Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Orion SkyQuest X8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Review

The Orion SkyQuest XT8 is one lean machine.  It is a bazooka of a tube with a massive 8” diameter composed of fully enamelled steel.  It sports a powerful mirror that is able to gather deep sky photons from distant galaxies.  It comes with a set of fantastic Plossl eyepieces and an EZ Finder II findscope.  What the XT8 doesn’t come with is a big price.

The great thing about the SkyQuest series is that it is parred down and priced for the beginner while offering the kind of quality engineering you would expect from the big players.  Just compare the XT8 with its cousin from the Meade line, the LX90.  While the 8” SkyQuest is priced around $330, the LX90 is sky-high at $2000!  (Personally, the LX90 doesn’t even look as cool)

If you were looking to drop $2000 on a telescope, why not instead go for the incredible Orion SkyQuest XX12g GoTo Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope?  It’s still cheaper than the Meade 8″, but instead you get a fully loaded 12″ Dobsonian that not only looks pro, but it’s mirror is a full 50% larger!

Close-up of the moon through the XT8

OK, so the LX90 has some cool features that will really light up the pro astronomer and will probably justify spending the big bucks.  It’s kind of like the difference between a Rolex and a Timex.  Kind of.  But seriously, some people just like to spend money.

Anyways, back to the XT8.  What’s so fantastic about this scope is that you can have an 8″ dobsonian as your first scope without breaking the bank.  And the sights you will see will blow your mind.  We’re talking galaxies, nebulae, Saturn’s individual rings, you can trace Venus as it transits across the sun (you’ll need a Solar Filter), and a moon so big you can’t fit the entire thing in your view finder.  If you get the XT8 as your first telescope, or even if you’re upgrading from a smaller scope, this one simply won’t disappoint.

The International Space Station through the XT8

There are also some upgrades you might consider (if you can budget them).  The Orion SkyQuest XT8 comes with a couple upscale versions that definately improve the sky viewing experience.  The first is the Orion SkyQuest XT8 IntelliScope.  The Intelliscope is a computer used by the telescope that helps you track stars (around 14,000 of them!).  It will cost you a couple hundred more, but it really will save time so you can have a better night time experience.

If you’re really feeling upscale, you can even upgrade to the Orion SkyQuest XT8g Computerized GoTo Dobsonian Telescope.  While the XTi will give you the corrdinants so that you can manually set up the scope, the XTg will actually move the scope for you.  And you get a whopping 42,000 objects to choose from!   This is really the entrance scope for the astrophotrographer.  If you plan on doing any photography down the road, you’ll want a scope that tracks objects so you can get a proper exposure.  That’s why astronomers can justify spending the extra money on an 8″ scope rather than spending that same amount on a much larger mirror.  Something to consider.

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