Author Topic: Purchased Explore Scientific 16" Dobsonian - Unpacking and First Light (sort of)  (Read 32 times)

Lance Soto

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 123
  • Activity:
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Hello Friends,

I decided to visit Woodland Hills Telescope yesterday (absolutely fantastic people) and walked out with a new ES 16. I have read the reviews, but decided to 'gamble'. I have been looking for a 16 inch scope that is light in weight and has a small footprint when broken down and that I can easily transport to the SUV once or twice a month. I live in a small apartment in Southern California, so the ability to store, out of the wife's line of site, is critical! The ES scope met all of this criteria. Only 88 lbs. I understood I was taking a chance on optics, but if need be, for about $700, I can send the primary out to be refigured and recoated. I had been looking at the Skywatcher 16 that is on sale, but at over 150 lbs, I was a bit intimidated.

The scope came in one large box, which in turn contained two boxes.

The scope was packaged very well. I believe the box could have been dropped from a plane and the scope would have survived in tact. The scope really looks great, and assembles fairly quickly. However, due to some configuration changes, there were different types of screws and the instructions (WHICH ARE HORRIBLE) did not indicate how the new screws (or any screws) were used. The mirror LOOKS great and the center mark is dead center. However, although collimation is incredibly fast and easy, I do not feel comfortable sticking a long tool into the mirror box to twist the knobs. I do not have steady hands, so I am afraid sooner or later, I will end up hitting the mirror with the tool. So far, so good, but I really need to be careful. I would have rather walked to the back of the scope and twisted by hand.

The finish and materials are what you should expect with a $2000 16 inch scope. Not of the highest quality, but for what it is supposed to be, it is very nice. All components are very light. However, the red dot finder is a piece of #*%^&! I do not know why they even bothered. I would love to use a Telrad, but I will use a Rigel due to the minimum amount of real estate and to keep it light. The focuser works surprisingly well, even with my ES 100 30mm eyepiece. Best of all, at zenith, I do not need a stool. Standing flat footed, my eye PERFECTLY lines up with the eyepiece. I am 6' 3".

The scope, without an eyepiece, needs to be balanced. As light as the secondary is, the scope is still a bit top heavy. I am going to purchase the ES counter weight kit. Last night, I used my jacket. With the scope balanced, movement was just smooth enough, although there is a place that sticks a bit on the alt movement. I will have to iron that out.

I could not wait for 3 weeks to take it out to a dark site, so I took it to my apartment roof (full of lights and a bit of wind). I only let me mirror cool for about 15 minutes, and I did not use the fan as I did not have 8 AA batteries. Outside temp was about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than inside my apartment and continued to cool during my 45 minute viewing session.

My first target was the moon. I was extremely pleased with the level of detail and sharpness. My 9mm eyepiece snapped to focus at just over 200x. I saw small craters that I had not seen with my CPC1100. I then moved to Jupiter. I could see the north and south bands, festoons, and multiple bands at each cap. I was having some thermal issues, so the image kind of came and went. However, so far, I do not believe I have a dud for a mirror. Additional time is needed, with adequate cool down before I can make a final analysis. Stars were small and round, with a bit of coma at the edges. I do not know why I didn't do a star test. Next time for sure. However, I do see a coma corrector in my near future. Also, I need to buy a shroud. The ambient light really affected the color of the sky in the eyepiece. In a month or two, I will be adding DSCs.

Overall, I am pleased with the scope. For $2000, I do feel confident that the scope was a good buy. Is it my dream scope .... NO. But, I simply didn't have the funds to dedicate to obtain my dream scope. I need to spend a bit on a grab and go scope setup for lunar and planetary. However, for the next few years, this scope will be great for me.

Thanks for reading. I will give a better 'first light' in a few weeks.

All the best and clearest of skies!