Recently I purchased a shiny new SkyWatcher Esprit 120 APO refractor from Atlantic Photo Supply. Unlike what you see in the usual astronomy magazines my new toy had some issues with spikes on all the stars that were not what I expected of a premium refractor. I contacted the good folks at Atlantic Photo supply to let them know and They immediately contacted SkyWatcher and forwarded my initial test images.
Now this blog entry is not about complaining that the scope had issues. Instead it is about the great customer service offered to me by both Atlantic Photo Supply and the folks at SkyWatcher. No one gave me any grief about my test methods or questioned my conclusions, in fact SkyWatcher immediately picked out another scope, tested it and sent it to me with instructions to simply swap out the optical tube and ship it back to them at their expense. With the Christmas holidays fast approaching they got the scope shipped off to Atlantic Photo Supply and it arrived a week later. All that was required of me was to drop the problematic scope off and pick up the new, tested unit.
After hooking everything up I hauled it all out to my driveway for testing. Now my driveway is in an urban location with a bright sky measured at 18 to 19 mag/arcsecond squared on a good night. Initial views through the scope with a 22 mm Nagler eyepiece were spectacular delivering pinpoint stars across the two degree field. Popping in a 5 mm eyepiece showed classic diffraction patterns that were identical both sides of focus with no trace of any colour issues.
Now the views were great, but I didn’t buy the scope to look through; it will be a photographic workhorse replacing my eight inch f/5 Newtonian. Replacing the eyepiece holder with the supplied field flattener and mounting my Canon 60Da I spent a few minutes shooting Deneb to see if the strange spikes were still there and I’m glad to report that the star images were pinpoints edge to edge offering the performance expected of a premium refractor. Next I tried a quick five and a half minute exposure of M42 with the resulting image shown below.
The scope produced a very nice image with pinpoint stars across the field with lots of detail in the core of the nebula. The image above did not use any calibration frames. My 60Da has built in dark suppression so no dark frames were required and the flat field of the Esprit 120 means I did not need any flat frames.
Looking at the stars in a corner of the image you can see that they remain sharp and show no colour fringing.
All in all the scope makes an excellent imaging platform and the customer service from SkyWatcher and Atlantic Photo Supply was second to none, quickly responding to problems with the initial delivered product to get me up and running even over the holidays.