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The Synta 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.


Above: A 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 Synta, 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 collapsable Newt optics being tested side by side with the classic solid tube 12" OTA.
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
in provided 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 on.


Above: 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 basic astrophotography

I was more than pleasantly surprised at just how well the Synta 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: Jupiter in average seeing conditions with GSTAR-EX camera, stacked frames
and some deconvolution image processing.

Deep Sky Imaging ?

Yes.. 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 of images.
We highly recommend this telescope both optically and mechanically to anyone seriously wanting aperture
and outstanding quality for a great price.


Our sincere gratitude to Synta 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.



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