A great Japanese made achromat refractor -
a scope for true refractorholics & long focal
length achromat romantics
As a kid starting out in astronomy I recall how I
used to browse wishfully over the ads for long focal length Unitron
refractors but, which were way out of my pocket money range. Before the
rise of low-cost Chinese manufacturing, all affordable telescopes
then came largely out of Japan and mostly all from the Vixen factory
under other brand names. Like the old cars of the 60's and 70's,
they were built to last and more often than not, boasted very good optics. If you
started out your journey with a good refractor then
expectations of how one should optically perform are set. Despite
the many fine low-cost designs coming out of China today,
the old adage "you get what you pay for" certainly rings true
when comparing to the excellent achromat refractors still
manufactured out of Japan today.
Having owned, reviewed, and sold countless telescopes over the years, I was deeply
impressed during my first "hands-on" (somewhat
overdue) opportunity to check out Vixen's
A105M f/9.5 refractor.
I certainly wasn't disappointed... If I had, then I guess you wouldn't be reading this
||1.1 arc seconds Limit mag
||2 inch Vixen classic smooth
||Vixen Red Dot variable
||4.3 kg (body
||Vixen Flip Mirror 2-inch with
||Standard Vixen dovetail
Above: Vixen's classic A105M achromat refractor
optical tube with flip mirror and red dot finder.
securely boxed within other boxes the optical tube is well packaged for safe transport
from factory. It includes a red dot adjustable and variable
brightness finder plus a 2 inch Vixen flip mirror assembly that has
T-thread camera output and 2 x 1.25 inch eyepiece visual adaptors. Can
also take 2-inch eyepieces with optional
T2 to 2-inch adaptor. It features the classic non-slip super safe
non-hinged Vixen tube rings which I feel all telescopes should have.
They're easy to loosen with confidence allowing you to slide the optical
tube back or forward for balancing without being concerned that the
entire tube may fall off the mount.
The focuser knobs are
nice solid metal black anodised and an
optional dual speed version can be fitted.
I've not heard of one failing, I'm not much
of a fan for Vixen's flexi carry handles but one is supplied attached
across the top of the tube rings for easy lifting and carrying. A better
optional upgrade is the metal version #3870.
Looking down the tube there are three nicely spaced and well matt
blackened baffles to minimise stray light internal reflections. The
focuser is a classic Vixen helical cut rack & pinion 2 inch which is
smooth to turn and rock steady. I certainly couldn't detect any shifting
while observing Jupiter with a 7mm eyepiece. Vixen do certainly make
nice R&P focusers.
The OTA comes with standard Vixen style finder scope shoe
with chunky knurled chrome tightening knob plus an additional machined
section for an easy to fit
additional finder mounting shoe so you can attach a second
finder scope if
you wish. I prefer optical finders so used a basic
Sky-Watcher 6X30 instead of the red dot.
|Above: Vixen A105M
achromat refractor with GP2 German equatorial mount. Beautifully
gloss finished in white like a classic telescope should be
(my opinion of course).
With the fine smooth operation of the GP2 or GPD2 mount or a EQ5
pr HEQ5 mount this telescope is indeed a classic for those who
love observing the Moon, the planets, splitting double stars
with high contrast. With low power eyepieces it yields awesome
deep sky vistas of nebulae and star clusters alike and will
satisfy anyone looking for the ultimate 4 inch achromat
So down to the business end of things. Having recently reviewed a Bresser
Messier achromat of similar focal length and very good value for the
price in this type of telescope,
I was quickly reminded about the superiority of Japanese made optics over these and others like Sky-Watcher when testing the Vixen A105M refractor.
The in and out of focus star images are text book perfect with
nice evenly illuminated diffraction rings from the centre all
the way out. The amount of chromatic aberration (CA)
seen along the limb of the Moon and around the disk of Jupiter (when
in focus ) was significantly less than any other refractor in
it's class I've played with in the past. This says much for the excellent
lens figuring process and fully multi-coated optical surfaces.
To a true appreciator of long focal length achromat refractors and
seasoned visual planetary observers in particular, a little
CA ain't so bad if the refractor itself yields excellent high contrast
views. I was so pleased to see this was the case with the A105M. Lunar craters
were revealed with razor sharp
clarity having strong definition between direct sunlit areas to regions
in shadow. It was a joy to make out the tiny disks of the Jovian moons
and the subtle baby poo brown hues of Jupiter's main equatorial belts. But, I
wanted to try the excellent
Baader contrast boosting filter which I have grown to really
love in the last few months to mask / filter what little CA I could see
when using higher powers of the Vixen NLV9 and later, the William
Optics 7mm eyepieces. This filter really does make a nice difference
any achromat or even apochromatic refractor for those who love
observing the Moon and planets. However, like anything, when you start with
really superb optics, enhancement filters like these can only make
the views even better.
In summary, if you truly want a very fine achromatic refractor
that delivers distinctly sharper views over low-priced Chinese made
alternatives, something that looks sleek and you will be very proud
to own then the Vixen A105M refractor is by far the best
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AstroShop - Binary Systems P/L Vixen Australia