Here at Astronomy magazine, several of us have been observers for decades. Needless to say, it takes pretty big news to surprise us on the amateur astronomy front. Well, today a spectacular announcement from Orion Telescopes & Binoculars stunned us: The company is introducing three new large Dobsonian-mounted reflectors.
Did I say large? The smallest has a mirror 36 inches across! The mid-size model sports a 40-inch mirror, and the top-of-the-line version touts an aperture of 50 inches.
The stats of the Orion 50 Monster Dobsonian are staggering. The crated mirror weighs some 500 pounds; the mirror support is a 36-point floatation system; five cooling fans work to bring the mirror to ambient temperature; and the mirror has a focal length of 4,763mm. This means a 20mm eyepiece will deliver 238x, a 9mm eyepiece provides 529x, and a 3mm Orion Edge-On Planetary Eyepiece will blow your mind at 1,588x!
Master optician Normand Fullum will hand-figure each Monster Dobsonian’s primary mirror. Orion chose low-expansion borosilicate glass with a honeycomb pattern to reduce weight.
Orion says the 36-inch model will be available in mid-2010, the 40-inch at the end of 2010, and the 50-inch in mid-2011. The scopes’ prices reflect (pun intended) what these products are — high-quality, mammoth telescopes. The “small” one lists for $55,600, the 40-inch is $80,000, and the 50-inch goes for $123,000. I had to chuckle while perusing Orion’s web site because the page for each of these telescopes has a prominent “Add to Cart” button. If you’re able to click that button, I want to be your friend.
Starting today, I’m going to beg, plead, and cajole everyone here and at Orion to let me write the review for (at least) the Orion 50 Monster Dobsonian Telescope. Mentally, I’m already compiling an observing list. In saying this, I apologize in advance to all the wonderful reviewers I work with through the magazine. Sorry, folks. This one’s mine.