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Ex­ud­ing qual­ity, this apoc­hro­matic re­frac­tor is of ex­cep­tional op­ti­cal and me­chan­i­cal per­for­mance – per­fect for the in­ter­me­di­ate as­tronomer

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From the mo­ment we un­pack­aged the Taka­hashi FS-60C we were in awe of its su­perb qual­ity; with its pearly white fin­ish, com­plete with the clas­sic green ac­cents on the lens cover and fo­cuser that man­u­fac­turer Taka­hashi are fa­mous for, this re­frac­tor is an im­pres­sive piece of work­man­ship. Of course, be­ing an apoc­hro­matic means that you’re get­ting the best in tele­scope op­tics – boast­ing su­perb clar­ity and con­trast and a way of keep­ing colour-fring­ing, also known as chro­matic aber­ra­tion, at bay – and lend­ing it­self to a high re­tail price for the tube alone. How­ever, if you’re an as­tronomer who is on the hunt for the very best views of the night sky and you’re se­ri­ous about a hobby in as­tron­omy for many years to come, then we think it’s a great in­vest­ment, as you’ll dis­cover here.

Taka­hashi has en­sured that you can also pur­chase the best in ac­ces­sories for the FS-60C and of­fer two clamshells with an in­ter­nal di­am­e­ter of 80mm that can be com­bined with the tube. The nar­rower clamshell has a small foot that makes mount­ing the tube a breeze, of­fer­ing great bal­ance for the scope, which we found to get quite back heavy when we plugged a large 2” eye­piece into the holder. You will need to pur­chase an adapter from Taka­hashi in order for an ac­ces­sory of this aper­ture to fit.

The Taka­hashi FS-60C makes use of an air-spaced dou­blet lens, where the front el­e­ment is fab­ri­cated from flu­o­rite and the rear neg­a­tive el­e­ment utilises an eco-glass, both of which work in uni­son to en­sure that light is not scat­tered as much com­pared to other tele­scopes. This aids the high­est con­trast views – some­thing that’s very im­por­tant when ob­servers are try­ing to tease out the last bit of de­tail al­lowed by at­mo­spheric con­di­tions. Mean­while, the qual­ity of the anti-re­flec­tive coat­ing was ex­quis­ite when we shone

“The most sat­is­fy­ing el­e­ment has been the lack of scat­tered light and ex­treme con­trast”

a bright light into it, and stray light is con­trolled very well by black paint and a baf­fle half way down the tube. The op­tics al­low for se­ri­ous as­tropho­tog­ra­phy, how­ever, as with most scopes in­tended for imag­ing, the tele­scope’s draw­tube is quite short be­ing one inch in length – there’s a method to this though; this en­sures that the light path is not cut into when the fo­cus is racked in – speak­ing of the fo­cuser, we found its op­er­a­tion to be smooth, how­ever, does not have the finer con­trol of a mi­cro-fo­cuser.

The gen­eral rule among as­tronomers is that a tele­scope of 355mm or less in fo­cal length doesn’t re­ally need a find­er­scope. Even so, for that added sim­plic­ity of nav­i­gat­ing tar­gets, we rec­om­mend mak­ing good use of the 6x30 fin­der – which ac­counts for 18 de­grees on the night sky – that comes supplied with the in­stru­ment. What’s more, it’s in­cluded with a mount­ing plate for easy at­tach­ment. Gen­er­ally speak­ing the fin­der is of fine qual­ity, de­spite not be­ing finished to the same qual­ity of the tube and the ex­cel­lent lens coat­ing.

Early De­cem­ber gave us some great nights of ob­ser­va­tion – that is, com­pared to Novem­ber, which saw us hav­ing to for­feit tour­ing the night sky and wait for the co­pi­ous amounts of cloud and rain to clear. We im­me­di­ately got stuck into a star test – of which the mem­ber stars in the belt of Orion made for easy pick­ings – and are pleased to re­port that we only de­tected a small pink-ma­genta coloura­tion in the outer Fres­nel ring when we brought the tele­scope into fo­cus and a slight pale green coloura­tion when we brought our tar­get stars out of fo­cus. With a fo­cal ra­tio of f/5.9 we are treated to a fo­cal plane that’s ac­tu­ally quite ra­zor thin.

It’s true that the tele­scope isn’t com­pletely free of chro­matic aber­ra­tion, but that’s a tall order given the fo­cal length. Even so, there was no chro­matic aber­ra­tion on Jupiter or the Moon, even at 150x plus, though oc­ca­sion­ally we won­dered if we were see­ing a very slight ma­genta hue in the inky-black shad­ows of lu­nar craters at very high mag­ni­fi­ca­tions. Wait­ing for Venus in the dawn sky and some chal­leng­ing bright stars such as Sirius and Vega have shown a mod­est amount of false colour, es­pe­cially in the first dif­frac­tion ring. De­spite this we’d ar­gue that it has never spoiled the view.

The most sat­is­fy­ing el­e­ment of the op­ti­cal per­for­mance has been the lack of scat­tered light and ex­treme con­trast in the im­age. The sky around the edge of a bright Moon and sur­round­ing the plan­ets is jet black thanks to the flu­o­rite’s ad­van­tage of low light scat­ter. Jupiter shows a re­mark­able amount of low con­trast sur­face de­tail. The Great

Red Spot and shadow tran­sits are not be­yond the reach of the FS-60C as are tran­sits of the Galilean moons them­selves.

The ex­cel­lent con­trast, which al­lows the scope to per­form well on the plan­ets, also trans­lates into sur­pris­ing deep-sky per­for­mance, es­pe­cially un­der dark skies, where it be­lies its 60mm aper­ture. As well as pre­sent­ing some of the show­piece ob­jects of the night sky very well, show­ing a green hue and plenty of de­tail in the Orion Ne­bula and some struc­ture in larger glob­u­lar clus­ters such as Messier

13, the scope re­veals un­ex­pected amounts of de­tail in a wide va­ri­ety of neb­u­lae and clus­ters to the pa­tient and ex­pe­ri­enced ob­server. Mov­ing over to gal­ax­ies of low sur­face bright­ness did pose a slight chal­lenge for this small Taka­hashi – in this sense, we ad­vise users to lower the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion.

A re­mark­able piece of kit given its size, the Taka­hashi FS-60C is fun to use and gives you some awe-in­spir­ing sights of the night sky. It doesn’t come with many ac­ces­sories, but given the ex­quis­ite op­ti­cal sys­tem and its light­weight ‘grab and go’ de­sign, we feel that the cost is cer­tainly worth it.

Right:The op­ti­cal per­for­mance is ex­quis­ite, boast­ing lack of scat­tered light and ex­treme con­trast in the im­ageBe­low:The tele­scope ex­udes high-qual­ity, right down to its 'nuts and bolts'

Above: You will need to pur­chase an adapter from Taka­hashi in order for an ac­ces­sory of larger than 1.25" to fit

Be­low: The Taka­hashi FS-60C op­er­ates smoothly in and out of fo­cus

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