Orion Express 80

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Brand and Model:Orion Express 80
Price ($USD):399
Type:Achromatic Refractor
Attributes: un-checked Go-To un-checked PEC
f Ratio:f/6
Focal Length:480
Electric Power:N/A
Weight (lbs):5
Dimensions (w/h/d):15 inches, retracted for travel
Description:A well-machined, "semi-APO" achromatic refractor with a f/6 focal ratio for wide-field viewing. Orion offers it as an optical tube, as a spotting scope on a photo tripod, or as an equatorial scope on their EQ-2 mount. The scope comes with a padded soft carrying case with room for some accesories/eyepieces.

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Orion Express 80
I've been using this scope as my ready-to-go at all times outfit for quick backyard viewing for about a month now. I leave it set up near the sliding glas door in the den and it's light and compact enough to easily carry around. I haven't yet taken it to a dark sky site, but look forward to using it under better conditions than my neighborhood affords. It gives very good wide views with nice, sharp images at powers up to about 60x, then shows some color fringing at higher powers with more color as power increases. After all, it's sold as a "semi" APO, and at lower powers I haven't noticed any color even on very bright objects. If I become bothered by the chromatic aberration, I'll just get a Sirius MV-20 or Orion V-block filter.

This is a very well constructed scope. The focuser and dew shield move smoothly. The black anodized finish looks rich. I use mine with a 2" star diagonal so that I can use my wide angle eyepieces. It's a very good match. The included mount is OK, but not great. It's solid enough, but not by much. I have the cheap 9volt tracking motor installed, and it works well. Overall, an excellent optical tube with fine optics coupled to a mediocre but usable mount. But it's a best by for the price.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
By: Skoro
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=457510

Orion Express 80
The Express 80 is a compact, light, wide-field scope on Orion's EQ-2 GEM tripod mount. Despite its small aperture and short focal length, this little jewel takes magnification very well, making it suitable for planetary use as well as scanning the broad star fields of the Milky Way. Being marketed as a semi-APO, it's a very well made achromat that shows little to no color at low and moderate magnifications. I've gotten a William Optics VR-1 minus violet filter that I keep on the diagonal, and it virtually eliminates all color even at 160x, which is this scope's practical limit. I'm sure it could be pushed beyond 200x under very good seeing conditions - the optics are that good. My highest power eyepiece is a 6mm Televue radian, which I'll couple to a 2x Barlow to yield 160x. Viewing Saturn at that power is a treat. The Cassini Division is visible, as well as the planet's shadow on its rings. Subtle banding is also discernable. Mars at 160x reveals some surface details, but they're not clearly defined; mostly splotches of darker landforms. I have not seen the polar caps, for instance. The Orion Nebula is wonderful, with the Trapezium resolved and nebulosity extending throughout the field of view at 32x with a 15mm Plossl eyepiece. M31 shows a bright central bulge, with fainter extensions trailing off from both sides, but no spiral form or dust lanes. Using a 25mm Plossl for 19.2x, the Pleiades are breath-taking. The wide field of view takes in the entire star cluster and the number of stars visible in addition to the Seven Sisters is impressive.

To wrap this up, the Express 80 is a very useful, well-made small scope with performance that belies its compact size. Good looking, nicely machined, and fun to use, this would be a great move-up from a beginner's scope for the advancing backyard astronomer or a second "grab-and-go" scope for the advanced amateur. It is identical to the William Optics Zenithstar 80. One note: the scope is sold without a finder. Some may not feel this is a problem as it has a very wide view at low power. But after using it finderless for a month, I mounted a 6x30 and I'm glad I did. This is a lot of scope for a low price.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:9 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.16.103)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=464320

Orion Express 80
I have the Express 80 EQ package, with the EQ-2 equatorial mount. I purchased this scope for duty as my backyard grab and go. I leave it set up and stored in a Telegizmo cover under my covered back porch. This package is light, well balanced, and serves my purposes perfectly. On almost every clear evening, I'll spend some time with this scope gazing at the sky from the "shaded" areas of my light-polluted suburban back yard.

First, the views through the Express 80 are very impressive. Despite its short focal length, chromatic aberation isn't noticeable until about 65x magnification. From there to about 100x, CA is present, but not problematic. Above 100x, it's obvious that this is an achromat and the CA becomes bothersome. I intend to get a Baader Fringe Killer filter to use at high magnifications. Otherwise, on all but the brightest objects, it gives very well defined images that are surprisingly bright for such a small aperture. With a 32mm 2" eyepiece, it gives an expansive field of view and excellent contrast. With a 20mm 1.25" Plossl eyepiece, the view is sharp at all but the extreme edge of the field.

The optical tube is supposedly identical to the William Optics Zenithstar 80. The level of craftsmanship is impressive. Visually and functionally, this is a very pleasing instrument, with smoothly working mechanicals and a rich looking black anodized finish nicely contrasted by silver/chrome trim. I replaced the stock 1.25' diagonals with a WO enhanced 2 inch diagonal. I'd highly recommend this diagonal to anyone, as its reflectivity and fine finish only add to the appearance and performance of this scope.

The EQ-2 mount is decent, but not remarkable. It provides a sufficiently sturdy mount for this light scope and allows good tracking with the optional single axis drive. I like its light weight.

The provided softshell case for the optical tube has additional capacity for a single 2" and three 1.25" eyepieces as well as the diagonal. Its foam padding seems sufficient to protect the scope and contents from any normal travel hazards.

In summary, this is a very fine compact scope at a nice price. If your plans include a portable scope, this one should defintely be on your short list.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:9 Value:9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.16.103)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=457034

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