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Sep 24

Telescope Reviews: Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

With a suitably stellar name Orion has been supplying high-quality telescopes to their customers all over the world since 1975, making them one of the most readily recognized brand names in relation to star gazing anywhere on the planet. The founder and CEO of Orion, one Tim Gieseler, stayed in control of the company until it was acquired by the US company Imaginova in 2005. The good news is that the quality of product produced by Orion has remained very, very high and they continue to impress their new and existing fans and customers all over the world.

Today’s review is on the Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian telescope, so let’s get started!

Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

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Dobsonian Telescope

This is one of these odd things about telescopes that you learn over time but calling a telescope “Dobsonian” isn’t really 100% correct because it’s only the mount that’s Dobsonian. What you basically have here is a reflector telescope mounted on a Dobsonian platform, so it becomes a Dobsonian telescope. Now we’re not trying to take away from the sheer genius behind this design folks – this type of mount is extremely stable, reliable and easy to use for even the most novices of astronomers. One of the many great features of a Dobsonian is that it has far fewer¬†moving parts so there’s less that can go wrong.

Large 8″ Aperture

With an 8 Inch telescope, the XT8 Classic has huge amounts of light grasp for viewing both local and extra-solar bodies. For you this means you get great results when you’re looking at our “own” planets like Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and of course our own moon. But this size of aperture also means you get incredible clarity on deep sky objects such as star clusters, galaxies and of course the ever-colorful nebula. All of the most advanced electronics in the world can’t make up for sheer size of the mirror used in the SkyQuest XT8 – you’ll even feel like something of a mad scientist when you’re using it. It has that almost-kitch 70’s sci-fi movie feel to it!

Ease-of-Use

Probably the biggest selling point of any Dobsonian telescope is simply that they’re so easy to use. If you compare this type of mount to a standard equatorial mount you’ll see what we mean. Now that’s not to say that an EQ mount doesn’t have a place in astronomy because it most definitely does, but not everyone wants to have to worry about working with an overly-complicated mount. You see what people really want from their telescope is to simply point it at the sky, look through the eye piece and enjoy the interstellar lightshow that the Universe has been running for the last few billion years.

48x – 56x Magnification

The supplied 24mm Plossl eyepiece provides a 56x level of magnification so any member of your family can simply take a look and be impressed by the quality of image the XT8 Classic can produce. Another nice feature of the SkyQuest XT8 is that it “breaks” down into 2 pieces for easy transport so you’re not just restricted to using it in your yard. Bear in mind that you’re lifting around almost 5 feet of telescope so it’s not something you want to be have to do very often.

Color Choices

The Orion telescope is available in a glossy black finish only, as featured in this review.

Dimensions

This telescope has the following dimensions, specifications and features:

  • Optical diameter: 203mmOrion Classic Dobsonian Size Comparison
  • Focal length: 1200mm
  • Focal ration: f/5.9
  • Highest useful magnification: 300x
  • Lowest useful magnification: 29x
  • Weight: 41 pounds fully assembled

Included Accessories

Orion never, ever shortchanges their customers when it comes to accessories and the XT8 is no different. You get a 25mm Plossl eyepiece and a 2-inch Crayford focuser which can accept the larger 1.25-inch and 2-inch Plossl eyepieces. You also get the EZ Finder II red-dot reflex sight, a collimation cap and of course the “Starry Night” software bundle too. Absolutely everything you need to get start is in the box waiting for you.

Pros

  • You’re investing in an Orion telescope – which is a real telescope and not some discount store knock-off
  • The Dobsonian mount provides a huge level of stability and reliability
  • The SkyQuest XT8 is very easy to use and is an ideal way to introduce your kids to astronomy
  • At less than $400 you’re getting a LOT of telescope for your money – both physically and financially
  • You get all the accessories you need

Cons

  • Some people don’t like Dobsonian telescopes because of the viewing position. Then again some people don’t like pie…there’s no accounting for taste is there?

Verdict of the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Telescope

If you like the idea of being able to see the rings of Saturn and being able to make out the color of certain nebula from the comfort of your own light-polluted back yard then the Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope deserves a place on your shopping list. This telescope will look like it’s complicated to use when you first see it but once you’ve used a Dobsonian ‘scope you might find it very difficult to get back to using an EQ or other mount on any telescope – it makes astronomy a lot more fun!

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