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Explore Scientific Twilight II Mount - First Light

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#1 nickatnight

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 04:37 PM

Hi Folks. You might know me from the DSLR Astrophotography forum. Since purchasing a CPC925 two-and-a-half years ago, I've been an avid imager, but have only observed the sky a handful of times. Even nights that I set out to observe, by the time I get the CPC set up on a Mitty wedge, I'm only a t-ring away from imaging, so I almost always go that route. Then I spend the evening observing my subs pop up on the laptop. With an ever-increasing urge to view the sky, I set out in search of a grab-and-go set-up.

I should mention here, apart from the CPC925, I have an Orion EON 72mm refractor, that I piggyback in rings on the CPC for guiding and imaging. For starters, until I decide on an additional scope to throw into the mix, I wanted to get a grab-and-go mount to use with the EON. I thought I was heading in the Vixen Porta-Mount route, but it was suggested at one of the local telescope shops (we're lucky here in southern California) that I check out the Explore Scientific Twilight II mount. I could see right away online it was a nice beefy looking mount, capable of holding some heavy scopes (like my CPC925 if it wasn't fork mounted). And when I say some heavy scopes, I mean, more than one scope at a time, with a duel dovetail t-bar. I was curious that the scope had no slow motion controls, but was told "use your pinkie finger, it's as smooth as butter." So I ordered one, and picked it up at the shop a few days later.

So yesterday afternoon I open the two boxes. It arrived in perfect, shape, well packaged, with NO instructions, not even a brochure so I can drool at their big APO. Fortunately, it wasn't too complicated, and I had already read another Twilight owners thread here (thank you!) about greasing up the plastic washer as you assemble the mount head. Even after greasing, the Azimuth felt way stiff, but I packed up my gear, and headed...for work...in lovely light polluted Burbank, CA with a lovely view of the neighboring, well illuminated, airport.

My friend and coworker has been itching to get a scope, and I was itching to try my new mount, so about 1AM we got to set up outside in the courtyard. Setup took, well, maybe two minutes. And Jupiter was centered up in a Meade UWA 18mm shortly after. It was very crisp, and we didn't have to chase it much at all with the mount with this magnification (25x). I put in a Meade UWA 6.7mm eyepiece (65x), and then had a bit of a struggle re-centering as the Azimuth was still quite stiff, but this gets much, much better later. The alt was already very smooth, but by the end of the evening, we were using our pinkie fingers to track AltAz. The Azimuth became smooth as butter, as promised, after about two hours of slewing and tracking.

We then put a 2x barlow on the 6.7mm, at 130x giving the most pleasing view of the planet for the evening. Multiple bands were clearly visible, and I believe we watched Io's shadow work it's way across the planet. Even at 130x power, we had to track rather minimally to keep up with Jupiter. Then I got cocky and threw the 5x Teleview on, and couldn't find Jupiter again. ;-)

We then did some Lunar observing, finding Mare Crisium with some pleasing relief around it's borders. The only time we had to truly "real-time" track, was on the moon with a ridiculous 5x Teleview on the 6.7mm UWA, giving 325x power. You know, Mare Crisium held up quite well, filling a good portion of the field, but it was visibly moving, and required a bit of track ahead and view, track ahead and view. Still, very cool, and satisfying.

We also viewed M45 Pleiades Cluster, and M42 Orion Nebula , which we got a nice pop with when I threw on a Lumicon UHC filter. At this point in the evening, the Azimuth was so smooth, we didn't even realize it. All of a sudden we we tracking targets without much thought to it. At this time another coworker came by and we retraced our path from Jupiter to the Moon to the Orion Nebula. I don't believe he'd seen any of this through a telescope before, and was truly in awe. "There's lines running through Jupiter! Are those it's moons?" It's always exciting to show these wonders to someone new.

I have to say so far I am thrilled with the Twilight II mount. I've yet to put a real load on it, with my setup weighing maybe 10-12 pounds. But I've been thinking of a 120mm APO or possibly a 150 MAK. In any case, I'm looking forward to getting a side-by-side scope set-up going. And Once I pick up a simple guide scope for the CPC925, I'm looking forward to many nights viewing the skies, while my imaging setup records them.

I'm not a big review writer, so I'm sure there are many unanswered questions. Please feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to answer. And if I get a chance this weekend, I'll try and add some pictures of the setup.

Also, any suggestions on an observing chair? :grin:

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#2 nickatnight

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 11:50 PM

Here's a few shots of the mount with my little scope...waiting on a bigger friend. ;-)

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#3 nickatnight

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 11:54 PM

and the grab and go box...everything I need is in there.

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#4 nickatnight

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 12:00 AM

...and a wider shot to show off the beefy legs. I got a little more viewing in last night from my backyard, which has pretty decent skies. I might have been a bit over zealous when I said smooth as butter. Azimuth is still kinda stiff, but I viewed quite happily for 3 hours. I'll see how it feels after a few more sessions.

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#5 EdTheEdge

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 08:48 AM

Nice looking mount! I recently bought the Skyview AZ because it was on sale for $299. Otherwise I would have gotten the ES AZ. I hope you find that it is suitable for your needs. Please keep up updated.

#6 nickatnight

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 05:44 PM

Thanks Ed. So far I'm really pleased. At the advise of someone from the boards, I updraded my grease from Home Depot White Lithium, to NOVAGUARD G661 Silicone Compound. Made a big difference in smoothness. Also added a C6 XLT SCT to get up in there. With a 2" 50mm in the 72mm EON, I've got a wonderful rich field scope, with some power and aperture from the C6. I'm really enjoying the combo.

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#7 mtibor

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 06:32 PM

Nick I've enjoyed reading your review!

Believe it or not,I'm in the same situation.I got my lx200 back in may.I did about 1 month of observing,and after that I got the "imaging fever".As you said,once I setup my scope,wedge and the 72mm on top of it,I'm only a T-adapter away from imaging,and that's what I ended up doing the past 3 months,just imaging and no observing at all.

There were plenty of good deals on used OTA's the past 3-4 months,but not having a second mount I ended up buying nothing.Finally a deal came across,the Atlas mount with a 10"newt. OTA.Now I'm in the progress to setup and run the Atlas,once I figure out things then I'll have one setup for imaging,and the other for observing.I use to go outside of town for imaging back in summer,and it was really boring because there was nothing for me to do,now with 2 setups I can keep myself busy.Sadly the cold weather is coming,and not planning to do whole lot of observing,but I'll be ready for the next season for sure:)

Btw:that mount will handle 120mm APO,I was just at the dealer where I usually buy stuff,He has the ES127ED and the ES 6"Maknewt. on the same mount.

I like your new set-up,and I'm sure you will enjoy every second of it:)

Tibor,

#8 EdTheEdge

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 09:26 PM

Nick it's lookin' better than ever!

#9 lakeorion

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 10:57 PM

Darn it! Just when I think I have my mind made up...

About how tall is the dovetail? (I sit all day at work and would like to stand at night.)

#10 Rat

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 11:16 PM

It looks like a better deal than the Orion version. Are the legs 2" in diameter?

#11 Lane

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 01:21 AM

So has anyone put a heavy OTA on this mount to see how it performs? I have not seen any weight capacity numbers for this mount yet. I would like to use my AT106 and a C8 on it at the same time.

#12 Traveler

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 04:51 AM

Hummm, it looks to me very much like a tele-optic 's Giro mount.
When it is the same, then you are able to carry a C9.25 And a 4 " Apo without any problems. I saw once a C11 on the Giro...Can someone tell if this is a re-brand Giro?

#13 drshr

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 04:15 PM

Looks identical to my giro 3 mount. The knobs are slightly different, that all.

#14 Traveler

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 04:40 PM

Hi Doc Steve,

Yes the detailed photo make it's clear.

I saw that you asked yourself the same question: link :grin:

#15 XpMe

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 01:28 AM

The tech at Explore said it can handle a 11 SCT while I talked to him. He also said it can handle a 14 SCT. I've seen a celestron C14, I don't know about that size.
I do know it will handle a C6 SCT and a Orion 120 ST f/5 together if balanced correctly. Mine feels very solid.
No instructions came with mine. So be ready for that.
Also note that the dovetail clamp does not have the extra thumb safety bolt you see on other dovetail clamps.

#16 nickatnight

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 04:38 PM

Thanks for the comments and feedback.

Tibor - the Atlas sounds great. Now having a mount that takes a variety of scopes, is making me want a variety of scopes. I could only piggyback on the wedge mounted CPC before, which limits scope options. The latest bug in my head now is a GEM, so I can image through a variety of scopes. Help!

LakeOrion - the dovetail sits at 4 feet max extension. A Newt would be great for standing. Short tubes are ok for a bit of hunched over standing. I had it out camping a week ago, with the two scopes set up, and was able to have kids and adults view a number of targets quite happily. A few passer-bys had never looked through a telescope, and it's always a great feeling to have them say wow!

Rat - the legs are 2" in diameter at the top, and 1.5" for the lower
extension.

I put a Meade 127mm LXD55 achromatic refractor on it last night. Hey, the guy selling it was 5 minutes down the street. $200. The thing looks
like I'm launching a missile. Wonderful views through the haze and clouds. Actually, there were a few decent windows last night, and too it up to 350x on the moon. A minor purple fringe on the edge of the moon, but the scope is very sharp, and collimation was perfect. Wish I could get my SCTs that perfect. The mount handled the scope very well, and it think it'll do even better with a second scope on the mount. I should note, I'm not real-time tracking the targets. I find the only real rock-solid view to be parking the scope, and allowing the target to pass through the view. Using Meade 18mm UWA and 6.7 UWA eyepieces helps lengthen the views I get this way.

As for big SCTs, I'd certainly trust my 9.25 on there, were it not fork mounted, and I would think maybe an 11", but i'm not experienced with that large of a scope.

I'll try and post a side-by-side comparison of C6 SCT 1500mm and the Meade 5" 1180mm achro once the skies clear.

#17 mtibor

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 09:01 AM

Nick:If you already have the "bug" in your head about the GEM,I don't think you can get that "bug" out.I was the same way for months.I wish that when I had the "GEM bug"in my head back then I would of got it then.
I know that if you keep imaging,eventually you going to "give in".Not saying that the "fork-mount"is bad,it just limit you for mounting different scopes.
Now..If something nice comes up(OTA)I can just go ahead and get it.As far as the Atlas,I'm a bit over 30lb.,just with the 10"OTA and the cameras and the finder/guider,but it handles the weight without a hiccup.
First night with my new SSAG I was doing 5 minutes,didn't try to go longer since my 5 minutes subs were "washed out"
LP and the OTA is just way too fast... :p

Tibor,

#18 ictus

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 01:02 PM

HiJust read your review do you think encoders could be put on this mount? Anthony :tonofbricks:

#19 dscarpa

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 01:48 PM

I saw this mount at OPT and was impressed, it looks like a Giro clone. My Giro handles my C9.25 with no problem, it's as heavy as a stock C11. I don't think a Giro or ES T2 could handle a C14. I have a counter weight bar and 2 11 lb. weights, if it's out of balance the az motion is stiff. I was having problems with the motion of my SWAZ4 being too stiff. First I tried lithium grease which was a improvement but Triflow silicon lube was the best. David

#20 Jim7728

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 02:06 PM

HiJust read your review do you think encoders could be put on this mount? Anthony :tonofbricks:


JMI can probably outfit the ES mount with encoders and mounting hardware, but will cost you :money:

http://www.jimsmobil...rs and Hardware

#21 telescopemullet

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Posted 29 November 2010 - 03:10 PM

I have the mount and enjoy it. One question though...there is a small amount of play between the mount head and the tripod, when tightened down completely, the head is able to rotate a small amount, is this typical?

#22 russell23

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Posted 19 December 2010 - 07:12 PM

So how are vibrations with this mount. I have a 140mm Vixen Neo-achro. It a fairly long scope supposedly weighing 14.3 lbs, but I think it feels heavier than that. So anyone with the Twilight II have a good guess as to whether or not it could handle a 140NA without serious vibrations. How about a 120mm Eon.

Also do you need another scope or counterweight on the other side of the mount?

Dave

#23 russell23

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 10:33 AM

So does anyone know how large a refractor could be put on this mount?

Dave

#24 Geo.

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 11:10 AM

Giro's big alt/az is claimed to handle the C14, but the Giro 3, which I have is limited to 40 pounds. With a 25 CF C11 on one end you'd want an 11 pound CW out near the end of the optional CW bar. The Giro 3 works best when the load is balanced. The Giro 3 will handle my Ken Dauzat pimped up Orion 120 f/9 with ease.

The tripod is the same as the Meade/Jinghua LXD-75's, which leads us back up the supply chain to the People's Liberation Army.

Explore Scientific is a brand used by the Chinese Military & Professional Optics Corp. Somehow it, the Nanjing North Instrument Technology Industries Group, Jinghua, Bosma, Maxvision and Gilman Zhang are all associated. Given the lack of transparancy of Red Chinese corporations their relationships are only subject to speculation.

#25 dodgerm37

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 01:15 PM

My ES Twilight ll arrived Friday. The ES 127 APO won't arrive until late January. The ads claim it will handle a 152mm doublet without counterweights. Time will tell. Clear skies, Bob






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