was my second scope and I have been observing for about 2 years
now, most heavily in the last six months, I am probably still in novice
range and I know very little about the optics. I will attempt to share
with you my feelings on this scope as per my experience in my central
Oklahoma viewing location.
skies run about 3rd magnitude naked eye at zenith from my front and back
yard. I am blessed with a baseball field, a car lot, and a highway
all within a mile of my house so anything that's not straight up or
above 45 degrees in the NE is pretty much blotted out. That said, I
have taken this scope to darker skies with slightly better results.
bought this scope after I received a DS-114 and found it slightly lacking.
This scope appealed to me because of it's high portability and
compatibility with all my other 1.25" eyepieces and the Autostar
initial impression of this scope was disappointment. There are three
main problems that plague this scope:
The finder, it is extremely difficult to align and use. When the
scope is pointed at anything within about 20 degrees of zenith it is
unusable. Period. The scopes base causes this problem. This
makes the scope VERY hard to polar align (a feat I have only managed once)
and very difficult to find things in my area, as due to the light
pollution I try to stick to near zenith. A right angle finder would
fix this problem, but steals from the already limited light supply of this
undersized finder. And they are more expensive than I wanted (and
still want to) pay.
The focuser, the focuser is good until you get within about 15 degrees of
zenith, at which point it is virtually unusable. Any person with
normal sized fingers cannot turn this knob when it is sandwiched between
the OTA, the base, the eyepiece holder, and the fork mount. With
gloves on, forget it. This problem is solved easily enough with a
Flexi-Focus from www.scopetronics.com
($35) or a similar homemade device. The electric focuser I assume
would also work, but I cannot vouch for how well.
Where do you set it? It is very portable, yes, but setting it on the
ground makes for difficult use, setting it on your car hood limits you to
about 270 azimuth degrees (and neck pain), and bringing a table or
anything like that negates the portability, the main thing the ETX has
going for it. I was using my mailbox, but when I wanted to go to a
darker site I finally broke down and got the $200 tripod. I have to
say it is a very nice tripod though, it has a built in bubble level
(though I already bought one for my other scope) and a wedge system for
polar mounting. It is also quite sturdy.
those main problems aside, if not cured, there is very little wrong with
this scope. The backlash of the DS-114 is still there, though not
quite as bad. The mount also makes photography difficult through the
back port. If the moon is high, forget taking a picture. This
makes fine tuning your location a bit more of a headache, but it's
bearable. Weasner's Mighty ETX Site: http://www.weasner.com/etx/menu.html is
invaluable for fine tuning your scope though. The first few months,
the going was slow, getting used to the backlash and the quirks of the Autostar.
After discovering the site though and making an Autostar computer
connection cable, updating the firmware, and tightening a few bolts as per
user recommendations, I was very impressed with the scope indeed.
aligned, the Autostar has placed M13, M92, M57, M27, and a whole slew of
stars within the inner 1/2 of the supplied 25mm eyepiece. All in one
night with a single alignment. Though my site is not ideal for
telescoping, all of the above objects were visible, if not obvious (M57)
in the scope when the object approached zenith. The scope also kept
M13 in the eyepiece for a full 15 minutes, without noticeable drift (after
15 minutes I did have to pack up and leave). So if I have two
alignment stars that are not at zenith, I do not end up using the finder
scope enough to be thoroughly annoyed by it.
views through the scope of Jupiter, mars, and Saturn were pleasant
(no Cassini divisions, but obvious moons of the larger planets
and visible moons of Mars, if you looked.) M13 and M92 were both
pretty obvious in my skies, no resolution of individual stars, but definitely
exciting to look at. M 57 is very unobvious and kind of a skill shot
while M27 is quite readily visible. Near the edge of the eyepiece
coma is present enough to become annoying. As I stated before I am
not qualified to say anything other than the views looked good to me or
the views looked bad to me. And they looked pretty darn good to be
in all with a little bit of work and more than a few accessories this
scope is a very good travel scope. Quick set up, take down time,
high portability (even with the tripod), good views, good accuracy with
the Autostar, and the "wow it's cute" factor. I am
planning on getting a larger scope for deep sky viewing but I will
absolutely keep this one around for those impromptu viewing sessions.
Submitted by Daniel Hayes