The Levenhuk Strike 900 Pro refractor and EQ2 mount.
The burgeoning astronomy enthusiast faces one of the most difficult decisions in the hobby – what to choose for a first telescope? The choice is difficult not only because of the vast range of available options but more so because of a lack of awareness of the viewer’s own preferences and tendencies. Ideally the first instrument will nourish a love of viewing the night sky that will enable the observer to get over any inconveniences or difficulties that might be encountered early in their journey.
I tried to keep these considerations in mind when assembling my impressions of the Levenhuk Strike 900 Pro – an equatorial mounted, long focus refractor kit clearly designed with beginners in mind. Before we start I do want to point out that this telescope was provided by Levenhuk on loan for the purposes of this review and I have spent the past four weeks putting it through its paces.
I spent last week in North-Western Massachusetts, a relatively rural area that shows as dark-yellow on the light pollution charts, which is to say it is considerably darker than my red zone suburban backyard. I was understandably eager to observe under such conditions and so came the decision as to which telescope to bring along.
The AWB OneSky was an obvious choice but for whatever reasons (maybe just for the sake of variety) I decided to bring an 80mm refactor. While the 5″ aperture of the AWB would’ve been appreciated, under decent skies an 80mm can be a satisfying scope, and, being equipped with a 2″ focuser, the 80mm is capable of some breathtakingly wide fields of view.
It turned out that over the course of the week there was only one really clear night for observing but it certainly made bringing the scope worthwhile.
Annotated finder chart for the Leo Triplet. Original chart from TUBA.
During the month of April the constellation Leo is high in the sky shortly after dark, making it a good time to view the many galaxies residing there. As seasoned observers know, viewing galaxies at higher altitudes puts less air between you and the subject giving a clearer view. I’ve spent the past few weeks eagerly awaiting a clear, moonless night so I could revisit M65, M66, and NGC 3628 – collectively known as the Leo Triplet.
After a long stretch of cloudy or moonlit nights, last night’s skies were clear and reasonably dark from my red zone backyard so I brought out my 10″ Dobsonian along with a 5″ refractor to view this trio of Galaxies.