Explore Scientific David H. Levy Comet Hunter Review

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.


Scott Hunter says:

For a first scope, Comet Hunter or 127ED? Would like to begin to learn AP. I know there is not one great scope for everything, but for me I’d like to get details on planets and separation of double stars.

Simon Lewis says:

Hey great review – so much I bought a sec hand one with the case and a finderscope not a RA one though and that 30mm eye piece. I found i needed both tube extensions for my eye piece – with the one it did focus but it was right at the end of travel and left little focus adjustment – I’m going to use it as my allrounder .. for visual and AP use – is your corrector dusty too – mine is quite dusty and not sure best way to clean it – i was considering taking the corrector off and cleaning it – I think someone left the eyepiece cap off it when stored – nice scope though and yes it is pin sharp 🙂

dave jacobsen says:

Great review. Being an acquaintance of David here at University of Arizona i didn’t know he was involved in optics explore scientific. Need to take a look, thanks.

K K says:

I do own one of these for like 2 years now. I am really happy with it but it took me a while to get it in shape. Lots of tests, modifications and upgrades.
You showed in stellarium how well it can frame objects – next time You should try it in reality. This MN will not cover APS-C sized chip (dslr) with standard secondary mirror.

Mubeen Ahmed says:

Thanks for the review. I can’t decide between this and ED80 refractor. Do I need to buy a field flattener for the comet hunter?

Brian Coley says:

That corrector lens could do with a clean.

Carlos J Dommar says:

Great review! I’ve been interested in this scope for some time now and it’s nice to see a review of this rather special and uncommon instrument. How much does the OTA weight by the way? I have seen mixed info: explore sceintific states that is aroun 8 Kgs but astroshop.eu states it is about 6 Kgs…

GarandThumb says:

Do you think scope would work for imaging on an AVX or is the weight a little to high?

david duffy says:

Really enjoyed this review!

Phil Shaffer says:

I can’t find the scope on Explore Scientific’s website. Discontinued?????

Jeff Dunne says:

Hi Slymin thanks for responding! I meant short form to planetary emission and reflection nebulae. Also could you tell me if the finder bases are offset so you could keep a RA Finder on top and a guide scope on the lower one. Have you used any of ES, eyepieces with this scope? The Sirius mount you said would work with this scope but would upping to the Atlas be wiser? Thanks and keep up the good work!Clear skies! Jeff Dunne

puuxexil says:

No samples of optic quality? I’m a little concerned about how big the central obstruction is and what kind of contrast to expect.

TheButzkrieg says:

Great Video! I just pick up this telescope secondhand cant wait to try it out with my ZWO ASI294-Pro for some deep sky targets!

TheBlackicehunter says:

the telescope being sealed… would it be prone to some kind of humidity ingress that is usually present in the tropics

The Urban Astronomer says:

Great review, did not know about the Maksutov-Newtonian design until now.

DENSUTUBE2008 says:

New to telescopes how DO you properly clean the corrector lens so it not damaged?

Tony Gonzalez says:

would be nice too if the change the finder scope base to a more common like most other telescope dovetail base for the finder scope instead of the more limited type they use

Devin Gingrich says:

Outstanding review. Thank you for taking the time to make it. Previously, the only good review I could find was in the September 2011 issue of Sky and Telescope. I’m hopeful this will be my next scope.

Any word on if the case it originally came with (before the price reduction) is still around as an option to purchase separately?

Jeff Dunne says:

Hi Slymin great review on the comet hunter. Really like this scope! How is it on pn’s,en,s and rn,s? Those have always been my most favoured Astro subjects? Would a Orion Sirius mount be suitable for this scope for both visual and AP? Could you explain the positions of the finder bases eg. For a guide scope. Thanks for taking time to respond! Clear skies and good work! Jeff Dunne

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