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Orion 150mm OTA

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Located just north of Cincinnati, Ohio, I’ve been an amateur astronomer for all of 1 year now and have been into the path of finding the perfect telescope of my needs and location. As a gift from a wonderful neighbor, I started my journey with a Meade Polaris 114mm reflector and the typically included eyepieces. It was an amazing summer. The big find (and first) was Jupiter and it’s 4 large moons. I was hooked.

That experience started my quest for more ‘scope. I wanted to see larger, brighter planets and deeper into space. After much searching, and the typical modest budget, I settled on the Orion 150mm optical tube assembly. I thought it would give me the biggest light gathering bang for my modest budget. And, it does...with a catch. Here’s my personal breakdown on a scale of 10.

Light gathering – 7 – great with a catch. I didn’t realize how much light a 6” mirror would gather. In my 4.5” reflector, the light balance was perfect for planetary work. Jupiter & Saturn looked wonderful through my modest 12.5 and 25mm eyepieces. In the 6”, a hazing effect became prominent. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. My initial thought was I wasn’t providing enough cool-down time for the mirror. Yet, even after time I could rarely get the same clarity of planetary view I achieved with my smaller 114mm. My current thought? The light gathering pushes it to an intensity of needing the appropriate filter to avoiding too much glare. I wasn’t prepared for this and, of course neither was my budget.

For constellation views, it’s amazing with 25mm and longer eyepieces. Stars were nice pinpoints, and some rich color was observed with some double stars. I could never resolve this in my 114mm. And now I see my need for some upscale eyepieces (cha-ching!)

Mobility – 4 - Ok, I’m 6’, 200lbs....50 and in good shape. With the EQ mount I’m using, I’m pushing around about 40+ lbs when I move this scope to it’s location. It’s not ideal for the smaller astronomer, as it’s size is awkward, but it’s workable. That weight would increase with an appropriate drive system which I don’t currently have. I’m currently using this in “DOB” mode and keep a laptop close by...using Stellarium to get me pointed to an object of interest.

Price-to-Value – 8 – At a little over $220 (including mounting rings and shipping), it’s a decent scope to step up to if you have a mount that will take it (my EQ mount barely supports this...I need to add a weight.) I’ll have to say, Orion delivered what was promised and packaged it nicely. Shipping was quick. And all was in pristine shape out of the box.

Overall – 8 – Would I buy this again? Depends, but only if I could budget for (or already own) the appropriate package (filters, motor drive mount, etc.). The more I’ve learned about my particular location (35 mi N of Cincinnati), I would likely save a little more and purchase a 127mm+ refractor or Mak-Cas or SC ‘scope to achieve what I desire...better mobility (not so bulky)...enough light gathering to do some astrophotography with a decent tracking system and that will store conveniently out of the way when not in use. By no means will I take away from the performance of this scope, it serves a purpose yet it’s hard to put a finger on that purpose. It gets you close to many purposes, but seems to leave you short unless you start pulling a little more cash out and purchasing what you need to complement the intended use. Widefield star-gazing is great. High detailed planetary will warrant a medium-priced eyepiece to match (somewhere between $75-150 for a decent wide FOV) to complement the views.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson about light gathering, the necessity of filters and playing too much of the compromise game. I’m left wishing I’d saved more for the scope I REALLY wanted. Yet, for deep space & constellation observation, especially for a Dobsonian project, this is a perfect buy to keep the overall weight of a first project down & manageable.


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