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Charlie HeinAdministrator
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Coronado PST Review
      #5560681 - 12/08/12 11:00 AM

Coronado PST Review

By Tristan Schwartz


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David Knisely
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Charlie Hein]
      #5560926 - 12/08/12 01:50 PM

Not a bad review, similar to the one I posted in 2004 as the PST first came out:

CN REPORTS: The Coronado PST "Personal Solar Telescope"

I agree that the 20mm Kellner that comes with the current PST is way too long a focal length to be very useful. I would go with using a 15 mm to 9 mm focal length eyepiece or a zoom eyepiece for solar work. One point however is that there is no "granulation" seen with the H-alpha sun. What is being seen on the disk away from active regions is know as the "dark mottles"; a network of very fine structure consisting of spicules, fibrils, and very short filaments in the chromosphere (sometimes referred to as the "orange peel" effect). Actual granulation is a somewhat smaller-scale white light feature visible in apertures of three inches and larger, so it is beyond the resolution of a 40mm aperture. Even in larger scopes with a sub-angstrom H-alpha filter, granulation is not seen since you are looking at the Chromosphere and not the photosphere where the convection leading to the granulation feature primarily takes place. Clear skies to you.


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Special Ed
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5560981 - 12/08/12 02:33 PM

Just wanted to say that Tristan Schwartz's review reflects my own experience with my PST accurately, right down to the off-center finder.

I've had my PST since 2005 and the only problem in that time was I had to send it back to get the rust issue repaired (at no cost).

I share Tristan's enthusiasm for observing in H-alpha. Everyone should at least try it--but be careful...you could get hooked.


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MikeBOKC
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Special Ed]
      #5561028 - 12/08/12 03:05 PM Attachment (176 downloads)

The PST is one of the best values in amateur astronomy! It is also very handy for piggybacking with a small refractor for simultaneous white light viewing. This rig was a real hit at the Venus transit in June:

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Scott in NCAdministrator
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5561071 - 12/08/12 03:30 PM

Nice review, Tristan--thanks for sharing that!

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psi_chemie
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Scott in NC]
      #5583147 - 12/21/12 08:12 PM

I found Tristan's description of the tilt tuning excellent- I had been left confused about this from some other reviews. I am not afraid of getting a tilt-tuning unit now, I was going to spring for pressure tuned.
Thanks.


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Rick Woods
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5584098 - 12/22/12 01:29 PM

Quote:

The PST is one of the best values in amateur astronomy! It is also very handy for piggybacking with a small refractor for simultaneous white light viewing. This rig was a real hit at the Venus transit in June:




That's the same setup I have, except it's an old orange C8 w/white light filter instead of a refractor. It was great for the Venus transit!


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Rick Woods
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: psi_chemie]
      #5584137 - 12/22/12 01:50 PM

Good review!
My PST doesn't have any of the drawbacks he mentions. The focuser knob is fine with me as it is; and the Sol Finder puts the sun pretty much dead center in a high-power eyepiece.
I find that my Meade S4000 8.8mm UWA eyepiece is the perfect match for the PST, and it's pretty much the only one I use. I also keep a couple of plossls with it, but they don't get used much.
I bought a carrying case after the fact, and I really like it, too. It's pretty light, as Tristan says; but for transporting the unit, I put the whole thing in a heavy cardboard box. For use at home, the case is perfect, as well as nice looking.

As for the views, it's wonderful! I doubt I'll ever get a bigger solar telescope, but I might get the double-stack filter at some point.
The Sun and the Moon are the only objects that change minute to minute. It's well worth it to have the means to follow both closely.


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Pentax Syntax
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Reged: 11/03/12

Loc: Maryland
Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Charlie Hein]
      #5587664 - 12/24/12 07:21 PM

Quote:

Coronado PST Review

By Tristan Schwartz




Nice Review Tristan,

I fully agree with most of your comments. A minor difference is that my PST has a fairly well centered finder. Like yours, mine came with a cheap 20 mm eyepiece. I find that a Takahashi LE 12.5 is about the sweet spot for the scope. Most eyepieces work well on the PST though; my 17.5 MA and 9 MA work almost as well as the Takahashi even though they would be just a dust plugs on my other scopes. My most often used eyepiece with the PST is an older Vixen 8-24 zoom. That single eyepiece covers the entire useful range of the PST. So far, I have avoided the temptation to double stack mine but who knows what the future will bring.....


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Zamboni
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Loc: Colorado Springs
Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Pentax Syntax]
      #5612186 - 01/08/13 03:34 PM

Thanks for the kind words and the granulation correction. The more I use this scope the more addictive it gets.

One eyepiece that I tried out in a friend's PST that seems to hit a really good balance is the 9mm Zhumell long eye-relief. Doesn't work at all for afocal imaging, but is fantastic for observing.

My next big astronomical purchase is going to be a 100 to 120mm refractor on a CG5. I plan to get a Lunt herschel wedge for it and then piggyback the PST. Should make an impressive solar observing rig, especially for outreach.


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Zamboni
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Zamboni]
      #5817749 - 04/23/13 03:09 PM

Update to my review:

As I continue to use this scope, the more I love it. I have added the Criterion focus knob and it makes life with the telescope SO much easier. I've also taken to using a blackout curtain over my head (dark on one side, white on the other) while observing. I find it a more complete solution than using a sunshield.

I did try mounting it on a borrowed small EQ mount recently, but the eyepiece does wind up at awkward positions occasionally as the eyepiece is non-rotatable. I may eventually get a small Goto altaz like an iOptron Cube or a Celestron NexStar SLT for tracking.


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jrbarnett
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Zamboni]
      #5817881 - 04/23/13 04:07 PM

Nicely done, Tristan. I too recently became a PST owner. I went the double stack route, and having compared DS to SS for a couple of weeks now, I'd say that each has its merits with such a small aperture scope. The biggest advantages of DS'ing is that you can get can view both surface detail and prominences simultaneously rather than tuning between them, and more and finer details are visible. The biggest disadvantages of DS'ing are a considerably dimmer image, imbalance of the OTA (the second etalon is quite heavy), and because of the tilt-tilt tuning designs of a DS'ed PST, you get banding; that is the higher resolution appears in a swath that you can tune or re-position for different parts of the solar disk.

All in all it's a very simple, tidy, fun to use, affordable solution.

Regards,

Jim


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David Knisely
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5817949 - 04/23/13 04:42 PM

Quote:

Nicely done, Tristan. I too recently became a PST owner. I went the double stack route, and having compared DS to SS for a couple of weeks now, I'd say that each has its merits with such a small aperture scope. The biggest advantages of DS'ing is that you can get can view both surface detail and prominences simultaneously rather than tuning between them, and more and finer details are visible. The biggest disadvantages of DS'ing are a considerably dimmer image, imbalance of the OTA (the second etalon is quite heavy), and because of the tilt-tilt tuning designs of a DS'ed PST, you get banding; that is the higher resolution appears in a swath that you can tune or re-position for different parts of the solar disk.

All in all it's a very simple, tidy, fun to use, affordable solution.

Regards,

Jim




Well, it isn't really higher resolution so much as it is a swath of narrower passband width of the filter. The band like structure is sometimes called a "sweet spot" where the filter's transmission curve is narrowest, causing greater contrast in the disk detail. The instrument's resolution is still that of a 40mm aperture. Clear skies to you.


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Zamboni
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5817968 - 04/23/13 04:57 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Nicely done, Tristan. I too recently became a PST owner. I went the double stack route, and having compared DS to SS for a couple of weeks now, I'd say that each has its merits with such a small aperture scope. The biggest advantages of DS'ing is that you can get can view both surface detail and prominences simultaneously rather than tuning between them, and more and finer details are visible. The biggest disadvantages of DS'ing are a considerably dimmer image, imbalance of the OTA (the second etalon is quite heavy), and because of the tilt-tilt tuning designs of a DS'ed PST, you get banding; that is the higher resolution appears in a swath that you can tune or re-position for different parts of the solar disk.

All in all it's a very simple, tidy, fun to use, affordable solution.

Regards,

Jim




Well, it isn't really higher resolution so much as it is a swath of narrower passband width of the filter. The band like structure is sometimes called a "sweet spot" where the filter's transmission curve is narrowest, causing greater contrast in the disk detail. The instrument's resolution is still that of a 50mm aperture. Clear skies to you.




This. The difference is really one of contrast rather than resolution (although the PST is 40mm, not 50mm). Still, the contrast difference is pretty astounding. In spite of the dimmer view, double stacking makes a heck of a difference. I looked through a double stack PST last year at the big Albuquerque star party for the May 20th annular eclipse. The difference was almost shocking.

In spite of some stiff competition (performance-wise) from the LS35 these days, I think the PST is still a brilliantly designed scope for being a self-contained, no guesswork H-alpha beginner rig.


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David Knisely
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Zamboni]
      #5818056 - 04/23/13 05:32 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Nicely done, Tristan. I too recently became a PST owner. I went the double stack route, and having compared DS to SS for a couple of weeks now, I'd say that each has its merits with such a small aperture scope. The biggest advantages of DS'ing is that you can get can view both surface detail and prominences simultaneously rather than tuning between them, and more and finer details are visible. The biggest disadvantages of DS'ing are a considerably dimmer image, imbalance of the OTA (the second etalon is quite heavy), and because of the tilt-tilt tuning designs of a DS'ed PST, you get banding; that is the higher resolution appears in a swath that you can tune or re-position for different parts of the solar disk.

All in all it's a very simple, tidy, fun to use, affordable solution.

Regards,

Jim




Well, it isn't really higher resolution so much as it is a swath of narrower passband width of the filter. The band like structure is sometimes called a "sweet spot" where the filter's transmission curve is narrowest, causing greater contrast in the disk detail. The instrument's resolution is still that of a 50mm aperture. Clear skies to you.





This. The difference is really one of contrast rather than resolution (although the PST is 40mm, not 50mm). Still, the contrast difference is pretty astounding. In spite of the dimmer view, double stacking makes a heck of a difference. I looked through a double stack PST last year at the big Albuquerque star party for the May 20th annular eclipse. The difference was almost shocking.

In spite of some stiff competition (performance-wise) from the LS35 these days, I think the PST is still a brilliantly designed scope for being a self-contained, no guesswork H-alpha beginner rig.




I hate typing (the "5" key instead of the "4" that I wanted to hit). Yup, while I do have a 90mm aperture Mak-Cassegrain equipped with a DayStar T-scanner, I still end up using my PST more because it is so easy to get up and running for a quick look. Now, if the clouds would only go away for a while... Clear skies to you.


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jrbarnett
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5818377 - 04/23/13 06:51 PM

Sorry. I was using "resolution" generically in a plain English rather than in a technical optics sense. You're right that the filter alters the contrast, not the resolving power, of the instrument.

I've read that Lunt's pressure tuning system reduces of eliminates the "sweet spot" issue when DS'ing, though I haven't used a pressure tuned Lunt.

I did try a Lunt 35, but it arrived damaged (the third damaged H-alpha scope/filter in a row that I received from the same vendor before abandoning H-alpha aspirations for a year; bad shippers in San Diego). The other damaged scopes/filters were a Coronado 60 and a Solar Scope 50 filter/blocking filter combo.

This time I ordered from stock from a different vendor who opens and verifies the condition of each Coronado scope they sell to avoid the QC issues they were otherwise hearig about from customers. I am glad that I did too. The PST DS works as advertised. I was very relieved.

I'll get some pictures up of my side-by-side set-up. I use a PST SS/DS with an L-bracket on one side and a 60mm f/7 triplet plus Herschel wedge on the other side of a smooth, simple alt-az mount. I also have a Nexstar 6/8 SE alt-az mount that I will eventually use with the PST. To accommodate the balance shift using the DS second etalon, I need a longer Vixen-style dovetail first, though.

Regards,

Jim


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Zamboni
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5818429 - 04/23/13 07:05 PM

That's awful to hear about the damage issues from the dealer. If I ever get a Lunt scope, I'll probably order direct from the manufacturer because they apparently pack stuff particularly well.

I have played around with pressure tuned LS60s, LS80s and an LS152. Pressure tuning isn't available on the 35, tragically. It works very much as advertized, eliminating sweet spots. The bandpass is also narrow compared to other single-etalon systems, falling around the .6 Angstrom range. The contrast is spectacular, but all but one of the pressure tuned Lunts I've looked through had a gauzy glow around the solar disk. This had a mildly adverse affect on prominence contrast. YMMV.

In spite of that, the Lunt scopes are pretty amazing when they aren't damaged. The view through the LS152 was staggering.


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spaceydee
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Zamboni]
      #5834093 - 05/01/13 11:02 AM

When I used to take the PST out.. (stopped because I was afraid of being attacked by wasps!!) I used to do my observing with the single stack first, then add the double stack on. I love that scope, really it was an excellent purchase for me.

That is an excellent first image of the sun by the way!!


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Undermidnight
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: spaceydee]
      #5834542 - 05/01/13 02:31 PM

Loved the review. I recently just got back into Ha observing with a PST that was used (but brand new) from an estate. This will be my third one (I won't be selling it). It has a wonderful view in it and I want to start imaging with it. Your picture in the review is really good! I want to start imaging with my PST.

Jason


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Zamboni
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Re: Coronado PST Review new [Re: Undermidnight]
      #5838934 - 05/03/13 07:22 PM Attachment (81 downloads)

One thing about imaging with the PST is that it's very hard to get an image with a CMOS camera without the image suffering from Newton rings. That'll be the most challenging aspect for most PST imagers.

I have had some moderate successes, though. Here's one I took today holding my Canon Powershot point and shoot to the eyepiece. I may get a good afocal adapter and start taking video and then frame stacking with registax.


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