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Telescope Reviews

Orion AstroView 120ST EQ

Product Details
  • A wonderful telescope for viewing the moon, planets, and even deep-sky objects!
  • 120mm aperture and 600mm focal length for sharp views of nebular clouds, star clusters, and galaxies
  • Includes sturdy tripod, equatorial mount for hands-free celestial tracking, & polar alignment scope
  • Includes two eyepieces, finder scope, focuser, diagonal, and FREE Starry Night astronomy software
  • One-year limited warranty

Product Ratings
Overall Rating
70%
Product Details
Aperture
120mm
Focal Length
600mm
Mount Type
Equatorial
Joseph Rome
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful
Summary: No Reservations in Recommending
April 5th, 2005

Coming to the discussion for this scope was a simple process. I was looking for a RFT, Rich Field Telescope. Cost/performance was a major consideration. The two, which stood out, was the Orion Starblaster and the 120ST. The 120mm won out, even with the cost difference, for the following reasons.

1. Contrast, of deep sky objects means you see more.
2. Two-inch eyepieces, the 120 accept these and with the 31mm Nagler provides a 4° field of view.
3. Equatorial mount, Tracking is not bad for visual, but there is also the possibility of astrophotography
4. Setting circles aid in locating DSO's.


The scope and accessories were ordered through the local Astronomy
Shop in Austin, Texas. They arrived June 3, 2005.
Inventory went without any problems. All the parts come well protected and create some amount of boxes and bubble rap that is being save incase of the necessary of some parts needing to be returned.
The first step is the killer, I have always been told. It was no different here. Step one; you must mount the legs to the equatorial mount. There were no holes in the base mount to connect the legs.
Orion was called and being Friday afternoon (6:00PM C.S.T.) the best they could do was having a new one mailed to my address the upcoming Monday. I am not happy with this, Quality control should have been better, but the rest of the equipment looks to be in order. Anyway this has been one hellish spring with more clouds than most and few clear nights, so, I not hurting bad in trying to "kick the tires" on the 120.
June 10, 2005 the part arrived from Orion, the scope went together in less than fifteen minuets. So we are ready for first light.
This scope is rated as a level 3 (Advance). Yes, and No, although this is a very component scope in its domain (Wide field), it is also a very easy equatorial to set up and use. A beginner will have some difficulties with this. But the rewards of this caliber scope are well worth the minor troubles that will be encountered. The beginner needs to exercise their resources for these problems, like joining the local astronomy club and Internet access to groups for questions. These options would make the problems encountered a minor distraction. The scope is well worth these efforts.


OPTIONS
There were several options obtained for the scope, even before first light. They are as follows:

Orion EQ-3M Single Axis Drive

Soft carrying case for Orion Skywatcher 120EQ

ETX 125 Baader Solar Filter

Ancares 2" Diagonal Through the local Astronomy Shop (aastronomy@aol.com)

FIRST LIGHT
Saturday, June 11, 2005, Location the park on Mansfield Dam in Austin Texas .

Sky condition was fair, you could see some humidity in the air, and cleared up nicely in spots around 11:00PM.
All the parts of the Orion 120ST-EQ fit in its soft carrying case. Although a bit heavy, makes for easy transportation and protection of equipment.
Setup was easy, even for the first time. Polar alignment was somewhat troublesome in the respect that I could not focus the polar scope, and my eyes at my age needed glasses, which I forgot at home. Other than that, setup was very easy. The finder adjustment is a snap. We are now ready to "Kick the tires" on this animal.
First, let me state that I have had telescopes up to 20", and I made sure all had the best optics possible. I also have seen through many scopes and base my opinions on these forty years of experiences.
The Orion 120ST-EQ is a surprise. I expected the wide field aspect of this scope, but failed in realizing how much this scope would show of deep sky objects. A very pleasant surprise for it preformed like some 8" reflectors I have used.
The contrast, which becomes the refractor, tends to show more detail of deep sky objects than a reflector. Its because of the fast F/ with no central obstruction, and is why the urban legend that refractors outperform reflectors. This urban legend is not true, it's just the configuration of the scope is different. The difference allows more contrast. It also has its drawback; you can't get the higher power of the longer focal length with the short tube reflectors. This fact is also why there is no one scope that will do it all. The optics is getting a lot better now days, and this scope come close. It would be a very good first scope with a little knowledge.
Problems with this scope will be discussed first, there are not many. The finder (6X30) would not be bad for terrestrial aiming of the scope, but is a sore spot for astronomy. On most objects there was no problems but near the polar region it was hard to get into position for finding things. Solutions are, one from Orion, the second from ScopeStuff .
The second sore spot, that aided to the first problem is the legs on the EQ-3M are too short, even fully extend. Puts you to low to the ground to properly use the straight through finder or to close to the legs to get a proper angle behind the finder. The solution would be the pier mount from Scope Stuff http://scopestuff.com/ss_peda.htm . With the legs out of the way, things would have been easier.
The mount is solid for this scope; once proper polar alignment is achieved astrophotography would not be that hard. Something for considerations to future use.
Planets and Moon: This is where the scope would be weakest. Its performance is not bad. Details on Jupiter were real good in fact. A little violet when out of focus, but in focus the violet disappeared and with a 7mm Nagler (85X) showed detail in the NEB/SEB.
DSO's: Open clusters showed up better than many larger scopes. The field of view won out with these. M6, M7, Tr24, 6281,6242,6231, and M44.
Globular Clusters: M4, M80, M13, M22 were observed this night, and not bad for a 120mm objective.
Nebular formations were observed in M8, M20, M16, and M17. Also M57 (Real weak) and M27 were spotted. With the 120's contrast of this scope, using a panoptic 19mm (32X) M27 showed up better than an eleven inch SCT's at this site.
Temple-1 was not located, but was looked for. Left the chart at home, oops. Getting home found out I was about three degrees North of its location.
M51 showed up well, but was very hard to find at zenith, Finder and height of mount presented this problem. My neck will hurt for weeks.
This site is not a dark site, but in the city. This scope did better than most under these conditions. At a dark site, can't wait.

RECOMMENDATION
This would not be a bad scope for a beginner (Over 15 years of age). With knowledge of how to get assistance, this scope would be around and serve well for a long time.
The two problems that must be overcome is the first setup and finding DSO's (Deep sky objects), Both can be taken care of by joining a local astronomy group. Go to the Star Parties and ask if anyone could help setting this scope up. Also, look through other telescopes and ask how do you find that (Replace your finder with the 9X50). We seen more objects than were listed above with a little over half a night viewing and for two reasons, it's a component scope, and I have the ability to find DSO's which you must learn. I learned through going to star parties with my astronomy group. You must do the same.
I have been around scopes a long time now. This scope performs like a 130 APO, Well at 1/10 the cost it gives around 90% of the APO's performance.
The dark side of me has risen, I have a friend with a 130 APO set on a G11 mount, and goes to these star parties Friday night. That's about 8K US dollars of scope and mount. I will set up next to him. Every thing he finds, I will find it in my scope. Run to his scope and say, "Let me see." Run to my scope and look, then tell him, "How much you paid for that thing?" We may not be friends for long, but I believe he could take a joke, I hope.
What I am telling you is, some scopes you don't take to star parties, and they were a mistake to buy in the first place and don't perform well for astronomy. For DSO's this scope performs with the best in its class, and will outperform many larger scopes for DSO's. Just ask a 12" DOB to show you the double cluster, or M31, M7, M44. Then look in the 120, the view will be a lot better, and if you have a dark side, show them. Having this black scope makes me feel like Darth Vader

ORION
In the last year I have bought three scopes from Orion. The XT12 for my daughter, the Starblaster for my grandson, and I got the 120ST-EQ. I have not found any poor optics yet, and excellent service after the purchase. This 120 is a RFT, I will buy in the next year two more scopes. Another XT12 (it will go good with the 120), and a large DOB 22"-24". Bottom line is I have no reservations in recommending or using this vender.

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