The problem with astrophotography is that you find yourself always in need for a new setup for some purpose (or excuse) or other, (COVID lockdowns notwithstanding). In my case, it was a need for a portable setup for overseas expeditions, meaning air travel, to dark sites in other countries. Weight limit, size and portabability are key constraints in choice of equipment. Of course we try to stick to familiar equipment as far as possible and recommedations were welcome when I was choosing a setup.
Having settled on the EM11 as the mount du jour, being already familiar with its bigger sibling the EM200, the next important aspect was the OTA. I had initially considered the FSQ85, being a natual choice as I had owned one before, but the cost and weight were major drawbacks. It was at this point when the Beginner casually mentioned he already owned the ideal small travel scope of outstanding quality and he had in mind of course the Skyrover 70 SA original mark 1 version, which is as rare as hen’s teeth, and he got it through his personal China network! His had no chromatic aberration, no coma, no astigmatism and he had used it with no issues.
So when i heard rumours abroad of a new ‘improved’ mark 3 version in the works, I keenly kept my nose to the trail on any developments, eager for news and obtainability of one. Surprisingly, it was an old friend who had shipped one sample version and he offered it to me, provided I made the trip personally to collect it up north. It was actually a review unit, and having being reviewed, was available now for purchase as a demo. The price was a special offer as such, and it was the full kit with counterweight balance system. Needless to say, it changed hands into my posession and since then it has been overseas with me a few times.
The specifications for the 70SA iii are as follows:
Aprture 70mm @f5, so 350mm native focal length
Focuser 2.5” coarse and fine, M48 male out
Quadruplet lens (Petzval??) with Japanese ED glass
Weight 2.3kg and Length 37cm fully extended, 31cm closed
The scope balances head light, so the focuser and camera end is heavy and makes it unbalanced. The finish of the scope is very high quality, with machined metal caps both ends and a well made pair of rings to attach it to a vixen plate. I recommend the long ADM one to offset the weight so it can balance without the counterweight system provided. You may also have to mount it such that the focuser is on top, and re-attach the finder scope shoe to the alternate space provided. Adding a ZWO EAF to it should be doable.
Packing it for travel is a breeze, it will fit in any camera backpack and together with the imaging gear, should make for an easy carry-on and meet both weight and size restrictions on most airlines.
When in the field, it is get set, ready, go!
And what an astouding little package of goodness it is! Manual focus is a breeze with the excellent fine focuser, which gives little away to Feathertouch and myabe even better than the focuser on the FS60Q! Once focused, a little screw at the bottom locks it in place. One tip – I suggest half tightening the screw before doing fine focus, then it will not shift when fully locked.
The claim of being a ‘Super Astrograph’ (SA in the name) is not without basis. Careful examination of a full 35mm frame shows round and tight stars throughout and detail in the centre is exquisite. It does not show strong sensitivity to temperature changes, and the deep dewshield does a good job keeping stray light and dew away. The interior of the tube is baffled and matt darkened to give an image with little to no stray light and has outstanding contrast. It is hard to believe the images come from a mere 70mm aperture lens!
To conclude, despite this being the first non-Takahashi scope I have written an impression of, rest assured it does not lose out; it maybe considered a younger sibling to the FSQ85. Even for terrestrial daytime use, it shows no chromatic aberation, sharpness is excellent to the corners and well-contrasted throughout with good colours. If you are looking at the FS60C or Q, being more versatile in terms of adding reducers, flatteners, Q-unit or even a 76DCU objective with its own set of focal range modifiers, do add this to the list of alternatives, but then again, the cost is very different! For the asking price, the Skyrover 70 SAiii is simply a brilliant package and it does its job well.
Here is the place to talk about all those equipment(Telescope, Mounts, Eyepieces, etc...) you have. Not sure which scope/eyepiece is best for you? Trash it out here!
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Twinkle twinkle little stars,
How I wonder what you are.
How I wonder what you are.