A Newbie’s Impression of the Astrophysics 92mm Stowaway (2018 version)

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A Newbie’s Impression of the Astrophysics 92mm Stowaway (2018 version)

Post by chancy_sg »

It seems almost unreal that I ended up with this scope almost randomly. A little background...some years ago, when I was just getting deeper into this hobby, a casual group chat mentioned this mythic scope was being made available and an order list was open online....so I just added mine to the list and left it at that. Being mystical and all that, I had zero expectations of ever getting one. Lo and behold, in the darkest and direst of the COVID-19 outbreak, an email arrived...and dug deep I did to cough up the funds for this scope.

The scope arrived in a grey Pelican air case with the flattener I ordered. It is not a small and light scope that its name might have suggested. It is about 53cm in its retracted size and is quite hefty. Everything about it screams quality and an attention to detail second to none. Over-engineered aluminum caps, screws etc are added confirmation to its well-earned status. Online reports about the lens finishing and manual calibration before being assembled added to that aura. The feathertouch focuser was par for the course, being equally well made and buttery smooth. This is my first scope with this focuser and it clearly lives up to its reputation.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and I had it up once the sky relented. Installing the visual train, up it went on the EM200. The first light was mainly looking at the moon and planets, which are about the only things easily located. I am no visual expert, but the views through the Tak eyepieces (32, 12,5 and 5mms) seemed devoid of any obvious chromatic aberration or coma, and the contrast was excellent. On the quarter moon, craters were well defined with no light bleed into the dark sky beyond. Jupiter showed well-defined bands and the rings on Saturn were magical. A faint glimpse of bright star clusters showed pinpoint stars and Antares was a dusky red.

Over the next few nights, imaging sessions were done and the prawn, veil and lagoon/trifid were attempted in H-alpha. The flattener was included for these and the stars were perfect round to the corners of the full-frame sensor. Fine details were elicited (as far as our Bortle 10 skies allow) for the nebulae, which was a nice surprise. The images are posted here if you want to have a look...:P

Just to point out some of what I feel are its compromise points: when imaging, the focuser must be racked out some 75mm (almost the limit) to achieve focus with the flattener, which raises the possibility of flexture for heavier setups. This is due to the long 160mm backfocus to accommodate bino and other visual setups. The scope is almost 1m long when fully extended for visual or imaging use, which necessitates higher mount payload/torque requirements in certain setups.

Another aspect of being a generalist scope is the slot in design for the flattener and visual adapters, for easier interchangeability. It uses a ‘Doveloc’ mechanism which uses sharp conical tipped securing screws – the conical tips wedge the slanted edge of the adapters to ensure an orthogonal and tight fit, but at the same time dent the edges of the adapters, marring an otherwise perfect kit. A personal quirk – I prefer clam-shells or hinged rings – the AP rings are semicircles with screws on either side, which while allowing finer fit adjustments, also makes it harder to mount the scope – better to leave the rings on all the time and live with the added bulk.

So what are my overall impressions of this legend? If you have only room for one do-it-all scope, for visual, imaging and also being portable, this scope would probably be THE ONE. It excels in all these aspects. But, and it is a big but, here’s the thing...it is a generalist scope, and to the perfectionist/specialist, it won’t be good enough. For me, it would be the perfect do-it-all traveling scope for overseas expeditions – a fine instrument and a keeper.
Twinkle twinkle little stars,
How I wonder what you are.

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