If you’ve never owned a telescope before and you’re worried about making a huge financial investment, there is an affordable alternative that will keep your budget below $100.
The Orion FunScope 76 mm TableTop telescope is not only a very basic scope system for adults, but it’s also perfect for kids.
There are various types of FunScope packages, but the optical tube is identical between the packages.
Whether it’s the Kid’s Kit, Moon Kit, or the Standard package, you can expect the same optical performance from the tube.
To get started in amateur astronomy with the FunScope, here’s what to expect.
✔️ Best Feature: Accessory-packed
❌ Worst Feature: Spherical mirror
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, Bright DSO Viewing, Beginners, Kids
- Optical Design: Reflector
- Aperture: 76 mm (3”)
- Focal Length: 300 mm
- Focal Ratio: f/3.9
- Eyepieces Included: 20 mm, 6 mm
Our Verdict: As an entry-level Newtonian under $100, it has some optical shortcuts, but Orion includes accessories to help alleviate the consequences. What you’re left with is an inexpensive telescope that has value and can help the beginner child or adult get into the hobby without spending a fortune.
Who is the Orion FunScope 76 mm TableTop Best Suited to?
The FunScope is designed for kids and adults new to astronomy. The idea behind the FunScope is to provide an affordable, easy-to-use, and portable setup. With 3” of aperture, it has a slightly larger primary mirror than most entry-level scopes designed for kids.
With quality that is suitable for the beginner, regardless of age, it would make an excellent family telescope for amateur observation sessions and to learn some basic telescope skills with. If something goes wrong or the kids are less than careful with it, it’s covered by a 1-year manufacturer warranty.
How Does the Orion FunScope 76 mm TableTop Perform?
The Orion FunScope is a very basic Newtonian with fast optics and a spherical mirror. The fixed in place primary mirror doesn’t allow for collimation, but the secondary mirror can be collimated. This may present some issues down the road if the scope is roughly handled causing the primary mirror to become misaligned. Fortunately, it holds collimation well.
With its focal specs and included eyepieces, the FunScope does extremely well for wide field of views on the moon. It does so well with the moon that a beginner can explore its surface to see craters, mountain ranges, and many more details. It has a decent aperture to reach out and allow views of the planets and their satellites. Cloud bands and Saturn’s rings will also be visible, but the FunScope simply doesn’t have the aperture to resolve details and faint features.
Speaking of aperture, it does have some ability to reach outside the solar system. Orion’s belt will snugly fit within the field of view, and with the Barlow, you can fit the Pleiades into sight. While you can see up to magnitude 10-ish in ideal conditions (dark location, minimal atmospheric and light pollution), those faint DSOs will look like faint fuzzies if you can find and identify them at all.
But, practice is what counts and starting off with local bodies, getting to know how a telescope works, and what accessories are needed to get various sky-seeking tasks done are the skills you’ll acquire with the FunScope.
Features & Benefits
The FunScope Kid’s Kit comes with a ton of accessories. The focuser is always an included accessory in a telescope buy. The focuser that comes attached to the FunScope is a 1.25” rack-and-pinion. It’s rather crude in focusing, but it does the job.
Two Kellner eyepieces are included: 20 mm(15x) and a 6 mm (50x). They’re 3-element eyepieces which are a good match for this setup to reduce chromatic aberration and provide improved low-to-medium power views especially when the Barlow lens is in use.
A 2x Barlow lens is a new accessory to the FunScope and proves to be a vital addition. It’s also made of glass and not plastic – yaye! It will double the magnification of the included eyepieces to 30x and 100x, but you could upgrade your eyepieces to better quality ones remembering that anything above 90x will cause image degradation. The Barlow will also help to bring the focal ratio above f/5 to help alleviate spherical aberration.
It’s great to see a red dot sight instead of a finder scope with this type of mount system. The red dot is easier to align and use to find objects and then focus and see through the eyepiece. The red dot does not come preassembled, but the base is already mounted on the tube. You simply slide the red dot bracket into the base on the tube to install it.
An Orion Moon Map 260 is also thrown in and will prove to be helpful for beginners in identifying locations and learning the names of lunar features. These are the standard accessories included with any Orion FunScope telescope purchase.
The Kid’s Kit also includes a 1.25” 13% moon filter, Orion Star Target, and Orion Exploring the Cosmos book. These tools will help with viewing details on the moon when it’s in it’s full moon phase, and the book and star target provides precise locations, facts, mythological histories, and much more exciting information that a young user can use to get started in astronomy.
The FunScope is mounted on a single fork arm mount that is identical to most entry-level tabletop Dobsonian mounts. It has alt-azimuth movement that allows for up-down and left-right motions. With this type of mount, you cannot track objects, so you must make manual adjustments to keep an object within the field of view.
There is an altitude tension knob that couples the tube to the fork arm. Tightening or loosening this knob allows for moving the tube up or down and keeping it slightly loose will allow for small adjustments to be made if necessary. To move the tube in left-right motions, the base swivels like a Lazy-Susan for azimuth motion. This setup is easy enough for a kid to use and master.
Due to its tabletop design, it’s very easy for a child to grab out of storage and set it up for instant and comfortable viewing for those little heights. There is no setup required since the FunScope comes preassembled. The base is made from composite wood and covered with laminate. This proves to be a questionable combination for inclement weather, so bring it inside after each use.
Everything about the FunScope has portability in mind. It comes preassembled, so there’s no need to take apart the tube from the mount for transportation. The tube is so short in length that placing it in a closet, on a bookshelf, or on the passenger seat of a small sedan is a non-issue. The tube is 10.2” long and the total weight 4 lbs. An adult can haul this setup one-handed and a child can easily move it from the car to a picnic table.
As a fast telescope with a focal ratio under 5, it’s unfortunate to see a spherical mirror on a Newtonian reflector. Spherical aberration is the result of this optical system as light rays are unable to come to a single point of focus. With multiple focal points, viewing quality will be blurry.
Fortunately, Orion provides an acceptable solution for this issue, a 2x Barlow lens. While the Barlow increases magnification it also increases the focal ratio and focal length. This change helps to alleviate spherical aberration.
Can the FunScope be Mounted to a Tripod?
This may be a determining factor in whether or not you purchase this scope for an adult, and unfortunately, the FunScope is no longer compatible with mounting to tripods. Previous models to 2019/2020 came with the ¼” 20 connection for mounting to tripods, but unfortunately, Orion removed this feature and changed up the accessories for the newer versions.
If you can find an older model, it will have the tripod compatibility and you’ll have to purchase the extra accessories separately. The new models come with different accessories but no longer offer tripod compatibility.
Can a DSLR Camera be used to take Photos with the Orion FunScope Telescope?
Unfortunately, the FunScope is not designed for astrophotography. It does not have the focal specs to support imaging with a camera. You can take photos with a smartphone through the eyepiece or with an adapter to capture images of the moon. That’s about the extent of photography you can do with the FunScope.
What is the Highest Magnification Eyepiece that you can use with the Orion Tabletop Telescope?
The provided 6 mm eyepiece is the shortest eyepiece that you’d want to use with the FunScope. While Orion states that 90x magnification is the highest useful power for this scope, and a 4 mm eyepiece would provide 75x power, it would seem that the 4 mm would be compatible with the FunScope.
However, the Barlow lens is what will help to reduce spherical aberration and make for a clearer image, and unfortunately, the use of a 4 mm with the Barlow will push the optical system beyond its capability to provide quality views.
The Orion FunScope 76 mm TableTop Telescope is a decent buy for under $100.
Yes, it has a spherical mirror and a non-collimatable primary cell, but a Barlow lens will help, and it holds collimation fairly well over a long period of time.
In this case, the compromises are well worth the buy.
With the accessory-jammed package, you have value and excellent seeing ability with this small and portable setup. Is it a telescope for a kid or an adult?
It’s for both!