The EQ mount is overkill for this telescope.
Orion Observer 80ST is a well-made, entry-level telescope for deep space and planetary observations. Especially deep space with its wide aperture.
A decent telescope around the 100$ range is hard to come by. The market is filled with awful PowerSeeker’s and cheap toyshop models. Thankfully Orion is an experienced telescope manufacturer and Orion Observer 80ST is a decent telescope that will serve you well.
The 80mm aperture and the 400mm focal length provide a wide field view. Deep space objects such as the Orion Nebula, Pleiades Star Cluster, and Andromeda Galaxy look bright and detailed.
The optics are ideal for deep space observations, but not so much for the Solar System.
Deep space performance is especially good since refractor telescopes have more light gathering ability than reflectors. A wide-field view combined with a decent amount of light will give you pretty good deep space images.
Expect some color inaccuricies around planets and the Moon.
Planetary performance is not bad. Large planets such as Jupiter and Saturn look detailed. You will be able to see Rings of Saturn and 4 Galilean Moon’s of Jupiter. Polar ice caps on Mars are also slightly visible. The Cassini Division is not visible though.
The Moon looks gorgeous with most telescopes and this one is no different. Craters and mountain ranges will easily be visible with a lot of detail.
The only problem with the optics is that there is some chromatic aberration. For most beginners, this won’t be a problem, but it’s worth keeping it in mind.
The equatorial mount is an unusual design choice. A short optical tube design doesn’t require precise movements. We think an equatorial mount is overkill for Observer 80ST.
The telescope comes with a red dot finder and two Kellner eyepieces. (10mm and 25mm) Although the finder is useful, the eyepieces are below average. This is to be expected at this price range, but if you change the eyepieces with better ones you will get much more out of your scope.
Orion Observer 80ST is a pretty good entry-level telescope. To be honest, at this price range it is one of only a few decent choices. Zhumell Z114 might be a pretty good alternative. It will perform slightly worse at high magnifications while showing more detail around planets.
If you are looking for a telescope at this price range we are going to consider that you are a beginner. So it is likely that you are looking for ease of use, all-around performance, and portability. We are going to review this telescope focusing on these aspects.
400mm Focal Length
Deep Space Performer
The 80mm aperture is pretty wide for a refractor. The focus of the optical design of this telescope is to provide a wide field view, making it easier to view dimmer deep space objects. Most of the Messier Catalog is easily visible with the Orion Observer 80ST.
As for the planets, you will only be able to see major details such as Moon’s of Jupiter, Rings of Saturn and ice caps on Mars. Although the planetary performance is not bad, we wouldn’t recommend Orion Observer 80ST for it. Zhumell Z114 would be a better choice in this area.
There are better choices for optical performance.
Color inaccuricies aren’t negligible.
In refractor telescopes, a short focal length(400mm) creates color defects around bright images. You will still be able to see incredible details, just be ready to see chromatic aberrations around bright objects such as the Moon. For more experienced astronomers this might be a huge problem, but we don’t think a beginner will notice it that much.
You can notice the color defects around the Moon in this image.
The equatorial mount is not as simple as an altazimuth, which moves in only four directions. The purpose of an equatorial mount is to be able to align the telescope with the Earth’s axis so you can be able to follow celestial objects easier. It has a slight learning curve but is definitely useful.
We would recommend getting a telescope with a simpler mount if you are getting this telescope for your kids or someone who doesn’t want to bother with such complications. But if you are willing to spend a little time learning a few things as an astronomer, you will get the hang of it in no time.
The equatorial mount counters Earth’s rotation. But its stability is not ideal.
Since the telescope has a wide field view, you won’t need incredible sturdiness from the base. The stability of the mount is more than enough for an f/5 refractor.
10mm Kellner Eyepiece
25mm Kellner Eyepiece
Red Dot Finder
The Kellner eyepieces that come with the telescope have 10mm(40x) and 25mm(16x) apertures. As we’ve said before they are below average eyepieces, but at this price range you shouldn’t expect anything else. They will prove to be enough at the beginning. It goes without saying that if you get more expensive eyepieces you will get much better images.
The telescope itself acts as a finder.
The red dot finder is more than enough for a telescope with such a short focal length. The field view is so wide in many cases the telescope itself will work as a finder.
The 90-degree diagonal is a device included so you don’t have to bend over while observing. It is a useful device that will save you from long hours of neck pain.
A refractor with such a short focal length will create chromatic aberrations around bright images. Although it is usually not a deal-breaker with a beginner, you should keep it in mind.
EQ mount is mostly plastic and wobbly.
Orion Observer 80ST almost nails all the aspects necessary for a beginner.
The f/5 focal ratio is suitable for viewing both deep space and planets. The 10 lbs(4.5 kg) weight would be considered as portable by any astronomer. It is easy to use if you learn how to use the equatorial mount.
Orion Observer 80ST is not the perfect choice for a beginner, but it may be preferable for some.
It is a strong recommendation if you are willing to spend a little time learning how to use the equatorial mount and looking for above-average deep space performance.