Sky and Telescope
f/6 Dobsonian operating at 1200mm focal length
and 9mm Astrola threaded Plossl eyepieces, 8x50 finderscope, 2”
rack-and-pinion focuser with 1.25” adapter, moon filter.
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
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
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.
by Tristan Kloss - Wisconsin