Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

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Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#1

Post by mikemarotta »

I want to write an article for my local club, both for our monthly newsletter (previous issues open to all here: https://austinastro.org/index.php/sidereal-times/ ) and for the Outreach Chair. It is common for people to ask for advice on their first telescope or a telescope for their kid and the Equipment Chair just recites the mantra: Celestron, Meade, Orion. We have some articles posted in our archives warning against "hobby killer" telescopes, but I disagree with those on many grounds. (I think the hobby killers are the parents who buy the kid a telescope and shove her out in the backyard to figure it out on her own.) Anyway, I want to list as many manufacturers as I can before addressing retailers.

Here is my list as of this morning.
What should I add?

Astro Physics
Takahashi
Questar
Svbony
Explore Scientific
Lunt
TALteleoptics - (In Michigan, they claim, but I think that they are Russian)
Vixen
Antares (Lady Fraktor speaks well of them, but are they available in the USA?)
Skywatcher
Bresser
Stellervue
Celestron
Orion
Meade

(I realize that Explore Scientific is both a maker and a reseller. That is a separate topic. Similarly, the National Geographic brand is made under contract for them by Bresser just as Celestron makes the 4-inch tabletop for Astronomers Without Borders. I will cover those aspects under their manufacturers, rather than the labels.)

Also, this is NOT going to be a compare-and-contrast shoot-out. Only a listing with info from their own websites, quoted, cited, summarized, and re-worded in order to help people understand the range and depth of the marketplace. My over-arching advice is this:

Take your hourly pay rate.
Take how much you can reasonably afford as disposable income for the telescope.
PRICE / PAY = hours you should spend reading and shopping before you decide.

Bottom line: within reason, all makers compete well on a price-performance basis.That advice came from Stuart Parkerson of Astronomy Technology Today (another resource that I will recommend - see here - https://astronomytechnologytoday.com) who said that the market is so small that junk does not survive long and everything is pretty much quality for the price. (Our horror stories above notwithstanding.) I will not go much into technical details, but I will give broad examples as guidelines.

I usually do these articles in 1500-2000 words.
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Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#2

Post by Lady Fraktor »

TAL is/ was Russian, the site you reference was a importer only and they are no longer available.


Astro Physics - Premium refractor and Maksutov USA
Takahashi - Premium refractor and Cassagrain Japan
Questar - Maksutov very good but a bit over-hyped USA
Svbony - Rebranded refractors suspect quality at price range China
Explore Scientific - Good to very good rebrander USA based**
Lunt - Solar telescopes USA, co-owned by APM Telescope (Germany high quality to premium)
TAL - High quality refractors and Cassagrain made at Novosibirsk Instrument-Making Plant Russia
Vixen - Cheap to premium refractors and Cassagrain Japan
Antares - Very good refractors (Canada) Available Canada/ EU/ UK
Skywatcher - Good to very good, house brand of Synta Chinese**
Bresser - Good to very good importer/ rebrander Germany
Stellervue - Premium refractors USA
Celestron - Poor to very good Synta line Chinese**
Orion - Poor to very good American rebrander
Meade - Good to very good rebrander USA owned in China**

Meade (JOC), Celestron and Skywatcher (Synta) do not make their own refractors only certain sizes of SCT.
They outsource for refractors from Hi-Optic, Long Perng, Kunnming United Optics, GSO and many others.
In the past the majority of Explore Scientific refractors were made by Hi-Optic.
I do not know if they still are or not.
Antares are a combination of Japan and China lenses with mechanicals and assembly done in Canada
some of their eyepieces are available in USA

If you would like a list of EU companies let me know.
Proper Telescopes: Antares 105 f/15, Bresser 102 f/13.2, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNGDX 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen SD115s f/7.7
Mounts: Berlebach Planet w/ 410mm pier, Celestron AS-GT, Celestron CG-5 w/ Argo Navis & tracking motor, SLT w/ 250mm pier & tripod mods, Manfrotto 028b w/ SV M2C, Mantrotto 055Pro w/ 128RC, Skywatcher EQ-5 w/ dual drives, TAL MT1C w/ wood tripod, Vixen SXP w/ HAL-130 & 200mm half pier
Diagonal: 2" A-P Maxbright, 2" Baader Herschel Wedge (P), 2" Zeiss/ Baader Amici Prism (DX2), 2" Long Perng Amici Prism, 2" Stellarvue DX, 2" TeleVue EverBrite
Eyepieces: Antares to Zeiss
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#3

Post by The Happy Parrot »

Don't forget Zhummell and Apertura. There are also some brands on Amazon that I'm not personally familiar with, but I see them often such as GSkyer and Sarbru which recently got a good review from Starbru here on TSS. Apparently a good introductory telescope at a great price.
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#4

Post by Lady Fraktor »

The majority of brands on Amazon are just re-brands and usually drop shipped from China.
Proper Telescopes: Antares 105 f/15, Bresser 102 f/13.2, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNGDX 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen SD115s f/7.7
Mounts: Berlebach Planet w/ 410mm pier, Celestron AS-GT, Celestron CG-5 w/ Argo Navis & tracking motor, SLT w/ 250mm pier & tripod mods, Manfrotto 028b w/ SV M2C, Mantrotto 055Pro w/ 128RC, Skywatcher EQ-5 w/ dual drives, TAL MT1C w/ wood tripod, Vixen SXP w/ HAL-130 & 200mm half pier
Diagonal: 2" A-P Maxbright, 2" Baader Herschel Wedge (P), 2" Zeiss/ Baader Amici Prism (DX2), 2" Long Perng Amici Prism, 2" Stellarvue DX, 2" TeleVue EverBrite
Eyepieces: Antares to Zeiss
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#5

Post by The Happy Parrot »

Just realized I misspelled SarBlue, the Mak aimed at the educational market that got decent reviews here and on CN.

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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#6

Post by Makuser »

Hi Mike. Also, don't forget the Tele Vue refractor telescopes in your article:
https://www.televue.com/engine/TV3b_page.asp?ID=202
I hope this helps Mike, and the best of wishes on your upcoming article/report.
- Marshall
Sky-Watcher 90mm f/13.9 Maksutov-Cassegrain on motorized Multimount
Orion Astroview 120ST f/5 Refractor on EQ3 mount
Celestron Omni XLT150R f/5 Refractor on CG4 mount with dual axis drives.
Orion 180mm f/15 Maksutov-Cassegrain on CG5-GT Goto mount.
Orion XT12i 12" f/4.9 Dobsonian Intelliscope.
Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Binoculars. ZWO ASI120MC camera.
>)))))*>
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#7

Post by Lady Fraktor »

There is also a few excellent resources in the USA that seem to get overlooked continuously,

Siebert Optics; eyepieces, binoviewers, makes custom okulars/ barlows/ extenders and such as well
Russell Optics; makes Plossl, Kellner and Konig eyepieces in sizes that are no in standard sizes from other manufacturers
Scopestuff; sells and manufactures the little bits for telescopes and mounts you never realized you needed till you use them.

Honorable mentions;
Surplus Shed has a large variety of optics and miscellaneous items that are hard to find.
Edmunds Scientific sells lenses and filters, mounting kits and a variety of items used in most aspects of our hobby.
Proper Telescopes: Antares 105 f/15, Bresser 102 f/13.2, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNGDX 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen SD115s f/7.7
Mounts: Berlebach Planet w/ 410mm pier, Celestron AS-GT, Celestron CG-5 w/ Argo Navis & tracking motor, SLT w/ 250mm pier & tripod mods, Manfrotto 028b w/ SV M2C, Mantrotto 055Pro w/ 128RC, Skywatcher EQ-5 w/ dual drives, TAL MT1C w/ wood tripod, Vixen SXP w/ HAL-130 & 200mm half pier
Diagonal: 2" A-P Maxbright, 2" Baader Herschel Wedge (P), 2" Zeiss/ Baader Amici Prism (DX2), 2" Long Perng Amici Prism, 2" Stellarvue DX, 2" TeleVue EverBrite
Eyepieces: Antares to Zeiss
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#8

Post by Bigzmey »

I would add Astro-Tech, APM and GSO.
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Binoviewers, Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & 2xXFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68, 62; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: 2xBCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV, Meade: Plossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S, 6-color set; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2173 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1699, S110: 77). Doubles: 1445, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 95
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#9

Post by Lady Fraktor »

I probably have about 300 hundred enteries in my world astro shops/ manufacturers folder and that is just the top of the pile.
You would have to define specifics as one aspect flows into the next...
Proper Telescopes: Antares 105 f/15, Bresser 102 f/13.2, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNGDX 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen SD115s f/7.7
Mounts: Berlebach Planet w/ 410mm pier, Celestron AS-GT, Celestron CG-5 w/ Argo Navis & tracking motor, SLT w/ 250mm pier & tripod mods, Manfrotto 028b w/ SV M2C, Mantrotto 055Pro w/ 128RC, Skywatcher EQ-5 w/ dual drives, TAL MT1C w/ wood tripod, Vixen SXP w/ HAL-130 & 200mm half pier
Diagonal: 2" A-P Maxbright, 2" Baader Herschel Wedge (P), 2" Zeiss/ Baader Amici Prism (DX2), 2" Long Perng Amici Prism, 2" Stellarvue DX, 2" TeleVue EverBrite
Eyepieces: Antares to Zeiss
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#10

Post by helicon »

There are also Saxon and Levenhuk brand scopes, both sell Dobs and other telescopes and accessories. I don't know if they are manufacturers or re-sellers though.
-Michael
Various scopes, 10" Zhumell Dob f/4.9, ES AR152 f/6.5, AWB 5.1" Onesky newt, Oberwerk 25x100 binos, two eyeballs. Camera: ZWO ASI 120
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#11

Post by SkyHiker »

For a kid I would go to Big-5 and find a 4.5" Newt. I once got one there for $90 and it wasn't too bad, fine as a travel scope. Kids often have other priorities so why spend hundreds of dollars on something that we would buy for ourselves. Once a kid shows interest, you can always upgrade to something more serious. Explore Scientific often has good deals on small refractors for kids and beginners, check with them first.
... Henk. :D Telescopes: GSO 12" Astrograph, "Comet Hunter" MN152, ES ED127CF, ES ED80, WO Redcat51, Z12, AT6RC, Celestron Skymaster 20x80, Mounts and tripod: Losmandy G11S with OnStep, AVX, Tiltall, Cameras: ASI2600MC, ASI2600MM, ASI120 mini, Fuji X-a1, Canon XSi, T6, ELPH 100HS, DIY: OnStep controller, Barndoor trackers for 10" Dob and camera, Afocal adapter, Foldable Dob base, Az/Alt Dob setting circles, Accessories: ZWO 36 mm filter wheel, TV Paracorr 2, Baader MPCC Mk III, ES FF, SSAG, QHY OAG-M, EAF electronic focuser, Plossls, Barlows, Telrad, Laser collimators (Seben LK1, Z12, Howie Glatter), Cheshire, 2 Orion RACIs 8x50, Software: KStars-Ekos, DSS, PHD2, Nebulosity, Photo Gallery, Gimp, CHDK, Computers:Pi4b, 2x Pi2b all running Astroberry, Toshiba Satellite 17"
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#12

Post by Lady Fraktor »

helicon wrote: Wed Mar 31, 2021 1:16 pm There are also Saxon and Levenhuk brand scopes, both sell Dobs and other telescopes and accessories. I don't know if they are manufacturers or re-sellers though.
Saxon sells mostly re-branded Skywatcher along with other manufacturers products now.
A bit like the Orion Telescope of Oceania.
Levenuk is a American rebrander.
Proper Telescopes: Antares 105 f/15, Bresser 102 f/13.2, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNGDX 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen SD115s f/7.7
Mounts: Berlebach Planet w/ 410mm pier, Celestron AS-GT, Celestron CG-5 w/ Argo Navis & tracking motor, SLT w/ 250mm pier & tripod mods, Manfrotto 028b w/ SV M2C, Mantrotto 055Pro w/ 128RC, Skywatcher EQ-5 w/ dual drives, TAL MT1C w/ wood tripod, Vixen SXP w/ HAL-130 & 200mm half pier
Diagonal: 2" A-P Maxbright, 2" Baader Herschel Wedge (P), 2" Zeiss/ Baader Amici Prism (DX2), 2" Long Perng Amici Prism, 2" Stellarvue DX, 2" TeleVue EverBrite
Eyepieces: Antares to Zeiss
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#13

Post by Bigzmey »

Since most of the companies listed above don't any longer make their own products, but outsource the production I would suggest to categorize them as brands.

So, Orion or ES are astronomy brands which also have their own brand stores. While, Highpoint Scientific and Agena Astro are stores which sell various brands. Although even vendors like these now have a few rebranded items with their names.
Scopes: Stellarvue: SV102 ED F7; Celestron: 9.25" EdgeHD F10, 8" SCT F10, 6" SCT F10, Omni XLT 150R Achro F5, Onyx 80ED F6.3; Meade: 80ST Achro F5.
Mounts: ES: Twilight I; Bresser: EXOS2; SW: SkyTee2, AzGTi; UA: MicroStar.
Binos: Orion: Binoviewers, Little Giant II 15x70, WorldView 10x50, Nikon: Action EX 16x50 & 8x40.
EPs: Pentax: XWs & 2xXFs; TeleVue: Delites, Panoptic & Plossls; ES: 68, 62; Vixen: SLVs; Baader: 2xBCOs, Aspherics, Mark IV, Meade: Plossls.
Diagonals: Baader: BBHS silver mirror, Zeiss Spec T2 prism, Clicklock dielectric; TeleVue: Evebrite dielectric; AltairAstro: Positive lock prism.
Filters: Lumicon: DeepSky, UHC, OIII, H-beta; Baader: Moon & SkyGlow, Contrast Booster, UHC-S, 6-color set; Astronomik: UHC, Orion: UltraBlock, SkyGlow.
Observing: DSOs: 2173 (Completed: Messier, Herschel 1, 2, 3. In progress: H2,500: 1699, S110: 77). Doubles: 1445, Comets: 18, Asteroids: 95
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#14

Post by Lady Fraktor »

One of the things that set the various brands/ re-branders apart is their level of QC during manufacture and outgoing QC.
Companies such as TeleVue or APM Telescope have proprietary designs and a very high level of QC, Altair Astro and Teleskop-Service are re-branders with higher than average QC/ OQC than others so you can expect better performance and build quality than the average retailer.
Proper Telescopes: Antares 105 f/15, Bresser 102 f/13.2, Celestron 150 f/8, Stellarvue NHNGDX 80 f/6.9, TAL 100RS f/10, TS 102 f/11, UR 70 f/10, Vixen SD115s f/7.7
Mounts: Berlebach Planet w/ 410mm pier, Celestron AS-GT, Celestron CG-5 w/ Argo Navis & tracking motor, SLT w/ 250mm pier & tripod mods, Manfrotto 028b w/ SV M2C, Mantrotto 055Pro w/ 128RC, Skywatcher EQ-5 w/ dual drives, TAL MT1C w/ wood tripod, Vixen SXP w/ HAL-130 & 200mm half pier
Diagonal: 2" A-P Maxbright, 2" Baader Herschel Wedge (P), 2" Zeiss/ Baader Amici Prism (DX2), 2" Long Perng Amici Prism, 2" Stellarvue DX, 2" TeleVue EverBrite
Eyepieces: Antares to Zeiss
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#15

Post by mikemarotta »

SkyHiker wrote: Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:18 pm For a kid I would go to Big-5 and find a 4.5" Newt.
What is Big-5?

Thanks,
Mike M.
---------------------------------------------------------------
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Astro-Tech 115 mm EDT APO Refractor
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
mike49mercury@gmail.com
NecessaryFacts.blogspot.com
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#16

Post by SkyHiker »

mikemarotta wrote: Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:12 am
SkyHiker wrote: Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:18 pm For a kid I would go to Big-5 and find a 4.5" Newt.
What is Big-5?

Thanks,
Mike M.
A sporting good store.
... Henk. :D Telescopes: GSO 12" Astrograph, "Comet Hunter" MN152, ES ED127CF, ES ED80, WO Redcat51, Z12, AT6RC, Celestron Skymaster 20x80, Mounts and tripod: Losmandy G11S with OnStep, AVX, Tiltall, Cameras: ASI2600MC, ASI2600MM, ASI120 mini, Fuji X-a1, Canon XSi, T6, ELPH 100HS, DIY: OnStep controller, Barndoor trackers for 10" Dob and camera, Afocal adapter, Foldable Dob base, Az/Alt Dob setting circles, Accessories: ZWO 36 mm filter wheel, TV Paracorr 2, Baader MPCC Mk III, ES FF, SSAG, QHY OAG-M, EAF electronic focuser, Plossls, Barlows, Telrad, Laser collimators (Seben LK1, Z12, Howie Glatter), Cheshire, 2 Orion RACIs 8x50, Software: KStars-Ekos, DSS, PHD2, Nebulosity, Photo Gallery, Gimp, CHDK, Computers:Pi4b, 2x Pi2b all running Astroberry, Toshiba Satellite 17"
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#17

Post by mikemarotta »

Lady Fraktor wrote: Mon Mar 29, 2021 4:33 pm Astro Physics - Premium refractor and Maksutov USA ...
Meade - Good to very good rebrander USA owned in China**
Thanks for the additional information. It helps me to put things in context. As I said, this is intended only to show that there are more than three options for buying your first telescope. That is the question that we get most often, and I expect that other clubs and individuals have the same experience. We in the hobby have very many magazine articles and blog posts giving advice. I believe that they generall approach the problem from the wrong assumptions about the questions that people are really asking.

That is why I suggested:
Take your hourly pay rate.
Take how much you can reasonably afford as disposable income for the telescope.
PRICE / PAY = hours you should spend reading and shopping before you decide.
Lady Fraktor wrote: Mon Mar 29, 2021 4:33 pm Meade (JOC), Celestron and Skywatcher (Synta) do not make their own refractors only certain sizes of SCT.
They outsource for refractors from Hi-Optic, Long Perng, Kunnming United Optics, GSO and many others.
In the past the majority of Explore Scientific refractors were made by Hi-Optic.
Antares ...
Again, thank you for the details. It will help me to explain a little about the marketplace.
Lady Fraktor wrote: Mon Mar 29, 2021 4:33 pm If you would like a list of EU companies let me know.
Just USA here in Austin, Texas.
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Astro-Tech 115 mm EDT APO Refractor
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
mike49mercury@gmail.com
NecessaryFacts.blogspot.com
Editor AAS History of Astronomy Division
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#18

Post by mikemarotta »

The Happy Parrot wrote: Mon Mar 29, 2021 6:27 pm Don't forget Zhummell and Apertura. ... GSkyer and Sarbru ... recently got a good review ...here on TSS...
Thanks, I forgot abot Zhumell. I did not know about SarBlue, or the others. So, thanks. I added them to the list.

The point for me is not recommend brands at all, but to point out how many brands there are. Again, when our club gets this very common question, are very senior officers just recite the litany they memorized long ago: Meade, Orion, Celestron. To me, there is sort of a Zen to this that the best advice is no advice. What's the best automobile? What's the best computer? What's the best fielder's glove for baseball?
---------------------------------------------------------------
Michael E. Marotta
Astro-Tech 115 mm EDT APO Refractor
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
mike49mercury@gmail.com
NecessaryFacts.blogspot.com
Editor AAS History of Astronomy Division
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#19

Post by mikemarotta »

The Happy Parrot wrote: Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:44 pm Just realized I misspelled SarBlue, the Mak aimed at the educational market that got decent reviews here and on CN.
I never trust good reviews. First of all, I know from a long career in computers that reviewers seldom actually live with the products. They run them for a while, try a few things, and if seems OK, they find reasons to say good things about the product. Maybe they note some mild negative that provides a cachet of objectivity.

The other source of good reviews is from people who are suffering from cognitive dissonance: we justify decisions that we cannot easily change; and we explain away negatives as being "not that important." I bought one and I like it. You should buy one, too.

This is from the advertisement on Amazon for the SarBlue Maksutov-Cassegrain:
Satisfaction: With such adorable & lovely outlook, and great viewing power, this mak telescope is sure to impress as a gift for your loved ones. Setup requires no-tool, it's easy to use for any astronomy beginners. And we will offer one-year hassel-free warranty and warm customer service.
These emotionally-laden words have no semantic content: "Adorable... lovely... impress... gift... loved ones... " And, as with Internet spam, there is a spelling error.

That said, I do like the fact that it comes apart to show the optics. If you examine a standard university textbook for astronomy, you will find that they deliver very little content on the optics of telescopes. For the price of under $100, this makes a good demonstration piece.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Michael E. Marotta
Astro-Tech 115 mm EDT APO Refractor
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
mike49mercury@gmail.com
NecessaryFacts.blogspot.com
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Re: Looking for Brands (Writing an Article)

#20

Post by mikemarotta »

Makuser wrote: Tue Mar 30, 2021 5:07 pm Hi Mike. Also, don't forget the Tele Vue refractor telescopes in your article.
Thanks for the reminder. I found out about them when I was researching an article about Georg Simon Plößl and found an interview with Al Nagler in the Astronomy magazine archives “The evolution of eyepiece developments at Tele Vue,” Posted by Michael Bakich on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, A guest blog by Al Nagler. Astronomy.
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Michael E. Marotta
Astro-Tech 115 mm EDT APO Refractor
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
mike49mercury@gmail.com
NecessaryFacts.blogspot.com
Editor AAS History of Astronomy Division
Also member: ASP, BAA, SPA
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