1999-03-06 by Rick Towns
|Telescope:||Vista 508SE / Orion Short Tube 80|
|Description:||80mm f/4 achromat refractor with 6x26mm finder, 25mm Plossl eyepiece, $279 CAD including table top EQ tripod|
|Setup:||I bought this scope as a portable grab and go to compliment my big C8. This scope came on a tiny table top EQ-1 tripod, but it had a threaded hole in the base that allowed me to mount the whole assembly on top of a camera tripod. The whole rig was a bit jiggly, but with the low powers afforded by the ST80, it didn't turn out ot be a big issue.|
|Appearance:||The scope comes with a plastic OTA tube, a metal 1.25 inch rack and pinion focuser and a sonotube dew cap. The 80mm achromat objective lens had promising green and red coatings, and the focuser was just about the smoothest I've ever used on a low end refractor. Overall the construction of the scope itself was very good. The EQ-1 table mount was also smooth and solid, with excellent operation of the slow motion controls on both axis.|
|Performance:||I had the Vista 508SE - a Canadian version of the ST80. The build quality of the
scope is good, and it's equipped with a nice metal 1.25 inch rack and pinion
focuser. I used a Celestron prism 90 degree diagonal and the supplied 25 mm Plössl
eyepiece. The super short focal length (400mm) of this scope affords very nice wide
field views. Open clusters and patches of the Milky Way are a sheer joy to drink in.
However, that same short focal length means that getting some serious magnification
out of this unit involves Barlows and small eyepieces. I could push the scope to
around 80x, and the images remained crisp. Above 100x, though, and things got mushy
in a hurry.
Star images were tack sharp at low power, and it showed star colours quite well (such as Albireo). However, this scope isn't very good at splitting close doubles. The power just isn't there. But for wide, contrasting colour doubles, the views are great. The Pleiades was just an awesome view, and I suspect this would be a great bright comet scope.
My views of Jupiter and Saturn were quite satisfying, with plenty of detail available. False colour was quite evident, with a ghostly purple hue surrounding bright objects. Still, I could make out a hint of the Cassini Division on Saturn, and I watched Io's shadow transit Jupiter's face. Also visible were 2 bands, and the GRS. When compared to my C8, the views were quite good, just a great deal smaller and dimmer.
On deep sky stuff, the ST80 does a decent job, and uses it's 80mm aperture well. M13 showed some granularity, but no stars were resolved. It easily show Andromeda's bright disk, and it's two companions M32 and M110 all in the same field of view.
|Conclusions:||Overall, this is a great little grab and go scope. It's got enough aperture to haul
in most of the popular stuff, and if you get one on an EQ mount, it's really worth
the money. I think it's an excellent compliment to a bigger, narrower field scope
like an SCT or a big refractor.
The bottom line? Recommended (decent, wide field views, compact package, great price).
My name is Rick Towns and I am an amateur astronomer and computer programmer from Canada. This is a collection of interesting posts I've gathered over the years.