Thursday, August 13, 2009

The New Generations of Dobsonian Telescope

John Dobson is credited with the invention of the Dobsonian Mount. Mr. Dobson's goal was to make affordable telescopes that were simple in design. Typically the smallest dobsonians have been around 4 inch-6 inch Newtonian reflectors.

This year Celestron came out with a 3 inch (76mm) Newtonian Reflector on a dobsonian mount. It is the International Year of Astronomy's Celestron First scope. I've written about this little $50 telescope that comes with a 2 year warranty before. It comes with 2 eyepieces and no finder. (An accessory kit includes a finder, additional eyepieces and software for $20.) Here is a video:

Celestron seems to have been the first company to make such a small Dobsonian telescope. Now Orion Telescopes seems to have exploded this cheap, small dobsonian mount market. I was surprised earlier this week when I received a catalog from Orion and saw a trio of little dobsonian. Orion makes the little 76 mm Newtonian Reflector that is just like the Celestron First Scope... but this one includes a "red-dot" finder and they kept the price at $49.99 same as the Celestron. Additionally the Orion comes with a tripod mount (something I modified my Celestron to come with). Now instead of recommending the Celestron Telescope I'm pointing to that little Orion.

I tip my hat to Orion Telescopes for producing some nice affordable telescopes for new astronomers. The Dobsonian mount is steady unlike many "Affordable/Beginner/Department Store" telescopes which are very frustrating and shaky. Another downside usually the eyepieces. I tell people to spend an extra $60 to get some nice eyepieces like the like the Celestron X-Cel or the Orion ED-2's both are essentially the same and all powers have 20mm eye relief.

The names of the telescope "Funscope"-the 76mm $49 Reflector, the 80mm "Go-Scope", a refractor for $99, and the 90mm "Go-Scope", a Mak-Cass. for $199.

Keep in mind that the I feel this scope would be great for kids..but adults might want to look else where. I feel the best telescope in this line-up is the "Funscope". The $199 scope is tipping the budget and I feel a person might be better off getting the Orion 4.5" Skyquest Dobsonian or 6 inch Starblast.

**It is important to note I don't work for Celestron, OPT or Orion Telescope.