The Optical Tube Performance of AstroView 6
The AstroView 6 is a 6” f/5 Newtonian. Compared to a longer scope like the regularly-offered 6” f/8 Dobsonians, the AstroView will be more difficult to collimate and it may show slight amounts of coma at the edge of the field at low power, but it’s still pretty easy to collimate and you’d be hard-pressed to find the coma in the first place let alone actually care about it.
The AstroView 6 comes with a 1.25” focuser. It is probably one of the last reflectors to have an all-metal 1.25” rack-and-pinion focuser; most scopes nowadays use plastic ones. The focuser is of decent quality and works quite well. Obviously, you can’t use 2” eyepieces here and the focuser isn’t as good at holding a heavy camera for astrophotography, so if you want to use 2” eyepieces or put the scope on a different mount for astrophotography later on the AstroView 6 is probably not for you, unless you’re willing to purchase an aftermarket focuser and enlarge the hole in the tube to install it.
The scope’s tube rings have a Vixen-style dovetail attached to the bottom which allows for easy attachment and removal from the mount saddle, and ¼ 20 captive knobs for piggybacking a camera on top of the telescope for wide-field photography.
Are the Accessories Good?
The AstroView 6 comes with two eyepieces: A 25mm Sirius Plossl providing 30x and a 10mm Sirius providing 75x. These are excellent eyepieces, though you may want a 6mm “gold-line” eyepiece and/or Barlow to get the most magnification this scope offers for lunar and planetary viewing.
Additionally, the AstroView 6 comes with a simple collimation cap to align your optics with, and a 6×30 finderscope. I don’t really care for this 6×30 and would recommend swapping it for a 9×50 finder or Telrad, as the 30mm of aperture makes it hard to see much of anything – it’s arguably harder to use than a zero-power sight like a Telrad!
Aftermarket Accessory Recommendations
The main items we’d recommend adding to the AstroView 6 are a better finderscope and a “6mm “goldline” eyepiece” for higher magnification (125x). For a finder, an 8×50 traditional finderscope, Telrad, Rigel Quikfinder, or an inexpensive red dot sight are all good choices.
For even more magnification, you could get a 2x Barlow lens, which provides 250x when used with the 6mm gold line and 150x with the included 10mm Plossl. Additionally, single-axis and dual-axis motor drives are available for the AstroView mount for hands-free tracking and push-button slow-motion controls.
About the AstroView EQ-3 Equatorial Mount
The AstroView mount is based on the Vixen Polaris, a mount that has been around since the 1980s and was originally imported to fulfill the massive demand for telescopes brought on by the arrival of Halley’s Comet. Today, its legacy lives on with mounts like the AstroView. The AstroView mount is more or less a Chinese-made copycat of the Polaris, albeit with a Vixen-style dovetail saddle and aluminum instead of wooden tripod legs.
The AstroView mount is nearing the limit of its weight capacity with the 6” f/5 Newtonian by the time you add accessories. While a motor drive is available and Orion claims you can do astrophotography with this scope, in practice, you are probably overloading the mount and only the shortest exposures are possible. However, piggybacking a DSLR and short lens on top of the scope’s tube rings is indeed possible and you can achieve some nice shots with this method.
The AstroView also includes a polar scope for precise polar alignment, as well as a nice accessory tray/spreader. I don’t like many modern spreaders that are only usable as an eyepiece rack; the AstroView’s large tray that you can actually put other stuff on is far better.
My only big criticism of the AstroView mount is that some of the leg locking hardware is plastic, and easily broken or damaged – a concession of the low price. A lot of people complain about the extruded aluminum legs, but I find them to be more than satisfactory with scopes up to the limit of the AstroView’s payload capacity.
Any serious astrophotography with the AstroView 6 will require Orion’s EQ-3M motor drive, available separately from them. As I mentioned previously, the AstroView mount is too lightweight and imprecise for long-exposure astrophotography, apart from piggybacked shots with a DSLR and short focal length lens where tracking errors are less important. However, lunar and planetary photos with a DSLR or CCD camera are possible and can be done quite well with the AstroView 6. You will want to use a quality 3x or 5x Barlow lens to get the focal length high enough, and if you’re using a DSLR you’ll also want to use crop mode or a similar setting to get the maximum resolution of your target.
Should I buy a Used Orion AstroView 6?
If the price reduction compared to buying new is fair, then go for it. Make sure that the mount moves smoothly and includes the counterweight.
For the price of the AstroView 6, we’d also recommend:
- Celestron Omni XLT 150: Slightly better mount and 2” focuser. Does need an additional eyepiece or two to be useful, however.
- Apertura AD8/Zhumell Z8/Orion SkyLine 8: More aperture, simpler mounting, and better accessories. But Dobsonian design, not EQ.
- Celestron Astro-Fi 130: Fully computerized unit that can be controlled hands-free from your phone or tablet, albeit with slightly less aperture.
What can you see?
The AstroView 6 is a great wide-field deep-sky instrument thanks to its f/5 focal ratio. It’ll show you lots of open star clusters, begin to resolve the brighter globulars, deliver fantastic detail in bright nebulae such as the Orion, Lagoon, and Swan as well as many planetary nebulae such as the Ring, Dumbbell, and Cat’s Eye. Under dark skies, you’ll also be able to delve into viewing many of the brighter galaxies, and some such as M31, M33, M64, and M82 will actually show detail with effort.
Within the Solar System, the AstroView 6 will, of course, show the phases of Venus and Mercury, loads of craters, mountains, ridges, valleys, and other details on the Moon, and the ice caps and dark regions of Mars when it’s close to Earth. Jupiter’s cloud belts, Great Red Spot, and its 4 brightest moons look great, and you’ll be able to see the shadows and disks of the moons when they eclipse or transit the planet. Saturn’s rings, dull cloud bands, and around half a dozen moons are visible, and on a good night, you can see the Cassini Division as a small gap in the rings. Uranus and Neptune are merely pale bluish dots, but with effort, you might just be able to glimpse Neptune’s moon Triton.