Orion Apex 90 Mak/Cass

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Brand and Model:Orion Apex 90 Mak/Cass
Price ($USD):$239
Attributes: un-checked Go-To un-checked PEC
Aperture:90mm (3.5")
f Ratio:f/13.9
Focal Length:1250mm
Electric Power:
Mount:1/4"-20 mount block
Weight (lbs):3.7 lbs.
Dimensions (w/h/d):
Description:Comes with 25mm Orion Sirius 25mm Eyepiece, 45 Degree correct image prism diagnal, fully multicoated meniscus lens, and padded carry bag.

Vote Highlights Vote
Orion Apex 90 Mak/Cass
I recently puchased the Apex 90 OTA from Orion. I have used Orion in the past, and have been impressed with the service and the quality of products I received, so when I was looking for a new scope, I went there first. I live in a small apartment in the city, so when I do any stargazing, I have to drive out into the country to avoid light pollution. Because of these factors, I was interested in a smaller, grab-and-go scope. I have been reading a lot about the Apex scopes and decided to take a chance on the 90mm.

I received the scope in about five days. It came double-boxed, with plenty of packing material to protect it. The scope was shipped inside of the carrying case, adding some additional protection. Everything was in good shape, including the scope itself, the 25mm Sirius Plossl, the 45* correct image diagonal, and the 6x20 viewfinder.

Since it was raining the day it arrived (and the next two nights, of course) I had time to familiarize myself with the scope. When I was finally able to get outside, I was suitably impressed with the little scope. The mount adapter is well-placed for balance, even with a camera attached. The finder scope is fairly easy to align, and, with the main scope's long focal length, good alignment of the finder is essential. The focus knob provides smooth, precise focusing, with no backlash. The optics are superb, with stars appearing as points of light with no flaring, and planets appearing as spheres, showing detail even at low powers. The 45* diagonal, while excellent for terrestrial viewing, becomes problematic when viewing astronomical objects near the zenith, but this is to be expected. In fact, the only real problem I ran into had nothing to do with the Apex... it was my mount, a simple camera tripod that I have had for some time, which proved to be too light and flimsy for the scope, so I will be investing in a heavier-duty mount.

My first experience through the scope was Jupiter... using the provided 25mm plossl, the king of the planets appeared as a creamy yellow ball, flanked on both sides by the four bright moons. The equitorial belts were easily visible, even at this power. As the scope had not had time to acclimate to the outside temperature (a process that I have found to take up to an hour, depending on conditions), there were some thermal waves visible, but these dissipated as the night wore on. Saturn, was also a wonderful sight, even at 50x. The rings were visible, although the Cassini Division was not. Titan was also visible as a point of light. I could just detect that the surface of Saturn was not a uniform color, but actual cloud belts were not detectable.

The moon has been the highlight thus far, however. Craters and mountains show a lot of detail (especially when I popped in a 10mm eyepiece, kicking the magnification up to 125x). I even took some pictures of the moon through the scope, screwing the T-adapter directly onto the threads on the eyepiece adapter.

The only deep sky objects I have viewed through this scope are M44 in Cancer and the Orion nebula. The open cluster looked fantastic at 50x, although not all of the stars fit in the field of view. The nebula was visible in the scope as a small smudge of light, and the trapizium was clearly visible, but a darker location is needed to test the deep sky ability of the Apex 90.

All in all, I would highly recommend this little scope to anyone who is looking for a light-weight, portable scope. It is definitely a great buy for $199, especially for apartment dwellers with little extra space.

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:8 Ease of Use:7 Value:8
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
By: gtv
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=214339

Orion Apex 90 Mak/Cass
I have owned this scope for about three months. I owned a Dynascope RV-6 as a child, then used a cheapo KMart 50mm 12-40x zoom scope on a simple camera tripod for years. Bought an Orion 60 mm refractor off EBay (.096" focuser) about 5 months ago. I gave that to my nephew for his birthday.

Optically, this scope has performed flawlessly. The planets look like smaller image versions of the 8" and 10" Schmidt Cassegrains in our local astronomy club costing 4-plus times more. It is simply spectacular on the planets and moon. No false color.

My chief complaint with the scope is the field of view, which, at 13.9 f/l, is TINY. It makes using this scope a lot of work for anyone not VERY familiar with astronomy. I actually purchased a ShortTube 80 since and have found the combination a godsend. In the ShortTube 80 I find objects, then, being more familiar with that portion of the sky, I can zero in on them with the StarMax.

The mount is more than adequate for the weight, but there are no instructions on the worm gears and what one should do to re-wind them as one gets to the end. I am left with a non-functioning precision gear. Anyone got any suggestions? This is apparently a problem for ALL Orion mounts except the VERY expensive and weighty SkyView Pro with its 360 degree gears. There's probably a simple solution, but I haven't figured it out yet.

As for stability, the EQ-1 is VERY stable for this light-weight scope. No complaints, even in the west Texas wind.

I want to buy a 90 degree finder. When using this scope toward the zenith, it gets rather difficult to find objects -- much easier in the ShortTube 80. But the StarMax 90's contrast and detail are spectacular. No major reflectivity problems, either.

I live at 33.5 degrees latitude, and got it in late May, so I have no experience, as of yet, with its cool-down time. But that's not really a big issue for me anyway, since it doesn't stay real cold (sub 30 degrees) that much in west Texas anyway, and I don't go outside then either (wait a couple of days for it to be warmer -- even in January).

For Deep Sky objects, this Mak-Cass does NOT perform as well as a good SC or Newtonian reflector, but, if one is patient, it does provide nice views of M13 and the like -- better than the ShortTube 80, but with more effort.

For beginners, I would recommend the ShortTube 80 over the StarMax 90 initially. The FOV is narrow and takes some patience & familiarity best learned on an easier to use scope (like the ShortTube 80)

Generally, this scope gets a 7 and is a good value. Orion should make another version (or have the Chinese manufacturer build them one) with a slighly shorter focal ratio to make finding objects easier. That being said, the optics in mine are superb with NO image shift whatsoever in my model. It handles high power very well on clear nights and the collimation as shipped and since, has been dead on.

I think I want a bit more aperture for getting more detail out of DSO's, but I guess I'll just have to buy me a reflector, too. Three scopes! Go figure.

Got mine on sale for $200. Heck of a deal!

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:10 Mount:6 Ease of Use:6 Value:7
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.1.92)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=134268

Thanks for your detailed but highly readable review of Starmax 90mm. As for the drive gears are concerned, when you reach the end, is it possible to loosen the corresponding screw, rewind the slow-motion knob and re-tighten the screw? Just a thought.
Best regards.

Orion Apex 90 Mak/Cass
I bought my Orion Apex 90mm used; the original owner had changed from the lightweight EQ-1 mount it came with to the somewhat heavier EQ-2 mount before I bought it; that's what I use it on.

I wanted a scope I could pick up with one hand and take outdoors for a quick hour's observing after work. Since most of my observing is from a suburban back yard with significant obstruction from trees and lots of sky glow, the ability to pick it up and move it quickly and easily was very important to me. Also, since I have a lot of sky glow and several lights from neighbors to maneuver around, I was more interested in lunar and planetary performance than I was with deep-sky observing.

This little 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain is an excellent performer, especially when moved to the sturdier EQ-2 mount (also sold by Orion, as well as by others.) I have an older EQ-1 mount and have tried the scope on both: the EQ-2 mount is head and shoulders more pleasant to use. With all the bolts tightened properly, the scope is very steady up to 200x and it's very easy to use to keep the moon and planets in a high-power eyepiece for casual visual observing and sketching.

The scope is very well built and focusing is precise, with no detectable image shift (and none expected, for such a small mirror.) The optics are perfectly aligned, with textbook diffraction rings around brighter stars such as Deneb, Vega, and Polaris, and have held alignment through the past month of observing, with storage in an unheated garage and a couple of trips to our club's deep-sky site thrown in for good measure. My scope came with Orion's dew shield, which looks nice and seems to be pretty well made but in humid Indiana nighttime conditions is also fairly useless. Really, a heater for the corrector plate is necessary in this climate; I was hoping that I wouldn't have to carry a heavy battery around but... *sigh*

Optical performance on the moon and planets is excellent: images up to 200x are clear and crisp, with no unusual color or chromatic fringing (and none expected.) Lunar surface details appear to resolve just a bit beyond theoretical limits for a scope of this aperture, which is good performance. Jupiter has been best at 100x or less this past month, mostly because it's so close to the horizon. I'm looking forward to better views of Mars this month and next as it rises higher in the sky. Deep sky performance at our club's dark sky site has been surprisingly good for such a small aperture: the Lagoon nebula showed the central "lagoon" between the two brightest lobes clearly, and M31 in Andromeda had an obvious central condensation at 31x through a 40mm Kellner eyepiece (which does NOT come with the scope) although the entire galaxy is too large to fit into the field of view. The supplied 25mm Plossel eyepiece is of good quality, providing images against a jet-black background with no internal glare or reflections (at least, not on the objects I've used it on.) This eyepiece in this scope gave me one of the most satisfying views of Albireo, the pretty double in Cygnus, that I've ever had.

Overall, this scope is a winner if portability is what you need the most, or if you are just interested in casual glances at the moon, planets, and perhaps a few of the brighter Messier objects. The supplied lightweight EQ-1 german equatoriall mount is a little under sized even for a scope this small and light; at magnifications over 50x the images break-dance whenever you touch the focusing knob. The EQ-2 mount isn't all that much heavier or larger, and is much sturdier once you tighten the bolts down well.

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:8 Mount:7 Ease of Use:9 Value:9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.236.142)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=458442

Orion Apex 90 Mak/Cass
This applies to the Starmax version of this telescope. I am a beginner and have owned one since October 2004. I live in New York City in a walk-up apartment with a garden, so portability and storage space was a prime concern. I have taken the scope to dark sky sites as well as viewed the brighter objects from the city.
I find the best mag to be around 138x with a UO Ortho 9mm eyepiece for the moon & planets, or a barlow on the 25mm Sirius plossl, giving 100 or 150X 178X with a 7mm Ortho is possible in good seeing.
The moon is fantastic through this scope, and so is Saturn. I was able to see the cassini division, some color variation and the shadow cast on the rings. I was able to see the equatorial cloud bands of Jupiter with the polar regions showing slightly darker. Haven't caught the GRS yet, I never seem to have a clear night when it's supposed to transit! But I'm sure it would be visible.
The Orion nebula was visible from the city, with all 4 stars of the trapezium. But at a dark sky site it was stunning. This summer I saw the Lagoon nebula, also stunning. I didn't find cool down to be much of a problem, I just put the ota out on the fire escape for an hour, got my best view of Saturn ever on a cold February night. Managed to find M44 the beehive cluster from my back garden, quite an achievement for NYC where cancer is invisible! It looked great too.
I replaced the original finder with the 6x30 RACI finder, but found I still needed to get a Rigel quickfinder to get the scope 'in the ballpark' of the desired object. With this set-up (plus the help of 'Turn left at Orion' an essential purchase for a beginner I think.) at a dark sky site I was able to find M57, M27 & M13, which were a slight disappointment through this scope. M13 was a dim fuzzy but large ball, not the explosion of stars you see even in amateur photographs. The ring and the dumbbell were dim and colorless too, but unmistakable by the shape! I've found the double stars to be the nicest sights for color, especially Albiero of course. However, just scanning the milky way through a telescope for me is mind blowing and something I've never done before.
Just a note on the mount slow motion controls, in answer to a previous post, they do have a limit, and when you get to it you have to wind back the other way, undo the locking screws and slew the scope back to the original position (or somewhere near) a mild annoyance, but not a 'show stopper'.
My conclusion is this scope has delivered exactly what I wanted, great views of the moon & planets from where I live, great for travel to dark sky sites where I am able to find a lot of objects, but don't expect the views to match even the amateur shots you see taken with slightly larger scopes. I would recommend this to any City dweller who has to lug their scope down 6 flights of stairs and into your trunk for a weekend trip. (a Dob was not an option!).

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:7 Value:8
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.16.100)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=449160

Orion Apex 90 Mak/Cass
This little scope would do very well as a terrestrial scope. But for astronomy, use cation. I bought it for quick peeks at the planets and double stars. But I ran into some frustrating problems.

It needs ALOT of cooldown time. It needed at least 90 minutes to cool down, and I kept it in an unheated and uninsulated room. Most mak owners know this, as this is one of the common traits of the design. But for me, it didn't work as a "grab and go" scope.

Image shift. When I purchased the scope, I didn't realize that the entire primary mirror moves to focus the scope. I couldn't figure out why saturn would transit across 1/2 of the field as I adjusted the focus. Switching between eyepieces and eyepiece/barlow combinations were frustrating at medium to higher powers because I would need to always recenter. By the way, I had it mounted to a Orion Skyview Deluxe mount. There was no backlash to the focusing, just image shift.

Strange elongated circles of light from stars that were outside the field of view. I tried to isolate it to an eyepiece or something, but it never went away. When I looked at the pleiades, the field of fiew was full of parabolic circles from cluster stars outside of the view. Perhaps its a common design fault, or my eyepieces, I don't know. After two nights of this, I was so upset and frustrated, I threw in the towel.

Verdict: I don't think you can mass produce mak/cass's in Taiwan successfully. Some may be great, some so-so, and some lemons. I'd say mine was so-so. The tight manufacturing specs that have kept mak/cass's so expensive for so long are truly necessary to produce a decent scope.

I sent it back and got a Stellarvue AT1010. The stellarvue is not even remotely in the same league. Its image quality and beauty puts the little Apex 90 to shame. GO WITH A STELLARVUE

Overall Rating: 6
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.159.16)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=41409

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