Orion’s surprising little Spaceprobe 3 has been picked by independent reviewers as one of the best telescopes in its price class. Unlike similar telescopes seen in discount stores, Orion has refined the Spaceprobe 3 by paying attention to the little details, and that make this telescope a great value.
The Spaceprobe 3 comes with an unusually complete set of accessories. The package includes two very good Explorer II eyepieces (25mm and 10mm), an adjustable altazimuth tripod, a good red-dot finder, a student edition of “The Sky” planetarium program, and a well written manual. The package even includes the tools you’ll need to assemble the telescope and align the optics.
The Spaceprobe 3 is a Newtonian reflector. That means it uses mirrors instead of lenses. Newtonians are primarily used for astronomy because the images are upside-down. Orion includes a collimation tool and good directions for aligning the mirrors. The reward for aligning the mirrors is seen in images that snap into sharp focus. My Spaceprobe 3 arrived properly aligned right out of the box.
With its Explorer II eyepieces, this telescope consistently delivers fine views. Using the 25mm eyepiece (28x magnification) the Pleiades cluster is simply wonderful, showing dozens of stars. From a rural location with a dark sky, the Orion Nebula is a big ghostly glow, and when I zoom in with the 10mm eyepiece, the Trapezium resolves into four tiny pinpoints. The double star Gamma Andromeda becomes two beads of light, one gold, the other one pale blue. Moon and planet images are crisp, with none of the false color I see in low cost refractors. When I look at the Moon I see mountains and terraced walls inside the larger craters. With the 10mm eyepiece (about 70x), Saturn’s rings are sharply separated from the planet, and I can even pick out the planet’s shadow on the rings.
The Altazimuth mount included with this telescope is light and easy to use; it may be the best choice for a young astronomer. If you want motorized tracking of the stars and planets, Orion’s Spaceprobe 3 EQ is available with an equatorial mount, and Celestron sells essentially the same optical system with the computerized NexStar 76GT.
Best in class optical performance
Two good Explorer II eyepieces
Complete accessory package
Small 76mm aperture
Upside-down terrestrial images