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Home / Orion Observer 70mm Equatorial Refractor
by Kenneth R. Dodd 12/23/09 | Email Author

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Iím originally from Buffalo, NY and moved to the Tampa, FL area about two years ago. Itís a real joy being able to observe in comfort an average of 5 or 6 nights a week in South Florida year round. Up North youíre lucky to get 2 or 3 clear nights a week, especially during the winter. Living in a third floor condo, I wanted a telescope that could easily be carried down three flights of stairs. Also, I wanted decent optics and to not spend a lot of money. So at about 170 dollars and 15 pounds or so, this scope fit the bill. I can carry everything down in just one trip.

Iíve owned a few scopes over the last 25 years or so. From a 60mm Sears refractor to a 6 inch f12 Mak-Cass. Iíve also owned 6 and 8 inch Orion dobs. I have no financial stake in Orion Telescopes. Iím just a happy customer.

The scope comes with a 70mm F10 optical tube, tube rings, the EQ-1 mount, two eyepieces(10mm and 25mm Explorer II), 90 degree mirror diagonal, dust caps, a software CD with Starry Night, and a red dot finder. I also bought Orionís shorty 2X barlow and their EQ-1M motor drive. All Iíll say about the drive is that it does what itís supposed to and Iím happy with the purchase. Everything arrived about a week after I ordered and in excellent shape. The eyepieces are a three element Kellner design. I also have a 7mm UO orthoscopic that I used for this review.

Initial assembly of the scope took about 15 minutes or so and the instruction manual is very well written. Setting up outside takes a minute. Just point the polar axis toward the north and youíre done. With the motor drive engaged, objects stay in the field of view for quite a while. Even with the 7mm eyepiece. Thereís a stud to attach a camera on one of the tube rings so I may try some piggyback astrophotography in the future. I use the scope without the tripod accessory tray attached so I can fold the legs in and make it less awkward to carry up and down the stairs. Itís still quite solid without it. Vibrations die out in a couple of seconds. The red dot finder works fine. Itís got a dimmer on it that you can adjust to your liking. Right out of the box it was aligned almost perfectly. It just needed a slight tweak. There are two alignment dials for up-down, left-right adjustments. The focuser moved very smoothly and has a drawtube lock screw on it. There are also threads on it. Iím guessing for a T-ring.

The optics seemed fine. Everything was sharp and contrasty. Jupiter snapped into sharp focus at 100X even though it was only about 20 degrees above the horizon. Gotta love the seeing down here. I didnít notice any color fringing around the planet. Iím sure thereíll be some around the moon though. Everything I looked at looked good. Just what youíd expect from a 70mm refractor.

So, all together I spent about 320 dollars for the scope, motor drive, barlow, and shipping. Was it worth it? For me, yes. The best telescope is the one that gets used the most. I couldíve gotten a bigger dob for less money, but carrying it up and down 3 flights of stairs would have been unpleasant. And since I like looking at the moon and planets I also like having a motor drive. So I would recommend this scope to anyone looking for good optics and portability.

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