60mm Achromatic Refractor Telescopes
The 60mm (2.4") and smaller altazimuth refractors are the most marketed telescope sizes
for the beginning astronomy enthusiast or for casual gift-giving.
Unfortunately, more likely than not the telescope will end
up in the closet or the garage after the novelty wears off.
For astronomical observing, a 60mm allows you to see lunar details but
the moon can be easily seen naked eye, or with binoculars, or any
telescope; the better the optical system is, the more one will see.
Yes, the major planets can be identified; Saturn is revealed as a BB
within a washer, Jupiter is a clear orb with one tropical band
showing, and four of its brightest moons may be seen orbiting the gas giant,
the phases of Venus, an the red color of Mars are obvious. With a solar
filter (optional) you can observe some activity on the Sun such as
sunspots, or an eclipse.
These views will be enough to fascinate, but only for so long. Unless one
can actually see changes happening on the planets, or more of the deep
sky wonders, that person is not likely to stay in the hobby.
The 60mm refractors of modest to good quality are so limited that we at
Company Seven do not generally reccommend them for sale to anyone
much above the age of 8 or 10 (depending of course on the childs
intelligence and degree of interest).
You see, the troubles generally pertain to:
So, Company Seven offers no 60mm achromatic refractors by any
manufacturer because while they may meet the needs of an impulsive buyer,
they are not likely to bring about long term success of the buyer.
- the light gathering and resolving power of such a small aperture; the
lens simply does not gather enough light to reveal the faint, deep sky
objects (galaxies, nebulae, star and globular clusters, etc.) any better
(if as good) as a descent pair of binoculars.
- furthermore, the telescopes in this class typically have such a
relatively narrow field of view (in part due to the ultra mediocre,
narrow field of view oculars commonly furnished) that one is
condemned to search the skies as if looking through a straw!
- With such small aperture, as one increases the magnification to the
threshold of serious planetary observing the image appears very dim,
and clouded by false violet colors typical of achromatic lenses operating
beyond their practical limit. So in effect, just when you do get to a
useful magnification, the telesope has petered out. These optical factors
are before one considers the mounts!
- A telescope mount should be very steady, and have at least slow motion
controls (as on the Premium 80 telescope) tracking motions that are very
smooth - not jerky. Here again, most common 60mm telescope makers are so
concerned about price, that the mounts are next to useless for high
magnification observing which is the only practical theoretical use of
such a small achromatic refractor. Imagine trying to find, and center a
small dim object in a shaky telescope, especially one where the finest
touch by your hand or a slight breeze results in the object dancing
out of the field of view. And as the Earth rotates about its axis
these objects move across the sky; as viewed at higher and
higher magnification the movement across a stationary eyepiece is
even faster. So now try to share a shaky (especially non tracking)
telescope with a friend or a small child.
And while Celestron is making strides to develop a practical, modestly
priced telescope series, in our view life with their better telescopes is
so much more pleasant that we can not endorse any 60mm model at this
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