The Explore Scientific David H. Levy Comet Hunter is a 152mm, f/4.8 Maksutov-Newtonian. A rare design, the Maksutov-Newtonian corrects for much of the coma inherent in Newtonian reflectors, and also allows the telescope to hold collimation very well. The telescope at f/4.8 provides stunning views of stars clusters, nebulae, galaxies and galaxy clusters. The telescope with a Barlow lens does a fine job on the planets as well.
Explore Scientific used carbon fiber as the OTA material on this telescope, and an excellent choice that was. With a high tensile strength, and excellent strength to weigh ratio, this material keeps the Comet Hunter very light. The Maksutov correcting lens adds much weight to the objective end of the Newtonian, but the carbon fiber body helps to negate this. The telescope only weighs in at 15.4 lbs, which is quite amazing for a Maksutov-Newtonian!
This telescope was designed with outreach in mind, and sports a catchy name, the Comet Hunter. Scott Roberts from Explore Scientific and the famous comet hunter, Dr. David H. Levy, sat down and designed this telescope from the ground up. They include a dew shield, and an excellent focuser in addition to a carrying handle. I think the Maksutov-Newtonian design is genius and I am glad they incorporated it when designing this telescope. What better way to get refractor like views with minimal coma? The Comet Hunter excels in rich, wide-field views providing hours of enjoyment behind the eyepiece, and who knows maybe you will find a comet?!
On another note, with every purchase of this telescope, Explore Scientific will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Sharing the Sky Foundation, a great astronomy outreach organization.
One of my favorite things about this telescope is how it frames various nebulae and galaxy pairs in the night sky when using a DSLR. I discuss this in the video and discuss the astrophotography potential of this telescope. With an excellent focuser and carbon fiber body, you won’t need to worry about focus shift throughout the night, and the Maksutov lens will take care of most of the coma in images.
Of all the many advantages this design has, there is one disadvantage. The cool-down time on a Maksutov-Newtonian is rather lengthy as it is a sealed system. Be sure for best views or photos to set the telescope up early so it can acclimate to the surrounding temperature.
To summarize, this telescope is fantastic for outreach/visual use, and astrophotography. With a decent speed of f/4.8 and a nice focal length of 731mm, this rich field telescope makes for many enjoyable nights behind the eyepiece. Additionally, with a carbon fiber body, Maksutov lens and an excellent focuser, beautiful images are possible also.
The Explore Scientific David H. Levy Comet Hunter is truly unique and is definitely a “do-all” telescope when it comes to observing the night sky.