December 26, 2010
image by Maurice Collins
While walking the dog on Christmas morning I noticed that the Moon was visible - a rarity this cloudy season. I quickly set up two small scopes my office had bought to evaluate for schools to buy for their kids to observe the Moon. Both are small Orion telescopes, made in China, and make terrific first impressions for quality with steel tubes and wood mounts. The 76mm f/3.9 FunScope is better than you'd expect for its $50 price. The tiny Newtonian on a table-top Dobsonian mount is about the size of Isaac Newton's first Newtonian, and very light weight and easy to use. Its two Plossl eyepieces provide 15X and 30X magnifications. I need to check the alignment because the image, while pleasing, was never sharply in focus and there was a dark hazy spot where the diagonal blocked incoming light - I had never seen that before on a Newtonian. The second scope has the same mount and is about the same physical size, but is a very cute 90 mm f/13.9 StarMax Mak-Cass. The included eyepieces provide 50X and 125X , which are much better for lunar observing than the lower powers of the FunScope. In fact, at 50X my view was very sharp and quite similar to Maurice's image. This is a fine little instrument, and even though it is $200, still seems a bargain. This would be a great beginner scope for lunar observers.
I don't get a commission from Orion - they just seem to make good quality telescopes at reasonable prices!
Maurice's Moon Science website
Yesterday's LPOD: Swirled Up with Christmas
Tomorrow's LPOD: How Big the Moon?