Well it has been a while coming, but the folks at SkyWatcher were able to diagnose the problem they had with my previous Esprit 120 and have shipped me a new replacement scope. I’m very pleased to say that this new unit performs as expected and as advertised, at least in my limited testing. I was able to get out for an hour last night and take a few test shots to verify that the optical problem is no more. The star images are what you would expect from a higher end refractor, no spikes, round and small halos. Below is a quick 12 minute (6 by 2 minute subs) shot of M51 taken with the scope.
Please excuse the poor image quality, it is a result of a very short exposure from an urban imaging site with the Moon in the sky. Even with that limitation there are 15’th magnitude smudges in the upper right that are some of the faint galaxies around the Whirlpool. Of more interest to me is the quality of the star images. Here is a zoom in on the double in the upper left corner.
As you can see the stars are nice and round with no trace of the nasty spikes that showed up on the previous units and these are stars at the corner of the frame, not in the center.
I’d like to say thanks to Joe Wang at Pacific Telescope Sales & Marketing and the folks at Atlantic Photo Supply (local SkyWatcher dealer) for going the extra mile in customer service to satisfy a grumpy customer after my initial purchase had less than stellar performance.
Now if the weather will just cooperate a bit, I can’t wait to see what the Esprit 120 can do under much darker skies.