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Posts Made By: Mark Mittlesteadt

December 18, 2002 03:14 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Astroview 120ST refractor - review

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

The Astroview 120ST is a 600mm, f/5 short tube refractor that is meant for wide field viewing, not planetary or moon detail. Orion clearly states its use as such. But from my first few times out, I have been able to really push the magnification on the moon, Jupiter and Saturn, revealing an extreme amount of detail for this type of scope.

I could easily make out Cassini’s division in Saturn and at least 4 cloud bands on Jupiter as well as gorgeous details on the moon. I’ve read other’s comments about this scope’s inability to resolve much detail and that the views “mush out” at anything above 60-80X magnification (which one would expect from an achromatic refractor of this length), yet I pushed it to 120X with a 10mm EP and a Barlow and it still maintained very sharp images.

The field of view is very wide indeed. With the supplied 25mm EP, this scope engulfs all three stars of Orion’s belt in the same FOV. Even the Great Orion Nebula was still quite sharp at 120X and very bright and clean, with the 4 stars of the trapezium clearly defined. Chromatic aberration is minimal. It is vaguely noticeable on very bright objects such as the moon and planets…with a hint of either purple or yellow (only at the very fringe on one side of the object, or the other, depending on how you move about the EP). There is no other discernable coloration of objects…no purple or blue tones with anything. Aside from the fringe color, I get the same colors as my SCT.

In comparison to my Meade 8” LX50 SCT…the Astroview has sharper optics and more contrast. My SCT has perfect collimation and beautiful views…and of course a larger aperture so it should resolve more detail, but in side by side comparisons the Astroview’s optics reveal crisper and more defined views at about the same magnification.

The Astroview (EQ3?) mount is very solid and moves smoothly, but some parts of it are cheesy and I wouldn’t use it for astrophotography…but it is very solid, though stiff. The aluminum tripod legs are not very stable when full extended (as one would expect), but really very solid when fully retracted (and this does work if you sit while observing) and overhead views are not really hindered as this is a short tube…not the monolithic 4 foot long focal length refractor. I found a happy medium in height versus stability with the tripod and still comfortably view while standing.

Overall this entire scope setup is a steal at $399, on sale at Orion. There are some things I don’t like about the scope and mount and I will have a complete review of the entire setup identifying the pros and cons…and yes there are a few cons, but not anywhere near enough to not recommend this scope.

January 13, 2003 08:27 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

What is the largest scope that a CG-5 will handle?

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

I'm curious as to how big a scope a CG-5 will handle. I'm not talking about the tripod that is standard with them, but say if the CG-5 were mounted on a sturdy pier?

I may be interested in using my CG-5 clone and mount a larger scope, say my 8" SCT on it. The 8" SCT OTA weighs in at 19 pounds by itself and it is not very long.

I'd like some opinions on the sturdiness of the mount itself. I have one and it sure seems solid. I wouldn't dare mount a larger scope on it than my 120mm short tube refractor with it's aluminum tripod...but I'm curious about the mount itself, if it were on something far more stable than the aluminum tripod.

Anyone want to chime in on this one?


January 15, 2003 03:50 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

8" OTA on a CG-5

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

How many of you have or have had an 8" SCT OTA mounted on a CG-5 mount?

How was it for viewing? Aside from the aluminum tripod, was the mount stable for a scope this large?

I'm going to redo the support for my CG-5 clone (either a pier or a more robust tripod made of wood) and I might mount my 8" SCT OTA to it, but I wanted to get some input from those of you who have mounted that large of a scope on it and what your feelings were about the use that way.

January 20, 2003 04:41 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Best method of attaching an SCT OTA to EQ mount?

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

I have a Meade 8" SCT OTA and I'm wondering what is the best method of attaching it to my CG5 EQ mount.

I see most SCT OTA's are mounted with a dovetail attached directly to the OTA with the screws on the bottom of the scope. Those little screws don't seem to be much to hold the OTA safely (although they must be as that's how they are sold).

Would rings be a better way to go?

Where could I get the Meade OTA dovetail assembly as I don't see where Meade sells it seperately.

Any hints or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

January 20, 2003 06:26 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Re: Observatory Fire

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

That is tragic. That must be one heck of an insurance premium!

Hope it can be rebuilt and their records were backed up somewhere safe!

January 22, 2003 04:27 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

Which mount is which???

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

OK, somebody ejicate me

What in the heck are the differences, if any, between the following mounts...

EQ3, EQ4, CG4, CG5, Polaris, Great Polaris, Astroview, Sky View Pro, Apogee HD EQ, EQ6, Atlas, etc.

I own an Astroview mount that I bought with my scope from Orion. It looks similar to their EQ3 mount (which, in fact, they sell the drives made for the EQ3 for the Astroview).

Now I've seen where the EQ3 (or the Astroview?) is supposed to be similar to the CG4, but when I see the CG4, it is way to small, skinny and hardly compares the my Astroview.

My Astroview looks in comparison, closer to the CG5 in size, and it is rock-solid stable on a heavy duty wood tripod. The CG5 is supposedly a knock-off of the Polaris (or is it the Great Polaris...wait, is it the Super Polaris or the Super Great Polaris?). smile

Anyhow, all these knock-offs of other knock-offs is confusing the heck out of me. I do know that my Astroview is similar in almost every way to the CG5 except the mounting head on top has no dovetail setup.

What exactly is what when comparing mounts by name? Anybody have some definitive info?

February 23, 2003 11:12 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

My tripod upgrade

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

For those who wanted to see my tripod upgrade, here are some pics of it.

If anyone wants any details on the design, just let me know and I'll try to provide. It's a very solid tripod (I can stand on it, with legs fully extended, and it does not jiggle at all).

February 25, 2003 03:35 PM Forum: Equipment Talk

12 volt Dew Heaters

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

I've owned Scopetronix EP heaters and had Orion's Dew Zapper for my 8" SCT, but I have never tried Kendrick's Heating system.

Are there any other alternatives out there? Has anyone made their own EP and OTA heaters that run off 12 volt power supplies? I'm looking for some type of dew removing system for my Astroview 120ST and I'd like to find something that I can keep attached to the scope without a ton of wires to wrap up.

If anyone has any ideas, suggestions, building plans or links to other outlets and sources for existing or DIY heaters I'd appreciate it.


April 29, 2003 07:56 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing


Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

I was out the other night and for the first time in my life I saw the most incredible meteor that was a huge fireball.

Normally I just see the typical streaks of light, but this one scared the crap out of me as I thought a jet had exploded above me! It was much slower than typical meteor streaks and it looked like a huge fireball flying across the sky, complete with flames!

It died out while still in the air so I doubt anything landed and there were no reports of anything hitting anywhere in upper Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

A few years back alot of people in northern and northcentral Wisconsin saw a similar streak, but they also found a meteorite in the U.P. associated with it.

This was an awesome experience. Aside from TV, I had never seen such a huge fireball and to see one in person was just amazing!

July 24, 2003 07:25 PM Forum: Deep Sky Observing

Milky Way view...first time in about 10 years!!!

Posted By Mark Mittlesteadt

I was up in Michigan's UP last weekend camping...

It was the first time I've observed from a dark sky site in about 10 years.

I had forgotten how beautiful and rich the view is from a dark sky site!!!

I brought my Astroview 120ST along for the trip and my God, I was so enamoured by the Milky Way. I stayed up all night just awestruck.

I couldn't find hardly anything in particular though, aside from the likes of Andromeda et al. I was so used to a view from my light polluted back yard that I (embarrasingly) could not find my way around with so many stars! Normally I can find my way around constellations from my back yard as they stick out like a sore thumb...but this view was so clustered with stars I was lost!

I felt so stupid. Has this ever happened to anyone, where you haven't viewed from a dark sky in so long that you get lost in the myriad of stars in a true DARK sky site? I felt like the dumbest person on earth...I put the AMATEUR in amateur astronomy that night!!!

It was still amazing!