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Astro Tech 72ED 18 month Review

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#1 kenrenard


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Posted 07 November 2013 - 08:18 AM

I haven't seen many in depth reviews on these little scopes and thought I would write my own experiences. I am by no means an expert on testing telescopes so take this with a grain of salt. I have owned the Astro Tech 72 Refractor for a bit over 18 months. I bought it from Highpoint Scientific in red at the bequest of my oldest daughter. Our jump into telescope ownership started with a Sky Scanner 100 and moved quickly to an Orion XT8. We still own both telescopes and enjoy them both on their own merits.
The Astro Tech 72 weighs in at a bit over 5 lbs, it has a sliding dew shield, and a rotating focuser ( which I found is very nice!). I also purchase the reticle finder. Asking the folks at Highpoint how to mount it they suggested I look into Universal Astronomics. I spoke with Larry on the phone and through e-mail and we worked out a UA Dwarf Star which I would mount on a SLIK 700DX tripod I already owned. It happened I was taking the family to Maine and New Hampshire for a vacation and I stopped in Larry's shop to pick up the mount in Massachusetts. Larry found the Dwarf Star worked with my tripod well and gave advice on a handle and eyepiece tray. He spend extra time checking what my needs were. A really great person to work with.
Once home I mounted the AT72 to the Dwarf Star and had some looks. I found scanning the sky with a 24mm Panoptic to be a beautiful experience. The Moon looked great with no false color that I could see. On Venus it does show color at high magnification as on Jupiter.
A few months later my brother-in-law invited us to his parents house in the Catskills. I had my daughters and niece outside looking at Saturn while waiting for the sky to get dark. Although small they got to see Saturn and everyone enjoyed looking. Then as darkness fell and the Milky Way popped out, the little scope started to shine. We all stood in awe looking at the immense star fields, galaxies, and clusters. His dad said I can't believe we can see so much from something so small! In dark skies a small scope act's much bigger!
After 18 months I often repeat those words. This little scope has shown me more than anything else. Its not that its got tons of aperture or its a high end apo, quite the contrary. It's small light and you have no excuse not to use it or bring it along on a trip. My XT8 would have shown me so much more that night in the Catskills. However, with two kids a pack-n-play, diapers, a stroller, and all the luggage it wouldn't fit. So it goes to the beach, camping, or anywhere we go.
Some club nights I bring my little scope. I am usually parked in between a big SCT and a Dob. One perfect night we had fun going from the 10 inch dob to the AT72, Sure we couldn't see things we could in the 10 incher, but we did see plenty. The Dumbbell, Swan, Ring, M13, M3 and so on. We all hung around looking at the Veil one night. I find it a pleasure to use both day and night. Birds at the feeder become something wonderful through the eyepiece. A small solar filter shows the Sunspots in great detail.
The Dwarf Star and the AT72 work as one. I often forget the mount is there. I just use the little handle and move it around the sky. Moving the center post up or down for Adults or Kids to look through. After all this time I have little to complain about. I have pushed the magnification to 172X which is my limit with eyepieces. I think it does start to break down around that point. Maybe you could push it more on a tracking mount? I see why folks love there little refractors. Grab and Go does have its advantages. I'll give some pro's and con's.

Its Light and easy to move. ( I use one hand to carry out of the garage.)
The focuser is nice and smooth. ( I have adjusted the tension screw for heavier eyepiece)
Works well as a Terrestrial scope. ( I enjoy it for birding)
It's well made and comes with a hard case.
Shows little in the way of color except on bright objects.
You can bring it anywhere.
You have no excuse not to observe.

Not for Aperture hounds.
About 150X is the max for magnification on my mount ( I have read some other scopes Televue 76, TAK 78, handle higher powers better. Can't say!)
It can be back heavy with a 2 inch diagonal and large eyepiece.
You start to think "I enjoy this so much should I save up for a high end refractor!" :tonofbricks:

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#2 GOLGO13



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Posted 07 November 2013 - 09:06 AM

Nice review. I've been absolutely loving mine so far. It's just a beautiful wide field grab and go scope.

I also have been very impressed with using it as a spotting scope. I plan to do some eagle viewing soon as they come through our area each fall/winter.

I can't wait to use it at a dark site on the milky way.

#3 karstenkoch


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Posted 07 November 2013 - 09:16 AM

Nice review! I have a similar kit: I use my AT72ED with a DSV-M from Desert Sky Astro and a similar tripod. It's a beautiful little match with my 14mm Delos. That one scope and that one eyepiece are all I really need all night long. You're right about it being back heavy. I've reversed the foot and attached a longer dovetail bar to the bottom of the foot. That has really helped get the weight pushed forward in the mount.

Yep, we all dream about a 160mm triplet, but would we really pull it out as often if we had it? A little scope like this is just so quick and easy to use!

#4 jag767


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Posted 07 November 2013 - 09:41 AM

Great review- I considered one of these myself, ultimately went with the barska magnus 65mm triplet. It took a good amount or work to make it perform optimally but well worth it. Would love to see them tested against each other.

#5 Ed D

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 09:54 AM

I enjoyed your review of this fantastic little scope. I liked that you wrote it as a hands-on, field performance evaluation over an extended time period. I have always had praise for these scopes and have yet to read anything seriously negtive about them.

Ed D

#6 Kim K

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Posted 07 November 2013 - 10:05 AM

Kenrenard...I fully concur with your review. Mine is the white/gray one. My impression of the AT72ED grows each time I use it.


#7 nicknacknock


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Posted 07 November 2013 - 10:12 AM

Your review is spot on. Mine has been passed on to a gentleman in the UK but it was a great little scope to have. Excellent built quality (yes, a bit heavy but still...), great optics, nice wide fields and no slouch on doubles!

Do yourself a favor and partner that scope to either a Nag 31mm or ES 30mm 82 degrees, add a filter to the mix (O III or Hb) and turn the scope to the North American + Pelican Nebula. It's such a sweet performer...

#8 terraclarke



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Posted 07 November 2013 - 04:36 PM

I've recently begun using my little blue one on my Televue Panoramic mount and ashwood tripod. Its a very nice and stable combination. I agree that it is back-heavy with a 2 inch diagonal and eyepieces. I mostly use it with an 1.25 inch Pro-optic 99% dielectric diagonal and 1.25 inch eyepieces, mainly because the complete kit fits so nicely in the supplied case that way.

#9 pdxmoon



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Posted 07 November 2013 - 09:57 PM

Love mine. If only I had a pink one!

#10 Mr Onions

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 12:44 PM

Great review.
I see there is a waiting list for them at Astronomics.

#11 SkyGibbon


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Posted 08 November 2013 - 04:44 PM

Been waiting for months for them to become available.

#12 Bill Barlow

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 08:02 PM

I see that Astronomics has only the while and black 72's listed on their website (back ordered). So they must be eliminating the colored versions.


#13 DNTash


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Posted 09 November 2013 - 07:47 AM

Nice review. It can get a little back heavy with a Pan or Zoom, but it certainly holds its own. Great in a pinch.

#14 GOLGO13



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Posted 09 November 2013 - 09:15 AM

I've been using a 1 and 1/4 diagonal and a TV 32mm Plossl as my low power. I have been pondering getting a 35 pan or a 31 Nagler to maximize the FOV. But I wonder if it's really worth doing that. The 32mm works very well and is also very light.

Any suggestions?

#15 kenrenard


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Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:01 AM

I have the 24mm Panoptic which is my only premium eyepiece. I enjoy it very much in this scope as in my dob and long achromat. I can't say anything bad about the Panoptic.

My thoughts are it may get really back heavy with the 31 mm Nagler.


#16 GOLGO13



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Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:12 AM

Yeah...I also have a 24mm Meade SWA 5000 which is pretty close to the 24mm Pan. Both that one and the 32mm Plossl have their place (same FOV but different exit pupil).

I'm personally not a fan of heavy eyepieces. But I will say the 31mm Nagler is one heck of a good eyepiece to view through. But, I think it's best in a scope that can easily be balanced. I know Televue makes an attachment that equals out the weight for your 1 and 1/4 eyepieces...but all of this costs some serious money. Plus I'd probably need a paracorr for my 10 inch dob if I got the 31mm Nagler.

I think it would be best to just stick with the lighter eyepieces.

My heaviest eyepieces are the 10 and 7mm Pentax XWs and the 24mm SWA. But those are not bad really.

Actually, one of my favorite eyepieces is quite light...the 28mm Edmund RKE. The 21.5mm RKE is also very good.

#17 kenrenard


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Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:22 AM

I do agree I have a Q70 38 mm and it's quite heavy. It just isn't practical in something this small. The big dogs are really better in big dobs!


#18 JonM


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Posted 09 November 2013 - 10:02 PM

I believe Astronomics has lost their supplier and, as per my query, they are not expecting to find a replacement any time soon. I'm on my third one and I will keep this one. It's a great guide scope and even a good wide field imager as well as good for visual. I love this little scope.

#19 Astronomics


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Posted 10 November 2013 - 01:49 AM

We did not lose the supplier, we are simply making some changes to the line up. The next shipment shipped out while I was in Taiwan last week and we expect them in the next 21 days.

#20 karstenkoch


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Posted 10 November 2013 - 08:03 AM


Not to change the topic here, but since the 72ED is such a great ED doublet, is there any chance we might see some larger ED doublets added to the lineup?

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