I love telescopes. There, I’ve said it on the front end of the
review. Yes, I love to use telescopes and I’m out observing
nearly every clear night, but for me the “gear” is especially
appealing. Having recently retired in my early fifties, I’ve
spent the past few years putting together a small collection of “astro-toys”
that fit my particular observing habits and satisfy my hunger for
great gear. I am the proud owner of a Starmaster 16” with goto
and all the other bells and whistles. For grab and go, I use a Nexstar
8 GPS. The Nexstar is also the scope I use for our club’s (The
Memphis Astronomical Society) public observing events. The Starmaster
gives seriously incredible views while the Nexstar with its high tech
look is frankly, a crowd pleaser. Between these two scopes, I felt
I had all my bases covered. Still, I wanted a world-class finder for
my world class dob and finally decided to go with the new TV-60 and
I am frankly delighted.
First, let’s define the TV-60. It is first and
foremost a 60mm F6 APO that is capable pristine color-free views from
about 9X (with a 40mm plossl) to about 180X. The field of view is
huge and maxes out at 4.3°, or approximately 8-9 moon diameters.
Televue recommends the 24mm Panoptic as the best way to achieve the
widest field. I took them up on their suggestion and bought a 24 Panoptic
and all I can say is wow! For high power, I can recommend the Nagler
2-4mm zoom which gives and incredible range of 90X to 180X magnification
with this scope. For the ultimate mid-range eyepiece, go with the
9mm Nagler T6. It gives 40X magnification with a field of view of
a whopping 2 degrees.
TV-60 on Nexstar 8GPS mounted to the SCT mounting bracket made
In my opinion, red dot finders are perfect for goto
scopes since the main purpose of the finder in these scopes is to
find and center guide stars for the initial alignment. Still, I missed
my 8X50 finder and wanted a scope that would give wide field context
to the relatively narrow field of the SCT. This is especially appreciated
at public observing events where you can share a small object, say
a planetary nebula or globular cluster, through the SCT, while showing
the wider field surrounding the object through the refractor. I recently
purchased the Televue Starbeam red dot finder for my Nexstar scope.
It’s the new one made specifically for SCTs. The finder includes
a quick release style bracket that allows you to store the Starbeam
between sessions. The TV-60 also mounts right into this bracket.
TV-60 mounted on a Losmandy piggyback rail and sliding camera
Another mounting option for the TV-60 onto an SCT is
to use a piggyback bracket. Mine has the Losmandy piggyback rail with
the sliding camera adapter. This allows me to keep the Starbeam finder
in place and still mount the TV-60 on top. This is probably the option
that will get the most use.
TV-60 ultra-light rig for backpacking or birding. I use a Bogen
3130 fluid head on a Hakuba carbon fiber tripod (total weight of scope,
components, tripod and head is 8 lbs)
Backpacking is a big part of my life and I’ve
been known to do a lot of solo backpacking in the Ozarks, the Smokies,
the Rockies and even took a trip to the Andes a few years ago. The
paradox of backpacking is that on the one hand you get to see the
best skies on planet but, on the other hand you are limited to the
weight you can carry and I generally settle for a monocular or a small
pair of binoculars. This scope will change that.
The scope itself weighs about 3 lbs. Add to that a 1.25”
Everbright diagonal, 2-4mm Nagler zoom and an 8-24mm click-stop zoom
and you are up to 4 lbs. My carbon fiber tripod and Bogen fluid head
weigh a total of 4 lbs. For the first time, I have a scope setup that
is capable of a magnification range from 15X to 180X that weighs only
8lbs for the scope and mount! I am not “into” birding,
but for those who are, this setup should be a dream with one difference.
Get the Televue 60-degree Everbright diagonal instead of the 90-degree
I got specifically for astronomy. The 60-degree gives you the same
view as the 90-degree (correct up and down, but reversed left and
right), but at a more comfortable position for terrestrial use..
The one picture I do not have yet, is the TV-60 mounted
to my Starmaster, and this is the primary reason I originally bought
it. I will think long and hard about mounting options before I take
a drill to my baby. It will have to be a mount that is solid and of
the same build quality as the other Starmaster components. It can’t
affect balance (balance is just perfect as is) and the mount must
adjust in the X and Y axes so that the finder can align with the main
scope. Still, I will figure it out and I will mount the TV-60 to the
dob. It is just too compelling an idea not to have this capability.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: Great news! I called Televue about this requirement
and was told they would be demoing a prototype (at next month's Winter
Star Party) of a "finder mount" similar to the Starbeam
mount for SCTs, but with X-Y adjustments. This will allow you to use
the Televue-60 as a finder or guide scope, without the need for rings!)
How does the TV-60 perform? Perfectly, of course, but
still it is only 60mm. Many of us have been on the same quest in our
hobby for years—that is the quest for the perfect scope, the
one that does everything. Unfortunately, like the elusive fountain
of youth, there is no one scope that will do it all. It seems you
can have aperture and give up portability, or you can have portability
and give up aperture. This scope is not the one you will use for a
detailed visual study of Stephan’s Quintet. On the other hand,
I’m not planning on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail with my
Starmaster dob strapped to my back either. If you want wide field,
pristine, color free views throughout a wide range of magnification—if
you want a scope that is a superfinder, a guidescope, a piggyback
refractor, or an ultra-light travel scope—and if you demand
the best in fit, finish and build quality—buy this. I’ve
not seen anything else in its class that does so much.
For those interested, I’ve observed the Moon,
Saturn, Jupiter, M42, M31, M44, M45 and a few other bright objects
from my light polluted driveway. The views are crisp and color-free
at all magnifications from 15X to 180X. With Jupiter you can see the
four major satellites, along with the NEB and SEB. Casini is not trivial
on Saturn with 60mm, but not too difficult either at 150X. Polaris
is and easy split with most scopes and it’s easy with this scope
as well using a 9mm Nagler T6. 'm reluctant to say this, but I did
see the "E" star in the trapezium the first night out at
144X though I could not seem to split Rigel at the same magnification.
Rigel’s companion did pop into view, however at about 160X.
I have to keep reminding myself that this scope is only 60mm of aperture.
Good grief—I bought it as a finder for gosh sakes!
The scope is outfitted with a marvelous sliding dew
shield of the quality of the other TV scopes as well as a two-stage
helical focuser that I suppose is the same as the Ranger. I have a
two-speed Feathertouch focusers on my dob and SCT. I think the Feathertouch
is just the best focuser ever made. Still, I like the helical focuser
on the TV-60 and find the quality substantial and equal to the build
quality of the rest of the scope. There are no provisions made to
mount a finder to this scope. You don’t need a finder; this
scope is a finder. Using the Telepod and a 9mm eyepiece, I had not
trouble pointing at Saturn and Jupiter.
The scope comes with a nice Gortex carry bag (really
a stuff bag, but large enough to hold scope with diagonal and eyepiece
affixed), but get the optional shoulder bag. It will hold the scope,
diagonal and your three favorite eyepieces in a case as small as many
leather notebook holders.
I’ll close with a picture of the open shoulder
bag and its contents. Clear Skies!