Note: Orion no longer offers chair products. This article is kept for archival purposes.
As far as observer’s chairs go, the Orion Deluxe Quick-Adjust Observer’s Chair is top of the line stuff. Priced at just under $200, it’s not cheap. Why should you spend money on a good observing chair at all? That’s a good question, and if you read on you’ll find your answer!
There’s one thing that all passionate backyard astronomers have in common. We’re all going to be spending a heck of a lot of time outside in the course of a lifetime. We’re obsessed with getting the best telescopes and equipment we can afford, we’ll drop $100 on a single eyepiece filter even if we might just use it once a month. We’ll break our piggy banks and scrape all the coins we can find to save up for a good eyepiece. Yet we overlook the important long term investment of buying comfort!
Unlike a telescope eye piece filter, an observing chair will be used every time you take out your telescope. It will be used the entire time you’re observing the night sky. Yet we resist the temptation to throw money at a chair. We’ll get down on our knees and ruin a good pair of jeans with grass stains before we fork up some cash towards a good chair. We’ll stretch back muscles and complain about it for a week before we come to the realization that a lawn chair isn’t that comfortable after all! When you think about it, it only makes sense to buy a quality observing chair. This is a sure shot long term investment that will be appreciated every time you take out your telescope. Being comfortable can even means staying out longer, and there’s nothing wrong with that picture.
There are a few options available when it comes to getting an observing chair, but we really want you to give a good look at the Orion Deluxe Quick-Adjust Observer’s Chair. Yes, it’s more expensive but there’s added benefits. The fact that the chair is adjustable is what makes this puppy stand out. We’re all built differently physically, and we use different kind of telescopes that require different observing positions. This chair gives you flexibility by allowing you to adjust the seat height on the fly, without any tools, in height ranges that vary from 8” to 34”. Comfort wise, the thick padding is more than adequate to keep you happy the entire night. The chair can also easily be folded for transportation or for storage. The ability to quickly adjust the chair’s height is also appreciated when more than one person shares the telescope. Parents often enjoy backyard astronomy with their kids. With this chair, you’ll acquire a target then raise the seat for your child so that they can comfortably look through the telescope. Most people who buy this chair kick themselves afterwards – because they regret not having done so sooner!
Other Orion Observer Chairs
If you really don’t want to spend $200 on a chair, you don’t have too. Although the deluxe chair is worth every penny, some of you will still prefer to look at less expensive alternatives.
The second best observer chair from Orion is their Heavy-Duty Observer’s Chair. This stool is priced at under $140 and it is sturdier than most chairs. If you want something that won’t break, or if you’re a little heavy yourself, this is definitely a good buy. The 3” foaming under the seat makes this extremely comfortable. The chair is also adjustable but the range is more limited than the deluxe chair. You can set the height between 20” and 29” with this chair. The legs will fold and the seat is detachable so that is convenient for transport or for storage.
Orion’s Weekend Observer’s Chair is a simplified version it’s heavy duty counterpart, priced at under $76. It doesn’t have the double braced legs so it’s not as sturdy, but still adequate. It has a bit less foam in the seat, and the height range is 16” to 24”. The legs do fold and the seat is also detachable on this chair as well.
Your next option is available for less than $50. You can acquire the Orion Standard Observer’s Chair for this price. Comfort wise, it is very similar to Orion’s Weekend Observer’s Chair. The main difference between the two is the adjustable height. This chair doesn’t have a continuous height adjustment. Instead it has 6 specific height settings that go between 19-3/4″ and 25-1/4″.
The final option is a super simple chair that’s ideal for camping trips and just sitting around, but not really adequate for using it as your regular observing chair. The Orion Roll-A-Stool Folding Observer’s Chair is available for less than $21 but it’s essentially a camping chair. It’s very light, portable and well built. It’s not as comfortable as the other chairs because you’re essentially sitting down on a tarp. The main problem with it is that you can’t adjust the height. It folds and unfolds, and that’s about it. Still, it does make a good chair for other people around you who may not be using the telescope and still need a good spot to sit. We do not recommend it as an observer’s chair however.