I had been toying with the idea of trying one of these scopes out, to see what all the anti-hype is about.
I have a soft spot in my heart for small, inexpensive 'scopes: I have (and adore) one of those 76mm f9 Newts on a yoke mount (it's actually an excellent scope. Mine's Zuhmell, the Orion SpaceProbe II variant is vastly inferior, to be avoided), one of those funky little "thermos bottle" Orion 80mm achros (shockingly nice optics), a Celestron f4 Cometron Newt (a lot of fun. Not a bad sort-of-paraboloid for the $60 I paid), a Polaris 130 f5 Newt that had a spherical(!) mirror (and ring zones and a turned edge... Now freshly fixed and parabolized , out to Majestic for coating), an Orion XT4.5 (these are excellent, one of my all-time favorite small scopes).You get the point...
With the 127 Bird-Jones, I thought I might be able figure out a way to tease out a bit better performance than is generally attributed to these scopes. So far, this thread has cured me of that interest.
I'll be very curious to see if you can somehow get the thing to attain a decent image. So far, your images remind me of the performance of that spherical f5 Newt I mentioned...
That's most interesting about the Zhumell vs. the Orion. Incidentally, Orion sells that 130mm f/5 "Polaris, and states within its specs that the primary is a parabola...
...but I'll take your word for it instead.
Yes, I agree: these entry-level kits are a delightful challenge and occupation.
It was not my intention to steer you away from it, not at all, but I had to be honest, and to a fault. We want those first starting out to pass this sort of telescope by, and as a first and only. Incidentally, I hold dear that the best telescope with which to begin is a long-focus Newtonian, and no more than 5" in aperture; or a short-focus if it can't be helped, save an f/4. There is a most powerful education, and instructional, in that; a hopeful one in that it may be owned and operated successfully, and with relative ease.
But there's certainly nothing wrong in a more experienced amateur delving into it, and as a 12th or 33rd acquisition. The draw to this "star box" is great indeed, given its short tube; and low price, regrettably. Did I mention that it has a short tube, and that it may be had for peanuts; or for a club outing at McDonald's, at most?
I look upon the Bird as my Celestron "C5"; albeit close, but no cigar in the end; but I can always pretend. To wit, I now have a Maksutov, and now I have a "Schmidt" to complement. I did want to have one example of each, after all.