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Home > Reviews > Telescopes > Refractors > TEC140 Mini Review

TEC140 Mini Review
By Richard Beasley - 5/4/2005

Mini Review of the TEC140 APO

I know this is an over used term, but it is so true; I am a scope junkie. Just look at my ad history on Astromart. I am always in search of the elusive scope that fits all of my needs. Unfortunately with the cloudy weather and my endless pursuit of the perfect scope I spend less time observing than I should. It all came to a head a year or so ago. I had six or seven scopes in my garage and none of them were getting the use they deserved. I decided to get one scope, and use it. Now it was time to decide which scope would fit the bill. I knew I wanted a scope of at least six inches, and of high optical quality. While I appreciate the overall usefulness of the SCT the samples I have owned were not as sharp as my good Newtonians. So I had to decide between a high quality Newtonian and an APO refractor. It was a tough choice. I used to own a very high quality 8” Newtonian and I am well aware of what capable scopes they can be. There were several reasons I chose the APO. One of the biggest is an 8” F6 Newtonian on a GEM is not my idea of fun. I had the 8” Newt on a GM8, and I did not enjoy chasing the eyepiece all over the place. I wanted a scope that allowed a seated position for observing. That is a must for me. A tracking platform is an option, but I decided against that. I have always enjoyed the views through the smaller APO refractors I have owned but I knew a 4” scope would not work for me as my only scope. My 4” refractors just could not keep up with the 8” Newt. So a 6” refractor was to be my scope of choice. Now I had to decide which scope to purchase.

If you are in the market for a medium size refractor there are many choices. Companies such as AP, TAK, TMB, and TEC are building world class telescopes. I researched online reading everything I could to make my decision. I decided on the TEC because I like dealing with Yuri. I like the fact he posts lots of data on his scopes on the TEC Yahoo group, and he has answered numerous emails from me in the past. If I did not drive him to blocking my email address he must be a patient person. I also consider the TEC140 as one of the best deals out there in the premium APO market. I placed my order with Anacortes, and waited for the scope to arrive.

I received the scope in January 2005. Yuri at TEC ships his scopes via UPS air to keep UPS from inflicting damage. The scope was double boxed, and very well packed. It arrived undamaged. The first thing I noticed about the scope was the solid feel. It is like picking up a dumbbell. The rotating Feathertouch focuser is huge. It is overkill for me since I am a visual observer only, but it is nice to have in case I ever decide to try photography. The 2” eyepiece / diagonal holder uses a collet instead of a set screw. The front cover uses two spring loaded catches hold the cover securely in place easy on easy off. If you decide to buy a TEC scope make sure you get the TEC rings. No more thumb screws to fool with. You pop the latch and the rings are loose. It is similar to the latch on a tool box. The finder scope bracket is well engineered. It uses two screws to adjust the finder. The coatings on the objective are the best I have personally seen. They do not reflect light. The interior of the tube is nice and dark. A miniature black hole I call it. There are some minor complaints. The finder scope while nice optically is a different color white than the scope tube.
On a scope costing as much as the TEC either the finder should be the same color as the OTA, or powder coated black. It would look much nicer. I am not fond of the TEC140 logo on the dewshield. I don’t mind “TEC140” it just looks out of place. I prefer the earlier scopes with the black dewshield. The dewshield does not slide easily, which is not a bad thing, but it takes getting used to. If you get one be careful when sliding the dewshield back in place. I always install the front cover before retracting the shield.

How does it perform? My first view through the scope was the Orion Nebula. I was immediately struck by the E Star standing out in plain view when I wasn’t looking for it. I was also struck by the perfect balls of light in the eyepiece. I had never seen a view like that through any of the scopes I had owned. It is hard to explain the difference in the views between the 140, and several SCT’s I have owned. The short story is I prefer the views in the 140. The long story is larger scopes will resolve more stars. The views of bright deep space objects are “closer” in appearance to a 9.25” SCT than I expected considering the light gathering difference. The background in the TEC is really dark, which also helps in bringing out as much resolution as possible for a 5.5” scope. The 140 is a very efficient scope. The 9.25 of course gathers more light, but my C11 is where the resolution difference really begins to show.

The meat and potatoes of a 5.5” APO refractor is planetary performance. While the 140 is capable enough on DSO to keep me happy it would not have been my first choice if I was an avid dim object fan. It was purchased for the views of Jupiter I was looking forward to. I have owned some really nice scopes in the 6” to 8” range. Some of them had mirrors made by very skilled opticians, so I was not going to be easily impressed. For the first month or so the seeing, and need for sleep kept me from making a definitive judgment on the planetary performance. Not so long ago I finally had a night with some fleeting moments of stable seeing conditions. Please keep in mind I do not claim to be a highly skilled observer, but all views I have seen are relative to me. In comparison to the larger scopes some detail on Jupiter does not resolve as easily in the 140. It has a much crisper image though. I have seen detail in the 140 I never saw in the larger scopes. The amount of low level detail in the SEB surrounding the GRS is outstanding. The contrast of colors, and fine swirl detail in the belts in very sharp and crisp. Overall the TEC renders the most pleasing image of Jupiter I have seen in a telescope.

Whenever there is a discussion of APO refractors the big issue is always the amount of unfocused light or color. My eyes are probably not the most sensitive to this, but to give you a little perspective I find the violet halo in my C102 4” F10 refractor objectionable. I found the color in my TV85 mildly annoying. I have yet to see any with the TEC140.

Since receiving the TEC I have alleviated my fears. I can own one scope and be satisfied to observe instead of lusting after bigger scopes all of the time. The TEC 140 is the finest optic I have owned. It has provided the best view of Jupiter I have seen. Sure the view of M51 through a huge DOB may be better, but for what I am looking for I have decided a medium size refractor is my scope of choice.

Clear skies, and use those scopes!
Richard Beasley

Click here for more about this subject. -Ed.

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