Orion SkyQuest XX14i and XX14g
The Orion SkyQuest series has two top dobsonian telescopes in the 14″ size, the XX14i and XX14g. The great thing about these telescopes is that they’re priced at an entrance level which means that you can have a fantastic scope at a fraction of the cost of your more advanced collegues. For example, you can pay up to $2600 for a fully loaded 8″ Meade telescope, while you’ll only fork out around $1800 for a 12″ dobsonian from the SkyQuest series. Of course the Meade is pretty top of the line, but this should give you an idea of the value you can get out of an Orion SkyQuest telescope.
While the Orion series is parred right down to the basics in terms of design (the Meade uses a more advanced mirror system, for example), it is still a solid work of engineering that will definitely raise eyebrows when you assemble it at an event. A 14″ scope, simply put, wins respect. And everything about the Orion telescopes is well manufactured.
The less expensive of the two options is the Orion SkyQuest XX14i. This scope uses an advanced Intelliscope computer that is able to track around 14,000 celestial objects. How it works is that once you tell the computer what object you want to view, it will tell you the corrordinants. You then have to adjust the telescope until the numbers on the screen reach ‘zero’. Then look through the viewfinder and you will see the object you’re looking for.
This is a much faster system than trying to find the object yourself without any kind of guide other than dead reckoning on visual cues. To find specific objects in deep space is incredibly difficult unless you have a solid foundation. For the smaller models, such as the XT10 or XT8, the objects that can be seen are impressive. But for a 12″ scope and up, you’re beginning to look at some pretty deep objects, and that means you really want to have that fine-tuned ability to be able to track them. For this reason, the Orion SkyQuest series does not offer a ‘Classic’ dobsonian that is a straight tube without any kind of computer. You can only get a 12″ and a 14″ dobsonian telescope from Orion SkyQuest series with the Intelliscope or the GoTo system.
Which brings us to the XX14g. This scope is entirely mechanized thanks to the GoTo computer system. This motorized dobsonian telescope will actually track the object you’re looking at in real time which is incredibly important when you’re taking long exposures with a camera. For the astrophotographer, having a motorized telesocope will mean brighter, crisper images than one that is cranked by hand. If astrophotography is the way you wish to go, but your budget is limited to something like the XX14i, it might be worth taking a step down in terms of size and going for the motorized XT10g.