By: Vlad Fedosov
There is little doubt that Coronado changed the amateur solar observing market with their PST. The PST stands for Personal Solar Telescope. It is a 40mm all contained little scope that allows you do view the sun in H-Alpha. What’s H-Alpha, and what advantages does it give you? Let’s dive in and explore to see if this is the right product for you!
My H-Alpha experience started with my astro clubs PST. Before this, I have not ever tried an H-Alpha and was quite interested in seeing what this aspect of observing was all about. In case you don’t know what H-Alpha does not limit you to seeing just sunspots on the sun as with a typical white light solar filter, it allows you to see solar prominences as well as other surface detail on the solar disk!
The PST is very easy to setup. You can mount it on a photo tripod or any small telescope mount if you add the appropriate dovetail. It also has a built-in finder that is quite easy to use and a very nice feature. The finder works by projecting a small dot of the sun on a white little window on top of the scope. The scope will accept most any 1.25” eyepiece. The field of view(FOV) is easily wide enough to see the entire disk of the sun all at once. Focusing is accomplished by a small knob on the bottom of the scope. I find the focuser smooth and it works fairly well but certainly not a premium unit such as a Feathertouch or Moonlite unit.
So how are the views through the scope? Well if this is your first experience with H-Alpha you will likely be blown away the first time you see a good size prominence! It’s quite impressive. Since we are in a solar minimum during the last few years I have yet to see what sunspots will look like in H-Alpha. The view at low power is quite satisfying but still quite dim. The higher the power the dimmer the view. This is honestly the biggest downside to the PST. It just produces too dim of a view in my opinion, so much so that you really need to use a dark cloth to cover your head to block stray daylight. This is a good idea to do anyhow to see more detail with any solar scope.
In summary, if you are looking for a very small self-contained solar scope the PST is kind of hard to beat at the price. I did enjoy using mine but due to the dim images eventually ended up with a Daystar Quark(see review) instead. Aside from the brighter view, the Quark allows you to use a larger refractor for a more detailed view and I like the fact that I do not need to bring a whole separate scope if I go to a multi-night star party. Having said that if you are interested in solar observing you owe it to yourself to give H-Alpha a shoot and the PST is a great intro scope!