First Light – Ikharos 70ED Apo
This is a new acquisition to bring me back into wider-field imaging. Since I sold my 80mm Revelation Semi-Apo, I’ve really missed being able to capture the larger objects, with less fussy guiding, and not much weight on the mount. This little scope came up used, and so I went for it. It’s one of the many brands that comes out of the same factory that produces the Altair Starwave scopes, many William Optic scopes, and others. It’s basically the little brother of my Starwave 102ED, but without the brand on the dew shield! It has the same lovely over-engineered focuser (though the 2″ version instead of the 3″). This particular one used to be sold by Ian King Imaging for a while, but he now sells the equivalent Starwave 70ED instead.
I took it out the second night I had it for a first light test-run, and lo and behold – It’s lovely little visual scope too. Whilst being able to be mounted as usual on my HEQ5, it’s light enough to mount on my Manfrotto camera tripod. This makes it a wonderful little grab-and-go scope – something I’ve sorely missed since the Revelation went.
On the first night, I took in the Moon (about 95% full), the Pleiades, M31, M42, and Jupiter. All looked fantastic, with the Moon and Pleiades in particular giving a fantastic show, with pin-sharp views. For such a small scope, it performed admirably on everything (especially considering the glare of the almost-full moon). The bright objects show very little chromatic aberration. What is there is such a small amount that it’s almost unnoticeable – amazingly good for a scope in this price range. The field is lovely and flat for visual use, with loads of contrast. I love pinpoint stars on inky black background – this scope delivers that in spades.
For a planetary test, I used Jupiter. Again, for such a small scope – fantastic! I took it down from 25mm to 8mm then 2.5x Barlowed the 8mm (equivalent to 3.2mm!), and the view was still very acceptable, with the equatorial bands clearly visible, and the tropical bands also showing. Jupiter was very low at the time, and so I’d expect even more once it rises out of the murk.
Of course, it’s not the best deep-sky scope at 70mm, but like I said – every faint fuzzy I looked for was visible, even if not what I’d call massively detailed – however, on a dark night, I reckon I’d see a heck of a lot more. However, for DSO imaging purposes, I think this’ll be an excellent scope, especially when coupled with the field flattener that came with it.
All-in-all a brilliant choice I feel. I’ll be using this as a visual some a fair bit I think too. It’s lovely to be able to whack it on the top of a camera tripod and drop it on the back yard concrete and be instantly viewing. With a 25mm or higher EP, it doesn’t even need a finder – just sight along the scope and the object is there in the field of view.
I never thought I’d feel like this about a small scope, but I’m extremely impressed. Lovely bit of kit, and great bang-for-buck.