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Orion Star Seeker 80 Goto Refractor


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Overview

The following review is of the Orion Star Seeker 80 goto refracting telescope. This model is an 80mm f/5 achromatic retractor mounted on a single arm, motor driven computer controlled, altitude/azimuth mount.

As a reviewer my experiences are modest and I have been seriously involved in amateur astronomy for a little over three years. I have owned several scopes of various shapes and sizes and optical designs and I feel pretty comfortable and knowledgeable enough to accurately portray to the reader what this scope is all about.

The reasons I chose to purchase this scope are manifold. Firstly, was the price, I was looking for a wide field goto refractor that wouldn’t break the bank as the poor economy has hit us all. I paid $269.95 for this scope delivered and it regularly sells for $329.95 plus shipping, so the first hurdle was covered. The second point was the fact that I do primarily wide field deep sky work with little planetary observation so high magnification and chromatic aberration was not of concern to me. The third point was the goto system, it is modeled after the Celestron Nexstar and SLT systems and it boasts a 4033 object data base where other 80mm wide field goto retractors are only in the range of 1400 objects or so. Now whether or not all of the objects in this scopes database are within the functional ranges of this scope remains to be seen. The final reason was portability; I live in an area of north Georgia where there are some prime viewing sites within an hour or two ride of my home. One other point that was considered but not heavily dwelled upon was the fact that the OTA of this scope is the same as the Orion ST 80, which from what I have read, has had very good reviews. Ranging from such uses as a stand-alone scope, a large aperture finder, and an astro-imaging guide scope. I placed my order on-line using Orion’s layaway plan, which I paid off ahead of schedule, and I received my new toy on the 7th of December 2009.


Summary of Specifications


Use: Astronomy
User level: Beginner
Optical design: Refractor
Optical diameter: 80mm
Focal length: 400mm
Focal ratio: f/5.0
Coatings: Multi-coated
Optics type: Air-spaced doublet
Glass material: Crown/Flint
Resolving power: 1.45arc*sec
Limiting stellar magnitude: 12.2
Optical quality: Diffraction limited
Focuser: 1.25" Rack-and-pinion
Mount style: Altazimuth
Astro-imaging capability: Lunar and planetary
Computerized compatibility: Go-To included
Number of objects in database: 4,000+
Tracking rates: Sidereal, Solar and Lunar
Motor speeds: 4-deg/sec, 2-deg/sec, 1-deg/sec, 0.5-deg/sec, 32x, 16x, 8x, 4x, 2x
Motor type: DC Servo motors with encoders
Power requirement: 8-AA batteries or 12-volt DC-750mA
Backlash compensation: Yes
Setting circles: Electronic, via the hand controller
Available ports: RS-232
Tube material: Aluminum
Tripod material: Aluminum
Length of optical tube: 15.0 in.
Weight, optical tube: 3.0 lbs.
Weight, fully assembled: 10.9 lbs.
Warranty: Two years


Receipt, Un-packaging and Assembly

This scope arrived in very good condition and it was well packed in the traditional double box method. Assembly took about 15 minutes because I inspected each component as I took it out of the box. Aside from a small scuff and dent <2mm in diameter on one of the tripod legs, all was well. The dew shield was a bit loose, but a one-inch by one-inch piece of electrical tape took care of that. The objective was smoothly and evenly coated, the inside of the OTA a nice dark flat black with a knife-edge baffle about two thirds of the way down the tube. The focuser is smooth and appears to have no play and the overall fit and finish of a scope at this price point is very nice. Shipping took ten days but at this time of the year that can be expected.

First Light

True first light finally occurred exactly two weeks from the date of receipt of this scope and the conditions were as follows; I was using a 25mm Orion Sirius Plossl EP which gave me 16X with a 5mm exit pupil and a 3.25 degree TFOV. The sky was clear and moonless, Transparency was avg. @ 3/5, Seeing was avg. @ 3/5 as well and the temperature was about 25 degrees F.

I performed an auto two star alignment and then followed the tour function on the handset. In general the scope performed very well for its size. The Andromeda Galaxy and its satellites resolved very well to include some obvious brightness from its core. Psi Piscium was very nice and very well split looking like two blue headlights staring back at me. I did a star test on both Castor and Pollux and collimation was right on the money both in and out of focus. The Great Orion Nebula really blew me away even so much so that color from the nebula was evident, as well as the dust lanes and the stars of the Trapezium were very well resolved. I spent a long time on this object. The Double Cluster showed very well against a black background and M81 and M82 though small were easy to see. The rest of the tour was comprised of open clusters, nebulas and double stars and none were disappointing, however there were a few objects that were beyond the light gathering reach of this scope and were not visible at all. Stars in general were pinpoint and there was no noticeable CA on an object like Sirius. All in all I was not at all disappointed by the performance of this scope and it was money well spent.

Pros

Excellent Price

Good Optics

Nice Fit and Finish

Great Grab and Go

Accurate Gotos

Cons

A little too much plastic

Poor Stock EP’s

Battery Compartment Should Be In Mount Base

Summary

At $269.95 delivered, there is no way that anyone can go wrong in buying this scope. It performed well, and within the envelope of its design and optical constraints. A better set of EP’s and an optical magnifying finder for a few more dollars would be well worth the upgrade and a little less plastic in the mount and tripod would really set this scope off well. As a grab and go for a veteran observer or for someone just starting out this scope is a good solid investment.








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