This low priced collectors scope from Orion is the perfect reflector scope to start kids out with who are interested in astronomy. Besides having a very fun tone it includes everything you need to get started, with some decent power to boot. Although there are plenty of other choices to consider when looking for a beginning telescope kit, this one is so full featured that it may be hard to turn away. There really isn’t a better option in Orion’s lineup to get kids involved in using telescopes.
This wonderful little gadget is the only one of its kind to feature the unique Astro Dazzle design, which looks just as good at night as it does during the day. One of the many pictures on the tube is a detailed view of Saturn and random colorful stars in the galaxy. It is one of the best designed telescopes of its type, and they managed it without making it look like a gimmick. To offset the design colors that are on the tube, it is attacked to a black and white base that fits the entire model perfectly. This is a reflector telescope of decent size, with all of the important knobs exactly where you need them.
The power is decent, and won’t blow away users that are on the intermediate level. This is a product strictly for hobbyists and beginners, with a strong emphasis on kids. The design is set up for them to enjoy it the most, and all of the included reading material and accessories point to it being for kids and beginners. This isn’t a product that intermediate users will really be able to get a lot of use out of if they plan on getting better details in the galaxy. And with the lack of features it may frustrate some crafty beginners that are ahead of their level compared to other beginners.
Being on the lighter side for this type of telescope, weighing at 11 pounds with the bulk of that being in the base means that the telescope itself is constructed very lightly. With a one of a kind design, the looks are pretty, but the telescope itself can’t take a lot of punishment. Too much punishment will lead to the design getting worse over the course of the ownership, and that isn’t even counting the natural wear and tear on the design. If taken care of, the design should last fine without any problems for a couple of years, but sooner rather than later the design is more than likely going to come off. The base is another story, and is a champ in the durability department. Moving the telescope on it is smooth and gives no problems, even with extended use. But beyond the base everything is average when talking about durability.
The collectible one of a kind design is hard to turn away from, as you can be sure that you’ll be the only one in a stargazing group with it. Looking at the base and its durability it is surprisingly strong, and can take a considerable amount of punishment while keeping the telescope intact. There are a lot of extras included with the product, many of them perfect for beginners. Despite the style of the telescope this is still one of the lighter ones on the market, even lighter than many smaller telescopes with tripods and a mount. This makes it perfect for taking on a trip or even over to a friend’s house with minimal packing needed.
That same light weight that makes it great for portability lends itself to durability weaknesses with the telescope. The telescope is very light and the great design is susceptible to damage over the lifetime of its use, more so than other models. Don’t expect this to go without some sort of bump or bruise for more than 1-2 years. And this is very much a niche telescope, meant for kids and beginners. There is no natural upgrade path for anyone that uses this telescope, so more than likely they will end up with a different series of Orion when upgrading or with an entirely different company period.
There is a lot to go over, starting with the 25mm and 10mm eyepieces. These are essential to the kit as you will need every inch of power possible to get a good view with certain planets. An EZ Finder II sight is also included to help with some tracking, and is of the usual Orion quality when in use. Starry Night SE is available as a digital download, and is probably the best software available for a beginner astronomer. The MoonMap 260 and Star target planisphere will help to locate specific details on the Moon and throughout the galaxy so you don’t spend all night trying to locate points. All of the accessories are really helpful as a collaborative and will keep the user busy for weeks.
If the correct level is chosen when making the purchase, then the value is hard to beat. Keep in mind this is speaking of short term value, with the biggest value being for a hobbyist that doesn’t plan on getting serious with astronomy. It is also a great deal for kids just starting out with astronomy, and some beginners. But remember, the higher the level of the user, the more the value on this product diminishes. There really is no way around that, even with appropriate upgrades with accessories or some personal modifications. It comes out of the box at its limit and that is as far as it can go.
For someone that is seriously getting into astronomy, and even for a kid that you expect to start his humble beginnings with this telescope, expect no more than 2-3 reliable years out of this product. It has such a limited range that it would probably work naturally as a backup telescope once the user upgrades. If they tend to progress fast in the field, then that will be sooner rather than later. It could very well function as a nostalgic first telescope for many users. Even with its lack of power it is a prime example of being a great niche product for beginners.
If looking at products that cater specifically to beginners, then the ultra-low priced Orion 10033 FunScope 76mm TableTop Reflector Telescope Moon Kit is the perfect alternative. It is available in blue and is portable at only 4 pounds, having just about the same amount of power as the Astro Dazzle. Where the Astro Dazzle shines is going to be the better design, and a better list of accessories to boost its power and usefulness. The few things that it adds really is all that it needs to push it over the top of the Tabletop version of the FunScope.
With a user level capped so severely at the bottom end of users this could be a hard sell for those that are serious about getting a telescope for the long term. But it is in no way a bad deal if it is bought for the correct user level. The Funscope Astro Dazzle is a kit that will bring a lot of value to your home.