TELEVUE RANGER 70MM F/6.8 REFRACTOR
Updated: Jan 31, 2021
I picked up a used 70 mm Televue Ranger refractor telescope (no longer made) in early 2018 to use as a lightweight travel and grab and go scope that would work well on my Manfrotto tripod and pan head. I’ve had a 70mm ED refractor in the past from Stellarvue and was somewhat disappointed with that scope for a variety of reasons, so was somewhat tentative when purchasing this scope. I had considered a Televue 60 APO refractor for even greater portability but thought having 10mm of extra aperture would make for a more useful telescope.
The Televue Ranger is a 480mm focal length scope, similar to many of the 80mm f/6 APOs that are around. However, while the Ranger does say it has ED glass, it is not nearly as good in the color correction department as a modern ED refractor. Yet, the scope does have an extremely sharp set of optics, at least in my sample, and has performed much better than I expected. While the color correction in the Ranger is not quite as good as the SV70ED I once had in the past, the Ranger has the sharper views of the two. There is also a little less field curvature versus the SV70ED since the Ranger has a longer focal length. While the scope is physically longer than the SV70ED, it does not have a focuser sticking out the side, so it is somewhat more compact in that sense. Instead of a Crayford or rack and pinion focuser, it uses a drawtube and helical focuser. People seem to love or hate the focuser, so the focuser on the Ranger may or may not be an issue for you, but I find it works nicely and I have no problem with it. I would rather have the helical focuser and draw tube and more compact size than a standard focuser that would make the scope harder to transport in luggage because of the extra width.
The Ranger also has a fixed dew shield, and while that keeps things simpler, I would have preferred a sliding dew shield to keep the scope shorter for travel and to allow for further extension. The existing dew shield is very short, only extending an inch or so past the objective and so won’t provide much dew protection. One item of note is that the lens cap for the dew shield arrived broken, but I called up Televue and they still stock replacements. I was able to buy a new lens cap for just a few dollars, a pleasant surprise. It is nice to know that Televue maintains an inventory of parts for their telescopes, even after they stop selling them.
Views of Jupiter have been surprisingly good, with the Great Red Spot easily visible as well as some detail in the cloud bands. Saturn looks nice as well through the Ranger, but the Cassini Division is hard to see if the atmosphere isn't steady. Larger telescopes like my C6 will show the Cassini Division much more consistently. Mars is more problematic as the achromatic nature of the scope shows more false color issues with Mars, and so a higher quality ED scope will do much better.
You can pick up a good quality 80ED refractor for a similar price to what I was able to get the Ranger, so from a pure cost to performance perspective, it isn’t the best choice. However, the Ranger is much more portable than an 80ED, though for maximum portability a Televue 60 or another 60ED telescope would be even better.
The bottom line is that I recommend this scope if you can find one for a reasonable price on the used market, though only if you are looking for a small, very portable telescope. If extreme portability isn’t a primary concern, then picking up an 80ED is a better option since it will be a better overall performer.