This is a review of the Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 Plus Dobsonian Reflector Telescope. It’s part of the family of telescopes from Orion that includes other Dobsonian Reflector telescopes. These telescopes are all easy to manipulate, allow plenty of light for great images, and are reasonably priced.
They’re terrific beginner scopes that can be used by anyone in the family. They’re pretty tall for a telescope, too. While some telescopes have high tripods, this telescope actually has a large, long tube that gives the telescope its height. It makes the whole unit incredibly sturdy and stable.
Pros of the Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8
- 8-inch aperture
- Easy configuration
- Great quality for the price
- Stable base
- Wide aperture
- Beautiful color
Cons of the SkyQuest Telescope
- Delivered in two separate boxes
Technical Details and Included Accessories
- 2-inch, dual-speed Crayford
- 28 mm DeepView eyepiece
- 10 mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece
- Safety film solar filter
- 2x Barlow
- EZ Finder II
- Collimation cap
- Lowest magnification: 29x
With an 8-inch aperture, you’re letting more light into your telescope. Like a camera, when you have more light into the scope, you’re getting clearer images. You’ll be able to see the details of the Moon including the mountains and craters that litter the surface. Even the rings of Saturn won’t be a problem with this telescope.
This is a stable, sturdy telescope that you can set up in the backyard without worrying that it will be blown over if you leave it covered overnight. This stable base doesn’t really give you the portability of some other telescopes, though. You can easily detach the scope from the base, but the entire unit is quite heavy.
The base can fit in the trunk with the scope in the backseat if you want to bring it to a dark place away from the city. It’s not an easy portability, though. A padded carrying case for the tube might make portability simpler without the danger of breaking the mirrors or lens.
This movement allows you to easily swivel the telescope side to side or horizontally on a vertical or horizontal axis. This makes it easier for beginners to move the telescope to view planets, galaxies or the Moon without worrying about knowing the GPS coordinates of themselves on Earth in relation to the celestial bodies in the sky.
Collimate the Telescope
The beginner can find the steps of collimating the mirrors to be incredibly daunting. For this telescope, the instructions are detailed with illustrations that will take much of the fear out of the process. There are thumbscrew adjustment knobs on the mirrors, so you don’t have to worry about dropping a tool onto the mirror itself.
We’ve heard of that happening! Once you’ve cracked a mirror, you’ll appreciate the fact that there’s nothing to drop on the telescope. This telescope comes with a collimation cap, too. This helps the process tremendously, and in some telescopes, there are only small tweaks required before viewing.
Finder Scope Calibration
While the Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 Plus Dobsonian Reflector Telescope is one of the easiest telescopes to use, it does require some setup before you can view anything accurately in the night sky. You’ll need to align the Finder scope that comes with the telescope. When you attach the Finder scope using the instructions, the telescope and the finder scope might not be pointed at the same objects.
The slightest angle difference means that you’re not looking at the right celestial body. It’s best to align the telescope and the finder during the day to make sure they’re pointed at the same thing. This video from an Orion employee helps to explain that process in a way that’s easy to understand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a camera be attached to the telescope for pictures?
You can certainly buy a separate mount to attach your camera, or you can place the camera’s viewfinder onto the telescope eyepiece to capture what you’re seeing.
Why did I only receive the stand/telescope?
The telescope comes in two boxes. It’s likely that the other box is a day or two behind the first one. Wait a day or two and contact the manufacturer to find out how long before the other can be expected.
Will the Barlow work with the 28 mm eyepiece?
The Barlow is compatible with the 1.25” eyepiece.
Overall, the Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 Plus Dobsonian Reflector Telescope is a tremendous value for the amount of accessories, quality parts, and features that you get. It’s a telescope made for everyone in the family.
You don’t have to worry about rambunctious children knocking the telescope over because it has spindly legs. It’s a sturdy piece on a solid base. We definitely recommend this easy-to-use telescope for the entire family to enjoy in the backyard. You’ll be making memories with your kids that will last a lifetime.