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Review of the APM 152 ED serial number 245


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Review of the APM 152 ED serial number 245

 

 

Here is my astronomy bio, so we can clarify where my biases are and my experience.

 

I restarted the hobby in November 2008. My first “real” telescope was a Meade Schmidt Newtonian, which taught what I liked and what I didn’t. I really liked nice focusers and while the SN6 was a nice widefield scope, it was very hard to get a lot of power, so planets were always small. I joined AAI of Cranford NJ as a member and as the Sidewalk Astronomy chair at AAI 2009-2011. We did over 50 observing sessions with the public. My first goal as an Amateur Astronomer was to complete the Messier list which I did in 2010, that was the year I started in Astrophotography. I got into meteorites in 2011 and have a pretty nice collection (over 3 kilos of meteorites). I was also a member of UACNJ and was the recording secretary from 2012 to 2014. On January 2015 I had my first picture published in Sky and Telescope, I’ve been published in several newspapers, trade journals and other magazines. In March 2017, I had 2 photos published in 101 Amazing Sights in the Night Sky. I also had several gallery showings including a 28-picture presentation in 2017 and a 15-picture showing in 2018. I have sold several (over 15) framed astro photos.

 

As to telescopes I have used visually extensively the below are a few and some notes for each one:
 

Celestron 9.25 = Mechanics C, Optics B. Major issue is image shift. Light bucket, bloated stars

 

Meade SN 6 = Mechanics C-1, Optics B+. Focuser sucked was replaced with a moonlite. No flatner available that correct field to the edge for imaging. Hard on eyepieces.

 

Orion 80MM EON = Mechanics B, Optics B. Fast optics hard to get high power, dim view. Good imaging scope with a moonlite.

 

Stellarvue SV 70T = Mechanics B+, Optics B-. As good as the Orion 80MM. The risers and focuser are nice, but hard to motorize, focuser upgraded to moonlite. Question is it better than the Orion 80MM, hard to answer.

 

Tec 140=Mechanics A, Optics A. As good as I have seen. Probably perfect scope.

 

AP 178= Mechanics A, Optics B. Probably the best at its time. Newer glass actually improves on color correction.

 

Explore Scientific 152= Mechanics B, Optics C = This is a triplet? Wow, not impressed.

 

Explore Scientific 127= Mechanics B, Optics B- = The 120 EON has more contrast and better color correction.

 

Orion 120MM EON = Mechanics B, Optics A- = Needed a moonlite for imaging, but otherwise, a light weight, very good scope. Not a TEC or TAK, but honestly don’t feel like I need it.

 

TAK TOA 130 = Mechanics B+. Optics A= Optically perfect. Cost is too high, for same amount you can get a TEC 140. Focuser is mehhh. Does this thing need to be made out of neutron star material? Why is this scope so HEAVY?

 

I’ve looked at a few more, but this gives you an idea of what I feel about a particular scope mechanically and optically.

 

BUT I know you don’t care about the other scopes, you care about the APM 152MM and here it goes:

 

Mechanics: This scope is an A

 

 

The focuser is robust, super smooth and doesn’t shift. The dual rotation and shift lock really make the 3.7” focuser premium. The only issue is the lack of space for a 2nd finder. Not a major issue, but if you could do one thing to make it better, that would be it.

 

The dew shield is massive and its sliding. Fixed Dew shields SUCK!!! Really SUCK. If your scope has a fixed dew shield, you should sell it to Chas smile.gif not really kidding, I don’t like fixed dew shields, the lock is a nice touch.

The paint job on the APM is superb. Really really nice and pretty. I will state, I have no idea how it will hold up over time, but now it’s really nice. 

 

Robust rings and the losmandy dovetail is a beast. Heavy duty and solid. The dovetail needs 2 stop screws, for .98 cents at Home Depot, get them before the scope falls on the ground. The handle is a great idea, all refractors should come with a handle.

 

The case is incredibly robust. Well thought out and super strong, only recommendation would be a handle in the front or on top. The side handles make it cumbersome for one person to carry.

 

The only reason the scope isn’t a A+ mechanically is that I haven’t seen an AP 130 recently so I can’t say it’s as good as an AP.

 

Optically: This Scope is a A/A-

 

6" of aperture are just sooooo sweet. Stuff that was faint in the 120 just pop in the APM. There is color in out of focus stars, but if you like looking at out of focus stars, then this scope isn't for you. In focus even on Vega the color correction was as good as the EON 120. 

 

When I started the temperature was dropping quickly so you could see color in in focus stars, but as the scope acclimated the color just went away. I started off on some bright stars that I was using for the model, so Vega, Albireo, Enif, Arcturus, Mizar and several others. Of all of these, Arcturus was the only one that showed false color and that was more because it was directly over the roof of our house, all the others had no structures really nearby. Vega being directly overhead was probably the prettiest. 

 

I had a list of objects that I wanted to test with. I started off with my favorite summer open cluster M39. I used the 20MM ES 100* and it was like sparkling diamonds on velvet (never gets to black in Union, NJ), so dark grey velvet wink.gif This cluster is nice in the 120, but it really sparkled in the 152. 32MM (or almost 70% more light gathering) really makes a difference. 

 

From M39 I went to M13 and again, just brighter than in the 120ED. I've seen M13 in some high-end smaller scopes and aperture just rules. It’s really bright and can handle magnification well. I went to 5.5 but it was framed better in the 9MM ES.

 

I then went to Saturn as it cleared the roof line and was between the house and the trees. At this point I just stopped testing and enjoyed the view. The creamy view of Saturn was really nice. The other thing about 6" is how much more colorful the planets are. Saturn was a creamy yellow and the various bands were just there. I'm not an averted vision type of person, it’s not visible time to go to a different object. Saturn was really pretty. Really there. I used the 3.5MM and Saturn was HUGE (342 magnification), the scope handled the magnification well, but seeing rarely supports 300X in NJ.

 

I went to Mars, hate Mars and at this point the moon cleared the trees and roof line. Stayed with the moon for a while. Took a short break to get some water and get the camera for some pictures smile.gif .

 

At 11:00 the moon was between the roof line and the trees. With the limited amount of time I had I stuck in a camera for a quick picture. Around 12 I packed it in. Covered the scope and went to bed.

 

So here are my thoughts. No matter how much you paid for a premium triplet, on most objects the 152MM can keep up with it. If you want to see no false color and need your ego stroked because the scope is not expensive, don't buy the APM. Get a TAK/TEC/AP, you'll feel better about yourself. If you consider the value, this scope is just an excellent buy. It’s like the EON version of the SW150. You get a better focuser/case/sliding dew shield/rings/ and a much prettier scope.

 

To me the APM 152 is like a bigger version of the 120ED, which is an excellent scope. Only thing I still want to do is motorize the focuser so I can take DSO images, but I'm pretty certain this scope is an excellent buy.

 

 

 

 

In summary:

 

Collimation was spot on, concentric circles in and out of focus
False color is minimal, based on the conditions, very close to the 120MM EON
Contrast was excellent when starting but got worse as conditions worsened.

At F8, the APM is really easy on eyepieces, edges were very good/excellent with the ES 100*

 

Overall, the APM 152MM is an impressive scope, both visually and mechanically.

 


  • lightshow, doctordub, JoeBftsplk and 17 others like this


37 Comments

I have this scope except  its the Lunt version.  It is an excellent performer as the reviewer has suggested.  there is essentially no lateral color.  It snaps into focus.  Its a great buy for the price.  the color correction is much better than my old AP 178 f8 blue tube.  

this review was one of several very positive reviews on this very scope.  If you are in the market for a 6in APO or near APO this is it.  You probably will not see anything more with a  6 in triplet.  

My focuser is excellent.

CJacobson

    • hfjacinto likes this

Great article!  Now I'm thinking that I ought to go see what it will cost me to get refractorized . .  I'm running a 152 F8 dob, it would be great to compare them.  I'm nothing if not frugal and value oriented.  Thanks!

    • hfjacinto likes this

Just a side issue; describing the star images in a C9.25" schmidt as "bloated" is misleading and likely was the view at lower power in bad seeing .  A properly collimated SCT in (key) excellent seeing produces star images that are 1/2 the size of an apo of 1/2 the aperture, that's optical law.  If at high power the SCT produces star images bloated to twice normal size, and a completely unrecognizable diffraction pattern (which would be the result) then the optics would be many waves out of spec.  So before condemning any large aperture scope, consider adequate cool-down and seeing.

    • astroneil and Spacefreak1974 like this

Just a side issue; describing the star images in a C9.25" schmidt as "bloated" is misleading and likely was the view at lower power in bad seeing .  A properly collimated SCT in (key) excellent seeing produces star images that are 1/2 the size of an apo of 1/2 the aperture, that's optical law.  If at high power the SCT produces star images bloated to twice normal size, and a completely unrecognizable diffraction pattern (which would be the result) then the optics would be many waves out of spec.  So before condemning any large aperture scope, consider adequate cool-down and seeing.

The SCT in great seeing was an excellent scope, but the stars were larger than 6" APO.  So they were "bloated". I can see the difference is star size even with imaging. The SCT while a light bucket and letting go fainter also has some issue, for example it has large mirror shift and finding perfect focus was hard due the way the scope focuses (by moving the rear mirror). For the price an SCT is a great scope that is compact and is an excellent planetary imaging scope (see below)

 

post-64219-0-81042700-1461286934.jpg

 

But for star clusters the stars are bloated compared to my APO's, something about an APO and tiny stars.

    • Jon_Doh and greywulf4570 like this

My APM 152 is number 235. The 3.7 inch focuser is great  i enjoy the scope, it is a good value for the money.  The 152 is a long scope and does become less than perfectly stable in windy conditions.  When wi ds are calm and the sky is stable it produces a vreat view.  

 

For those persons put off by the size, APM has a 140 mm a bit shorter and even better spectrum in focus color crossings for astrophotography 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and impressions. I don't know the number of my APM 152; but it knows my number.

 

In February 2018 I transported the 152 to my sister's house in central Florida and had a great night of spitting doubles. Rigel was a snap; Messia and Theta Aur ditto. Had to wait for Sirius to clear a grapefruit tree but when it did - there was the Pup, sitting obediently. Funny, it would materialize during periods of calm air but only with the 13 mm and 5 mm EPs. It wouldn't show up in an 8 mm no matter what. The excitement at glimpsing the Pup for the first time was up there with seeing Saturn for the first time with my very first telescope, a 60 mm Tasco. 

 

The 152 is paired with an AYOII Digi Altaz mount, all on top of a Berlebach Uni24 tripod, making it a surprisingly portable system that gets outdoors and carted across North America on occasion. I opted for the smallest 2.5" focuser to help keep the weight down for this strictly visual set up.

    • starmanbob likes this

The SCT in great seeing was an excellent scope, but the stars were larger than 6" APO.  So they were "bloated". I can see the difference is star size even with imaging. The SCT while a light bucket and letting go fainter also has some issue, for example it has large mirror shift and finding perfect focus was hard due the way the scope focuses (by moving the rear mirror). For the price an SCT is a great scope that is compact and is an excellent planetary imaging scope (see below)

 

post-64219-0-81042700-1461286934.jpg

 

But for star clusters the stars are bloated compared to my APO's, something about an APO and tiny stars.

This has been my experience with SCT's compared to the refractors I've owned.

    • hfjacinto likes this

My Friends standard C8 has produces noticeably brighter deep space objects then my 6" APM 152 refractor in side by sides. Its obvious as the deep space objects get dimmer. Optics don't mater its the aperture when your trying to pull in galaxies and nebula's

 

...Ralph

 

I have an 8” Schmidt cassegrain currently and looking for my next scop. Given the unobstructed view I’m speculating that I won’t lose any brightness on object vs my 8” SCT’s and it might be slightly better? Thoughts?

I’ve had friends suggest that I get a 16” dobsonian for more reach but I’m hung up on looking at refractors. I have access to a 12” dob from the club as well as a C14.

Jon

    • lwbehney likes this

Hello Jon,
I have owned both the Lunt version of the APM 152 and a C8 and took them both out to compare them one night.  I thought the brightness of objects and stars was equivalent and the stars in the refractor are indeed smaller.
One person commented on this thread that the stars should be smaller in a larger aperture telescope, such as a C 9.25. This is not correct if you are speaking of the actual size of the Airy disk on the focal plane. According to "The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer" by Charles Bracken, the formula for the width of the central Airy Disk in microns is: W= 2.440(lambda)f/a, where lambda is the wavelength of the light being viewed, W is the width of the Airy Disk and f is the focal length of the telescope and a is the aperture. Well, f/a is also the focal ratio. So the f/8 refractor will always have a smaller Airy Disk than the f/10 SCT and furthermore, due to its unobstructed aperture, a greater amount of the light will be in the central Airy Disk than in the case of the SCT, which will dump more of the light energy into the outer rings of the Airy disk, which if there is any glare in your eyepiece, will also tend to bloat your star size. I also felt that the sky background was darker in my Lunt 152 than in my C8 and the edge of field was certainly better. 
I really liked that refractor, but I sold it when an Tak FS 128 became available. I had this decade's old desire to own a true fluorite refractor so I sold the Lunt to buy the Tak. I regret this sometimes. The images are brighter in the Lunt and just as well contrasted.  I have seen beautiful astro-images from the Lunt also and would have to admit, that although I like the FS 128 I own, the Lunt is a better scope (except for its focuser) when actually looking at a faint objects  particularly.
I had the bright idea that I could turn my C8 into a better scope by purchasing and using the Celestron f/6.3  reducer/corrector, but that failed, because if you use a low power eyepiece (long focal length eyepiece) with the C8  to expand your field of view, you will see the big fat secondary in the middle of whatever you are viewing. This field flattener is only useful in AP.
So in my mind, the Lunt provides the ability to see both wide and narrow field objects, pulls in almost as much light as the C8, has better contrast, tighter and more beautiful stars with a blacker background and has a faster native focal ratio if you wish to do AP and it is not heavy at all, considering it is a 6 inch refractor. I am 66 y.o. and did not find it difficult to heft it onto my CGEM II. 
By the way, I want to put in a plug for DSP and their mount hyper-tuning. Do yourself a favor, buy a used CGEM II and have it hyper-tuned; you will end up with a mount as smooth as glass worth twice as much as you paid for it. The whine I heard when I slewed my CGEM II turned into the soft buzz of a bee and it is just simply wonderful now as it floats my Tak FS 128 from one cluster or double star to another.

I also want to say an attaboy to Celestron for their Skyportal idea. The hand controller is nice, but using the Sky-portal and your iPad is better. This is why: occasionally you want to find a double star in a particular constellation. It is just a whole lot easier to use the search function in the Sky Safari Celestron program than it is to try to find it on the HC. Also, the Sky Portal already knows where you are and what time it is from the fact it is using your iPad, which is giving it all sorts of data.  It is nice to have a large tablet so that you have plenty of space for button pushing to slew your mount using your iPad or tablet. Sky Safari will also have a whole lot more information about what you are looking at than the HC has. 

I like having a second tablet available and use Sky Guide to help find objects to view and I like the fact it has nice space music to listen to while you use it. "Turn Left At Orion" and Sue French's book "Celestial Sampler" will provide you with a list of every great object you might want to see or image or both with a small telescope. 

One more item that I find useful that I want to share is: PS Align Pro an inexpensive app,  which displays among other useful things, the location of the Polaris in relation to the Celestial Pole. So for example, if you are using a CGEM II and are not sure about how well you have lined up the big dipper in the polar scope, just put Polaris at proper location of the clock face on the polar scope, based upon the location of Polaris, which the app is telling you it is located. On this day at this time of night, Polaris is at precisely the 10:00 position on the Celestron polar scope ring. My iPhone automatically tells the app what time it is and where it is. Really simple and pretty accurate. 

I think there is one thing the Celestron HC can do, which Sky Safari does not do, and this is help refine your polar alignment. However, I think that if you are close on the polar alignment, and are taking 3 minute subs or less with an auto-guider, you should be OK.  

Feel free to correct me about any of this if you disagree.

 

Larry

I also have a 8" SCT and by no means are my stars bloated in any way. They are beauifully crisp as all telescopes should be with proper alignment. My APM 152ED will split the tighter stars better especially as magnifications increase and overall, my APM will do everything better unless we are talking about light gathering. Id imagine in the worse seeing conditions, any scope is going to have bloated stars but id either realign my optics if I had any scope that produced bloated stars or just drop the entire scope in the garbage. 

As objects become dimmer, for example Mag 9 galaxies and dimmer deep space objects, its not even close that my C8 is the superior scope for pulling in these objects with more light.

My C8 was even better at pulling in deep space objects then my APM 180 refractor. 

In regular back yard observable deep space objects that are observable with small telescopes, on open clusters, globulars etc, you wont see any thing earth shattering one way or the other. Both scopes should produce excellent results because you are basically looking at the brighter stars in these clusters.  

I don't own SCT's that aren't collimated and I know how to make sure my SCT's are acclimated before I start judging their optics. On nights where there aren't side by side comparisons, you cant realistically make true comparisons since different nights produce different seeing and transparency results.

There is nothing special about my APM 152's ability to pull in deep space objects any better then any other 6" telescope, any way you slice it, 6" of aperture is still 6" of aperture and 8" wins every time when you need to pull in light to see dim objects.

I don't notice any back ground skies being darker in my APM vs my C8. The APM may give the illusion of it having darker back ground skies because it less aperture but then again, everything will be dimmer. There is still nothing special about its ability to pull in deep space objects better or worse then any other 6" telescope, reflector or achromat. 

 

...Ralph

Hi,

This telescope looks very nice. Does the manufacturer provided interferogram when buying it ?

 

J.

     If I didn't already own a 4" Refractor from the 1970's (Edmund scientific) with over the top images and a fair mount I would buy this scope based on your excellent review. I have looked through a s-pot of contemporary refractors and this one sounds /looks like it would be the one to recommend for a number of users. Some of the recent large refractors are very heavy and not easy to set up. I know I have helped several people with theirs. Nate Goodman (Nato). Salt Lake, Utah.



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