Look through a Questar Seven Classic Titanium optical tube with broadband optical coatings and a zero thermal expansion quartz mirror, and you’re looking through an absolutely superb example of the telescope maker’s art. You’ll see detail and clarity in the skies that you have never seen through any lesser scope, or even through many larger scopes. I have compared my own Questar Seven to a 14” Schmidt-Cassegrain on deep space objects such as the Sombrero galaxy, the Saturn Nebula, and Omega Centauri. While the 14” scope was brighter on the fainter objects, the superior contrast and resolution of the Questar Seven was easily visible . . . even to the owner of the 14” scope. The Crêpe Ring and Encke’s Division in the rings of Saturn are routine with a Seven Classic in good seeing, as are myriad whorls and festoons in Jupiter’s belts and hundreds of sub-kilometer craters on the lunar surface.
What is it about a Questar that lets it outperform larger scopes on a day in/day out basis?
Simply this: a fanatical devotion to hand-crafted accuracy.
Each optical element in a Questar typically tests out at a truly outstanding 1/50th wave accuracy (shaped to within four ten-millionths of an inch of perfection!) This produces guaranteed total system performance at the Cassegrain focus of 1/8th wave or better. That’s twice the accuracy needed to meet Lord Rayleigh’s Criterion, which specifies the level of optical excellence required to yield visual performance that is indistinguishable from perfect optics.
Most commercial telescopes claim to be “diffraction-limited” (which is generally assumed to mean 1/4th wave accuracy). However, they do not specify whether that is for individual components or the system as a whole. In either case, it’s a far cry from the 1/8th wave total system accuracy entering the eyepiece of a Questar.
This significant difference in total system accuracy is one reason why a 7” Questar can routinely outresolve a 14” Schmidt-Cassegrain (or virtually any other larger aperture catadioptric or reflector scope) on globular clusters, binary stars, and lunar and planetary details – with the Questar invariably exceeding Dawes’ limit for the best resolution available from an optical system of its aperture.
A second reason is the turbulent Earth atmosphere all telescopes must look through. In essence, when observing, you are usually looking through bubbles of disturbed air – microcells typically 4” in diameter in the layer of the atmosphere nearest the surface of the Earth. The larger the aperture of the scope, the greater the image-blurring effect of these microcells, as the larger scopes simply have to look through more of these turbulent cells than a smaller scope.
Finally, there is the matter of contrast. The small secondary mirror of a Questar Seven Maksutov (only 1.87” in diameter) scatters far less light than a 14” Schmidt-Cassegrain’s much larger 4.5” secondary. The same holds true with any other larger reflector or catadioptric telescope you care to name. They all have larger light-scattering secondary or diagonal mirror obstructions than a 7” Questar Classic Titanium. In addition, a Questar’s central baffle tube is not merely black plastic or painted black to reduce reflections, as with lesser scopes, but is a centerless ground stainless steel tube, anodized matte black and containing a wire helix with 19 internal knife-edge baffles to eliminate low-angle reflections that no paint alone can stop. The result is that a Questar scatters less light from the bright areas of an image into the dark – crisply defining high contrast planetary and lunar details that a larger scope can wash out in a haze of scattered light.
A large aperture scope does have greater light-gathering than a 7” Questar to capture additional faint deep space objects from a dark sky site. However, the higher contrast of a Questar lets the multitude of galaxies and nebulas within its grasp stand out more distinctly against a darker sky background, particularly from light-polluted suburban or city sites where a larger scope’s greater light-gathering capacity submerges subtle low-contrast deep space details in a fog of city light.
As a Rolls-Royce is to automobiles, so is a Questar to telescopes – the very finest hand-crafted optical performance that money can buy.
The Questar Classic Titanium is precision-fabricated of specially lightened aluminum and titanium, with a black and blue anodized finish for long life. Questar engaged in an extensive heat transfer analysis to refine the shaping and milling of the internal components to dissipate heat and rapidly bring the optics down to ambient temperature quickly. This was done to avoid having to resort to the use of powered fans to cool the optics as others do (which can suck image-degrading dust into the optical path).
All internal components (such as the main tube mounting plate, mirror thimble, and central light baffle tube) are titanium, with milled surfaces to increase heat transfer and lighten weight. The optical tube is extruded and stress-relieved aluminum. The control box is machined cast aluminum, with milled internal surfaces to increase heat transfer and lighten weight. It is externally painted with special aluminum paint and clear overcoated for durability. The interior is finished in anti-reflective matte black paint.
The control knobs on the rear cell are turret lathe-turned anodized aluminum, with sharts and control levers of stainless steel. The focus knob focuses the scope by turning a spring-loaded 1/4”-32 thread stainless steel focus rod that acts directly on the titanium mirror thimble to move the primary mirror along the titanium central baffle tube within the optical tube. A precision linear ball-type bearing, integrated with the mirror mounting, is matched to central tube thimble to minimize mirror shift when focusing.
The optical tube barrel of the Questar Seven Classic Titanium is wrapped with an accurate full-color silk-screened star chart. The thread-on dewcap is wrapped with a useful silk-screened map of the Moon.
Insert the Questar’s premium 24mm 1.25” Questar Brandon eyepiece into the eyepiece holder on the top of the control box at the rear of the scope. Look in and you’re looking into a 7.6x finder with a wide 7° field. A finger touch on a convenient lever at the rear of the scope changes the finder into a 106x telescope for observing the Moon, nebulas, galaxies, and star clusters. Touch a second lever and a built-in 2x Dakin Barlow instantly increases that eyepiece power to 212x for closer observing. Exchange the 24mm eyepiece for the supplied 16mm 1.25” Questar Brandon eyepiece and you extend the power range still further, to an 11.5x finder with a 4.6° field and a 159x and 318x telescope. You never have to worry about the telescope and finderscope getting out of alignment with each other, because the finderscope in an integral part of the telescope body itself. Optional higher and lower power 1.25” Questar Brandon eyepieces are available, for magnifications as low as 63.5x and as high as 635x.
In addition, the Questar Classic Titanium can be equipped with an optional 2” mirror star diagonal that threads onto the rear cell. This lets you use longer focal length 2” Brandon and third party eyepieces to lower the magnification to as little as 45x.
The Questar Classic Titanium weighs 19 pounds, 21 pounds if you add the thread-on dew shield). It measures 22.6” long. The low profile mounting adapter block on the underside of the Classic Titanium has both 1/4”-20 and 3/8”-16 mounting holes to allow to be installed on the Questar Equatorial Fork Mount (our part #20004) and Questar Large Classic Titanium Pier (our part #29338) for astronomical use. It is well-balanced and relatively light, allowing it to be mounted on any suitably sturdy tripod for terrestrial operation. It can also be adapted to your own equatorial mount with minimal effort.
This Questar Seven Classic Titanium uses the same optical materials and coatings combination as the renowned 50th Anniversary 3.5” Questar, perhaps the ultimate small telescope. The Seven Classic’s zero thermal expansion quartz mirror eliminates the need to refocus the scope as it cools to ambient temperature in situations involving large temperature swings. With a conventional Pyrex mirror telescope, if the difference in temperature between indoors and outdoors is 30 degrees or more Fahrenheit when the scope is taken outside, minor refocusing will be required as its mirror contracts while cooling down to the outdoor air temperature. This is particularly true with a relatively large aperture scope like this Seven Classic, which has an oversize 7.6” primary mirror. Some people find the need for even an occasional refocusing to be annoying. Since a quartz mirror exhibits no expansion or contraction as temperatures change, the quartz mirror in this Questar Seven Classic Titanium eliminates any need for even minor refocusing. You can take it out into the coldest night or hottest day and use it instantly, without any need for it to acclimate to the ambient temperature.
This Questar Seven Classic Titanium uses high reflectivity silver mirror coatings with a protective overcoating of thorium fluoride instead of a standard Questar’s aluminum coatings with a silicon monoxide overcoat. The two silver mirrors provide a 10% light gain per surface, compared with aluminized mirrors. Magnesium fluoride antireflection coatings are used on the Grade A BK7 optical glass meniscus corrector lens on this scope, as mag fluoride coatings are optimally matched to the reflectivity response of the quartz/silver/thorium-coated mirrors.
This broadband coatings package is not recommended if you live full time on ocean-front property, or spend much of the year at the seaside. Constant exposure to salt air can adversely affect the silver mirror coatings. Occasional visits to the shore are not a problem, only extended stays (particularly if the scope is not packed away in its case when not in use). Adding a few packets of desiccant (silica gel or similar, available at most camera stores) to the case to absorb moisture when near large bodies of salt water would be a helpful preventative measure in any event.
The Questar Seven Classic Titanium comes in a high impact ABS plastic sealed carrying case with wheels and transport handle. A basic 35mm camera coupling set is also included (needs a Questar T-ring to connect to your camera).
This Questar is protected by a ten-year Questar warranty (two-year warranty on the focuser mechanism and five years on the broadband coatings).
Absolutely pinpoint resolution, total freedom from spurious color and distortion, with an image clarity and contrast in a class all its own – a Questar is truly the Rolls-Royce of telescopes. For those individuals who appreciate the very finest that life has to offer, a Questar Seven Classic Titanium with broadband optical coatings and a quartz mirror will prove to be an absolutely eye-opening astronomical revelation. It is a telescope you can live with comfortably for the rest of your life.