Appraisal

The "breakthrough" price of less than $500 (or £500) brings it into the "afford-ability" bracket for the knowledgeable amateur astronomer on a limited budget. However, the low price also means that there is often a long waiting list for it. I would say, though, it is unlikely that the PST will ever be a waste of money. Astronomers can be very inventive about finding funds for additional equipment, so it is probable that many of them will buy a larger aperture solar hydrogen alpha telescope at some time. Yet, the PST can still be kept for travel and for quick setup applications, such as lunch breaks at work.

Under clear conditions it will show features on the solar surface that cannot be seen in "white" light and these features will change over a matter of minutes. During extended sessions you can actually see prominences come into view, change, and disappear.

The inclusion of the Sol Ranger (solar finder) in the "magic box" is actually an advantage, compared to other telescopes in the same range. Its drawbacks are not many and are as follows:

• It does not have tube rings or anything that will help you to attach it to an equatorial mount directly.

• Its focusing range is small, so not all eyepieces and accessories can be used with it, particularly Barlow lenses.

• The supplied eyepiece does nothing to enhance the telescope. Other eyepieces bought for nighttime viewing with other telescopes are at least as good, if not better.

The 40-mm aperture (reduced effectively to about 30 mm by including the etalon in the "magic box") could be considered a drawback, but it gives it affordability and portability, which may not be true for other telescopes in the same range or from one of the few competitors.

I would not expect the PST or any hydrogen alpha telescope to be of much interest to complete beginners, but someone who has learned how to view the Moon and the planets at night will be able to use it.

The addition of a second filter near the objective reduces the bandpass from 1.0 to 0.6 A, which is less than that of the MaxScope 40. Almost by coincidence, the additional price brings the total price to about 88% of the price of a single-stacked MaxScope 40 in both the United States and United Kingdom at the time of writing. So there is an interesting choice between a 40-mm PST with a bandpass of 0.6 A and smaller effective aperture (30 mm) and a 40-mm MaxScope 40 with a bandpass of 0.7 A but with more light transmission and a bit more money. Rather like the head coach of a sports team who has to decide between two excellent players, it is a nice decision to make!

Verdict: It is a breakthrough for solar observers looking for a bit more than what is available from "white light" solar viewing.

Optical Quality

8 out of

10

Value for Money

7 out of

10

Ease of use

7 out of

10

Overall Rating

8 out of

10, very good

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