Orion Astroview 100mm EQ - F/6

By James MacWilliam - 4/3/2005

(Below is my original review from Astromart in 2005)

I've been so fascinated by reading the reviews written by other Astromarter's, that I felt it was my duty to give any readers (like me), who are just beginning their journey to Telescope-Orama, the low-down on one of Orion's short tube refractors.

I bought the Astroview 100mm EQ in April 2004, almost exactly one year ago - but wait, let me set the scene first. Before this, it had been 10 years (and 6,000 miles away in Scotland), since I owned a Telescope.

My two previous scopes were an Orion Optics (The British Telescope Co) 6" Reflector, and a Vixen SP 102 Refractor. These two early scopes polarised my 'Telescope Genes' to 'Refractor'. The vixen just felt better in every way.

I lost interest due to light polution near Glasgow.

Skip forward 10 years, and now here on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia ... I bought a pair of Celestron Skymaster Binoculars (15x70) put them on a tripod, and wow, those Astronomy Genes kicked back into gear and made me want a Telescope again.

The Bino's were great for looking at Andromeda, M81/M82, The Pleiades, and the moons of Jupiter, and at $125 CDN must be one of the best buys in Astronomy. But at 15x there is not enough magnification for instance to see Saturn's Rings. My wife had never seen Saturn, and I had to show her this if nothing else ...

We sent away to Orion Telescopes, and duly received our Telescope. Whenever I buy equipment from the U.S. I am convinced that Canada Customs take my toys out for a week or two to try them out.  Eventually they get bored, wrap them back up and send them on to me!

Out of the box everything was spot-on. Nothing missing, everything worked. I didn't look at the directions once - O.K. maybe once ... I was immediately impressed by how professional the scope looked. It looked serious, not a toy ...

As most beginners know - the most difficult skill to learn is how to point the scope at an object in the sky. The next most difficult thing to learn is how to point the scope at an object in the sky you can't actually see! Star hopping you say - Survey says XX. Don't know the sky well enough for that - haven't trained my brain to think backwards and upside down to use the finder like that ...

Mmm? Setting Circles! ... of course, that's what lured me to the Equatorial Mount. But all the magazines say - won't work, circles too small, too incacurate, just for show, they don't work.

First try with the setting circles, M3, then M5. Both off my patio with some mild light pollution in my face ... Those were the first Deep Sky Objects I've ever found where I couldn't see them directly .. So the scope would have been worth it even just for that.

O.K. Review Time Then. The Scope has a focal length of 600mm and with the supplied 25mm Eye Piece (there's also a 10mm), the magnification is 24x which gives a great wide field. For example, the whole of Andromeda easily fits in the field of view. The Pleiades, The Double Cluster in Perseus all look bright and terrific at low power. The Orion Nebulae also looks amazing, on good nights the wings (as I describe them) appear huge. I've read quite a bit about false colour in Achromats, so was on the lookout for this. In this scope there is little false colour apparent except on the brightest objects - Vega, Venus.

Not to labour the point, but I'm asked all the time if there's an ED lens in the scope. There's not, but any false colour is just not apparent on most objects.

My first look at Saturn was awesome - bright planet, rings clear, against a dark black sky with a couple of pinpoint white stars (later found out to be moons). No false colour apparent to my untrained eyes, and can't really see how it could look any better at 60x.

So on to 120x (with an Orion Shorty 2x Barlow). Cassini? nope, couldn't quite see it, but the disk still seemed sharp and bright. Months later though, when I decided to actually look for it, Cassini is see-able, although usually not all the way around. Also a hint of the cap being slightly different colour to the rest of the globe.

One night we counted 5 moons around Jupiter! Whaaat? Cant' be .. so we scurried to Sky and Telescope's web-site to find out that Saturn had skimmed past X Leonis as we were observing ...

Jupiter - the North and South Equatorial Belts very clear and of course the Equatorial Zone, also the North and South Polar Regions. To be fair never bought the scope for planetery viewing and only recently became interested in this aspect. So lately looking at Jupiter at 120x gives a good view - the disk is large, the features above very obvious, but not much else ... I think a better trained eye and some better eyepiece and Barlow could squeeze more detail out. Also worth mentioning the mount is rock steady .. never had any vibration problems with this scope.

Negatives ... very few, can't find the mount locks in the dark, alway fumbling. Would like more magnification via Focal Length - i.e. without going to tiny peephole eyepieces ... but of course don't want to spend more than the value of the scope on exotic EP's

Positives ... The scope is light, you can pick up the whole thing including mount and tripod and walk away with it. I use a compass to polar align and this is enough to us the setting cirles. I just calibrate on the nearest bright star. The optics appear excellent - far better than I was expecting. The build quality is also excellent for a scope in this class. Everything is solid, nothing has fallen off, and the details have been thought out. The finder can be taken off and stowed, and when put back on, its still aligned .. nice !!

Marks out of 10

The Scope - 9

The Mount - 8

Value - 20

Hope this was not too much of a rant for my first review.

The above is the perspective of someone with a fair bit of theoretical knowledge, but a beginner in practical astronomy. I now have one year under my belt with the Orion Astroview 100mm EQ and am ready to move on ...

Next move for me ... I want more magnification from focal length, drives for planetary, and GoTo to point me to those elusive DSO so that I will learn from the scope exactly where they are. Also my wife is keen to try some entry level Astrophotography .. So LPI here we come.

Thinking of the Meade LXD75 5" or 6" Refractor.

Thanks for Reading


Post Astroview 100mm Update

Perhaps 'post' is the wrong term since I still have the scope - but its only hanging on by it's finger tips having been up for sale before (nobody noticed until too late - before we changed our minds!) and now is again.  But this little scope has done it all - including deep sky astrophotography of The Orion Nebula, The Whirlpool Galaxy, Comet Holmes and I've even used it as a telephoto lens on a camera tripod - its close focus distance is unreal, not much over 15 feet.  The only reason I'll be parting with it is to fund new scopes and equipment necessary to keep me entertained!

Post Post Update

The little scope that could, has now finally gone its merry way to a friend's scope emporium.  I could quite easily see me buying another one some day to throw on my GoTo Mount as a rich field change (maybe even guide scope) from my current long focal length SCT.

Below taken with the Orion 100mm Astroview EQ - all short exposures unguided

All Content Copyright © James MacWilliam