Levenhuk Strike 135 PLUS Telescope Review
This model is the most advanced telescope in the new Strike PLUS series (the PLUS in the name means that these amateur telescopes come with a wide variety of useful accessories). The telescope comes in a colorful box, roughly 38 x 19 x 13 inches, and weighs about 32 pounds. Even though this is the largest telescope in the series, it is so compact that you can easily take it to the countryside in a car.
What do we see once we open the colorful box?
- Levenhuk Strike PLUS Telescope on a German equatorial mount
- Metal tripod
- Metal 1.25" focuser
- Eyepieces: KF 25, PL 10 mm
- Zoom eyepiece: 7.5-22 mm
- 2x Barlow lens
- Finderscope: Red Dot
- "See it all!" Astronomer's Handbook with descriptions of 280 celestial objects
- Set of Space Posters (The Moon, The Sun and Other Stars; and The Solar System)
- Stellarium software CD to assist you during your astronomical observations
- Levenhuk Zongo 40 Telescope Case
- User manual and warranty
That's a lot of things, right? Such an extensive list might seem intimidating - but never fear! Assembling this telescope is extremely easy and shouldn't take you more than a couple of minutes. As you can see, this model is the largest telescope in the Strike PLUS series.
First and foremost, always remember to replace the plastic cover on the front end of the optical tube once you're finished with observations. The cover might become stiff in the cold, so it might be better to bring the telescope and cover indoors first. That way, the dew in the optical tube will dry up and the plastic cover will become more elastic.
The four-vane spider inside the tube holds the secondary mirror. You can adjust the mirror with three adjustment screws that you can see in the picture below. A secondary mirror reflects the light beam from the primary mirror into the focuser. You can either insert an eyepiece into the focuser for visual observations or attach a camera for astrophotography.
You can see the primary mirror at the rear end of the optical tube. It is installed in a mirror cell and is held in place by three rubber pads - if these rubber pads are too tight (if they put excessive pressure on the mirror), the quality of produced images will drop significantly. Therefore, always make sure there's a hair-thin gap between the pads and the mirror before beginning your observations.
The focuser is made of metal and is equipped with a useful plastic cover that protects the interior of the optical tube from dust and water.
Remove the cover and look inside - you will see the reflection of the primary mirror. Notice how the spider vane of the secondary mirror is in the center of the view. This means that the optical system is collimated perfectly.
I have included several images of the focuser to better demonstrate this crucial part. The two large plastic knobs are used to focus the produced image (the focuser tube moves on a pinion mechanism). Two thumbscrews on the focuser are used to hold the eyepiece and focuser tube in place.
The amazing zoom eyepiece (included in the kit) is extremely useful during observations of the Moon, planets and globular clusters. A zoom eyepiece allows you to change observation targets easily and study their finer details without having to switch eyepieces.
The finderscope is held in place by two thumbscrews.
The red dot finderscope works just like a laser pointer, allowing you to find desired objects easily. Such finderscopes are especially useful for stargazers who wear eyeglasses. All you have to do is remove the paper pad from the battery compartment and turn on the finderscope - it's that easy!
Two tube rings may be used to attach the telescope tube to the mount. Try not to overtighten the rings, as this will deform the tube.
The rear end of the telescope and the mirror cell is protected by a plastic cover. You should never remove this plastic cover unless you're trying to collimate the primary mirror.
Three thumbscrews are used to collimate the mirror. Three regular screws are used to lock the results of the collimation.
The telescope is mounted on an equatorial mount. Such mounts are harder to operate, but are far more precise and practical during celestial observations and astrophotography sessions. Experienced stargazers and professional astronomers use equatorial mounts. Any equatorial mount has two rotational axes, one of which compensates for sidereal rotation of celestial objects.
The mount is attached to a sturdy metal tripod. The tube is attached to the dovetail bracket and locked in place with a lock knob.
You can use the mount for any other telescope and even a camera. Simply remove the telescope tube with the rings and attach a different instrument in its place.
After you have balanced the telescope tube, you can tighten the declination lock knob. Do not overtighten the knob, as this may strip the thread.
Keep in mind that a motor drive may be attached to the R.A. axis, which will compensate for sidereal rotation automatically, making your observations even easier. Such motors are purchased separately.
Polar alignment of the telescope is done with two handles on the mount. Once you're finished with the alignment, make sure you retighten these handles to lock the results in place.
R.A. and Dec. setting circles may be used to quickly navigate to interesting objects if you know their celestial coordinates. Do not forget to balance the telescope tube on the mount with counterweights.
Slow-motion controls are attached to the worm gear mechanisms of the mount.
This setting circle on the mount will help you during polar alignment.
These images show the mount attached to the tripod head (with the locking knob):
and the locking screw that holds the accessory tray in place (some of the standard kit accessories may be seen on the tray):
The collapsible tripod may be adjusted to height.The standard kit of all Strike PLUS telescopes also includes a telescope case that is perfect for storage and transportation of the instrument.
The mount with the attached motor drive may be used for astrophotography of the Moon and planets, as well as stunning landscape photos, such as this one:
|Optical design||Newtonian telescope|
|Objective lens diameter (aperture), mm||135|
|Focal length, mm||900|
|Optics coating||fully multi-coated|
|Highest practical power||372x|
|Limiting stellar magnitude||12.75|
|Eyepieces||KF 25 mm, PL 10 mm, zoom 7.5–22 mm|
|Barlow lens||achromatic, 2x|
|Gross weight, lbs||32|
|Dimensions, in||38 x 19 x 13|
Levenhuk Strike 135 PLUS test
A QHY5 camera in direct focus was used for this test. At first, produced images of artificial stars contained significant astigmatic aberration. However, after I collimated the mirrors and loosened the primary mirror in its cell, out-of-focus images had a proper circular shape.
The Strike PLUS series includes two Newtonian reflectors and a refractor. The optical elements of all these telescopes are made of high-quality glass, very close in quality and performance to the optics of high-end instruments. Lenses and mirrors are fully multi-coated, which provides for exceptionally sharp and saturated images of observed objects.
This telescope is the largest Newtonian reflector in the Strike PLUS series from Levenhuk. The 135-mm mirror of this wonderful instrument allows you to see the Moon, Solar System planets and their satellites, and gathers enough light for you to delve into the farthest reaches of space during observations of remote star clusters, nebulae, binary stars and comets. Produced images are always bright and full of contrast. This telescope will be perfect for any amateur stargazer.