Monday, June 26, 2017

Stellarvue 80mm Raptor review.

April 17, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews


I have been wanting to use my 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain to capture some of the smaller objects out there. I have tried using my finder/guide scope, but at about 200mm focal length it just doesn’t seem to guide a 2000mm scope very well. The last trip out I tried using an off axis guider with my Schmidt-Cassegrain with frustrating results. It took quite a while to even find a guide star and when I did it was so close to the edge of
the field  that it looked more like a half Moon than a star.  After thinking about it for a while (6 days I think it was) I
decided I was going to buy a refractor to use as my guide scope for the Schmidt-Cassegrain. I have looked into a few of the smaller shorter focal length refractors but kept going back to the 80mm ED Raptor by Stellarvue. Thursday night (02/18/2010) I decided I was going to buy the Raptor. The next morning I called my friend at Oceanside Photo and Telescope to get the ball rolling and have it shipped out. As luck would have it Captain Ippei just happen to show up there at OPT and agreed to deliver it to me on his way home and saving me the shipping cost (thanks capt.).

My first thought, when I saw the box, was “wow that’s bigger than I thought it was going to be”. Up onto the tailgate of the good captains truck it went and I opened the box. Inside that box was a bunch of Styrofoam peanuts, foam rubber supporting material, some packing paper and another smaller cardboard box. I get the second box out and opened it up. Inside that was the soft carrying case with a nice, stitched in, Stellarvue logo staring at me through a clear plastic bag. I get that bag open and unzip the case to reveal my new, long awaited toy.

My first impression
Inside I found a nice looking, shiny, carbon fiber telescope with a 2″ gloss black two speed Crawford focuser with aluminum knobs. Around the scope was a beautifully machined clamshell ring with a short Vixen style dovetail bar on the bottom and a finder bracket attached to the top. Picking up the scope I notice the carbon fiber finish is nice and smooth with an even looking finish with no noticeable defects. I try out the focuser and it is buttery smooth with no backlash and, while holding it, no noticeable slop. The focuser is rotatable by loosening a single set screw near where the focuser meets the tube. It came with a 2″ to 1 1/4 adapter that is held into the focuser with a brass compression ring and three set screws. The focuser also has a graduated scale on the draw-tube to assist with initial focus. When I pulled off the front cover to have a look at the optics I noticed the metal ring on the front of the dew shield is a bit loose. It is screwed onto the dew-shield and when I tried to tighten it, it would not tighten up. I personally don’t think it is that big of a deal and won’t be sending the scope back for that. I think a dab or two of some kind of adhesive will work just fine. I will remove the dew-shield for this fix as I don’t want any out-gassing, of whatever I use, to settle onto the optics. Speaking of optics, they were spotless with no streaks, fingerprints or even dust on them and they had the usual slight greenish tint to them. Looking through the front of the telescope I could see the light baffles and the flat black interior of the tube. The dew-shield is also carbon fiber with the same looks and quality of the tube. It is a sliding dew-shield with metal rings on each end and the company name painted on each side of it. The front cell has some strips of felt attached to add resistance and yet allow the dew shield to slide. Sliding the dew-shield is also smooth and easy but will stay at any position you wish it to be at. Also included are some extra strips of felt in case more tension is needed. I am sure over time the original felt will reduce its ability to hold the dew-shield in place and some new strips will be needed. Also included inside the case were a shoulder strap for the case, a couple Allen wrenches for the clamshell, dovetail and for adjusting the tension on the focuser and the paperwork including a registration card. The foam inside the case has a number of cutouts that can be removed for storage of accessories such as a diagonal, finder and/or some eyepieces. There are 3 large round cutouts that will hold 2″ eyepieces, 2 small round ones for 1 1/4″ eyepieces and a small (approx 3″x3″) square cutout that fits my 1 1/4″ diagonal, 2 1/2 x Tele Vue  Powermate and camera adapter.

First light.
I don’t have very much experience with refractors and the only thing I have to “truly” compare it with is a Stellarvue 80mm Achromatic refractor I used to have. I put the Raptor on my Orion XHD Paragon-Plus tripod and brought it out to my driveway. I put in my 24mm (23X) Baader Hyperion eyepiece and aimed the telescope at the Moon. The moon was just about 1/2 full (or empty for you pessimists) and it was crisp and sharp. I did notice a very slight greenish blue ring around the moon. I am not sure if it is a slight case of Chromatic-aberration or if it was caused by the moisture in the air. We have had quite a bit of rain and there were a lot of clouds flying by so I will need to update this when I can confirm what it is. I then put in my 13mm (43X) Hyperion to bump the power up a bit more. Again, there was a slight greenish blue ring around the brighter part of the moon but was still barely visible. The color of the moon itself looked just fine with no sign of discoloration at all. I swung it over to M-42, The Orion Nebula, and it looked great for a small scope in a light polluted city. The stars were nice and small with the 4 stars of the Trapezium clearly visible and separated. I didn’t see any signs of Chromatic-aberration around the stars and when the weather gets better, I will pop in my 2 1/2 x Televue Powermate to push the scope to its upper magnification limits.

Photographing with the Raptor.
I installed my Nikon D-40 to the scope with my T-Ring and Ho-Tech Self Centering Camera adapter and took a few daytime shots. The telescope focused t about 1/2 the length of the draw tube with the camera directly in the focuser. All the images were crisp and clear, well, the ones that were in focus were. I took a number of shots of a variety of objects and I could not see any hint of CA in any of the images. I tried to take a couple pictures of some airplanes flying by but it is tough to focus on a moving object.

In closing this telescope so far seems like a very nice telescope. With the great optics, fantastic focuser and beautiful carbon fiber tube I think I will be keeping this scope for a long time. The only thing this scope needs is a large carbon fiber telescope to sit underneath it.

I have not been able to get out with the scopes in a while and when I do again I will update this review,

I got my first chance to image with the Raptor at the last Julian Starfest. Due to some user errors my weekend did not go quite as planed. The scope did show quite a bit of coma on the edge of the images I was able to get and a more experienced imager said it looked normal. I was using my Orion Starshoot Pro v1 color imager.  For my next trip I plan on using my Schmidt-Newtonian for imaging so I may not get a chance to take any shots through the raptor.

Again, I will update when I get some quality info to add.

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