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Orion Apex 90mm

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Date: 7-10-2002
Price: $199.99
Design: Small Maksutov telescope that is very portable
Description: 90mm Maksutov telescope that does not ship with a mount.

Review

Hello everyone!  This will be a review of the 3 1/2 inch Maksutov Cassegrain optical assembly sold by Orion and known as the Apex 90.  To make sure that I was evaluating the optical assembly and not the mount, I used a Meade pier and equatorial mount that I have lying around from an old DS 10.  This insured that vibration did not intrude on our tests.  For easier observing, I used one of Orion’s own  90 degree mirror star diagonals.  I also used only Orion’s own Sirius Plossl eyepiece line (the 25, 12.5 and 9mm models).

I will assume that for all practical purposes, a review of this tube assembly, is also a review of the Star Max 90.  This would be for optics only, as I have no idea how good the tripod and head are supplied by Orion for this particular ‘scope.  Now, on to the review.

The fit and finish of this telescope is impressive.  Not only for this price level, but just really good, period. The all metal tube of the one we got was flawless, as was the paint.  The end ring looks good, and there are no blemishes on the Meniscus lens.  The focuser has a great feel to it, and is very accurate.  You will want to go slow with this focuser when you get close to where you want to be, because it has very fine movement.   This, to me at least, is a good thing.   Another nice touch besides the fine and very smooth action, is the rubber grip on the knob.  It just feels nice, and you are sure you have it between your thumb and forefinger.

Let’s move on to the optics.  I look through many telescopes of all different apertures, so I pretty much know what to expect from any given size range.  The Apex 90 does not disappoint in this regard.  It gives you all the performance you could expect out of any catadioptric ‘scope of this size, and in my opinion, gave nearly identical views as a Meade ETX of the same aperture.  There were no collimation problems, and when I finally got a night with good enough conditions, an almost perfect star test. 

Planetary detail is decent.  Saturn showed enough detail to see the Cassini division easily.  Titan was easy to spot, as were two or three other satellites depending on seeing conditions.  Jupiter showed good cloud detail consistently, and the satellites were good.  Sharp, but not quite disk-like.  At times, I thought I was seeing spherical aberration, but after using the ‘scope for a few weeks, I realized it was just seeing conditions.  Lunar observing with this ‘scope is a lot of fun.   To me, 3 ˝  inch ‘scopes are a perfect size for grab and go Lunar observing.  Plenty of aperture for detail that can keep you busy for hours. 

So, is this telescope recommended?  Depends on what your priorities are.  Every night we observed with this ‘scope, we also had a 3 1/2 inch refractor set up.  It was easy to compare the views of each ‘scope with the same eyepieces.  That is what I mean when I stated earlier in this review that it has as good as what you can expect out of any catadioptric ‘scope.  The views in an alike aperture refractor are definitely a little brighter.  The catadioptric ‘scope just has that many more surfaces for light to go through, and it does show.  However, this is a great portable, and affordable ‘scope.  A decent color corrected refractor is going to set you back quite a bit more, making this little alternative from Orion a great buy.  $199.00 gets you the tube, a 45-degree diagonal, a 25mm Sirius plossl eyepiece, and a great little carry along bag.  Recommended?  Yes!

Submitted by Ed Conley - econley@lcisd.k12.mi.us - Michigan

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