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    Post Explore Scientific 80mm triplet versus Orion 80mm F/11 achro

    Hello all, just thought I'd share a comparison I made between the afore mentioned scopes. I recently picked up a used ES triplet and have been testing it out, comparing it to my other scopes (it's my first apo).

    Last night I was able to bring both scopes outside and make a side by side comparison. I have to say, I was a little surprised by the results. Here's a quick run down. For all these tests I put both scopes at approximately the same magnification (with 10x of each other, usually much closer). Seeing was below average, transparency above average (I usually can go to mag 3.5 in the back yard, but I was hitting a little beyond mag 4 last night).

    On Mars at around 120X both scopes showed the same detail...some faint surface markings and the polar cap, though the cap seemed a bit more pronounced in the triplet. At 180X the image was breaking down in the achro, but was still clear in the triplet (on good nights I have taken the achro to 225x). I'd go with the triplet on this one as it appears to take magnification better.

    Saturn was the surprise here. Both scopes had no trouble showing the Cassini division and polar hood at 100x, 120x and 150x, but the division was a bit easier to pick out at 100x with the triplet then with the achro. The surprise was the polar appeared to stand out a bit better in the achro then in the triplet. The triplet appeared better at revealing tiny moons in close to the planet. Moons that were plain in the triplet took averted vision in the achro. For this test, I'd give a slight nod to the achro, primarily due to the greater visibility of surface features, but the margin is very thin.

    Double stars. This was a tough one. Due to the poor seeing, I didn't bother with close doubles, instead I went for wider ones and looked to see how well rendered the stars were and how saturated the color. Doubles checked included: Alpha Hercules, Gamma Ursa Minor, Delta Lyra and Polaris. In these tests, ranging from around 20x to 100x, the achro was showing a darker sky background, but naturally a more limited FOV. Colors were more saturated (likely due to the darker background). The triplet showed a gray background (as opposed to black in the achro), but stars focused to tighter points and of course the wider FOV made the image more aesthetically pleasing. The triplet also seemed to show fainter stars in the field then in the achro, despite the grayer sky. (Perhaps the grayer sky is a result of this...the triplet seems to be passing a bit more light). On doubles, I'd give the nod to the triplet, but in areas of LP the longer achro might by the choice due to the sky darkening.

    Ergonomics. The triplet wins hands down. When I tried for a couple of doubles that were high in the sky, I quit after hitting the tripod legs with the achro (I could have moved the tripod, but didn't want to...the Skyview AZ mount with both scopes mounted and an ep tray full of ep is a bit clumsy to move about). The doublet had no trouble looking anywhere in the sky. It was also windy (25mph gusts) which caused the long achro to shake a bit at 120x and above. The triplet remained solid.

    So, what is the result? I'd expected to be able to sell the long achro after acquiring the triplet, but I was surprised at how well the achro held it's own against a scope that retails for around 8X the price! The triplet will earn its place as my day to day grab and go for short sessions in the back yard. It's a decent planetary performer (but a bit limited due to aperture) and does well on doubles and deep sky (especially the latter due to the bright images for it's aperture). I think I'll keep the long achro for the time being because it's obviously a good one. Once I finish building the long 60mm I may reconsider and let the long 80 go.

    [Just wanted to add that during tear down, I paused and pointed the triplet at M13, M92 and M57. Beautiful views! With the 8mm Paradigm (60x) M13 seemed to just begin to resolve. M92 was unresolved but very pleasing. M57 was a delightful, ghostly ring with the 12mm Paradigm (40x).]

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    A very interesting review, but no big surprises there. I work my ES 80ED's a great little scope! Thanks for posting

    Clear Skies, Brian
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