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New to forum – Powerseeker 127EQ – what options?

beginner Celestron equipment mount reflector
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#1 radiofm74

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 07:15 AM

Hello everyone,

 

this is my first post here, and excuse me if it's a long one!

 

I am freshly (but quite strongly) fallen in love with backyard astronomy but I have an equipment dilemma for which advice would be welcome. The story: Grampa bought my son (8 yo) a Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ. I was designated as the guy who should set it up etc etc… and ended up becoming the main if not sole user of the object!

 

Now it's broken (already!) and I am wondering whether to fix it and keep it, or to try to return it. Here's the detailed story of the good and bad with the telescope:

 

The good. I've spent delightful if cold hours gazing at the sky. When not, most of my spare time has been spent reading on astronomy, consulting star-charts, planning little "missions", and understanding how telescopes and EQ mounts work. Two weeks in, I am familiar with at least the biggest landmarks of the northern winter sky; I managed polar alignment, and getting visible objects in my eyepiece and tracking them; I've seen great views of the Moon, beautiful views of the Plaeiads (better still with binoculars…) and bad views of Mars (but it could be the conditions, not the scope). I have attempted but failed to locate or see Andromeda Galaxy (not visible naked eye in my urban sky), won't give up, and I burn to see my first Nebula. I am hooked for life. My son has been following through, not with the same passion perhaps but with great curiosity and fun.

 

The bad. If I had read this thread before (https://www.cloudyni...s/?fromsearch=1) I have would chosen a different scope! My experience so far is the following:

-- Inexperienced me could not really find fault with the scope from an optical standpoint. I got me a Cheshire eyepiece and as far as I can see the mirrors are perfectly collimated. Ditto when I look at a star out of focus: the "donut" has its hole right in the center. The sight of the moon seemed astonishingly sharp, and even though I haven't been able to see any challenging DSOs – in Milano, mind you! – nor have yet tried seriously to resolve a double star, when I get stars in my eyepiece they look like bright shiny dots of light, not blurry stuff, even with 4 mm eyepiece.

-- Even inexperienced me can see that the mount and tripod aren't great – but more importantly, the mount broke 2 weeks into its use: two nights ago the RA shaft simply gave the ghost. Even with the clutch clamped down, the scope moves freely on the RA axis, while at the same time the slow motion cable does nothing to it.

 

I wrote to Celestron tech support and await answers, but meanwhile I am considering options. 

 

1. Fix it and keep it/upgrade it. Maybe I got lucky and got a well-set up Jones-Bird from factory, which only needs to be fixed, used, and perhaps upgraded in time (better tripod, a couple new eyepieces…)? I quite like the "portability" factor, and the specs (aperture…) look very good on paper for a beginner scope.  I am even willing to do some more in-depth set-up work, though not even remotely on the scale of the epic rebuild by Sky Muse (https://www.cloudyni...owerseeker 127).

2. Use the opportunity to try and return it. Still, if you think that there are much better alternatives at the price (or a little higher) I could perhaps return it owing to the factory flaw and get something else instead. It will be a mega-hassle (like an idiot, I've thrown away the box…) but I might manage it. If possible, would you do that and buy another scope? If so which one? I am willing to spend a little more on it, if there are substantial gains to be had. 

 

All I want is "good first scope", possibly with a (better) EQ mount, that allows me to see the usual suspects well: moon, planets, Messier objects… I am not afraid of turning screws and am patient enough (I think) for collimation, so Newt scopes are more than welcome. And for wide-field views, I am starting to understand that binoculars might be easier and very effective, so I'd like to have something that gives me good magnification. 

 

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have! Clear skies to you all!


Edited by radiofm74, 18 January 2021 - 07:16 AM.


#2 radiofm74

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 07:23 AM

Oooops. I just noticed that there was a "Beginners" forum… should have posted there. Apologies!



#3 rob1986

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 08:14 AM

here is fine. orion sells mounts like yours or better. if your ota is a keeper it may be worth it to get a much better mount to enjoy it with.
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#4 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 08:58 AM

Oooops. I just noticed that there was a "Beginners" forum… should have posted there. Apologies!

First:

 

Hello and :welcome: to Cloudy Nights.. 

 

Second:

 

It would be a better fit for the beginners forum, I will send a mod alert and let them know.. 

 

Regarding your questions:
 

The Powerseeker 127 is far better than my first scope..  But I think it has served it's purpose, gotten you hooked for life.  My recommendation would be return it if you can and start with a standard Newtonian, it will have better optics.

 

I see that you are interested in learning to use an EQ mount.  There are certainly advantages to EQ mounts but the problem is that the mounts that come with telescopes in this price range are generally undersized so the scope is wobbly and prone to vibration, it's hard to get a sharp focus.  Generally an ALT-AZ mount (Most often a Dob type) because it is simpler and more stable.

 

If you do decide to keep the scope, some eyepieces would be first on my list, the eyepieces you got with the scope have a very narrow apparent field of view (AFoV), a 32mm Plossl would provide a wider field of view and be a good finder eyepiece.

 

Jon


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#5 radiofm74

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 08:59 AM

here is fine. orion sells mounts like yours or better. if your ota is a keeper it may be worth it to get a much better mount to enjoy it with.

Hi Rob, thanks for the input. Unfortunately I think the first phrase was cut or something – but I think I get your meaning as being… keep it, upgrade the mount if possible. Of course, I'm too inexperienced to tell whether the OTA is a keeper. Maybe it's an abysmal piece of junk and I'm just too easy ;D



#6 radiofm74

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 09:07 AM

First:

 

Hello and welcome.gif to Cloudy Nights.. 

 

<...snip...>

Thanks a lot Jon! I'll be glad if the mods move this to the appropriate forum. 

I really appreciate the ability of EQ mounts to track objects but yes, I realized that a better mount costs by itself more than the whole kit I bought. And is likely worth it! Although I sort of managed to make mine work by letting the vibrations calm down…

I'll try to first sort out the potential return, but even if I keep this one (or another entry-level EQ mount object), I might very well consider getting an alt-az mount… I read that a good Dobson base is not too pricey… 

Eyepiece and filter shopping are next in line, as soon as I am done deciding whether I keep this one (once they fix it) or change it. 

 

What standard Newtonian would you suggest? I think that the Celestron Power-Seeker 114 is one. Smaller aperture, but real Newt. Is it any good? It could perhaps be an easy swap: "here, take my broken 127EQ but in return send me a 114 and an Eyepiece…"



#7 sg6

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 09:21 AM

The "problem" of the scope is the use of a barlow or whatever to increase the focal length. Difficult to call it a "Bird-Jones" as Bird and Jones did good work with their systems just what they did was almost completely different to what Synta do.

 

For reading the post I guess it is too late to return it, especially without boxes and the rest. Maybe not so bad to keep it.

 

I have a small f/5 achro and one thing I hjave found is I can use the excuse that at f/5 and achro high magnification is not sensible with it. So when some smart whatsit asks how much magnification can you get I can avoid the whole aspect by saying the scope isn't really capable of high magnifications. Then ignore the idiot.

 

You are in the same area. If your 8 year old wants big numbers you can say the scope isn't suited to them and explain the extra bits that are in there aren't really that good.

 

Scope should be OK for 80x maybe 100x, from history I doubt 125x. Most DSO observing will be at 60x and 80x so I doubt you will lose a great deal.

 

My suggestion is keep it (easier) get familiar with astronomy, decide which way you want to go. Bigger dobsonian scope, goto, astrophotography. Even, if utterly mad, all 3. Just realise that each mentioned is different and may be best to consider as separate.

 

I use an assortment of small refractors, all less then 127mm. But I find they are flexible and easy. Be wary of big and what will be less easy.

 

However I am back to suggesting keeping the scope, and determining if you, +/- son, want to continue. If not find a box and store it, son may have a change of heart in a few years.

 

My first one I bought, used it on and off for about a year, then didn't use it for 5 or 6 years, then started again.

 

If visual experience is not great maybe an eyepiece would help try say a 12mm - 80x ish, or even a 15mm - 65 ish. But no more eyepiece then just 1. Actually the 15mm may be better, would give around 1 degree and so just get M42 in.


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#8 radiofm74

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 09:46 AM

The "problem" of the scope is the use of a barlow or whatever to increase the focal length. Difficult to call it a "Bird-Jones" as Bird and Jones did good work with their systems just what they did was almost completely different to what Synta do.

 

<...snip...>

 

Thanks a lot! Yes, I learned about Bird-Jones derivatives a little too late ;D Do I get it right that you're suggesting finding a way to remove the internal Barlow (should be in the focuser?) and just use the scope as a Newtonian scope with a shorter focal length and a focal ratio of about 4? I'll keep that option in mind if indeed I am "stuck" with the scope. Otherwise, I get it that return and replace would be the favored option if available… 

 

If I keep it, I'm sure I'll use it once the dratted mount is back up and running. (Just went and tested, and even the Dec axis seemed not to really block with the clutches closed…). 



#9 radiofm74

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 09:53 AM

BTW: I said collimation is good, but what do I know? I went, put the Cheshire in and tried to take a pic just putting the iPhone objective to the tiny hole in the middle of the eyepiece… this is more or less what I see

 

UOa1f3ml.jpg

 

 

hwtXkJkl.jpg



#10 rhetfield

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Posted 18 January 2021 - 04:35 PM

I would look at the options for 130mm/f5 newts.  The optics on pretty much all of them will be pretty good.  The tabletop versions - Skywatcher Heritage 130 and zhumell 130 are on tabletop mounts that are easier and more stable provided you have a stable table or stool to set them on.

 

Also look at the 150mm newts.  Again dobs will be simpler and more stable.  Dobs can be set up with degree circles which make finding things easier:  https://www.cloudyni...degree-circles/

 

Most tripod mount scopes in the general price range of what you have tend to have the tripod as the weak link.  Alt/Az tripods tend to be cheaper and will be easier and more stable to use than a similarly priced EQ mount.


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#11 radiofm74

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:47 AM

I would look at the options for 130mm/f5 newts.  The optics on pretty much all of them will be pretty good.  The tabletop versions - Skywatcher Heritage 130 and zhumell 130 are on tabletop mounts that are easier and more stable provided you have a stable table or stool to set them on.

 

Also look at the 150mm newts.  Again dobs will be simpler and more stable.  Dobs can be set up with degree circles which make finding things easier:  https://www.cloudyni...degree-circles/

 

Most tripod mount scopes in the general price range of what you have tend to have the tripod as the weak link.  Alt/Az tripods tend to be cheaper and will be easier and more stable to use than a similarly priced EQ mount.

 

Hi rhetfield! Thanks for the input. The choice of the scope was somewhat unfortunate, but I am learning from it.

 

If I manage to return it, I'll start from scratch with a new scope and choose more carefully. Then will be the time to look at all your suggestions (and at the budget I am willing to invest – likely more than the initial 200-ish €). 

 

If I'm "stuck" with it, I'll use it as my learning tool for a couple of years. I'll try to gauge and optimize its performance: I've just read what a "star-test" is, I've never yet collimated my scope, and I've sorta kinda partially fixed the EQ mount problem but not sure. If I learn my way around a scope on it, it'll have been worth it. And if I break it in the process, I won't cry. More importantly, it'll start me on my way as an astronomer. Even if it's just good for watching the Moon and trying to spot some of the easier objects, I'll have plenty to watch over my first couple years. Then I'll feel entitled to upgrade, and get rid of the 127EQ or keep it as a "grab'n'go" if I find that the optics are not so bad after all. 

 

As a dedicated guitarist, I've observed that (with rare exceptions) cheap guitars can be set-up to a good level of performance, and that usually "it's not the tool it's the carpenter". I'll try to apply this knowledge to my new hobby ;D


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#12 radiofm74

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:54 AM

PS: about collimation:

1. to your more experienced eyes, does the collimation look acceptable from the pictures I've posted above? I notice that the crosshairs are not bang center (even visually) but the shadow of the secondary does seem to be bang center into the primary's reflection. I don't know if it's within "tolerance".

2. the Cheshire (which is Celestron's own) seems to have a little bit of room to wobble even when inserted all the way down into the focuser. Of course, if you push it one direction or another, the focus will shift a little… If I want to, I can get the crosshair to be dead center. Is my testing valid, then?



#13 rhetfield

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 10:06 AM

PS: about collimation:

1. to your more experienced eyes, does the collimation look acceptable from the pictures I've posted above? I notice that the crosshairs are not bang center (even visually) but the shadow of the secondary does seem to be bang center into the primary's reflection. I don't know if it's within "tolerance".

2. the Cheshire (which is Celestron's own) seems to have a little bit of room to wobble even when inserted all the way down into the focuser. Of course, if you push it one direction or another, the focus will shift a little… If I want to, I can get the crosshair to be dead center. Is my testing valid, then?

In general, I have found the following to be useful for collimation:

https://garyseronik....to-collimation/

https://garyseronik....to-collimation/

 

I would like to see things centered a bit more than what is shown in your picture, but it should be close enough to go on to the 2nd article and do the star collimation.  I would not worry about the wobble in the cheshire too much.  It is there to help you get close - not perfect.  The star collimation is the final say since making the stars look good is the actual goal.


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#14 radiofm74

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 10:14 AM

In general, I have found the following to be useful for collimation:

https://garyseronik....to-collimation/

https://garyseronik....to-collimation/

 

I would like to see things centered a bit more than what is shown in your picture, but it should be close enough to go on to the 2nd article and do the star collimation.  I would not worry about the wobble in the cheshire too much.  It is there to help you get close - not perfect.  The star collimation is the final say since making the stars look good is the actual goal.

Ain't that the truth ;D I'll look at both articles. Thanks!



#15 rhetfield

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 10:17 AM

Hi rhetfield! Thanks for the input. The choice of the scope was somewhat unfortunate, but I am learning from it.

 

If I manage to return it, I'll start from scratch with a new scope and choose more carefully. Then will be the time to look at all your suggestions (and at the budget I am willing to invest – likely more than the initial 200-ish €). 

 

If I'm "stuck" with it, I'll use it as my learning tool for a couple of years. I'll try to gauge and optimize its performance: I've just read what a "star-test" is, I've never yet collimated my scope, and I've sorta kinda partially fixed the EQ mount problem but not sure. If I learn my way around a scope on it, it'll have been worth it. And if I break it in the process, I won't cry. More importantly, it'll start me on my way as an astronomer. Even if it's just good for watching the Moon and trying to spot some of the easier objects, I'll have plenty to watch over my first couple years. Then I'll feel entitled to upgrade, and get rid of the 127EQ or keep it as a "grab'n'go" if I find that the optics are not so bad after all. 

 

As a dedicated guitarist, I've observed that (with rare exceptions) cheap guitars can be set-up to a good level of performance, and that usually "it's not the tool it's the carpenter". I'll try to apply this knowledge to my new hobby ;D

If the mount continues to give trouble, there is always the option to transfer the scope to a different mount or build/buy a dob style mount for it.

 

Also, there was a couple guys who took their powerseeker 127's apart and rebuilt them.  Pretty interesting reading.

 

https://www.cloudyni...-127eq-rebuild/

https://www.cloudyni...erseeker-127eq/


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#16 JohnnyBGood

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 10:36 AM

Your scope isn't that bad and will be a good learning scope. I have a little 76mm Bird Jones scope and while it doesn't perform quite as well as my full-size 76mm reflector, it's compactness makes it much easier to take places. Your collimation skills will improve the more times you do it, so don't worry there.

 

Your mount is probably fixable, too. I think the clutch screw pushes on a short metal rod that in turn scrapes against the side of the shaft of the RA (or DEC for that matter) axis. If I had to guess the little rod fell out. I once fixed an EQ-1 mount with the same problem by finding an appropriate diameter nail, cutting it to the right length, and smoothing the ends with my Dremel tool. I'm pretty sure the EQ-2 mount works the same way but I admit I haven't actually taken one apart to see. My scope with EQ-2 mount is currently on loan to someone so I can't check for sure.

 

Edit: I'd add that since views through the scope are visually acceptable to you I think you're better off keeping it. Eventually if you really get into the hobby you'll outgrow the scope and want a bigger one. So save your money for now and use the scope you've got (if you can fix the mount) to help figure out what kind of observing you like to do and that will help you make an informed decision when it comes time to buy the bigger scope down the road. You'll know *exactly* what kind of scope you want by then (and why you want it) and you will be able to buy with confidence instead of having to second guess yourself about buying the wrong scope.


Edited by JohnnyBGood, 19 January 2021 - 10:42 AM.

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#17 radiofm74

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 10:50 AM

If the mount continues to give trouble, there is always the option to transfer the scope to a different mount or build/buy a dob style mount for it.

 

Also, there was a couple guys who took their powerseeker 127's apart and rebuilt them.  Pretty interesting reading.

 

https://www.cloudyni...-127eq-rebuild/

https://www.cloudyni...erseeker-127eq/

I've read both of Sky Muse's threads and will read the one by AJ Franke. There are excellent tips even for beginners just wishing to "tune up" their scope a little.

 

One of the things I've learned looking at this forum is also that one tends to "accumulate" a few tubes, mounts… and match. I will try to make my tripod/mount better, but I'm also very much open to having also a sturdy Dob mount or similar for the tube. 

 

Your scope isn't that bad and will be a good learning scope. I have a little 76mm Bird Jones scope and while it doesn't perform quite as well as my full-size 76mm reflector, it's compactness makes it much easier to take places. Your collimation skills will improve the more times you do it, so don't worry there.

 

Your mount is probably fixable, too. I think the clutch screw pushes on a short metal rod that in turn scrapes against the side of the shaft of the RA (or DEC for that matter) axis. If I had to guess the little rod fell out. I once fixed an EQ-1 mount with the same problem by finding an appropriate diameter nail, cutting it to the right length, and smoothing the ends with my Dremel tool. I'm pretty sure the EQ-2 mount works the same way but I admit I haven't actually taken one apart to see. My scope with EQ-2 mount is currently on loan to someone so I can't check for sure.

Thanks Johnny! I talked to a tech yesterday over the phone, and he pointed out the "little rod" trick to me. And it did improve things. 

 

But my guess is that the big RA nut+bold assembly (the Polar axis) needs regulation. I cautiously tried to do it and noticed that it's not a bolt that has to be just "tightened"… if you tighten all the way, even without forcing, you block the whole assembly… you loosen a bit, and the scope turns on the RA axis but your slow-mo cable still does nothing at all… you loosen some more and you hit some kind of sweet spot where things kinda work again: the scope can move freely on the axis, screwing down the clutch kinda locks it in place, and the slow-mo cable kinda does the work (not optimally, but…). I don't want to fiddle too much with it while the return/warranty procedure is open, but knowing how that assembly works might help in the future. 



#18 DSO Viewer AZ

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 09:01 AM

Hey Radiofm74, welcome!

I started with that exact same telescope. I spent a year or two trying to figure out what I had done to the EQ mount and just kind of “stumbled” around the night sky. Oddly I found a way to get it to work for me with quite a few hours of just not giving up (hard headed I guess). Then I found cloudy nights and wow the world opened up. I purchased (based on suggestions of others) a zoom eyepiece, and a replacement red dot finder, and was hooked. Even though “tracking” with the EQ mount no longer worked, I was able to find all sorts of objects, and learn the night sky which is the real trick, and is the basis of knowledge required for any “better” scope.  In short, a hundred and ten dollars more or less and I was rocking and rolling. 
Once your able to find stuff, aperture fever will kick in and a bigger scope will inevitably by purchased. I still use the zoom eyepiece from time to time so no waste there, and gave the scope to a good friend who was curious about astronomy. He is doing pretty well with it after showing the tricks to finding stuff. 
I chose to get a whole new scope then to try to get a mount, and would say it was the best choice I made. That being said, I did have many enjoyable evenings with the 127, and quite frankly owe my love of astronomy to it. So in short even though it was a dogs breakfast of a scope, it was worth every penny.

You won’t appreciate the sunshine quite as much without some rain.

Welcome to the hobby. Clear sky’s.


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#19 radiofm74

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 09:10 AM

Hey Radiofm74, welcome!

I started with that exact same telescope. I spent a year or two trying to figure out what I had done to the EQ mount and just kind of “stumbled” around the night sky. Oddly I found a way to get it to work for me with quite a few hours of just not giving up (hard headed I guess). Then I found cloudy nights and wow the world opened up. I purchased (based on suggestions of others) a zoom eyepiece, and a replacement red dot finder, and was hooked. Even though “tracking” with the EQ mount no longer worked, I was able to find all sorts of objects, and learn the night sky which is the real trick, and is the basis of knowledge required for any “better” scope.  In short, a hundred and ten dollars more or less and I was rocking and rolling. 
Once your able to find stuff, aperture fever will kick in and a bigger scope will inevitably by purchased. I still use the zoom eyepiece from time to time so no waste there, and gave the scope to a good friend who was curious about astronomy. He is doing pretty well with it after showing the tricks to finding stuff. 
I chose to get a whole new scope then to try to get a mount, and would say it was the best choice I made. That being said, I did have many enjoyable evenings with the 127, and quite frankly owe my love of astronomy to it. So in short even though it was a dogs breakfast of a scope, it was worth every penny.

You won’t appreciate the sunshine quite as much without some rain.

Welcome to the hobby. Clear sky’s.

Thanks a lot! I used it pretty intensively whenever skies were clear in the last days and it has taught me quite a few things. By fiddling a bit with the mount, I also got it to sorta kinda work even though it's still defective.

 

BUT the best part is that I managed to obtain return (thank you Amazon "A to Z guarantee"!) – the Bird will fly away on Monday or Tuesday, as soon as I can pack it up conveniently (another lesson learned: never throw away your telescope's box ;D). 

 

Simultaneously, after an intensive search and reflection + despite the severe dearth of scopes hitting the world (and Italy too), I've managed to locate and order a Celestron Omni 150. Should be here next week!

 

All in all, it was an extremely useful acquisition and experience. I'll let it go without regrets, but with some fond memories!



#20 oldtimer

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:09 AM

GOOGLE  'Telescope Blacklist'


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#21 radiofm74

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:11 AM

GOOGLE  'Telescope Blacklist'

Did that. Too late ;D

But managed to fix it!



#22 oldtimer

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:25 AM

The Powerseeker is not (IMNSHO) fixable. The mirrors have been reviewed elsewhere and found to be 'bad'. The corrector lens placed in the focuser is in the wrong place per the Bird-Jioes design.

 

Finding a 4 to 5" reflector with the classic newt design (not Bird-Jones) with a both a parabolic mirror and a sturdy EQ mount is nearly impossible with today's latest new offerings. If you want to stick with a newt I suggest a DOB. Orion has a nice 4.5" with great reviews for $279 shipped.

 

The other chopice would be a 4" achro refractor in the F6.5 design on an alt -az mount. But make sure the alt az design iallows proper balancing in the verticle, something like the Explore Scienfific 'First Light' series.


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#23 radiofm74

radiofm74

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:27 AM

The Powerseeker is not (IMNSHO) fixable. The mirrors have been reviewed elsewhere and found to be 'bad'. The corrector lens placed in the focuser is in the wrong place per the Bird-Jioes design.

 

Finding a 4 to 5" reflector with the classic newt design (not Bird-Jones) with a both a parabolic mirror and a sturdy EQ mount is nearly impossible with today's latest new offerings. If you want to stick with a newt I suggest a DOB. Orion has a nice 4.5" with great reviews for $279 shipped.

 

The other chopice would be a 4" achro refractor in the F6.5 design on an alt -az mount. But make sure the alt az design iallows proper balancing in the verticle, something like the Explore Scienfific 'First Light' series.

Thanks a lot! This comforts my choices. As detailed above I managed to return the PowerSeeker. I went for a 6" Newt. I would have opted for a Dob but in my circumstances I had to have something with a tripod. Thanks!



#24 radiofm74

radiofm74

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Posted 27 January 2021 - 04:41 AM

"…And, as I awoke, I was alone

This Bird(-Jones) has flown…"

 

Return shipped yesterday, refund awaited. It was… educational. 

 

Meanwhile this has arrived:

 

GZGCbefl.jpg

 

O joy… "first light" thread in the making.




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