Review of the Starwave 80ED-R Refractor Telescope

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Starwave 80ED-R Refractor Telescope

A review of Altair Astronomy’s new Starwave 80ED 2016 Version with FPL53 Optics and Fine Tune Rack & Pinion Focuser

Following my recent blog of the Altair ED80 I was fortunate enough to receive the latest model – the Starwave 80ED, from Altair. a 0.8x reducer/flattener. The telescope came with a 0.8x Planostar reducer which gives the f7 scope a focal ratio of F5.6 for imaging. Also in my package was attachment rings for a Canon and for a Nikon camera.

First impressions are that the Starwave 80ED appears smaller than the ED80; although it isn’t. It still has the 555mm focal length and 80mm ED Doublet Lens assembly, albeit now with the new FPL53 optics.  The new Dual Speed 1:10 ratio 2.5″ Rack ‘n Pinion (Geared) Focuser with brass rack gear and tension adjustment was a fantastic improvement on the old version which I commented on in my previous review.

Altair have also Improved the retractable dew shield with a much tighter fitting in this new Starwave 80ED. This means no more small screw marks on the tube and the shield now sits snug and straight on the tube assembly when fully withdrawn. Another update on the old version is the simple but effective push-fit lens cap, which was a screw fit on the older version. This may sound trivial but it is a very welcome improvement as it no longer requires 20-30 turns to screw on.

The Starwave 80ED was mounted onto my IOptron CEM60 mount with a smaller 60mm guide scope on top. There were no issues as the scope came with tube rings and small dovetail bar. The new scope is only slightly lighter than the older version and so only minor adjustments were required to the balance.

First object for the trial, Messier 42, the Great Orion Nebular, was an obvious choice, given that the scope arrived in December.  First target was with my Canon 600D and attachment was very simple with the T adapter and the 0.8x reducer fitting nicely into the 2” focus.  I took a few test shots of different exposure times to see how much light was getting through to the image. This allowed me to set the exposure time to 300 seconds and I took 10 frames in total.

I was very impressed with the quality of the focus and focus lock as well as the image I was getting. This is a stack of the 10 frames taken with 800 ISO and the Canon 600D (un-modified). The detail in the outer edges of the nebula and the dark thin lines in the dust at the bottom were very impressive. This was obviously a combination of the much better focus I was getting and the quality of the optics.

Orion Altair Astro Starwave ED80-R

Click image to open hi res version

The second session was using the one shot colour Altair Hypercam IMX178 USB3.0 EAA Imaging Camera which I had been given for an evening’s trial. Again mounting was simple and straightforward even with the 0.8x reducer/flattener. This is not a review of the camera as I only had it for the one night and nor is this a review of the Altair software, however I will just say that more time was required getting to know the software as it was not as user friendly as was first expected.

The Starwave 80ED performed just as well with the CCD camera as it did with the DSLR. Focus was simple and straight forward and the quality of the images was very good indeed. This Orion image is 14 x 300 seconds with a 4 and a 15 second image used for the core.

 

Orion Altair Astro Starwave ED80-R
Click image to open hi res version

 

Verdict:

I was delighted to see the improvements from the ED80 (which I had been impressed with – optically and photographically). I was also pleased to see the suggested improvements I had mentioned in my blog, had obviously been pointed out to Altair and had been swiftly acted upon. Although looking slightly smaller the new scope packs a punch. The Starwave 80ED has a very good feel to it. It is solid in build but not lacking on quality.  All in all, I think this scope is a winner for Altair as it sits in a moderate price range and given the modifications to the focus, dew cap and optics, it is very good value for money and I certainly would recommend it to both beginners and intermediate astro-photographers alike.

 

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Andrew Davies
Astronomer at Astrofarm

Andrew is the resident astronomer at Astrofarm residential astronomy centre in the South of France. He has been hooked on the night skies since a schoolboy and has never tired of both solar and night time observing as often as he is able. As a teacher of both astronomy and photography classes Andrew has a wealth of knowledge and likes nothing better than to share with others.


He founded both the Mid Cheshire and Runcorn & Widnes Astronomy clubs and organises and presents the annual North West Astronomy Festival. He excels in outreach and inspiring beginners and loves to share his knowledge as well as to learn from others. In addition, Andrew is a keen photographer of both the night sky and the world around – you will see examples of his interest and skill throughout our website www.astrofarmfrance.com


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