As a Cosmologist and Author, I have used some fairly large scopes (apertures
larger than 36") and even owned a small Refractor many years ago. Having
this background I decided it would be fun to have my own small scope to do some
astrophotography and viewing. I had no idea how complicated it would be to find
the right scope. DOBS, Newtonians, SCT's Mak's, Refractors, etc. I didn't know
where to begin. My colleagues were of little help-most were used to very large
scopes, or radio astronomy. I ordered every telescope manufactures catalogue
I could find, and I am no doubt on the mailing list of everyone for life. I
finally, after 6 months of talking to other small scope owners, looking at spec.
sheets, and catalogues, narrowed the list of some 37 telescopes to a list of
five. All were Newtonian, all mounted on EQ, and all were between 4"-and
6" in aperture. Suddenly the decision became harder. Another 5 months would
be needed of visiting telescope stores, camera shops and star parties. Eventually
a decision was made: KONUS. But which one-the two I had decided on were 4.5"
: one had a very fast Focal length, (short tube) and as I wanted to explore
both wide sky views and photography, this was my choice.
The place of purchase for my little KONUSMOTOR 500 was Owl Services in Pennsylvania.
The problem is, I live in Rural Maine, and was concerned about damage in transport.
Tom, the owner knew of my trepidation and assured me if there were any problems
he would take care of them. I needn't have been concerned. The telescope arrived
in three boxes via UPS in excellent condition. As I am not master handyman,
I was a bit concerned about the many parts-but with my wife Cathy's assistance
(and the excellent instructions) we had the entire scope, mount and tripod set
up in about 45min.
Appearance & Construction:
The bright yellow tube is made from a fairly heavy aluminum, and the mount
seems more than capable of handling the weight. The scope came with a tracking
motor which takes a bit if getting used to. Once set, it seems to track decently
enough for long time photography. I was forced, in order to balance the scope,
to add another 5 lbs. of counterweight after the addition of a 35mm SLR, an
Orion Red dot quick site and a fairly heavy 50mm Meade APO I use for tracking
(the 50mm gives good views-but it is best used as a finder for the KONUS). The
KONUS supplied finder is still handy for locating brighter objects, and has
about 15X of less. The focuser is made of a very heavy Polly, Aluminum, or fiberglass-I
can't tell, but is very firmly mounted. The mounting rings also have a threaded
adapter for piggy back photography.
Performance (under good seeing):
The scope came with KONUS own brand of eye pieces-although I opted for the
"Deluxe" package of a wider assortment, including a 25mm which, with
the short focus, gives crystal clear rich field views of the sky. Taken to it's
maximum, this little scope, at 245X begins to break down visually (245X and
275X look exactly the same). However, at magnifications of 125 to 200, surreal
views of the Cassini division and the cloud tops on Jupiter are clear. Nebula,
especially with hydrogen colored filters, become alive, and the nebulosity is
easily seen. Star clusters and other bright objects, even at low magnification
were crystal clear, and M31 will fill the eyepiece at medium magnifications.
Stars, down to a maginitude of about 10 were a single perfect point, and double
stars showed obvious separation in most observations
- A class act telescope, light and easy to set up for the cost of an average
department store toy.
- With added eyepieces and color filters a true performer, especially for
this looking for a rich field scope.
- The tracking motor allows longer length photography.
- The service (at least at Owl) is second to none- scope comes with 24 month
warranty-better than many others.
- Good heavy mount.
- Unbeatable service and support-and price$$$.
- The tripod is a bit unstable for photography unless used at its lowest setting.
- The foscuer would be better if a bit more rigid-say of steel. This one shows
no sign of problems however.
Given the capabilities of this small scope, the weight, and fast focal length,
this is the perfect travel scope. As a back up scope it is great for a quick
look at planets, nebula, and double stars. I love this scope-just wish they
made one about 16"!