The best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners is the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope. Its top features include a 203 mm – 8”- aperture, Dobsonian optical design, Red Dot Finder, a 1200 mm focal length, and a Focal Ratio of f/5.9, among other notable features.
Among telescopes priced under $700, the SkyQuest XT8 has some of the best features. That is why many astrophysicists and astronomers consider it a steal review.
What Makes the SkyQuest XT8 the best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners?
- 203 mm – 8”- Aperture
- Dobsonian Optical Design
- Red Dot Finder – best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners
- Focal Length 1200 mm
- Focal Ratio f/5.9
- Head Design Altitude Azimuth
- Mount Weighs 20.7 lbs.
- OTA Length 46.5”
- Dobsonian Cradle OTA Mount
- Limiting Stellar Magnitude: 14.2
- Lowest Useful Magnification: 29x
- Highest Useful Magnification: 300x
- Laser Collimator
- Summary – Best Telescope for Viewing Planets and Galaxies for Beginners
What Makes the SkyQuest XT8 the best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners?
203 mm – 8”- Aperture
The 203 mm allows the SkyQuest XT8 to gather a larger amount of light, resulting in brighter and clearer images of objects in the night sky. A larger aperture also allows for higher magnification and the ability to observe fainter objects, such as distant galaxies and nebulae.
The 203 mm aperture is quite large for a backyard telescope, making it an excellent choice for amateur astronomers who want to observe deep-sky objects in finer detail.
Dobsonian Optical Design
A Dobsonian optical design refers to a type of telescope mount and construction. The Dobsonian mount is a simple, low-cost, Altitude-Azimuth mount for telescopes. John Dobson invented it in the 1960s as an easy and inexpensive way for amateur astronomers to build large, powerful telescopes.
The design features a box-like mount that allows the telescope tube to rotate in altitude (up and down) and azimuth – side-to-side – directions. The mount is very stable and easy to use and can support large, heavy telescope tubes.
The Dobsonian design is particularly well suited for telescopes with a large aperture, such as the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope, as it allows the telescope to be pointed at objects in the sky with great precision and stability.
Red Dot Finder – best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners
A Red Dot Finder is a small telescope or sight mounted on the main telescope. You can use it to help the user locate and center objects in the field of view of the main telescope.
The red dot finder projects a red dot onto a small lens, and the user can use this dot to aim the main telescope at the object of interest.
The red dot finder is a simple, easy-to-use aiming device that is especially useful for beginners who may not be familiar with the night sky. It can help them quickly and easily find objects without spending much time searching for them.
Additionally, a Red Dot Finder is usually very lightweight, easy to install, and aligned with the main telescope, and it consumes very little energy, making it a great addition to any telescope.
Including a red dot finder in the SkyQuest XT8 is an added convenience for the user, and it can help them quickly and easily aim the telescope at objects in the sky, making it easier to observe and study the night sky.
Focal Length 1200 mm
The focal length of a telescope is the distance between the primary lens or mirror (the objective) and the point where the telescope forms an image. In the case of the SkyQuest XT8, the focal length is 1200 mm.
A longer focal length results in a higher magnification and a narrower field of view, while a shorter focal length results in a lower magnification and a wider field of view.
A longer focal length is generally better for observing small, faint objects such as distant galaxies and nebulae, while a shorter focal length is better for wide-field views of larger objects such as star clusters and the Milky Way.
A 1200mm focal length is a long focal length, which means this telescope will have higher magnification, making it great for observing objects that require higher magnifications, such as planets and the Moon.
The longer focal length also allows you to make detailed observations of deep-sky objects, such as distant galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters.
It is also important to note that the focal length is a determining factor in the telescope’s field of view. The longer the focal length, the smaller the field of view, and vice versa.
Focal Ratio f/5.9
The focal ratio of a telescope, also known as the f-ratio, is the ratio of the telescope’s focal length to its aperture. In the case of the SkyQuest XT8 telescope, the focal ratio is f/5.9.
A lower f-ratio (such as f/4 or f/3.5) indicates that the telescope has a faster focal ratio and a wider aperture, which allows more light to enter the telescope and results in brighter and clearer images.
A higher f-ratio (such as f/10 or f/15) indicates that the telescope has a slower focal ratio and a narrower aperture, which results in dimmer and less clear images.
F/5.9 is a relatively fast focal ratio, meaning that this telescope will have a wide aperture and gather a lot of light, making it great for observing faint objects such as distant galaxies and nebulae. A fast focal ratio also allows for shorter exposure times when taking astrophotography.
It is also worth noting that telescopes with faster focal ratios are generally better suited for wide-field views and lower magnification, while telescopes with slower focal ratios are better suited for higher magnification and narrower fields of view.
Head Design Altitude Azimuth
The head design of a telescope refers to the type of mount that you use to support and operate the telescope. For example, the Altitude-Azimuth (Alt-Az) mount allows the telescope to move in two directions: altitude, which is up and down, and azimuth, which is side to side.
An Alt-Az mount has two motion controls, one for the altitude and one for the azimuth. That allows you to point the telescope easily at an object in the sky by adjusting the altitude to point it up or down and the azimuth to point it left or right.
The Alt-Az mount is a simple, easy-to-use mount that is well-suited for beginners and casual users. It is also more compact and lightweight than other mounts, making it easier to transport and set up.
The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope features an Altitude-Azimuth mount, the Dobsonian mount, which is a low-cost and easy-to-use mount that allows the telescope to point at objects in the sky with great precision and stability.
This mount is a great fit for the telescope’s aperture and focal length, making it easy for the user to point the telescope at objects in the sky and observe them with clarity.
Mount Weighs 20.7 lbs.
The weight of a telescope’s mount is an important factor to consider, especially if you plan to move or transport the telescope frequently. A lighter mount is generally easier to move and set up, while a heavier mount may be more stable and better suited for long-term observation.
A mount weight of 20.7 lbs. for the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope is relatively heavy, but it is still manageable for most people to move it around.
The weight of the mount is due to its size and sturdiness of the mount. That is necessary to support the weight of the telescope’s large aperture and long focal length.
A heavier mount generally provides more stability to the telescope, reducing vibrations and allowing for more accurate observations.
The stability provided by the mount is especially important when observing at higher magnifications or when taking long-exposure astrophotography.
The telescope’s mount weight does not affect the weight of the entire telescope. The optical tube assembly (OTA) weight is 20.3 lbs. so the overall weight of the telescope is around 41 lbs.
OTA Length 46.5”
The optical tube assembly (OTA) length of a telescope is the length of the telescope’s main tube, which houses the objective lens or mirror. For example, the OTA length of the SkyQuest XT8 is 46.5 inches.
The OTA length can affect the telescope’s portability and storage. A shorter OTA length is generally easier to transport and store, while a longer OTA length can provide better performance types of observations.
A longer OTA length allows for a longer focal length, resulting in higher magnification and better resolution of faint objects.
The 46.5” OTA length of the SkyQuest XT8 telescope is quite long for a telescope of its class. That is why it can provide a higher magnification and better resolution of faint objects. That is another reason it is the best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners.
That makes it an excellent telescope for observing deep-sky objects such as distant galaxies and nebulae and for planetary observation.
It is worth noting that a longer OTA length may require more space for storage and transportation. The user should ensure they have enough space to accommodate the telescope before purchasing it.
Dobsonian Cradle OTA Mount
A Dobsonian Cradle mount typically consists of a base that the telescope sits on and a set of bearings on which the telescope tube rests. The base of the mount allows the telescope to rotate in the azimuth direction, while the bearings allow the telescope to rotate in the altitude direction.
The Dobsonian Cradle mount is a simple, low-cost, easy-to-use mount that is well-suited for beginners and casual users. It is also more compact and lightweight than other mounts, making it easier to transport and set up.
The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope features a Dobsonian Cradle OTA Mount Type, which perfectly matches the telescope’s optical design and aperture.
This mount provides stability and precision, allowing the user to easily point the telescope at objects in the sky and observe them in finer and clear details.
Limiting Stellar Magnitude: 14.2
The limiting stellar magnitude, also known as the limiting visual magnitude, is a measure of the faintest star that a telescope can detect. It is a measure of the telescope’s light-gathering ability.
It can be measured using a standard magnitude scale, where lower numbers indicate brighter objects and higher numbers indicate fainter objects.
Having a high limiting stellar magnitude means that a telescope can detect and observe fainter stars and other celestial objects, which can be beneficial for several reasons.
For instance, if you want to observe distant galaxies or nebulae, a telescope with a high limiting stellar magnitude is ideal since it will allow you to detect and observe these objects more easily.
The limiting stellar magnitude is not the only factor determining the telescope’s performance; other factors like the aperture, focal ratio, and the quality of the optics also play a role.
Lowest Useful Magnification: 29x
The lowest useful magnification of 29x is the minimum magnification at which you can still see an image’s finer details.
Highest Useful Magnification: 300x
The highest useful magnification of 300x refers to the maximum magnification at which you can still see an image and discern its details.
The quality of the optics, your eyesight, the stability of the telescope mount, and the atmospheric conditions determine the upper and lower magnification limits.
Using a magnification higher than the highest useful magnification limit will create a blurry and unusable image. Therefore, the telescope will be most useful within this magnification range.
The only downside of this telescope is it comes with a low-quality laser collimator. So you may need to replace it. A laser collimator is a device used to align the optical elements of a telescope.
It projects a laser beam through the telescope’s optics and allows the user to adjust the alignment of the mirrors or lenses so that they are properly collimated or aligned. That is important for achieving the best possible image quality.
A laser collimator typically consists of a small laser, a set of mirrors or lenses, and a focus adjustment. You first point the telescope at a bright, distant object, such as a street light, and then shine the laser beam through the telescope’s optics.
You then adjust the alignment of the mirrors or lenses using the focus adjustment until the distant object reflects the laser beam into the collimator. That indicates that the telescope’s lenses or mirrors have aligned.
Once you collimate a telescope, you can start using the telescope to view distant objects such as planets and galaxies.
It is a useful tool for telescope maintenance, as it can collimate a telescope in minutes. It is especially useful for reflector telescopes, which have mirrors that can become misaligned over time.
Summary – Best Telescope for Viewing Planets and Galaxies for Beginners
There are many features combined to make the best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners. However, the top three are aperture, magnification, and mount. You need to check those even when considering other telescopes.
The aperture of a telescope is the diameter of its main lens or mirror, and it is the most important factor to consider when buying a telescope for viewing planets and galaxies. A larger aperture allows the telescope to gather more light, resulting in a clearer and more detailed image.
Magnification is another important factor to consider when buying a telescope. A telescope with a high magnification will allow you to see more details on distant objects, but it can also make the image less stable and harder to view.
The mount is the mechanism that holds the telescope in place and allows you to adjust its position. A sturdy mount is important for keeping the telescope steady and reducing vibrations. A motorized mount can also make tracking objects moving across the sky easier.
In addition to the above three factors, you may also want to consider other features. That is the size and weight of the telescope, the ease of assembly and use, and the cost.
The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 checks out all five features. That is why I consider it the best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners.