Developing a telescope with comet discoverer David Levy, was a dream come true.

Levy has spent a lifetime advising people to help them find their first serious telescope, and inspiring people of all ages to look at the stars through his comet discoveries, his writings, and his lectures. His dream to show people the beauty of the night sky has culminated in the formation of a non-profit organization devoted to outreach in astronomy, called the Sharing the Sky Foundation.

David Levy testing the first Comet Hunter
David Levy field tested prototypes of the Comet Hunter from the Jarnac Observatory.
The Maksutov corrector of the David H. Levy Comet Hunter
The Maksutov corrector plate with its Enhanced Mult-Layer Deposition (EMD) coatings, holds the secondary mirror, eliminates spherical abberation, and produces pin-point stars across the field of view.

We share David's dream, and we wanted to help. So we embarked on a project to co-design a telescope with Levy that could be perfect for beginner and expert alike. In addition we decided to provide the Sharing the Sky Foundation a portion of the sales of each telescope.

Called the David H. Levy Comet Hunter™, the instrument is a rich field telescope (RFT), capable of showing faint objects over a wide field of view (generally two degrees or more).

Our challenge was to design a portable instrument that has enough aperture to observe the broad range of celestial objects with an optimized optical design to serve as a true RFT that can also work well for high magnification observations of planets. We also wanted the telescope to serve as a serious optical solution for astroimaging. In short, we wanted a telescope that could do almost anything; a telescope that would be perfect for beginners to advanced astronomers alike.

The Pelican Nebula as imaged by Chuck Kimball with the David H. Levy Comet Hunter
IC5070 The Pelican Nebula. Imaged by Chuck Kimball with the Comet Hunter and his modified Canon 350D from his Julian, California observatory. Combined exposure time was 5 hours and 45 minutes.
Explore Scientific 8x50 Correct Image Illuminated Finder Scope
The 8x50 Correct-Image Illuminated Finder Scope is a fine optical instrument in its own right. Focus for the objective and the long eye relief eyepiece have threaded locks, and the optics are fully multi-coated to produce high contrast.

To match the performance of the main instrument itself, we chose deluxe accessories as standard equipment.

Producing a bright right-side-up, left-to-right correct image, the 8x50 Correct-Image Illuminated Finder Scopea> has a precision glass-etched illuminated reticle of the has a cross-hair to mark the field boundaries and an open circle in the middle so that stars can be perfectly centered without being covered.

The Comet Hunter comes standard with a two-inch, two-speed focuser, and a 30mm focal length eyepiece with a wide 70° apparent field. This eyepiece combined with the short focal length of the telescope produce an amazing 2.86° true field of view with a 6.2mm exit pupil.

Sometimes called visual equalization magnfication, using the right low power eyepiece eyepiece will produce an exit pupil that nearly matches the fully dialated eye. This allows you to see to the faintest observable limit of the telescope's aperture, which is critical for searching for faint objects such as distant comets.

The Comet Hunter comes standard with a deluxe two-speed focuser and a two-inch 30mm eyepiece that yields and incredible wide field of view.
The business end of the Comet Hunter has a precision two-speed, two-inch focuser. We include an extension tube and a 1.25-inch adapter to allow the telescope to accept a wide range of visual or imaging accessories.
The carbon fiber tube and handle of the Comet Hunter.
Even though the Comet Hunter with its carbon fiber tube is considered a light weight instrument, we supply a handle to easily grip the telescope for mounting and placing it back in its case. In addition we slot the handle to accept a standard 1/4x20 bolt to attach a camera.

When you design and manufacture a telescope, there are lots of ways that you can attempt to reduce cost in order to hit a desired price point. While we do our best to keep prices reasonable, our philosophy is that we should make every Explore Scientific telescope perform for the astronomer and for everyone that the instrument is shared with.

Although it cost more, we chose carbon fiber for the telescope tube and dew shield for its high strength-to-weight ratio and its low expansion characteristics when subjected to temperature variations. This helps to keep the instrument light in weight and keeps the instrument focused even if the temperature drops.

The dew shield of the Comet Hunter is removeable, but can be left on all the time since the metal dust cover fits on the dew shield or on the optical tube assembly alone.

No matter what your observing environment is like, a dew shield serves to protect. It protects against dew forming on the corrector plate (which will make the stars slowly vanish), it protects the mirrors from stray light which will reduce contrast, and it also can provide physical protection to the corrector plate.

The carbon fiber dew shield of the Comet Hunter
The dew shield helps prevent the formation of dew on the corrector plate, and reduces stray light.
The deluxe heavy-duty case houses the Comet Hunter and its accessories.
The deluxe heavy-duty case protects the Comet Hunter and its accessories.

We understand that the aquisition of a precision instrument represents an important investment to its owner. That is why every Comet Hunter is supplied with heavy-duty, custom-cut, foam lined instrument case. The case uses four butterfly latches so that the lid can be complete removed for easy access to the items inside. The bottom of the case has rubber feet to lift the case off the ground to keep the case clean and dry.