If you need to hit a lower price point but still want to be able to enjoy your first foray into astrophotography consider the Orion 8-inch f/4 Newtonian. This reflector is listed as “advanced” by Orion but don’t be intimidated. That just means it is meant to serve the advanced (but far from a researching professional) astronomer. By the time you have an interest in astrophotography we assume you have spent some time looking through a telescope. In that sense, you are advanced. You want to do more than look. You want to capture the beautiful views. At under $500, this instrument from Orion is an economical choice compared to other astrophotography beginner telescopes.
This product, especially compared to the other astrophotography beginner telescopes we looked at, is for the beginning astrophotographer who wants to get their feet wet and see if this part of the hobby is really for them. Some users may have fun with this scope and may just want to stay with it for astrographs. Others may have fun with this scope and quickly be ready to move on to more expensive and sophisticated equipment. Either buyer will still feel good about this purchase when it is all said and done.
Some may prefer to fine tune every last detail but we think it is pretty nice that a finderscope is included with this telescope. That way you know the telescope and finderscope will work well together and you can always store at least one set of equipment for astrophotography together. The 200mm-aperture parabolic primary mirror is crafted of high quality BK-7 glass.
The included cooling accelerator fan should lead to a shorter time between deciding to take astrophotos and actually taking some. Newtonians can sometimes degrade an image if the optical face of the primary mirror is even a little warmer than the air outside. You’ll want a fan, and with the Orion 8-inch f/4 Newtonian you don’t have to go looking.
There are many features that will impact your viewing experience with the Orion 8-inch f/4 Newtonian. The short f/4 focal length should lead to wide fields of view and small image scales. Also, enhanced aluminum mirror coatings have more than 91 percent reflectivity. That will deliver a lot of light to the focuser. The dual-speed Crayford focuser will help you by offering camera support, limiting drawtube flex and offering a precise focus.
At 16 pounds this Newtonian is not the lightest astrophotography beginners telescope we looked at. Also, there is no carrying case provided. It’s still much lighter than the more expensive and sophisticated scopes though.
Orion realized long ago that great customer support is worth the investment. Their people are always nice and helpful. Their website is packed with good info and staffers are quick to answer the phones.
The Orion 8-inch f/4 Newtonian is not the most sophisticated of the astrophotography beginners telescopes we looked at but it is a good starting point, with decent optics and a great price.