Jiffy New Member
- Skill Level
- Time with Product
Feb 25, 2010
- User Notes:
Great grab-and-go telescope for beginning astronomerPros:
Exceptionally easy set-up and use, wide field of view, great durability, low price usedCons:
Not designed for higher magnification planetary viewing, cannot collimate opticsComments:
The familiar shiny red sphere called the Edmund Scientific Astroscan has turned out to be a fantastic grab-and-go scope for this beginning astronomer. Its primary usage is for broad, lower mag views of the night sky -- for instance, the Orion Nebula and Pleiades look particularly striking on the Astroscan. Cost is about $230+ new on the Edmund website, but the real bargains are in the used marketplace, where it can be found in the $75 to $150 range.
Operation is simple: rest the spherical end in the aluminum "bowl" apparatus. While a tripod is not included, it is useful (I bought a light and sturdy Meade DS-2000 tripod off a famous online auction site for about $30, and the bowl fits perfectly on top). Fit the eyepiece into the focuser tube, aim with the simple peep-site finder, and away you go! Set-up time is amazingly quick: 60 seconds to set up tripod, bowl, scope, and eyepiece. Moving the scope while viewing is fairly intuitive, as you simply nudge the tube/sphere resting within the bowl (for a beginner, realize that the view is inverted, so nudging the scope to the left and up causes a shift in the field of view to the right and down).
Mine was bought used, circa 1980s-1990s, and came with an ancient but optically pristine 28 mm RKE eyepiece. With the 4" aperture and 445mm focal length of the scope, that makes for 16X mag with 3 degrees of viewing. (Imagine 6 full moons lined up horizontally -- truly a widescreen experience.) Coupled with a 2-3X Barlow (also ancient and from Edmund Scientific), and the mag jumps to 32-48X, the latter giving nice detail to the Orion Nebula and craters of the moon. It's still not planetary range, of course. While some online reports have the Astroscan going up to 120X with the proper eyepieces and Barlow, many describe a significant loss of image quality. Just realize the Astroscan was not designed for planet observing, so your results may vary and likely towards the poor end of the spectrum.
As a beginner, I was instructed to use the naked eyes and binoculars (at most) to learn the night sky. Indeed, the eyes and binoculars, along with a star chart and/or planisphere, provide a cheap, easy way to learn the major highlights of the sky. However, I would not hesitate adding the Astroscan early to the beginning astronomer's optical arsenal. Like binoculars, it provides an inexpensive, fairly "widescreen" view of the sky, which is great for those starting out. Unlike binoculars, the Astroscan rests on a stable mount, which provides time (the arms tire out with binoculars) and clarity (unlike binoculars, no shakiness) that serve the learner well. More sophisticated astronomers criticize the lack of optical adjustability, i.e. collimation, to the Astroscan, but to the budget-minded beginner, this can be a blessing -- with less parts that move, the Astroscan possesses amazing durability and can be bought used without any compromise to the optics.
From one beginning astronomer to another, the Edmund Scientific Astroscan is highly recommended.Sort by