Skywatcher 200P impressions

This was my first telescope since the toy 2″ refractor I owned as a child in the late 1960’s. Since then I’ve just been a naked eye and binocular observer.

Why did I choose the Skywatcher 200P Dobsonian?

It was ordered at the end of October 2020 from First Light Optics and it arrived four days before Christmas. At the time of writing, there are long wait times for new telescopes and prices are rising as well.

It is packaged in two parts and you can read more details in this excellent thread on the Star Gazers Lounge.

It is a really well built telescope and I was able to follow the instructions to put it together without any issues.

A few really minor comments about assembly…

I did not find the base assembly instructions 100% clear – there is no mention about installing the three black feet and they are not listed in the parts list either.

 I also inadvertently installed board D (half of the turntable) upside down. It would have been helpful to mention that the three stapled pads should face upwards.

Saddle side bearings – I think the diagram of the bearing, bolt and arrow is meant to show that the nut in the bearing is supposed to be closest to the bolt as it enters the bearing but this is not stated and I am not sure.

I think a collimating cap should have been included – it is only going add a few pence to the hardware cost and it saves having to butcher one of lens caps or bodge one together as I did.

In addition a few carrying/caring/dos and don’ts for your instrument and useful recommended accessories and an explanation why the OTA cap has a hole and cap (I know now) would be useful.

In terms of use…

It is the right balance of aperture, weight and size for me.

 I normally allow half an hour outside for the mirror to acclimatise.

After checking the collimation, I found the primary was spot on but the secondary needed a slight adjustment. I then needed to recenter the primary spot. I use a home made cap and a Celestron Cheshire eyepiece and sight tube combination tool for collimation.

I am delighted with the performance of the 200P and was very pleased on my first day out to successfully target the moon, five planets, M45, M42 and M31.

As I am getting on a bit, the finder is painful to use for high objects so I now have a Telrad. Since I wrote this I have purchased a Baader Hyperion Zoom/Barlow – that is not a criticism of the two basic supplied eyepieces, I just needed something better.

Tips

I used double sided tape to attach a small polystyrene pad to the base just above the carry handle (facing inwards). This acts as a stop when the OTA is vertical.

The Baader Hyperion IV Zoom/Barlow combination is an improvement on the supplied EPs. Given that this costs almost as much as the 200P this is to be expected but it does demonstrate this instrument can be pushed further. I also purchased a Revelation 42mm wide-angle eyepiece which I use to help with targeting and large field objects. More details here.

To achieve focus I use the supplied 2” extender when using the zoom eyepiece. A shorter extension has been purchased which allows me to focus when using the zoom and Barlow without having to retract the eyepiece a few mm.

A collimation test of the primary using the out of focus star method did not work for me using the supplied eyepieces but did work when using the Baader Zoom. A demonstration of the quality of this EP. 

The 200P can be lifted and moved short (3-4 metres) distances when attached to the base. Find out more. It is still quite heavy and bulky and so a good reason to have a 8” rather than a larger Dobsonian.

The finder bracket is held by a single thumbscrew which means the finder can drop if the OTA is vertical, so I implemented a simple safety harness.

The accessory tray is pretty flimsy compared with the quality of the rest of the instrument. I don’t use it.

To view low objects like Venus I need to elevate the base – I use a Sankey waterbutt stand for this and it fits perfectly.

With heavy eyepieces and/or a phone the OTA can be unbalanced. This is more noticeable when observing low objects. A small magnetic counter weight helps.

Other upgrades can be found on this site.

So 9.8 / 10 and I am very happy to recommend this telescope to others. In terms of performance, the stunning, bright, retina blowing and almost 3D quality live view of the Great Cluster M13 cannot be matched by any flat digital image.

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