What can you do with a saxon F767 reflector telescope?

The Saxon F767 Newtonian Reflector Telescope is a beginner’s Newtonian reflector telescope. While it may be inexpensive, the alt-azimuth mount makes it very easy to use and the optics provide a high performance for its price. We looked at the moon, Saturn and Mars, some bright nebulas and clusters, as well as stuff on the ground. We even very carefully projected an image of the sun on a piece of paper. Finally, we took some photographs of the Moon and Saturn, using the Saxon ScopePix phone adapter (read more about phone adapters here) . Including the phone adapter, the bundle costs around $180.

One of the fun parts of my job at Optics Central is that I can take display telescopes home and try them out, so I can write about them in this blog. I had a few nights to make observations, and I’ve written what I found here.

The Saxon F767 Newtonian Reflector telescope is one of Optics Central’s most popular kids and beginner telescopes. It’s often a gift for a young astronomer who is showing interest in the night sky, being good as a first scope with an easy-to-use mount. It comes complete with a small accessory kit, including three eyepieces, and along with the Barlow extender give a very wide range of magnifications so you can explore large objects (like the moon or things on the ground) or small objects (like planets).

The saxon F767 and how to use it

The saxon 767 has a focal length of 700mm. The eyepieces in the bundle range from 25mm down to 4mm, and coupled with the 3X Barlow, you can cover magnifications from 28 times (if you use the 25mm eyepiece) all the way up to 525 times (if you attach the 4mm eyepiece to the Barlow). This highest magnification is a bit hard to use so I don’t really recommend it for kids, because they can get a bit frustrated peering at a tiny dark image that can wobble around a lot. Don’t let that stop you from trying, of course.

Image: Bill Stent

The telescope comes on a light mount, which moves up-down and left-right. This makes it intuitive and easy for kids to use, and they can find what they’re looking for pretty simply. The fact that it’s a Newtonian can make things a bit confusing though for beginners. It’s built to be looked into the side of the scope rather than the end.

Find what you’re looking for by swinging the scope in the right direction, and then switching to the finderscope (I’ll write a blog soon about how to set up and adjust finderscopes). Once you’re pointing at your target, switch to the telescope’s eyepiece and adjust very carefully. This mount doesn’t have microadjustments, so if you’re not careful you’ll lose the target.

Try to avoid touching the scope or mount while watching through the scope. If you do, what you’re looking at will wobble and might even disappear. If you’ve got a kid, get a chair and turn it round so that she can kneel on the chair and hold the back of the chair while leaning in to the eyepiece without touching it. Best to keep one hand on the chair to stop it from tipping too.

What you can see with the saxon 767

The saxon 767’s wide range of magnification encourages young astronomers to explore the night sky, and that’s what I did too.

Moon

When I tried the scope, the Moon was less than a week old, so it was a relatively thin crescent not far from Saturn in the west. It wasn’t hard to get the scope onto it, in fact, I didn’t need the finderscope. When I looked, the moon appeared very bright, and while the moon filter wasn’t really necessary, I sure appreciated it. At the highest magnifications, you’d probably want to take the filter off again, because the image gets darker the more you push the magnification.

Craters on the Moon were nice and sharp, especially at the half-lit edge (better than this photo shows, actually). At the right time of the month, a careful observer would have been able to see the mysterious “Lunar X”, which I’ve written about here. (Spoiler: while I would probably have been able to see it with this scope, because of atmospheric dodginess, I had to use a higher-quality telescope to get the actual photo, and I didn’t have time to use both.)

Saturn through a saxon 767 and ScopePix

Image: Bill Stent

Planets

When I borrowed this scope, Saturn was getting low in the sky in the West, just above my house, and it was through a tree. But through the telescope, it was really cool. I could see that it wasn’t a star, which would have looked like a pinprick of light. What I did see clearly had rings.

This was exactly what Galileo saw when he looked at Saturn for the first time, in 1610. One of the things he said was that Saturn has “ears”. My guess is that the saxon 767 is better, optically, as the world’s best telescope at that time. I took this photo using this telescope, and you can probably see what Galileo meant by “ears”.

Saturn through a saxon 767 and ScopePix

Image: Bill Stent

Mars, on the other hand, wasn’t all that great, just a bright reddish dot. We were well past Mars opposition, meaning it was moving away from Earth and getting quite small. Sadly, I couldn’t see Jupiter, which would probably have been excellent, with its four Galilean moons. Venus would also be great, showing crescent phases at different times.

Nebulas and Clusters

On the night I was out using this scope, the open cluster called the Pleiades were just rising late in the evening. They never get particularly high in Melbourne. The cluster itself was nice and clear in the scope, and with the magnification I was using (the 12.5mm eyepiece) the cluster filled the view. It was very pleasing, and would have been an opportunity to tell a child about how stars form.

A bit later on I looked in on the Great Nebula in Orion (M42), and while it was dim, some structure was visible. This would have been another part of the star formation story. With a bit of care, views like these should make young astronomers want to see more, and understand what they’re seeing.

I’d also recommend looking for the colourful star cluster called the Jewel Box, which is next to the Southern Cross, the globular clusters called 47 Tucanae or Omega Centauri, and the bright Carina Nebula. These would all be well within the capabilities of this telescope.

Terrestrial

Things within a kilometre or so through this scope are surprisingly clear during the day. At higher magnifications you’re likely to have problems with heat haze, especially if what you’re looking at is a long way away. Really pushing it, I could see detail on cranes on city buildings, which is about 9 km away, and I was looking through a pretty dirty second floor window.

Cranes through a saxon 767 and ScopePix

Image: Bill Stent

Sunspots?

If you use an indirect method, you can actually see sunspots with this scope. It’s not something I’d recommend showing the youngest astronomers, because pointing a scope at the sun is risky. I’ll write a blog about this method at a later date, or you can ask me directly.

Photography

Photography isn’t the sort of thing you’d normally think of when buying a reflector like the saxon 767. But don’t be fooled, because it’s got a reasonable quality mirror, you can use it as a camera lens.

I took the photos of the Moon and Saturn with a mobile phone and the saxon ScopePix phone adapter. I also used a bit of free software to process the images. I’ll explain how I did that in a different blog, or, again, you can ask me. Because astrophotography is my thing, I love talking about this stuff.

Bottom line

The saxon 767 is a reflector aimed at beginner astronomers. It’s not a toy, but a genuine piece of optical equipment. You can watch the Moon, and also planets, clusters and some of the brighter nebulae. Properly encouraged, a young astronomer should look back on a scope like this and see the start of a lifelong hobby, and perhaps a career.

Bill is Optics Central’s expert on astrophotography, telescopes and bird watching. You’ll find him in the Mitcham store on Fridays and Saturdays. Come in for advice on how to get the best out of your current telescope, what your next telescope should be, how to take photos of the sky, or even how to see some rare birds.

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