Explore Scientific Firstlight AR152 Telescope Review (EXOS-2 GoTo Refractor)


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The FL-AR152760EXOS2GT is a mouthful, and yet, it’s needed to determine the difference between this specific scope and others that are awfully similar within the Explore Scientific telescope inventory.

It’s an achromatic doublet refractor with a fast focal speed of f/5 with a focal length of 760 mm. Top this onto a computerized equatorial mount and you can be exploring the night skies with superior resolution and light-grasp at a productive pace versus your current refractor travel scope.

The all-white finish is an attractive feature in and of itself, but since a finish doesn’t determine its performance or what lies beneath the hood, let’s take a look.

Zooming in…

✔️ Best Feature: 152mm doublet refractor

Worst Feature: Price

👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Limited Astrophotography

  • Optical Design: Refractor
  • Aperture: 152 mm (6”)
  • Focal Length: 760 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Eyepieces Included: 25mm
Explore Scientific Firstlight Ar152 Exos Goto Refractor Telescope In White
Image Credit – Explore Scientific

Our Verdict: The FL AR 152mm f/5 telescope is a GoTo refractor telescope package with the SkyTracker kit that allows a beginner to explore almost 280,000 objects in the night sky with automatic slewing. You’ll be able to see galaxies that aren’t visible without a scope or that are more than difficult to find on your own. It could be a valuable buy for the amateur that needs these kinds of specs and features.

Who is the Explore Scientific First Light AR-152 with Exos 2 Best Suited to?

This is an entry-level, beginner-friendly telescope package. You’re paying more for the combo of both a large aperture refractor and a GoTo GEM mount.

But there are specific features about the OTA that may narrow down who it would be suitable for. If you’re strict about finding an f/5, 152mm refractor with a focal length somewhat on the shorter side, this is the telescope for you. Couple it with a GoTo mount, and you can explore and track all night long.

How Does the Explore Scientific First Light AR-152 with Exos 2 Perform?

YouTube video

The Explore Scientific FL AR-152 f/5 refractor is a very specific scope designed for very specific people. It’s a fast achromat so there will be some issues with color fidelity at high power. It shouldn’t be too bad because it is a doublet that already has low dispersion properties, it just doesn’t have extra-low dispersion indicative of ED glass.

The Exos 2 mount is a computerized equatorial scope that also comes with a polar scope with an illuminated reticle. This will get you polar aligned easily and quickly. While it doesn’t have all the fancy alignment features of other mounts, you can achieve accurate GoTo alignment with the 3-star alignment and get snapping away.

While imaging isn’t this pairing’s best strength, it’s still an excellent visual telescope that will allow you to see more refractor style.  

Features & Benefits

Explore Scientific Fl Ar152 Telescope
Image Credit – Explore Scientific

152mm Doublet Refractor

The First Light OTA that comes in this telescope and mount package should not be confused with the AR152 Air-Spaced Doublet Refractor. The latter is an f/6.5, 988mm focal length refractor. This doublet refractor is an f/5, 760mm telescope and is currently only available with the Exos 2 mount package.

It’s the largest refractor of its series with its 6” aperture. With the larger size, it has improved light-grasp over any Newtonian of equal aperture because it does not suffer from secondary mirror obstruction. It also has fully multi-coated optics. The results are increased resolution and contrast needed to make out more of any given target.

To keep a large aperture fast refractor in an affordable budget with a GoTo mount, you have the compromise of an achromat.

Exos 2 GT Mount

The Bresser Exos 2 is a GoTo equatorial mount with DC servo motors and bearings on both axes. Like most accessory trays, this one also doubles as a leg spreader and can be adjusted up and down to adjust the 2” tube legs. The center stabilizer bar locks those legs in place and reduces vibrations.

The mount head is impressively solid and there is zero play where the bolts attach the legs to the mount base. There are also dampeners under each leg to improve durability during use and minimize vibrations especially when you have heavy loads to support.

With the hand control, you have a database of over 270,000+ objects to automatically locate. Multiple slew speeds get you there with the max speed whirring and whizzing noisily at 2-degrees per second.

The Exos 2 offers 1, 2, and 3-star alignment, a polar alignment viewfinder with an illuminated reticle, and a 28 lb load capacity. The hand control has 20 buttons, an RS-232 port, and a built-in utility light. 

Limited Astrophotography

Interestingly, Explore Scientific does not release any weight specifications for their AR152 f/5 scope. However, Bresser has a similar scope that weighs in around 23 lbs which seems to be a reasonable spec for the ES model. With this in mind, it’s an interesting move to see it paired with the Exos 2 mount.

The OTA maxes out the oft-recommended weight allowance for loading up the mount for astrophotography. However, the mount has very solid construction and will have no issues with the 144:1 worm gear ratio for visual use.   

But, if you’re wanting to get into astrophotography, this would only provide entry-level performance. Because the mount is quite beefy, it should hold up just fine to lightweight setups like a webcam-style camera.

Even though there is an autoguiding port on the mount, you may be pushing things with the added weight of a guidescope, but the possibility is there to try it out and see how it works. You can connect this mount to a computer as well, and you may want to try unguided exposures which means less gear, shorter times, and perhaps an easier learning curve.

2.5” Hexagonal Focuser

Explore Scientific Firstlight Ar152 Exos Goto Refractor Telescope
Image Credit – Explore Scientific

The hexagonal focuser is a Crayford-style focuser that is heavy-duty and high-quality. Although it has a 2.5” diameter, it also comes with a 1.25” compression ring for using standard 1.25” accessories. Even though it weighs a heavy 1.5 lbs, it’s a heavy-duty piece with three set screws that will hold your loads in place without any shift, movement, or creeping.

It’s a dual-speed focuser with a course knob and 10:1 micro knob for fine adjustments. They’re large, knurly, and can easily be used if it’s a cold night and you’re sporting gloves. There’s also a tension adjustment knob to change the tension on the drawtube to compensate for much-needed adjustments when you switch out loads.

Limitations

Price

Even for a telescope package, you’re paying significantly more for the 152mm aperture refractor and GoTo EQ mount. It helps that a 2.5” Crayford-style focuser and polar finder are included. Only those who demand an f/5 large aperture refractor with GoTo will somehow justify the buy.

However, the achromat refractor as-is lacks ED glass or APO quality to really improve its optical performance for imaging. It’s also maxing out the weight capacity of the mount for imaging.

So, if your sole purpose for buying the ES FL AR152 is for astrophotography, you’re better off looking elsewhere for the money. If you want excellent visual performance from a high-quality EQ mount, this is for you. In the future, you can also mix-match the OTA and mount with other options in your collection – if you have a collection.

Popular Questions

How is the Explore Scientific First Light AR152 with GoTo Mount Powered?

The mount and hand control are powered by 8x D-cell batteries within the battery compartment. It would be best to power the telescope with a 12V power supply. There is such a connection to do so on the computer control panel on the mount.

How much does the ES FL AR-152760 Telescope Weigh?

There are no weight specifications for the First Light AR-152 F/5 760 mm telescope provided by Explore Scientific.

However, the Bresser Messier AR-152S/760 refractor is very similar down to the specs and even the 2.5” Hex focuser. This model weighs 10.6 kg (23.4 lbs), and it can be assumed that the Explore Scientific First Light AR-152 F/5 model weighs the same, if not, very close to.

What Type of Dovetail does the Explore Scientific AR Refractor have?

The First Light AR-152760 refractor has a Vixen-style dovetail. If you were to mount it to a different mount, it’s compatible with any CG5 and mount that takes a Vixen dovetail bar.

To fit Losmandy-style dovetails, you will need the dual dovetail adapter.

What Accessories are Included with the FL-AR-152760EXOS2GT?

The OTA and Exos 2 GoTo mount come with a 2.5” Hexagonal focuser, 2” 90-degree diagonal, polar alignment viewfinder, 25mm Plossl eyepiece, red dot finder, smartphone camera adapter, and 2x 11 lb counterweights.

Conclusion

Keep an eye on the price of the First Light AR 152 refractor as it favorably changes from time to time. When it does, it’s worth it to scoop up the deal because you get a huge aperture, achromatic doublet refractor, oversized and robust dual-speed focuser, and a computerized German equatorial mount.

It has a long list of features, and yet it’s still a user-friendly setup that a beginner new to GoTo will be able to figure out, accurately track, and learn some basic imaging skills with.

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