Skywatcher 150


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Brand and Model:Skywatcher 150
Price ($USD):$999.00 US
Type:Achromatic Refractor
Attributes: un-checked Go-To un-checked PEC
Aperture:150mm (5.9")
f Ratio:f/8
Focal Length:1200mm
Finder:9X50
Electric Power:
Mount:CG5
Tripod:
Weight (lbs):18lbs ota lbs.
Dimensions (w/h/d):
Description:Clone of CR150HD, imported by Sky Instruments in Canada, made in same Synta Technoligies Plant in China as the Celestron.

Vote Highlights Vote
Skywatcher 150
I already had a Celestron 8" /DELUXE which is equiped with the Fastar optic option and a SBIG ST237 camera. I have upgrade and tweaked that scope to be an amazing scope. But I wanted a knock around scope suitable for puplic star parties...and also lusted after a big refrator...but didn't want to buy a APO...at least at the price they are going for. I was going to get the Celestron but the Skywatcher 150 is absolutely identical except for paint and logo. Gary Hand would also sell it minus the items I didn't want...the diagonal, barlow and eyepieces. I already had very high quality accessories so was appreciative I could save another $80 as credit for those items...plus saving about $200 for the Skywatcher vs. the Celestron version.

I knew the tripod would be the limiting factor from previous experience so I built massive home made legs out of 1 3/4" x 3 1/2" hardwood. I used the stock upper section of the German mount and the stock spreader. I set the tripod on a set of the Celestron Vibration Reducing Pads which I have found to be an amazing accessory for any tripod mounted scope. The result is a mount that can easily dampen out a good thump or wind harmonics in less than a second. I pulled the German mount completely apart to see how it was made and was impressed. The RA axis has two ball bearings and the DEC is a bushing. Both axis have brass worm gears with fully adjustable axle play as well as gear lash adjustments. The grease they use is very thick though....too thick in my view so I removed that grease and replaced it with some bicycle ball bearing grease. With fine tuning of the adjustments the mount has excellent tracking with the dual axis drives (if you get them make sure you get the latest version which has brass spur gears...not the older plastic version....stay away from the single axis drive that still has a nylon gear).

I lined the inside of the dew cap and the last bit of the tube with Edmund Scientific black flocked contact paper (past experience on three other scopes show that to be a worthwhile modification). I also removed the elements and blackened the edges of the glass with a black felt tip marker (don't use paint,..it is too thick) The two elements are marked by the factory for correct rotation to each other. I also used three small pieces of Scotch magic mending tape to tape the edges of the two elements in perfect registration with each other. NOTE...this appears to be the one area that some scopes have had a problem with...elements can shift under transportation and go out of colimation/index. The elements are held in place by a lock ring that can be removed by inserting two 1/16" drill bits in each of the spanner holes and it will unscrew with finger pressure. The ring presses against a rubber O ring like piece that presses against the front of the element. This actually is a clever way to ensure that you don't get pinched optics with temperature changes...and hold the elements in quite nicely. The tube itself has three internal baffles and another 4 or so in the focuser. The focuser rides on three rails, one of these is adjustable via two tiny allen screws accessible on the top of the focuser near the chrome focus lock screw. By the way...this arragement is used on all of these Chinese scopes made by Synta. Synta is the manufacturer of all of these Chinese scopes and distributes them to lots of manufacturers. That is why Orion, Celestron, Skywatcher, Bresser, etc. have identical scopes...just different paint. Once adjusted the focuser rivals the smoothness of a Tak I have used...pretty impressive.

Make sure you use a good diagonal and eyepiece with this scope...the optics will reward you. I use a 2" Astro Physics Max Brite or a Lumicon 1 1/4" Enhanced mirror star diagonal borrowed from my other scopes (the 8" SCT and a 80mm refractor). My eyepieces are a nearly complete set of the Pentax XLs (40, 21, 14, 10.5, 7mm and a University Optics 5mm Abbe Ortho). I have heard of some reports of strong purple coloring near bright objects..I get none of that. I do get a barely perceptible yellow fine line around the limbs of the moon. Saturn and Jupiter have no color problems. Thus far only Venus has color...although that is an extremely difficult subject. To do a star test image you need to use a color filter to minimize the effects of the achromat lens. I get about 1/5th wave or better with sperical aberation and of course chromatic aberation present but FAR less than I expected with a achromat 6" fast refractor. In fact it showed less color than even the smaller scopes by the same manufacturer except for one 80mm Short Tube with a particularly excellent optic set. I have found that a star test won't tell you a whole lot with an achromat...it can be misleading. I have had good star tests but actual viewing didn't necessarily indicate great performance...and vice versa. To me the real test is what it does at hard focus. Here is where I have been blown away. As I mentioned originally I saw this scope as a beater scope for the public to abuse somewhat. But the incredibly good views are making me think twice about unleashing the public on this beauty. In direct comparison to some bigger scopes the 6" continues to impress all who look through it. Nebula are very detailed due to the great contrast, detail is very sharp and I have yet to see anything it didn't do well on (other than Venus). I never would have considered a 6" achromat f8 scope to be a planetary scope yet perhaps the best views of Saturn and Jupiter I have seen through ANY scope were with this one. Two weeks ago I had a night of particularly excellent seeing...the best I have had in maybe 3 years. I was able to see 7-9 bands on Jupiter and Saturn was crisp and Casini looked like it was etched with a black pen on the rings. I pushed the magnification up to as high as 480x which still showed a pretty good image...but frankly that was too much for the scope. I backed off to around 340x and the image was razor sharp....in fact for the very first time in my life I believe I actually got some fleeting glimpses of the Enke...I was working alone so couldn't get a second observation but I am pretty sure it was there. If so this would be a pretty impressive observation. I have also gotten the 5th and 6th star in the trapezium...but not the 7th or 8th. With the 8" SCT under good nights of seeing I have gotten the 7th maybe 4 times and the full 8 stars one time. So in the final analysis...aperture still does win...but the 6" shows more contrast. On DSO the 6" does give up a little to the 8" but not much.

So if I like the scope so much how come I gave it a 9 and not a 10...well a ten would be an amazingly versatile and wonderful scope (my 8" Celestron Deluxe with the Fastar setup would rate up there near the 10 range...not because of optic superiority...but because of what it can do). Also...the tripod while fixable is something that would be a nice factory upgrade.

The final exciting news about this scope and the rest of the big Synta scopes is that Aries is about to introduce a achromat to APO converter for these scopes. It will consist of an optic assembly that screws in the filter holder end of a 2" diagonal. Preliminary tests show this to be a very well corrected modification. The price is around $600. If so this combo should make this an even more desireable scope. The latest versions of this scope evidently are being shipped with an adjustable lens cell for colimation via three screws. If so this would be a nice upgrade although I doubt if really necessary. At least in my version the optics are in perfect alignment per the star test. I suspect this was more to deal with the problem of some of the examples having optic shift during shipping alluded to earlier in my review.

You might also ask...for the money...is this a good choice or are there other equal of better choices. For less money you could get a nice bigger DOB. If you just wanted the biggest aperture that would be the way to go. But you wouldn't have the tracking ability. How about a SCT...that would be a tough choice...if I didn't already have one I might recommend that route first. The problem is that for the same amount of money you get the same German mount from China so you still need to do the hop up of the tripod. The refractor does have one big advantage over the SCT and that is the FOV isn't restricted by the secondary mirror so you can go to a long focal length eye piece which paired with the 1200mm focal length of the scope gives a much wider FOV than is possible with the SCT. On the other hand...if you want to do photography...the SCT is fully corrected so it works great. The refractor being an achromat falls down here...at least until equiped with the achro/APO converter promised by Aries. I have done both film photography as well as CCD with the refractor. Film results even in color are pretty good but there are some artifacts of the achromat design. CCD is much more critical of chromatic aberation so this isn't a good option. I was able to get some pretty decent black and white shots when using a IR and yellow filter...but color...don't bother. As far as the mount...I was impressed with its tracking ability as well as how much weight I could load on it and have it still work fine. The basic scope weighs 18#...I added another 2# of lead weight inside the scope nearest the focuser to allow it to balance when pushed farther up in the tube rings (reduces the huge swing of the eyepiece and gets it farther off the ground). I also have added a 80mm guide refractor and a heavy 35mm camera for a total weight of a little over 30#. I was amazed to see that the mount could still guide fine using the Celestron dual axis motor drives! I also tried unguided exposures with the CCD camera to see what duration I could get. I was able to get 40 seconds unguided which alone would be quite good...but I did have periodic error which meant that about half of the shots wouldn't be acceptable. So while this mount would be OK for guided imaging...unguided use for CCD for Stack and Acumulate wouldn't be the best choice. So in the final analysis you could use the scope and mount for film photography (black and white or color) but that wouldn't be the best choice. This scope is best as a visual scope...and that is where it shines.

Synta just introduced a 8" and 10" refractor objective set (not in tubes yet) and they also introduced a very heavy duty German mount more in the class of the Losmandy g-11. Haven't seen any reviews of that mount...or the new optics...but rumor has it that Synta is also going to bring out some APO type scopes. So I suspect that Synta will move into the higher end scopes and perhaps become a VERY serious player in this field. I don't think they will ever replace the very high end scopes like a TMB, AP or Takahashi which has a exlclusive client they are aimed at...but for the rest of us mortals...a Synta APO might be a possibility.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 7 (Veritable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.134.140)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40197


Skywatcher 150
I had seen one of these back in the late 90's and although they were very good on the deep sky, they were not as amenable to the planets and moon.The owner spent several hours aligning the elements and had fabricated a collimatable cell for the objective. He ended up changing out the focuser after several fits trying to get it to hold focus with some rather weighty eyepieces.

Flash forward to 2008 and I was able to look through another more recent sample at a local star party. Now this unit was different from the first in several ways.
This version had a collimatable cell, and I was told that upon inspection of the objective, that it was marked and etched with the info for rotation and numbers.

Now as luck would have it the owner of the earlier version was on the field with his, and we were able to do side by side comparisons.

Although both scopes showed C.A. the levels in the newer version were somewhat more subdued and thus less distracting.
Cool down time didn't seem that bad for all that glass.
They were still using the same focuser which although a little stiffer, still had troubles with weighty eyepieces.
The tube seemed darker than the older version, and contained 3 baffles. The paint job inside seemed darker and "lumpier" than the original.The tube seemed to have a better fit and finish than the older version.

The eyepieces used on both scopes were all Televue,
including 55 plossl, 31 nagler, 24 panoptic, 9 nagler and, 5 radian.
Seeing and transparency were noted at about 6 at the beggining and improving to about 8 by early morning.
Various deep sky targets as well as the moon and Saturn were viewed that session.The views trough the newer version seemed to be sharper across the total field with tighter stars and slightly better contrast. The C.A. seemed tamer in the newer o.t.a. than the other. The moon was at first quarter and there was a thin haze on the horizon.
The Cassini division was clearly evident in both scopes but the newer tube seemed to have a slight edge in contrast, and thus presented a sharper division in the eyepiece.

I found out that the local purveyor of all that is astronomical had managed to get 6 O.T.A.'s of this group and had a few left. I attended his shop and bought one, then ordered and outfitted the scope with a Moonlite 2 speed focuser.

I rated the optics as a 9 because I felt that although I am dealing with an achromat, this is a well corrected specimen and can put up images with the best of them.

I rated it as an 8 for ease of use due to the fact that this is a large scope and so needs a large mount. Mine sits atop an EQ6 and so I felt this could impact the ease of use (not exactly grab n go).

Value is a definite 10 for the wide fields and decent views for the local system. Nice clear crisp views of the deep sky
is what knocks it out of the park for me.

Overall I rated it 9 for two reasons:
1) its an achromat
2) its a big heavy achromat

I have more than enough optical tubes for a lifetime and have had many more pass through my stable, but I genuinely think this one will be here for quite a while.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Ease of Use:8 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.86.110)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=598781


Skywatcher 150
Just wondering, all you guys who gave this a 10, what would an AP155 or Tak 152 rate? 20?

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:6 Mount:4 Ease of Use:6 Value:9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.135.90)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=592773


Skywatcher 150
Front heavy, under mounted and has more purple haze than Jimmy Hendrix. Still, it deserves an extra couple of points for just being a 6 inch refractor, so a 7 it is.

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:7 Mount:4 Ease of Use:5 Value:7
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.62.186)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=483403


Skywatcher 150
works well . better with tuning

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:7 Mount:7 Ease of Use:5 Value:9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.191.40)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=70283


Skywatcher 150
Have used this scope for about 2 months now. Got the 150 as an OTA only and mounted it on the Viven GP-DX mount and heavy duty Aluminum tripod. Under the tripod I placed Celestron anti-vaibration pads. Use the Astrophysics 2" MAXBRIGHT diagonal with Vixen Lanthium Superwides, and Takahasi 5 and 7.5mm ED eyepieces. With this set up vibrations settle within 1 to 2 seconds. The moon, Saturn, and Jupiter are tak clear with virtually no aberations.. a Miniscule purple halo around Jupiter that you have to strain to see. I get a near perfect star test without reduction of apature. Either I got really great optics or the diagonal and eyepieces with ED glass are making a significant difference. For the price I rate this scope a 10. Excellent brightness and contrast. Star test vwas symetrical either side of focus...

Overall Rating: 10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.155.69)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40201


Skywatcher 150
I just thought I'd add my impressions to those posted here and in the Celestron
150 slot. Yes there is some color around brighter objects the amount of which depends on sky conditions (slight haze, etc.), but is suppressed pretty well.

Since I've owned the scope, seeing hasn't permitted serious star testing, but the views at hard focus rival some of the best I've seen in other scopes. This is an aesthetic judgement as different scope types give different views in terms of field, brightness, and contrast. I'm of the opinion that views please some people don't please others as much due to the aethetic nature of seeing things. Since the cost of this scope is currently at $800, the cost/performance ratio is quite high if you can handle its complexity. I built new legs for the tripod out of 2"x3"s 65" longwhich brings the eyepiece at a good height for me.I never used the standard legs. The CG5 mount is just adequate for visual use holding the scope, dew cap (heavy), 5 lbs of ankle weights strapped around the eyepiece end of the OTA, as well as a 2" diagonal with Nagler E.P.s.

The views of planets are good holding magnifications up to 400X though around 375 is better. I consider that to be very good for an $800 scope that outperforms SC types (yes I have mostly used an 8" SC).
Galaxy views are better through really big scopes, but seeing M81 & M82 together in the field of a 9mm Nagler with both showing a mottled appearence under so-so skies was a real knock-out! Keep in mind that this is just a 6" scope.
The Owl Nebula showed its eyes and the Eskimo showed detail as well. The Orion Nebula in 9mm Nagler, (133x)shows rippling that is just not as evident in my SC.
The FOV in a Televue 40mm Widefield takes in more than Orion's sword or the Pleades. As you can see, I'm pretty stoked about this scope's performance.

Though hardly a "perfect" scope, I can't help but think what my past 20 odd years of this hobby would have been like if a scope like this had been around. For the money, it is very hard to beat.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.71.155)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40199


Skywatcher 150
For the price the SW150 is a good value. Very good optics. Star test via Suiter's book, about 1/5 wave undercorrection. However, you need a steady night, the obstruction method, 300X, 58 green filter, and plenty of practice to determine this.

Chromatic aberration is noticeable on bright objects such as Jupiter and Venus. There is a purple halo around Jupiter.

There are oil spots within the tube and a few AL shavings. Fit and finish are 'functional', but this telescope will never make you forget a Tak in workmanship.

However, the views are great for the price and that's why one would get this OTA.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.244.231)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40196


Skywatcher 150
I bought this scope earlier this year (March) and have found it very good.
The optics are far better than myself and my Astronomy club could imagine..pin sharp and very little false colour considering being an F8 150mm achromatic refractor.
The provided eye pieces(10/25) are run of the mill..and of good quality,the 25mm being the best.
The OTA is well built and rugged,a few adjustments were needed for smooth out the focuser and the Dew Tube removed and replaced with a light plastic one (yes the original is made from steel and weighs nearly 2LB!!!) and balances the tube nicely and saves the mount some work!
The mount is OK and once the backlash is eliminated by adjustment(easy)it works fine.
The tripod as standard is hopeless..but can be cheaply modified to work well.. I have listed the two (main) and easy wobble stopping modifications.
1.Firstly the 6 lugs at the top of the legs are made from plastic and don't fit the upper legs very tightly.. relying on the two screws on each lug to do all the work!..these lugs should be removed bonded back in place with apoxy glue and screwed back in position tightly. 2.The lower legs inserted with planned close fitting hardwood for their full length and also bonded in place.
Owning and using reflectors,SCT's etc..I have found this scope a refreshing change ...Its robust, quick to set up and for Moon and Planet viewing can't be beat for its aperture..and for its price!!! Recommended!

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.38.193)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40191


Skywatcher 150
Upgrade the tripod to wood or convert to a pier and replace the diagonal with a Lumicon or Televue and you have a winner! This scope takes down all 8" SCT's and all the Mak-Cass's and Mak-Newt's of equal aperture on deep-sky. On planetary the Mak's win barely because of color, but cost more! There is only minimal cool down time on the refractor compared to the Maks and Newts. Nice sharp images with large fields of view. No collimation worries ever! I quit using my 7" Mak-Newt when I got this scope! Highly recommended for beginners to advanced.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.252.225)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40190

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