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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