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I finally got the new-to-me SV105 (original F-6.2 with TMB 105/650 objective)
out to the club's dark sky site east of Denver last night for a first light look
at something other than Venus, Vega, and the Moon. The Clear Sky Clock showed
the sky to be clear by 8:00pm, but the new scope curse won the arm wrestling
contest with the CSK so we were dodging clouds all night. Besides the clouds,
the sky was somewhat hazy, so seeing was iffy at best. Nevertheless, the 105 is
impressive: pinpoint stars on a velvet black background, zero color fringing on
anything I've looked at so far, and focus which pops into to right into view
with the Feather Touch, even given the fast focal ratio of this scope. Since I
don't have the SV90TBV any longer I can't give a side-by-side comparison, but
the fluorite lens in the 90 seemed to produce a richer black background than the
105. Of course the last time I viewed with the 90BTV was during TRSP at Phil's
place up in the mountains, so the accumulative affects of the seeing conditions
last night, the combined light domes of Denver and Colorado Springs, and nearly
4000 more feet of air to view through might account for the difference.

My viewing program for the evening was pretty much the September Challenge that
Larry has posted here on this site. I was using a Stellarvue enhanced 2-inch
diagonal and Televue 10mm and 6mm Radians. The 105 was mounted on my SV M3E
mount, which resides atop a Manfrotto 1178 tripod. My OLC (Object Location
Cheater) was an NGC-MiniMAX DSC, which makes finding objects pretty much a piece
of cake. I ran through the bright M-objects on the list quickly, but the three
NGC's were a bit harder to see in the haze and clouds. I'd plug them into the
DSC, swing the scope to "0-0", and see a uniform gray eyepiece image as a new
cloud moved across the field of view. So I swung over to Jupiter -- sorry,
David, us westerners missed the Callisto pass over the north pole -- and
searched around til I spotted Uranus, a tiny blue-green dot just west of Jupiter
by a degree or so. I was going to try for Neptune as well, the clouds in that
area of the sky around Cancer just weren't cooperative. So I returned to
Ophiuchus to resume the quest for NGC6366, NGC6426, and NGC6356. With patience
I was able to finally see 6366 and 6426, but by then 6356 was down into the murk
and the Colorado Springs light dome.

Jeanette had been viewing beside me all night with her SV102EDT, basically
following the same viewing agenda with a few twists of here own, but it was now
nearing the bewitching hour and she packed it in for the night. I stayed out a
little longer, strolling around the open clusters up around Cassiopeia as the
southern and western sky became more cloudy. But I knew it was going to be a
long drive home, so I packed up both scopes and headed for the city long before
I had originally planned.

So what's the verdict? The SV105 is a keeper. I love the short tube –- only an
inch longer than the SV102EDT despite the 20mm difference in focal length and
the longer dewshield. The lens is exquisite, a fine example of the late Thomas
Back's optical expertise. And of course the OTA is the epitome of typical
Stellarvue craftsmanship. All in all, I feel privileged to own one of the very
few products of the brief collaboration between Vic and TMB.

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Hello Vic: Just thought I'd drop You a observation report of My recent purchase of a 105 raptor. Last night seeing about 8or9 pretty rare up in this area. mars was clean at 147x pentax xo 5mm ep, lots of detail even at 12sec dia disc, this eyepiece is well matched with this objective, stars nice round discs/very little light scatter when I first took delivery of this scope 2 objective push-pull screws came loose&were bouncing around in the dewcap they must have come out during shipping, after talking to Your reps they explained how to unscrew the front of the cap so it could be slid far enough back to reinstall the screws. this is a perfect grab&go size scope, I just thought You might like to hear about it. purchased from skies unlimited received jan 4 10 Thanks Again!

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Vic,

You can use anything you want out of that email.    I just had to tell you about tonight.    I joined the TAAS (The Albuquerque Astronomy Society) and we had a small star party of around 35-40 people.    The SV105 Raptor I have was admired and envied all night long!    Everyone kept talking about how beautiful and crystal clear the optics were, they couldn't believe that a 4" refractor could see the Veil Nebula so clearly and with so much hidden detail; the phrases of the night were "Absolutely Amazing!" and "Oh my God!".
I also had a chance to look at a few other scopes and none of them 12" of aperture or less could come close to the contrast and clarity I saw through the Raptor.........This telescope beat the pants off of everything there (Minus the 24" 14-foot high Dob). I can't tell you how proud I am of your telescope and how lucky I feel to have one of my own.
Thanks again, Stellarvue!  Stellarvue! 

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Shelly, Vic -
Just a quick note to let you know that the Raptor is on its M1 mount (atop a Manifrotto tripod), with the finder aligned, ready for the clouds to part ... "First Light" was reading the illuminated clock on Boston's Custom House, something like 8 miles from where I set the scope. This is one of the most beautiful hand made things I've ever seen! The near invisibility of the objective suggest that you've used fabulous coatings, which is a huge deal. Can't wait to observe the Moon with this beauty. Thanks, too, for the binoculars. Terrific value. They all seem to be in alignment and will be a wonderful asset for my stargazing and birding classes. Finally, let me thank you for the great and personal service.
Clear skies always!

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Dear Vic,
It was very nice talking with you at OPT's SCAE event last Saturday.    I really appreciate your efforts in producing high quality products for amateur astronomers, and I  I  respect your integrity.
My SV105T performs excellently, even under less than ideal seeing conditions.    It is easy to set up and is a superb "all around scope", a real keeper. 
You can be assured of my recommendations of the Stellarvue company.

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I began  catching Luna 90 minutes before sunset. Using my polarizer and 5mm Nagler, the detail on the full disk in the SV105 @ 130x was superb!
I decided to get a good run going on my L100 list. I am looking forward to spending a lot of spare summertime observing on Luna this year, when the planets finally fade from view. I caught Plato and the craterlets [I counted four with slightly above-average seeing] [L83], L48, L19, the Alpine Valley, Aristillus, Archemedes [L27], and a whole whap of other goodies. I mayl post more on the lunar detail later on in a few days, weather permitting. I did get a good bit of the L100 list going, anyway - all in about 30-40 minutes. Luna looks superbly detailed and contrasty in the Sv105 - what a scope! ;-)
Jupiter was next: I wanted to catch the transit and shadow, in case this was my last chance. Europa was just on the edge of the limb when I got there, and the shadow was already crossing the eastern portion of the disk. Piece of cake to see this shadow @ 130x. Details in the belts was superb using a polarizing filter - the ambient light was still enough to read a book easily. Sol had just set, and the azure of the onset of dusk was easily dealt with using the polarizer in the 5mm NT6 [130x]. This EP is getting a lot of use. I use it to guage whether I can go to my Nagler 3-6mm Zoom. As it turned out, I could, later on, as the night progressed. I swapped out the 5mm for the Zoom. Set it to ~4.5mm [145x], and was welcomed with a slight split in the SEB, especially aft of the GRS, just setting on the limb. I followed the shadow on and off over 2h. There was a nice dark barge seen ahead of Europa's shadow, perhaps 90 in Sys II longitude. It was easy to see in the 105... fesoons in the NE Zone were easy pickings.
Meanwhile, I wanted a peek at Venus before it necome a tricky object. Using the 5mm NT6, before swapping to the Zoom on Jupiter, I was gratiously presented a wonderful, color-free, bright, and contrasty image of the ~30% illuminated disk. Using the 5mm NT6 and a polarizer, I could even see some slight dusky markings about 10 S of the equator, right near the limb. No shimmering of the planet per se, and the seeing really allowed me a nice image. The markings looked like small, faint, swirls curving slightly downward towards the polar region.
Once I finished with Venus, before attacking Jove, I did my swap on the NZoom, and Saturn was awesome - only my #82A filter and the Zoom, set to ~160x, then 180x. Ring detail was really good tonite! I caught some of the Encke/Keeler Gap detail, and the ring Antliae had a definite grooved appearance. I haven't seen this detail for over 18 months. it was there, though. I do not know why I see this stuff, but the rings take on a grooved appearance, like a phono record. The Crepe ring was a snap, too, and the sky was not even dark yet! [~1h past setting sun]. Seeing then went to pot, so back to Jupiter, as described above.
After following the shadow past the meridian, the seeing went awful all about the sky. Heavy haze washed out the stars since the ~60% lit lunar disk was really doing it's thing adding to the general sky glow. So, we packed it in.
Wow. This 105 is just a super scope. It was soooo worth the wait! ;-)
Oh, BTW, I recently got my new R9 case in - if anyone with a larger 4" scope is looking for a very robust, field case to prtect their fine SV scope, this is awesome! VERY heavy padding, robust construction of heavy rip-stop nylon on the exterior. Nice dual handles for toting the case, and a hefty shoulder strap to boot. Worth it, IMO.

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I have  had several discussions with folks who have recently acquired the new SV105 super planetary triplet and they have reported a significant improvement in contrast and deep sky reach over the 102ED. This is to be expected since the apo triplet is as good as it gets with a 105mm telescope. With light more precisely focused the higher contrast brings out more subtle detail in nebulosity.

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