Equipment Review

Back to spring of this year, I started my interest in astronomy. I bought my very first binoculars from Grand Eye, read books and surfed the Internet. Astronomy has become my hobby. I don’t know how long I will stay with this hobby. Apart from my major, physics, in the past I got several hobbies, computer, music, philosophy, Chinese literature, English literature, aquarium, psychology etc. Once I get into the hobby, I will push myself to learn it. My character is that I will get myself to a certain level in a specific field. Now astronomy is my craze! After a while, perhaps several years, I will stop. However, I will pick up again after leaving it for some time. Different books can be found in my bookshelf. I bought several telescopes in the past few months, 10x50 binoculars, 10x42 binoculars, unbranded 5” refractor, NexStar 4SE, Equinox 80ED, C5, LS35THaDx. The NexStar 4SE OTA was sold because of the perchance of C5. I think C5 is the upper limit of a grab-and-go scope for me. Now the C5 become my most favorable scope because of the delayed arrival of Meade 8” ACF SCT. My recent interest is planetary imaging. Without a long focal length telescope, I cannot go too far. In term of optics, I like Equinox 80ED. It is high contrast, good color tone and good resolution. The dead knot of 80ED is that, its focal length is too short for planetary imaging. However, I am sure that it will become my favorable weapon in deep sky imaging. It takes time for me to be ready for deep sky objects which involve in skills and equipment. We have fewer numbers of solar planets than the number of deep sky objects. Deep sky objects are gorgeous, huge, mysterious and unreachable! After waiting for more than a week, finally a ridge of high pressure started to form. The sky condition last night was fair, but just could not wait for any longer. I went back after a wedding banquet! When I arrived at PTC, it was 11:30pm already. Due to limited time, I tried the newly bought Tele Vue 5X Powermate and did a visual test. I told Bingsze to bring his Meade 5X TeleXtender so that we can do a fair test on both barlows (Powermate is in fact exactly a bawlow optically). The local dealer of Meade did this test before, but it is not convincing. The test result and photos posted by him were unexpected. From his photos, Meade beat Tele Vue! As Tele Vue is the icon of top quality in the field, people suspected the result.
However, there is no follow-up from different parties. My curiosity drove me to find out the answer. I did a preliminary visual test last night. The telescope used was an unbranded 110ED and the eyepiece was Sky-Watcher 5mm eyepiece. The target object was Jupiter. There were totally 4 stargazers involved in the test including myself. In terms of visual observation, we cannot reach the same conclusion. One of a well known stargazer, Mirror God, said that the two 5X barlows were very close. However Meade 5X TeleXtender got a bit more chromatic aberration. He added that it would be better to use Newtonian to perform the test, as it is chromatic aberration free. In terms of cost performance ratio, Meade wins. Bingsze said the performances were very close and Tele Vue got a bit better in chromatic abberation. Lewis said both barlows got very similar in revealing details, but Meade got a bit better chromatic aberration. My conclusion is that the performances were very close visually. Powermate reveals a bit more details and the contrast is a bit higher. Since the performances of the two barlows are very close, we need to perform another photographic test next time. However, we all think that as the differences were hard to tell and we did not come to the same conclusion. The Meade 5X TeleXtender should be the best buy because it just costs about 60% of Tele Vue 5X Powermate. However this test was not comprehensive. It is desirable to use a Newtonian to perform the visual and photographic test.

Tele Vue 2.5X and 5X Powermates

Last night I also tested the unbranded 127mm refractor which I bought from Boss Kwan. It has been sitting in the store room for a few months. Every time I got a chance to go stargazing, I used to test the more expensive equipments I owned. They are Equinox 80ED, C5 and NextSTar 4 SE. It is a prejudice! I found that this unbranded 5” refractor was good in the sense that the resolution is reasonably high and the image was bright. The weak point was obviously the chromatic aberration. The chromatic aberration of this 5” refractor is considerably better than my other achromatic refractor, ETX 70. Purple edge was shown when it was focused before the focus. Green edge was shown when it was focused beyond the focus. When it was in focus, there were a bit greenish edges. The view of Jupiter was bright, sharp and showed good details. After viewing this unbranded 5” refractor, I must say it is my excellent choice! It is simply unbeatable! No complaint for just $1680!

Unbranded 127mm F750m Refractor

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