New Scope Setup/First Light - Orion Starmax 90mm
Posted 06 May 2004 - 05:40 PM
I just received the Starmax 90mm yesterday and so far I'm in love with this little guy, The scope arrived well packaged double boxed with the scope in it's portable carrying case and the mount/tripod/accessories all in their respective boxes - it was packaged this way to eliminate shifting during shipping. The OTA is well built and all metal and arrived collimated perfectly (it also comes with a nice bag to store everything including standard and extra accories minus the tripod/mount). The Focusing knob is rubberized and smooth to adjust focus, a nice addition is that the lens assembly is threaded for a T-adaptor for use with cameras you you can use the scope as a telephoto lens. The tripod and mount is solid right from the start, operating it is smooth on both axis and there is very little to nil instability while viewing with under two seconds to stabilize from a knock to the mount or the OTA. Two minor things with this mount that is a little troublesome is the lock bolts and slow motion cables. I would change the lock bolts for the RA/DEC a motion and make them a little bigger - right now they are a little hard to find in the dark but it might just be me. The slow motion controls are very stiff and while moving to certain spots in the sky the two cables will hit each other you will have to swap the RA slow motion cable from side to side once this happens, these will be replaced by fexible ones as soon as I order some. The 25mm Orion Sirius Plossl looks very nice, it's lens coatings are a greenish tint compared it to my Taiwanese 25mm plossl which is blue (Green tint to the lense probably means multi coated I believe, correct me if I'm wrong). The 90 degree mirror diagonal is stardard and doesn't look like anything special. It also comes with The Sky software which from a quick install and glance looks nice and I'll have to check it out more later.
Visual performance is superb for such a small scope, this is the sweet spot for me to do planetary, moon and bright object viewing/imaging. First things I tried out was the planets since last night was very clear and stable here.
Venus which was a crisp crescent with what I believe to be some cloud markings on the bright side, I also noticed or imagined that I could kind of see the whole circular shape - sort of like when the moon is at a cresent and you see earthshine on the dark side. Next I moved the scope to Saturn which became a very impressive sight with the Cassini division with the outer ring darkening on the way outward, the planet showed traces of what I could have sworn was light and dark colored regions on the planet. I also noticed what might have been Titan but it might have just been a star. Jupiter was another great view with the two main cloud belts veing very distinct with polar regions showing more bands. I'm not certain but I'm pretty sure I saw the GRS on one band and I saw a few other spots on that band and the others, nevertheless the bands did show light and dark regions within themselves so I think that is a good thing and I must enhance my seeing to understand it better. Stars came to points with no spikes on a dark background, while messing around scanning the sky I also caught a double star on the western horizon, one was white and the other was a nice blue. I'll have to look for it again tonight to figure out what set it was.
I also tried some imaging and that came out pretty blah, my motor drive doesn't arrive til next week so my images were soso but at least I know this scope can take on the task with ease. After about five hours outside I finally gave it a night and brought everything in, while examining the scope I noticed that the center right above the mirror had begun to dew from the temperature change so I arranged the scope to upside down so it would not make any stains before it dried up.
Today I Decided to give the Orion Solar filter that I purchased with the scope a try and looked at the sun for a while. Unfortunately there was not much action with only one sunspot visible so I decided to do some terrestrail viewing to check the scopes performance. It performed very well at looking at the critters in the woods and different parts of my landscape. Mounting this scope on a regular camera mount would make an excellent spotting scope if one desires.
My highest magnification was 200X done with a 12.5mm plossl and a 2X nasty barlow, while not the greatest view it was doable on the planets as long as you've got a drive to remove your frustration, my best views were in the area of 125x - 166x last night and seeing was average with a very bright right after full moon. Given that Orion states this scopes high magnification as 180-213x I think this scope might be able to be pushed to 220-250X on nights with very good seeing conditions and quality eyepieces. I'll have to put a better barlow on my "to buy" list to use those high magnifications but for now I'm more than happy with my limits. I purchased a red dot finder for this scope as well but the finderscope that comes with it was not too bad either, before I did any viewing I focused and aligned it along with the the red dot to a dime so that evening the combination became a very good asset to double check each other (only when I was not looking at the zenith, they really should start shipping these things with RA finders as a default instead of an add-on).
As much as I've tried to find somehting bad with this scope I can't, the little flaws I found were simply nitpicking little things that does not seriously affect the viewing quality of the scope and could easily be remidied for less than a meal for two at a local fast food restaurant. Overall this scope is an excellent buy for those looking for an inexpensive extremely portable scope with sharp optics, a sturdy mount and solid overall build.
Posted 08 May 2004 - 05:32 AM
Posted 08 May 2004 - 01:52 PM
"My highest magnification was 200X done with a 12.5mm plossl and a 2X nasty barlow, while not the greatest view it was doable on the planets as long as you've got a drive to remove your frustration, my best views were in the area of 125x - 166x last night and seeing was average with a very bright right after full moon. Given that Orion states this scopes high magnification as 180-213x I think this scope might be able to be pushed to 220-250X on nights with very good seeing conditions and quality eyepieces."
While the StarMax 90 isn't a bad scope, there are a few facts you should know about it. First, it isn't 90mm in aperture (that is the diameter of the primary mirror). The clear aperture is actually 87.5mm, so you should use that figure when using the old guidlines of 50x to 60x per inch of aperture. I have used up to about 268x on the little scope, but I prefer powers under 200x for it, as there is little gain past that point. Second, the drive unit will prevent the telescope from accessing the entire sky, as in certain places when the scope is used on objects east of the meridian, the tube will tend to hit the little plastic box that the drive is encased in. I use my little StarMax 90 mostly for solar observing using an H-alpha filter, which is a little amusing, since that filter cost between 7 and 8 *times* as much as the telescope! Clear skies to you.
Posted 09 May 2004 - 12:33 AM