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It Is A Reasonable Starter Scope.

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Posted by Daniel Johnson on February 20, 2003 02:03:26 UTC

A good five-inch refractor is not a bad scope, especially if you are fond of the moon and two largest planets. At low power, depending on light pollution in your area, it will show a few of the brighter "faint fuzzy" objects (such as M42, the Orion Nebula). Sky & Telescope magazine gave a favorable review to the mount that the scope comes on. The only limitation is the aperture of the scope--a bit small for some of the "faint fuzzies." Still, it's a far, far better scope than the department-store "Christmas trash" 60mm refractors a lot of people start with--yours by contrast is no toy, but a real telescope.
The focal ratio of f/9 is made more for planetary viewing than "faint fuzzy" viewing. Saturn, Jupiter, and the Moon will knock your socks off, and for a few months every couple of years Mars is OK, too (good timing--this August Mars makes its closest approach to us in thousands of years!). If you find that a bluish-violet halo around bright objects is annoying, investing in a "violet reduction" filter will take care of that; you may or may not need it for that scope. The highest power you should aim for is 250x, and I really wouldn't push for more than half that on most nights, and even that is just for planets and double stars. For other, dimmer objects, even 35x to 50x is reasonable. If you are eligible for the Meade $99 eyepiece offer with your scope, grab it. It's the most bang-for-the buck you'll ever get in eyepieces.

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