This review, “Have lens will travel,” appeared in the March 2006 issue of Astronomy magazine
How easy a telescope is to set up usually determines how often it will be used. Two small scopes — the MaxKuei 80HD and the Phoenix 80S — make fine traveling companions. With one of these quick-setup scopes, wide-field Milky Way views are only a minute away.
Several trends exist in today’s telescope marketplace. One is the inexpensive, short-focal-length refractor. This trend began more than 15 years ago with the introduction of the Orion ShortTube 80. Today, we are seeing the next wave with the introduction of small, mid-price refractors costing between $400 and $600. Some of those upwardly mobile short-tube achromatic refractors include the Vixen 80M, the Stellarvue Nighthawk, and the Zenithstar 80 from William Optics.
Recently, I tested two other tiny titans — the MaxKuei 80HD and Phoenix 80S. Both are manufactured by ODM Engineering, a little-known company in Taiwan. (Unfortunately, as this review was going to press, the North American distributor for these scopes announced it no longer will carry them. Astronomy will notify its readers when a new distributor emerges.)
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