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Explore Scientific AR 102

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65 replies to this topic

#1 phxbird

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 10:11 AM

My overall impression is outstanding! It is a great deal for the money, even at the non-sale price of $399. At the current sale price of $299 it is almost a steal! The optics are very good, the fit and finish are outstanding and it is light and portable. Overall, it is a real bargain.

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#2 Sard

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 12:30 PM

Thank you for the review!


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#3 phxbird

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 12:44 PM

Since this was written I have done a couple of other things with the scope. The first change was to drill and tap the mounting plate for the Nextstar GT so it would fit on a Sirius Tripod. This has made this scope much more usable. These inch and a half tubular legs really make a difference in the steadiness of the setup. It still needs some work to eliminate most of the vibrations but a tap test that settles down in 3 seconds is usable. 

 

I also mounted the scope on my Sirius mount (This setup uses the Atlas Tripod with the two inch tubular legs). Wow, what an improvement. Accurate slews and rock steady views, even with a five mile per hour wind. I attached a flip viewer and ZWO 120MC (color) camera to the scope. With this setup I got a number of great images of M 42, Pleiades and Jupiter. The seeing was horrible when Jupiter was imaged! It was 25 degrees with a 5-8 mph wind, with lots of fireplaces going in the neighborhood. Jupiter was jumping all about in the scope due to the unsettled air. I was still able to image the two major bands on Jupiter.

 

After this further testing, the overall quality of the scope has become apparent. I plan on doing more planetary imaging in the future but primarily with "The Beast" and not the AR 102. However, it is good to know that you can get good results with this scope as an imaging scope. No, when the weather warms a bit I am really looking forward to just setting this scope up and looking at stuff!



#4 starbob1

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 01:37 PM

Great article. And it is great to hear one does not have to spend a fortune to have fun at astronomy. A lesson for all of us. It is easy to become a APO snob and this shows that even a less expensive scope can work well.


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#5 skyjim

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 02:10 PM

Very nice review Paul, the size of this scope is a A+ for grab n go, I have been looking real close at this scope and its larger brother the 127 but then were dealing with a 17-18 pound scope again and longer tube so the 11 pound AR102 is just the right size for an old CG5 with SS tripod. Your in depth observation of the CA the scope has also seems right on the money, 100MM scope F6.5 places it right in a good range with having tolerable CA, places it in around the same area as the 120XLT celestrons achro at F8.3. Good Job!

Jim


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#6 RayHubble

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 06:38 PM

If I hadn't bought the Astro Tech AT 72 last year, this scope would be on my doorstep tomorrow. And at the 300 sale price, I can't see how you could go wrong.



#7 WMV

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 11:36 PM

Agree completely about just how great a deal this scope is.  Own it and love it.  About as close to the nonexistent "do all" grab'n go scope that I've ever found.



#8 petert913

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 10:07 AM

Why does ES put those comically large dew shields on their scopes?  I have the 80mm triplet and its a good scope, optically.  But it looks weird with that huge diameter dew shield.  Just my quibble for the day :)


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#9 skyjim

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Posted 10 February 2016 - 10:38 PM

Hi Paul, I e mailed ES and they said that the 25mm 2" ep was part of a deal they had back in the fall so it looks like you get just the diagonal but hey that allot of scope for not allot of bucks. I have some HR stuff for sale and once sold I think I'll pick one up, have a C6 which I use for planets and stuff but would like to get a short FL frac for WF stuff and the next thing is one of those ZWO 120MC or the AstroVideo DSO, haven't decided but between the two scopes I will cover allot for a small investment. Sound like your having a blast.
Jim

#10 dervish

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 07:29 AM

Hello Paul. Thank you very much for the review.

 

I am looking for a, let say that, general purpose telescope on the internet and I saw your review about Explore Scientific AR 102.

 

I am a amateur photographer. I love astrophotography but I had no chance up to now to allocate the required time for my hobby because of my regular job. Now I want to do it. For this reason I have began to investigate possible telescopes I can buy.

 

My question is that : Is this cope will be a good choice for a starter? and Is this cope will be a good choice when I grow up within the time I develop my hobby?

 

Thank you very much for your comments.    

 

 


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#11 starbob1

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 05:06 PM

If ones goal is imaging then this scope will work' but for a newbie 80mm scopes that are faster like f5 are much better to start with. Now if visual is important also then this scope could serve both goals. Just remember the faster a scope is the quicker it takes to capture a good image. And the smaller a scope is the less important the mount is.  80mm are favorite for imagers. Their short' weight is light. Longer scopes are more prone to wind and vibration. Just some thoughts from someone who has been down this road.


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#12 oldtimer

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Posted 11 February 2016 - 06:51 PM

After comparing the RFT views between my William Optics 102GT and the AR102 I really didn't see much of a difference. Since I already have a 90mm F-15.5 achro for planetary I sold the APO.


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#13 dervish

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 09:21 AM

If ones goal is imaging then this scope will work' but for a newbie 80mm scopes that are faster like f5 are much better to start with. Now if visual is important also then this scope could serve both goals. Just remember the faster a scope is the quicker it takes to capture a good image. And the smaller a scope is the less important the mount is.  80mm are favorite for imagers. Their short' weight is light. Longer scopes are more prone to wind and vibration. Just some thoughts from someone who has been down this road.

Hello starbob1, thank you very much for the reply. In my country I can find Celestron brand scopes. Could you please advise me some models? Which models of Celestron convey the facilities you have described? 

 

Thank you. 


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#14 WMV

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 10:18 AM

After comparing the RFT views between my William Optics 102GT and the AR102 I really didn't see much of a difference. Since I already have a 90mm F-15.5 achro for planetary I sold the APO.

My opinion is, good move.  My AR is nicest, most user friendly scope I've had in many years.  On my lighter/mid weight GOTO it does about everything visual I want more than well enough.  I am in my 60s with arthritis problems too so it just fits the bill, in terms of size, weight, and manageability, and especially at $299 ready to use.  And actual use is thoroughly enjoyableenjoyable, and I imagine would be for most anyone.

Wayne


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#15 astroricardo

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 10:57 AM

There never seem to be any negative reviews on this site.


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#16 WMV

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 05:58 PM

Astroricardo

Unless you find someone faulting a shipping damaged, or mishandled AR102 you're not likely to find a bad review.  Some simple arithmetic may help explain: $299 4" achromat, ready to use/complete; take away included 99% 2" diagonal ($99); take away dual speed focuser ($145); take away 8x50 finder scope and bracket ($49) for a total of $293 value. That means you get what's left,  a very nice OTA with excellent f6.5 collimatable optics, very nice hinged and knobbed rings set, dovetail bar with adjustable tilt axis, carry handle mounted to the rings for...now wait for it...$6.  And really, all of this comes pretty well put together already!  I think I was trolled here, but anyway not much to knock about this lil achro.

Wayne


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#17 rrowland

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 10:42 PM

Well I must confess I got one of the AR 102 for Christmas .At first I thought another cheap scope, but after a night under the stars I hand to resend my first thoughts, It offered the best of everything you would look for in a scope. I must say its a great telescope . If your looking for grab and go this is well worth the money.


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#18 Perseus_m45

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 08:58 AM

Very nice review thank you !



#19 skyjim

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 10:47 AM

WMV, Wayne, I am with you, even if you don't like the finder, sell it off for $40, already have a good diagonal, there is another $80 on the used market and you end up with a great little 4" achro that is F6.5, has about the same color correction as a 5" F9 but a hellovalot more portable ota which doesn't require a big mount.
Many years ago (in the nineties)when I got back into the hobby after my youth I went from a 4" C102HD to a Photon 127 F9 achro, now the photon scopes mechanics was a real PITA but the 5" lens was pretty good, yes some CA but it wasn't washing out the bright objects like the moon, Jupiter and Saturn, it just had some fine blueish around bright objects. For whatI would call a decent achro optics. Many in the refractor forum attest to the old meade AR5's 127mm F9 achro's as being very good optics with not the purple haze bothering the views so if this scope with a 102mm lens F6.5 optics has about the same CA as those old scopes you will be surprise. It not a 4" APO but for a scope that gives 90% of the views and cools down allot faster for the low price of admission its a no brainer. Just look how many guys in the refractor forum own this scope and they are very seasoned observers that really like it, use it more than there premium optics, that speaks volume.

BTW there are good reviews here on CN but when someone gets a lemon you also read about that and it must be a real PITA when manufacturers get a bad review here cause its not like Sky and Telescope were they don't want to reviews something bad when a company spends thousands a month in advertising in there magazine, you never see a bad review IN S&T today, years ago back in the nineties you did but not now. The old CN reviews you don't see as much, I feel many don't have the time so you have toady review articles like from many members which vary from all kinds of astronomy gear instead of one guy, I think its better than if the same ole guy does the same ole review. That gets long in the tooth after a while and now you have fresh new faces with some very good angles on what they are reviewing, its just great reading and again thanks to Paul for taking the time on a very good review covering many aspects of the scope without lots of fill.
Jim

Edited by skyjim, 13 February 2016 - 10:47 AM.

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#20 sickfish

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 10:56 AM

A lot of talk about this scope around here.

I don't mind the dew shield.

Love mine but thinking about a right angle finder though.


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#21 WMV

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 11:42 AM

Jim, exactly!  Tony, RA finder was a must for my old inflexible neck although the straight thru original is well built.  Mines the Antares with the adjustable diopter eyepiece, very clear, bright and sharp.


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#22 Maverick199

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 02:38 PM

I had bought this scope when it was $399 or 499 I don't remember but its an excellent scope and manages imaging well too. Very good optics. At even $400 its a steal.


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#23 iam1ru12

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Posted 13 February 2016 - 07:09 PM

Paul,

Thanks for weighting the article, I very much enjoyed reading it.

 

I purchased the AR102 bundled with a Twilight 1 alt-azm mount almost 2 years ago for $600 and change.  It has been an awesome grab and go scope.  The CA or false color has not been at all objectionable and only really apparent when viewing very bright objects like the Moon, Jupiter or Sirius.  It's almost as if there is an minor electro-luminescent halo.  The scope delivers very crisp view and as others have said, the build quality is great.

 

I only have 2 minor complaints and they are not even with the scope but rather the stock finder.  The finder stock is not tall enough for my tastes, you have to contort your head so you can get eyes at the right level to see through.  ES does sell a longer finder stock for $59.  Also the crosshairs are hard to see when looking through the finder.  A good red-dot finder or an illuminated RACI finder will solve these issues.

 

At $299, this scope is an AWESOME value!

 

-Mike


Edited by iam1ru12, 13 February 2016 - 07:11 PM.

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#24 RichA

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 07:41 PM

Good review.

There are fewer scopes more likely to allow such easy observing under varied conditions than a small, short refractor with reasonable aperture.  It's been -15 C or worst the past few nights in the N.E. U.S. and using such a scope on a solid alt-az mount at least makes it more palatable to go outside since it is really "grab and go."  Also, I've got a couple of these medium-speed refractors (one a Celestron 4" and one a custom-made 4.7" f/8.0 using an Antares objective) and I am shocked at how good the diffraction patterns are.  There is colour, but no astimatism, out of roundness, very little spherical aberration, etc.  



#25 jglerner

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Posted 14 February 2016 - 08:39 PM

I second every word of this fine review. I couldn´t resist at the price and pulled the trigger too. Even my wife didn´t rant too much...


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