Had a chance to look through my friends new Orion 8" F/12 Cassegrain last night. The conditions were poor, we were on his driveway with street lights nearby, clouds were in the sky, poor conditions but it didn’t mater, the scope was new and we were out using it.
First impression is the scope is just outright beautiful just to look at. Glossy black paint, excellent robust focuser. It’s like a load bearing GSO focuser. It had no issues supporting a heavy ES 25mm 100 deg mammoth.
The mount the scope was on was just junk. A wobbly twilight 2 Alt Az mount. Very difficult to locate anything with, even with a laser pointer.
Moving past that, right out of the box, the scope was horribly out of alignment. In focus stars looked horrible.
OK so let’s realign the optics. Fortunately, the secondary uses Allen head screws, so someone did it right. The optics were way off, more than any SCT I’ve ever seen ever. I doubt it was even aligned at the factory. Regardless, with me at the eyepiece, and my friend with the Allen wrench, about 4 minutes later the out of focus donut was excellent on Vega at well over 200x. The screws were all turned mostly tightening the secondary, not loosening them so alighment should hold fine with no problem.
Clouds were rolling in fast. Contrast was excellent, despite the streetlights in our face. Using the 25mm ES 100 deg eyepiece, the back ground skies were dark and stars focused sharp. In focus, Vega had the 4 spikes from the secondary vanes. It looked very cool, The spikes were just barely there but you could see them and it didn’t distract from brilliant Vega at all. It made Vega look picturesque.
I managed to find the ET Cluster in Cassiopeia. The views were as good as any I have seen in an 8" Cassegrain. Stars were very sharp and focused tight. Moving the cluster to the edge of the field of view didn’t affect the sharpness at all. Very nice dark skies, maybe all those light baffles were working as expected.
I moved the scope over to M15. The cluster was beautiful. At 211x, it was large and induvial stars in the cluster were easy to detect. Focus was excellent, the external focuser was doing a great job as expected.
I tried to move the scope over to M27 which was directly overhead but the clouds were moving too fast and in minutes, the entire sky was covered in clouds.
My Initial impression was, I see zero issues with anyone wanting this scope as a visual only telescope, even over the highly over rated Edge 8 HD. I didn’t notice cool down issues since the scope was out for about 2 hrs. before I even showed up.
Contrast was excellent, the back ground skies were much darker than I had thought they would be. The focuser was perfect how it operated and rotated. Adjustments were easy with the tension knobs underneath. Stars were sharp across the entire field of view.
What more can you ask for in a reasonably inexpensive 8" Cassegrain. Both the Vixen and D series mounting bars were well made and sold, not like the cheap orange brackets you get from Celestron, more like the ones you would get from ADM, at least on the Vixen mounting bar.
The black paint was excellent, very glossy. The scope was noticeably longer then an 8" SCT. At least regarding stars and how they view in this scope, the views were excellent. Sharp focused stars, exactly what you would want in a new Cassegrain.
The OTA is noticeably heavier than the Edge HD 8, maybe up to 5 pounds heavier. Still, a very light scope for any GP5 size mount.
How it compares to my Edge 8 HD, at least at this point, I don’t see how it would mater. If you bought this scope and had this type of initial performance, I wouldn’t care how someone else’s scope performed. I’d be proud to say I have this one and its working beautifully and use and enjoy it.
Next time out, I'll measure the central obstruction, but again, at this point, it wouldn’t mater, the scope performs beautiful and looks stunning.