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Bushnell Voyager 60mm

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Date: NA
Price: $80
Design: 60mm achromatic refractor with 910mm focal length
Description:   Small refractor with 5x24 finder scope and three built in eyepieces (Huygien) at 20mm, 10mm, and 4mm.  It also had a 2x Barlow and Alt-Azimuth mount and tripod.

Reason Behind This Review

I really can’t write about choosing this one because I received it as a present some years ago.  Most people in the amateur astronomy community may wonder why I would even waste my time writing this review.  Well this telescope did more for me than any piece of equipment since.  It got me hooked on amateur astronomy.  So in honor of the scope that started it all I am writing this review.

The Telescope

Realistically this is a pretty poor scope that I would not recommend to anyone.  At first like all department store telescopes it sounds like an excellent instrument capable of rivaling Hubble itself.  The scope is a 60mm refractor with a 910mm focal length.  There is also some type of field flattener lens inside because the scope is no longer than a foot and a half.  Surprisingly there are coatings on the front lens and the focal reducer hidden inside of the focuser.  They are not excellent but they are probably much better than you would expect.

It comes with a “revolutionary” diagonal system where all three eyepieces can rotate into position.   It also has a dial in front of the eyepieces that all you to switch to the Barlow lens and the moon filter.  The eyepieces are of a very simple design and in .969 format.  The finder is a small 5x24 piece of equipment that hardly focuses and is even harder to align in the three-point holder.

Lastly the telescope came with a very lightweight aluminum tripod with a small Alt-Az head attached.  Two screws on the bottom of the telescope attach to the tripod and can be tightened to keep the scope stable.  The motion in the Alt-Az head is slow and jerky and was by far one of the most difficult parts of this scope to deal with.

Performance

Perhaps the best part of this scope was its size.  On its mount it cannot weigh more than ten pounds.  This alone was enough to get me to bring it outside.  Such a small setup could be left assembled and carried outside with one arm at a moments notice.  There were many nights when the quick setup and tear down were beneficial during the cold Michigan Winters.

Luckily for me Jupiter and Saturn were high in the sky when I received this telescope.  They are probably the one and only reason I used the scope as much as I did and they are also the reasons why I have stayed with amateur astronomy.  Even in a telescope this pathetic the Planets were awe-inspiring.  Since this scope was good up to about 70-80x the views were limited but there was still a hint of detail.  With the 10mm eyepiece you could pick up two bands on Jupiter during absolutely still conditions.  Note however that I did not say they were very sharp they were just there.  In the 20mm eyepiece Jupiter’s family was clearly detected but there was no detail on the Planet itself.  The 4mm eyepiece was impossible to focus and likewise was never used for anything.  Saturn was limited also to the 10mm eyepiece and showed considerably less than Jupiter.  The ring system was clearly visible but the view was extremely small.

The moon really was not the best target for this scope.  The views were mushy even at the lowest powers.  The deep sky was also a no go.  The problem with the deep sky stems from the fact that the eyepieces were junk and the finder was almost impossible to use.  I just gave up after a while when looking for even the brightest deep sky objects.  Oh yeah I also didn’t have any kind of chart to use.  That could have had something to do with it.

Negatives

Need I list them all.  Most of all this was a department store telescope and in turn is not a recommended piece of equipment.  False color did creep in at higher powers but I rarely used them anyway.  The Alt-Az mount was probably the largest drawback.  It was extremely tight and difficult to maneuver.  Also the tripod was too flimsy to even support such a small scope.

Conclusion

I still have this telescope and probably always will.  Not that I am recommending to everyone to go out and get one.  This scope is the reason that I am writing this right now.  I won’t even bother to rate this scope because there really is no reason to.  Anyone who owns a scope like this one knows exactly what I am talking about.  I have however recently began an overhaul of the telescope. 

Project Restore Bushnell

Lately I have been looking into getting a new small scope for those cold Winter nights when I want to take a quick look.  I have a feeling that the optics of this scope may have some salvage value.  I have begun the process of retrofitting this scope with an old 1¼  mirror diagonal that I had laying around.  With plenty of duct tape it looks as if it may have been a success.  Preliminary daytime views have confirmed that this will work just fine with my current eyepiece collection (1¼).  The views in my 40mm and 25mm Plossl look quite sharp and bright.  Is there hope?  I will report back to you after first light with my newly rebuilt Bushnell 60mm Voyager.

First Light with the New Bushnell (1/9/2001)

It actually works.  Since my first re-working of the Bushnell I have replaced the duct tape with a small steel clamp.  The clamp works like a champ.  The diagonal is clamped in place perfectly straight and held with a very strong grip.  It has no problem holding even my 40mm Sirius Plossl which is the heaviest I own.  I just got outside and aimed at the moon with my 20mm Plossl (45.5x) and 10mm Plossl (91x).  The view was excellent for a small department store refractor.  In the 20mm eyepiece image quality was high with only a slight hint of false color.  Contrast was much better than I was expecting as all of the major features were clearly visible.  The 10mm also performed well but the image did soften just a little.  I am suspecting that 91x magnification is probably pretty close to the max for this scope anyway.  However it did perform much better than the previous version did on the moon.

I also luckily had enough time to get a quick look at Jupiter.  Seeing was horrible and it was about 10 degrees out so I was rushing this one.  The 20mm showed the familiar view of the planet and its four major moons.  Color was fairly intrusive on Jupiter and detail was not evident in the 20mm.  But the moons were tack sharp and gave me quite a shock.  I have never seen such a sharp image in this telescope.  Moving up to the 10mm the moons stayed as sharp points albeit a touch dimmer but the planet itself actually gave up a little detail.  I may have been mistaken but I believe I caught four belts during a few quick bursts of good seeing.  Under normal conditions I could clearly make out two belts which was a miracle in its own right.

Lastly  made a quick tour trying to find a few of the brighter stars.  In the past this was extremely difficult because focus was so hard to find.  This time I quickly located a couple of random stars just to see how they looked.  In the 20mm eyepiece they were bright and very sharp.  I was truly impressed, never before had I seen stars like this in this telescope.  The most surprising part of all of this is that I could actually get decent focus with both of these eyepieces.  It was a fear of mine that I would not be able to achieve focus at night with the  1 1/4 inch diagonal and eyepieces.  The best part of the whole experience was that I set up in about 20 seconds.  I can grab the whole rig with one hand and simply plop it down outside.  This also gives me hope that I will soon be able to convert this telescope into a decent finder as soon as I get my hands on a camera.

Submitted by Curt Irwin - irwincur@excite.com - Grand Rapids, Michigan

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