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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review: Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Telescope

Since we have been spending so much time focusing on the implementation and operations of the 16" astrograph online telescope in New Mexico, we wanted to take a step back and go back to our roots of simple backyard astronomy. When the crew at Insight Observatory hosted public and private star parties, out of all the backyard amateur telescopes they used, they favored the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Telescope.

The constellation Orion, named so because of the hunter of Greek mythology, is one of the most recognizable groups of stars in the night sky. The excellent Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 allows amateur astronomers to see it like never before, with its state-of-the-art clarity and its value for money. The Orion name brand in the market of telescopes is one of the most popular due to its high-quality products. Orion Telescopes & Binoculars was established in 1975 in California.

Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Telescope is extremely portable. Image by Orion Telescopes.
Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Telescope is extremely portable. 
Image by Orion Telescopes.

The Dobsonian refers to the style of the base, popularized by the famous "Sidewalk Astronomer" John Dobson in the 1960s, designed to produce large and affordable backyard telescopes. The general distinguishing features of this particular variety of telescope include the Altazimuth mount and a large objective diameter relative to its cost.

This instrument falls in the higher range of reflector telescopes, and there is a good balance between costs, convenience, and clarity. It is not as small as the XT6, which has been criticized in the past for not being capable of capturing good views, nor as large as the XT10, which has been said to be too bulky to carry even in the back of a car (we speak from experience). As we had both the XT8 and XT10 Dobsonian telescopes side by side at our star parties, although there is a 2" difference in the primary mirror size, our attendees could not really distinguish a difference in the views using the same powered eyepiece on both telescopes. 

Eight pictures were taken through the Orion XT8 to make this stitched   composite of our Moon, using an Olympus E510.   Image by Justin Mohorich
Eight pictures were taken through the Orion XT8 to make this stitched 
composite of our Moon, using an Olympus E510. 
Image by Justin Mohorich

The Orion XT8 Telescope is suitable for all types of stargazers, whether they are beginners, amateurs or die-hard observers. This means those who are new to the art of astronomy will find this telescope easy to use, and experts will find most of the functions satisfying. It is also family-friendly, allowing children to enjoy the fascinating hobby of stargazing, and the beginning of their sky quests to flourish. The easy-to-use finder and optical tube allow viewing of most extra-terrestrial deep-sky objects like star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae. A camera can be attached to the telescope with a ‘T-adapter’ (not included) for imaging the moon and brighter planets.

Setting up the SkyQuest XT8 is fairly straightforward; the telescope comes in two easily attachable parts, which need to be connected by the integrated springs. It should take around 30 minutes to assemble the telescope solo or 15-20 with someone else lending a hand. 

In Summary... The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 is a great telescope for any kind of observer of the skies, and is especially good for families who want to introduce their children to it. Its specifications are more than capable of observing a wide array of objects, and with surprising detail- satellite craters can be clearly viewed, as well as obscure nebulae. Its minimalistic yet very ergonomic design is also very appealing. Owners of this telescope may want to consider purchasing additional lenses or filters to truly get the best out of this brilliant telescope.

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