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Orion Telescopes

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Intermediate
Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
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  • Clever tabletop reflector telescope can lead beginners and experienced amateurs to more than 14,000 celestial objects with its easy to use push-to IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator
  • Substantial 6" aperture optics reveal sharp views of the Moon and bright planets like Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
  • 750mm focal length (f/5.0) optics provide contrast-rich views of brighter deep sky objects like nebulas, galaxies, and sparkling star clusters
  • Compact design gives the Orion StarBlast 6i great grab-and-go portability - weighs just 23.5 lbs.
  • Includes IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator, 25mm and 10mm Sirius Plossl 1.25" telescope eyepieces, EZ Finder II aiming device, eyepiece rack, Starry Night software, and more!


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Item #  27126

Sky&Tel Hot Product 2010Our popular tabletop StarBlast 6 Astro Telescope is now available with Orion?s exclusive IntelliScope computerized object-location system! The ?push-to? Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope can guide you and your family to vivid views of over 14,000 celestial objects for night after night of astronomical adventure.

This portable 6" f/5.0 reflector telescope comes with Orion?s exclusive IntelliScope computerized object location system, allowing night sky newbies to pinpoint hundreds, even thousands of astronomical objects with pushbutton ease. The StarBlast 6i is the most compact and portable computerized 6" reflector telescope on the market. Even beginners can quickly locate any of 14,000+ celestial objects with the easy-to-use handheld locator. You?ll see more celestial delights in one evening than you ever imagined!

There?s more to Orion?s IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator than meets the eye. What makes the COL so COOL? For starters, after a simple star alignment process, the COL works in tandem with two high-resolution digital encoders on the StarBlast 6i?s base mount to help you locate and identify objects in the night sky. By manually slewing the telescope in response to simple directional arrows on the Computerized Object Locator?s backlit display, you can pinpoint objects in space and place them smack-dab in the telescope eyepiece?s field of view, in seconds! This so-called ?push-to? type of object location technology saves you the time of painstakingly poring over star charts, planisphere wheels, or astronomy software programs when deciding what to look at with the StarBlast 6 reflector. The ?push-to? StarBlast 6i also saves you power and expense compared to pricier motorized GoTo systems.

Intuitive illuminated menu buttons on the handheld IntelliScope controller allow selection of target objects by type (e.g. Planet, Nebula, Cluster, Galaxy) or catalog number (e.g. M57, NGC 253). Not sure what to look for with the StarBlast 6i? No problem! Just press the Tour button to select one of 12 tours of the best objects visible during any given month. Suppose you stumble across something that you can?t identify? IntelliScope knows! Press the ID button to find out. The COL provides detailed information about what you see, including object type, common name (if any), magnitude, constellation, and a brief visual description. Best of all, the StarBlast 6i IntelliScope reflector telescope is just plain fun for the whole family to use.

Featuring the same great optics and compact design as its non-computerized predecessor, the StarBlast 6i is an excellent first telescope for beginning stargazers and a superb "grab-and-go" second telescope for more experienced hobbyists. The StarBlast 6i?s 150mm diameter parabolic primary mirror gathers plenty of light to reveal the planets and deep-sky gems in amazing detail. The Moon shines bright in the StarBlast 6i, revealing crisp details of lunar craters, mountains and valleys.

Weighing nearly 40% less than our comparable SkyQuest XT6 IntelliScope Dobsonian reflector, the StarBlast 6i IntelliScope ships with a fully assembled base and weighs just 23.5 lbs. The small, lightweight form allows the telescope to be used on a sturdy table, the hood of a car, the landing of an outdoor stairway, or any other suitable flat surface. Robust construction including UHMW bearings and adjustable altitude tension on the base ensures smooth maneuvering of the StarBlast 6i.

The Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope reflector comes equipped with a host of great accessories, so you?ll be ready to view in style as soon as the telescope reaches your doorstep. The included EZ Finder II reflex sight provides a simple way to line up objects in the telescope?s field of view. The EZ Finder II will help make aligning the IntelliScope system nice and easy, or is that ?EZ?? Using the included 25mm and 10mm Sirius Plossl 1.25? telescope eyepieces, you can begin to enjoy the marvelous wonders of the night sky. The included 25mm Sirius Plossl will yield 30x power magnification with the StarBlast 6i reflector, while the stronger 10mm telescope eyepiece will boost your views up to 75x power for closer looks. An included eyepiece rack will hold your oculars securely within reach right on the StarBlast 6i base, for easy switching between magnifications during family observing sessions. Integrated carry handles on the base allow for convenient lifting or transport of the reflector telescope.

Masterfully engineered for reliable performance and easy point-and-view maneuverability, the StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Astro Telescope truly is a high-tech telescope with a low-tech, non-intimidating feel. You and your family will have a blast using it!



NOTE: The StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector base arrives pre-assembled in its shipping box. Partial disassembly and reassembly of the base is required for installation of the IntelliScope encoders and components. Complete instructions are included.

Warranty

Limited Warranty against defects in materials or workmanship for one year from date of purchase. This warranty is for the benefit of the original retail purchaser only. For complete warranty details contact us at 800-676-1343.

Warning

Please note this product was not designed or intended by the manufacturer for use by a child 12 years of age or younger.

  • Best for viewing
    Brighter deep sky
  • Best for imaging
    Lunar & planetary
  • User level
    Intermediate
  • Optical design
    Reflector
  • Optical diameter
    150mm
  • Focal length
    750mm
  • Focal ratio
    f/5.0
  • Optics type
    Parabolic
  • Glass material
    Soda-lime plate
  • Eyepieces
    Sirius Plossl 25.0mm, 10.0mm
  • Magnification with included eyepieces
    30x, 75x
  • Resolving power
    0.77arc*sec
  • Lowest useful magnification
    21x
  • Highest useful magnification
    300x
  • Highest theoretical magnification
    300x
  • Limiting stellar magnitude
    13.6
  • Optical quality
    Diffraction limited
  • Finder scope
    EZ Finder II
  • Focuser
    1.25" Rack-and-pinion
  • Secondary mirror obstruction
    47mm
  • Secondary mirror obstruction by diameter
    31%
  • Secondary mirror obstruction by area
    9%
  • Mirror coatings/over-coatings
    Aluminum & Silicon Dioxide
  • Mount type
    Dobsonian
  • Computerized compatibility
    Intelliscope included
  • Number of objects in database
    14,000+
  • Bearing material
    Teflon bearings
  • Power requirement
    9-volt battery
  • Available ports
    RS-232
  • Tube material
    Steel
  • Tripod material
    Wood
  • Length of optical tube
    28.0 in.
  • Weight, optical tube
    12.0 lbs.
  • Weight, mount/tripod
    11.5 lbs.
  • Weight, fully assembled
    23.5 lbs.
  • Additional included accessories
    3 eyepiece rack, Intelliscope object locator
  • Other features
    Navigation knob, Pre-assembled base
  • Warranty
    One year

Orion StarBlast 6i Intelliscope Reflector
IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator
25mm Sirius Plossl telescope eyepiece, 1.25"
10mm Sirius Plossl telescope eyepiece, 1.25" 
EZ Finder II reflex sight
Telescope eyepiece rack
Collimation Cap
Starry Night SE CD-Rom

Orders received by noon Pacific Time for in-stock items ship the same business day. Orders received after noon will ship the next business day. When an item is not in-stock we will ship it as soon as it becomes available. Typically in-stock items will ship first and backordered items will follow as soon as they are available. You have the option in check out to request that your order ship complete, if you'd prefer.

A per-item shipping charge (in addition to the standard shipping and handling charge) applies to this product due to its size and weight. This charge varies based on the shipping method.

Standard Delivery: $30.00
3 Day Air Delivery: $110.00
2 Day Delivery: $110.00
Next Day Delivery: $135.00

How does the Object Locator Work?
When plugged into the IntelliScope port on the telescope?s base, the Object Locator enables the user to point the telescope quickly and effortlessly to more than 14,000 astronomical objects with the push of a button. After a simple two-star alignment procedure, you just select an object to view from the intuitive keypad, then read the guide arrows on the Object Locator?s illuminated liquid crystal display and move the telescope in the corresponding direction. In seconds, the object will be waiting in the telescope?s field of view, ready to observe. The two guide arrows and associated ?navigation numbers? tell you in what direction to move the telescope to pinpoint an object?s location. As the telescope approaches the object?s location, the numbers get progressively smaller. When the navigation numbers reach zero, the telescope will be pointed right at the object. You just look into the eyepiece and enjoy the view!

The IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator works by communicating electronically with the pair of high-resolution, 9,216-step digital encoders installed in the base. The encoders allow highly precise positioning of the telescope to coordinates programmed into the Object Locator?s database for each astronomical object. Since the telescope is not dependent on motors for movement, you can point the telescope at your target much more quickly and quietly!

The Object Locator?s database includes:

    * 7,840 objects from the Revised New General Catalog
    * 5,386 objects from the Index Catalog
    * 110 objects from the Messier Catalog
    * 837 selected stars (mostly double, multiple, and variable stars)
    * 8 planets
    * 99 user-programmable objects

Another great feature of the IntelliScope is the ability to identify an ?unknown? object in the field of view, just press the ID button. You can even add up to 99 objects of your own choosing to the Object Locator?s database. The backlit, twoline LCD on the Object Locator shows you the object?s catalog number, its common name if it has one, the constellation in which it resides, its right ascension and declination coordinates, the object type, magnitude, angular size, as well as a brief description in scrolling text.
Click here for complete IntelliScope Object Locator Instructions.

How can I check the collimation of my reflector?
Collimation is the process of adjusting the telescope's mirrors so they are perfectly aligned with one another. Your telescope?s optics were aligned at the factory, and should not need much adjustment unless the telescope is handled roughly. Mirror alignment is important to ensure the peak performance of your telescope, so it should be checked regularly. Collimation is relatively easy to do and can be done in daylight. To check collimation, remove the eyepiece and look down the focuser drawtube. You should see the secondary mirror centered in the drawtube, as well as the reflection of the primary mirror centered in the secondary mirror, and the reflection of the secondary mirror (and your eye) centered in the reflection of the primary mirror. If anything is off-center, proceed with the collimation procedure. The faster the f/ratio of your telescope, the more critical the collimation accuracy.

How do I use the Orion Collimation Cap and the mirror center mark?
The Orion collimation cap is a simple cap that fits on the focuser drawtube like a dust cap, but has a hole in the center and a silver bottom. This helps center your eye so that collimation is easy to perform. Orion telescopes that have a collimation cap included also have a primary mirror that is marked with a circle at its exact center. This ?center mark? allows you to achieve a precise collimation of the primary mirror; you don?t have to guess where the center of the mirror is. You simply adjust the mirror position until the reflection of the hole in the collimation cap is centered in the ring. The center mark is also required for best results when using other collimating devices, such as Orion?s LaserMate Collimator, obviating the need to remove the primary mirror and mark it yourself. Note: The center ring sticker need not ever be removed from the primary mirror. Because it lies directly in the shadow of the secondary mirror, its presence in no way adversely affects the optical performance of the telescope or the image quality. That might seem counterintuitive, but its true!

How do I align the secondary mirror with the collimation cap?
With the collimation cap in place, look through the hole in the cap at the secondary mirror. Ignore the reflections for the time being. The secondary mirror itself should be centered in the focuser drawtube, in the direction parallel to the length of the telescope. If it isn?t, it must be adjusted. Typically, this adjustment will rarely, if ever, need to be done. It helps to adjust the secondary mirror in a brightly lit room with the telescope pointed towards a bright surface, such as white paper or wall. Also placing a piece of white paper in the telescope tube opposite the focuser (in other words, on the other side of the secondary mirror) will also be helpful in collimating the secondary mirror. Using a 2mm Allen wrench, loosen the three small alignment set screws in the center hub of the 4-vaned spider several turns. Now hold the mirror holder stationary (be careful not to touch the surface of the mirror), while turning the center screw with a Phillips head screwdriver. Turning the screw clockwise will move the secondary mirror toward the front opening of the optical tube, while turning the screw counter-clockwise will move the secondary mirror toward the primary mirror. Note: When making these adjustments, be careful not to stress the telescope's spider vanes or they may bend. When the secondary mirror is centered in the focuser draw-tube, rotate the secondary mirror holder until the reflection of the primary mirror is as centered in the secondary mirror as possible. It may not be perfectly centered, but that is OK. Now tighten the three small alignment screws equally to secure the secondary mirror in that position. If the entire primary mirror reflection is not visible in the secondary mirror, you will need to adjust the tilt of the secondary mirror. This is done by alternately loosening one of the three alignment set screws while tightening the other two. The goal is to center the primary mirror reflection in the secondary mirror. Don?t worry that the reflection of the secondary mirror (the smallest circle, with the collimation cap ?dot? in the center) is off-center. You will fix that when aligning the primary mirror. Alternative: Some people prefer to remove the primary mirror completely from the telescope when aligning the secondary mirror, especially if the primary mirror needs to be removed anyway to be center-marked. It may help to have no reflections and align the secondary on the edge of the telescope wall.

How do I align the primary mirror with the collimation cap and center-marked mirror?

The telescope?s primary mirror will need adjustment if the secondary mirror is centered under the focuser and the reflection of the primary mirror is centered in the secondary mirror, but the small reflection of the secondary mirror (with the ?dot? of the collimation cap) is off-center. The tilt of the primary mirror is adjusted with the larger collimation screws on the back end of the telescope's optical tube. The other smaller screws lock the mirror?s position in place; these thumbscrews must be loosened before any collimation adjustments can be made to the primary mirror. To start, loosen the smaller thumbscrews that lock the primary mirror in place a few turns each. Use a screwdriver in the slots, if necessary. Now, try tightening or loosening one of the larger collimation screws with your fingers Look into the focuser and see if the secondary mirror reflection has moved closer to the center of the primary. You can tell this easily with the collimation cap and mirror center mark by simply watching to see if the ?dot? of the collimation cap is moving closer or further away from the ?ring? on the center of the primary mirror mark. When you have the dot centered as much as is possible in the ring, your primary mirror is collimated. Re-tighten the locking thumbscrews. Alternative: If you loosen one or more of the bolts too much, it won?t move the mirror. Some people prefer to pre-load the collimation screws by tightening them all down and adjust by loosening each one in turn. This way you don?t run-out of threads and have a loose collimation screw. The disadvantage to this approach is that you have completely un-collimated the scope and are starting from the beginning.

Can I center the secondary mirror under the focuser with the aid of the Orion LaserMate?

You can, but it requires marking the center of the telescope?s secondary mirror in the same way the center of the telescope's primary mirror was marked. This is generally undesirable due to the large area of the supplied collimation targets compared to the total area of the secondary mirror. Since centering the secondary mirror under the focuser is an adjustment that very rarely, if ever, needs to be done, we recommend simply making this adjustment by eye. We?ve tried it both ways and it is just as easy to do it without the Orion LaserMate.

Is the LaserMate Collimator dangerous?
The LaserMate emits laser radiation, so it is important not to shine the beam into your or anyone?s eye. During the collimation procedure, it is also important to avoid direct reflections of the laser beam into your eye. Rather, look only at off-axis reflections to determine the position of the laser spot on the mirrors. It is safe to view the laser when it is reflected off a surface that will diffuse the light, such as the bottom surface of the LaserMate. It is also safe to view the reflection off a mirror surface as long as the beam is not directed into your eye. Because of the potential danger from the laser beam, store your LaserMate out of the reach of children.

How do I align the EZ Finder II and EZ finder Deluxe?
When the EZ Finder is properly aligned with the telescope, an object that is centered on the EZ Finder red dot should also appear in the center of the field of view of the telescope?s eyepiece. Alignment of the EZ Finder is easiest during daylight, before observing at night. Aim the telescope at a distant object such as a telephone pole or roof chimney and center it in the telescope?s eyepiece. The object should be at least 1/4 mile away. Now, with the EZ Finder turned on, look though the EZ Finder. The object should appear in the field of view. Without moving the main telescope, use the EZ Finder's azimuth (left/right) and altitude (up/down) adjustment to position the red dot on the object in the eyepiece. When the red dot is centered on the distant object, check to make sure that the object is still centered in the telescope?s field of view. If not, re-center it and adjust the EZ Finder?s alignment again. When the object is centered in the eyepiece and on the EZ Finder?s red dot, the EZ Finder is properly aligned with the telescope. Once aligned, EZ Finder will usually hold its alignment even after being removed and remounted. Otherwise, only minimal realignment will be needed.

How do I replace the EZ finder II battery?
Should the battery ever die, replacement 3-volt lithium batteries are available from Orion and many retail outlets. The finder uses a CR-2032 battery. Remove the old battery from the EZ finder II by inserting a small flat-head screwdriver into the slot on the battery casing and gently prying open the case. Then carefully pull back on the retaining clip and remove the old battery. Do not over-bend the retaining clip. Then slide the new battery under the battery lead with the positive (+) end facing down and replace the battery casing.

How do I calculate the magnification (power) of a telescope?
To calculate the magnification, or power, of a telescope with an eyepiece, simply divide the focal length of the telescope by the focal length of the eyepiece. Magnification = telescope focal length eyepiece focal length. For example, the Orion StarBlast 6i Telescope, which has a focal length of 750mm, used in combination with the supplied 25mm eyepiece, yields a power of: 750 25 = 30x.

It is desirable to have a range of telescope eyepieces of different focal lengths to allow viewing over a range of magnifications. It is not uncommon for an observer to own five or more eyepieces. Orion offers many different eyepieces of varying focal lengths.

Every telescope has a theoretical limit of power of about 50x per inch of aperture (i.e. 300x for the StarBlast 6i). Atmospheric conditions will limit the usefullness of magnification and cause views to become blurred. The highest useful magnification of a telescope of the Orion StarBlast 6i is 300x. Claims of higher power by some telescope manufacturers are a misleading advertising gimmick and should be dismissed. Keep in mind that at higher powers, an image will always be dimmer and less sharp (this is a fundamental law of optics). With every doubling of magnification you lose half the image brightness and three-fourths of the image sharpness. The steadiness of the air (the ?seeing?) can also limit how much magnification an image can tolerate. Always start viewing with your lowest-power (longest focal length) eyepiece in the telescope. It?s best to begin observing with the lowest-power eyepiece, because it will typically provide the widest true field of view, which will make finding and centering objects much easier After you have located and centered an object, you can try switching to a higher-power eyepiece to ferret out more detail, if atmospheric conditions permit. If the image you see is not crisp and steady, reduce the magnification by switching to a longer focal length eyepiece. As a general rule, a small but well-resolved image will show more detail and provide a more enjoyable view than a dim and fuzzy, over-magnified image.

What are practical focal lengths to have for eyepieces for my telescope?
To determine what telescope eyepieces you need to get powers in a particular range with your telescope, see our Learning Center article: How to choose Telescope Eyepieces

Why do Orion telescopes have less power than the telescope at department stores?

Advertising claims for high magnification of 400X, 600X, etc., are very misleading. The practical limit is 50X per inch of aperture, or 120X for a typical 60mm telescope. Higher powers are useless, and serve only to fool the unwary into thinking that magnification is somehow related to quality of performance. It is not.

How do I get started with astronomical viewing?

When choosing a location for nighttime stargazing, make it as far away from city lights as possible. Light-polluted skies greatly reduce what can be seen with the telescope. Also, give your eyes at least 20 minutes to dark-adapt to the night sky. You?ll be surprised at how many more stars you will see! Use a red flashlight, to see what you?re doing at the telescope, or to read star charts. Red light will not spoil your dark-adapted night vision as readily as white light will. To find celestial objects with your telescope, you first need to become reasonably familiar with the night sky. Unless you know how to recognize the constellation Orion, for instance, you won?t have much luck locating the Orion Nebula. A simple planisphere, or star wheel, can be a valuable tool for learning the constellations and seeing which ones are visible in the sky on a given night. A good star chart or atlas, like the Orion DeepMap 600, can come in handy for helping locate interesting objects among the dizzying multitude of stars overhead. Except for the Moon and the brighter planets, it is pretty time-consuming and frustrating to hunt for objects randomly, without knowing where to look. It is best to have specific targets in mind before you begin looking through the eyepiece. Practice makes perfect. After a few nights, this will begin to ?click? and star-hopping will become easier. See our Learning Center articles: About General Astronomy

What is the best telescope for a beginner?
The "best scope" for anyone is highly subjective and varies based on the person who will be using the telescope. Their level of interest in the hobby, their aptitude for "the technical", the level of investment that you want to make, and the ability to carry differing weights. For more detailed information on this topic see our Learning Center article: How to Choose a Telescope

How big a telescope do I need?

For viewing craters on the Moon, the rings of Saturn, and Jupiter with its four bright moons, a 60mm or 70mm refractor or a 3-inch reflector telescope does a good job. An 80mm to 90mm refractor or 4.5-inch or 6-inch reflector will show more planetary and lunar detail as well as glowing nebulas and sparkling star clusters. Under dark, non-light-polluted skies, a big scope?8-inch diameter or more?will serve up magnificent images of fainter clusters, galaxies, and nebulas. The larger the telescope, the more detail you will see. But don't bite off more than you can chew, size-wise. Before you buy, consider carefully a telescope's size and weight. Make sure you can comfortably lift and transport it, and that you have room indoors to store it. For more detailed information on this topic see our Learning Center article: Choosing a Telescope for Astronomy - The long Version

What causes dim or distorted images?
Too much magnification

Keep in mind that at higher powers, an image will always be dimmer and less sharp (this is a fundamental law of optics). The steadiness of the air, the seeing, can also limit how much magnification an image can tolerate. Always start viewing with your lowest-power (longest focal length) eyepiece in the telescope. It?s best to begin observing with the lowest-power eyepiece, because it will typically provide the widest true field of view, which will make finding and centering objects much easier After you have located and centered an object, you can try switching to a higher-power eyepiece to ferret out more detail, if atmospheric conditions permit. If the image you see is not crisp and steady, reduce the magnification by switching to a longer focal length telescope eyepiece. As a general rule, a small but well-resolved image will show more detail and provide a more enjoyable view than a dim and fuzzy, over-magnified image. As a rule of thumb, it is not recommended to exceed 2x per mm of aperture.

Atmospheric conditions aren?t optimal.

Atmospheric conditions vary significantly from night to night, even hour to hour . ?Seeing? refers to the steadiness of the Earth?s atmosphere at a given time. In conditions of poor seeing, atmospheric turbulence causes objects viewed through the telescope to ?boil.? If, when you look up at the sky with just your eyes, the stars are twinkling noticeably, the seeing is bad and you will be limited to viewing with low powers (bad seeing affects images at high powers more severely). Seeing is best overhead, worst at the horizon. Also, seeing generally gets better after midnight, when much of the heat absorbed by the Earth during the day has radiated off into space. It?s best, although perhaps less convenient, to escape the light-polluted city sky in favor of darker country skies.

Viewing through a glass window open or closed.

Avoid observing from indoors through an open (or closed) window, because the temperature difference between the indoor and outdoor air, reflections and imperfections in the glass, will cause image blurring and distortion.

Telescope not at thermal equilibrium.

All optical instruments need time to reach ?thermal equilibrium.? The bigger the instrument and the larger the temperature change, the more time is needed. Allow at least a half-hour for your telescope to cool to the temperature outdoors. In very cold climates (below freezing), it is essential to store the telescope as cold as possible. If it has to adjust to more than a 40 degrees temperature change, allow at least one hour. Time to adjust varies depending on the scope type and aperture.

Make sure you are not looking over buildings, pavement, or any other source of heat, which will radiate away at night, causing ?heat wave? disturbances that will distort the image you see through the telescope.

Does the atmosphere play a role in how good the quality of the image will be?

Atmospheric conditions play a huge part in quality of viewing. In conditions of good ?seeing?, star twinkling is minimal and objects appear steady in the eyepiece. Seeing is best over-head, worst at the horizon. Also, seeing generally gets better after midnight, when much of the heat absorbed by the Earth during the day has radiated off into space. Typically, seeing conditions will be better at sites that have an altitude over about 3000 feet. Altitude helps because it decreases the amount of distortion causing atmosphere you are looking through. A good way to judge if the seeing is good or not is to look at bright stars about 40 degrees above the horizon. If the stars appear to ?twinkle?, the atmosphere is significantly distorting the incoming light, and views at high magnifications will not appear sharp. If the stars appear steady and do not twinkle, seeing conditions are probably good and higher magnifications will be possible. Also, seeing conditions are typically poor during the day. This is because the heat from the Sun warms the air and causes turbulence. Good ?transparency? is especially important for observing faint objects. It simply means the air is free of moisture, smoke, and dust. These tend to scatter light, which reduces an object?s brightness. One good way to tell if conditions are good is by how many stars you can see with your naked eye. If you cannot see stars of magnitude 3.5 or dimmer then conditions are poor. Magnitude is a measure of how bright a star is, the brighter a star is, the lower its magnitude will be. A good star to remember for this is Megrez (mag. 3.4), which is the star in the ?Big Dipper? connecting the handle to the ?dipper?. If you cannot see Megrez, then you have fog, haze, clouds, smog, light pollution or other conditions that are hindering your viewing. Another hint: Good seeing can vary minute to minute. Watch the planets for a while to pick-up those moments of good seeing.

How long will it take my eyes to dark adapt?

Do not expect to go from a lighted house into the darkness of the outdoors at night and immediately see faint nebulas, galaxies, and star clusters?or even very many stars, for that matter. Your eyes take about 30 minutes to reach perhaps 80 percent of their full dark-adapted sensitivity. Many observers notice improvements after several hours of total darkness. As your eyes become dark-adapted, more stars will glimmer into view and you will be able to see fainter details in objects you view in your telescope. So give yourself at least a little while to get used to the dark before you begin observing. To see what you are doing in the darkness, use a red light flashlight rather than a white light. Red light does not spoil your eyes? dark adaptation like white light does. A flashlight with a red LED light is ideal, or you can cover the front of a regular flashlight with red cellophane or paper. Beware, too, that nearby porch and streetlights and automobile headlights will spoil your night vision. Your eyes can take at least 1/2 hour to re-adjust.

Is there an eyepiece available that will rotate the image so that it can be used for scenic viewing?

We carry correct-image prism diagonals which provide right-side up non-reversed images in refractor and cassegrain telescopes. It is not possible to correct the image orientation in a reflector telescope.

How do I clean the reflecting mirror of my telescope?
You should not have to clean the telescope?s mirrors very often; normally once every other year or even less often. Covering the telescope with the dust cover when it is not in use will prevent dust from accumulating on the mirrors. Improper cleaning can scratch mirror coatings, so the fewer times you have to clean the mirrors, the better. Small specks of dust or flecks of paint have virtually no effect on the visual performance of the telescope. The large primary mirror and the elliptical secondary mirror of your telescope are front-surface aluminized and over-coated with hard silicon dioxide, which prevents the aluminum from oxidizing. These coatings normally last through many years of use before requiring re-coating. To clean the secondary mirror, first remove it from the telescope. Do this by holding the secondary mirror holder stationary while turning the center Phillips-head screw. Be careful, there is a spring between the secondary mirror holder and the phillips head screw. Be sure that it will not fall into the optical tube and hit the primary mirror. Handle the mirror by its holder; do not touch the mirror surface. Then follow the same procedure described below for cleaning the primary mirror. To clean the primary mirror, carefully remove the mirror cell from the telescope and remove the mirror from the mirror cell. If you have an Orion telescope, instructions to remove the primary mirror are included in your instruction manual. Do not touch the surface of the mirror with your fingers. Lift the mirror carefully by the edges. Set the mirror on top, face up, of a clean soft towel. Fill a clean sink, free of abrasive cleanser, with room-temperature water, a few drops of mild liquid dishwashing soap, and, if possible, a capful of rubbing alcohol. Submerge the mirror (aluminized face up) in the water and let it soak for a few minutes (or hours if it?s a very dirty mirror). Wipe the mirror under water with clean cotton balls, using extremely light pressure and stroking in straight line across the mirror. Use one ball for each wipe across the mirror. Then rinse the mirror under a stream of lukewarm water. Before drying, tip the mirror to a 45 angle and pour a bottle of distilled water over the mirror. This will prevent any tap water dissolved solids from remaining on the mirror. Any particles on the surface can be swabbed gently with a series of cotton balls, each used just one time. Dry the mirror in a stream of air (a ?blower bulb? works great), or remove any stray drops of water with the corner of a paper towel. Water will run off a clean surface. Cover the mirror surface with tissue, and leave the mirror in a warm area until it is completely dry before replacing in the mirror cell and telescope.

Does my telescope require time to cool down?
As a general rule, telescopes should be allowed to cool down (or warm up) before they are used. If you bring optics from a warm air to cold air (or vice versa) without giving it time to reach thermal equilibrium, your telescope will give you distorted views. Allow your telescope 30 minutes to an hour to reach the temperature of the outdoors before using. When brining your telescope from cool temperatures to warm temperatures, leave any protective caps off until the telescope has warmed-up to prevent condensation. Storing your telescope in the garage or shed where the temperature is closer to the outside temperature will reduce cool down times.

How do I track an object in the sky with my Orion dobsonian telescope?
The Earth is constantly rotating about its polar axis, completing one full rotation every 24 hours; this is what defines a ?day.? We do not feel the Earth rotating, but we can tell that it is at night by seeing the apparent movement of stars from east to west. This movement translates to 15 per hour or 30x the diameter of the moon. This is called the sidereal rate. When you observe any astronomical object, you are watching a moving target. This means the telescope?s position must be continuously updated over time to keep an object in the field of view. This is easy to do with the Orion SkyQuest Dobsonians because of its smooth motions on both axes. As the object moves off toward the edge of the field of view, you just lightly nudge the telescope to bring it back to the center. You will notice that it is more difficult to ?track? objects when the telescope tube is aimed nearly straight up. This is inherent to the basic design of the Dobsonian, and stems from the fact that there is very little mechanical leverage to move in azimuth when the tube is in a near vertical position. To gain more leverage, try grasping the tube close to the altitude side bearings with both hands. Also, by waiting an hour anything that is straight-up, won?t be. Remember that objects appear to move across the field of view faster at higher magnifications. This is because the field of view becomes narrower.

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