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Mention the word "Tasco" to a telescope enthusiast and you will get a lecture about "department store junk". Having been on the receiving end of a well meaning relative's generosity, I am now the owner of one of these. A 60 mm, bright red beauty with a million dollar package of accessories that would seem to be all that anyone could ever want for a telescope.

Well, after bumbling around with it for a few hours while chatting with said relatives, I concluded that it probably does not deserve all the bum rap and if one just threw away all the accessories but the 12.5mm eyepiece, it would become a sensible telescope.

My biggest complaint is that it quickly became obvious that the nice folks in Taiwan who made it, never bothered to use it. The altitude pivot was about 3" behind where it ought to be and for a small scope, that's a lot. In order to hold it at any elevation but down, the screws had to be made so tight that it could never be moved again but still somehow managed to slip down. Fifteen minutes at the drill press fixed it but it didn't really need the ventillation holes and no child or adult for that matter, could possibly have used it as it came from the factory.

Star testing was fun and a real trip to one used to large Newts. The Airy disk and diffraction rings really do exist. Could not resolve E Lyra, try as I may but Jupiter was all one could ask for in a small scope. Four moons and the major cloud belts albeit not quite as vivid as in the 16" but as a beginners scope, not bad. Real star test showed dis-similar patterns in and out of focus but without a diagonal shadow, I can't really say what was wrong nor do I imagine it would make much difference if it was perfect in such a small aperture.

After getting bored with the program, I got the bug to take a photo through it and after about an hour mucking around, I had a 4 x 5 AstroCamera installed and ready to go.


This photo shows the Tasco mounted on the 10" Newt. Longer screws in the guidescope rings were all it took to mount it.

After removing the focuser, a 2" PVC pipe was inserted into the tube to extend it back to the focal plane. Happened to fit like it was designed to. One layer of duct tape around the 2" tube of the 4 x 5 AstroCamera is all it took to make a nice fit into the PVC.



This photo of M13 was taken with the Tasco and although it's a far cry from what I have done with the 10", I think the results are truly incredible for this so-called "department store junk". The real credit of course, goes to a piece of film and if anyone doubts the power of film, this should be a clincher.

The exposure was 30 min on Tmax 400 film.

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