SKY-WATCHER 12 inch TELESCOPE IMAGES - AstroShop
BRIEF FIRST LIGHT REVIEW
The Sky-Watcher GOTO range of dob style mounted Newtonians are
portable, convenient and accurate. We tested one of the first
12-inch models to arrive in Australia in the FLEX TUBE design with
full ALT-AZ goto motor drive assembly and SynScan ALT-AZ firmware
hand controller. In the 12-inch model, the base assembly comes
packed down like Ikea furniture requiring some assembly with tools
provided. It took me roughly 30 minutes.
After mounting the optical tube to base with the securing hand bolt,
levelling and pointing roughly to celestial north, I was soon 2-star
aligning to the nearest bright star 'Vega' in Lyra before it slew to
the 2nd, Hadar which fell beautifully 65% from outside edge inside
the finder scope near centre of the cross hair. Already amazed,
after a quick centre alignment of Hadar then pressing ENTER, I was
ready to tour the night sky.
I was anticipating the accuracy of
this scopes 2 star alignment goto capability to be rather average
but was deeply surprised at how well it found so many objects from
one end of the sky to the other and in a low power 25mm (45º AFOV)
eyepiece most fell either dead or near centre or visible near the
edge of the field of view. It performed like this throughout the
night from this single 2 - star alignment for 5 hours of testing. I
was indeed impressed.
view to the superb primary mirror mirror cell from the front
of the telescope. Straight out of the packing and assembled,
I was surprised at how close to correct collimation the
optics were. I have to admit that when this 3 rod extendable
system was released by Sky-Watcher, I had my doubts like
most compared to say a classic truss system but was VERY
surprised at how rigid and accurately they work. But, in
light polluted skies, I will say that a good shroud is
needed to minimise stray light entering the system. They can
be made easily if you have someone at home who can sow a bit
of dark cloth with some elastic lining for grip and a
circular form of thin coat hanger wire along the mid section
to avoid the shroud sagging into the incoming light path.
Many of our customers have done this successfully with the
help of Mum or the better half :-)
Above: The GOTO
optics being tested side by side with the classic solid tube
Critical in and out of focus star testing revealed
comparable high quality optical performance with my known
and trusted solid tube 12" compared to the GOTO dob and
seeing Antares the blue companion star was a breeze.
This only confirmed to me the brilliant consistency of
figure and finish with which Synta mirrors are produced
in a mass manufactured environment.
Smooth Crayford focuser allows for 1.25" and 2" eyepieces
and is fitted with T-thread mounting plate also for basic
astrophotography use. Two black hand grips either side at
front of the scope allow for easy extension and collapsing
of the instrument for compact travel and storage.
Above: Classic SynScan V3 hand controller with
AZ firmware installed fits neatly
holder on the side of the ALT motor casing.
The mount intuitively knew from initialisation two avoid
power cord wrapping which can break or damage DC power
connecters. Having slewed through nearly 300 degrees, to
visit and object only another 100 degrees further, it backed
around the long way - yeah.. a little slower getting there
but saving the power lead from damage. If I had a criticism,
it would be for those of us working in the wee, dark hours
of morning when neighbours are asleep. The ALT motor,
when flying at full speed, is quite noisy but no more so
than some Meade LX scopes I've heard in the past.
For those already familiar with using SynScan hand-control
it's just a stroll in the woods and includes all the normal
features such as re-centring, PEC external PC control and so
Configuration of the base having 3 handles and basic
eyepiece holder. Note, on the 12 inch scope and above,
moving the entire scope with mount is difficult. Best to set
up the base at your preferred location then mount the
optical tube. Another nice thoughtful feature relating to
the base assembly are supplied plastic caps for the 3 rubber
feet at the base avoiding moisture and dirt getting in to
rust fixing screws plus a circular plastic foam protection
ring between the upper and lower base plates helping to
minimise dirt getting into motor and worm gear assembly.
Good enough for
I was more
than pleasantly surprised at just how well the Sky-Watcher
GOTO dob 12" tracked the planets and Moon which was quite
evident at high magnifications. Below is a rough image taken
with a GSTAR-EX colour camera fitted with an effective 4X
barlow magnification. Filling more than 50% on the computer
monitor, the planet stayed quite well centred requiring only
slight re-centring from time to time and more than adequate
enough for fast frame imaging devices like this. This image
directly below typifies what most could achieve using a
basic imaging camera without any fancy post processing.
Above: A week or so later in
better seeing conditions with more stacked frames
and some deconvolution image processing.
Using cameras like the short integration type GSTAR-EX
at the telescopes focus, I was able to image a galaxy up to
50 frames (at 2.56 second frame accumulation mode) before
field rotation became noticeable. Using software like
Deep Sky Stacker with field rotation correction capability,
there is no problem using this telescope to obtain hundreds
We highly recommend this telescope both optically and
mechanically to anyone seriously wanting aperture
and outstanding quality for a great price.
gratitude to Sky-Watcher Australia for their support and
making this great telescope available for our thorough
testing and evaluation. As they well know, Astro Shop are
fussy about the products we sell and that our personal
testing and evaluation reports help not only our customers
but also in relaying our reports to their other authorised
dealers so they too can share in our experience. Comes with
a genuine 3 years manufacturer approved warranty.
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