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philsail1

Orion Optics (UK) f4.5 8" Newtonian - First Light.

31 posts in this topic

Collected my Orion Optics (UK) Europa 8" (f4.5) Newtonian (Tube only) last Monday.

Due to constant overcast weather, I've been sitting staring at it all week! Managed to set it up on Thursday evening (after going in and out several times to check cloud cover). Anyway, here is a brief "first light."

Statistics (Compared with my Skywatcher 200mm Newtonian):-

Orion Optics Europa. Skywatcher

8" Europa (De-Lux model with 8" Explorer (Complete

"Hi-Lux" coatings. Cost (Tube only

but with a 9x50 Right Angled

Finderscope and 9 point main mirror

support as extras) = £544.00. Cost with two eyepieces, and

(There is also an upgrade from HEQ5 motorised mount=£499.00

1/4 to 1/6th wave to the main

mirror. This was done free as part

of a summer promotion)

(Looking down inside both tubes, I could not visually see any difference in the finish of either mirror).

Tube length = 870mm (34 1/2") Tube Length = 925mm (36 1/2")

Diameter = 227mm Diameter = 230mm

Tube Weight = 7kgs (15lbs) Weight = 11kgs (24lbs).

Focal Length = 4.5 Focal Length = f5

Colour White = White Colour = Blue.

As you can see from the photo (excuse our cat trying to get in on the act!), there is not much difference in the physical size of the two scopes, but the Orion Optics Tube is much lighter then the Skywatcher (almost 1/2 the weight), which does make a big (pleasant) difference when taking the scope out to attach to the mount. Despite being much lighter, the tube doesn't feel "flimsy" at all. The "crimping" where tube is joined is more visible than the Skywatcher, but is very neatly done.

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There are 2 "delicate" protective end caps which are made from thin black plastic embossed with the "Orion Optics" logo. I think they could split easily if removed without care. (but then we should treat these instruments with care!).

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The focuser (fitted to the De-lux model) is of a "Crayford Design." It is very smooth - as smooth as the "Moonlite" single speed focuser I bought for my Skywatcher. As it was fitted, I did not have to align it, or fit extra "shims" to achieve focus on some of my eyepieces and binoviewers. To achieve a good "in" and "out" travel, the focuser on the Orion uses an extension tube. You simply remove the out part of the focuser and slide in the extension tube. Lock (finger tight) it with two horizontally opposed small screws, then re-fit the outer part.

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However, I found that because the extension tube was quite a loose fit, and the two screws which hold the extension tube in the main barrel are horizontally opposed, even when tightened, the focuser had considerable up and down play. This wasn't an issue when using the focuser. (it didn't display any image shift at all). I could only feel it when I changed an eyepiece, or if I took hold of the end of the focuser and moved it up and down - when there was about a millimetre of up and down play. This I thought could have been eliminated by Orion either ensuring the barrel of the extension tube was machined to a tighter tolerance, or by placing a third screw - and spacing all three equal distant around the extension tube. I cured the problem easily by sticking two small pieces of black tape to either side of the extension tube barrel - at 90 degrees to the two locking screws. This worked great!

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All the other fixing screws seem good and substantial. The Main mirror looks well supported on its 9 supports (which you cannot see in the photos). Collimation looks straightforward. (There was no instruction book with the scope, but you can download a general guide (which is not specific to any particular Orion Optics scope) to collimating Newtonians from the Orion Optics website. I will have to ask "Barry" from Orion if there are any particular points I need to watch for when collimating the 9 point supported mirror.

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The Scope normally comes with an excellent "illuminated" 9x50 white bodied "straight through" finderscope - which mine came with. This is a very good quality item, a telescope in its own right - which I almost decided to go for, but from my experience in using the straight through on the Skywatcher, I decided to go for the Right Angled finderscope. This only came in black, and even though I find it definately easier to use, it does seem to be of slightly inferior quality to Orion's straight through finder.

7751_normal.jpeg

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Now to viewing (which is what most people want to know about!). I checked the scopes collimation using a "Cheshire." It was spot on. Set up the HEQ5 and attached the scope - easier than the Skywatcher.

Went outside at 10.00pm (ish) and targeted Jupiter (which at 13.5 degrees was just above the surrounding houses). Put in a TAL 25mm Plossl. Very, very crisp and bright (almost too bright) view despite the fact that there were a lot of hot air currents rising from the houses. I could see bands on the planets surface, also see five of Jupiter's moons (don't think the fifth moon was a distant star, as it was in between two other moons near to the planet). Placed a Vixen 5mm Lanthanum. This again gave an excellent bright view of the planet. View not quite so sharp, but could still see the five moons - 4 of them as tiny discs, and some banding on Jupiter's surface. Focusing was quite critical. Put in a Celestron 18mm Orthoscopic. Excellent! Crisp, Clear and bright. Five moons, banding on the surface. Really nice. Tried futher eyepieces, most of which gave excellent views. Placed my binoviewers in the focuser (fitted with two GSO 25mm Plossls and a basic Skywatcher 2x Barlow). This view was really, really outstanding! I wish someone from SGL could have been with me. I was mesmerised and stared at Jupiter until it went behind a house chimney stack.

That was my cue to try the scope on the stars. Fitted a 2" Celestron "E-Lux" 40mm wide angle eyepiece. Found "Andromeda" which appeared a bright but slightly fuzzy blob of cotton wool. I was pleased with this view. It is the bightest and clearest I've seen Andromeda. Tried the TAL 25mm Plossl. Again a good clear and slightly bigger but dimmer view. Tried the scope on splitting the doubles near Vega (can't remember what they are called, but I used "Turn Left at Orion" to find them. Absolutely great view! Crisp, fairly bright - even using a 25mm and 10mm eyepiece. Easily split the Double-Double. Stars in centre were "pin-point" Stars in outer edge of field of view displayed slight "coma" (Comet trails) which I hadn't noticed on the Skywatcher.

By now the time was 12.30am! and I was getting cold (Full Moon was up too, so sky wasn't as dark as it could have been).

All in all, I must say I am very well pleased with the Orion Optics Europa 8". The views were very bright, crisp and clear. I was worried that the very short focal length would be unforgiving with some of my "cheaper" eyepieces. I also expected much more "coma" to show. I was pleasantly surprised. I like the lightness of the scope. It easily balanced on the HEQ5 mount using just one counterweight. The scews holding the tube to the clamps could be slackened to allow the tube to be rotated easily. The tube clamps are nice an wide so they seem to support the tube more efficiently than the skywatcher's.

However, the most important next "acid" test I want to make, is to directly compare it with my Skywatcher 8". I will mount the Skywatcher on the HEQ5, and the Orion on the Celestron CG5 mount (for which I've just ordered two motors from Steve at FLO). I will in due course give the result of my optical comparison. (I said to Barry from Orion Optics, that I was going to compare the two scopes, and expected to find a significant difference (improvement) in the view from the Orion. He said I would).

Sorry it's been a long review. Thanks for reading.

Regards,

philsail1

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Nice!! That 9 point mirror cell comes in really handy at f4.5.

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Excellent report Phil. I had heard good things about these Orion Optics OTAs. I look forward to reading your next report, comparing the Skywatcher with the Orion Optics.

Tom

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Nice one Phil, a good informative report, thanks for posting.

Gary

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Thanks for reading fellas.

These reviews have helped me in the past, so they are always useful to someone.

Just got to get a good clear night to test it with the Skywatcher now!

Regards,

philsail1

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Phil, great first review, lots of info. Orion optics newtonian mirrors are just superb. At f4.5 some coma will always show even your f5 skywatcher will have it. The very thin plastic caps are an OO trademark bring out the shower caps . You just can't beat a good newt and you have one of the best!

Cheers

Dave

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Phil

Nice report :hello2: OO scope optics are very good. Look forward to hearing your full 1st light report.

Cheers

Ian

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Thanks Dave & Ian,

Like everyone else, I'm just waiting for a clear Friday or Saturday evening (when I don't have work the next day!), to rig both scopes (Skywatcher & Orion) up on separate tripods and give them a good visual test using the same eyepieces on each.

I'll be pleased if the Orion gives very much improved views over the Skywatcher, but sad in a way, as I've become very attached to the old Skywatcher 8" Explorer!

(This continuing cloudy and rainy weather is a killer though!)

Regards,

philsail1

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Excellent report Phil, sounds like you're a happy man - the comparison with the skywatcher will be interstesing.

Thanks for posting.

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Hello all!

I haven't forgotten about the "comparison" review between the Orion Optics 8" (f4.5) and the Skywatcher 8" (f5) Newts.

I've been away on hols for a week (with wife down in Weymouth - we had some great clear skies too, also Jupiter was much higher in the sky, but sadly I didn't take a telescope with me (it was either the wife's extra case full of clobber or a scope - no contest!!)).

As soon as we get a clear Friday or Saturday evening, I'll be out there!

Regards,

philsail1

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Still waiting for that clear night to review my Orion Optics 8" f4.5 Newtonian against the Skywatcher 8" f5 Newt!

Exasperating!!

regards,

philsail1

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Exasperating!!

Tell me about it Phil, I have had about 40 minutes so far with my 127Mak since June and I'm struggling to keep it all together (sanity that is).

I hope and pray for a cloudless night for everybody with a telescope :clouds2:

Lets hope it's sooner rather than later.

Paul

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I've taken to doing astronomy by proxy just lately - i.e. spending more time reading the forums than being outside with the scope - but the withdrawal symptoms are beginning to tell :shock:

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Good review.

How much would this OTA be mounted on an HEQ5 and my question would then be is the optical difference/improvement worth the extra £xxx.xx you would need to pay.

Looking forward to finding out.

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hi phil,

orion optics sent us out the focusers with the 2 thumb screws as well...hopeless for imaging. If you tap a third screw in the top of the focuser, all is solved. Apart from that, they really are fantastic scopes...they are a credit to britain, and we are lucky to have such fine opticians so close by. I have a very strong feeling that barry will be right about the difference in performance between it and the skywatcher.

As a slightly comic aside...

you said that you couldnt see any difference in the 2 mirrors visually. Since your scope is 1/6 wave, and the test laser is 632nm, then you would need to be able to resolve 100nm....which is very good indeed :clouds2:

carrying this too far...

assuming you were 1m from the mirror, then you would have to resolve 1e-7 radians, which is the same resolving power as a 6.7m telescope...

if your eyes really do have the resolution of a 6.7m telescope, then do you want to come round to mine and sit on my mount of a while, while it tracks...

no offence meant here at all btw...just thought it was funny :)

Great scope, and you'll love using it...

Hope you get out soon

Paul

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Hello Paul,

Thanks for the advice re fitting an extra screw - I've got a small engineering comp nearby so I'll get that done soon.

I now understand what it would take to visually detect any difference in mirror quality, so I don't think I'll be coming round to yours - I'd probably fall off the mount anyway!.

Thanks for that - I do see the funny side too!

Regards,

philsail1

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well ive got an EQ6, it can take the weight of a full grown man!

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Don't think I can come round, as my wife says I'm not a man anyway, but a mouse (Better a live mouse than a dead Lion I say!).

regards

philsail1

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The weather has been awful, and I understand your situation *sigh* hope I can do more of this ===>:)

Regards,

Dave :grin:

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Hello "Zanes,"

I did a full comparison test between the Orion 8" and Skywatcher 8" Newtonians - as I decided to sell one of the scopes some weeks ago, and I wanted to ensure that I kept the "best" scope.

The comparison tests were conducted over a period of several days - as the weather this summer has not been consistant!

Without going into copious detail of the various eyepieces I used, and targets I looked at, the end result was that the Orion (despite the claims that it's mirror would be far superior to the Skywatcher's) only just came out on top, having a fractionally wider field of view than the Skywatcher's mirror. Of course the wider field of view meant that the magnifacation was lower in the Orion when comparing the same eyepiece between both scopes.

Both scopes showed objects equally as sharp and clear (to my eyes anyway!).

The final decider was only that the Orion scope is lighter in weight and shorter in body length than the Skywatcher, making the Orion scope a little easier to carry and set up - and this scope will sit nicely on a Celestron C5 mount. (which I have mine on at present).

I think that anyone starting out in astronomy would certainly obtain a better bargain (or bang for your buck!) in buying a Skywatcher 8" on a HEQ5 mount. You do get much more for your money - and the Skywatcher 8" is an excellent instrument. I only went for the Orion scope on the strength of the advertising blurb! When one considers that the Orion Scope was £500 for the tube alone, and you can obtain the Skywatcher and mount for quite a bit less, it is clear that the Skywatcher is the better buy.

As you might know, during my selling of the Skywatcher, I acquired a Celestron C8 SCT. This scope was an excellent instrument, and I did fall in love with it. It was much easier to use than the Orion, and gave excellent views of every kind of astro object in the night sky. After several more weeks, I was faced with the same dilemma, of letting one of the scopes go. (as I was trying to reduce my scopes to just one!).

After much testing and discussions on SGL, I eventually (and reluctantly) let the C8 go - again only because the Orion had a wider field of view and was lighter to carry.

During my selling of the C8, I acquired a Skywatcher 127mm Maksutov! This seems to be an excellent little scope - which again is very good value if anyone is starting out in looking for a good SCT to start off with.

I will keep this scope as I'm hoping to use it for "grab and go" astronomy. All I need now is a suitable "grab-and-go" mount for it!!

It is so difficult to reduce ones "kit" to one instrument!!

I think you will be pleased with your 8" Orion f4.5 Newtonian when you get it.

Regards,

philsail1

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I've actually got the f/6 on order.

I assume the skywatcher was also f4.5? That is not the result I was hoping for :)

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Zanes, don't worry, you'll more than happy with your Orion scope!

Just out of curiousity, how much are you paying for it? Are you getting a mount with it?

I've had my 10" standard optics Europa for nearly 9 years now and it's been amazing, even from my light polluted London garden. I have compared my 10" Europa directly to a 250 Skywatcher dobsonian a few years ago at a dark site and my scope was better, but for the price, the Skywatcher really impressed me.

It's also a nice feeling knowing that your scope was hand made in the UK, wether that justifies spending more on a scope is up to you, but i feel it is worth it.

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Nitram;

I'm paying the OO "going rate"; over £700 for the scope, with the standard EQ5M (what does the "m" stand for? It's not motorised!) mount, with the optional upgrade to 1/8PV optics and a 10:1 crayford.

I personally like the knowledge that it's me, not the optics screwing things up! I *think* I get a zygo report, as it' sgot the 1/8 upgrade.

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