Review: Orion Telescopes
Orion Telescopes has through its 30+ year history established itself as the preeminent source for amateur astronomers whether it's telescopes, binoculars, telescope accessories or lenses for your telescope.
They achieved this position in the marketplace with a number of innovations.
First, like small Mom and Pop shops they assume that there are a lot of first buyers. Mom or Dad buying a telescope for their kids or Grandpa getting one for a grandkid. I was introduced to astronomy at age 7 when my Sunday school teacher brought the industry-standard small telescope of the 1950's to my backyard - the 60 mm refracting telescope - a telescope still found in department stortes to this day. But really only decent for looking at bright double stars, the moon, and planets.
Despite the frustration I had and the early abandonment of that instrument for telescopes that could deliver a brighter, lower power image, I managed to survive my "400 power refractor" and became an astronomer when I grew up anyway.
Orion Telescopes has taken the guess-work out of finding a suitable piece of "telescope furniture" by spending copius amounts of their catalog space discussing different types of telescopes and then as you matriculate though the pages into larger and larger more expensive instruments they rate what you can expect.
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Review: Celestron Telescopes
Reviewed by astronomer Bill Georgevich
My first experience with Celestron telescopes was in 1970, when I worked as a Teaching Assistant while getting an undergraduate degree at the University of Texas.
The chairman of my department was most anxious find an 8" telescope that could be set up quickly and easily in an open field far away from local light pollution. He wanted a large enough telescope to showcase deep sky splendors. The perfect compact telescope was the folded optic Schmidt Cassegrain 8".
The man I worked for at UT was Ulrich Hermann, who was brought over after WWII under Project Paper Clip -- the UD government program that allowed Nazis to work on the US space program. Hermann had been a young man working under Werner von Braun, who later with his team of ex-German rocket scientists, helped put the US on the moon.
What we liked about the Celestron 8 was that we could take 100 astronomy students into an open field, set-up 4 or 5 C-8s and walk them through some of the finer objects in the sky without a lot of set-up or maneuvering. The Schmidt-Cassegrain was a very sophisticated portable telescope in its day -- rivaled only by the Questar, which was a 5 cassegrain, that was more of a rich executive office show piece than a working telescope.
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Review: The Intelliscope
The Orion Intelliscope system is a commercial version of digital setting circles that became all the rage for folks who like to own or build large telescopes but really don't know their way around the sky.
To understand how the Intelliscope works, it would be good for the uninitiated to understand how objects were found in the sky for amateurs and students of astronomy before this digital technology.
The sky is divided into latitude and longitude, called by astronomers Right Ascension and Declination. This is our terrestrial navigation system projected onto the celestial sphere that is what our universe appears to us from Earth.
Every object has been plotted on this celestial map and every object, no matter how faint, has a specific location in the sky down to degrees, minutes and seconds. Until about 100 years ago all telescopes, even the ones in the great observatories like Lick and Yerkes, the largest reflectors and refractors of their day, had huge setting circle wheels that were aligned with the Earth's axis.
This allowed a clock drive to turn the telescope with the motion of the Earth so that the celestial object remained in the eyepiece. More importantly it provided at vernier by which a large dial represented the position of an object. Let's say you want to find the Andromeda Galaxy. Simply find the RA and Dec. coordinates for Andromeda and then add or subtract the time for universal time to align your telescope which the current position of the earth in space and voila! you found your object.
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