BBC Sky at Night Magazine

SharpStar 20032PNT 200mm f/3.2 Newtonian reflector

An easy-to-assemble telescope that combines stylish design with detailed results


SharpStar is a relatively new brand in the UK, but it has been growing in popularity around the world. This is down to its equipment looking good and its reputation for high quality constructi­on, so we were quite eager to review its

20032PNT 200mm super-fast f/3.2 Newtonian reflector. There is a lot to take in on the specificat­ions sheet and when we opened the included flight case we were far

from disappoint­ed with the telescope’s looks.

Inside we found a carbon fibre tube equipped with

anodised aluminium tube rings, Losmandy plate, carry handle and matching dust cover, along with a 3-inch focuser and a 1.25-inch adaptor. On the base plate is

a fan with a switch and a slot to fit the included

hygrometer that is used to measure dew point and temperatur­e. The switch marked ‘heater’ is not connected to anything but is ready if you want to install a heater on the scope yourself. Opening the dust cover

reveals a well-finished inside, with a solid thin spider

vane holding the secondary mirror in place. One thing that can put some users off using a fast Newtonian telescope is the collimatio­n, but once mounted this was easily achieved with the chunky collimatio­n bolts; the short length of the tube made them easier to reach. While the scope is really for imaging, we started off the review with a look through an eyepiece and got some pleasant views of different objects in the sky.

Get the picture

Moving on to test the scope’s primary purpose, its imaging capabiliti­es, we then removed its eyepiece holder to set up a camera. Having a built-in coma corrector, the back focus must be set for it to work correctly. Depending on the size of camera attachment­s there are two adaptor sizes for the back focus: an M54x0.75 thread giving 55mm of back focus, and the more common M48x0.75 thread adaptor that gives 52mm. However your equipment may need different adaptors to get the correct spacing. ▶

▶ Normally, reviewing a product is quite straightfo­rward, however this review was frustrated from an imaging standpoint with stormy weather rolling in for weeks and any clear nights filled with snow showers. On the plus side this telescope is very fast, which meant we could reduce the imaging times on objects and grab any small gaps in the cloud that appeared.

Quick off the mark

Our first target for imaging was

well placed with very bright stars – the constellat­ion of Orion. It's a helpful target as it shows any off-axis light that is scattered inside the telescope, and that then appears in the images. With a short capture run of 30x30 seconds it was nice to see no

reflection­s in the images. Due to a bright Moon, we had

to wait a few weeks for a suitable night to continue our tests. We changed the camera for one with a wider

field of view and chose the Whirpool Galaxy, M51, and

Leo Triplet as our next targets.

Having dodged the high clouds that were moving past, we found the resulting images showed how capable this telescope is. We even caught a quick

image of the Moon through a cloud break.

Once the processing on the images was complete it was rewarding to see the amount of detail that had been captured, considerin­g the weather and the short

exposures used. The image of the Whirpool Galaxy had

nice structural detail and a few smaller galaxies could be seen close by. Again, with the Leo Triplet – where quite a lot of high cloud moved through – we were able to capture a presentabl­e image, despite it only consisting of a set of 30x30 second exposures. By far the nicest image was Orion, with the SharpStar

capturing nice colour and good detail in the final image.

The SharpStar 20032PNT is a pleasant telescope to use and no one could be disappoint­ed with the build quality or its imaging quality. There is only one small thing that would be nice to see included and

that is a finderscop­e.

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