Coulter Optics was started in 1967 in California by Jim Jacobson.The original optics manager of the company was Steven Murdock who later became the Chief Executive Officer and President of Meade Instruments Corp. Coulter made mirrors for amateur telescope makers and later began to make assemblies to hold them. They made several types of telescopes including the CT-100 "Coffee Can" scope but the most popular were the large dobsonians. They came out with the 13.1 inch dobsonian in May of 1980. These were the "Blue box" scopes where the mirrors were held in a "sling" cell. They switched to the well known red tubed Coulters around 1985.

In 1985, Coulter Optics sought to add a smaller telescope to their line of larger dobsonians such as the popular 13.1 inch. The 8 inch "Odyssey 8" was first made with a focal ratio of f/4.5. Nearly ten years later, in 1993, they added an 8 inch f/7 which fit on the same base as the f/4.5. The longer focal ratio of the f/7 made it better for planetary work while the f/4.5 was naturally considered a deep sky scope. For a short time, just before the end of the company, Coulter actually sold a package deal with both scopes and one base for a ridiculously low price.

The f/4.5 originally sold for $239 and moved up a bit to $275 by the 1991 ad on the left. Also archived here is a full size ad from the August 1988 Sky and Telescope magazine.

Coulter went bankrupt in 1995 when Jim Jacobson became ill. Mr. Jacobson died and the Coulter name and remaining assets were sold to Murnaghan Industries of Florida in 1996. Murnaghan sold a slightly updated version of the Odyssey until 2001 but then stopped production. The scopes sold for $399 which couldn't compete with the likes of Orion who sells the XT8 for as little as $350. There is a message on the Murnaghan website about the suspension of Odyssey production. The Odyssey does live on though in some form. Murnaghan sells Odyssey kits that contain the primary and secondary mirrors, a new and improved spider, a new and improved helical focuser, a 5x25 finder, a 25mm kellner eyepiece and edge trim for a sonotube. You must supply the sonotube, mirror cell, and rocker box and bearings. Total kit price for the 8 inch is $299.95. I wrote a review of the new spider so be sure to check that out if you are looking to update the two vane spider that came with your Odyssey.

The Coulter Odyssey 8 is a hardier scope than one might expect from first glance. The optical tube of the scope is a paperboard sonotube. The rocker box is made of exterior grade chip board. While it looks cheap, it can withstand the elements. These scopes worked right out of the box but users typically upgraded them as needed. This has led some to call the old Coulter Odyssey telescopes "kit telescopes" that worked right out of the box.

See the links section for extreme examples of Coulter upgrading. Is it still a Coulter when you replace the mirror cell, spider, focuser, optical tube, altitude and azimuth bearings/mountings and then put the whole thing on a motorized computer controlled equatorial base?

I've chronicled my adventures in Odyssey 8 upgrading on the modifications page.

Odyssey and Coulter Optics are registered trademarks of Murnaghan Instruments Corp. This website is not associated with nor endorsed by Murnaghan Instruments Corp.