Orion AstroView 90mm Refractor Telescope Review

Orion has long been considered one of the best telescope manufacturers on the market, making great sky-spotting devices for beginners, intermediate and expert astronomers.

If you’re looking to get into astronomy soon, we can certainly recommend that you go to Orion for your first scope.

And one of the best scopes from this reputable manufacturer is the Orion AstroView 90mm Refractor Telescope, which is great for entry-level skywatchers who want to get a view of the 5 visible planets such as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

It’s a great performance model that won’t end up costing you an arm and a leg.

This refraction telescope has an air-spaced achromatic doublet, which not as precision-engineered as an apochromatic doublet, but it will give you very vivid, clear and sharp images of the nearby universe. It contains a crown and flint glass lens that is set to a Fraunhofer configuration.

Coming withing such an affordable price range, inevitably you end up with materials that are of slightly less quality, with glass used in the eyepieces being of lesser quality and poorly baffled.

However, Orion has done their very best to provide premium optics that will give you a superior view of the planets and nearby moons.

One of the main USPs of this model is the price, coming under the $200 range, this is part of the AstroView range from Orion that also includes the 120ST refractor and AstroView 6 reflector scopes. Depending on what model you choose, you can get scopes for anywhere between $400-$600.

But what other features does the Orion AstroView 90mm Refractor Telescope have? What materials is it made from to give you reliability as well as longevity? What accessories come with this camera? Does it have a resilient mount? Will you have to pay a lot of money for this model and will it be worth the price?

Well, amateur or professional astronomers won’t have to worry about these questions, because we’ll answer them and a lot more!

This is a comprehensive review of the Orion AstroView 90mm Refractor Telescope, what features it has, what materials it’s made out of as well as the extras that it comes with and how well it performs in certain conditions.

Orion AstroView 9mm Refractor Telescope Buying Guide

If you’re a novice skyspotter, you’ll certainly get a massive kick out of the Orion AstroView, being a great mix of quality and price, with plenty of room for future upgrades.

It has a slow focal ratio, which is great for viewing nearby planets, moons and other items that are close to us in our galaxy. The slower focal rate really gives the telescope the chance to hone in on whatever target you have acquired, giving you that level of precision over the clarity of your object.

It also has a very small aperture that will allow plenty of light collection, giving you the opportunity to witness the smaller and brighter objects that the night has to offer.

This is also a great telescope for early dawn and dusk viewings, which will be crucial for trying to get a glimpse of planets such as Mercury and Venus that are closer to the horizon.

Our corner of the universe has plenty of incredible sights, from the rusty-red surface of Mars, the gaseous rings that swirl around Jupiter’s giant surface or the awe-inspiring rings that surround Saturn.

But when it comes to viewing the Outer Planets such as Uranus or Neptune or the distant Proxima Centauri, then we would recommend splashing out on a more powerful scope.

With this model of the Orion AstroView, the 90mm will let you see the brighter starry skies, however, the deeper sky objects will be much more difficult to pick up on such a weak lens, appearing fuzzy at best and completely invisible at worst.

If you want to enjoy the views of the deeper night sky, we would recommend that you invest in a telescope that has a wider aperture to collect as much light as possible to show up the dimmer stars and planets.

Features and Benefits

There are many things that you’ll need from your first telescope, as you’ll probably only be doing the most basic sky watching.

You might want to think about whether your telescope will be a static home unit or something that you’ll be wanting to take traveling, either on a short hike or camping trip.

Here are the criteria that you’ll want even the cheapest telescopes to accomplish:

  • Optical performance
  • Mount stability and durability
  • Accessories and extras
  • Installation and operational use
  • What planets and moons you’ll be able to see

Bearing these things in mind, you should be able to get a better idea of what to look for when shopping for your first or second telescope. First, we’ll take a look at one of the most important aspects of night sky watching - the optical capabilities. 

Performance Of The Optics

The optics are basically how well you can see your target through the lens, the tube and the eyepiece of your scope. This model of telescope gives you a remarkable level of visual clarity for a scope at a certain price range.

This AstroView model can be compared to another one that is at a similar level, that being the 120ST, which has a lot of the same optical capabilities, with a comparable optical tube assembly and a 90mm refractor, although this model is under half the price.

The aperture size of this telescope is modest, measuring at 3.5-inches in diameter, allowing for a generous level of light collection that will be great for helping you to read the brighter objects in the night sky.

Any type of scope that has an aperture of less than 4-inches will only be able to view nearby planets and moons, but will have issues with distant stars.

If you want to view distant objects in the night sky, we would recommend that you spend a little more money on the 120ST unit, which not only has a larger aperture but also a more stable mount, which will help with viewing dimmer objects.

This telescope will suffer from a moderate amount of chromatic aberration, which is when you get refraction of different wavelengths of light through a lens, resulting in a difficulty to focus.

However, this will not be apparent to the naked eye and won’t distract from your viewing experience too much, unless you’re using your telescope for astrophotography.

That’s right, the chromatic aberration on this telescope will be too great to get a clear picture from your camera lens. Although if you are using it for purely night sky observation, then this will be the perfect scope for you.

This telescope has a long focal length and a small aperture, which makes the focusing a bit on the slow side, although a slower focus will be great for getting those razor sharp images of large planets and moons in the nearby vicinity.

Whether it’s the surface details of Mars or the Galilean moons of Jupiter, you will be able to see all the finer details of our galaxy’s most wonderous sights.

When it comes to rack and pinion focusers, this one is great, coming at a 1.25-inch mark, it guarantees a high level of precision as well having a solid metal construction that will last for years and years.

The adjustment dial is the only component not made from metal, so it will resist corrosion as well as the usual wear and tear that comes with frequent use.

Mount

One of the most important, yet most underrated part of a telescope will be the mount, which is indispensable when it comes to capturing very stable shots of dimmer objects in the sky.

In this instance, because of the cheaper price, more of the construction will have gone into the lens and the tube as opposed to the mount.

The other models in the AstroView range use the Orion EQ-3 and the EQ-G mounts, which are designed for harsher open-air viewing conditions which can often succumb to adverse weather such as rain and high winds, which might compromise the viewing plane.

However, this model uses a slightly less resilient mount which might not be able to withstand the same conditions and might limit you to indoor domestic usage. This means that your EQ-2 mount will provide only the most basic functionality.

The mount itself is made from an aluminum construction that is very lightweight, coming with dual setting circles, controls for slow motion and a small accessory tray that you can use to store your eyepieces, sights, cleaning tools and other extras. You can also fit an EQ-2M motor drive to the mount for hand-free control, which is far more precise at tracking.

The entire weight of this mount is around 9-pounds, which makes it perfectly able to support the weight of the telescope, but will struggle to balance additional extras.

Often the manufacturer will spare no extra material to cope with upgrades, as they want to use the bare minimum to make sure this whole model is as cheap as possible to make and sell.

If you are planning on fitting a camera to this unit for astrophotography, then you’ll certainly need to purchase a more heavy-duty mount, with a larger weight capacity, ideally made from either stainless steel or carbon fiber.

If you’re a novice telescope enthusiast, then you probably won’t need much more than the EQ-2 mount, to begin with. However, it is prone to vibrations and heavy breezes, which could ruin your observations and certainly make any photography almost impossible.

However, the lighter weight of this mount makes for a very portable unit overall, so if you plan on going hiking to your nearest mountaintop to get the most beautiful views of Mars or a rising evening Venus.

Although you’ll want to be careful if hiking with your mount, as it can succumb to superficial damage that will affect the functionality of your mount over time.

Accessories And Extras

The Orion AstroView 90mm contains two Sirius Plossl eyepieces that have 25mm and 10mm focal lengths, each providing 36x and 91x magnifications respectively.

They have a 52-degree field of view which means you can cover a wider portion of the sky, enabling you to become accustomed to constellations and the relative positions of the planets.

These eyepieces are multi-coated, which will enhance your viewing experience and make them both highly resistant to scratches and scuff marks. They have also molded rubber eyecups with each one, which will make for a very comfortable view, avoiding eye strain and abrasions.

The eyepieces are one of the best selling points of the Orion AstroView 90mm Refractor, with Sirius Plossl eyepieces giving you the best possible views of the night sky. Some of these users also add a 6mm eyepiece or a Barlow lens to push the magnification of this scope to its maximum.

However, that’s not all, you also have a 6x30mm finderscope that will allow you to locate wider sections of the sky that you then calibrate and zone in on. If you prefer to map out the sky without the help of existing digital databases, then this aspect will be crucial for orienting yourself to a shifting sky.

This also has a 90-degree diagonal star that will help you to align your target in your scope, making viewing objects a lot more comfortable and enjoyable, eliminating the need for you to twist your neck in order to look into the viewfinder.

This also comes with an impressive Starry Night SE software that is a great additional tool for beginner telescopists. With this software comes a realistic simulation of the sky that will help you to locate various planets, star systems and moons against the vastness of the night sky.

If you don’t fancy the rigmarole of scouring the night sky for your favorite planet, then you can use this database to pinpoint the general direction before using your scope to see it in real-time.

Setting It Up

Set up and use with this telescope is incredibly easy, making it a great attribute for a beginner. Once you have the whole telescope unpacked, all you have to do is attach the OTA to the mount, calibrate your latitude and line up the eyepiece with your target.

The scope itself is very light, weighing in at under 24-pounds with the counterweight. As mentioned above, this makes it a great unit for portability, so if you need to adjust it by moving it from one end of your garden to another, then all you have to do is sling it over your shoulder and haul it to your desired position.

You can attach this scope to its mount very easily, using a ring system instead of a dovetail, so you’ll need a screwdriver handy to attach it. But at least you’ll know that it’ll be safe and secure during the entirety of your usage.

This telescope is also a refractor, which will remove the need for collimation. Collimation is when the inside of the telescope needs to be aligned before use, making sure that the light reflects properly off the lens and the mirrors straight into your eyepiece. This will appeal to users who plan on transporting their telescope, preferring a quick setup and packing away.

Can You Use It For Astrophotography?

If you’re looking for a model that is compatible with taking photographs of the planets and stars, then unfortunately the Orion AstrowView will not be the model for you, as the optics will not be strong enough to produce clear images through a standard DSLR camera.

Also, the cheaper mount will mean that you won’t be able to support the additional weight of a DSLR camera. You don’t want your telescope to collapse during use, as this could break the delicate inner components of your scope.

Ideally, you’ll want an apochromatic model of telescope for astrophotography, although these models tend to be a lot more expensive.

Our Final Say

For an entry-level astronomer, the Orion AstroView 90mm Refractor Telescope has all the basics you’ll need for spying on planets and moons in the nearby vicinity.

Most newbie astronomers will want to acclimatize themselves to the fundamentals of telescope operation, such as focal adjustments and manual alignment.

The price tag on this telescope is probably its best feature, allowing those on a budget to purchase a wide range of features such as premium optics and a great selection of eyepieces.

Having all the essentials for such a modest price will encourage most prospective buyers to overlook the drawbacks in other areas such as the mount.

Andy Morgan

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