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Dobsonian telescopes were designed to make viewing deep-sky objects more readily available to amateur astronomers. They are very user-friendly, with simple optics on a simple mount that anyone can use. There are a lot of them found in stores, though, so how are you supposed to know which one is best for you?
We have reviewed a number of them to help you narrow down the field so that you aren’t so puzzled when looking. They all have different features that we will tell you about, along with any issues we may have found.
|Best Overall||Sky-Watcher 12″||
|Best Value||Orion SkyQuest XT6||
|Orion SkyQuest XT8||
The Sky-Watcher 12″ Dobsonian Telescope is a durable telescope that collapses for easy transport. It has an f/5 1500mm focal length and 720x magnification. It also includes a two-inch Crayford-style focuser with a 1.25-inch adapter and an 8×50 RA viewfinder. To top things off and make this the best 12-inch Dobsonian telescope on the market, it has two different sizes of four-element Plossl 1.25-inch eyepieces. One is 25mm, and the other is 19mm. The telescope attaches to the base with a solid rocker-mount to keep it nice and steady for the best viewing possible.
The only problem with this telescope is that it is heavy. It is compact enough to take to different places with you, but it is heavy to carry very far. This is a great telescope, but it is a more advanced scope. We wouldn’t recommend it for beginners.
The Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope features a six-inch aperture and a f/8 parabolic mirror for great views of the moon and planets. It comes completely lined up, so you don’t need to worry about polar alignment, and it is simple to navigate.
This telescope is attached to a stable Dobsonian base to ensure that you get the most transparent image, without any vibration. It is also effortless to move around when tracking objects. This telescope is excellent for beginners because it is so easy to use.
The only real downside to this scope is that it is very cumbersome, making it difficult to take it with you very far. There is also no comfortable grip to make carrying it more manageable. We found the handle awkward and uncomfortable. With all that said, we think this is the best dobsonian telescope for the money this year.
The Sky-Watcher 8-Inch Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope has an eight-inch aperture and an f/6 1200mm focal length. It has two four-element Plossl 1.25-inch eyepieces, 25mm and 10mm. These eyepieces are used in the 8×5 RA viewfinder to find the object you’re searching for. The scope then uses a two-inch Crayford-style focuser with a 1.25-inch adapter to give you the most crisp images. It is securely attached to the base by a rocker-mount to cut down on any possible vibration.
If you are a beginner, it can be a little challenging to get started with this telescope, since there are no directions that tell you how to focus it. It works well, but you just have to have the patience to play around with it to figure it out. Our scope also tended to drift down while viewing. You may need to readjust and tighten it periodically.
The Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 PLUS Dobsonian Reflector Telescope has a two-inch dual-speed Crayford focuser with 11:1 fine focusing abilities. It comes with two different eyepieces. One is a two-inch 28mm DeepView eyepiece, and the other is a 1.25-inch 10mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece. The Orion 8974 SkyQuest is easy to collimate, with an adjustable secondary mirror that uses a thumbscrew to adjust.
This is an excellent telescope for someone who doesn’t try to look into deep space. It doesn’t have enough zoom for that, and would need a better aperture for a clear image. We also found that the thumbscrew to collimate it turns easily enough, but it is challenging to get it set the way you want it. It’s also tricky to get proper fine adjustments. This is a decent telescope, but remember that you’re not at the top level anymore, so you’ll find that things like the EZ finder aren’t made with the same quality as the previous models.
The Zhumell Z10 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector Telescope has a ten-inch parabolic primary mirror and two fully multi-coated eyepieces for your viewing activities. It has a collapsible tube to make it easy to transport. The Zhumell Z10 is a heavy telescope, which makes taking it places a little more difficult even with its compact size.
This scope is not collimated when it’s delivered, but decent instructions tell you how to do it. The only other thing we didn’t really care for was that the OTA cap fits very loosely and falls off without much effort.
Our telescope was delivered in two boxes that arrived at different times. That isn’t an issue, but it’s worth noting so that if yours don’t come at the same time, you aren’t thinking you’re missing parts of it.
The Meade Instruments LightBridge Mini 114 Dobsonian Tele-scope is lightweight and compact in size. It features a 114mm aperture to get you appropriate lighting, and 26mm and 9mm eyepieces to give you comfortable viewing.
This telescope takes a little getting used to. The materials the finder is made of are not the greatest, so it’s difficult to find things. You also have to be careful when collimating it, because the screws that are used are very low-quality and can strip very easily.
The Mini Meade scope is good for viewing close items, but it doesn’t have enough magnification for deep sky searching. It does have a 360° swivel mount, though, that makes moving it to track an object effortless.
The Astroscan Millennium Dobsonian Reflector Portable is an excellent telescope for beginners. The manual is written in terms that you can understand, making it very easy to use. It is simple to get it into the position needed to view your targeted object and give you a clear view. It is also small enough to take with you wherever you may want to go for a different perspective.
This telescope is for beginners, so it doesn’t have a lot of magnification, and the optics aren’t the best. You can see the moon and some planets clearly, but anything much deeper in space can be difficult.
This telescope sits very low and will need to be set up on a sturdy table to get it into a comfortable position for viewing. Be aware that the base unintentionally swivels a little while you are viewing. You may need to keep a hand on it to keep your object in view.
The Dobsonian telescopes are the same reflector-type scopes as Newtonians are. A Dobsonian telescope has a primary parabolic mirror and a flat secondary mirror that are both located in a tube with open ends. On the side of the tube, an eyepiece is attached to help you see things comfortably. When you find your objects, the light from them reflects off the primary mirror into the secondary mirror. That is the image that you see through the eyepiece.
Here are some of our other popular telescope guides:
After reviewing a lot of telescopes, we picked the Sky-Watcher 12″ Dobsonian Telescope as the best 12-inch Dobsonian telescopes on the market, because it’s made with quality materials and gives you the best images possible. The Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope was a close runner-up. It also has excellent viewing capabilities and is made with quality products, but it is enormous and not as easy to transport.
These telescopes are all great options for the price ranges they fall in. You just have to remember that you get what you pay for. As the price gets lower, you will not be able to view as much, or as clearly, as you can with the more expensive ones. The one you get will depend on what your viewing needs are and how they match with your budget. Now the decision is in your hands. Here’s a quick recap of our top 7 picks:
1. Sky-Watcher 12″ Dobsonian Telescope (collapsible) – Best Overall
2. Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope – Best Value
3. Sky-Watcher 8-Inch Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope
4. Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 PLUS Dobsonian Reflector Telescope
5. Zhumell Z8 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector Telescope
6. Meade Instruments LightBridge Mini 114 Dobsonian Tele-scope
7. Astroscan Millennium Dobsonian Reflector Portable
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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