Orion telescopes – Buying guide & Comparison
Finding a good Orion telescope is never easy, especially if you’re new to the field of stargazing. You don’t have to be an astronomer to admire planets and stars, but knowing a thing or two about telescopes can definitely help you choose a model that’s easy enough to use as well as with a decent image quality and magnification power. There are many Orion models on the market that make for a good buy, but if you truly want the best for the price, then the Orion SkyQuest XT6 is definitely it. With a 1200mm focal length and 6-inch aperture, you get a great telescope to start your astronomical journey without paying a huge price. Controls are fairly easy to use, and you also get special software to help you map out the night sky. However, since good things often get sold out quite fast, you may also want to look at Orion SkyQuest XT8 the in case the first becomes unavailable.
Before you get to read the actual reviews, we thought that you might want to get accustomed to some common technical terms and components of telescopes first. This is why we have written a short buyer’s guide, to walk you through the basics of telescopes as well as to give advice on which features should you be looking at most to suit your needs, preferences, and level.
A few telescope basics
Before delving into the technical info of each telescope, you’d best become familiar with the main components. A telescope has a main optical element which is either a mirror or a lens. Its diameter is called an aperture which dictates the amount of light the telescope it can gather, and the brightness and amount of details (resolution).
A telescope also has a focal length, which is the distance between the main optical component, or point of light entry, and the focal plane. Any telescope will come with one or more eyepieces, which also have their very own focal length. Divide the focal length of the telescope to that of the eyepieces, and you find out how much a telescope can magnify distant objects. For a 1000mm (39.37in) lens, you get 40 magnification with a 25mm eyepiece and 100x with a 10mm eyepiece.
Complexity vs. ease of use
While you may want to get a telescope with the largest aperture possible, remember that these devices can get fairly sophisticated and difficult to use if you don’t know much about them. Especially if you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to start with a simpler (and also cheaper) model to learn the ropes of astronomy, and only go for the more complex models after you’ve mastered the former.
A few convenience considerations
Just as they say with many other things in this world, the best telescope is the one you’ll use the most. If you want a high-quality telescope, then you can rest assured that it will be large, heavy and complex. This means that it would probably spend most of its time in your backyard or even your basement, as hauling a 50-pound telescope is no easy task, and would probably take the help of a few buddies, let alone require an hour to set up and one more hour to take it down.
So if you value mobility, you probably want a light, compact and portable telescope. It may not provide you with the highest quality imagery, but you’ll be able to use it often. On the other hand, you surely can get super-quality, but you need to have a way to transport it and know how to install it on site and calibrate it properly.
Top Orion telescopes reviews in 2018
If you’re looking for the best Orion telescope but haven’t been able to decide on a model just yet, then you’re in luck, as we have compiled this list of top 5 telescopes especially for you. Here are the main products that should command your attention, with full descriptions and features you should be looking at in order to make the best purchase possible.
Orion SkyQuest XT6 8944
The Orion SkyQuest XT6 is probably one of the best entry-level Dobsonian telescopes, and it comes at only a fraction of the cost of a professional model. Equipped with a large 6-inch aperture, this telescope can render a much brighter view of the universe than its predecessors.
The long 1200mm focal length is great for both lunar observations as well as the study of distant celestial objects. The resulting focal ratio of the telescope is f/8, resulting in a wide and crisp view of the cosmos.
This large telescope lens is attached to its Dobsonian base through the latest CorrecTension Friction optimization system which benefits from heavy-duty springs, ensuring a secure and balanced platform.
Thanks to the 1.25in or 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece, you get to enjoy a 48 x magnification providing a 52-degree field of view. You also get to learn more about the universe with the free Starry Night Special Edition software.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($279.99)
Orion SkyQuest XT8 8945
A larger model from this series, the Orion SkyQuest XT8 gets a large diameter 8” aperture which can gather lots of light and allow you to observe the Moon and other planets in amazingly high detail.
With a 1200mm focal length, this telescope is perfect for both beginner and enthusiast astronomers, providing a wide field of view and a focal ratio of f/5.9.
Equipped with a 2-inch Crayford focuser, you can easily obtain sharp and crisp focus so that you get to enjoy the finest details with high contrast of planets in our solar systems as well as beyond it.
With the 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece, you get to explore the universe and see larger details thanks to the 48x magnification, while the wide view will give you a better perspective on cosmic events.
The package also comes with the comprehensive Starry Night astronomy software, which contains info on celestial bodies as well as sky simulations.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($379.99)
Orion SpaceProbe 130ST 9007
When it comes to entry-level models with good Orion telescope reviews, the SpaceProbe 130ST is the one that regularly receives positive feedback from customers.
With a 5.1″ aperture and a 24-inch optical tube, this is a compact telescope that will provide you with imagery with lots of details of the planets in our solar system as well as objects far beyond it.
This telescope comes with a solid EQ-2 equatorial telescope mount and a stable tripod which will allow you to slow-track objects without being bothered by Earth’s revolution around its axis. You also get more stability and accuracy in tracking while also enjoying a compact model you can fit into a larger backpack and take with you on both short treks and long journeys.
The SpaceProbe 130ST comes with 2 eyepieces, 6 finder scopes as well as a collimation cap, pinion focuser, special edition Astronomy software and other accessories to get you started with your new passion.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($309.99)
Orion AstroView 90mm 9024
If you’re trying to find the best telescope from Orion while on a budget, then the Orion AstroView 90mm is a model you can’t miss.
Not only does it sell for a modest amount of money compared to its more sophisticated counterparts, but it also provides good quality and plenty of nice features for its price.
With a 90mm (3.5 inches) aperture and 910-mm focal length, you get a good focal ratio of f/10 and a telescope you can count on to provide you with great views filled with details of Jupiter’s cloud bands and its moons, the rings of Saturn and even its large moon Titan under a clear night sky.
This telescope comes with a 25mm Plossl eyepiece which provides 36x magnification as well as a 10mm eyepiece with an incredible 91x magnification power, which should render a great view of both close and distant celestial objects.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
Orion SkyScanner 100mm 10012
The Orion SkyScanner 100mm is one of the telescopes for sale which, despite commanding a low price, offer a range of features and image quality much better than similar products.
This telescope doesn’t come with the plastic lenses you’d expect for the price, but with quality fully-coated parabolic glass mirrors.
Equipped with a 3.93in aperture and a focal length of 400mm or 15.74in, this telescope is sure to provide people new to the field of astronomy with a great study tool.
You don’t just have the Moon at your disposal to study its craters, small mountains, and valleys, but also distant planets in our solar system as well as far-away nebulae, star clusters and much more.
You get 2 eyepieces of 20mm and 10mm to enjoy magnification powers of 20x and 40x respectively to open up a new cosmos that is usually hidden to the naked eye.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.99)