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Orion SkyView Deluxe 8

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Date: NA
Price: $529.99
Design: 8” reflector with 800mm focal length at f/4
Description: 8” reflector on Equatorial mount. Comes with (2) 1.25” Plossl eyepieces at 9mm & 25mm. It also includes a moon filter, a 6x30 finder scope and a Polar alignment scope that goes in the EQ mount itself.

History & Observing Location

I have been using the SVD 8 Newtonian reflector for more than one year, enough time to evaluate the quality of the instrument, optics and ease of use, albeit subjectively biased.  I am located in Northeastern Ohio (41o Latitude) approximately 15 miles south of Cleveland. Sky glow is moderate although increasing as urban sprawl continues into the countryside.  The majority of my observing is conducted from my backyard with the SVD EQ in the down position, a pneumatic secretarial chair, small side table and classical music playing softly in the background. Naked eye visibility of the firmament is approximately 4th magnitude on clear nights.

Equipment Choice

I spent two months researching telescopes - refractors through catadioptics.  Each class has its merits and demerits; i.e., the refractor gives the best image quality but in larger apertures is very costly, while the cassegrains offer larger aperture optics, the image intensity suffers due to the additional lens  “folding” the light path to the eyepiece and the first lens collects dew.  The first rule of telescopic viewing is aperture  – “Bigger is Better”.  The larger the lens the more light it will capture, the more light it captures, the better the image quality.

Following this simple axiom “Bigger is Better” the Newtonian reflector became my preferred format - you obtain the most aperture for the dollar and you do not have an intervening lens to reduce light transmission. Within the reflector class of instruments you are faced with two choices: Newtonian reflectors on an equatorial tripod or the Dobsonian format mounted on an alt-azimuth base.  The Dobsonian has the advantage that is very easy to set-up and use; it’s a “point and look”. The only disadvantages are:  to track an object you have to constantly move the telescope to keep the object centered in your field of view, and should you ever decide to enter into astrophotography the Dobsonian does not facilitate conversion.

Thus, I chose the Newtonian reflector with an equatorial mount as my preferred format.  After reviewing the available manufacturers, numerous articles and equipment reviews within Sky & Telescope and on the web, I chose the Orion Telescope Company due to availability, pricing, and the quality of their product line.  The equipment is imported from Taiwan.

Features

The Orion SVD 8 comes standard with two 1.25 “ Plossl eyepieces (25mm & 9 mm), a 6 X 30mm finder scope, moon filter, and the SVD equatorial tripod with polar-alignment scope. 

Shipping takes 4 – 5 days via either UPS or Fedex ground and my equipment arrived in good condition in 2 separate boxes.  I assembled the telescope and tripod in about one hour taking my time to read the included instruction manual, which by the way is easy to understand.  Once assembled the telescope looked great, high gloss black with gray accessories and a gold and gray EQ tripod.

Performance

I first took the telescope outside to align the finder scope and main telescope during the day as recommended within the instruction manual.  This is not a good idea with a large aperture telescope of short focal length – you cannot get the telescope focused on an object only a ½ mile away, plus the image is inverted and backwards.  So I recommend that you do only gross alignment during the day and complete the final alignment and focus of the finder scope during the night.  A word of advice, take your time to learn how your telescope and EQ tripod work together and do not expect to take it out the first night and view deep-sky objects (galaxies, nebulae).  It took about two months of twice-weekly viewing (eight sessions) before I became comfortable with the operation of the SVD 8 EQ.

Collimation - aligning the primary and secondary mirrors.

The instruction manual states that the telescope was collimated at the factory prior to shipment.  But after the shipping and handling you can count on the telescope being out of alignment.  What this means are the images you see are not as well defined as possible and you probably won’t notice this if this is your first telescope.  But you will notice that the deep-sky denizens your searching for will not come into focus and you will note aberrations in the star field caused by the vanes holding the secondary mirror.  The manual collimation explained within the owner manual does not properly align the mirrors.  I recommend that you include in your purchase of the SVD 8 EQ or any reflector telescope a laser collimator (from $70.00 - $200.00).  My 8” was improperly collimated during the first three months and once I received Orion’s laser collimator I was amazed at how grossly misaligned the mirrors were.  The image quality doubled upon proper alignment – those deep sky denizens I was searching for finally came into view.

Observing Performance

In a word – wonderful, after three months of practice with the equipment and reading everything I could find about the art of astronomical observation, I began to understand how to use this telescope.

Planetary Observations – Though a Newtonian reflector of short focal length is not the instrument of choice for planetary observation, I found the SVD 8 EQ to perform adequately when observing Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, and the Moon.

I did not purchase this telescope to view the planets and the SVD 8 EQ excels at deep-sky observations.  The light capturing ability of this telescope is excellent. The local nighttime sky resolves to only 4th magnitude to the naked eye due to moderate sky glow, but this telescope will resolve 8th magnitude on an average night and on nights of truly dark sky viewing it can be pushed to 10th and fainter magnitudes.  On nights of good seeing the Milky Way at low power is a truly wonderful sight, the Great Andromeda Galaxy at 2.2 million light years distance is easy for the SVD 8 EQ and the views of the Orion Nebula are breath taking. (Note to the first time observers – nothing you will see will be in color except the planets, moon and bright stars).

Stellar Observations – The SVD 8 EQ can resolve doubles with ease; the disadvantage of a short focal length reflector is that they introduce coma effects (distortion) at the edge of the field of view on fainter stars.  The support vanes introduce distortion on distant stars due to their thickness and these should be reduced to at least 0.5 mm instead of their 1 mm size.  It should be mentioned that this distortion does not detract from the overall performance of this telescope.  It is a side effect of the classic reflector design and appears only on distance stellar bodies (7 – 8th magnitudes).  To an equipment purist with unlimited funds this distortion would be unacceptable and they would recommend refractors within the $2,500 - $6,000.00 range.  The SVD 8 EQ exceeds my current observational abilities and I plan to use this instrument for many years to come.

Accessory Equipment – The SVD 8 comes standard with a 6 X 30mm straight finder scope, which I found to be insufficient for a telescope of this size.  The quality of the finder scope is excellent yet the straight design forces you to contort your neck and body into unnatural positions at times.  I recommend that you upgrade the finder scope to at least a 9 X 50mm and consider the right angle correct image finder scope currently available from Orion telescopes.  I have upgraded to this finder scope and its ease of use is superior to the standard 6 X 30mm.

Eyepieces – The SVD 8 comes with two 1.25” Plossl eyepieces: a 25mm and a 9mm.  I use the 25mm most of the time and have found the lens to be of good quality and suffer little inherent distortion.  The included lenses are good performers and I recommend adding a 2X Barlow lens to your collection to double your viewing capabilities.

Equatorial Tripod – the best $229.00 telescope mount available. The only problems I have experienced are the RA and Dec settings scales are not as accurate as I would like.  When I use the setting scales they point the telescope in the general area and I still have to hunt for the object I want to view.  The other problem is the weight of the telescope tube with eyepiece, Barlow, and 9 X 50mm finder scope appears to be the upper weight limit for this tripod causing the telescope and tripod to vibrate when bumped in the full upright position.  I have found that by keeping the legs in the “down” position (not extended) increases the rigidity of the tripod base giving you a solid viewing platform.  I highly recommend viewing from a seated position with the tripod in the down position. I use an old pneumatic secretarial chair during my sessions.

Conclusion

In conclusion the Orion SVD 8” performance is excellent, I have not experienced noticeable aberrations from the primary mirror related to temperature variations even though it is not made from Pyrex glass.  The mirror cell is heavy duty and collimates easily.  I have added additional mirror support pads beneath the primary mirror to reduce any distortion of the mirror surface due to the edge mounted support brackets that theoretically could warp the mirrors surface (Sky & Telescope, 2000).  This “tweak” has reduced the coma effect (astigmatism) I mentioned earlier. 

Ease of operation is the hallmark of the SVD 8 EQ; the image quality is excellent when properly colliminated and the focusing tube operates smoothly with good fingertip control. The SVD 8 EQ has provided hours of enjoyable use.  The SVD 8 EQ weights approximately 50 pounds with the added accessories and tripod.

Based upon the positive performance characteristics of the SVD 8 EQ, the quality of the construction, simplicity of design, and ease of use, I highly recommend this telescope.  Also, Orion Telescopes has excellent customer service – I had to replace a tube ring that was defective; the hinge was improperly aligned.  Orion covered all cost associated with the replacement without hassle.  For the dollars I have invested into this telescope (approximately $300.00 above the purchase cost) I am pleased with its total performance

Submitted by Charles Haase - C.R.Haase@Worldnet.Att.Net - Cleveland, OH

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