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Review of Explore Scientific First Light 8
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Review of Explore Scientific First Light 8
By Ed Wawrzaszek (CN member Red Brick)
EXPLORE SCIENTIFIC FIRST LIGHT 8” F/6 DOBSONIAN
I received this as a gift from my wife of nearly 40 years.
The scope arrived in two boxes. It was well packaged and arrived undamaged considering the journey it must have made.
The instructions were poor - I was lucky that they were in English. My experience assembling kids’ toys on Christmas eve saw me through. Given the hype and probable expense I was expecting something a little higher class. Still, it was a gift, and I was grateful. I assembled the mount in just over an hour, although solid it felt flimsy when picking it up and moving it. I ended up getting my pipe clamps and gluing it overnight. In the morning it was rock solid.
I was unable to initially install the altitude wheels due to the missing fixing screws not included in the packaging. I promptly placed a service call to explore scientific and got an immediate response. This was impressive. However, the next day I cancelled the service request when the fixing screws were discovered packaged as part of the packing material embedded within the Styrofoam corners that kept the scope from moving during shipment. This was not defined in the instructions whatsoever. It was a discovery on my part when re-inspecting the packing material figuring they may have moved during shipping. In effect they were actually placed inside the Styrofoam on purpose.
The next day the scope was complete. It was nightfall, lucky me. I was blessed with fifty-five degrees and not a cloud or moon in the sky. The viewing conditions were perfect.
The red dot viewfinder included with the scope was too small to have any value. I quickly discarded it for an extra 50mm right angle viewfinder I had with a dovetail mount it fit perfectly on the dovetail mount provided. I would recommend finding a true rad viewfinder or a large right-angle viewfinder like myself they are a relatively inexpensive add-on with this size scope.
A word on the optics. Given the journey and god knows how long this item sat on the shelf, the optics collimated dead on. I was impressed.
The focuser was easy to use and had no backlash, it came with an extension tube as it focus was long from the secondary, but it needs to be removed when adding a camera. The altitude wheels were balanced true, and the scope needed no counterweights as the scope appeared to self-balance with the large altitude wheels the scope stayed in position.
I don’t have words to describe my first view other than wow. The views from light polluted suburbia was beyond comprehension. In a 25mm Plossl included Jupiter was crisp edge to edge I discerned color in its banding amazed at the realization that the universe was in color and not shades of grey as in my four-inch scope. I spent the night scanning the skies and the review of once patches of fuzz in the sky with my smaller scope are now defined by galaxies and nebulas. I now had a better understanding of the word zillions. I can only imagine the viewing away from city lights.
PROS: Optics, Customer service.
CONS: Mount, assembly instructions, included red dot finder.
CONCERNS NEITHER PRO nor CON: Would advise a comfortable observing chair that meets the length of the Tube of nearly five feet. Would also advise on the scope's weight. The scope itself is heavy and will appear heavier after several hours of viewing. It would be a sound investment in a sling which is available at many telescope accessory stores or suction clamps like the ones to handle glass windows available at most hardware stores.
- paul hart, Bob Campbell, astrofun and 10 others like this
Hmm.. I always see brown/orange in Jupiters bands and GRS even with the 4" Mak and 4" Apo in the city. Maybe our perception of colors are different?
Go easy on him Kim!
My first scope as an adult was an Astroscan (I won it as a prize) and I thought the moon in it was so cool. But then I got a C8 and I remember I had the same WOW reaction when I trained it on the moon. We can all recall our sense of amazement when we see something like Jupiter, Saturn, or the Hercules cluster for the first time with a powerful scope.
Enjoy your new time machine!
I thoroughly enjoyed your review of this telescope. Even though it is not your first scope, this one seems to be a very welcome surprise. What a nice gift. Zillions. :-)
Congrats on the great scope - you are off to the races. I don't think ANY Dob's mount/base is ever truly completed as it comes from a factory - they are a blank canvas begging to be customized to every user's liking. Fortunately, that's easy to do.
The upgrade to a big Dob from a small scope, especially if you've been using the small scope for a long time, is just something else. I've used the phrase "blows it out of the water" many times to describe my 10" Dob vs my 90mm Astromaster.
A very enjoyable article, thanks for sharing.
Seems like you avoided the dreaded new scope clouds....bravo!
It's really heart-warming that no matter where we are in our life's journey there are still awe-inspiring moments.
Thank you very much,
What a nice gift! I hope you have many cloudless nights of excellent seeing to enjoy exploring the universe.
I don’t believe you. NO ONE gets clear skies the first night with a new telescope!
Seriously, congratulations and enjoy!
This scope is on sale now: reduced by $227.
Seems like a great deal.
The one nice thing about this scope is it comes with tube rings and a large altitude bearing. The tube rings make it easy to mount it on an equatorial mount. Congratulations on receiving the perfect gift.
Congrats on such a nice gift and on such an excellent review.
You evidently won the jackpot in the marriage stakes !
Every night I am out I gather a new appreciation for awesome. There are objects I have only dreamt of seeing but now actually see in all their wonder. I am now seeking an equatorial mount so I may mount my camera for some guided shots. I learn a lot from the reviews and opinions here. Learning what more experienced astronomers are using and gazing at. I now have to create an agenda before I go out on a nightly adventure as I want to scan the skies for everything. I spend so much time scanning the skies I forget what my primary objective in what I was going to view.
Nice write-up. You captured the way a new larger scope makes you feel. The 8” is portable and capable - two qualities of a scope that will get a lot of use. Congrats!
I've got the 10" version. I'm really happy with it. While it's not perfect, it's more than sufficient. I'm using mine for astrophotography and have been getting great results.
No coma corrector, this was its "First Light", 2 hours of narrowband (HA and OII). Didn't expect to turn into an imaging session but there wasn't a lot to fiddle with.
Oh, and I had clear skies the day it arrived. Yes, that actually happened. I had just enough time to get it on the mount after it was delivered before it got dark. I thought for sure there was kind of rule that said you had to deal with cloudy skies for a week before trying out a new scope.
Gee, that's good to know.