I received my new SV80ED-1 and M2 mount Wednesday, and was actually able to use it last night. With the legend of Questar, some may feel that this won't be a fair comparison, but just wait.....
Some background info first....I bought my first Stellarvue telescope (an AT1010) shortly after they came out. Unfortunately this wasn't a good fit for me, as I'm a double star observer, and even at moderate powers, the stars turned a yellowish green. I quickly decided that I needed something different. I ordered a Stellarvue 102D telescope after reading the great reviews, but canceled the order after too many ship dates came and went (I, ahem, almost canceled my SV80ED-1 order for the same reason...thankfully I didn't!)
Last year around this same time I bought an excellent 30 year old Questar (90mm). I only had it for a month, when a bad Astromart deal fell through and I had to sell the Questar quickly (at a great loss) to cover some expenses. In the back of my mind I didn't feel too bad about it (other than the money), but it wasn't until last night that I was able to understand why.
So, last night was the first night with my mistress (as my wife calls my telescopes, because I sneak out with them at night...) As a short note in a long post, the fit, finish, and functionality of the scope and mount are near perfect. When setting it up for the first time, I gasped "Just beautiful!" My wife said "Sure, tell her that", and I said "But it's pointed at you" and she replied "But the lens caps are still on!" Yeah, busted.
Here are my Questar rules of thumb:
Resolution: Same as any 90mm (little better on equal double stars because the
airy disk shrinks when you have a 30% obstruction...)
Light grasp: Same as a 70mm refractor due to 70% light loss on each mirror (down from 90% for fresh coatings).
Contrast: Same as a 60mm refractor - mirror diameter minus obstruction diameter.
This time last year, I was looking at double stars in Leo with the Questar. These weren't necessarily close stars, but they had 3 magnitude brightness difference, some with companions that are very dim. After several nights of use, I could confirm that I actually saw them, but it wasn't a pleasant experience - they just didn't look "pretty" to put it aesthetically. Not to mention, the built in finder, although a cool idea, really doesn't work very well (I can expand on this if anyone want's to know).
Last night I had clear, unstable skies. I live close to 5,000 feet above sea level in a town of less than 3,000 people (we have one stoplight for perspective). Needless to say, I have great skies.
My doubles in Leo - even with the blurry skies, popped right out in pitch black
skies (the skies in the Questar were gray, due to contrast and light scatter of
the mirrors). Even Castor, with near equal brightness stars, where the Questar
should have trumped, was soooo much better in the SV.
And my rules - these are for perfect observing conditions. I had made a chart
showing how a Questar performs against refractors using C.J.R. Lord's
algorithms, and while the Questar holds up well in perfect seeing, when the
skies start becoming unsteady (the normal condition here) the Questar
performance falls apart due to the central obstruction.
To shorten this post, I'll just add a couple of thoughts. One, for those of you who always wanted a Questar, sure they look awesome on the bookshelf or desk (I had mine on my nightstand), but looking through them, they just don't hold up.
Second, hopefully this post won't be taken as inflammatory, but this is a Stellarvue group. Have you ever looked at other groups? Seriously, in the Questar forums, you constantly see post in the vein of "before replying, I wanted to let you know I have corrected your grammer...." And in any other refractor forum, no matter what scope you have, you can always do better. In this forum? Everyone has the perfect scope.
I went out with my two middle children tonight, the back yard and the SV80ED. I first started off with the most beautiful object I could think of, Saturn. It did not take long to find it, well, having an APP on my phone that is all about finding bodies in the heaves, it was quite simple. After finding Saturn, I placed into the SV80ED, a 9mm eye piece and WALA! The kids were MORE then jazzed to see the rings of Saturn.
From there, I went to the sward of Orion. M42 was not hard to find as well! My kids were more then happy to point the shads of colors they saw. I have trouble seeing that sort of details due to my glasses and shifting around with poor vision, but they were excited none the less.
From there, they pointed out a few BRIGHT stars and wanted to see what they looked like through this beautiful scope. My daughter picked out Sirius, and what a beautiful site! The range of colors actually amazed me! I even got a kick out of the vibrance and colors as I was focusing, because even out of focus it was a ball of changing colors!
A most delightful night for my children and I! And to think, I got this scope for AP and did not think I would get much viewing use out of it. Goes to show how wrong I was, its a BEAUTIFUL and flawless scope!
Last note, the Telrad, fixed on with electric tape, did a great job! Its a nice little finder. Did I say little? :D
I finally got to test my new SV80ED after five weeks of clouds. There were very nice sharp stars all the way to the edge of the field and it is a pleasure to use.
I am a first time Stellarvue owner (80ED blue w/feathertouch), got it just about a week ago. Like clockwork the clouds tumbled in the very day the scope arrived and it has yet to clear up.
I was looking at the Raptor, but wanted the feathertouch with potential future binoviewer capabilities. However, the idea of a carbon fiber tube is intriguing. Heck, one of these days I'll get a larger 105? with carbon fiber tube.
As for optics. I managed to observe one evening through holes in the clouds, though mostly totally overcast skies. I managed to hit a few nice doubles, a got faint glimpses of a globular.
As for the optics. I walked away that evening, with extremely poor seeing, with a huge grin on my face.
The focuser was beautiful. The optics were wonderful. Even with the bad seeing the stars (when the light would break through the clouds), were sharp. I thought the optics on my 10" SCT were great. The SV80ED has downgraded my opinion of the SCT substantially.
I am seriously thinking (someday) to dump the SCT and go with tandem mounted refractors. The SV80ED with a larger aperture SV APO maybe. I need to check an SV APO out one of these days.. hopefully the next star party I get myself to.