Review of Orion Telescopes
Like a handful of other great companies, Orion Telescopes was founded in a garage. The year was 1975, the year the Homebrew Computer Club had its first meeting in Silicon Valley, and the year an Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft docked in orbit for the first time.
Since then, Orion Telescopes has established itself as a preeminent source of astronomy gear for beginner and amateur astronomers. Orion has developed a pretty stellar reputation for making high-quality telescopes, binoculars and telescope accessories.
They achieved this position in the marketplace by catering to beginners and first-time telescope buyers. Orion Telescopes takes the guess-work out of telescope hunting, making it fairly easy to find the best telescope for your needs and budget.
Orion Telescopes ranks all of their products as ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘advanced’ as well as ‘economical’, ‘moderate’ and ‘premium’. They offer a wide-ranging line of Dobsonian telescopes, Newtonian reflector telescopes, refractor telescopes and Schmidt-Cassegrains, either with the computerized ‘Go To’ feature that automatically locates objects or in the classic style.
Orion Telescopes Product Offerings
Orion Telescopes sells nearly a thousand varieties of telescopes on its web site from 15 manufacturers. While this may seem daunting, Orion Telescopes allows you to filter its massive telescope inventory according to price, user level, optical design type, aperture width, assembled weight, mount type, computerized type and—perhaps best of all—the types of objects the telescope is best suited for (moon and planets, bright deep sky objects or faint deep sky objects).
The folks at Orion Telescopes, whether on their web site or on the phone, do a pretty good job conveying what a particular telescope’s observing experience will be like under actual dark sky conditions. Still, nothing can rival actually star-testing the instrument yourself. If you plan to make an investment in a telescope of over $3,000, it should be looked at in-person, either in a retail store or most ideally, experienced in the dark at a star party. Ergonomics is key here, and you don't want to find yourself practicing "macho astronomy" because you purchased a telescope unseen out of a catalog.
That said, Orion Telescopes provides a generous 30-day return policy. Just remember that mirrors, lenses and eyepieces are precision pieces of equipment that can be scratched, dented or damaged very easily — especially if you’re fumbling around in the dark.
Another accolade for Orion Telescopes is that they have done a good job providing the novice observer with a healthy combination of direct light viewing experiences in the eyepiece along with the more high-tech and fashionable CDD imaging systems that allow you to take quick and easy photographs of celestial objects, guided under high exposure. Orion Telescopes balances these two worlds quite nicely. They provide large trussed Dobsonian telescopes that set up quickly for the casual observer, as well as clock-driven equatorial mounted instruments that allow time-exposures that can last for hours.