The Orion Starmax 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is a great choice for any amateur astronomer who wants up-close views of moons and planets in the solar system.
The Orion 10022 StarMax 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is a great choice for amateur astronomers who are mostly interested in observing the planets and moons in the solar system.
The StarMax 90mm has high magnification and a small field of view, making it ideal for close-up views of the moon, Saturn, Jupiter and other nearby objects.
Being a compact tabletop telescope, the StarMax 90mm is perfect for those who want a telescope they can take on the road. Read on to learn in my new review.
Orion StarMax 90mm review
What are you buying?
1. 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope
Though more expensive than beginner reflector telescopes, Maksutov-Cassegrain models have several optical advantages. The biggest is the ability to fit a long focal length in a small tube.
Looking at the compact Orion StarMax 90mm it’s hard to tell that it has a focal length of 1,250mm.
The biggest advantage of a long focal length is higher magnification. With the 25mm eyepiece, you get a 50x magnification and with the 10mm eyepiece, you get a 125x magnification.
The high magnification delivers stunning views of objects in the solar system including our own moon, Saturn, Jupiter and Jupiter’s moons.
Using the 10mm eyepiece it’s easy to see craters on the moon, the rings around Saturn and cloud bands on Jupiter.
On the downside, the reasons why the StarMax 90mm is so good at close-up views makes it less than idea or deep sky observations of star, nebulae and galaxies. The magnification is too high and the field of view too small.
That’s why I recommend the StarMax 90mm only for amateur astronomers interested in observing objects within the solar system.
2. Tabletop Base
The StarMax 90mm uses a simple swivel tabletop base that allows you to track objects in the sky. You can also adjust the telescope’s altitude.
As the name suggests, the base is meant to sit on a table. You can put it on the ground, but you’d have to bend to see through the eyepiece.
If you don’t want to have to carry a table with you whenever you want to use the Orion StarMax telescope, buy a tripod.
You have two options.
You can get a tripod that has an attached altazimuth head. Then take the tube assembly off the tabletop base and mount it on the tripod. This option is ideal if you want to use a different alt-az mount than the one that comes with the Starmax.
Alternatively, get a normal tripod with a 3/8″ or 1/4″-20 threaded post and mount both the tube assembly and base onto it. This option is ideal (and cheaper) if you don’t mind using the swivel base that comes with the Starmax telescope to track objects in the sky.
4. Grab-and-Go Design
Maksutov-Cassegrains have another big advantage; they are highly portable.
Their ability to pack powerful magnification in a small package is great for frequent travelers who want a compact but powerful telescope they can carry on the road.
The Orion Starmax 90mm weighs about 3kg and is small enough to fit in your car along with your other luggage. It’s perfect for camping, hiking, sky viewing parties and road trips.
Note that the Orion 10022 StarMax doesn’t come with a carrying case. If you plan to travel with the telescope, order one online when you buy the telescope.
How easy is it to use?
The Orion Starmax 90mm is very beginner-friendly. You don’t need to align it like a GoTo telescope nor do you need to collimate it like a reflector telescope.
Simply take the telescope outside, set it on a sturdy table or tripod and start exploring the skies.
The hard part is finding where the interesting objects are. With a GoTo telescope, you just select the object you want to see and the telescope takes you there.
But with the Orion Starmax 90mm, you have to have an idea of where to look or even whether the planet you want to observe is currently visible in the sky.
The easiest way to locate planets is using a sky map. You can find a digital one for your location here. TheSkyLive also offers up to date planetary maps and locations for your particular location.
There are also many smartphone sky map apps you can download and refer to.
Once you learn how to find planets and moons, everything else is easy.
Use the included finderscope to focus the telescope on a particular object. You’ll find it easier to find objects with the low power (25mm) eyepiece then switch to the high power (10mm) eyepiece for more detailed views once you find what you are looking for.
What accessories are included?
Two 1.25” eyepieces – 10mm (125x) and 25mm (50x)
Orion StarMax 90mm: Pros + Cons
High magnification – perfect for close-up observations of the solar system.
Compact and highly portable.
Compatible with a tripod.
Comes with two eyepieces and a finderscope.
Easy to use.
Not ideal for deep sky observations of star clusters, nebular and other objects.
You’ll most likely need to buy a tripod for it. The table top base is inconvenient for most users.
Anything else you should know?
To improve your viewing experience, I recommend buying a number of filters for the Orion Starmax 90mm. They’ll make it easier to observe certain planets and objects.
Examples include a moon filter, a yellow filter for viewing Jupiter, Saturn and mars and a blue filter for observing certain features like the rings on Saturn.
If you live in an urban area, also consider getting a light pollution filter.
The Orion Starmax 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is a great choice for any amateur astronomer who wants up-close views of moons and planets in the solar system. It’s also a good option for anyone who wants a high-mag telescope that can take with them when camping, hiking or on road trips.
Jack Bennett is the founder and editor of Stargazing in the UK. He lives in London and have started this blog about stargazing and amateur astronomy for beginners to keep track of his attempts to explore the Universe.