Friday, June 18, 2010

The StellarVue SV115T20 Telescope

I had an opportunity to attend the StellarVue Dark Sky Star Party this year. (Read my report.) While I was there, I got to experience the sky through quite a few of StellarVue's telescopes, as well as a variety of other scopes.

See the SV115 in the Star Party Picture Gallery!

The scope that had the greatest impact on me was StellarVue's 115mm refractor, the SV115T20. It's a small scope, both in aperture and its physical size. It's small enough to put in a carry-on bag when flying. But the views it provides are far beyond what you'd expect for a telescope of its aperture.

What M82 looked like through the SV115 as  best as I can recreate it. The above image has been heavily modified from an original image by Markus Schopfer.

One of the most spectacular views I had through it was M82, a.k.a. Bode's Galaxy or The Exploding Galaxy. I have never seen so much detail across the center of that galaxy through a small (less than 10 inch) scope as I saw in the SV115. I've tried to recreate the view I had in the image above, but it still falls short of what I saw--there was even more subtlety in the center of the galaxy than I show above.

Another impressive view was the entirety of the Veil Nebula. It stood out from the background as strongly as the Ring Nebula, but with all the detail in it that the Ring doesn't have.

Normally, I don't recommend a scope in this price range as a first scope. Even if a first time buyer has the budget for a scope like this, I usually recommend they start with a cheaper scope, then go for the big purchase after they have a year or so of experience. Well, this scope breaks that rule. If you've got the budget for this scope, go ahead and get it. No other scope that you'll buy later will turn this one into a "closet scope." It'll be something you continue to use alongside any other instrument you buy later.

StellarVue SV115T20. Image by StellarVue.

If you don't have the budget for this scope, StellarVue has a line of scopes that range from low cost to high. Each one is exceptional for its cost, and every scope at any price is individually assembled and tested by the folks at StellarVue. There are no scopes from SV that are mass-assembled overseas and shipped here in containers, never to be inspected until the customer opens the box. The extra care is worth a bit extra in cost compared to similar scopes from other manufacturers that don't receive this care.
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