had a look at that vid, and the author of this page has a few pointers as well as some "defaults" for a few things to get a bearing on it with; and mentions that if used on the moon that there would be some CA if not used with a moon filter (another thing on the list to use the search function here for!).

Only thing now is to keep an eye out to when these are back in stock or if one pops up used around these parts.

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19 minutes ago, BCN_Sean said:

I had a look at that vid, and the author of this page has a few pointers as well as some "defaults" for a few things to get a bearing on it with; and mentions that if used on the moon that there would be some CA if not used with a moon filter (another thing on the list to use the search function here for!).

Only thing now is to keep an eye out to when these are back in stock or if one pops up used around these parts.

One thing worth noting that i didn’t mention is that using the cunning hole-in-the-lenscap technology supplied, that cuts the aperture down to the central 50mm, CA disappeared entirely! 

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2 minutes ago, SuburbanMak said:

One thing worth noting that i didn’t mention is that using the cunning hole-in-the-lenscap technology supplied, that cuts the aperture down to the central 50mm, CA disappeared entirely! 

You beat me to it, I've used stopped down aperture many times with the st80 (and also with a st120) to clean up CA (although the CA wasnt a big deal to me).

A moon filter also makes it less noticeable and you can get semiapo filters that reduce CA by clipping both ends of the visible spectrum.

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8 hours ago, SuburbanMak said:

One thing worth noting that i didn’t mention is that using the cunning hole-in-the-lenscap technology supplied, that cuts the aperture down to the central 50mm, CA disappeared entirely! 

I saw that the other day, it's quite surprising to what this scope comes bundled with and whilst doing the rounds of clicking the "Inform Of Stock" finding how many different kit options and accessories are available; they've put a lot of behind the scenes thought in to this.

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