Skywatcher 114L reflector

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Brand and Model:Skywatcher 114L reflector
Price ($USD):$270 ($400 CAN)
Attributes: un-checked Go-To un-checked PEC
Aperture:114mm (4.5")
f Ratio:f/8
Focal Length:915mm
Electric Power:none
Mount:EQ 2
Weight (lbs):28 lbs.
Dimensions (w/h/d):
Description:excellent beginners' telescope.

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Skywatcher 114L reflector
This was Synta's (owners of several companies including SkyWatcher) entry level reflector at the time I acquired it. Unfortunately no documentation came with it, which was later found on SkyWatcher's Web site. This is where I learned about collimation; on mine, even the secondary mirror had to be aligned (was way off!) But since then, I only have to fine tune the primary mirror once in a while.

Mechanically, slow-mo is fine, although the declination cable comes loose regularly. The tripod isn't bad, but the EQ-2 equatorial mount is notoriously shaky. I did a few DIY modifications on it, but still isn't sturdy enough (wind, ground vibrations...). Both axes do not move very smoothly; a lack of precision, of fluidity, can be felt which causes a shift in the position of the object in the eyepiece. The focuser's rack and pinions are filled with thick and sticky grease, not the greatest. I cleaned the whole thing and replaced the grease with a higher quality grade.

The optics is none the less surprising, although not up to meet with my best EPs (orthos and Hyperion). Very little astigmatism or coma is present, if any, with a few of the EPs; which means the problem could be from these EPs themselves. I can easily see the Airy disk, pass the star test satisfyingly, etc. But I can detect some spherical aberration which limits details visible with this scope, especially for planetary observation. Yet for splitting doubles, it's just fine! Alarkis, a 2'' double star in the constellation of Drako (tighter than Lyra's double-double), is easily separated at a power of only 70x. As mentioned before, planets may not have quite enough details, even for a scope this size. But on the best nights I can still make out at least 2 dark bands of clouds and the south pole on Jupiter; I was even able to spot the GRS! Colors are just right. M42 amongst others was a delight when viewed from my previous home (country house), but now from downtown, it's another story: the help of a good light pollution filter is a must. But be careful not to select one that is too restrictive; for this scope I would recommend a broadband filter.

As for the pieces included with the telescope (10mm + 25mm Kellner and a 2x Barlow), might as well forget about them... They served their purpose for a short while, but no more. I believe this scope is now shipped with Plossls and no Barlow; this is a good move! I replaced the finder a while ago for a Telrad; I felt it was too small to be useful.

Since the primary mirror is slightly imperfect and all accessories included were eventually replaced, I cannot recommend this telescope to any serious amateur; after all, it is what it is: a beginner’s telescope. But as such, it remains an interesting choice (certainly better than what you can get in large department stores!) The quality is sufficient to keep you watching regularly, even for years as I did.

I now own a Skywatcher Dob8 and use a Celestron C80 ED once in a while.

Overall Rating: 6
Optics:6 Mount:3 Ease of Use:6 Value:7
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
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Skywatcher 114L reflector
I am basing this review on over 1 year of enjoyment from this telescope.This is a great beginners' telescope, although it is undermounted. Damping time is about 3 seconds. The secondary support is too wide, but i am just a beginner and only noticed a bit of astigmatism. i think that it would not be annoying at all unless you are an optics fanatic. The mirror cell has average venting, and cool down takes about a half hour. Once i tried the star test, and to me the rings looked nearly identical in and out of focus. The focuser could be better, but at 180x focussing is easy. there is coma on the exreme edges of the view. You can easily carry the scope outside in one trip, a great advantage. The slow motion controls work well, too. collimation holds extremely well, it was only slightly out of collimation after 1 whole year, even after being in a car on 1.5 hour drives several times. the 6x30 finder holder could be better because sometimes the finder goes out of alignment with the telescope. the two kellner eyepieces (25mm and 10mm) are of moderate quality.
Now for my observations through the scope. Saturn is amazing, the rings clearly visible at 36x and the cassini division is moderatly easy at 180x for a beginner. I did not notice the cassini division until my second winter of observing. Jupiter is a large pale-white disk at 180x, and three bands are usually easily detected, more with effort. I have not yet been able to detect the great red spot. Its for brightest moons are easy to see and are bright, but i have never seen a shadow transit of one. On Mars surface features were detected during opposition, even though i had not once before trained my eye on it due to cloudy skies. I view from average skies near ottawa. on a good night you can see all the stars in the little dipper, and the milky way is visible overhead. My first deep sky object that i viewed through the scope was M13, the Hercules globular. It was bright and countless stars were visible around the edge of the cluster. The Andromeda galaxy is not as interesting as i thought it would be, but through any small telescope it is basically featurless. The whirlool galaxy is seen as a double smudge under dark skies, but the orion nebula is completely amazing! The ring nebula appears as a donut, and the dumbell looks exactly like its name! i was also very pleased with m22 in sagitarius. it was even more resolved then m13! many globulars can be partially resolved with this scope. remember that these observations are from skies near ottawa, where almost all of the eastern sky is washed out. under dark skies they appear even more fantastic! the pleides do not fit in the field of the 25mm eyepiece, but are still spectacular!
as you can see i have really enjoyed this telescope. i very highly recommended it for beginners, but not as much for more experienced astronomers because they will be able to pick out its faults easier. i will soon upgrade to an orion 6" dob.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
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