Sunday, September 14, 2014

Daystar Quark "Chromosphere" on Takahashi FSQ-85

After an intensive research, how a powerful and affordable Hα telescope could look like, a stargazer of my astronomy club made the final step and ordered it. His doctrine was:

"The most expensive telescope is the one you will buy twice"

In times of a contaminated telescope market, where paper launches and low-quality products flood the world, his way was long. I remember a greek epic story I have been told as I was a child. It was the Journey of Odysseus to Ithaca. Particularly because it takes years to settle on a type of equipment perfectly matching your needs.
Image 7: The complete Ha telescope setup

Hence, my colleague didn't follow the cheap way. He followed the affordable one. Now, every single screw of his setup makes sense. His system consists of:

This setup is suitable for astrophotography as well.
Image 1: ICS custom case for the Takahashi FSQ-85

This customized case for the Takahashi FSQ-85 is made in Germany by ICS. The waiting time paid off.

Image 2: The Japanese Takahashi FSQ-85 in its german ICS case

This case is a secure place for these exceptional Takahashi optics. It is a metal construction with wood plates inside it. I think, it is birch wood. The foam inside it secures the optics from shocks and vibrations during traveling.

Image 3: FSQ-85 quadruplet refractor on Losmandy G11

The german Baader Clicklock system on the Baader diagonal has a compression ring inside providing a fine connection to the eyepiece.

Image 4: A sturdy setup for Ha observing and astrophotography

Sure, this telescope is overmounted on the american Losmandy G11. Anyway, this is a sturdy setup also suitable for photographic use.

Image 5: Baader ERF90 on the Baby-Q via adapter

The quality of the ERF filter mount is exceptional. Its creator Astroholgi accepts orders from all EU countries. The Baader ERF-90mm (Energy Rejection Filter) protects the telescope as it prevents heat development in the tube.

Image 6: The cable hub and the battery pack. Note his self-made 5V USB connector for the Daystar Quark.

Astroholgi's power supply consists of three 12 V gell cells connected in parallel. Its better suited for traveling than an old-fashioned, heavy car battery. Astroholgi's cable hub makes the setup looking tidy and clean.

The Daystar Quark device requires an USB connection (5V) with 1.5A to work properly at its optimum temperature level. The USB bus of a computer (maximum 0.5A) can not provide enough power to supply the Daystar and it should not be used! An extra 5V/2A USB power supply is already included in the box when you buy the Daystar.

You can adjust the optimum setting using the potentiometer on the Daystar Quark (see also image [11]). A green/red LED indicates the current working status of the Quark. Green means the operating temperature is reached. During the review the LED changed from red to green 10 minutes after switching it on.

Image 8: Astroholgi's ERF adapter for the Baby-Q

AFAIK, refractors up to 80mm aperture do not need any ERF filter for Ha observing with the Daystar Chromosphere eyepiece. Up to 120mm aperture only an UV/IR filter in the diagonal should be sufficient. From 120mm and up, both an ERF filter and an UV/IR filter are mandatory.
Caution: Quadruplet refractors of any aperture need an ERF filter (see also image [9])!

I can confirm this for my Televue 76 refractor as it needs neither ERF nor UV/IR filter for Ha observing with Daystar's One-Thousand-Dollar-Baby but I can not guarantee that this is the very best way to do so. Please consult your dealer for accurate information. Anyway, the Daystar Quark Chromosphere delivers fine views of the Sun both with my Televue 76  (without ERF) and my friend's Takahashi FSQ-85 (with ERF).

Image 9: ERF and Ha Daystar eyepiece on the FSQ-85

There are two versions of the Daystar Quark: (a) Prominence and (b) Chromosphere. He chose the second one in order to be able to see details in the Sun disc. Anyway, I can confirm that, the (b) Daystar Chromosphere version delivered excellent views of both the protuberances and the Sun disc. I have successfully tested that on his FSQ-85 and my Televue 76 apo. I will publish a small review of it later in this blog.

Image 10: The Daystar Quark requires an USB connection

The "Daystar Quark Chromosphere" simply converts your refractor to a Hα telescope. The Daystar device has a 4.3x telecentric inside. This barlow-like amplification device produces an orthographic view of the subject. Perfection or not, the focal length of the telescope is multiplied by 4.3x. That means, the FSQ-85 now works at f/22.8 and 1935mm focal length with the Daystar. You may now think, it is still a bargain.

Image 11: A Pentax XW 20mm eyepiece is a good choice for the Daystar Quark

However, there is no such thing like a free lunch and you need an excellent, fat eyepiece to get the best out of such a configuration. You might want to observe at low magnification and enjoy the larger field of view. Takahashi, Televue, or Pentax provide suitable eyepieces in the 15...40mm range. Such eyepieces are heavy and you'll probably pay 1000€ per kilo to buy one.

Furthermore, if you want to use 2" eyepieces on the Quark, you need Astroholgi's 2" adapter (see image [11]) dealing with the issue that the ethalon element in the Quark is a bit smaller than Astroholgi's 2" adapter and it does not fully illuminates it.

Both low-cost eyepieces shown in images 10 & 11 significantly degraded the good image quality came out of the Daystar Quark. So once again, the common law of business balance has come true. In other words: "if you pay peanuts you get monkeys".

Image 12: The Daystar Quark on the Baader Bino

The Daystar Quark Chromosphere we used for this review has proven to be an impressive piece of engineering at an affordable price. But IMHO although its innovative concept tries to open new ways towards bargain Hα gazing, you should consider the total system costs. You might want to combine this red jewel with fine optics to get the best out of it.

Demanding Hα work was never a cheap affair.

Panagiotis Xipteras
daystar quark h-alpha filter eyepiece okular test review fsq-85 losmandy g11 Baader Bino