Celestron 80mm Firstscope
In April 1998 I bought the Celestron 80MM EQ Refractor. In the following 2 years I spotted 84 Messier objects, over 2 dozen NGC objects and over 100 Double Stars. I saw Jupiter and its Moons, Saturn and it's rings, Venus and it's phases, Uranus and Neptune all crystal clear at over 100x magnification. With a Solar filter I get excellent views of the Sun and Sun Spots. I followed the Ceres asteroid for months with it. To say the least, I'm very happy with the way it performs. This is an excellent beginner telescope. It's for someone first starting out who wants a scope that will show more that just the planets and the Moon.
Now your not going to see Galaxies with spiral arms and big red and blue nebulas. Even big scopes will not show any color. But you will be able to find these objects and get a clear enough image to know you "Got it!".
I use several eyepieces. A 40MM and 32MM for low magnification, 17MM and 10MM for high magnification. A Barlow lens can be added for real close views of the planets and Moon. Under low magnification the field is absolutely clear end to end. As you go over 100x the stars will not focus as small but still remain very sharp for such a small scope. Globular clusters will not resolve any stars but look great as big cotton balls. Double stars split down to about 3 arc seconds very cleanly. You can squeeze a little more on a real clear night. Large Open Clusters are outstanding with low power. Bright Galaxies show up as fuzzy spots and resemble faint galaxies in large scopes. Large bright Nebulas show up real well as cloudy areas.
It's not a real heavy scope weighing only 24 lbs. so it's very easy to move around and sets up in seconds. There a setting circles which I never used so I can't really comment on their accuracy. I basically star hop to all targets and the scope is very smooth if balanced properly. You need to rebalance when changing to heavier eyepieces. Motor drive for tracking is available but I never got it. I just put it down, loosened the thumb screws and swing it manually to any target I can find. It comes with a very nice 6X30 finderscope. Once aligned, the finder stayed on target. It needed a small adjustment once every couple of months. Not too bad if you ask me.
There are a few small problems. Several times I unscrewed one of the manual slow motion focus arms. I didn't force it, it seemed to unscrew little by little as I used it. I just had to check it once in while and re-screw it occasionally. One of the legs on the wooden tripod needs to be tightened very hard or it will slip. Of course the wooden tripod is not what you would call "Rock solid" but it's not bad. Other than that I have no complaints.
This is not a scope to spend the rest of your life with if your already a serious hobbyist. It's just not big enough. But it will certainly help you decide whether you are serious if your undecided and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. If should you decide your hooked and get a bigger scope, it's great to have around for that quick look or Solar viewing. It can be used as a guide scope for Astrophotography. Perhaps you discover, your not into it that much. It's still a great scope to impress your friends with Jupiter or Saturn once in a while. Maybe even dust it of and try again sometime. Either way, I can't see how you would be disappointed with this scope in the $250 price range. For a little more, the 90MM of 102MM will be even better. I've moved up to a large computerized GOTO telescope but will never get rid of my Celestrom 80MM refractor.
Submitted by Bob Sal - firstname.lastname@example.org