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AOE152L F/8 Achromatic refractor/EQ5 mount
Submitted: Thursday, 23rd June 2005 by Asimov

I purchased this telescope just recently to keep my 12.5" reflector company...:)

After looking at quite a few reviews (hundreds!) on this kind of telescope, I realized there was going to be a few little problems that would need to be fixed, & some I would have to just put up with.

I was originally looking to purchase a 127mm (5 inch) refractor & not a 152mm (6 inch) at all, but I decided the extra 1inch aperture would be worth it.  I went ahead and ordered the 152mm refractor and I received it on my door-step within 5 days.

The vendor I purchased the scope from is Aquila Optical & Electronics Telescopes, Binoculars and Astronomy Supplies. Now, these people at AOE are just great.  I'll mention more about this later in the review.

The scope came in 2 big boxes.  The OTA & accessories in one, the mount & tripod in the other.  There were big black foot-prints on the boxes which kind of scared me somewhat!  (The couriers can be pretty rough here in Australia.) Upon opening the boxes I realized I had nothing to fear, it was packed so well you could have driven a truck over it.  (a slight exageration maybe) Anyway, it took like an hour to unpack it all.  My first glimpse of the OTA stunned me somewhat.  It was huge...Nicely wrapped in tissue paper in a sealed plastic bag.  The mount rings were attached to the tube over the paper.  I set up the tripod first. The tripod version is the 1.5" steel leg with plastic fittings.  Actually I'll re-phrase that:  The only plastic items are the 3 struts that hold the legs together and the accessory tray.  I had no trouble at all setting it up.  I put the EQ5 head in place and stood back and admired it. Very nice..The head itself is more than strong enough to swing this scope back & forth, with no play in the main bearings.  I knew from the onset I would perhaps have trouble with vibration & wobble with the weight of the OTA on this tripod.

I had a little bit of trouble fitting the drive motors and getting the back-lash set, etc.  Just took some time, that's all.  The drive kit was an optional extra by the way, but worth every penny!  One thing I must mention is the little allen/hexigon screws that hold the gears in place are total crap!  Replace them with the proper hardened steel variety if you can.  The focuser needed some adjustment as well. I had to add shims here and there to stop side play.

I had it all set up by early evening  but when I looked out the window, it was totally over-cast which did not suprise me in the least.  (That Murphy guy never gives up!)  I continued to tinker with the scope.  I stuck my head outside again after a couple of hours, and it was totally clear!

First Light!

I took the OTA out of it's cradle and took the mount outside.  It was heavy, but after lumping my 80 pound reflector OTA to the mount each night, this was quite easy to do.  I dumped the mount outside in the driveway, pointed it approx. south & plonked the OTA in.  (I'm in the southern hemisphere obviously.)

By now it was semi dark, with a half moon. YUK!..... I thought, but since it was THERE, the moon would be my first subject.

I quickly orientated the finder (8x50) with a nice 2 ring mount & 6 adjusting screws.  (It's white!)  I hate those single wide ring 3 screw varieties.  The EP of choice was my 24mm celestron ultima combined with a 2" diagonal.

The view was, in a word:  Spectacular!  Very clear & contrast galore.  No false color.  I quickly engaged the drive while it was centre of the FOV.  I experimented with the slew controls to get familiar with this drive set-up.  This is my first telescope that has had a drive on it.  It tracked beautifully, no vibration, nice and smooth.  The maximum slew rate is 8X which is miles too slow to bother using to go to the next object.

I must have been lucky about pointing the mount south because I tracked it for well over an hour & it stuck like glue to the centre of the FOV.  It just confirms (in my mind) this will track superbly if I bother to use the polar alignment scope that comes built into the mount.  Naturally I tried different EPs on the moon.  At extreme high power it produced some false color, but I can overlook this small detail.  I dropped in the fringe killer I obtained from AOE & that solved the problem.

My favorite planet is Jupiter & I must admit, I got quite excited as I turned the scope on it.

I went straight for a 15mm GS-5 Parks ocular.  The word spectacular is an understatement.  The 2 main bands you normally see on the planets "surface" had separate bands in them...  The detail I was seeing was pretty outstanding for this scope.  It was CLOSE to being as good as the 12.5"!  (a bold statement coming from me)  A tiny little bit of violet fringing at this mag.  Upon putting in my 5mm LV ocular, I received a pretty good view.  A little bit of "seeing" was coming into play at this mag.  Yes, a fair bit of violet around the circumference of the planet without the fringe killer.  I mucked about with a LOT of different EPs on Jupiter, with my best view coming from, would you believe a .965"/9mm symmetrical unitron EP...

My next target was the Orion Nebula.  The view was VERY good, but not as good as the 12.5" (naturally)   That's to be expected given the difference in aperture of the two.  On DSOs, the refractor will never win out over the reflector, and I'm not asking it to. It's a planet KILLER though.  I still can't get over the way this scope tracks.  Very impressive..

'As above' for omega centauri.

As expected, the tripod will NOT hold this scope steady.  If there's a moderate breeze, get ready for a frustrating nights viewing. 4-5 secs. of vibration if you tap a leg with your finger at high mag. I can live with that too for now.  I'm an engineer/welder so no doubt I'll come up with a solution.

The Optics

Ok.  I have to mention the optics in this refractor.  In my opinion, the objective is very good.  I must admit it is out of collimation somewhat on my scope, which means the views can only get better!  The objective is not made by Synta apparently, or so I've been told. Therefore it must be manufactured by that other chinese company. If they're good optics, who cares who made them anyway?

Overall, I can come to only one conclusion on the quality of this refractor:  It's worth every cent I paid for it.  I like it a lot. If you're on a budget and you cant afford an APO the next best thing is one of these refractors.  I can recommend this telescope.

Did I mention the color is white?  Nothing like sticking to tradition..  No orange or blue tubes for me, thanks all the same.

The Service

The service I received from the AOE gang can only be experienced.  (many thanks to Raff & crew)  They answered all my e-mailed questions quickly and precisely and most importantly: Honestly.  Even after we clenched the deal and "they got my hard earned money" I am still receiving after sales service from them.  I've dealt with a lot of astronomical suppliers before, but these people are just...great to deal with!  It's because they don't just work there..they are all amateur ASTRONOMERS. Who could be better to deal with than a fellow astronomer? 

The main thing is they care about the customer's happiness. I can thoroughly recommend AOE.  If you live in Australia, (or even overseas) all I can say is:  Try them.  You won't be disappointed.  They will certainly get a lot more business from me.  For all you people "wondering" if I work for this company or getting paid to say all this?  Nope!  I just give credit where credit is due.  In my opinion, you can't beat good service.  I dont care if you're selling the best or the cheapest telescope in the world, if you're not friendly & polite & answer all my questions quickly & dont get MY money! :)  Simple as that.

Overall Conclusion

A great refractor, great service.

Thanks to all concerned.

UPDATE : I checked the collimation tonight by star testing and found it to be only slightly out. I only had to adjust 1 screw an 1/8th of a turn to get it spot on.


Review by asimov. Discuss this review at the IceInSpace Forums.

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