12″ Skywatcher Collapsible Dobsonian

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Aperture high temperature. It can be either active, or dormant, but it’s always there. For me, it was securely the last, as I had actually started as a binocular viewer, however that altered in 1995. After going to the Wild Center Astronomy Club in Wilmot, OH, for a conference as well as looking through John Waechter’s SCT, I ultimately determined to take the plunge into monocular optical aid with an Orion 8″ f/6 made of Sonotube (you remember these, don’t you?).

That worked until 1998 when I updated to a homemade 12.5″ f/5 created by Andrew Winzer, full with a Nova mirror. This scope functioned wonders from dark-sky sites in OH, WV, and PA and also level west, as well as was a pleasure to look through. It had not been till 2007 that I made a decision to upgrade to a 16″ f/4.5, additionally designed by Winzer with an outstanding John Lightholder mirror, as well as in a paradoxical spin, I wound up selling the 12.5″ back to Andy himself.

The 16″ was a blast. Standing 6′ 3″ in footwear, I didn’t need a ladder to look through the eyepiece. The gain in aperture vs. the 12.5″ wasn’t wonderful, yet it was definitely there, especially on subtle galactic spiral arms as well as globular clusters. When appropriately collimated (very important for an f/4.5), it was a dream. I have fairly high criteria for sites, limiting most serious deep-sky observing to sites no worse than Bortle Class 4, or “eco-friendly” on the light contamination map. A 16″ is lethal from such skies, however, if undisturbed observing time is very important, it’s “tiny” adequate to “fly under the radar” at a celebrity event while the curious group towards the 25″ Obsessions.

Yet there was that nagging feeling something wasn’t right. Initially, the weight of the mirror box is fairly considerable, and also I didn’t really value that when I purchased it. Second, with the, um, unpredictable nature of Northeast Ohio’s weather, I really did not have a quick set up, or at least as quick as the 12.5″. This area of the nation actually requires what I such as to call “guerrilla astronomy” techniques, with quick-strike capacities commonly necessary to strike what lots of would certainly take into consideration “sucker holes”.

Lastly, my location in light-polluted Canton, Ohio, suggested that I needed to transport the extent to remote sites to really achieve its complete capacity, and also establishing it up in my driveway for a fast 15-30 min session felt like a job.

Every one of these concerns was little by itself, however, they started adding up over time. Then in 2008, I grabbed “The Dobsonian Telescope” by David Kriege and also Richard Berry. Page 43 had some sage suggestions that struck way as well near to home–” Don’t sell your old telescope. If you already have an instrument, you may be lured to market it to raise money for the brand-new telescope. Do not do it! … The only thing ‘incorrect’ with it is that it’s a smaller size than the scope of your dreams”.

I really did not intend to confess, yet they were right. I a lot, a lot missed out on that 12.5″ extent. I did plenty of public outreach programs with the 12.5″, yet never ever with the 16″. I really did not want to confess for a while, however, I had attacked a bit more than I might chew. In the long run, I felt my tools need to reflect my method to the pastime, so I made certain the 16″ discovered an excellent house. It was eventually offered to an amateur in Naples, FL, who promptly proceeded to make right into a dangerous photonic murder maker with an 80mm finder as well as DSCs.

Back to the Future

So what after that? With the “Wonderful Economic downturn” underway, I knew that I wanted something that was (a) lighter, (B) simpler to set-up and also tear-down for either severe observing, © functional enough for public outreach, informal backyard stargazing, or the long haul to dark skies, as well as (d) oh, yeah, less expensive, so I could pocket a substantial reward from marketing the 16″ as well as pad the household emergency fund.

There were numerous used 12″ dobs that I discovered on the utilized market for $500 – $700, yet they were all tubes, and I wasn’t anticipating the “bearhug” that several 12″- tube dob proprietors experience. The size of a 12″ tube dob also means there are a lot of lorries that they don’t easily enter into, as well as having a scope nix specific lorry alternatives (like tiny sedans) had not been something I fit within this economic situation.

The choice came down to a 12″ Skywatcher Collapsible Dobsonian as well as an Orion XX12. The XX12 was a significant challenger, with its trusses and integrated DSCs, but the price would have been close to $1,400, consisting of shipping and also, call me antique, however, I do not really feel that “thrill of the kill” with either best or push-to systems. I chose the 12″ Skywatcher Collapsible Dobsonian because it best healthy my specifications, but those that have XX12’s would certainly attest to the truth that they are very good scopes, and also I have no reason whatsoever to question they are finely-crafted tools.

I ordered it from Astronomics as well as it concerned my work address in 2 boxes that were significantly bigger than what I had actually envisioned. I assumed, “Now this is ironic; I obtain a range marketed for its portability and I can not get the bleeping boxes in the car!” I was contemplating setting up the range after job and afterward driving its residence, but it was finally homeward-bound after a great deal of acrobatics with my PT Cruiser. If you’re considering having it shipped to function as well as all you have actually obtained is a sedan to take it home in, think again.

Assembly took a bit more than an hour, and also would certainly have gone quicker without a previous injury on my appropriate thumb. I have to do with as mechanically-challenged as they come, yet this was a simple assembly with clear guidelines. As soon as set up, the tube is remarkably simple to carry when it’s fallen down. It still considers 45 lbs., yet it’s just a little timid of 37″ when collapsed, giving it a far more comfy feeling than a difficult “bear hug”. Picture carrying a 37″- long 45-lb. weights; at that length, it’s about as “relaxing” as 45-lbs. obtains.

The range’s struts are attached to the upper-tube setting up, and when the tube is “broken down” the struts slide through round bores in the reduced section of the range. This is the trademark function of the range– to enable generous aperture yet diminish the tube to a size that can be placed in virtually any type of lorry. Three wing screws assist secure the struts in position, and moving the upper-tube assembly is simple, however a bit company. Television is secured to the base by screwing in 2 manages, one of which doubles as a tension-control adjustment.

Collimation of the additional mirror is performed with a provided Allen wrench, and also below’s where my interest in this range took a hit. I found these screws to have too much play in them. A laser collimator’s path had distinctly a lot more “totter” when the screws were changed than my old 16″. Thankfully, the collimation stands up very well between the “extensive” and also “fell down” positions, so it’s the good news is not something I have to adjust typically.

The UTA itself appeared a bit tiny, in my opinion. This was possibly done to enable even more travel distance from the included the flattened placements, yet it does seem like the secondary mirror is a little too revealed. Due to the fact that the UTA is just 8-1/2″ in length, this is a range that would certainly take advantage of the addition of a shadow to keep the dew off the additional. Succeeding testing on a humid night validated this worry.

The focuser had its high and low points. One high point off of the bat is that it’s a Crayford. I located the focuser activities to be very specific as well as smooth. What makes it a little bit odd (see over) is that an adapter has to be made use of for both 2″ as well as 1-1/4″ eyepieces. The 2″- eyepiece adapter has a flange that inserts right into the focuser. I was astonished by this feature has given that many focusers I have utilized are created to approve 2″ eyepieces from the start.

Anomalies apart, if there’s one thing I could truly gripe about on this range, and also it’s the mirror-reversed 8×50 right-angle finder extent. Memorandum to Skywatcher– Ixnay on the reverse! A straight-thru (yet upside-down) finder would certainly have functioned much better considering that it ‘d merely refer revolving your skies charts upside-down to obtain your bearings. I did have a correct-image right-angle 8×50 Orion viewfinder for my 120ST, so I just swapped them, figuring that the difficulties of using a mirror-reversed finder extent would not dramatically prevent a rich-field, mirror-reversed refractor.

First Light

The “two-week” curse of clouds in some way really did not come with the acquisition of this range. It wasn’t clear when I received it, however, the following evening was clear, so I chose to take a look with my new set up. Just to time myself, I filled the base as well as OTA right into my cars and truck and also started from there, with the optics purposefully miscollimated. It took just 6 mins soup-to-nuts to open the hatch of my PT Cruiser, secure the base as well as tube, include the manages, as well as re-collimate. Without the collimation step, it would have taken quickly less than 3 mins. It is, literally, a 12″ grab-n-go.

Without a cooling fan, I was content to wait for a few hrs prior to the mirror cooled down enough to do a fast analysis. Saturn at 292X festinated, with several distinctive bands on its disk. Seeing the Cassini Department was a little bit difficult due to the almost edge-on rings, but the scope depended on the job. I could not go any type of higher than 292X with my existing eyepieces, but I was web content in recognizing the mirror was hardly perspiring at that power.

An even more extensive assessment came two days later on when fellow WCAC members Phil Hoyle and Fred Gardner make the trip down to Calhoun Area Park, WV. Set-up, as before, fasted, just hardly a min much longer than establishing my 120ST refractor with the Astrotech Voyager mount. By just directing the scope into the wind, I had the ability to obtain respectable thermal equilibration prior to completion of twilight.

The dirt information in M82 really began to stand out with a 9mm Nagler (167X). Adding a Barlow to increase the power to 292X was a reward, with fragile tendrils of gas in the nuclear area swallowing up big sections of the field of view. The dust lanes in M104, NGC 3628, NGC 4565 and NGC 5746 were really crisp.

In short, the ambiance in the component of the country is the primary limitation, not the mirror’s high quality. Just to ensure, I did a star examination at 292X on a subsequent evening at our club’s dark-sky website in Coshocton Region, Ohio. I might not spot spherical aberration, TDE, or zones from this mirror based upon what I saw in the diffraction pattern, but I am hardly the most seasoned star tester. It can effectively be that the mirror’s an impressive sampling or a just great one. Ohio’s skies hardly ever will offer a night that might distinguish such degrees of high quality, and I have not honestly looked through sufficient premium mirrors to make the final call. Suffice to state, the Chinese have shown they are totally capable of making fine commercial optics for sensible prices.

Getting to the objects is a pleasure. The movements of the scope are really smooth in both elevation and also azimuth, as well as the tension-control change showed up to the task. I had no balance problems with a 31-oz. 23mm Celestron Axiom LX eyepiece, even when scanning along the horizons.

Numerous weeks, later on, I chose to offer the tension-control adjustment a definitely brutal test– the 30mm Meade 5000 UWA. I initially used this eyepiece on funding from the Astronomy Club of Akron at one of their public programs. It’s a remarkable wide-field eyepiece also in a quick dob, however … it’s a leeeeeeetle heavy at 47-oz. A person in China should have discovered a database of neutron-star matter and hollowed it out and also put lenses into it. I had to tighten up the tension deal with a little bit greater than with the 23mm Axiom LX, however, it did the job. When I checked near the perspective at let go of the extent, the UTA really did not sink, as well as the scope still relocated openly in elevation when scanning.

Among my most significant worries, the dewing potential of the secondary, confirmed pythonic. On most nights, I really did not have a concern, yet on a humid night at the ACA’s observatory at Portage Lakes State Park, I needed to blast the additional mirror with a hair dryer every 15 minutes in an irritating fight. It had not been extra dew-prone than others’ extents that evening, yet I still painfully really felt the lack of a shadow. As they state, trouble rarely decreases an invitation.

Currently, I recognize there’s a few of you around that were simply curious about a High cliff Notes variation. Well, right here’s is:


Sharp optics

Comfort designs

Quick set-up/ tear-down

Can withstand * HEFTY * eyepieces

Easy to deliver and store when broken down

Smooth activities


The right-angle viewfinder is mirror-reversed

Too much play in the secondary-mirror screws

Adapters required for BOTH 2″ as well as 1-1/4″ eyepieces

Secondary mirror prone to dewing on humid nights

In this “ick”-economy, it’s not that individuals don’t wish to invest money. They simply don’t want to lose money. We want to know that their dollars can extend sufficiently to get a good deal, despite the nature of the purchase.

This is why I assume the 12″ Skywatcher Collapsible Dob is an instance where some designer had their thinking cap on, as well as the development involved in this item, is an encouraging indication for the industry as a whole. Crisp mirrors and also the convenience of set-up and transportation for ranges the size of the Skywatcher Collapsible 12″ Dobsonian and the Orion XX12 are an indication that yet an additional “Dobsonian Revolution” is underway.

It is definitely not without its flaws, as the secondary mirror collimation screws have excessive play. This is worrisome because collimation is essential at f/4.9. Luckily, the range holds collimation all right between usages that only small changes for the secondary mirror are ever before required. Some might discover the mirror-reversed finder scope useful, yet I outright disliked it and also gladly would have paid additional for either a RACI or straight-through 50mm finder extent. You can also check out rebel space

On equilibrium, the 12″ Skywatcher Collapsible Dobsonian is a good value. The combination of good aperture, unbelievably fast set up, and also crisp views come at a very inexpensive cost. I would certainly provide it overall quality of a B. This extent can have been an A with a couple of mechanical tweaks.

I ‘d like to say thanks to Astronomics for the acquisition of this range, as well as Dave Mitsky, Francois Coutlee and the Astronomy Club of Akron for their assistance in the evaluation of this extent.

Thanks for putting in the time to review this evaluation. See you out under the celebrities!