There are fewer pleasures in life that can be compared with the bliss of stargazing during a warm summer night, right next to your significant other, in the comfort of your own backyard. If you are thinking about purchasing a telescope for this purpose, you have come to the right place.
Hi, my name is Amir and I will have been a telescope collector for 25 years this July. Over these years experimenting with various telescopes, I have not only learnt more about them but also grown my love for them in addition to astronomy. I have gotten so involved that I now attend conventions, panels, showing and events. It is while at these events that I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most brilliant minds both in the technology and astrology fields of expertise. Their passion fuels my passion and keeps me on my toes. These networking platforms are really helpful and can help one understand why a certain telescope operates the way it does, the features on it that make it so great among other things. If you absolutely cannot find the time to attend any, your next best option is to read this review.
In the last three decades, there has been a buzz around Dobsonians. Majorly due to their unique constructions and their heavy accessorized packages. Here are two of the most purchased Dobs.
What are the differences between the Orion XT8 and the SkyWatcher 8?
Type of telescope
Aperture 203mm/ 8”, 1200mm Focal length, f/5.9 Focal ratio
Magnification on eyepieces: –
Max. Useful magnification: –
Min useful magnification: 14.2X
Aperture 203mm/ 8”, 1200mm Focal length, f/5.9 Focal ratio
Magnification on eyepieces: 48X
Max. Useful magnification: 300X
Min useful magnification: 29X
Alt-Az Altitude Azimuth mount
Alt-Az Altitude Azimuth mount
Orion XT8 Vs. SkyWatcher 8- How these telescopes compare
Has a focal length of 1200mm and 8-inches (200mm) in aperture size which gives it a focal ratio of f/6. Using Dobsonian simple and large design and a use of three steel struts that are retractable to ease in transportation and storage. Users need not be concerned about reconfiguring the device every time they adjust the tube as it is set to keep the customized settings as inputted by user.
Sky-Watcher’s Dobsonian promises 94% reflectivity with little blurriness. It has a 2-inch focuser and 1.25-inch adapter to provide for use of the two 25mm and 10mm eyepieces that are included. An 8×50 finderscope and an accessories tray are also packaged.
Easy to assemble and with no problems collimating, this is a great choice for a beginners’ telescope. This scope will show you planets such as Jupiter, Saturn and star nebulus.
The XT8 features the same aperture, focal length and focal ratio of the Skywatcher 8. The major differences is that the SkyWatcher is a Newtonian designed telescope as opposed to the XT8. This telescope comes with two 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepieces that are ideally provisions for eye-relief. These compound symmetrical eyepieces provide a 50% increased field of view. Together with the Shorty 2x Barlow lens that doubles magnification power of the other eyepieces, this telescope makes for even crispier celestial system imagery.
Orion XT8 vs SkyWatcher 8 – A comparison review
Orion XT8 – Overview
Orion XT8 – Overview and Key features
This is Orion’s most popular models and is marketed as a classic reflector Dobsonian that is perfect for amateurs and first timers in astronomy. It is considered an ideal brand for the whole family to take turns looking through and learning about objects and events in the celestial realms. This is a well-equipped telescope that can provide a lifetime of stargazing and an interesting and educative channel for your children as well.
With a wonderful mix of simple construction, stellar optics and a sturdy support base, planetary objects of significance like Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars are brightly seen in the XT8 Classic, this allows you to have a deeper look at them in detail. The 8″ aperture is also large enough to gather substantial amounts of light further up in the distant celestial objects making for beautiful views of shimmering star clusters, dusty nebulas, and distant galaxies. This Dobsonian is a great buy putting into consideration the great quality views achievable across an array of celestial objects.
The Dobsonian design has a shoot and view simplicity as compared to a telescope on an equatorial mount and tripod. It just takes a little practice before you and the family are scanning the skies like expert hobbyists. It’s a great recommendation for the amateur astronomer who seeks unabated adventure, this Dobsonian telescope is up to the challenge!
The XT8 Classic Dobsonian has a 203mm diameter mirror that is parabolic and rests on strong aluminum base. The mirror potentially collects 78% more light in comparison to a 6″ mirror. The heavily coated mirror works to gather more light through the tube lens and to project this light with reduced aberration on the images. This way, your ability to observe the nebulas dust lanes, hash-out the bright globular star clusters and the much fainter structures on galaxies is greatly increased. The 1200mm focal length f/5.9 of the XT8 mirror gives sharp and true views with moderate to high magnifications. That’s accurate for clear nights with good seeing conditions.
XT8’s Classic Dobsonian’s mirror is enhanced in reflectivity coatings boosting its reflectivity so as to transmit as much light as possible to the eyepiece guaranteeing sharp and crisp views. The XT8 Classic Dobsonian base has a simple and sturdy altazimuth platform for the 8″ aperture reflector optical tube.
Orion XT8 has CorrecTension springs that help make setup easy and keep the telescope’s balance. CorrecTension Friction Optimization system enables the tube to attach securely to the base which uses strong springs to attach the tube to the base, keeping the telescope balanced to prevent shifting while observing.
The XT8 also comes with a smooth and approximate 2-inch Crayford focuser featuring a 1.25-inch adapter than should be used to add extra eyepieces if need be of the 2 to 1.25-inch measures. Ensuring all focus adjustments are seamless, approximate, and free of delays and shifts regardless of the weight of accessories installed achieving targeted focus easily.
For a 48x view, the Plossl eyepieces should be used with the XT8 Classic Dobsonian telescope. This will ensure you a 52-degree field of view, this Plossl eyepiece provides really crisp images of great contrast. If you would like to increase or decrease the level of magnification on your scope, you should buy additional 1.25 or 2-inch wide-angle eyepieces of different focal lengths. These are sold separately.
After a fairly easy alignment procedure, use the Finder II view to approximately aim the XT8 Classic Dobsonian telescope at objects in the sky like the bright planets. How? After alignment, turn on EZ Finder II and look through the views tiny round viewing window to see the red dot, now move the telescope until the red dot is on the object you want to see. Peek in the telescope’s eyepiece, there is it is!
What we absolutely love about XT8 is that it included Starry Night Special Edition astronomy software to keep informed about which constellations, planets, stars and deep-sky are visible at any day and time. Realistic simulators of the sky and useful features like telescope control, the interactive, easy to use Starry Night software helps plan your viewings and gives detailed information on what you see. You would require PC running Windows 10, or Macintosh running OS X 10.10 or higher.
The much-loved Orion XT8 Classic Dobsonian comes with a cap for hassle-free collimation helping to set the mirror alignments. Dust caps for the reflector telescope tube and focuser are also part of the package.
Conveniently dismantled into two manageable pieces the XT8 Classic Dobsonian is made for easy moving and stashing away. Unhinging the adjustable tensions springs from the base allows you to remove the optical tube. An assembled weight of 41 lbs. gives the XT8 Classic Dobsonian greater mobility to and from your viewpoint.
This is an awesome Dobsonian with the optical capability to excite both the ardent amateurs and expert stargazers. Its sturdy design is guaranteed to remain in the family for many years to come.
What we like
- easy to use
- Quick and simple set up
- Compact design that is portable
- Great warranty deal and customer support
- Access to a learning database great for beginners
- Starry Nights astronomy software with all details
What we don’t like
- Might need a moon filter
What you can see with the Orion XT8
- The polar caps on mars
- Moon surface craters and general lunar shots
- Phases of Venus
- Jupiter’s moons
- Saturn and its rings
- Eclipse prominences
SkyWatcher 8 – Overview and Key Features
By using a large aperture and sleek designs, Dobsonians have given us the best value for money when it comes to telescopes. A large aperture is great for light gathering which translates to wider field of views and clearer pictures of the night sky. However, the larger the aperture the more hectic when it comes to storage and transport logistics.
With a 1200mm focal length and a 203mm parabolic mirror, this Collapsible Dobsonian has a focal ratio of f/5.9 which is a sign of a balance between field of view and the quality of imagery. Visions of the moon and its interesting abandoned terrain will be nothing short of breathtaking.
Accessories are the fuel that help the scope perform at its most ultimate potential and SkyWatcher know how to pile them up. Including a 2-inch Crayford focuser and a 1.25-inch adapter, allows use of both 2 and 1.25-inch eyepieces. A great example would be to add a Barlow2x that will multiply your eyepieces magnification. There are two eyepieces that come with the Collapsible Dobsonian 8” by SkyWatcher; 1.25- inch eyepieces of 25mm and 10mm width, an 8×50 finderscope and eyepiece tray.
The SkyWatcher Dobsonian is the first of its kind to use three retractable steel struts that are adjustable which allows for easy storage and transit. The flat base of Dobsonian mounts presents a balance issue that the SkyWatcher has also addressed with the collapsible feature it offers. Stability and balance are crucial at observation because they guarantee clear views with minimal interruptions or drifting. The overall set-up is a no-brainer and you could be ready to shoot straight out of the box.
The Collabsible dob also has strut included in its design which help keep the optical tube assembly’s optics in place every time eliminating need for new collimation every time you need to use it. This makes it great for travelling and vacations because it doesn’t need to be disassembled and you won’t have to worry about mirror slipping out of pace in bumpy rides.
For simplicity of use and set-up Collapsible Dobsonians have a mount base that moves so seamlessly and effortlessly that a simply push of a fingertip will do. Instead of using the more common ball bearings for this smooth movement, the Dobsonian 8 uses Teflon which works great on this scope’s wooden base.
What we like
- Great for telescope astronomy beginners
- Easy to collimate
- Quality optics
- Altitude clutches very useful
- Light and easy to store or carry
- Using the Finderscope, you may align the telescope or even for location purposes
What we don’t like
- No fan for temperature regulation
What can you see with the SkyWatcher Collapsible Dobsonian 8”?
- Lunar surface details with crisp images of the moon and its phases
- Dark-Sky Objects
- Veil Nebula
- The rings on Saturn
- Jupiter and her moons
With the awesome twist in design that the SkyWatcher Collapsible brings to the Dobsonian telescope models, it goes without saying that they are our favorite. Their classic and glossy white marble tubes are eye-catching and very sophisticated. The optics are just as good if not better than the XT8 and the tons of great accessories that come with the package helps us experiment and do more with our telescope and we love this fact. At the end of the day, either one is a good telescope for new astronomers but the SkyWatcher Collapsible Dobsonian 8” is definitely the beginners’ favorite telescope.