Note: This review comes after years of using this telescope. I sat down the other day, and thought to myself that my largest astronomical investment was such an amazing win. Here’s what led me to that realization!
New Moon Telescopes 16”f/4 BFF
A few years ago, I had been considering pushing through into the realm of a larger aperture telescopes. I was having an amazingly tough time finding a scope that didn’t just act as a fine astronomical instrument, but if I was going to spend that much money on a telescope, I was really looking for that “wow” factor.
We as amateur astronomers have a very good understanding of the “Wow” factor. When we observe through a telescope, the M44 Beehive Cluster, is an amazing object. All of those brightly colored orange and yellow stars… just beautiful. It has so many wonderful and distinct features. Now push over to M13, the Hercules Great Globular Cluster. That is a “wow!” object. So many colors and features, it is grand, it is vast and it is awesome. Digging into the details about what it is, and how it works – that is just a side effect of its majesty – you can’t avoid it. People who know nothing of globular clusters, look into the eye piece, and they cannot avoid that inevitable statement. It is just overwhelming, and it is not ordinary. M44 is not ordinary either, but it doesn’t pack that same wallop, that same energy, that same mysticism and curiosity that drives even a novice or newbie to say “wow!”
In addition to the “Wow” factor, I also had some not so ordinary desires at the time. These requirements included:
- The scope must be easy to move around – move the scope with or without wheel barrel handles.
- The scope must support fast setup – from car to collimated in under 10 minutes.
- No ladders or steps – I’m not getting younger, and I’m only doing this once.
- Smooth mechanical operation
- Support “Push-To” digital setting circle operation
- Easy collimation
- Premium quality optics as part of the order.
I had a few interactions with Ryan Goodson’s New Moon Telescopes in 2012 and 2013 through friends and at various astronomy events. At the Cherry Springs Star Party, Ryan was setup next to me with a fresh build he was demonstrating to people. It was a beautiful, dark wood 16” f4.5. By the time he was done with the demonstration, I had found my “Wow!” scope. What a fantastic and innovative instrument.
Ryan and I spent the next few months educating me on options, optics and varying design parameters. He was great. Ryan wasn’t hesitant to work with me, and put the extra effort into ensuring that I understood some of the decisions I had to make. He was very open to customizing the scope, and ensuring that I was happy with what I was going to buy. This was very encouraging.
When I was ready, and my design was chosen, the order was placed with Ryan. This triggered the ordering of the mirror, and a schedule was set for the build. This review will drift into more of the technical aspects of the telescope, but I wanted to mention that the delivery date that was set, is the date that was met (by both mirror maker and Ryan).
During the Build
After the initial payment, Ryan jumped right in, and I started getting emails. Great communications every step of the way through the process. Mirror status, wood working status, etc. In the middle of my build, a new option was offered by New Moon Telescopes with their aluminum bearings. Ryan worked the first release of these bearings into my build (this was a fantastic addition by the way).
Scope Aesthetics and Craftsmanship:
As my next-door neighbor puts it, “It looks like a premium piece of furniture.” He is right – amazing! From a quality perspective, only high quality components were used. From a construction perspective, high quality and solid are the right terms to use. All wood structures (high quality Baltic Birch) are connected using traditional cabinet like box joints which are very rigid and pleasing to the eye. I chose a darker red mahogany finish, and Ryan placed a superb topcoat that you could use as a mirror itself. Also, I had a weird request that Ryan was amazing at working with me on, and at the time it was a bit of a challenge. I wanted all the connection hardware and components to be black in color. As he always does, Ryan went above and beyond. The addition of the new black powder coated bearings in the middle of the build just makes the scope. I’ve had the scope for about three years now, and I still find myself admiring its beauty.
I’m an avid collector of meteorites, and I really wanted to make that interest a part of this instrument. And this “off the menu” custom request went through a few iterations of design, and the result added greatly to the aesthetics of the scope.
In three years of owning the scope, transporting it all over the Northeast, and easily logging 200+ hours of observing time, I have had no issues with the scope or any of its parts. I have had numerous hours of discussion with other amateur astronomers about the scope, and that is a wonderful consequence I had never even considered.