Okay, first light report...well sorta. I loaded up the car, carefully putting the newest SV115T on seat and loading coffee, accessories, and me into a hours drive to a dark sky site. Unloaded and setup a ASGT GEM and aligned and setup the SV115 on the mount and waited for
dusk. Blustery and unseasonally warm at 67F, dusk falling quickly in the now wintery (winter for this area) tree lined mountain area near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Full moon is already up and present.
While waiting for nightfall, I slew to the Moon's Grimaldi's region, and looked for scrapes, and close craterlets in near Mare Humorum. First impresseions? WOW! Man-oh-man, Vic out did himself on this scope. Contrast and clarity galore. I am surprised at the detail with a full eyefull of light. Using a 40B filter and neutral density 0.7+, I managed to reduce the brilliance to a reasonable view.
Continuing to the Mare Nubium and with no special aim, each vista was exceptional. Oh, I forgot to mention, I used the TV PanOptic 27mm and 24mm and Nagler 13, 11, and 7mm for panning around and my TV 3-6 Zoom finished the moon in specific areas. If you ask, I was testing to see what this telescope can deliver. Wow, does it ever.
Well, after playing with Luna, I failed to notice that clouds of definite portions arriving and blocking more of the sky than hoped. By 8:00pm, it was totally covered, even blocking the entire moon.
So, next time, I will (hopefully) have more to report.
I received my SV115T20 several months ago and the first evening after it arrived the skies were joyously clear and there was no moon. I stayed up from dark until nearly light. You will be amazed at the contrast of this scope. It's light and easy to mount like a 4", but optically thinks it is a 5". I was at a star party recently and the guys with the big guns (18"=25" dobs) were lined up at my scope to see if the views of the Sagittarius region were really as good as rumors on the field. Most left shaking their heads in amazement.
Spent last weekend at Canaan Valley, West Virginia (elevation 3,200 feet), with the family, about 3.5 hours west of our home in Northern Virginia/DC. On Saturday and Sunday evenings (Oct. 9 – 10), I experienced the darkest skies I've ever encountered. Had been hoping for clear skies so I brought along my SV115T20, CGEM mount, and my trusty 11x80 binoculars. Having only used my one-year old 115T20 in suburban Northern Virginia, I was needless to say blown away. At first, it was disorienting suddenly seeing so many new stars, Ursa Minor in its entirety, and true naked eye views of the Andromeda Galaxy and the Double Cluster in Perseus. It was actually a bit challenging to find Deneb in my SV 10x60 mm finder scope with so much competition. To top things off, Sagittarius was still above the horizon and all of the Milky Way `steam' rising up to the Summer Triangle was fair game with my 11x80's. Will never forget the views –endless nebuli and star clusters. Slight wind, temp. 50 F. Here are some highlights:
1. Veil Nebula – viewed for first time ever … with TV 41mm Panoptic. Diffuse and ghost-like. No filters needed.
2. Dumbbell Nebula – bright, contrasty, and central stars visible.
3. Double Cluster in Perseus – was very surprised to find that this was my absolute favorite object of the evening. I've seen it many times, of course, but not like this. An absolutely stunning, never-will-forget view with my TV 17 mm Nagler Type 4. Get this … I actually felt like I could fall into the eyepiece if that makes any sense … it felt like I was standing on the edge and if could literally fall into space headfirst into the Double Cluster – a very three dimensional view. Pinpoint stars of course with this great APO.
4. Comet Hartley 2: Found easily (had not been able to see at all from Northern Virginia). Round – could not discern a tail – ghostly white – cotton candy/diffuse. Could just see with naked eye. Viewed with 17 mm Nagler and 27 mm Panoptic.
5. Andromeda Galaxy – extended half-way across field of view with TV 41mm Panoptic. Have never seen so much of it. Explored central core with TV 12 mm Nagler Type 4 and 10 mm. Radian. Very bright 2.5 million year old light!
6. Jupiter – in addition to North Equatorial Belt, saw (faintly) one of the temperate belts and both polar regions with 10 mm and 6 mm Radians, light blue Baader filter.
7. Surfing the Milky Way with my 41 mm Panoptic. Unbelievable.
I spent this last week with a group from our church who went to Death
Valley for a retreat and a tour of many of the historic sites. When my wife and
I signed up I offered to take a telescope along -- an offer which was quickly
We set up on Wednesday night atop Dante's View, which is just a skosh under
5,500 feet elevation. Transparency was 10/10, while the seeing was 8/10 owing
to some upper atmospheric turbulence. We also had gusting wind between 15 and
25 mph! With the wind chill factor it temp was about 40 -- this after a 100+
degree day in the valley.
My SV115T was the hit of the evening! The "mini-outreach" included a brief talk
about the relative size of celestial objects and some solar system facts. Then
the show began. First up was M42 -- no filter necessary. The Trapezium was
tack sharp with the E and F stars winking in and out. Next came the Double
Cluster and a discussion of open and globular clusters. Then M81/82, then to
M51 and a discussion of galactic interaction. The final target for the evening
was Saturn. Can you guess which object was the most popular? Yeah, you guessed
it -- Saturn. The seeing did not allow me to use really high power but we could
still see the ring shadow on the planet and the planet shadow on the rings. I
think the group kept me on Saturn for nearly an hour as they continually cycled
through. (I never fail to be amazed at the number of people who have never
looked through a telescope.)
Alas, the skyglow from both Las Vegas and the greater L.A. area was visible.
While not intrusive it amazed the group that that much light could be seen from
so far away. It was the perfect opportunity to talk about light pollution, its
harmful effects on plants and animals (including humans) and some things they
could do about it.
Death Valley is an amazing place. Dante's View is a beautiful spot but is very
exposed if there is wind. There are, however, a number of places on the western
side of the valley that are both higher and less exposed. It's worth it to haul
your gear out there and give it a try -- just not in the summer time. :-)
I've always *thought* that I understood why people post "first light" reports.
Now I think I didn't _really_ understand. In my case it seems to be a calling
because the quality of experience was so.....profound. It seems unjust to keep
it all to myself.
So, I took delivery of my very first telescope on Monday, an SV115T.
I've been a long time dabbler in/with astronomy, and have had some pretty
awesome views through a nice 8" newt. Earlier this year, though, the bug really
bit (and held). I've been a very frequent backyard bino astronomer this
summer/fall, since I obtained a nice pair of Oberwerk 20x90's. It had obviously
become time to find a telescope. I joined the local club, borrowed an 8" dob,
did lots and lots and Lots of reading, research, conversation...and I Still just
was not prepared - for the quality in Vic's work.
Today my normally glib self seems to be more limited to words like "Wow.....",
"oooh!", and "ah, gee...what I was saying?".
The overcast broke last night, and skies were quite clear - albeit a little low
in transparency. Prior to moon rise, I found myself stuck awhile (rooted?) in
the Pleiades...such clean blues. Perseus then lent me his several charms, and
the colors at Cygnus' head were a delightful appetizer. Early on, I found it
difficult to do much touring...Every sprinkling of stars became a pristine
wonder. I took in Jupiter, then the moon. Conditions allowed up to about 160x
for Jupiter, but I was able to crank the Nagler 6-3 zoom all the way up on the
moon. OUTStanding. Beautiful clarity, no fringes of color...perhaps it's time
for me to learn some of the craters' names, now that I can visit!
I'm presently in Eastern Iowa (it was 24 degrees last night!), so I took a
little break to warm the body up, and to give my pupils a break. The last treat
of the night was to be M42. This is the sight that still lingers today. The
contrast, detail is Still something I struggle to describe. I just shake my
The notional exploration of a trip to the Florida Keys this winter is no longer
notional. My wife just called me to ask about it...
Two Saturdays ago our local club was to have a star party at Johnson Valley in
the high desert of SoCal. It's one of the few places left in SoCal that remain
fairly dark even though close to encroaching urban development. It's just a
wide spot off a dirt trail with no "facilities" or amenities of any kind -- but
it's DARK. :-)
> I loaded up the SV115T20, CG5 GoTo and away I went. I arrived just before
dusk and so was able to plop down a chair and enjoy the multi-colored show of a
desert sunset. Beautiful! Temperature was in the lower 70's (F), and wind was
light and variable but never blowing more than 8 kts. As it became darker it
was evident that the seeing was going to be good and, as is usual, the
transparency was close to a perfect "10." After a while my friend Rudy showed
up, bringing his 12.5" Dob and a supply of bottled Starbuck's coffee drinks.
ZING! And that's all that came. Too bad for those who didn't chance the
> We started off with some lunar views while waiting for complete darkness to
settle. There is nothing like a fine refractor for lunar and planetary work.
Slowly working up and down the terminator was a joy. Razor sharp crater edges
and superb black and white contrast without even a hint of extra color. Alas
the Moon stayed with us until well toward the middle of the night so we shifted
to the northern and eastern and southeastern skies.
> Rudy started looking at some of the clusters in the Scorpius area and so I too
started looking for those I hadn't seen before. NGC 6139, 6259, 6268 and 6388
were among those that were new to me. Of course the Jewell Box in Scorpius was
included as well. It is well named as its stars look like a spread of many
colored gem stones. M4 was a real treat, looking like a bright granular ball
with a nice scattering of stars around the edges.
> Next we shifted to the Ursa Major region. M51 was first on the list. Under
the right conditions (and we had them) this is a real stunner. Through my 115 I
was able to see the "bridge" between M51 and NGC 5195. And while I couldn't
define the galactic arms of M51 I was able to indentify the darker areas where
the gaps in the arms were. M101 showed its core a a light grey fuzzy ball with
swirls of light and dark where the the arms should be. No clear view of the
arms but I definitely knew what I was looking at. M81 & 82 came next. Rudy's
12.5" Dob really highlighted these beautifully. We could see the vertical dust
clouds against the edge-on galactic plain. Through the 115 "82" was a very
bright elongated cloud with definite light and dark characteristics. Not like
in the Dob but pretty darned good. M81 was beautiful through both scopes. This
was the first occasion I was able to pick out the light and dark of the galactic
whirls -- not a Hubble shot by any means but you could just make it out.
> Saturn was not to be missed. The 115 showed it a a butterscotch colored ball
with the rings clear and sharp against the planet and background. The rings'
shadow on the planet and planet shadow on the rings was tack sharp.
> M13 was well placed and again the big Dob did a great job. But the 115 was
not all that far behind. It revealed a bright granular core with varied arms of
stars radiating out from the center -- all pin point sharp!
> After a short break to just sit and enjoy the quiet of the desert night, we
noticed that Cygnus was up and of course that meant Lyra and Aquila were too. I
immediately went to M11, one of my all time favorites. Perfect! Tack sharp
stars against a deep blue-black background. It never fails to take my breath
away. From there I slewed to the North American Nebula which I couldn't quite
get clearly for some odd reason. So I shifted to the various parts of the Veil
and had no problem. I was even able to pick out Pickering's Triangle.
> The final icing on the cake, as it were, was finding the Quasar 3C273. It had
been a number of years since I tried for it and I wasn't sure I could find it
again. But I had copied several guide pages from the internet and had S&T's
Pocket Sky Atlas as well. As I narrowed the search I began to remember the tips
on finding it that I received from Josh W. (our REAL astronomer SV'er) at Joshua
Tree a good number of years ago. It took about 25 minutes but I was able to bag
it. It was a pleasure to share it with Rudy who had never seen it before. If
you want to go for it look on page 45 of S&Y's Pocket Sky Atlas for a rough
location. It's about a third of the way up from the bottom, a little to the
right of center. You can also Google "finding 3C273" and get some very detailed
star chart pages. It doesn't look like much when you find it but consider that
the light you are seeing started its journey toward your eye before oxygen had
yet to form on the Earth. The distance is somewhere around 1.9 billion light
> This post is getting too long so I'll cut it short. We had a great time
chasing all over the sky looking for old friends and some new ones. The SV115
was, as always, a joy. Razor sharp images and amazing contrast -- I just can't
say enough good things about it. (Though I do lose a lot of socks when using
> I can hardly wait for June and the SV Dark Sky Party.
I received my new SV115T20 yesterday and the weather cooperated long enough for
me to enjoy first light this evening. I mounted it to a CGE mount and sped
through a couple of dozen objects.
Without going through the usual list of first light targets, I'll simply say
that I am blown away by the quality of this scope. Here are my of courses:
- collimation was dead on.
- the star test was textbook.
- images were color free and essentially aberration free--really the perfect
- Saturn was stunning with no image breakdown at 266X. In fact, the image just
got better the more power I poured to it.
- the globulars sparkled like Christmas lights above 200X.
I use the CGE at home where I have mag 5.5 skies and courteous neighbors who
keep their lights off for me. Though I plan to use the scope for mostly visual,
I do like to attach my modified 300D occasionally just to see what is beyond the
muck and haze above. It's on JMI Wheeley Bars and I can roll it from my garage
style observatory to my observing deck. I can set up in about two minutes. I
spent most of the evening messing with a new LXD75 mount which I plan to use as
my travel mount. I could see right off the bat that I will need a tripod pier
extension to keep the SV115T from crashing into the legs. That will cut down on
portability, but if I ever want to see the zenith using this mount, it is a
It's great to have a Stellarvue scope again. This is certainly a gorgeous
instrument. I'd just like to say--WOW!
DATE: Saturday March 6, 8:30 PM to 11:30 PM EST.
LOCATION: Fairfax County, Virginia (residential area).
CONDITIONS: clear, 50 deg. F, no wind, faintest stars visible were about 4th
magnitude (the stars forming the head of Leo the Lion, Adhafera, Rasalas, and
Epsilon), residential area driveway, lights on across street.
EQUIPMENT: Brand new SV115T20 mounted on CGEM and my 1984 Meade LX 10 inch SCT
mounted on original factory wedge tripod.
This report serves as both a first light report for my new SV115 and as a
comparison between the 115mm refractor and my Meade LX 10 SCT, now 25+ years
SUMMARY: The 115T20 produces breathtaking, `stellar jewel box' images of stars
and detailed images of the planets, including Mars and Saturn. As compared to
the Meade 10, it held its own and in my view, produced superior images overall.
The only advantage of the Meade 10 is obvious "€“ it has superior light gathering
ability (i.e., M-42 is brighter and more of the nebula is visible), BUT "€¦ these
images are not as sharp or discernable as those produced by the 115, and they
lack contrast and evidence of color. The 115 is able to display stars "€“ some
extremely close together "€“ like no other telescope I've ever encountered.
Orion Nebula (M-42):
Meade 10: The large SCT lightbox overall produced a more pleasing view due to
its superior light gathering power. Best views were with a Televue 12mm Nagler
Type 4 (208x). About 25% more of the actual nebula was visible as compared to
the 115mm, however, the inner stars were not sharp with the SCT and image lacked
the precision and color correction of Vic's masterpiece. The Trapezium was very
bright but stars were blurry.
SV115T20: Less of the entirety of the nebula appeared to be visible but the
Trapezium was a stellar jewel box. Stars amazingly sharp, superior contrast,
some color. More subtle details of the visible nebulosity were discernable.
The fact that the 115 has less light gathering power than the 10 inch lightbox
was not at all disappointing. One could probe the interior of the famous nebula
with greater confidence and precision with the 115 refractor. Astonishing
Meade 10: With a 12mm Nagler, Type 4 (208x), Saturn was very bright but I could
see very little detail - no cloud belts or ring details visible. With the 17mm
Nagler (147x), I could barely discern central cloud belt and upper belt. With
an 18mm Radian (138x), no detail. The four visible moons, Titan, Dione, Tethys,
and Rhea, were visible but were blurry and not pleasing to observe.
SV115T20: Wow! Immediate improvement "€“ far superior to the Meade 10. Five
moons now visible. Not as bright of course but a generous amount of detail,
contrast, and pleasing views. Three cloud belts were immediately visible and
the 5 moons were pinpoint sharp - could now discern a fifth moon, Enceladus.
Tried 10mm Radian (80x), then combined with my 2.5 Powermate to produce 200x "€“
very fine image. Then I switched to the 3mm Radian and this produced the most
stellar image (266x) "€“ brighter and a bit sharper. Sure, the image was less
bright but much more detail was visible. I know I shouldn't have, but I just
had to know "€“ what would happen by combining the 3mm Radian with the 2.5
Powermate. The seeing conditions permitted this somehow and at 666x, the image
was dark but still sharp with detail. However, I preferred the 3mm Radian view.
Thanks Vic for a truly spectacular refractor. It sits proudly next to my good
'ole SV80/9D. More reports to come.
We have five SV115s here at the Dark sky Party (three of the older version,
two of the current version) and everyone recognizes that these are outstanding
I received my SV115T20 several months ago and am just as enthusiastic as you
are about its quality and performance. If I could only have one
scope the 115 would be it.
The SV115T prototype has a 1/20 wave RMS lens with a perfect star
test and coatings that provide high transmission for both visual and
Friday night I joined members of a club from a neighboring city for a
public outreach in conjunction with a public safety demonstration/display. I
took my SV115T20 and my "star party EP" an 8 - 24 Hyperion zoom, all set up on
my trusty old SV manual M5 (CG5 clone) and Mk I Stablelock tripod. In total
there were 14 scopes set up including a lovely little SV NH II in Stardust blue.
Over the evening we had about 75 to 100 people show up. Not a large crowd but
an enthusiastic one. Saturn and the first quarter Moon were in perfect
position. Like several other 115T owners, I heard similar comments about the
views through this four and a half inch wonder. "cool... amazing... it's so
sharp it looks fake... is that real?... wow... oh my God!... etc. My favorite
was "hey Carlo, take a look through this one. it has the best views here." We
lucked out with the seeing as the air was very still, allowing some fairly high
magnification to be used. The ring line on Saturn was laser sharp and we were
able to see four moons and possibly a fifth. I say "possibly" because the moon
glow was pretty intense and ambient sky glow from surrounding communities didn't
help. The views of the Moon were breathtaking! Still air and the 115's triplet
lens combined to knock viewer's socks into the next county. Jeez I LOVE that
Beautiful! Great image as always. Those tadpoles really stand out
with the high resolution of that chip and the SV115.