AstroTelescope

AstroTelescope, is a simple planetarium and telescope control application for the astrophotography. Star map in AstroTelescope can be displayed in any scale and rotated by any angle, with selectable star density and with or without star names. Choosing an Astrophotography Telescope: My Top 5. My goal is for you to find an astrophotography telescope that allows you to capture sharp, colorful pictures of stars, galaxies, and nebulae in your own backyard.

Telescope Reviews

Meade ETX105EC AstroTelescope w/Electronic Controller (Obsolete) Brand: MEADE. 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating. Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock. Make sure this fits by entering your model number. Maksutov-Cassegrain Optical System.

Page 26

By Ed Ting

Updated 6/5/10, 1/12/17

Click on a Telescope Below:1) Astrotelescopes AR1522 6' f/5.9 Refractor 4/25/10

(152 mm f/5.9 achromat, OTA, rings, dovetail, carry handle, $849 net)

2) Explore Scientific AR152 6' f/6.5 Refractor 4/25/10

(152 mm f/6.5 achromat, OTA, rings, dovetail, 8 X 50 finder, 2'diagonal, case, $699 net)

It's a good time to be in the market for a telescope. It wasn't thatlong ago that 4' was considered a sizeable refractor. These days,5', and even 6' models are fairly common in the observing field. This fact is amazing enough, but these scopes are so affordably priced thatanyone can have taste of that clean refractor viewing experience. Take, for example, the two achromats below. Club member Chase M has been using his Astrotelescope for about a yearnow. I've used and liked this scope and have meant to write aboutit. He wound up buying an Explore Scientific at NEAF this year, so wedecided it was a good time to compare the two. Also present was OldDan. Longtime readers will be familiar with this group. It's been awhile since we've gotten together to test scopes, so it was nice to see the guysin action again.

The Astrotelescopes AR1522 is a 6' f/5.9 air spaced doublet achromat. There are four ofthese Astrotelescope AR1522s in our local club and I've grown to know itwell. $849 buys you the tube and rings; you supply the rest. It'shoused in a short, stubby-looking tube with a nice rotatable two speedfocuser. The mechanical construction is excellent. The scope feelssolid and tight, and the focuser action is just right. The coatings on thelens look nice and dark, and the lens cell has collimation screws. Likethe Explore Scientific, the AR1522 appears to be well-baffled internally, a nicetouch at this price point.

The Explore Scientific AR152 (L) and the AstrotelescopeAR1522 (R)

The Explore Scientific refractor comes in a package that looksalmost too good to be true. For $699, you get the optical tube, cradle,8X50 finder, 2' diagonal, and a (non-rotatable) two speed focuser. Like the Astrotelescope, it has a nice carrying handle on top, but the ES adds achrome handle near the back. Finally, you get a foam-lined aluminumcarrying case. The added accessories alone could cost you a couple ofhundred dollars alone. The scope looks a lot like the old Meade AR-6, notsurprising since the owner of Explore Scientific is a former Meadeemployee. If you know your refractors, you'll recognize the tube cradle,lens cell, and chrome handle in the back as being very'Meade-like.' The lens on the ES has nice deep greencoatings, and its lens cell also has collimation screws.

The Astrotelescopes AR1522

We mounted the scopes side by side on a clear night in southern NH. Forvisual use, something in the CG-5/ Sky View Pro class should be fine up to 200Xor so. If you're picky, or expect to be doing serious photography, a GM-8/Atlas or better will be required. Both tubes weigh in at or around a hefty25 lbs, fully loaded. We used a variety of diagonals and eyepieces. For serious testing, we used the 7 mm, 13 mm, and 26 mm Naglers, as well as the3 mm - 6 mm TeleVue zoom to help match powers. We also used some of theless expensive eyepieces from Astro Tech and Explore Scientific for casualobserving. Both scopes are lookers; set either one up in a public placeand you will get attention.

The Explore Scientific AR 152

Both scopes performed well with no glaring faults, but therewere some differences. First off, I'll get the bad news out of theway. The refractors both showed false color, and plenty of it, if you knewwhere to look. There's no free lunch here folks - these are big, fastachromats, and you can't deny the laws of physics. If you really want tomake the false color go away, be prepared to add another '0' to theprices of these scopes. The color starts becoming noticeable on 2ndmagnitude objects, and you can start to see dim little purple halos on Mars andSaturn. Once you get to the brighter stars, Jupiter, and the limb of themoon, the color starts becoming hard to ignore (or hard to tolerate, dependingon your point of view.) At our Messier Marathon this year, I borrowed aclub member's Astrotelescope and remarked that Sirius looked like it had abright purple headlight behind it. The owner's response was succinct:'Don't look at Sirius.' Fair enough.

The smooth, rotatable two speed focuser is one of thenicest attributes of the Astrotelescope

We spent some time looking at Mars, Saturn, and the 1st quartermoon. Interestingly, despite having a longer f/ ratio, the ExploreScientific threw up more false color no matter what we looked at. Itwasn't a big difference, but all three of us noticed it. Also, whilelooking at the moon, we all noticed it usually took just a little while longerto find focus on the Explore Scientific. On the Astrotelescope, there wasno question - the view would simply snap into focus, no questions asked.

And so it went, down the line. On every criteria we couldthink of, the Astrotelescope was just a little bit better. It had a littleless false color. It was a little easier to find focus. The imageswere just a little bit sharper. The focuser was a little bitsmoother. The mechanical construction was a little more solid. Takenby themselves, none of these would amount to all that much. But add themup, and the Astrotelescope comes out the clear winner in terms of performance.

But, there's a price to pay - literally - for thisperformance. If you add the diagonal and finder to the Astrotelescope,your $850 optical tube is pushing $1000 or more. Comparably equipped, theExplore Scientific comes pretty much complete at $699. That 30% pricedifference could mean a lot, in terms of eyepieces, accessories, books, and amount. Shop carefully, and you could come out with an Explore Scientific/Sky View Pro package for your $1000. Beginners who might be mystified byfinder and diagonal choices will find that Explore Scientific has done some ofthe work for them, and they may not be likely to notice (or care) about theminute performance differences.

The focuser on the Explore Scientific is nice too, butdoesn't rotate.

Afterwards, we used the scopes to do some generalobserving. We looked at some of the spring objects, and spent some timelooking at Saturn with its rings almost edge-on. Both of tubes performedwell. I enjoyed working with both scopes, and could happily live witheither of them. If you have a premium eyepiece like a 26 mm Nagler andlike to look at deep sky objects, you are in for a real treat. M81 and M82look great framed against an inky black sky, and if your conditions are good,you can even frame nearby NGC 2976 and NGC 3077 in the same field. The 13mm Ethos also works really well. If you can't afford the expensive glassfrom TeleVue, Astro Tech and Explore Scientific also offer lines of wide field eyepieces at a fraction ofthe cost. We used the Astro-Tech 26 mm Titan 70 degree eyepiece ($60) and while it wasn'tquite up to TeleVue quality(stars near the edges became arcs instead of points) the view was good by any standard.

Both scopes excel at deep sky viewing. You get a littletaste of that high contrast refractor magic. It was fun to pan around thearea containing M35, M37, M36, and M38. Under dark skies, the VirgoCluster is easy. Familiar and unfamiliar galaxies in Ursa Major whiz by asyou pan around.

Goth girls prefer refractors

So which one should you buy? If you have the money and know how toaccessorize it, it's hard to argue against the Astrotelescope. It gives upthe least in terms of compromises, and is the one to get if performance is yourgoal. It costs more, but it's still a fraction of the cost of a 6'apo. And yet..I can't ignore the value of the Explore Scientificpackage. You get nearly everything you need to get started for almost nomoney, and the performance is still very good. And if you just can't decide, you can do what Chase did. Buythem both.

A pair of fine values, any way you look at it

Counterpoint: Notes From the Observing Field

Chase M:

'AT- I like the AT 152 scope, it is built like a tankand although it did not come with all the needed components, what it came withis of a better than average quality (Nice focuser and it rotates too). TheAT likes quality eyepieces and accordingly it lends itself to more than justwide field viewing. The AT gives nice sharp high power views of theMoon and Saturn. I have had some decent views of Mars but Jupiter is alittle too bright and color becomes an issue. With excellent contrastfinding faint fuzzies is fun again and I have found myself using theEQ mount without the drives/clutches not engaged and just explore sharp to theedge star fields like I would with a pair of binoculars. It hasbecome my second most used scope overall and the most used if you eliminatequick and short viewing sessions with a smaller easy to carry and setupscope. For me it a keeper.
ES- Good value for the money, comes with all the needed components exceptthe mount. Without comparing it to another scope, it would get a favorablereview with decently sharp views of the Moon and Saturn. Decent contrastgiving faint fuzzies good relief against a dark sky. Stars were not assharp to the edge with a wide field eyepiece like other scopes I have lookedthrough, but still a pleasing view. Color is apparent, especially onbright objects. The ES shows the amount of color I expected to see throughthe AT 152 but was pleasantly surprised to see as little color as there was. At the price of the ES, it is the type of a scope that you might buy withouthaving had a chance to look through. This is a scope that will get usedbut I would not call it a keeper.
If the AT had cost $850 last year when I bought it, I would probably have waitedto make the purchase until I had the opportunity to look through somebody else's AT152.'

Old Dan:

'I concur with Chase on the performance of the AT152. I am not an achromat type of guy but was pleasantly surprised by its performancefor the price point which is the reason I purchased one. I only sold itbecause its weight was becoming a personal issue. The current price pointof $849 would cause me to hesitate.
As for the ES 6' achromat, It looks like a re-branded Meade AR6. Since the scope includes so many accessories, it is a better value at itscurrent sales price. However, its build quality and optics are a stepbelow the AT152.'

Ed:

'The Astrotelescope is a better scope, but if it were meand I had to spend my own money right now, I'd have a slight preference for theExplore Scientific. Why? It costs less, you get more stuff, and theperformance is still up there.'

Astrotelescopes AT1522 Hots

  • A little bit better than the Explore Scientific
  • Rotatable focuser

    Astrotelescopes AT1522 Nots

  • A little bit more money than the Explore Scientific
  • Still need to buy a finder, diagonal, and mount
  • False color

    Explore Scientific AT152 Hots

  • A little less money than the Astrotelescope
  • Diagonal, finder, and case included in the price

    Explore Scientific AT152 Nots

  • A little less performance than the Astrotelescope
  • Astro Telescopes Uk

  • Still need to buy a mount
  • False color

    Verdict

    A taste of refractor heaven for a fraction of the cost. Just beware,refractoritis is addicting and can lead to serious damage to your wallet.

    3) Celestron 12' Starhopper Dobsonian6/5/10,1/12/17

    (12'f/5 Dobsonian Reflector, 9 X 50 finder, 2' Crayford-style focuser,cooling fan, 2' 32 mm E-Lux eyepiece, $949)

    At what point do ourtelescopes become big enough that we can start referring to them in terms ofmeters instead of inches? I was talking with Old Dan on this issue, and weagreed that .5 meters was the cutoff. (It's not as much fun ribbing Danabout his age these days since he moved into a retirement community.) After all, it sounds a lot better to say that I'm taking out the .5 meter, asopposed to the 20'. Dan once had a 22', which translates into a.56 meter scope, and there are a couple of 25' Obsessions in the club,which are an impressive-sounding .64 meters.

    So the 12' CelestronStarhopper, at .3 meters, doesn't quite make the cut. But it's still animpressive profile out in the observing field. This scope was given to meby a club member (I know, I know; it's tough being me.) He heard anall-too familiar refrain: His wife simply wanted it out of the house. He likes to do double star observing, and his tools of choice are 4'-classrefractors, so it was not that big a loss - besides, clearing the space in thehouse meant more room for small refractors! This 12' Dob was an inconvenient behemoth tohim. My perspective is a little different. I'm accustomed to hauling out the .5 meter Obsession, so the 12' Starhopperis a damsel to me.

    These scopes haven been discontinued as of thiswriting, but they're still available from some sources, and on the usedmarket. The scope has a familial resemblance to the Orion XT12 and the12' Dobsonians from Zhumell, Skywatcher, and Hardin, and many of thecomments that follow will apply to those scopes as well (and the MeadeLightbridge is a distant cousin to the scopes just mentioned.)

    Evento a guy like me who is used to being around large instruments, the scope isbig. There's no getting around it. The entire assembly weighs 80lbs, with the optical tube carrying the bulk of the weight at around 55lbs. You learn to move slowly, whether you're putting it together, usingit, or breaking it down. The Scope Totes from Astronomy-Shoppe (see below) help a lot, buteven then, there's always that nervous moment when you're setting the tube inthe rocker box. Unlike the Orion XT series, where the altitude bearingssit on top of cutouts on top of the rocker box, the Starhopper's bearings sitinside, on four little nylon cylinders (two per side.) These have atendency to unthread themselves over time, so be sure to check and tighten themonce in a while. Tension is adjusted by two threaded black handles whichprotrude out of the sides of the rocker box. These stick out just enoughthat you'll run into them occasionally.

    The12' Celestron Starhopper

    On the azimuth axis, the base turnson a set of roller bearings. These roller bearings are the source of muchcontroversy. Some say they don't mind them, but I think these people arecrazy. The problem with a large solid tubed Dobsonian is that the weightof the scope makes it hard to use the traditional teflon-on-formica bearingsystem. No matter how many teflon pieces you use, the friction alwaysseems a little too high. The solution settled on by many manufacturers isto use roller bearings. This solves the problem of having too muchfriction, but it tends to solve it too well - these scopes will turn in azimuthat the slightest touch. Also, the 'feel' of the azimuthchanges. If you're panning around, you're dealing with two different axesthat have different friction levels and different feels. If itwere up to me, give me a traditional teflon-on-formica azimuth bearinganytime. One axis will be stiffer than the other, but at least the feelwill be the same. There are some fixes to the problem. One is toinsert felt pads between the base board and the bottom of the rocker box (seebelow.) This increases the friction and tends to damp out the 'ballbearing' feel. Be patient, it will take some time to figure out thecorrect thickness of these pads for your scope.

    Astro telescope price in india

    Closeup of roller bearing disc, with 3 felt pads at edges added to increase friction

    Therocker box has a wide stance, and tends to flex a bit when you're moving thescope. I'd recommend reinforcing the corners of the box, either withwooden blocks or metal 'L' brackets, or both. Daemon tools. Some of the moreambitious among you toss the stock unit and built up entirely new rocker boxesusing thicker plywood (I'd suggest at least 3/4' if you're going to dothis) and some of your creations are quite beautiful. I envy you, mywoodworking skills are modest at best. I did manage to make a rollingplatform for the scope though. I leave the scope assembled in the garageon the platform, covered by a sheet to keep dust away. When I want to goobserving, I simply roll the whole thing out into the driveway.

    Lookingdown the tube

    For what is essentially abare-bones product, the scope comes nicely appointed. You get a lot foryour $1000. There is a Crayford-style 2' focuser, a nice big 9 X 50finder, and both mirrors are easily collimated. There's a 12V fan behindthe primary, and it's a good thing it's back there, since the mirror can take along time to cool down. Finally, the scope is supplied with Celestron's 32mm E-Lux eyepiece to get you started.

    I went observing severaltimes in early May of 2010, both at home and at club skywatches. It was nice,shirtsleeve weather, just before the mosquitoes start making our observingsessions unpleasant. Like many inexpensive Dobs, the Starhopper hasbalance issues. The scope is front-heavy. Put an eyepiece ofany substance into the focuser, and the front end wants to start tipping down onyou. Even after I removed the finder, bracket, and dovetail (1.15 lbs) andreplaced them with the near-weightless Rigel Quik-Finder (.17 lbs) the front endis still a little heavy. Tightening the altitude friction helps, but youcan only go so far - crank down on those black handles too much and the scopebecomes hard to move, and you start to get some backlash at high powers. Also, as I've hinted above, getting the mirror cool is an issue. Imagesare wavy and can stay that way for several hours. The cooling fan is OK Iguess, but it's small, and there were times that I was wondering if there was a placebo effectgoing on. I found that my best line of defense was to try to keep thescope cool during the day time. That meant getting the tube out of thegarage and into the house on days when I expected to use the scope. Also,I think I'm going to replace the tiny little collimation screws with something alittle more substantial (various people sell these online.)

    You'llwant to reinforce this at the first opportunity

    Ifit seems like I've done a lot of complaining about this scope, I haven't. These are minor issues and are all easily corrected. I tend to view allcheap Dobsonians as works in progress, and this one is no better or worse thanthe others out there. Beginners just need to be aware that it takes alittle work on your part to make these scopes perform at their fullpotential. Plan on visiting your local hardware store a few times. Put another way, if the scope were perfect out of the box and weighed 35 lbsless, it would be called an Obsession, and it would cost $3000 more.

    TheStarhopper's mirror had a really clean star test. It was much better thanI expected, showing only minor overcorrection. As Pete Smitka once toldme, a 12' is the 'smallest of the big scopes.' Some of thedim stuff is just starting to come into view. You can see a lot with a12' if you know how to use it and have good conditions. I spent a lotof time in and around the Big Dipper with a star chart nearby, and wound uplooking at both familiar and unfamiliar galaxies for hours. On anothernight, I spent the entire evening around the Virgo Cluster. One of myfavorite unsung objects is the 'Siamese Twins' in Virgo (the numbersare easy to remember if you have a Goto system - NGC 4567 and 4568.) Thesetwo little galaxies are tipped towards each other and appear to touch at theends, forming a heart-shaped wisp in the eyepiece. Here in NH, it takes12' or more to appreciate this object. As the mirrortakes a while to cool down, I usually had to wait until late in the evening tolook at Saturn and Mars. While the views were decent, your nice refractorprobably isn't going to lose much sleep.

    Closeup of mirror cell and cooling fan

    The scope makes a good impressionat public star parties. Kids see it and go, 'Wow!' Ibrought the scope to a kindergarten and it was a big hit with the kids. Themorning after, I noticed fingerprints all over the glossy blacktube. Some might be bothered by this, but to me it's thesign of a scope that's well-used.

    Kidslike big scopes!

    Astro Telescopes 102mm Review

    Inexpensive Dobsonianshave a kind of simple charm that I find appealing. It isn't sexy, but theStarhopper is cheap and will show you a lot. It's a worthwhileupgrade from a smaller scope (if you already have an 8' Dob for example,the 12' buys you one extra magnitude.) It'sworth looking at if you're into this sort of thing. Before making any final decisions though, check out theOrion XT12 and the Meade Lightbridge.

    CelestronStarhopper Hots:

    Good value

    Well appointed forthe price

    Much cheaper than an Obsession

    CelestronStarhopper Nots:

    Requires a few trips to the hardware storeto realize its full potential

    Front heavy

    Mirrorcool down time

    Update, 1/12/17

    Through a circuitous chain of events, this scope wound up finding its way backto me 6+ years later. Those of you who own several scopes are familiarwith this phenomenon. The Starhopper has seen better days. Therocker box is in sad shape. The ground board is warped, and the sides ofthe rocker box bow outwards noticeably when you place the tube on it. Someone has put weighted magnets on the back in an effort to balance thetube. Most seriously, a piece of the mirror cell - a metal piece -has sheared off and needs to be welded back together. Thus, the mirrorwill not stay in collimation. A quick comparison with someone's XT12 showsthat the Starhopper uses thinner pieces on its rocker box boards, which likelycontributed to the problem. As of this writing, the scope is at a clubmember's house, awaiting rehab. More later.

    End Telescope Reviews, Page 26

    MODAS – Modern Optical Design and Analysis Software. It is telescope design software of the most popular telescope systems used by the amateur astronomers and telescope makers

    Nebulosity 4 - $95 capture and processing software for Mac/PC. Supports a bunch of Canon DSLRs and astro cams.

    PEMPro - periodic error correction, polar alignment and backlash using your CCD Camera or Webcam

    PHD1PHD2 - Guiding software to correct mount errors for longer exposures.

    Photoshop CS2 - free from Adobe but requires you to make an Adobe ID

    PIPP - Planetary imaging preprocessor, good for shaving down file sizes with cropped, stabilized planetary shots

    PixInsight - postprocessing software

    Registax - planetary video processing/stacking software

    sbigControl - relatively cheap SBIG camera control program. can drive sbig adaptive optics devices.

    Sequence Generator Pro - image capture suite for astrophotography.

    SharpCap 2 - Flexible image capturing software, records in raw, uncompressed files

    SkySolve - Plate Solving software.

    Sofortbild - Free capture control for Mac + Nikon.

    StarStax - used for creating star trail images

    StarTools - postprocessing software written by /u/verylongtimelurker

    Stellarium - Free software that lets you input your coordinates and will show you when objects will be up and at what time.

    Stellar Magic - a comprehensive yet easy to use program for processing astronomical images contains over 100 different image processing operations.

    Virtual Dub - video converting software, requires plugin for .MOV > .AVI

    Winjupos - planetary processing software for derotation/mapping/planetary moon alignment

    Plugins for Photoshop

    WhiteCal

    Plugins for GIMP

    Purple Fringe Fix

    Resource for Mac and UNIX software

    (No guarantees the links are up to date or even active) scroll down to the Mac and UNIX sections

    Midnight Kite - Astronomy Software Freeware, Shareware, and Commercial Software

    Astro Art 6.0 - A complete software package for image processing, camera and telescope control, photometry, astrometry and image stacking.

    AstroGuider - AstroGuider is a simple to use guiding application for your telescope mount. It can be calibrated semi-automatically or manually, you do not need to take care about camera orientation or pixel scale. (OSX)

    AstroImager - AstroImager is a powerful, but easy to use image capture application for the astrophotography. (OSX)

    Astro Planner - for planning/logging/visualizing astrophotography sessions

    Astronomer Control Panel - Remote imaging software.

    AstroTelescope - AstroTelescope is a simple planetarium and telescope control application for the astrophotography. (OSX)

    Astrotortilla - calibrate your Goto tracking mount, Goto any target with arcsecond accuracy and measure your polar alignment error

    Autostakkert! 2 - Planetary video stacking software

    Backyard EOS - For camera control, easily the best $$ you'll spend on AP software.

    CCD Imaging Calculators - For calculating all things related to CCD imaging (FOV/pixel size/etc)

    CCD Stack - Stacking software for CCD images

    CCDOPS - The software that comes with SBIG CCD cameras also available separately.

    DeepSkyStacker - For stacking multiple exposures together into one image.

    digiCamControl - Free camera control for those with Nikon DSLRs.

    DSLR Shutter - Free sequence capture control for Mac/PC + lots of DSLRs. You need a shutter control interface, like this one in order to use this with a Nikon however.

    EQMOD - a suite of open source applications that can provide an alternative to the hand controller

    FireCapture - Simple image capturing software that resizes video resolution automatically & has auto align & dark frame reduction features

    FITS Liberator - FIT > TIFF file converter

    Gemini Controller Software - For those that use Gemini controlled mounts

    GIMP - post processing/image editing software

    iMerge - Used for one click image stitching with border feathering & Histogram

    IrfanView - IrfanView is a very fast, small, and compact free the graphics viewer for Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003 , 2008, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10.

    Lin Guider - guiding for Linux

    Lunar Phase Pro - An interactive Moon Atlas – this is a moon observer’s software toolkit designed to help you learn about the Moon and make your lunar observing and imaging sessions more productive.

    Lykeos - free planetary stacker (OSx)

    MaximDL - Great CCD Camera control software and decent processing power too.

    MicroObservatory - A piece of software that is meant to be used to process images from MicroObservatory.org, it's not really good for much else, but it does a damned good job of teaching people the basics of processing RGB FITS data.

    Astrotelescopes.com

    Microsoft ICE - mosaic/composite image stitching software

    Download complete list.

    Astro Telescope Parts

    (Note: Google Slides may not play nicely with Internet Explorer.)