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Skywatcher 80ED first light

OK Apricot

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I took delivery of my 80ED DS-Pro outfit a few weeks ago and decided tonight would be the night I'd get it it's first light, seeing as the forecast looked good enough and that astronomical darkness is rapidly disappearing. Being a work night, I hadn't really had it in me to drive to a dark(er) site and stay out late, so the back garden would have to do, meaning restricted viewing area and a street lamp right at the back gate. Anyways... 

First impressions of the scope were very pleasing. There's a good "bulk" to it, feeling solid and well built. The dual speed focuser is ever so slightly "notchy", less noticeable and respectably smooth using the fine adjustment. The green anodizing against the black diamond paint is really eye catching - I love this combination! It appears the finder bracket sits quite badly in the shoe, meaning to get it aligned, one of the finder adjustment screws is at its limit. I might be able to pack it out somewhat, but to be honest I expected a bit more "quality" about it, but not a deal breaker. So, I mounted the puppy on the AZ GTi to see what the views are like.

Starting with the moon, with the stock 2" diagonal and 28mm EP, I get a nice wide FOV, with the moon taking up around a fifth. Immediately obvious was the laser sharp contrast! Tycho and Copernicus were standing out through their ejecta. Montes Jura was shining brilliantly over the darker grey sinus iridum, casting long shadows that met the terminator. Mare Imbrium, Oceanus procellarum and Mare serenitatis were more brown in colour compared to mare tranquillitatis, with mottling darker patches running from 'Imbrium down to 'serenitatis. A dotting of small but clear craters were dotted around mare Imbrium. Gassendi looked like a bullseye with its bright central peaks surrounded by the crater walls, darkness within. The colour correction is very good, with what little there was present most likely down to a more budget eyepiece. 

With the 42mm Superview I wanted to see what kind of FOV I would get - a huge one. The moon looked very small and sunken into the twilight. A more noticeable blue to the Lunar limb through this EP. I feel like this will be a great combination to scan the star fields of the milky way, to fit (more of) the Andromeda Galaxy, nicely frame the double cluster etc - from a dark site that will be an absolute spoil! 

I swapped from 2" and placed the 1.25" William Optics diagonal in with a 15mm Superview. Colour differences across the Maria were less obvious but still there if you knew what you were looking for. I went in for a closer look at Gassendi and Sinus Iridum and was just amazed - The contrast was still absolutely laser sharp, no noticeable loss in image quality whatsoever. I could make out many snaking lines (rilles?) and smaller craters that were not revealed with the larger eyepieces. Feeling confident, I went straight in an barlowed my 9mm Xcel for 134x. Oh god the contrast! I mean how did it not lose sharpness at that kind of magnification? The Lunar surface was just a stunning textured maze of mountains and valleys, seas and craters. I thought my Skymax 127 was sharp, but this is no competition, its in another league. 

Eventually I got away from the moon and had a look at Izar. The quality of the optics shone again, with Izar being juuuust about split at 134x. The thing that got me was that even at this magnification, it was still a point like star. No flaring, just a dot, whereas the Mak, at I can now tell, does show a little flaring (I guess from not-quite-perfect collimation). With the twilight, nearby moon, obstruction and sun-on-earth Street lamp, there wasnt a lot else for me to see. I must say at this point that even with a 'ghost alignment' (couldn't see Polaris, North provided by a questionable Samsung compass) the tracking was spot on once again, and the goto faultless. With that confidence I went for M3. Nothing really other than a small uniform smudge with a 20mm Superview, but glad to have got this from my garden for the first time. I tried with M53 as well, but could not be sure I was seeing it. 

Overall I'm well impressed and very happy with this scope. The optics are just superb, the build quality is... OK, but I guess I'm paying the money here for the glass, not the cast metals. In all honesty I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about with smaller aperture higher end refractors, but this experiences makes me wonder what that sky would look like through a 150mm Esprit 😳. This first light with my first high quality refractor has just left me foaming at the mouth with the thought of taking it to darker skies, training it on some planets, and finally sitting her down on a beasty EQ6R with a big red camera on the back end! 

Thanks for reading and clear skies all 😁



Edited by OK Apricot
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  • 4 weeks later...

Nice enthusiastic report a pleasure to read👍

My main scope is a 10” Dob, I also own an ED80 and TeleVue Pronto.  Before I owned the ED80, one year I deliberately just took the Pronto and a simple alt-az mount to Kelling star party in north Norfolk.

Somehow the freedom of simplicity ticked so many boxes I didn’t regret the decision. Had an absolute ball and was shocked at what I saw under a good sky.

The ED80 has a bit more aperture and better glass so delivers more.  It’s a bit clunky compared to the TV but if you can get yours under a good sky I’m quite certain it will deliver.

It’s the old “horses for courses” argument.  If you want to see globular clusters as a blizzard of stars or Stephan’s Quintet you need more aperture.  If you want to see a low power wide field view of NGC 7000, get a modest aperture short focus refractor plus nebula filter under a good sky and it will blow your proverbial socks off!!

Edited by NGC 1502
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