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Skywatcher 120 ED first light and review

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#26 fishmike

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Posted 29 January 2017 - 12:46 PM

also its big. For context I'm 6'3 and you can see this is no small scope. Despite only being 300mm longer than my ST120 (900mm vs. 600mm) it feels like its in whole totally different size class.

 

Here's a simple wide field shot of Sirius with me scoping out the SW sky:

http://www.astrobin.com/281698/0/



#27 bandazar

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Posted 30 January 2017 - 02:08 AM

If I was not chicken, I would be almost tempted to cut my 120ed skywatcher tube down a little and find a focal reducer to make the tube length close to a ST120.



#28 Phil Barker

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 08:35 PM

Great to see a happy sw120 owner.

 

compared to the vixen 115/890 I reakon the sw120 is better value for money if the optics are as good.  I've seen a test result on the 100/900 sw which was around .96 strehl the same as a vixen 115eds.  Same glass apparently and more accessories included in the sw than the vixen which looks overpriced at 2700US!

 

If the price was around the same as the SW then great value.



#29 jeremiah2229

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 02:20 PM

Great to see a happy sw120 owner.

 

compared to the vixen 115/890 I reakon the sw120 is better value for money if the optics are as good.  I've seen a test result on the 100/900 sw which was around .96 strehl the same as a vixen 115eds.  Same glass apparently and more accessories included in the sw than the vixen which looks overpriced at 2700US!

 

If the price was around the same as the SW then great value.

Is there a comparison here somewhere of the SW120ED and the Vixen ED115S? I'm not doing to well finding one.  :(

 

Thanks for any help.



#30 Phil Barker

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 08:16 PM

 

Great to see a happy sw120 owner.

 

compared to the vixen 115/890 I reakon the sw120 is better value for money if the optics are as good.  I've seen a test result on the 100/900 sw which was around .96 strehl the same as a vixen 115eds.  Same glass apparently and more accessories included in the sw than the vixen which looks overpriced at 2700US!

 

If the price was around the same as the SW then great value.

Is there a comparison here somewhere of the SW120ED and the Vixen ED115S? I'm not doing to well finding one.  :(

 

Thanks for any help.

 

Well it just so happens I just brought a  vixen 115s (hasn't arrived yet)second hand around 10 years old I think but in very good condition.

Minus any diagonal finder eyepieces but a bargain at 1100US.  May get to compare to a vixen 120 in a couple of weeks at south island stardate should be very interesting and close. 

 

I was after something that cuts through the seeing and is easier and more portable than my istar 6 inch f-12.


Edited by Phil Barker, 02 February 2017 - 09:38 PM.

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#31 Jon_Doh

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 09:48 AM

 

Great to see a happy sw120 owner.

 

compared to the vixen 115/890 I reakon the sw120 is better value for money if the optics are as good.  I've seen a test result on the 100/900 sw which was around .96 strehl the same as a vixen 115eds.  Same glass apparently and more accessories included in the sw than the vixen which looks overpriced at 2700US!

 

If the price was around the same as the SW then great value.

Is there a comparison here somewhere of the SW120ED and the Vixen ED115S? I'm not doing to well finding one.  :(

 

Thanks for any help.

 

There is one somewhere.  I read it a couple of years back and it may be on Astromart.  If not, just do a Google search and you should find it.


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#32 KevH

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 10:04 AM

A comparison of the Vixen 115 to an AP Star12 ED is here...

 

http://www.cloudynig...an-ap-star12ed/

 

The SW 120ED is mentioned.  I've never seen a direct comparison between the two though.  To the OP, nice scope!  Certainly the best deal around for a large ED refractor.  Enjoy!


Edited by KevH, 03 February 2017 - 10:05 AM.

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#33 Jon_Doh

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 11:45 AM

Not a direct comparison, but a review of the SW 120 that mentions the Vixen:  http://www.astromart...?article_id=929


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#34 Phil Barker

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 02:31 PM

thanks for the links very interesting what a pity astrophysics don't still make the 120ed

 

The vixen has been around a while and there must be a few out there I reakon.  I was after a sw120ed doublet new but the vixen was a lot less coin and I just had to have it.

 

In next week or so I'll start a thread.  I had the sw180 mak out last night on jupiter in average seeing would like to think more sharper detail would be visible in the refractor.  The mak comes into its own in better seeing.



#35 jeremiah2229

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 02:38 PM

thanks for the links very interesting what a pity astrophysics don't still make the 120ed

 

The vixen has been around a while and there must be a few out there I reakon.  I was after a sw120ed doublet new but the vixen was a lot less coin and I just had to have it.

 

In next week or so I'll start a thread.  I had the sw180 mak out last night on jupiter in average seeing would like to think more sharper detail would be visible in the refractor.  The mak comes into its own in better seeing.

Very much interested in how your 115 does. Hard to find much about them so will anxiously wait for your review. Thanks.

 

 

Peace...



#36 Phil Barker

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 07:44 PM

I expect it will be no lemon they are priced at around 2700 US and Vixen have a good overall reputation with their refractors.

 

I've owned a succession of achromatic refractors over the years and used several apo's fleetingly.   Years ago i was offered a vixen 90 florite which I didn't snap up and I regret not at least finding out just how good it was.  My reasoning at the time was the lack of aperture.  115mm is more like it should have enough to really show some lower contrast detail on the planets and split some nice doubles.

 

I read some unfocused red light shows up on the brightest objects ie venus sirius etc I'll test for this.  One issue is the short focal lengths needed to do it justice.  may have to invest in some shorter fl eyepieces. 


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#37 Rustler46

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 01:24 AM

Having an oversized mount is something to be happy about, except when you're lugging it out. Nice report, and I concur, the ED 120's are one of the bargains of the century in astronomical equipment.

I agree with the thought on oversized mount. I have a Losmandy G-11 which has carried a C-11, which I'm hoping to sell. The C-8 will remain and hoping to get a 120 APO, most likely the SW Pro 120ED. What has been your experience with that Sky-Watcher 120?



#38 Gary Riley

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Posted 15 April 2018 - 11:32 PM

I have the SW 120ED Pro mounted on a Celestron CG-4 EQ Mount with the 1.75 inch stainless steel legs. For visual observing I find the CG-4 does a decent job of carrying the refractor. I also use vibration suppression pads underneath it as well.

I really like my SW 120ED. Color correction is very good. Very, very little to no CA detected even on bright objects. Sharp images that easily come into focus. The stock 2 speed Crayford style focuser is decent. Might have to do a little bit of adjusting on the tension when using heavy eyepieces at a high angle of observing. Overall, a very good scope for the price, IMO.
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#39 gilbert80

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Posted 15 June 2018 - 02:01 PM

Wonderful review! I hate when someone shows photos that were stacked from a million takes and then you are seeing something altogether different than when looking thru the scope.  Yes, I give them credit, it is a wonderful skill I wished I had but it just seems so fake.  I am more visual and once in a while I like to take short exposures with my Sony 5000 which only has 30 seconds exposure.  I have taken some nice pics but your pic of M42 short exposure excites me!  It gives me a more realistic expectation of your scope.  It convinced me that I am buying a SW 120 Pro ED used!

 

Great job of a review.  I would love it if everybody would add just one or two pics of short exposures to gibe a better idea of the scope can do!

Dave Bentley



#40 Trevor N

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Posted 16 June 2018 - 05:50 PM

If it helps I have scopes between ED72 and ED152. The skywatcher ED120 really is a cracker both visually and photographically. If I had to settle for one scope it would be the ED120. The detail at present on Jupiter is great and lunar imaging is only rarely bettered by the ED152. A great scope


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#41 fishmike

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 12:40 PM

Hi all,
I know this original post is about a year and a half old. However over that time I have gotten a lot of DMs regarding this scope so I thought it beneficial to write and update. Apologies in advance if I am breaking protocol by posting to an old thread.

 

After a few years of spending a lot of time observing on my patio I have covered most of what I can cover in a NYC suburb. I have moved all my scopes up north to the family ski house where the skies are dark and our lawn has minimal obstruction from trees. All but the Skywatcher 120ED. The mountain house is only 2.5 hours away and perfect for weekend getaways. However I wanted to have something at home, and I if I got out there I wanted some quality views. So the 120ED stayed (but still often makes the trip with me).

 

At home for grab and go I leave it mounted on an Alt/Az from Stellarvue. This is a very sturdy and easy to use setup.
http://www.stellarvu...e-mount-system/

I have found this set up wonderful. Fully assembled at just over 40lbs its heavy and sturdy but manageable for me to walk out to my patio. If you don’t like pushing the scope you can by a handle for a few bucks.

 

This scope continues to be a joy to observe with.
My 31mm T5 Nagler gives 29x, 4mm exit pupil, 19mm eye relief and a FOV just under 3 degree (2.7 to be exact). Stars are tight pin pricks out the edge. It’s really a lovely view. Often I will use the 22mm Nagler for a little darker background. Both are obviously high end EPs and show stunning views. At 2 and 2.7 degrees for FOV both are great for sweeping through areas of the sky and picking out the DSOs as you go. I had a night just a couple weeks ago under the dark skies where I started scanning the MW from Scorpio/Sagittarius up and up through Cygnus to Cassiopeia and that area of lovely open clusters. The only limitation is your 120mm of aperture. No amount of contrast trumps aperture for faint objects, but brighter ones are nice too and there is where this guy really kills it.

It’s also produces lovely planetary views and where the contrast *can* trump aperture (to a point.. I get your 16 inch dob is better). One of many reasons I would never give up my 24mm Panoptic is it works so well with a barlow. My goto combo for planets and the moon is the 24mm Panoptic + 5x Powermate. This gets me to 187.5x which seems to be a real sweet spot for my area and gear. Views with this setup are really lovely. I have made out swirls on Jupiter’s cloud bands and the Cassini division is a tight black line through Saturn’s rings with some of the finer (much finer) gaps also adding contrast.

 

I am still some years away from more serious AP, but considering how much stuff I have (including a couple of really high end DLSRs) I like to grab some pics. You don’t need to go through auto guiding, stacking, darks, flats and constant gear tweaking to get some images worth sharing. Especially when people want to know what you are looking at when you tell them you spend the weekend in the mountains looking at stars.

Here’s a few examples of what I was able to get with 15 second exposure time, 3400 ISO on the CGEM. What’s especially good is my polar alignment is surely dirty (close enough is good enough for visual) and the scope was surely NOT perfectly balanced (gear slack). I’m guessing if I put some work into that I could get 30-60 secs unguided before things get messy...

 

Wonderful review! I hate when someone shows photos that were stacked from a million takes and then you are seeing something altogether different than when looking thru the scope.  Yes, I give them credit, it is a wonderful skill I wished I had but it just seems so fake.  I am more visual and once in a while I like to take short exposures with my Sony 5000 which only has 30 seconds exposure.  I have taken some nice pics but your pic of M42 short exposure excites me!  It gives me a more realistic expectation of your scope.  It convinced me that I am buying a SW 120 Pro ED used!

 

Great job of a review.  I would love it if everybody would add just one or two pics of short exposures to gibe a better idea of the scope can do!

Dave Bentley

In any case this is in response to the above post. I think it’s great for everyone with gear to try and grab some images. Here is what I got with the ED120 just a couple weeks ago in the Catskills. These are the big files, but as you can image they display wonderfully on a smaller screen when you are chatting up your hobby

https://astrob.in/357921/0/
https://astrob.in/357920/0/
https://astrob.in/357919/0/

 

I think this concludes my review. The scope isn’t perfect. Focuser works nicely but not a fan of the tightening screw. Not a show stopper for me. It’s also big and the dew shield has a lot of metal. But at this price point this is an incredibly versatile and quality piece of gear and I would give it a 5/5 stars. Nothing beats aperture but having spent a lot of time with 80/100/120mm refractors the 120mm really helps get you into a deeper class of viewing. The lunar and planetary views are stunning and without and visible CA. The scope has been durable and that is key for me. The finder scope it came with is great and incredible easy to use and find things. Most of all it’s about the optics and the contrast thick views over flat fields while using premium EPs have never disappointed.

 

IMG 6675

 


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#42 Tyson M

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 01:53 PM

Thanks Mike ,

 

Your experiences mimic mine with that scope. I use the 22N in town lots, and the 31mm from the dark site. Brighter targets are great, but it is still limited in aperture obviously. I use a 5mm pentax for the same mag you use your 24 pan and powermate.

 

The scope compliments a dob very well, and is in another category visually (like you said) with stars, planets, and brighter Messiers that makes it very enjoyable over smaller apos. This scope is getting close to being a one scope solution, for me.

 

I anticipate using it 90% of the time with respects to my other scopes due to its aperture and light weight. I need more observing sessions with it to draw more definitive conclusions on future usage though and how it fits in respect to my other scopes. I have yet to look at the moon or sun with it.  So far, I am very happy with it.



#43 Chesterguy1

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 02:03 PM

Mike:

 

Your followup is appreciated, and, arguably more useful since the honeymoon glow of the newness has worn off and you have lived with the scope.  Your conclusions pretty much mirror my own.  I wasn’t that fond of the standard SW focuser either and upgraded to a Moonlite.  That purchase was worthwhile for me, but given it represents about 1/4 of the cost of a new 120mm I can understand why most will stick with stock ( I bought my SW second hand and that covered the cost of the Moonlite).  Even the stock one is better than my 20-year old Vixen focuser, if for no other reason than dual speeds.  I prefer my 90mm for portability and quick looks, but the extra 30mm of aperture has its place.

 

Gogiboy



#44 Ru4scuba

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 12:41 PM

Thanks for this detailed post Mike...I've been eyeballing this scope as a second scope to my OrionStarblast starter scope...great review and detail...helping me narrow down my own "next" big decision!



#45 25585

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Posted 09 January 2019 - 05:49 PM

Yea man... I really felt like I needed the extra light grab. There is something about 120mm that is just another tier above 4 inches. I mean it obviously is, but in my observing it really *feels* like I am going deeper.

 

I am really thrilled with this so far. That being said its pretty big. No second thoughts... and for its size its wonderfully light, but its not a small scope.

Not quite so chunky heavy as the Equinox version, but Equinoxes are built more like Tele Vue refractors.




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