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WO ZenithStar 81 for Visual Only?

beginner eq refractor tripod
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#1 sbholliday

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 03:34 PM

Hello CN Community, I enjoyed looking at the stars over the last 18 months with a 60mm Gosky spotting scope and taking a few videos and photos with my iphone 11 pro (some pics on my profile).  I also have a Celestron - 70mm Travel Scope. That scope will be good for kids to learn with while I am using the to-be new WO scope sometimes. My dad also has a 5" Meade reflecting scope I borrow sometimes.

 

I would like to get a telescope with little or no chromatic aberration mainly for sitting with the night sky for a few hours and watching the stars. I really appreciate nice glass and clear images. After reading and watching videos for about 30 hours I am drawn most to the Zenithstar series from WO with a manual Equatorial mount for now. I wear bifocals most of the day with fancy Zeiss glass and I now really like nice glass. When I look through a scope I take them off and use my stronger eye with less astigmatism. 

 

Since I am not using a DSLR camera I feel the Zenith Star series is best for me over the triplet style scopes WO carries.

 

I wanted to share my plan for a purchase to see if anyone has made a similar purchase and has a suggestion on a different WO model, or different accessories.

 

My plan:

   $798- WO ZenithStar 81 with free case

     $95- WO 1.25 inch DURA BRIGHT Dielectric Diagonal

   $118- WO 40mm swan eye piece

   $289- Baader 8-24mm Mark IV  8-24mm eye piece

   $279- Orion Astroview EQ tripod/mount

$1,579- Grand Total

 

Plan to buy at optcorp. If anyone thinks another store is faster or more reliable let me know. Giving advice and getting the product more on the quick side are important. 

 

Fyi I already have a moon filter , 14.4mm 1.25 inch eye piece, and Celestron iphone adapter. I used them with my dad's 5" reflecting Meade scope.

 

Any feedback on the ZenithStar 81 for visual use (without DSLR) and perhaps occasional iphone 11pro use, and the accessories is much appreciated.  I also considered the WO Zenith Star 73, but like the idea of having a little more magnification.  I mainly want to look at constellations (especially Pleiades), the moon in more detail, planets, and special cosmic events.

 

I am open to buying the ZenithStar 73 or even perhaps the ZenithStar 103. I would be open to totally changing my plan to another manufacturer if anyone has used the ZenithStar 81 and felt another one was much better for visual for my purposes.  I am also open to the WO GT 71. I think the WO 81 is out of my price range. I am trying to keep my total purchase with manual EQ tripod/mount at or under $1,600.

 

Thank you,

 

Scot in Washington, D.C.

p.s. I visit a low population area in Chesapeake Bay in MD once a month to visit relatives where it is very dark and great for night sky viewing. 


Edited by sbholliday, 01 January 2021 - 03:37 PM.


#2 B 26354

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 04:42 PM

The Orion AstroView  EQ mount is only rated for a 12-pound payload. That WO scope weighs 7.7 lbs without a diagonal, eyepiece, finder bracket or finder-scope. Views through it on that mount are going to be shaky, causing it to be very difficult to achieve focus.

 

As such, if I were you, I would strongly consider an Orion SkyView Pro EQ instead, with its 20-pound payload capacity:

 

https://www.telescop...ord=SkyView Pro

 

The mount is not motorized, but you can get the non-GoTo "Dual Axis Motor Drive System" for it:

 

https://www.highpoin...al-mounts-07832

 

...which runs on four D-cell batteries, making it eminently portable, for when you visit that dark site.

 

My C8's fork-mount drive motors having died, I de-forked it a couple of years ago, and put it on a SkyView Pro. After using it manually for a year, I decided that it was easily solid and stable enough to handle the fully-loaded C8 (~14 pounds, with a 9x50 RACI finder, a 2" diagonal, and a ~2-pound 40mm eyepece) with very minimal eyepiece-focusing vibration... so I added the motors to it. I only use the C8 for visual, and these motors track perfectly for that purpose. I use re-chargeable D-cells, and I can easily do two back-to-back all-night sessions without having to charge them. The setting circles on the SkyView are large enough that -- combined with my six-plus decades of visual DSO observing and star-hopping experience -- there is no need for "GoTo" capability  at all.

 

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#3 sbholliday

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 04:57 PM

Thanks B 26354.  I will heed your advice.  The "Orion SkyView Pro EQ" with optional motor is now my first choice. 

 

I also prefer not to have GoTo. I want to get to know the stars more on a personal basis. Plus I heard kids get impatient sometimes waiting for it to GoTo. I am planning to help our 7 and 11 year old kids get to know the stars more as well. I think see the moon up close will be a good start. 


Edited by sbholliday, 01 January 2021 - 05:51 PM.

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#4 Jaimo!

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 06:52 PM

I would contact OPT and/or William Optics, I don't think the Z81 has been in stock for quite some time...  Due to the pandemic with increased demand, many scope suppliers are in short supply.

 

For strictly visual, I prefer my AT102ED, the extra aperture and magnification is nice.  But, the WO Z81 is a fine scope nonetheless.


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#5 sbholliday

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 08:56 PM

Jaimo!, Thanks for the suggestions.  My hunter-gather instincts like a good search. I read in CNs that it tends to be faster to order from a 3rd party like OPT or Agenastro for WOs. I heard if I order from WO direct, they are slower right now. I guess a vendor placing large orders receives items more quickly. I am not in a hurry. If it seems like it will be more than 5 months then I will look for another scope.   I will likely go bigger in that case. I will add the AT102ED to my list of ones to research. I appreciate the encouragement and advice. Kindly, Scot 



#6 Jaimo!

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 10:01 PM

There is nice long thread about the AT102ED in this forum, I had the older WO 80mm 10th anniversary synthetic fluorite lens and the AT102ED, while only having HK-61 (FPL-51) glass, the additional aperture made that big of a difference.  Of all the refractors in my signature, the AT102EDd is the only one I use for visual, I don't think I have ever looked through my Z81...

 

I have recently received a $1000 gift card to Amazon as a bonus from work, there are currently very few mid range telescopes available...


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#7 sbholliday

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Posted 01 January 2021 - 10:47 PM

Thanks Jaimo!, Congratulations on your reward from work. That is great... Hmm I will not make any hasty decisions. I will wait a few weeks before deciding which way to go. I have not seen many people using WO for just visual use. There may be a reason for that. I read some reviews of AT102ED after you suggested it and it does look great. The most important thing for me is color correctness. I was watching stars this summer just with my eyes and noticed some look multicolored and rainbowish. I would like to be able to see what the multicolored stars look like when they appear bigger. I also noticed the Pleiades does look really blueish.  Having more magnification will help with that a lot. I think I am still annoyed by all the aberration I had from using a spotting scope and am fearful of false purplish rings. Actual purple rings/colors would be good though. Scot



#8 Jaimo!

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Posted 02 January 2021 - 01:03 AM

Thanks Jaimo!, Congratulations on your reward from work. That is great... Hmm I will not make any hasty decisions. I will wait a few weeks before deciding which way to go. I have not seen many people using WO for just visual use. There may be a reason for that. I read some reviews of AT102ED after you suggested it and it does look great. The most important thing for me is color correctness. I was watching stars this summer just with my eyes and noticed some look multicolored and rainbowish. I would like to be able to see what the multicolored stars look like when they appear bigger. I also noticed the Pleiades does look really blueish.  Having more magnification will help with that a lot. I think I am still annoyed by all the aberration I had from using a spotting scope and am fearful of false purplish rings. Actual purple rings/colors would be good though. Scot

Well, the FPL-53 in the WO will have better color correction.  But if you read the review in the link above, the AT102ED only demonstrates that on the brightest of objects.  But, correct color is a VERY subjective thing and everyone is different, it does not seem to bother me as much as others.  

 

I was not trying to brag about the bonus...  Had smaller $500 in the spring and grabbed the WO Z61 off Amazon via Agena.  Astronomics, William Optics, Agena Astro, High Point, or Stellarvue do not seem to have as many scopes in stock as they once did; even the ubiquitous Celestron & Meade SCTs are as rare as hens teeth.  You may want to check out the used market, either the Classifieds here on CN or over at Astromart.


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#9 river-z

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Posted 02 January 2021 - 01:21 AM

I have this telescope and I like it a lot.  I got it this summer to take with me when I go camping, but I also use it in my backyard from time to time. What's more I even use it with my iPhone 11 for photos (which works great).  The case is pretty sturdy for a soft case.  The case even has space for a diagonal.  I use this telescope on an Alt-Az mount (vixen portamount II), which I prefer, but if you like the EQ style that's cool.  

 

I haven't noticed anything unusual about the color of the planets and moon.  The views of these of these objects look great to me in the WO 81mm Zenithstar.

 

One thing that puzzled me about your list of items to buy was the 1.25" diagonal instead of the 2" diagonal.  The bigger diagonal would allow you to use wider eyepieces which is one of the best things about a telescope at this focal length.  When I use my 40mm eyepiece I can get a 4.5 degree FOV that encompasses pretty much all of M 31, the Pleiades, the Veil Nebula, the NA nebula.  IMO these are some of the very best things to look at in a scope like this.  You could certainly use the 2" eyepieces straight into the scope but then you have to get real low and lean over uncomfortably.  

 

After my camping trip this summer I wrote about the experience with this scope and you can find that report at this link: https://www.cloudyni...ing/?p=10370375

 

Clear Skies!


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#10 jahnpahwa

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Posted 02 January 2021 - 04:39 AM

Scot, I have the ZS81 and really like it. I use it for both photo and visual use. I've only been at this game for 8 months or so, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt!

When using the scope visually, I use it on a GSO alt az mount (somewhat similar to a porta, I suppose), and also on a GOTO alt az mount, which I like a lot too.

I use the scope with the baader zoom and a 2" baader diagonal, and a pair of baader eyepieces at either end of the zoom range, a 36mm and a 5mm hyperion.

 

Does your price on the ZS81 include the 50mm finder?

 

Reading your thoughts on what you'd like to see, especially with colourful stars, I can say that the I really like searching for colourful doubles and the scope shows nice colour for me. Rasalgethi was an absolute revelation for me this winter (I'm in the southern hemisphere) and I look forward to revisiting it each year :) I ended up purchasing a 4" apo for visual use, not because the views through the ZS81 were bad, but because they were so good that I loved what I saw and wanted to see more and more and more. The tightest double I split this winter (my first viewing) was zeta acquarii with a 5mm EP barlowed 2X.

 

Insofar as colour correction, I think its good enough. I thought that I spotted some false colour at high power splitting Acrux once, but thats about it. Sometimes I "think" I can see some colour on the lunar limb, but that is when I'm trying to test it, trying to find it, and even then I'm not sure if I've seen it... that is to say that it doesn't impact my (novice) viewing at all. I'm not sure if this is an accepted test for colour correction, but I check correction by imaging in narrowband, too. I use the (excellent) included bahtinov and focus one narrow band filter on my mono camera, and then flip through filters to see how much the focus point moves between them. The ZS focal point might move a tiny bit more than on my Tak, but if it does, its only by a very, very small amount.

 

Downsides - I'm not really sure I have any. Its heavy for its size, for sure, but if you have a mount that can handle it, thats no problem. The bulk is reassuring to me, and it has already survived a clip or two to the garage door as I pack away (dont buy second hand stuff from me). I have the gold and dont like the look of it, but I've grown to really love it for what it does. The focuser has been great, no need for adjustment so far and I've used it down to -8C or so. The carry bag is a pretty big bonus, I can throw it in the back of the car without worrying at all about it being impacted by other stuff. I have kids a similar age and they;ve not broken it yet.

 

My final thought is that I hope your plan for getting to know the skies with your kids works out! I've not quite got either of mine super into it yet, but still trying to find the magic ingredient :)


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#11 Hesiod

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Posted 02 January 2021 - 06:14 AM


 

My plan:

   $798- WO ZenithStar 81 with free case

     $95- WO 1.25 inch DURA BRIGHT Dielectric Diagonal

   $118- WO 40mm swan eye piece

   $289- Baader 8-24mm Mark IV  8-24mm eye piece

   $279- Orion Astroview EQ tripod/mount

$1,579- Grand Total

 

To use the 40mm SWAN you need a 2" stardiagonal. Otherwise get a 32mm Plossl.

Also, I would get either a Barlow lens (the zoom is also available bundled with a dedicated lens) or a 3.5-4mm eyepiece: with your current lineup are struck at 70x, which is very low for planets, Moon, planetary nebulae, many double stars.

For visual, and especially if equip it with the RA drive and observe sit down, the eq3/Astroview is fine; to be honest the difference in price from the Skyview is rather low and could be worth to get this instead as more "future-proof", but mind that bigger mount means also heavier mount.

Another option is the Celestron CG4: basically is a sort of Astroview with a sturdier tripod*. I think the CG4 can not be purchased w/o a tube, but should not be too difficult to find one second-hand.

 

 

*Skywatcher's EQ3, which is the Astroview, is (was? since the release of the eq3.5, an hybrid mount between the eq3 and eq5, I saw less often the plain old eq3 as available for purchase) also sold in two configuration: with the aluminum tripod (weaker but lighter), or with a heavier, sturdier steel tripod



#12 sbholliday

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Posted 03 January 2021 - 01:56 PM

river-z, Thanks for the point about the 2" diagonal. When I eventually place an order I will definitely go for the 2"diagonal. - Scot



#13 sbholliday

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Posted 03 January 2021 - 02:01 PM

jahnpahwa, Thanks for all the feedback on your experience with the WOZS 81. If I end up getting a WO, I will get 2" accessories and the finder scope. Kindly, Scot



#14 sbholliday

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Posted 03 January 2021 - 02:03 PM

Skylab/Alberto, Thanks for comments. It helped me see I do need a 2" diagonal. I appreciate the EQ mount advice. Kindly, Scot



#15 sbholliday

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Posted 03 January 2021 - 02:08 PM

Thanks to everyone for your input and advice. I mainly wanted to make sure it was not a ridiculous to use WO for just visual use. I now see it just fine and for me personally a doublet will be just right. I realized there is not just 1 scope I would love but more like a type. I see the AT102ED and others would be similar in performance and I would grow to fully utilize any scope like I would purchase. After about 10 more hours of research I came to like the vixen scopes in the $1k-2k range due to color correctness. I still like the WO best. I will wait a few months to buy my approx. $1,500 scope set for visual use.  My wife is supportive. She said don't waste money on one you don't want, just wait a while then order it later. So I will wait a few months until the market restocks some. I am hoping there will be advertising and new stock to get folks excited for the summer. Kindly, Scot


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#16 jarnold

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 04:39 PM

sbholliday

 

For your information, as of this date1/12/2021 there a four WO Zenithstar 81mm scopes at Agena Astro.  I bought one yesterday.  This is the basic version without a focal reducer, just the scope and carry bag.  Cheers and best wishes in the new year.



#17 sbholliday

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 05:19 PM

jarnold, thank you for the heads up. I checked again and see you are correct. If I had seen that on Jan. 2, I would have bought it. I was anxious to find a scope I could use right now so I bought an inexpensive Celestron 70 powerseeker with EQ tripod off amazon for $130 a few days ago. I also bought the BAADER HYPERION MKIV 8-24 CLICK Zoom for $290 from www.eyepiecesetc.com  They get a shipment every 2-3 weeks of new ones. I do still want the WO Zenithstar 81mm although I think I will resist the temptation, wait a few months and get a high magnification scope better for viewing planets.  Then I may circle back after that to get a more clear refractor like WO.  - Scot 




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