Orion FunScope 76mm Tabletop Reflector Telescope Review
- in depth Review of Features
Telescope Reviewed: Orion FunScope 76mm Tabletop Reflector Telescope
- Real optics; not just a toy
- Easy and quick setup and use
- Offers significant value for not a lot of cash
- Stable mount and base
- Operates best at lower magnification
- Best used for terrestrial objects and brighter objects in the sky
The Orion FunScope is a tabletop reflector telescope with a 76mm aperture and a surprising number of accessories. The combination of all of these factors makes it an excellent first telescope for kids and families to make their first foray into astronomy, and to do it at a reasonable price.
This is a telescope that doesn't require much in the way of setup, and thus it has the advantage of an easy learning curve.
What it lacks in high magnification performance it more than makes up for in terms of budget-friendly versatility and stable viewing.
If you're looking for a first telescope for one of the kids, if you're a first-timer looking to get started, or if you're just looking for a second scope that's portable and that you can take with you and set up at a moment's notice, this could be a good option for you.
76mm (2.99 in)
300mm (12 in)
Highest Useful Magnification:
Lowest Useful Magnification:
Highest theoretical magnification
Limiting stellar magnitude
Aluminum & silicon dioxide
Length of optical tube
The Orion FunScope 76mm Tabletop Reflector Telescope is a good solid telescope that will allow you to enjoy hours of fun observing terrestrial objects, as well as the moon and planets. This isn't the cheapest scope possible, but it's really reasonable priced for what you get.
Its 76mm aperture isn't as big as some of the other telescopes that we've reviewed, but it won't cost you an arm and a leg. While smaller than those found in more expensive telescopes, its aperture size is surprisingly ample, as it provides 60% more light than those smaller beginner telescopes with 60mm apertures.
The greater light collection capacity is a boon when it comes to observing celestial phenomena. While the FunScope has some difficulty achieving focus on dimmer, more distant celestial objects, its aperture allows the viewer to observe the brighter deep-sky objects, such as star cluster and some of the brighter Messier objects.
Diagram demonstrating focal length. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The 300mm focal length permits excellent focus on nearer objects. This capacity can be supplemented with one of the three eyepieces included with the FunScope. Sticking with the theme of surprising performance and quality, these aren't any old eyepieces, they're three-element eyepieces. They are fully coated to improve visibility, and have fold-up eyecups for blocking stray light. It's these little things you find with the FunScope that make it a value far exceeding its price.
Image: Diagram of a Newtonian reflector telescope
The FunScope is also exceedingly portable. It weighs in at only four pounds, so it's no problem to take with you wherever you might be going, whether it's on a camping trip to a park where you'll have ideal viewing conditions, or to nighttime viewing sessions away from your home.
This isn't, however, a high end scope, so some users have reported that it has difficulty maintaining clarity at the top end of its magnification capacity. If you're narrowly zooming in on one object in specific, the FunScope definitely has its limitations. But if you're looking to do some wide-field viewing of a nearer object on lower magnification, this could be a great option.
Like so many of the starter telescopes we encounter, the FunScope is mounted on a tabletop mount with movement in two planes of motion.
The tabletop mount is sturdy and solid. There's no wobble to it, unless you make the mistake of placing it on top of an unstable object.
Tabletop mounts have their benefits, among which is the convenience of not having to lug around a full tripod. Of course, there is no motorized movement or tracking, nor is there any slow-motion control here, so any tracking will be manual. As that kind of tracking tends to be the province of more expensive telescopes, it's not at all surprising. But for beginners, this sort of manual tracking is very useful and gets the job done without a lot of complicated machinery and weight.
If you are looking to mount the FunScope on a full tripod, the mount comes with a 1/4-20 threaded mount so you can put it on any standard tripod with a threaded adapter. A word of caution: placing this on tripod is best done with a heavy duty tripod that can comfortable support the weight of this telescope. If not, you may run into a fair amount of wobble and movement.
The features here really add to the value of the FunScope's overall package. You're not just getting a plain telescope that works well, you're also getting some additional pieces that really contribute to your enjoyment.
Among those valuable accessories is the Orion Moon Map 260, which helps you identify and name the lunar craters and features you can see so well with the FunScope. This creates a synergy that really allows new amateurs and young folks to learn a lot really quickly about one of the more interesting objects that's right next door in our solar system: the moon.
The Moon Map 260 makes it fun and easy to learn about the features of the moon. You can even sketch those features that can clearly be seen with the Orion FunScope and compare them with the features listed and discussed in the Moon Map to identify them.
Higher-end finder scopes can really add a lot of cost to a telescope. That's why it's so surprising to find a truly useful reflex finder like the EZ Finder II on a budget telescope like the FunScope 76mm.
The EZ Finder II is a zero power finder. It reflects a red dot onto the field of view in the finder. You center the red dot on the section of sky you want to see. This has the result of aiming the telescope at that same spot in the sky. Some people report that the dot is either too dim or too bright, but our experience is that it works nicely, and really adds a useful feature to the FunScope.
Perhaps most important, the EZ Finder II is simple and fast to align. Reviewers have reported being able to align the finder in about two minutes.
How Does It Compare?
The PowerSeeker is a good starting refractor with a higher price than the FunScope 76mm, but it is also a true beginner scope, and this is reflected both in the quality of its optics and its design. The tripod is also a bit less stable than the tabletop mount. All around good scope at a good price, but longer and a bit better optical performance than the FunScope.
With an aperture that's considerably larger than that of the FunScope, with more of a full mount that allows smooth manual tracking. Its lightweight tripod leads to less stability than the FunScope. Good magnification with a short tube for good portability. Can't match the travel capabilities of the tabletop mounted scopes like the FunScope (what can?), but still a good grab and go.
Larger aperture and better optics than the FunScope, with very good optical performance. Offers really good stability in a full-scale mount and tripod. Jones-Bird configuration on this Newtonian can lead to a bit less image clarity, but makes it a good affordable beginner scope.
The StarMax 90mm is a Mak-Cass scope with considerable focusing range. Similar size scope, but doesn't offer the same image clarity. Similar stability with the same kind of tabletop mount. A bit more power at a comparable price point. Has a bit more complicated mechanism than the FunScope, but also a good grab-and-go or travel scope for those that want something they can take into the field or have at home for observing terrestrial and brighter celestial