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Televue Qwickpoint vs. Celestron Starpointer

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Date: 7-20-2003
Price: $40.00 for Televue model, $25 for Celestron model
Design: Small reflex finders for many telescopes..
Description: Similar to other small reflex finders on the market.  They are designed to be used with many different models of telescope.

The Reviewer

I have been observing since I was 6, and now that I am 29 I have acquired the financial autonomy to buy an eyepiece now and then. I would not rate myself as an expert observer as I have been in and out of the hobby, and as most amateurs, especially those who are married, have children and live in urban areas, have too little quality observing time. I have two places to observe: my garden in Northern France with 120 clear nights a year and mag 3.5 skies, where I just give a little glimpse when it's clear at the moon and planets (the Orion nebula is "seeable" but a sure disappointment) , and a place in rural, southern France with darker and clearer skies. There I hunt galaxies and globulars which are my favorite targets, but I only have a handful of good nights there per year. My e-mail is mathieuchauveau@hotmail.com.

The Purchase


I bought the Qwikpoint second-hand on the Internet. I wanted a reflex finder to put on my 16" dob, the 8x50 finder of which is not placed in a practical position (I need to set the ladder in one position to look at the finder, find the object, then re-set the ladder to look through the eyepiece - ATMs take note). I had been encouraged by the use of the Starpointer finder
Celestron supplies on the Nexstars 5.

Outside View and setup - Winner: Celestron Starpointer

I cannot compare the installation of the Celestron and Televue units as the Starpointer I use was already installed on the Nexstar 5. But both use the dovetail system, and you are on your own to find a way to attach the dovetail to your scope. I see that Televue sells different models of the Qwikpoint to suit different scopes. Mine was second-hand so I did not have a choice. The dovetail plate has two Allen screws but as I was not sure of the final location for the finder I just attached the dovetail plate with double-sided tape for the while.

Televue

The big surprise is the whole electronics board is outside, not encased. The rotating button that adjusts brightness is outside, and it's too small. It makes it look cheap but so far it has not proven a problem on the field. I think all those people who have developed an adoration for Televue equipment and who will risk exposing their Type 6 Nagler at a star party just to show they have a Type 6 are not going to boast about the looks of these. As for me, I was a little worried in the beginning but as the electronics work OK, it's fine with me.

The bad surprise is that you need a screwdriver to align the thing. Once attached to the scope, you try to find a star in both the telescope and the finder. Then you realize you need to move by x and y the finder. Pick screwdriver. Turn the screw. Look back at the finder. Realize you were not screwing while you should have unscrewed. Unscrew. Now it's about ok but when you look back at the eyepiece you realize that in the process you have moved the tube. And I feel the screws are a little hard to turn.

Celestron

The battery is outside like on the Qwikpoint, but all the rest is encased. And you have two little rotating buttons to align the finder, which are quite smooth to move.

If you are reading this review just to make up your mind before buying one or the other, you can stop here. These details make the Qwikpoint a pain in the neck to setup. It does not mean setting up the Starpointer is a pleasure, but it's a 30s operation you do not have to worry about.

Notice to ATMs

The base of both finders is very short, so the line of sight is very close to the OTA. It is not a problem on small SCTs/MCTs, and certainly even refractors as you look at the finder from behind the tube. However on Dobsonians and Equatorial Newtonians, it obliges you to hug the OTA in a manner that will comfort onlookers on the weird relationship you have with your telescope. I am working on some sort of stalk to have it 4 - 6 inches away from the secondary cage of my Dob.

Nighttime Use - Result: Tie

Both finders use the same principle: aim the little red dot at the sky. Thus they work and perform the same. I have a complaint on MY Televue model, which is that there is a big halo (about 3 times larger than the dot itself, and brighter) floating around the real dot, which tends to wash out the star you aim. I ask the jury not to take this element into account, as it might be some bad maintenance by the previous owner. Anyway, I cannot think of an easier way to aim at an object.

I noticed on both that if you move you line of sight, the red dot will move

Using Reflex Finders

I'm a straight-through finder addict. So my view of the hots and nots of these new things might have a little bias.

Reflex HOTS

- to locate naked-eye visible objects or objects you know by heart (when like me you have looked at M13 every summer night you have been observing, you know where it is).

- on large scopes, to give the alignment on the last naked-eye star of your star-hopping route, then carry on with the Optical finder or the eyepiece (on the tallest dobs, you can only move a couple degrees in azimuth before having to move you ladder).

- the only finder you will ever need on a GOTO scope.

- very lightweight.

-> perfect for small scopes and/or beginners scopes.

Reflex NOTS

- hard to use in light-polluted backyards as you are limited to naked-eye stars (which, by the way, are dimmed by the half-reflecting lens).

- this battery is going to give out someday, and most annoyingly, some night.

- cleaning that lens is not a daytime activity you look forward to.

-> if you already have a magnifying finder, keep it at all costs and use both in tandem. If you are of those who do not like magnifying finders, this might reconcile you with them.


Conclusion of this Comparo

The Celestron Starpointer is a much better thing out of the box, both in "perceived quality" and in practical use. So if you are looking to buy a 1x for a scope you already have, take the Celestron. And it sells for around $20-25, when I see the price, I feel like purchasing 3 to put on my scope, one for zenithal use, one for horizontal use and one for in-between (big dob
owners know what I mean - using a ladder for an object, then kneeling on the ground for the next one)

However, you want these finders for simplicity's sake and the setup is the most difficult part of their use. So if you get a telescope with a Qwikpoint already rigged to it, keep it, the improvement is not worth the hassle of installing a better model.


Submited by - Mathieu Chauveau - France - mathieuchauveau@hotmail.com

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