The only word for the optics is superb. When using the Orion 80ED to view the Moon and Planets, with magnifications at or below "Dawes Limit" (a theoretical limit to the maximum power of any telescope, 160 power in this case), I saw no false color of any kind. The contrast was excellent, and the views of the Moon and planets were tack sharp. As I increased the power beyond "Dawes Limit," I noted only the slightest hint of false color, a very slight drop in contrast, and the tiniest softening of the image. Saturn looks like a small ringed jewel sitting on black velvet, the cloud belts of Jupiter are clear colorful and sharp, and the Moon is nothing short of amazing. Deep Sky Objects show well with this instrument as well--I was able to easily see structure in the Great Nebula in Orion, and detail in the Andromeda Galaxy.
The Optical Tube Assembly (OTA), is one hundred millimeters in diameter, a bit larger than most instruments of this size. The focuser is a 2" aluminum Crayford-type focuser that accepts 2" or 1 ¼" eyepieces or accessories. I can use a 2" eyepiece for a wider field of view than I would normally get using the standard 1 ¼" eyepiece, this makes for fine viewing of extended objects such as Nebula and Open Star Clusters. The focusing mechanism is smooth and silky, and incorporates a focus lock along the bottom of the focuser assembly. The rubber coated 42 mm (1.6") focus control knobs on each side of the drawtube make for a good grip and easy control of focus during photography or viewing. The telescope focuser easily supports a 35-MM camera or an ST-7 CCD camera using an optional T-Ring and two-inch adapter.
The Dew shield is removable; this shortens the telescope's overall length from 23" to 18.75" which makes for easy storage and portability. A set of mounting rings is available from Orion as well as from third party vendors, allowing me to quickly mount the telescope on either a small Equatorial platform, or piggyback it on my much larger Nexstar11GPS telescope. This little telescope is built well, looks nice, performs well, and is small enough to take on the road. --Dave Cole