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Equipment Discussions >> Refractors

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dr.who
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/05/12

Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts
      #5621919 - 01/13/13 11:30 PM

I am getting more serious about Astrophotography (AP) and was researching a good AP scope to hone my skills on. My budget for the OTA was $1,000 US or under. So this eliminated the high end super scopes like the Tak, AP, Televue, etc. I wanted a fast scope at least f/6.5 and one with a nice wide field. I also wanted one where I wasn't having to piece together a whole farm or extra parts. Lastly I wanted a scope that I could also use as a grab and go and solar observing one. The contenders were the Orion 80mm Carbon Fiber (CF) APO, the Explore Scientific 80mm CF APO, and the Explore Scientific 152mm CF Mak-Newt David Levy Comet Hunter. The Mak-Newt was in the mix prior to me also throwing the solar observing in.

After quite a bit of research I decided against the ES Mak-Newt because of the very long cool down time. The 152mm Mak-Newt is clearly a much better imaging and viewing scope with wide sharp views and came very very highly recommended as something to really grow into but I just couldn't get past the 45 minute+ cool down time. Many nights I only have an hour or two to observe and/or shoot so time to observe and/or shoot is critical and thus I need something that didn't need a long cool down. I eliminated the Orion because I wasn't happy with the case compared to the ES, the lack of rotating focuser, and I was concerned about some of the customer service issues that I had been reading about recently. The ED80 Orion is a great scope but it just didn't seem to be what I wanted.

So I picked up the 80mm ES this last Friday.

At that same time the shop was doing some solar demo's and I was also starting my research on a Hydrogen Alpha (Ha) band solar scope so I decided to take a look. They had a Vixen 80mm (I think it was an 80 may have been a 102) with a Lunt 50mm external Ha tunable Etalon on it and a Lunt 60mm pressure tunable dedicated solar scope set up. The Vixen I was told was comparable to the ES. After looking through both I really couldn't tell the difference but was AMAZED by the views! Including some fantastic prominences! Especially when they took the 50mm Etalon off the Vixen and put it on the Lunt so that it became a double stacked Ha scope! So that sealed it for me. I was now about to get into solar for sure. And the ES was going to be dual tasked as a Ha scope with the 127mm being for white light.

As an aside... Seems ES is switching all of it's lineup to carbon fiber for some reason. My guess is because it is the "NEXT BIG THING(tm)(r)(c)(pp)(bingo)(jenga!)" in telescope design. For something this size all I can think is "so what?" It adds to the cost, this size tube doesn't really need all that much cool down time, CF takes longer to cool anyway, etc.

However ES has once again put together a gem of a little refractor. As a matter of fact my 1st thought in seeing it was "aw! Isn't dat a widdle cutie telescope!" Compared to my ES 127mm APO and the 152mm I worked with as well as my Celestron C11 it is down right tiny! But don't let it's size fool you. From the very limited testing I was able to do today (the clouds came rolling in as I was setting it up and aligning the finder scope) this is a top notch grab and go telescope for visual use and what looks to be a solid performer when it comes to Astrophotography (AP). At f/6 it's fast and at 80mm it has a very wide field which will make it good on wide field DSO's.

In the box you get two extenders that don't actually fit in the focuser which struck me as odd (and I will be asking ES about this on Monday) and a 2" CF diagonal as well as the scope itself. No EP either. And no finder scope. It does come with a rotating two speed craford focuser and a retractable dew shield. They also upgraded the retention screws on the focuser so that you don't have to worry about it traveling all the way out due to weight.

ProTip I was able to reach focus easily with a 40mm Celestron EP. However when I tried with the ES 82* 18mm I couldn't because there wasn't enough backward travel on the focuser. It is a short tube focuser because of the short tube of the OTA. The trick is to bring the diagonal out of the tube by about 1/2". The diagonal is still tightly held and doesn't slip but with that extra 1/2" I was able to reach focus all the way up to a 4.7mm 82* ES EP without trouble.

ProTip II When I attached my Canon XTi DSLR camera to it I had to use the camera T-ring adapter (no surprise here) plus a 50mm extender bayonet fitting into the focuser (no diagonal) in order to reach focus. Without it there is just not quite enough back focus.

The views of my local mountains were marvelous and I could make out details on the small as well as large observatory. The finderscope lined up nicely and it, unlike it's right angle brother, was easy to focus and deal with.

Comparing this OTA with something in 3+ times it's cost like a Tak or Televue... I would reference another gentleman with a lot more experience in this hobby who said that when he compared the ES 127mm APO to a Takahashi 130 the view was better in the Takahashi but the only way he could tell was because the Takahashi was right next to the Explore Scientific.

All in all if you are looking for a good quality well made well engineered workhorse wide field fast scope this would be one to look at. The key reason being that it is able to do double duty as a grab and go as well as an AP scope for a good price then I would urge you to look very hard at the Explore Scientific 80mm APO.

And now for the scope pr0n!

First up is the scope in it's case next to the C11 then by itself next to the C11



Here it is on my CG5. Note the 11 lbs counterweight is ALL the way up the shaft. BUT there is still about 1/8 of an inch worth of clearance so I don't think it will hit the mount...




And lastly a shot of it packed up ready for either AP or visual with a ES 82* 18mm, 11mm, and 4.7mm as well as the Orion illuminated reticle and a Celestron 40mm for alignment.


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Binojunky
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/25/10

Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: dr.who]
      #5624216 - 01/15/13 11:23 AM

Well I bought the meade version of this scope and it was lacking to say the least,DA.

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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: dr.who]
      #5624562 - 01/15/13 02:41 PM

Quote:

In the box you get two extenders that don't actually fit in the focuser which struck me as odd




Perhaps they fit between the OTA and the focuser? That would be more stable for imaging. It seems to me that's how the AstroTech AT6RC does it.


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spongebob@55
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 12/26/11

Loc: Bergen Co. New Jersey
Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5624690 - 01/15/13 03:51 PM

Seems like a great scope you have there. Enjoy it! Too bad the pictures came out so small here. Any way to make em bigger?

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dr.who
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/05/12

Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: spongebob@55]
      #5625165 - 01/15/13 08:45 PM

Quote:

Seems like a great scope you have there. Enjoy it! Too bad the pictures came out so small here. Any way to make em bigger?




I have a first light report below and it actually is quite nice and I am less uncomfortable replacing my 102mm with this one since it performed about the same.

You should be able to click on them and they expand...


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dr.who
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/05/12

Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5625168 - 01/15/13 08:46 PM

Quote:

Quote:

In the box you get two extenders that don't actually fit in the focuser which struck me as odd




Perhaps they fit between the OTA and the focuser? That would be more stable for imaging. It seems to me that's how the AstroTech AT6RC does it.




Interesting! Never thought of that! That would make A LOT of sense! Something to try when I get home tonight! It would also explain why I needed to move the diagonal out 1/2" to get focus below 18mm!


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dr.who
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/05/12

Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: dr.who]
      #5625169 - 01/15/13 08:46 PM

So...

First light report...

Date/Time: 01/14/13 between 1845 and 1945 hours PST

Seeing conditions: Poor to fair with a nice low pressure front in place mitigated by heated air from a local freeway and LP cast in the West by the quarter moon as well as in the West courtesy of a high school football game down the street

Targets were Orion Nebula, Castor, M31 Andromeda, Pleiades, Perseus cluster, the moon, Jupiter, Neptune.

Results: Very much like my old 102mm ES APO. Quite pleasing with the 18mm 82* ES EP which was used in conjunction with the 11mm 82* and 8.8mm 82* (just to see if I could). Clear pinpoint stars to the edge and no CA on bright objects.

Orion was visible clearly as a cloud with a line of three stars off axis and the trapezium fading in and out of view very faintly. I think this was more due to atmospherics than the OTA. 11mm just increased the size a bit with little to no change in brightness actually a bit dimmer on the edges due to the mag but the OTA handled it fine

Andromeda was a faint fuzz ball with the core clearly visible and on a couple of occasions I thought I caught a dust lane out of the corner of my eye as I was shifting between on and off axis viewing. But the fuzz ball core was quite visible with direct viewing.

Couldn't split Castor with even the 11. Again most likely air conditions and I need to try to do so with my 127mm just to confirm.

I could see all seven sisters in Pleiades with several surrounding stars in the 18mm no problem. Caught what I thought were faint hints of nebulosity but this again may have been wishful thinking on my part.

Up until last night I had never come across the Perseus cluster or for that matter seen it so this was a first. And it was a nice first. I thought it was just an open cluster of stars but upon looking it today I learned it was a cluster of galaxy's! That was pretty cool and one I plan to visit again. Clear and crisp in the 18mm EP with stars that I now know are galaxy's.

The moon was a real gem in the 18mm 11mm and 8.8 with crisp detail in each case even with the roiling air from the freeway.

Jupiter was clear in the 18mm 11mm and 8.8 with the same level of detail and size I had in the 102mm. I could see 2 bands for sure and what I thought was the eye and three moons were in view as pin head sized bright dots.

I didn't expect to see Neptune and am not sure I did. There was a bluish star in the EP at all mags that could have been Neptune since it wasn't twinkling like a star would but I just can't be sure.

All in all this scope performed to my expectations and is a good piece of kit.


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dr.who
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/05/12

Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: dr.who]
      #5625174 - 01/15/13 08:49 PM

Since Flickr is being a bit of a PITA here are the links to the photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/80201227@N04/8379039384/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/80201227@N04/8379039604/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/80201227@N04/8379039710/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/80201227@N04/8379040016/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/80201227@N04/8377963317/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/80201227@N04/8379040336/


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Erskin71
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/13/10

Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: dr.who]
      #5625199 - 01/15/13 09:04 PM

Nice looking scope. I'm waiting for the 4 inch to surface.

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dennilfloss
sage


Reged: 01/06/13

Loc: Ottawa, Canada
Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: Erskin71]
      #5625233 - 01/15/13 09:30 PM

Here's a video showing the non-carbon-fiber model and its case.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jFihcTnjCm8

Edited by dennilfloss (01/15/13 09:31 PM)


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dr.who
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/05/12

Re: Explore Scientific 80mm APO 1st thoughts new [Re: dennilfloss]
      #5625308 - 01/15/13 10:10 PM

I had the 4" prior and it was very very nice. Though the $400 extra for the CF one after looking through this one is hard to justify...

And from what I am hearing rumor wise it will be March before they are here.


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