One design that is likely to come immediately to the minds of astrophotographers when you broach the topic of their hobby is the Ritchey-Chretien. Used in some of the most famous research telescopes of our time, this optical design really lends itself to capturing great images of space. Finding a good one that costs around $1,200 is a great boon for beginners. Compared to other astrophotography beginner telescopes, the Orion 8 f/8 Ritchey-Chretien offers a great value.
If we just stopped at the optical design, we would be able to give the Orion 8 Ritchey-Chretien a pretty rave review. As mentioned, Ritchey-Chretiens have been known for their astrophotography abilities and expensive price points, but this one is so economical. It also offers some great features besides its overall design and price. This 8-inch scope has some serious light-gathering ability. That matters for any astronomy endeavor.
The sturdy Crayford-style focuser will help you make fine adjustments and it should be able to withstand the weight of heavy accessories without slippage. Orion includes 1 and 2-inch extension rings to adapt to various cameras. A dovetail mounting bar is included so the scope can interface easily with medium or large-sized Orion equatorial mounts. You will find yourself collimating with this telescope. That might be a minus for those who are a bit less patient. Orion did endeavor to make the collimating as easy as possible. An included Cheshire collimating tool and center-marked secondary mirror should make the process pretty painless. Orion also throws in the free edition of Starry Night software, which is a nice bonus.
As a Ritchey-Chretien, the Orion 8 uses hyperbolic primary and secondary mirrors to achieve flat and virtually coma-free views. The mirrors are made of BK-7 optical glass with enhanced aluminum 94-96 percent reflectivity coatings to limit diffraction. The use of mirrors instead of lenses means there will be no chromatic aberration and 10 light baffles will provide maximum image contrast.
This scope is fairly lightweight and handy, although heavy compared to other astrophotography beginners telescopes. It does not come with a case so you’ll have to find the right thing for carting it around. If you are hoping to take your hobby on the road this is a drawback, at least until you find the right way to transport it. If you love the stars enough to invest in a scope specific to astrophotography, we’re guessing you will want to use the instrument in more places than just your backyard.
You are probably not a newcomer to astronomy if you are considering this instrument but you may be relatively new or brand new to astrophotography. Good customer service will be of great value to you and Orion has it. Their online information is extensive and very detailed. Their online and phone customer service is fast and friendly.
If you are looking to get into astrophotography, the Orion 8 f/8 Ritchey-Chretien is a safe bet. It compares well to other astrophotography beginner telescopes based on its optical design, quality optical elements and price point.