TAL 1 Reflector
Review by Chris Benton
The TAL 1 is a Russian made Newtonian reflector, with a 110mm (4.3 in) primary mirror. It has an equatorial mount, supported by a pillar with stabilising feet. The pillar is not adjustable, but is of a satisfactory height. The instrument is heavily built, making it sturdy but not easily portable.
Coarse positioning is achieved by simply pointing the telescope in the right direction and then tightening knobs to hold it in place. Fine positioning and tracking is then achieved by turning a knob for each axis. Unfortunately, these can only cover an angle of a few degrees, and so when tracking objects for long periods, they have to be turned back and the telescope repositioned. The mount is equipped with setting circles to enable positioning from co-ordinates.
The telescope comes with a two eyepieces (a 25mm Plossl and a 15mm Kelner) and a Barlow lens (3x), to provide 4 well chosen magnification levels. The lowest three are for regular use, whilst the highest is for taking advantage of particularly clear and still nights.
The quality of the mirrors is excellent. The quality of the eyepieces is definitely the weakest point of the telescope, but is still satisfactory. Unfortunately, the eyepiece socket is non-standard and so obtaining better eyepieces is problematic.
The telescope comes with six filters that clip onto the end of the eyepieces. The most useful of these is a lunar filter, for observing the moon at low magnifications without being dazzled. There are red, yellow, green and blue coloured filters for bringing out details on planets. There is also a solar filter for observing the sun, which under no circumstances should be used – at least if you value your ability to see. Fortunately, a less suicidal method of viewing the sun is provided in the form of a projection screen that fits onto the mount.
Various companies import the telescopes into the UK. To find them, look through the adverts in a British magazine, such as Astronomy Now. The prices fluctuate, but including postage and packaging, you can expect to pay between £200 and £250.
In summary, the TAL 1 is a good value, no frills telescope, providing excellent performance for relatively little cost.