The market is awash with beginner telescopes, and it’s fair to say that some are better than others. At the good end of the spectrum is the Sky-Watcher Evostar-90/660 with AZ Pronto mount. If you’re looking for an entry-level telescope and mount, either for yourself or as a present, then it deserves a spot on your short-list.
Dobsonian and other reflector-type telescopes offer good value for money and are often recommended for beginners. However, there’s an elephant in the room: they don’t look like what most beginners expect a telescope to look like. If gifted as a present, the recipient’s all-important initial reaction could be confusion. No such risk with the Sky-Watcher Evostar-90/660, which due to its refractor-design certainly looks the part. It’s not just for show though, as an aperture of 90mm offers respectable light-gathering ability, and a focal length of 660mm is versatile enough to bring a variety of targets within reach. Supplied as a package, it comes with everything needed to get observing.
Construction is mostly plastic, with a few key components such as thumbscrews being metal. Given the price-point it’s clearly not a premium instrument, but it’s leagues ahead of the “department-store” telescopes that are best avoided.
The red dot finder is simple but does the job. It has adjustable brightness, although even its dimmest setting is a little too bright, which makes finding faint deep sky objects tricky.
25mm and 10mm eyepieces are supplied. They’re not of the highest quality, but neither are they complete junk. The 25mm in particular offers pleasing views while sweeping along the Milky Way. The 10mm is best reserved for the brightest targets. During my tests, cloud bands were well-defined on Jupiter, although the amount of chromatic aberration (colored fringes) was distracting. This was also noticeable when observing bright stars. Saturn was pleasantly crisp though, and the rings looked fantastic. That kind of a view could get someone hooked.
The AZ Pronto mount is well suited to the telescope. The altitude and azimuth knobs offer fine control, and have accompanying clutches that can be loosened for speedier movement. The legs are a little wobbly, though, especially when fully extended, and the accessory tray is fiddly to attach if your fingers are numb with cold.
Quality control concerns
The instruction manual covers four telescopes, but, bizarrely, none of them are actually the Sky-Watcher Evostar-90/660. Still, enough information is included to work out how to set things up and get observing. To its credit, the manual does include small sections aimed at absolute beginners, such as selecting an observing site and choosing the best time to observe.
The tube rings come pre-attached to the dovetail. Worryingly, one of these was badly misaligned and I needed to fish out some tools to readjust it. Experience told me what the issue was, and fixing it wasn’t a big task, but a beginner could be understandably confused. In addition, the dew shield was a little loose and needed some tape to keep it in place. These are problems that quality control checks should have caught.
Simple to use for beginners
Offers impressive views
Good value for money
Noticeable chromatic aberration
Quality control issues
MSRP: £249 ($340)