Well I received my skywatcher ED100 today. I brought it second hand (3rd? 4th?) from astro buy/sell for £500. This seems expensive but it’s the full kit with metal case, eyepieces, finder, diagonal and rings. Initial inspection was good with build quality about average. No real niggles although the dew shield squeeked something terrible when I removed it to inspect the lens cell! The crayford focuser is tight and there was no slop that i could tell. The finder is a half decent 9×50 with a single set of 3 pins for adjustment. Im not sure i like the SW (synta) method of using a collar and just 3 pins to adjust the finder. I think the 6 pin method gives better adjustment but thats just personal preference. I think i will be changing the finder for a right angle finder after getting into some strange positions lying on the ground trying to aim at the moon tonight!
This is the skywatcher setup on my Vixen GP. Please excuse the bare room, we were in mid-decorate!
Tonight was one of the clearest nights i’ve seen all year. Apart from the odd bit of cloud an a bit of wind the conditions were excellent. I first took a look at the moon. The cresent was bright in the sky and fitted my 18mm celestron x-cel eyepiece for a wide view of the surface. I was stunned. The best views i’ve seen so far. Bearing in mind my only comparisons have been through binoculars, a little 80mm f5 achro and a C8 that i never got to use in good conditions. I closely examined the terminator and was amazed at the detail I could see. Craters clearly had central peaks and the mares had pock marks that I’ve never seen before. I took a photo using my Nikon D70 at prime focus.
D70 at prime focus of ED100, 100th/s exposure. Straight from the camera other than a crop and resize for the web.
I was quite impressed with the quality of the image, but I think I need to find a 2” Barlow to increase the magnification to get detail at prime focus. At this point the clouds started to become denser and I swapped to my neximage ccd camera to try and get some stacked images of the moon.
These images don’t really do justice to the scope as my imaging skills are limited. But I was quite impressed with the quality. I moved over to Saturn to get a shot of the rings but as Saturn was quite high in the sky (in cancer) I found it difficult to align the scope. By sheer chance I ended up looking at M44, the beehive cluster. It looked fantastic, with a myriad of pinpoint stars set in black velvet. One of the sights that we all wait for and love to get. I was amazed, mostly because of the clarity of the night, and how well the scope was performing compared to my other experiences. The longish focal length of 900mm meant that M44 wasn’t framed very well and I had to “scroll” around to see it all. I may invest in a focal reducer at some point to get wide field shots.
The cloud was coming in thicker and I moved to look at Saturn. After lying on my back virtually to align the scope I know I defiantly need a right angle finder! Saturn in my 5mm x-cel eyepiece was very nice. Quite low magnification compared to the C8 but this is as I expected as the focal length of 900mm is less than half that of the C8’s 2032mm. Even so I could easily see the Cassini division. I went to get my Barlow which I had left indoors to see if I could get some banding but after returning (minus night vision) the clouds had rolled in and obscured my view. Looking up I saw that a large dark cloud had completely filled the sky whilst I had been inside. A few patches were clear and I decided to wait it out. Something of a mistake as big black clouds in the sky usually only mean one thing: RAIN! Packed up in something of a panic as the last thing I wanted was water all over my laptop, new scope, and DSLR! I’ve been processing what little images I’ve gotten and wrote this report whilst waiting for the rain to blow over. Seems to have done so, so I’m back out to try and get Saturn again. Wish me luck!
Originally posted 3rd April 2006