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Review of Taurus Telescopes’ 12 inch T- 300 Ultra-light Dobsonian


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Review of Taurus Telescopes’ 12 inch T- 300 Ultra-light Dobsonian

 

 

One of the hurdles that we amateur astronomers have is that most of us live in or near cities with bright night skies.  Our home’s Bortle 8+ skies and round trip drive times of 3-5 hours to reach Bortle 3-4 sites means my 11 inch scope does not get used very much for deep sky objects.  Even Bortle 6 skies require a 2 hour round trip and I do not like night driving.  We do however, take some trips by air to dark sites out west, or to Canada.

 

My background - amateur astronomer since 1967.  Planetarium intern , Morehead Planetarium, experience with a Spitz A-3 P, past planetarium director (Gengras Planetarium of West Hartford), research assistant with 24 and 40 inch telescopes (Dyer Observatory, and Fan Mountain, Va., college minor in physics/astronomy and four total solar eclipses.  I would not call myself an avid observer and many Cloudy Night reviewers are far beyond my expertise.  I own a 2.4 inch f 11 Tasco refractor (my first), Unistellar Equinox, SeeStar, and a Celestron 5 inch and an 11 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain (SCT).  I ground a good 8 inch mirror in 1978 which went into a terribly unstable home made Dobsonian mount.

 

In my search for the best portable telescope I can reasonably convey on commercial airlines, I found that a 5 inch SCT (Celestron) can be taken as carry on - at least I did not have trouble on flights to New Zealand and Australia. (Some others have packed a 6 inch SCT in carry on bags.)  But I want a larger scope for travel in North America. 

 

Dobsonian ultralights seem the way to go.  But I could not find a 10 or 12 inch in the US, except for one made in China which every reviewer says has mount problems that have to be fixed prior to use. (Spending hours doing so is not my preference.) The website for Taurus Telescopes popped up one day, and then I found a very favorable review.  I strongly suggest you read it as it is a much more detailed review of the Taurus 14 inch with mirror upgrade. It is by Damian Demendecki, and is on the web and in the magazine Astronomia, (March 2018).  Taurus is made in Poland and I selected the 12 inch T300 , their smallest, after discussing with the owner, Adam Salawa about a custom 10 inch which was going to cost slightly more due to design requirements.  As it turns out, the 10 inch would have been a lot easier to transport safely on airlines with at least the mirror cage going into a carry on . (Current US carryons are limited to 22 inches by 17, by 9.  A padded soft bag works best.

 

My Taurus is the 12 inch T300, f 5, with regular mirror made of BK-7 glass, (not the Supremax upgrade), installed DSC for Push-To control at ($536), oak stained mount, right angle mirror Dew heater, (about $220) , and a set of covers ($172) , and without a finder.  Total cost was US$ 3649 including $405 for shipping to the east coast. To this add 8% customs duty. I purchased it directly from Adam by wiring money to his bank. 30% down is required to begin purchase.

 

 

It arrived in a well packed wooden box. Production wait time was about 6-8 weeks. It took about 2- 3 weeks to clear customs, for some reason.  Purchase in the European Union carries a Value added tax of around 20%, not the case with USA destinations.

 

It is easy to put together and the manual is well written, even if in imperfect English in a few places.  The only consideration is that, as recommended in the manual, it is best to tighten the struts to the top and bottom cages gradually, and in tandem to obtain a good flat bearing surface between the struts and the cages (especially the top cage).  It comes with two cages, struts, rocker arms, rocker box, and shroud.  Total weight is 18.5 kg. The heaviest part is 9.1 kg.

 

 

Since receiving the scope, direct from Taurus in January, 2024, I have been impressed with the optics and the mount design. The truss is very stable. Telescope movement is smooth and it is not a simple matter to get the friction right for a Dobsonian.  This scope has two mount options for the rocker arms, allowing better balance in Altitude depending on the weight of finders, eyepieces, etc.  There is also an Azimuth friction adjustment which I did not need to use. You can order counterweights to balance heavy cameras. The scope works very well and looks rather elegant.

 

The optics appear to be very good, and almost 25% brighter than my 11 inch SCT (Celestron).

I had a bit of a learning curve on the DSC , as that is all new to me.  I like the push to as most of my observing seems to be low to mid power and tracking is not so important, yet.  I use the Sky Safari App and you need to download their manual.... I considered buying the GoTo apparatus, but decided to add it later, if needed.  The scope has a two speed focuser which gives good results for me. Collimation is easy with the three black knobs on top of the mirror cage and three on the right angle mirror. I use a laser collimator and collimation is easy with this scope’s design. I have not done extensive optics testing but my use of the scope is favorable.

 

 

I did not buy a finder from Taurus and later purchased a lighted reticle right angle finder.  However, I since find that a laser pointer is faster to use.  At my height of over 6 feet, the scope is too low so I sawed off part of the box the scope came in so that could add about 14 inches of height. This helps my old back.

 

 

The two cages and rocker base will fit into a Pelican Case which is just 2 inches over the airline rule of 62 inch total L+W+D, this is Pelican model 0350.  The rocker arms and struts go into a padded duffle bag.  I might remove the mirror for flying though, and put it into a carry on .  The only problem I have had is that the shroud seems a bit too short. This is not a serious problem, and I have not contacted Adam about this, yet.  I will sew on an extension of 1-2 inches and re-insert the elastic band into a new loop.

 

While I have found that Smart Astrographs like Unistellar and SeeStar can be a lot of fun, especially in cities, viewing the heavens through a real eyepiece is an experience like no other.  I am considering buying a second Taurus, the 20 inch f 4.2, or possibly the 24 inch f 3.3 , which at 12,500 Euros is about double the price of the 20 inch.  (As you may know, price goes up much faster than size, after a certain aperture).

 

Taurus makes a fine scope.  Adam answered all my emailed questions , and there were many, thoroughly and helpfully.  Turns out, I was once only about 5 miles from his shop, when we drove from Krakow to Zakopane, Poland a few years ago.  I have found Adam to be honest, helpful, and to design and build very nice ultralights.

 


  • sixela, Mike B, Odyssey and 11 others like this


21 Comments

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Erik Bakker
Jun 01 2024 05:45 AM

Wonderful review! Wishing you many happy hours under the stars with this lightweight beauty.

    • f18dad likes this

Great review, I'm particularly curious about this statement though:

 

it is best to tighten the struts to the top and bottom cages gradually, and in tandem to obtain a good flat bearing surface between the struts and the cages (especially the top cage).

 

I have been thinking about copying Taurus's truss pole connection mechanism as it seems quite simple to make and easy to assemble, but I would have thought if you first clamped the trusses to the mirror cage, and then clamped the upper cage to the trusses, there would be no issue with alignment.

 

I'm wondering why you have to clamp them in tandem to ensure a flat bearing surface.

    • BGazing and SpitzA3P like this

Very thankful for this review. You've put on my map an European maker of quality, reasonably-priced dobs, just at the right time. I'm starting to seriously consider a 12-14" dob to complement my stable of scopes. As I also live under light pollution, "ultra-light" is very important. And since I live in Europe, a Polish maker has the advantage of no custom duties for me. Thank you so much – I'm bookmarking your review for future reference!

Regarding the "tandem tightening"   the Taurus Manual  in Step 4 says to pre-tighten the struts to the bottom cell so to still have one half to one turn more to be done. Step 5 says to put the top cell on the truss and tighten the screws at the top cell, and then tighten the screws at the bottom of the truss.

 

What I have found is that , like tightening the bolts on a car's motor head, it is best to tighten the top cage screws by going back and forth from one to the other to obtain the best and flattest connection.  (If you can see light between the two bearing surfaces, then the top cage is not attached as flatly as possible.)

 

I do not find this to be a real problem, and it takes only a little longer to assure best fit.

 

Hope this answers the question.

    • radiofm74 likes this

With the options for Dob builders in the U.S. drying up (Teeter closing down for example) it is good to see reviews of builder overseas that we in the U.S. are not even aware of.

    • SpitzA3P likes this

Very informative and interesting.  I own an Orion XT10G Dobson which is not at all easily transportable (12" diameter tube) so I can appreciate the truss design.  Add to that the Ultra light weight of your Taurus 12" gave me a lot to think about.  I would like to hear more about your Taurus 12" and your personal comments on viewing celestial objects, ie ease of moving for tracking and any issues in maintaining collimation as you travel with the scope.  Thank you for sharing. 

    • SpitzA3P likes this

Regarding the "tandem tightening"   the Taurus Manual  in Step 4 says to pre-tighten the struts to the bottom cell so to still have one half to one turn more to be done. Step 5 says to put the top cell on the truss and tighten the screws at the top cell, and then tighten the screws at the bottom of the truss.

 

What I have found is that , like tightening the bolts on a car's motor head, it is best to tighten the top cage screws by going back and forth from one to the other to obtain the best and flattest connection.  (If you can see light between the two bearing surfaces, then the top cage is not attached as flatly as possible.)

 

I do not find this to be a real problem, and it takes only a little longer to assure best fit.

 

Hope this answers the question.

I guess I don't know why it's possible for there to be a light gap between the bearing surfaces at all. Does tightening the knob not fully seat the truss block in all cases? If not, then it seems like there is some improvement that could be done to the design to ensure it mates properly.

Why not try night vision or solar telescope if you are willing to go with 20" dob while already having many telescopes?

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Supernova74
Jun 02 2024 01:38 PM

I have also looked at the Taurus Dobsonian telescopes and admittedly was sceptical at first as it’s not very common for any astronomical telescopes to be manufactured in Poland and in analogy terms it’s kind of like Nigeria having a space program it’s just not heard of.its a kind of all or nothing where good quality Dobsonian telescopes are concerned it’s the Chinese that owns the lower end of the market and the usual premium higher end Dobsonians are from obsession and Hubble more an less rules the roost in that department.

but when it comes to more intermediate Dob,s there seems to be very little choice.In the Uk there is a gentleman named David lukehurst i believe then recently find out all the mirrors are supplied by Orion UK so in my opinion kinds of defeats the object of owning something completely unique with a more premium price tag.However admittedly at first glance these Taurus Dobsonian telescope do rather look pleasing on the eye and by the sound of things have nice optics aswell.

More on the tightening of the upper cage....

 

As you tighten the struts, there is a space between the two flat bearing surfaces of the cage and the strut assembly.  It is at this point, that one can see a gap between the two.  If you fully tighten one nut at a time, the last two may not mate so as to have flat bearing surfaces.  So I tighten them partially , in turn, and achieve the flat bearing surface one wants.

    • radiofm74 and Bener like this
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spaceoddity
Jun 03 2024 05:58 PM

Looks awesome. Looking at their website it looks like a 20" with the pro mirror upgrade would run a little over 8G. That seems pretty reasonable to me.

For those  who can not find the other Review mentioned in my review, here is the link:

 

https://www.tauruste...com/test_EN.pdf

 

It is a review of the T400, with a 14 inch diameter mirror.

 

Thanks

I have also looked at the Taurus Dobsonian telescopes and admittedly was sceptical at first as it’s not very common for any astronomical telescopes to be manufactured in Poland and in analogy terms it’s kind of like Nigeria having a space program it’s just not heard of.

Could be its not heard simply because we don't hear about it.

 

It is really nothing at all like Nigeria having a space program. Poland is an industrialized country that is mid-tier in Europe, substantially wealthier than Russia not too far behind the UK and Italy. Building a good Dob isn't even rocket science, just good craftsmanship. There is no reason why someone could not start up a "side hustle" in just about any country doing this. We also saw recently a review of an Italian builder I was not aware of. I wonder how many other builders there are out there in the EU we don't know about.

Seems like Brazil and Argentina, with their southern skies, should have some builders as well.

I work for a consulting company that has a large contingent of technical people in Brazil. I'll ask them if they can look around for any information about the Brazilian telescope community. We know they have ATMers who have mastered making mirrors out of aluminum metal, something rarely attempted in the U.S.

    • Chris Westland, BGazing, Woj2007 and 2 others like this
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ronbriggs44
Jun 05 2024 04:25 PM

Congratulation on the new scope! Thank you for the thorough review. I am expecting my T500 in July. I too will post a review once delivery happens. The scope was ordered in December. :-)

 

Ron

    • Sam M, Knasal and SpitzA3P like this
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Chris Westland
Jun 05 2024 05:50 PM

Thank you for a nice write-up on what looks to be a beautiful telescope, both operationally and aesthetically.   The telescope has a graceful, organic design enhanced by the dark wood.  Taurus has done a very nice job in the design.

 

I'm guessing I may be the reviewer you refer to concerning the Hubble Optics scopes (in my 14" review).  You do have to spend time with the HOs aligning the frame, but only once when you first assemble it. 

 

I do want to point out the weight advantage of the HO over every other comparably sized Dob.  The total weight of the Taurus 12" is heavier at 18.5 kg than the HO 14" at ~17 kg. The collapsed size of the HO is also a bit shorter (29" for the HO vs. 49" for the Taurus).  The sandwich mirror in the HO scope makes the difference, and I'm guessing that Taurus could, in the future, sell a version with Tong's sandwich mirrors.

    • SpitzA3P likes this

[...] for any astronomical telescopes to be manufactured in Poland and in analogy terms it’s kind of like Nigeria having a space program [...]

:))  I am here to kindly protest in the name of our esteemed colleagues in both Poland and Nigeria , the last one seemingly  just happen to have some small issues with false recruiting announcements for The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)  https://central.nasrda.gov.ng/ 

    • Woj2007 and Bener like this
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AdmiralAckbar
Jun 12 2024 09:56 AM

Really pleased to see another review of Taurus. I've drooled over their scope for a few years and may well order one someday. Thanks for posting, and please share updates!

    • SpitzA3P likes this

Thank you for sharing your review and experience with your beautiful new scope!  I hope it brings you much enjoyment.  Thanks to your review, I'm now aware of another possible candidate when I upgrade my dob in the, hopefully, not too distant future.

Thank you for the review, I am about to pull a trigger on Adam's 350 Pro. I've contacted several owners of their telescopes, and no one had anything bad to say. Everyone praises their pro mirrors.

I love my Alkaid, but it is really a UL, and its compact design makes packing in the dark at the end of the night at a remote dark sitea bit of a chore, even when it is not cold. It is a superb 'pack in your car for a trip that is not exclusively astro' kind of scope. Taurus design looks as simple as anything to assemble, and the storing bags are just what I need for my flat.

Kinda surprised with that comparison of Poland with Nigeria. Nothing against Nigeria, but Poland already has a premium manufacturer of refractors and reflectors that is CFF. Same with our neighbours in Bulgaria, Astroreflect is doing excellent business with their mirrors. You can find crafty people everywhere, look at the Hungarian manufacturers of solar reflectors.

    • radiofm74 and SpitzA3P like this

Alkaid looks like an interesting alternative.  I was unaware of it.  ...On looking at the website (it is a Dutch manufacturer, as I interpret, I can not find any prices.  ...It does look very portable.  I wonder if there are reviews of their scopes.

Alkaid looks like an interesting alternative.  I was unaware of it.  ...On looking at the website (it is a Dutch manufacturer, as I interpret, I can not find any prices.  ...It does look very portable.  I wonder if there are reviews of their scopes.

There are plenty, some here, but some of the later models you will find on SGL (google it), I also added mine there, I believe.

Based on what I see, Alkaid is not a downright alternative, it is a different approach. Taurus appears less compact to pack, but still light and easier to assemble. It's not a scope you pack along with your family hiking/camping trip. Alkaid, OTOH, is exactly that...a small suitcase you add into your trunk. The penalty is that Alkaid is a UL, so less stability, more time to set up (not too excessive) and less good in going down in alt or holding colimation. Mechanically, Alkaid is better than SW dobs, no contest.

In about 2-3 months I will hopefully be able to do a real comparison.

    • SpitzA3P likes this


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