TELEVUE 60is (2008)

60mm APO, f6, designed specifically for imaging.

What a jewel.  Imaging with this scope is an absolute joy.  

TV-60is

TV-60is and SBIG ST-8E, piggybacked on the LX-200

I have craved this scope ever since Televue announced it sometime in '05.   I continually heard how hard this scope was to get, so in June '08,  I gave up and ordered a 90mm Megrez, from a major NY camera retailer that I won't name *.  Turns out that even though it is listed as a "stock" item, they don't actually stock it.  It was continually on a 2-week backorder and they would not even give me a projected shipping date.  Every time I called I got a brusque 2-weeks, goodbye.  After 6 weeks it was apparent that I wouldn't get the scope prior to Weekend Under the Stars, so I cancelled the order and went surfing to find someone that actually had one.  Not only did Telescopes.com have the Megrez in stock, they also claimed to have the TV-60is also.  Rolling the dice I put the TV on order and requested 2-day FedEx so it would be here in time for the star party.  I figured I would get an e-mail stating it was on backorder and would be 2-weeks, however Monday morning I had an e-mail saying it was on the truck and would arrive in 2-days.  Yippee!  I have since found several retailers, including S&S Optika in Denver (an hour from home), that now have the TV-60is in stock.

* I will say that it was not B&H.  They have removed a lot money from my wallet and always deal straight with me on both astro and photographic items.

I got home from work on Wednesday and the wife was waiting for me.  Oops, guess I forgot to tell her...  It cost me a fairly large Longaberger basket order and a scooter to regain peace.  Anyway, as we were busy getting things together to leave the next morning for Weekend Under the Stars, I didn't have time to more than open the box and check that the scope was in good condition.  I was hoping that it would mount on the piggyback bracket on the LX-200 and I wouldn't need anything else to start imaging with it.

After we got mostly setup at the star party, I dug out the scope and gave it a going over.  The first thing that hits you is the mass - this scope weighs in at 7 pounds.  Everything about it appears to be extra heavy duty.  Fit and finish are typical Televue - I couldn't find a flaw, a scratch, or even a fingerprint.  Too bad so many other manufactures can't match the raw quality that Televue puts into every one of their products.

The two speed focuser is fantastic, with no discernible backlash, image shift, or wiggle.  It is only 6:1, while most other scope makers are using much higher ratios, but even at that it is super simple, and smooth, to dial in the focus with the heavy SBIG camera on the back.   Two tension screws, riding against brass rings instead of digging into the drawtube, provide nice, adjustable, tension.  I found that I only needed to add a tad bit of tension when I was pointing almost straight up, otherwise I ran it with minimal tension applied.

Being primarily an imaging scope, there is a removable field flattener included.  The field flattener not only inserts about 2" into the focuser, with two set screws, but it is also threaded solidly into the end of the focuser.  To use an eyepiece the field flattener must be removed.  Televue provides a threaded bushing to protect the internal threads of the focuser and eliminate wiggle when you go visual.  The back of the field flattener has a T-ring so it attaches directly to most camera setups.  No wiggle or play here.

Televue apparently realized that this would not be anyone's primary telescope, but rather a secondary item and would probably be piggybacked on a primary instrument.  As such, it comes with a somewhat unique mounting system.  Think of a big finder scope mount, old style with six alignment screws, and you have the idea.  Other makers either provide no mounting provision, or standard tube rings, and it is up to you to figure out how to align it to your primary scope.  On the bottom of the mount, there is a dovetail clamp, making is much easier to balance the scope(s).  Included is a dovetail bar that fits in this clamp, about 6" long, and has multiple 1/4-20 holes to mount on either a conventional tripod or some equatorial heads.  Unfortunately Televue uses a proprietary dovetail so you may have to attach the dovetail to a mounting plate for the appropriate mount. 

TV-60is

The two-speed focuser and the dovetail clamp

I have a camera piggyback mount on the LX-200 and it works fair with cameras.  With the heavy, and much longer TV-60is, I couldn't get the dovetail bar solidly attached.  The lightest touch and the scope would pivot on the piggyback mount.  I crossed my fingers and spent two nights imaging.  Do you know how hard it is to align on something when the two scopes are not aligned together and every time you touch the second scope it moves?   When we got home I went to a local machine shop and had them make me a 17" long dovetail bar.  I added a second piggyback mount to the front of the LX-200 and attached the bar to both mounts, using longer 1/4-20 bolts than the knob-bolt provided with the piggybacks (they only threaded into the dovetail bar about one turn and made me nervous).  Now the TV-60is rides on top of the LX-200 solid and wiggle free.

The scope is optimized for SLR use, so some CCD setups will require a short extension tube to reach focus or eliminate coma.  The SBIG ST-8E, with color wheel, hits focus with about 1/2" travel remaining, but as you can see from the first images below, I get a lot of coma without an extension.  55mm is required between the back of the field flattener and the imaging surface (standard SLR distance).  The SBIG setup is 42.9mm.  T-thread extension tubes are available from various sources, but interestingly not from Televue, though they do have extension tubes for the 2.4" focuser on the rest of the IS line of scopes.  I found a 10mm extension from ScopeStuff, and 7.5mm and 15mm extensions at OPT.  Between the three of these, the 7.5mm almost, but not quite kills the coma, the 10mm interferes with the filter wheel, and the 15mm seems to remove all traces of coma.

Images I've taken with the TV-60is  (use "Back" on your browser to return here)

M31
M31 Andromeda
ST-8E
M13
M13 Hercules
ST-8E
NGC 869
NGC 869 Persius
ST-8E

M20 Trifid
ST-8E
IC 5067
IC  5067 Pelican
ST-8E
M2
M2
ST-8E
M33
M33 Pinwheel
ST-8E
Veil
Veil
ST-8E
M33
M33 Pinwheel
ST-8E
M45
M45 Pleiade
ST-8E
   

Visual use is also great, but if you are looking just for a visual scope the same optics can be had in the TV-60 for about 1/2 the price.  The major differences between the two 60mm Televue offerings, besides the extra heavy build of the 60is, is the 60is has a 2" dual-speed Crayford focuser, the 60 has a 1.25" quick-draw tube and helical (try that with a camera).  The 60is also includes a field flattener and a mounting system that makes it easy to piggyback, and align, on another scope.

Visual with the TV-60is

TV-60is set up for visual use with the 31mm Nagler, for a whopping 11.6x.  I think I know what end to look in!
(What the heck is a Meade diagonal doing between two great pieces of Televue glass?!?!)

Using the Meade SCT diagonal (it was the only 2" diagonal I had), with a 2" SCT adapter, the 31mm Nagler would not come to focus.  I suspect that several other 2" eyepieces would not work.  The only other 2" eyepiece I tried was a 9mm Nagler, and it did focus.  The extra length the SCT diagonal uses is too much.  I scored a Televue Everbright diagonal for my b-day and it works with every 2" eyepiece I have.  The Televue diagonal does not come with a 1.25" adapter, nor is it notched for the thumbscrew so a conventional adapter will not insert all the way into the diagonal, and the clamp ring only catches the very bottom edge of the adapter.  Same issue trying to use a 1.25" adapter in the focuser.  Televue makes a selection of top hat 1.25" adapters that will work with their diagonals, so one is one my wish list.

The only real negative I have found on the TV-60is is the finder mount.  There is a dovetail for a Televue red dot finder on the dew shield (my Orion finders also fit).  The dew shield does not lock in place so if you mount a finder it will not be stable and hold its aim (my dew shield is loose enough that aiming overhead often causes the dew shield to slide down).  I find that if I keep the dew shield slid down, and put the finder on top of the scope, it holds aim fair enough to locate alignment stars.  On the upside, the dovetail does keep the scope from sliding out of the mounting rings and falling to the ground if you screw up.

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