Explore Scientific Triplet Refractor 80mm ED APO Air-spaced Review

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PROS / Its tiny size is just one small way this instrument stands out, along with high-quality optics and versatility.

CONS / An instruction manual was hard to find online but their phone number was easily accessible.

VERDICT / This telescope is ultra-portable and is ultra-capable of helping you create great astrophotos and memories.

Looking for a pocket-sized telescope? The 80mm f/6 Air-Spaced Triplet ED Apochromatic Refractor may be the answer. Ok, it’s not quite that small, but at 7.5 pounds, this tiny telescope is portability perfection and the winner of our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award. Size is just one small way this instrument stands out among astrophotography beginner telescopes. This scope is so versatile. It’s great for viewing comets, deep sky objects, double stars and even terrestrial targets. Above all, this apochromatic refractor offers excellent quality optics at a reasonable price. It’s an ideal second telescope or first telescope for astrophotography.

Standout Features

  • Portable
  • Quality Optics
  • Versatility


The triplet apochromat design has been promoting quality viewing experiences since 1892. That’s when H. Dennis Taylor, an optical designer for T. Cooke & Sons, made the first triplet for the Cooke Photo Visual telescope objective. The triplet uses three lenses as a team to bring wavelengths of light at the far ends of the visible spectrum to a common focus. This leads to sharper images by fighting chromatic aberration in all telescopes with the triplet optical design. The 80mm f/6 Air-Spaced Triplet ED Apochromatic Refractor is no exception. The quality of the glass can lead to even less chromatic aberration, which can cause color fringing around bright objects. Explore Scientific uses extra low dispersion glass to minimize chromatic aberration. That is the goal of all apochromatic refractors but we think this one is designed to do an especially good job for this price point, employing specialized glass by Hoya Optical of Japan to make sure of it.

This telescope comes equipped with a dielectric diagonal. This should provide a secure way to hold your eyepiece and to give you a good viewing angle. Highly reflective coatings of dielectric material will help to create the most light output possible. The 1.25 and 2-inch eyepiece holders use compression rings instead of a set-screw to secure your eyepiece or camera and leave the eyepiece barrel unmarked. We pay attention to the details and so does Explore Scientific, offering front and rear dust covers. There is also an included dew shield. For an investment like this, you don’t want to have to get creative in finding ways to protect it from the elements.

Between the mount, tripod, guiding method, camera and software there is quite enough to adjust and perfect as you set up for an astrophotography session. There is much to be said for having a few things that are ready for action right out of the carrying case. That is one of the nice things about owning a refractor. You can say goodbye to collimation (realignment of optics), at least usually. If you ever need to collimate the 80mm f/6 Air-Spaced Triplet ED you just take the dew shield off and adjust the alignment screws. Included instructions will guide you. If you are feeling less than enthused about collimating send it to Explore Scientific and they will do it for you for a service charge. A universal and adjustable mounting plate will allow this telescope to be used with Explore Scientific, Vixen and some Meade mounts as well as many photo tripods.

Explore Scientific includes a finderscope with illuminated reticle as standard equipment, which is a nice touch. Many of the astrophotography beginner telescopes do not. This telescope is designed to be pretty easy to aim but having the finderscope there will make it even easier. Sure, you could order one separately or take one off your other scope or scopes but it would be pretty nice not to have to do that. This finder offers a wide field of view and comes with a six-point adjustable bracket. A polished roof prism produces images that are oriented correctly left-right and up-down. There is a center opening so you don’t block the object you are trying to locate and the optics are fully multi-coated for maximum contrast. You can store the nice little erect-image Viewfinder with illuminated reticle with your 80mm apochromatic. You don't need to fuss with these. Grab them and go.

Viewing Experience

We just have to mention the petite size again here. It’s part of the viewing experience because it subtracts from the lugging-equipment-around factor. It is likely to increase the number of viewing experiences you have because you can pack it along on vacation and fit in some wonderful astronomy and astrophotography time. As for what you will see, prepare to be amazed. The optics feature enhanced multilayer deposition coatings, which are designed to eliminate light scatter and maintain image contrast. Contrast is enhanced by the work of multiple baffles that mask and deflect unwanted stray light. Explore Scientific included a quality Crayford-style focuser with tension adjustment and lock to help you find and keep in focus the exact image you desire.


The 80mm f/6 Air-Spaced Triplet ED Apochromatic Refractor could not be better in the portability department. Tuck this tiny telescope into its included case and take it with you wherever your travels may lead you. You will see celestial objects from a whole new point on the planet and you can take wonderful pictures of them.


Explore Scientific telescopes are covered under a one-year warranty, which can be extended with product registration to five years. This can also be extended to those who receive a telescope as a gift. An instruction manual was hard to find online. This could be aggravating for the new astrophotographer. Many manufacturers just post their entire manuals on their websites, an invaluable resource for users. A contact phone number was easy to find. Users can also sign up for a newsletter and there is a FAQs page that is fairly useful.



The 80mm f/6 Air-Spaced Triplet ED Apochromatic Refractor is ultra-portable and is ultra-capable of helping you create great astrophotos and memories. Included features like dust covers, a removable dew shield, universal saddle plate, quality focuser, erect-image viewfinder, heavy-duty carrying case and dialectric-coated mirror diagonal will impress you and help you advance your astrophotography skills. They will also cause you to be amazed and impressed by the low price point.