Like most things in life you need to start as you intend to finish and this is also true of astronomy as a hobby, and maybe even as a potential career. The first step you can and should take is investing in a high-quality telescope from a company like Orion, because you know you’re getting a telescope that will actually deliver results. Remember this US-based company has been in business since 1975 and the creator of the company, Tim Gieseler, knew a thing or two about telescopes – to say the least. Orion is currently owned by another US company called Imaginova, but the telescopes they manufacture are still some of the very best on the planet and still sold directly under the Orion brand name.
The Orion ‘scope we’re going to review today is the Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope.
6-inch Dobsonian Reflector
There’s a lot of astronomy terminology wrapped up in the name and features of this Orion telescope, so if you’re completely new to the field of astronomy then don’t panic. Firstly a Dobsonian telescope is a standard reflector telescope set on a Dobsonian mount, but usually with a slight larger aperture than most standard reflectors. When you hear people talking about Newtonian telescopes they’re actually talking about a reflector – they’re the exact same thing.
Now the 6-inch aperture of the Orion SkyQuest XT6 means that your telescope can absorb large amounts of light (called light grasp), which means that you get to see clearer images of our moon, other planets in our solar system and of course the various galaxies, nebula and Messier Objects dotted all over our sky. In fact the 150mm parabolic primary mirror used in the Orion XT6 has 80% more light grasp than a 4.5-inch reflector (which is a pretty big jump), but is still small enough so that it’s portable and can be carried around, without the use of a flatbed truck.
The EZ Finder II sight makes the whole process of aiming your Orion XT6 telescope where you want it very straightforward. This sight projects a small red dot onto a non-magnifying element so you can aim your telescope at the exact part of the sky you want to view. The lack of a computerized motor system on Dobsonian means that an accurate aiming sight like the EZ Finder II is very, very important to have.
Thanks to the Dobsonian mount used for this reflector you have an incredibly stable platform to work from. If you’ve only ever had a chance to gaze at our moon through a refractor telescope you’ll know that you wind up having to squint, hold your breath and stay very still or run the risk of knocking the telescope out of alignment. The CorrecTension system used in the Orion XT6 ensures that you can enjoy trouble-free stargazing thanks to the innovative system of springs it uses to keep everything stationary. This stability also means that a ‘scope like the SkyQuest XT6 is very easy for any almost member of your family to use.
For less than $500 you’re getting what can be described as a “semi pro” type of telescope for staring up at the stars. It’s not a top of the range telescope but it does have the exact same features as many of the other more expensive (FAR more expensive) telescopes in the Orion product range. We’ve found that a lot of people are either told or assume that you can’t get a high-quality reflector telescope for less than $500 but the Orion SkyQuest XT6 is very clear proof that you can get a great telescope for a whole lot less than $500 folks. This Orion Dobsonian telescope is more than capable of giving you those wonderful moments of staring at a deep-sky object and experiencing that very weird feeling of knowing that you’re looking at something which is several light years from you. It’s only when you use a proper telescope like an Orion XT6 that you start to understand our place in the vastness of our universe.
There’s something very mad professor-ish about using a Dobsonian telescope, they constantly remind us of the kind of thing you’d see in a Flash Gordon cartoon when you were a kid. When you mention that you have a telescope most people will expect it to be a standard refractor but when they see that you have a very cool looking Dobsonian telescope they’ll instantly want to know more about it. These types of telescopes just look and feel more “grown up”, and they also deliver far more clarity when it comes to checking out the natural display of light on show every night.
The Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic is available in a gloss black finish, as featured in our review today.
This Dobsonian telescope has the following measurements and features:
- Optical diameter: 150mm
- Focal ration: f/8.0
- Magnification: 48x
- Maximum useful magnification: 300x
- Weight: 34 lbs
You’ll also be pleased to hear that the Orion SkyQuest XT6 comes with a limited one-year warranty.
You get the usual comprehensive selection of accessories with your SkyQuest XT6 including a 25mm Plossl eyepiece, a collimation cap and of course the 2″ Crayford focuser and the EZ Finder II reflex sight.
- The 6-inch aperture provides more than enough light grasp for the vast majority of stargazing needs
- The 25mm Plossl eyepiece provides plenty of magnification (up to 48x)
- A Dobsonian mount means you have a very, very stable viewing platform
- There are a lot of features in this Orion XT6 telescope which would make it a great telescope for the vast majority of amateur astronomers of any age
- None that we can think of
Verdict of the Orion SkyQuest XT6 Telescope
If you’re looking for a telescope to introduce your whole family to the wonders of astronomy then the Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope is ideal for that purpose. It’s small and light enough to be portable but the 6-inch aperture means that the heavens become your entertainment every clear evening, instead of some dumb reality TV show. This telescope might look complex from the outside but you’ll be amazed at just how easy it is for everyone in your family to use.