By Greg Piepol
For the last several months I have been looking for a wide field telescope to complement my Starmaster. Since I’m still years out on the AP list, I decided on the NP-101 and placed an order through Anacortes. One week later the telescope, a Gibraltar mount and Star Beam was delivered.
The NP-101 makes a great first impression. It is a substantial telescope, aesthetically pleasing, and for what you have to pay, a quality setup. Selling points for me were the field of view (4.4 with the 31 Nagler) and the Petzval design (field flattener included).
The scope absolutely shines when observing open clusters, the Milky Way, and when viewing multiple objects. It was fun to observe the Double Cluster in a 7mm at 77x (my Starmaster would have been at 312x with a 7mm).
I attempted to test the Dawes’ limit of the scope (1.15). I was successful with Epsilon Lyrae, the double double, at 2.6” and 2.3” separation and Izar in Bootes at 2.8”. Antares in Scorpius showed two distinct colors but would not split as it appeared to be only feet off my neighbor’s roof. Also, Struve 1932 in Corona Borealis at 1.6” wasn’t separable.
The only difficulty I have experienced is the need to move the telescope forward and aft in the mount ring when switching from heavier to lighter eyepieces (and back). This gets old quick. The TV “equalizer” didn’t help much. I was in a sheer panic when I forgot and removed an eyepiece while barely holding the scope. It dropped like a rock, but fortunately I caught it. This problem goes away as you get more familiar with the scope.
The NP was absolutely wonderful at the 2002 Black Forest Star Party! The entire Veil (3 degrees FOV) and North American Nebula were framed perfectly with the 31mm eyepiece and an OIII filter. It was stunning.
I have also had success with the club’s Coronado Hydrogen Alpha solar filter. The solar disk is visible with a 17mm eyepiece. It’s even more beautiful with a binoviewer attached.
Also, the scope requires almost no cool down time. You get excellent views as soon as you set up.