Orion GoScope 80 Review: Hobby Killer

written by Zane Landers
TTB score

5

The Good

  • Wide Field Of View
  • Decent Objective Lens
  • Acceptable Supplied Eyepieces

The Bad

  • Mount/Tripod Is Virtually Unusable
  • Poor Quality Plastic Focuser
  • Abysmal Red Dot Finder And Cheap 45-Degree Erecting Prism
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The Orion GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope is a low-quality telescope that delivers poor views and performance and is a poor deal even at its low price.

introduction

Not to be confused with the tabletop 80mm GoScope Refractor, the Orion GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope is a new product based on the CT80 optical tube. The GoSCope 80mm Backpack Refractor suffers from many of the same flaws as other cheap, small “backpack” or “travel” refractor telescopes – namely, fast f/ratio optics poorly suited for high-power viewing, mismatched and often low-quality accessories, and a very wobbly and poorly designed tripod designed more to fit in a bag and meet a price point than to be actually useful.

The CT80 optical tube used by the GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope is acceptable at best but isn’t good for a first or only telescope, it still pales in comparison to mechanically more sound options, and is a complete waste of money when coupled with the accessory package and tripod of this telescope. As such, we recommend steering clear.

We recommend steering clear.

The CT80 Optical Tube

8

80mm(3.14″) Aperture

400mm Focal Length

f/5

Refractor

The Orion ShortTube 80 has been a beloved telescope of astronomers for nearly three decades and is a mainstay of the company’s product line. Unfortunately, the GoScope 80 does not use the ShortTube 80 optical tube but rather a cheapened version, the CT80. The CT80 shares the 80mm f/5 (400mm focal length) objective lens of the nicer ShortTube 80 but little else. The focuser on this telescope is a plastic 1.25” rack-and-pinion unit that wobbles like crazy and has all sorts of internal reflections, the dew shield attached to the front of the telescope is plastic, and the focuser actually vignettes the telescope’s aperture when it is racked in all the way, reducing performance. Despite this, if you feel like painting some parts black, fixing the play and extra length in the focuser, and getting an actually decent tripod and star diagonal the scope works okay for what it is, but by that point, you’d have spent more than the GoScope 80 itself costs.

The focuser wobbles like crazy.

An 80mm refractor doesn’t have a lot of light-gathering ability and a longer achromat would be ideal for planetary views on a steady mount; however, the CT80’s fast f/5 focal ratio induces severe chromatic aberration that hinders high-magnification performance severely and makes it mostly a telescope for wide-field viewing of the brightest deep-sky objects.

The CT80 optical tube has a Vixen-style dovetail screwed to the bottom of the tube which can fit a variety of mounts, or a photo tripod such as the one supplied with the GoScope 80 package, which screws directly to a threaded socket in the dovetail.

Mount

3

The mount supplied with the GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope is a generic photo tripod with a pan-tilt head. It uses a lot of plastic, is hard to make fine adjustments with, and is not steady even with the legs retracted all the way despite the light weight of the CT80 optical tube. When aimed high in the sky, the tripod is also prone to moving of its own accord (as with any photo tripod head and telescope, the telescope rests outward of the center of rotation and is prone to torquing the whole thing) or it can literally tip over. It is good for a small camera or your phone for taking daytime photos but is wholly inadequate for a telescope. The mount of the GoScope is easily the weakest length in the whole assembly and transforms it from a mediocre compromise to a completely unusable instrument.

Accessories

The GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope comes with a pair of 1.25” eyepieces: a 25mm Kellner (16x) and a 10mm eyepiece of unknown design (probably a Konig) for 40x. These are decent eyepieces and both have a roughly 50-degree apparent field of view. There is a lot of plastic in the construction but they are optically sharp, if prone to some glare. The 10mm has long eye relief and a rather large eye lens, despite being billed as a Kellner which would normally be uncomfortable to look through at this focal length (as would be a Plossl). These eyepieces are decent for the price and work well enough with the GoScope.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the GoScope 80mm’s other accessories. The provided diagonal is a 45-degree erecting prism designed for daytime use such as birding. Not only is it uncomfortable to look through when the telescope is aimed high in the sky (a normal star diagonal for astronomy is a 90-degree right-angle prism) but it is extremely cheaply made and induces lots of glare as well as reducing the overall brightness and sharpness of your view through the telescope. Replacing it with a quality one would cost a good chunk as much as the entire GoScope 80mm package, and this isn’t helped by the equally low quality of the provided red dot finder, which is actually completely different in design depending on which marketing photo of it you’re looking at (all of the versions are terrible). It attaches with a non-standard bracket and has a tinted window making the view of the sky dimmer, the window you look through is extremely small, making adjustments to align the finder with the telescope is difficult and it rarely maintains alignment. Even the power switch is poorly made. The good news is that at 16x you can just sight along the tube of the telescope for aiming, but this is a ridiculous compromise to have to make.

Lastly, the GoScope 80mm includes a “moon filter” – essentially a tinted piece of glass to dim the view, which doesn’t exactly help with sharpness and is hardly needed with any telescope, let alone a tiny 80mm refractor. You can also buy a kit version of the GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope with additional star charts, a flashlight, and literature, but it isn’t worth the money.

What can you see?

The GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope’s chromatic aberration would already make it a hard sell if you’ve never had a telescope before (though it could be great alongside a more capable instrument) but the wobbly and hard-to-aim tripod, low-quality red dot finder, and 45-degree erecting prism make it a completely unusable telescope you should not even consider purchasing. These drawbacks combined are simply too much to be able to look past, even at the GoScope’s low price.

value

5

Drawbacks

Wobbly Tripod

Low Power

Chromatic Aberration

The GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope’s chromatic aberration would already make it a hard sell if you’ve never had a telescope before (though it could be great alongside a more capable instrument) but the wobbly and hard-to-aim tripod, low-quality red dot finder, and 45-degree erecting prism make it a completely unusable telescope you should not even consider purchasing. These drawbacks combined are simply too much to be able to look past, even at the GoScope’s low price.

Conclusion

The Orion GoScope 80mm Backpack Refractor Telescope is a bad deal, and its included tripod/accessories are such low quality that we wouldn’t recommend even taking it for free; replacing the tripod and diagonal with quality units would cost as much as getting a better telescope. This is a generic “department store” or “hobby killer” telescope that hides behind the Orion brand name.

TTB score

5

The Good

  • Wide Field Of View
  • Decent Objective Lens
  • Acceptable Supplied Eyepieces

The Bad

  • Mount/Tripod Is Virtually Unusable
  • Poor Quality Plastic Focuser
  • Abysmal Red Dot Finder And Cheap 45-Degree Erecting Prism
Check price on↓