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Welcome to my Explore FirstLight 152mm Review!
In this review I’ll cover the pros, cons and the main features of the device to ultimately help you decide on whether the Explore FirstLight 152mm is for you or a telescope that yous should probably skip out on.
- Full Name: Explore FirstLight 152mm
- Type: Maksutov-Cassegrain
- Aperture: 6″ (152mm)
- Focal length: 1900mm
- Focal ratio: f/12
- Dimensions & Weight: over 1m height and 14.8kg weight
- Included eyepieces: 25mm plossl eyepiece
- Rating: 4/5
- Great for viewing planets
- Minimal maintenance required
- Easy to set up
- A little expensive for the specs
- The accessories included in box are mediocre
How Do The Explore FirstLight 152mm’s Optics Work?
The Explorer FirstLight uses maksutov-cassegrain optics which is part of the catadioptric/compound variation for telescope optics. In simple terms it’s essentially a hybrid of the reflector and refractor optical variations.
The maksutov-cassegrain optical variation is also just a sub variation of the cassegrain optics where unlike the vanilla cassegrain optical design, the FirstLight 152mm utilises a corrector plate to smooth the aberration it would suffer due to it using spherical mirrors inside as opposed to parabolic mirrors.
However, overall the optics within the Explore FirstLight are solid and provide you with the following benefits over the other 2 core optical variations.
These benefits include the following :
- No chromatic aberration
- Great for viewing planets
- As the optics aren’t exposed, maintenance is not required all too often
- Are generally quite compact for their size
As for a couple of the cons of mak optics, they include the following :
- As the light within the tube is folded one time, there will be a loss of some detail
- Generally more expensive than similar sized reflector or refractor telescopes
So if you’re worried about the optics being bad, the good news is that they’re far from it. The maksutov-cassegrain optics within the Explore FirstLight are solid and the image quality should be solid too.
What Do The Explore FirstLight 152mm’s Specifications Mean?
Moving on to the specifications of the Explore FirstLight, it’s aperture is 152mm, the focal length is 1900mm resulting in a focal ratio of f/12.5.
This means that the images captured through the lens are narrower and slower than reflector and Refractor devices making them great for viewing planets but, because the tube is longer, if you were hoping to use the Explore FirstLight for astrophotography as well, you’d have to be very patient as capturing pictures will be slow.
In terms of the Explore FirstLight’s raw power, theoretically you should be able to reach a max magnification of 300x.
What this means is that you’ll be able to see quite a lot of outer space objects, some of which include :
- The moon and its craters will come across very detailed
- You should be able to make out every planet within our solar system until the, although you won’t be able to make it Neptune as anything other than a blue disk like shape at max power.
- Jupiter’s features, separation in Saturn’s rings and Mars‘ surface can all be seen in pretty solid detail along with some of their moons however, most of their moons won’t come across as anything beyond disc like objects in space.
- Start clusters, galaxies, nebulae and the messier catalogue will all be visible through the scope but, the narrower view does mean you may lose out on that super epic wide view.
As for the FirstLight’s weight and dimensions, the tube itself weighs in at 7.65kg (14.8kg with the mount) and it stands over 1 meter tall so, it should be easy to move around.
Of course as the device is still a little heavy younger astronomers may struggle moving it however, the good news is that it can be split into multiple parts so that should make it far easier to maneuver .
Accessories Included In The Box?
The accessories that come with the Explore FirstLight include a smartphone camera adapter, a 25mm plossl eyepiece, a red dot viewfinder, software along with a few other pieces of documentation.
The mount provided is a Twilight 1 Alt/AZ.
The accessories and mount are great for what they are however, in order to get the best performance out of the FirstLight, I’ve found that using a Two speed 10:1 fine focus knob will add to the crispness of your views and getting an eyepiece in the sub 10mm would be worth purchasing too (check out our list on the top recommended eyepieces here).
Other Alternatives Worth Checking Out
The Explore FirstLight is a very competent telescope, which can be further improved by purchasing a few other accessories however, although the Maksutov-cassegrain design and the enclosed shell are great, they do also come at a much larger price than other similarly powered 152mm (6-inch) devices.
Of course reflectors systems are cheaper due to the fact they require a lot more maintenance but, if you’d happily exchange a few inconveniences in the form of having to maintain the optics more regularly and having to deal with a heavier device, it might be worth looking into the alternatives.
Overall, besides it’s slightly steep price tag and honestly quite lack luster in box accessories, the Explore FirstLight 152mm is a solid telescope and worth looking into if you want the ability to view planets better than most and also don’t want to deal with all of the extra nuances in having to maintain your telescope too often.
If you’re okay with these minor negatives, the Explore FirstLight 152mm is probably not a bad telescope to go for as it will more or less satisfy your needs.