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by Karthik Jayashankar 03/24/13

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Sky-Watcher 8-Inch Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope

(Manufacturer’s Code: BKDOB8)

by Karthik Jayashankar

UNBOXING AND FIRST LIGHT

So here I am, a complete newbie with no idea of what telescope to buy. The night sky always fascinated me, but I never really got down to looking up (no pun intended). Because I had had the luxury of owning a DSLR for more than a year, words like ‘aperture’ and ‘focal ratio’ were not alien to me. I soon found that many principles of photography also apply to telescopes. Then started the whole reading of online blogs on the subject. The more I read, the more confused I became. I also gave myself enough time to digest the plethora of information which is available just a few keystrokes away.

The fact that the realm of astrophotography can throw your budget out of the window was also not comforting. Of course there are always cheaper workarounds, but with their own limitations. This lead me to more blogs and more videos. I went though the whole confusion of an equatorial versus an alt-azimuth mount, refractor versus reflector, camera attachment capability versus webcam, goto versus manual, battery operated/power tank versus manual, f/5 versus an f/10 and then it finally came down to a personal question. Am I more of a DSO guy or a planet guy? I soon found myself staring at the cross roads in front of me. I soon realized I wanted a bit of both, like most people would. Being a biker who rides classic old-school motorcycles helped in the decision making process. I decided to go for a simple and easy to use ‘reliable’ scope that wouldn’t fail me - a no brainer.

I soon realized that the best bang for the buck lies in a newtonian and further, the best “price per square inch of aperture” lies in a dobsonian. Easy to use for observing (very limited astrophotography) and big apertures, a.k.a. light buckets, at relatively cheaper prices. The next debate was on whether I should go for the full tube one or the truss-type ones. I travel reasonably often. So portability - to whatever extent possible - was a must. I then discovered the Sky-Watcher Collapsible Dobsonians. Choosing the 8-inch as a first scope fit right into the fine balance between portability, sufficient aperture, an f/6 focal ratio for a bit of both wide-field and zoom views, and last but not the least - looks. It looks beautiful. Who doesn’t like something beautiful?

After having spent almost a month and half researching on the subject and arriving at a decision, I decided to document the unboxing and share my first light experience because there isn’t much out there on this particular scope and I believe this may prove useful for folks who are looking to buy this model.

The Arrival

This is how it came packed in a wooden crate. Very well packed to be able to handle a truck journey by road across half of India.

The main box is the first layer inside the wooden crate.

The Unboxing And Assembly

The OTA and the base are in front of a 42” inch TV for perspective on size.

Another perspective.

Two free posters in the box in India. I’m not sure if these are standard freebies in other markets. The round bases are the first on top.

Next comes the front side with pre-drilled holes for the convenience handle.

Next come the side-walls.

These are the standard tools and handles for assembly of the scope.  Note the three stapled Teflon pads which act as bearings. One is easily visible between the yellow screwdriver and the tension handles.

The OTA comes packed in double lined heavy-duty cardboard boxes.

The handle comes separate, but here you can see it attached. Very good quality, and feels firm and sturdy.

The first side-wall bolted with three heavy-duty screws.

The second side-wall - again bolted with three heavy-duty screws. Note that the branding is on the outside walls.

The upper base attached to the main assembly.

Next the three legs go into the lower base.

The entire base assembled with the upper assembly bolted onto the lower one. All the pre-drilled holes lined up perfectly and assembly was a breeze.

The OTA comes in one unit and it now loaded onto the base with tension handles in place. The eye-piece holder is now attached to the base. There are four Teflon rollers. Two on each inside wall on which the OTA sits. The scope is definitely bigger and heavier than I had imagined. However, all doubts about its quality have now been put to rest. It is very well built – nice, firm, and heavy.

The OTA here is fully extended with tension bolts for the truss tubes locked. A well-balanced scope. Will wait to test it with 2” heavy eye-pieces – may require some counterweight.

This pic shows the finder scope, eyes pieces and other freebies in the box.

The finder scope in now loaded.

The scope with the Astrozap light shroud. Not part of the standard equipment for this scope and was purchased separately.

The freebies in close-up. An astro guide CD, two sets of postcard size photos, a magnifying glass and sun filter eye-wear.

The finder scope holder, the finder scope with its rubber band washer grip, 2” eye piece adapter and the 10mm and 25mm 1.25” Super Plossl eye-pieces.

The tools. Do not miss the tiny hex-key on the extreme right. It comes in a tiny zip lock and I missed it on the first light day. This helps in collimation of the secondary mirror.

The stuff in close up with eye-pieces out. A cleaner and micro fiber cloth is also included in the box – another freebie.

The finder scope up close. 

The scope now retracted and resting. Another perspective on size next to a drum set.

The First Light

Was lucky enough to not experience the first light curse of cloudy skies. The sky was clear, though light polluted here in New Delhi. Having just seen through a few telescopes, the first light was a look at the moon - and what a sight!! I just got transported into to a different place and time stood still – while of course the moon continued across the field of view. Got lucky enough to be able to take a pic on day one:

 

18th March 2013

Next came M42, followed by Jupiter. Both the eye-pieces performed extremely well. I had also ordered a barlow with the scope, and Jupiter was brilliant through it. I am super happy with the purchase. The scope has been out almost every night in the last week except for a couple of days. Saturn was like a textbook image through the 10mm with the barlow. I’m now waiting to see how it takes a 7-hour Indian road trip next week when I take it up into the hills.

Cheers and Clear Skies!

Karthik Jayashankar

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