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Hardin Optical DSH-8 Dobsonian

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Date: 8-16-2002
Price: $400.00
Design: 8-inch f/6 Dobsonian operating at 1200mm focal length
Description: 25mm and 9mm Astrola threaded Plossl eyepieces, 8x50 finderscope, 2” rack-and-pinion focuser with 1.25” adapter, moon filter.

The Review

I received this scope on August 2, a week after I ordered it online from Hardin Optical. It was sitting in my room in two large boxes when I arrived home from work.

Assembling the base was a bit of a project, but was together in less than a hour. The primary mirror was in collimation, but the secondary needed some tweaking. Without a collimating eyepiece, I just eyeballed it. Seemed to work good.

I was surprised by how big the 8x50 finderscope is. It's huge! It matches well with the massive 2" focuser. Still, the scope isn't too much of a burden to carry around at 43 pounds (I lift larger loads at work).

Some people will immediately draw similarities between this scope and Orion’s Skyquest line of Dobsonians. The packaging looks like someone just stripped the name “Orion” off the boxes; the Astrola eyepieces are nearly identical to the Sirius brand Plossls; and the Deep Space Hunter sports what Orion calls their “CorrecTension” system. However, this scope says “Made in Taiwan”, and the Orion's are made (I think) in China. Maybe a parent company (?).

The instructions booklet was kind of cheesy, being downloaded off some computer. It did come with high-res color photos of the assembly and collimation process, so I can forgive Hardin Optical for trying to save a few bucks. I also got a free moon map and Messier map, too, both produced by Sky & Telescope magazine.

I’ve had a recent string of clear, cool night skies, and subsequently plenty of time to put this scope through it’s paces. I’m more than pleased with the images it provides on both DSOs and planets. M57 in Lyra becomes the famous smoke ring at 133x. M13 in Hercules begins to resolve at that same magnification. At 200x with my Apogee 6mm Plossl, M11 in Scutum is breathtaking. Saturn shows one dark band across it’s globe, Cassini’s division, contrast of color of the A and B rings, and the ball’s shadow on the rings, at 200x. The 8x50 finderscope is extremely helpful in locating DSOs.

Within the span of about a week (~15 hours observing time) I’ve managed to view 36 of the 109 Messier objects, a large fraction of those currently observable. And several NGC star clusters. And four planets. And a sliver of the Moon. All this in 4th magnitude light polluted skies.   

If you’ve been to Orion’s site lately, you have probably noticed that they have put up warnings on the Skyquest pages about “Inferior ‘Look-Alike’” telescopes. Now I think I know why: if more people learn about Hardin Optical’s telescope, then Orion is in BIG trouble.

More than worth the $400.

Submitted by Tristan Kloss - Wisconsin

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