SkyWatcher Evostar ED80 Pro Telescope Review

It’s quite the leap in price between SkyWatcher models from the Evostar 72 to the Evostar 80ED Pro.

What’s the difference?

Well, a few things. We’ll get into them here and they may very well justify the increase in price.

You want to stay tuned because there’s important stuff to consider before you buy, like, is it really an APO telescope?

What can you see with the ES ED80?

How does it perform for astro imaging?

Let’s just start off with the facts.

The Evostar 80 has awesome glass. It’s super lightweight and compact. It’s a refractor telescope.

Let’s move on.

Zooming in…

✔️ Best Feature: Semi APO doublet

Worst Feature: Small aperture

👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Astrophotography, Beginners, Intermediates, Experts

  • Optical Design: Refractors
  • Aperture: 80 mm
  • Focal Length: 600 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/7.5
  • Eyepieces Included: 25 mm, 5 mm

Our Verdict: If you understand exactly what you’re buying, you won’t be disappointed. The SkyWatcher EvoStar 80 provides some of the best astro images for the money, and both amateur and intermediate users alike will find it satisfies their every need.

Who is the SkyWatcher Evostar 80ED Pro Best Suited to?

The Evostar 80ED is not a ready-out-of-the-box type of telescope. There are multiple pieces of equipment and accessories you must purchase to get astro imaging, and as such, it may not be the best first-time buy for a beginner. But, even with that said, a beginner astronomer interested in astrophotography with at least some amateur experience with telescopes will be attracted to the quality optics.

Intermediates and experts may snap this telescope up for its portability benefits, low weight, and refractor lenses. The included accessories aren’t of the greatest quality, but experienced users may likely have replacements ready and waiting.

How Does the SkyWatcher Evostar 80ED Pro Perform?

The Evostar 80ED has an 80 mm aperture, so it’s one of the smaller light buckets in the telescope market. This means you’ll see images at a smaller scale than that of a larger aperture, but you may have a wider angle of view which is excellent for stargazing and wide-fields, but you can also push it to adequately achieve positive identification of other objects and their features.

With its ED doublet and moderate focal ratio of f/7.5, CA (Chromatic Aberration) is adequately controlled to take some more-than-decent astro images.

As an OTA buy, meaning, it’s a standalone tube purchase without a mount/tripod, you can choose the mount system most appropriate for your purposes. Since the OTA is lightweight, it can be paired with light duty mounts without worry to make transport and setup a breeze.

Features & Benefits

Semi APO Doublet

The ES ProED telescope is marketed as an APO (apochromatic) telescope which means it has a three lens optical assembly. This isn’t technically true. What it does have is an ED (extra-low dispersion) doublet with FPL-53 (a known synthetic fluorite). While you can say that it’s technically an achromat because of the double lenses, the FPL-53 provides super ED quality, CA correction, and imaging benefits closer to an APO. It does have a higher Abbe number than inferior glass, so it’s a step above an achromat doublet and can be considered a semi-apochromatic assembly.

Additionally, SkyWatcher has used Schott glass for the positive Crown element lens in the optical assembly. Schott is a world-leading glass manufacturer and should absolutely be used as a selling point for this scope.

So, the optics alone justify a higher price jump than the Evostar 72. Even though the 72 model has a single ED element, the brand won’t release any further glass details. I think the lack of transparency with the 72 (still an excellent telescope!) and full disclosure of details with the 80 speaks volumes.

Good for Astrophotography

Assuming you buy the appropriate mounting system for astrophotography, you’ll be able to achieve the type of astro images you seek. The focuser will hold up all needed accessories including a DLSR for imaging. Just don’t forget to tighten the tensioning knob to keep the assembly from creeping. You can also swap out the finder scope for a guide scope, and take advantage of the fine focus to really bring out the resolution and sharpness the scope is capable of providing.

While larger is better for visual, image quality is more important for imaging.  The contrast and sharpness is stunning through the 80ED Pro. The details you’ll be able to resolve are thanks to the optical quality.

Achieving intricate images of the moon’s surface, crisp, clear views of the planets and their features, stunning color detail of Orion Nebula, and more on brighter DSOs is all more than possible. For DSO images, you’ll likely need a field flattener to eliminate, or at least, minimize field curvature.

Includes Accessories

The ES 80ED may be more expensive for obvious reasons than the 72ED, but it also comes with accessories. The 72ED lacks any extras save the focuser, and of course, the tube rings and mounting bar.

Included with the telescope is a 2” Crayford dual-speed focuser, an 8×50 RACI finder scope, a 2” dielectric diagonal, and 2x eyepieces. An aluminum hard case is included as it’s what the OTA is shipped in.

The focuser is your standard 2” Crayford that can also take 1.25” accessories. It can hold heavy loads, and if you experience slippage, you must adjust the tensioning knob to tighten it up and prevent creeping. The finder scope and 2” diagonal are decent – nothing fancy, but they do the job.

Included are 25 mm LET and 5 mm planetary eyepieces. The 5 mm provides high magnification of 120x and the 25 mm allows a wide field and low magnification. The 25 is a long eye relief (20 mm) eyepiece with a twist-up eyecup and apparently a 4-element APO optical assembly.

While everybody can find flaws with stock accessories, the eyepieces and diagonal are usually the first to be replaced.

Lightweight & Portable

The OTA weighs a mere 7.3 lbs with all the included accessories attached. Obviously, the smaller aperture and shorter tube help to contribute to the compact and lightweight setup, but you mustn’t forget the benefits of using a doublet versus a triplet optical assembly. Less glass means less weight!

Not only does the light weight make it easier for transportation, it also means you can mount it to light duty mounts. For visual purposes, a light-duty mount would be absolutely fine to work with even when you start adding eyepieces, a finder scope, and all that jazz.

For imaging, you’ll want something sturdy, and depending on advanced your skills are and what imaging equipment you’re using, you’ll want the payload to be half of the mount’s total weight capacity.

Limitations

Small Aperture

Really, there is no serious complaint about this telescope. It’s a favorite among the masses and for good reason. But, to be very picky, it is an 80 mm refractor which is usually classed as an entry-level size for a beginner. There’s no issue with that for astrophotography, but it may be limiting on dim DSOs. It’s also the smallest model in the Evostar Pro ED series. Again, this isn’t really a flaw, but if you want bigger, you’ll have to spend more.

Popular Questions

Is a Field Flattener Included and is it Necessary for Viewing?

A field flattener is not included with the SkyWatcher Evostar telescope. It is not a required accessory for visual viewing, however, it would be a recommended accessory if you plan on doing any imaging.

Can the Evostar 80ED be used for Terrestrial Viewing?

As a refractor telescope, the capability is there to use it for land-based observation. You would need an erect image diagonal to orient the image suitable for terrestrial viewing. This means the image must be flipped and left-right correct to use it on land.

With semi APO optics, the image quality would be excellent for birdwatching because the color fidelity and sharpness allow you to observe details that birdwatchers appreciate. You can also use it for watching fishing boats and ships if you live near the ocean, observing wildlife, or for spotting bullet groupings at the range.

Does the SkyWatcher Evostar Come with a Mounting Plate and Tube Rings?

Yes. It comes with a Vixen-style mounting rail that is compatible with almost all modern alt-azimuth and equatorial mounts. It does have some length to it that allows the OTA to slide for balance. Tube rings are included with the OTA and they have a quick release system that may prove to be convenient.

Can you see Nebulae and Galaxies with the 80ED Pro?

Even with the smaller aperture, you can achieve good views and images of the brightest nebulae and galaxies. Galaxies are very faint, and it’s best if you can be in a dark location outside of the city to remove air pollution as a limiting factor.

What is the Best Mount for the Evostar Telescope?

This really depends on what you’re going to be doing with it. While it is very lightweight and can adequately be used for amateur observation on a light duty mount, you’ll make the most of its potential with a high quality and premium mount system. Expect to pay more for your mount than you did your scope to take full advantage of astrophotography capabilities.

For imaging, a motorized or even a computerized mount of the 4, 5, and 6 class would be an excellent choice. The larger and sturdier the mount, the heavier it is. So, cost, weight, and functions will all be vital factors to consider.

Conclusion

The SkyWatcher Evostar 80ED Pro is a top-notch telescope for all users of all skill levels.

While beginners may be attracted to its astrophotography capability, experienced users may appreciate the light weight and low price.

This refractor is a versatile and high-quality optic. Don’t be surprised to find that the doublet in this telescope may very well outperform some triplets in the market.

Do the research on the glass and you’ll come to realize the 80ED is an excellent buy!

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