Telescope Review: NewStar 70mm f/10 Refractor

Telescope: NewStar 70mm f/10 Refractor
Type: Refractor
Description: 70mm f/10 achromat refractor, red dot finder, 25mm Plossl eyepiece, $279 CAD
Setup: This was a piece together project that included a NewStar (Synta) 70mm f/10 OTA with a Skywatcher red dot finder, an Orion 25mm Sirius Plossl and a Guen Sheng EQ-2 mount and tripod. The tripod featured telescoping aluminum legs and a solid accessory tray that also served to steady the mount. The EQ head was a bit odd - similar to the Orion EQ-2 but the goose neck was missing. The tripod was very solid and the dual slow motion controls were smooth, although the Dec control was a spring loaded affair that had to be "reset" every once in a while.
Appearance: The OTA itself was stellar - a solid metal tube with a quality plastic 1.25 inch rack and pinion focuser that was very smooth. The focuser featured a focus lock and two retaining thumb screws. The 70mm object was held in plastic housing with a built in plastic dew sheild. Overall, the OTA is very rugged and well built. The EQ-2 mount was also solidly built and held the 70mm OTA with authority (although the EQ-2 wasn't quite up to the task of holding my Orion Apex 127 OTA). The entire package weighed about 30lbs and was very easy to move as an entire unit.
Performance: The big issue with inexpensive achromats is false colour. With an f/10 focal ratio, I had hoped that this scope wouldn't show too much, and I was right. The views are nice and sharp - stars showing nice tight pinpoints. The intra and extra focal images are identcial, with no hint of pinched optics or astigmatism. False colour does start to creep in at powers over 100x, but it's not as distracting as it is in something like a short tube 80. Views of Jupiter at 140x were very comparable to my Orion Apex 127 at the same power, just dimmer. Resolution is good and I believe these optics are diffraction limited. The entire rig is very easy to use and sets up in just minutes. I wound up selling the scope to a friend of mine (thanks Will!) to replace his department store trash scope - a 70mm f/10 Bushnell! Although his old and new scopes essentially had the same optics, he reports that he sees a lot more through the new scope because the mount is rock steady, and the focuser is so smooth.
  • Multicoated achromat optics provide sharp views
  • Minimal false colour at low power
  • Super smooth focuser
  • Rugged, sturdy build quality
  • Very portable and light with EQ-2 mount
  • Sturdy, smooth mount controls
  • False colour moderate at high power
Conclusions: Overall this is a superb grab and go scope. It affords nice wide field views while being able to handle the higher powers that something like an ST80 won't.
The bottom line? Recommended (Great optics, rugged construction, smooth operation).
Reviewer: Rick Towns
Review Date: 3/17/2003