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Levenhuk Strike 90 PLUS Telescope Review

An excellent telescope package. Great image quality and superb accessories. 5 stars.

When I was a kid we had a fixed body silver telescope on a wobbly wooden tripod. Every once in a while the whole family would take turns looking at the moon and neighbourhood landmarks. It wasn't strong enough to see Mars or Saturn, but it still sparked an interest in astronomy, which informed my desire to get a telescope while I was homeschooling our kids. I wanted something better than what my family had had, but I felt intimidated by better telescopes - not sure how to use a good one and unwilling to invest a hundred dollars or more into something we wouldn't use.

If you are in a similar situation - someone who's interested in seeing Jupiter's moons, the rings of Saturn or the top of City Hall all the way across town - I would highly recommend this excellent telescope kit, and for two primary reasons: image quality and an awesome accessory kit. If I were shopping for an older child, teen or family, I would definitely consider the Levenhuk Strike 90 PLUS refractor telescope.

First, the package arrives! It's a big box but not particularly heavy. I was a bit worried about having something as delicate as a telescope sent through the mail, but everything was well wrapped and in perfect condition. The packaging gives way to a colorful box that would look great under a tree (just in case you don't have enough wrapping paper! NB: I just looked and gift wrapping is available for this package, and that might be well worth it.) The tube is boxed separate from the tripod and accessories, so some assembly is required but you won't need any tools.

If there is one weakness with this item it's the instruction manual. I've seen worse but in particular the photo for mounting the tube is difficult to make out. I looked at the online manual but it's no better. However, there is a series of photos on the company's review site that is helpful: Furthermore, the photo shows an altitude lock knob, altitude slow motion and azimuth lock knob but then never says what to do with them. Perhaps related (?), in the text instructions for adjusting the counterweight reference is made to a R.A. knob and a Dec. knob, but doesn't tell you where they are. (The counterweight lets you stabilize and micro adjust your view.) There is a Levenhuk video on YouTube that's helpful. It's a slightly different model, but this will help you with mounting the tube, adjusting the counterweight, etc:

Once assembled you immediately appreciate the solid construction of this impressive telescope. There are lots of knobs for adjusting and stabilizing the tube, and the biggest favor you could do yourself (or your kids) is just to spend some time playing with it. Your time will be rewarded. I would liken this to getting a good camera with manual settings and multiple lenses after using a point-and-shoot. It's worthwhile to familiarize yourself with it - and you'll look smart in front of your kids!

I am not a scientist, so in lay terms I would describe the eyepiece setup as modular. You get a diagonal mirror that orients your images as well as three eyepieces: a 30x KF20 lens, a zoom lens with a magnification range of 37.5x-88x, and a PF6 with 100x magnification. If you were to attach any of these eyepieces to the telescope you'd have something similar in power to what I had access to as a kid. But you also get a 3x Barlow tube. If you slip that on before the eyepiece, your highest (practical) magnification is 180x. While it's recommended that you start off with the lowest power eyepiece (which has brighter, sharper images and is less prone to jostling), it's easy to switch segments out, so you can find an object with a lower power and then switch to a more powerful magnification. Side screws hold parts in place and operate easily. (I'll put a picture of them up.) Each eyepiece has a little case. There's a red dot scope that mounts easily, has an off/on switch and helps with initial location. Instructions are included for calibration.

The images are great - very sharp with no distortion I can see. We have all been able to find and view a variety of objects. The moon looks amazing. Unfortunately we've had cloudy night skies since the telescope arrived, but some night we will see the rings of Saturn and I'll update this review. Though it's not as simple as a point-and-view telescope, the quality of the image is much higher, and when you look through the viewer and see something clearly that is so far away, it gives you a bit of a thrill.

Now, as if that wasn't enough, you also get a spectacular accessory package that really dazzles and will exponentially add to the quality of your star (and moon) gazing. You get a handbook that gives a well detailed history of telescopy, a graphic and textual explanation of types of telescopes, and 2-page spreads for 280 celestial objects: stars, constellations, planets etc. It is informative and filled with beautiful photographs. There is also a planisphere. I had one of these for years. Maybe you had one too - the blue and white thin cardboard wheel that is repeatedly taped and a bit warped. This planisphere is more sturdy. It's on heavy cardboard with a plastic spinner, and uses a nice legible font to depict the constellations and stars in your sky.

There is a CD called Stellarium which depicts the night sky, but I have not yet seen that and will update. The accessory kit also includes a little compass and a great carrying case. The telescope and tripod weigh just under 20 pounds, so it is definitely portable, and you can do so securely with this very nice case.

Finally, there are three color posters that are nice looking and informative. One covers the sun and other stars, one depicts the solar system and one focuses on the moon.

The Levenhuk website has good information on their telescopes, and you can buy accessories, including cameras, though you should also be able to hold your smartphone up to the eyepiece and take a picture that way, though I haven't tried this yet.

The telescope (but not the accessories) has a lifetime warranty.

If you want to get into astronomy, for your own sake or others', and if you want to step up from a beginner telescope, this is a great instrument with a superb accessory kit. This would make a great gift for an older middle schooler or teen who's interested in science, or for a family - homeschoolers or not! With all the gorgeous images from space in recent years and NASA announcing plans for manned missions to Mars, astronomy is a field that should gain in popularity, and why not spark the interest of someone who might one day make the trip to Mars?

Happy viewing!

by Amazon user audrey pierce, taken from