Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Review

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The Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope is a big aperture reflector that stretches both specifications and the imagination in its power and design. It is the second largest Dobsonian in the SkyQuest family and features big bodied, large scale reflector views. If you are looking for light gathering ability on a relative budget, you have come to the right place.

The aperture size to dollar ratio is quite good and the power is nearly unmatched in the market. There are not many telescopes that have a larger aperture and imaging capacity than theOrion SkyQuest XT10.


  • Dobsonian design
  • 10” primary aperture
  • f/4.7 focal ratio
  • 508x highest theoretical magnification
  • 54lbs assembled weight

If deep space is your calling and you want to peer into the depths of the universe then this is the size and style telescope that you have been waiting for.

Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Review
  • Massive aperture can probe deep space for unique and stunning images
  • Relatively cheap for the size
  • Sturdy and durable design
  • Not super portable
  • Assembly required
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Big Aperture, Big Views

The biggest draw of this telescope is hands down its aperture size. Some telescopes offer other unique features or fun addons in addition to the magnification potential. When it comes to the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope, the aperture is the only feature that truly matters.

At a full 10” in diameter, the light gathering capability of this telescope is almost unmatched. There are very few telescopes on the consumer market that are a similar or larger size to the XT10. With this scope, you are approaching the upper echelons of what the casual astronomer can purchase and use on their own.

The benefit of having such a large aperture at your disposal is that it opens up sights that just aren’t possible with other telescopes. The bigger the aperture, the more potential you have to peer farther and farther into the galaxy.

The ability to see the most distant sights all comes from the size of your aperture. The bigger the aperture, the more potential to absorb fainter and fainter light from farther more distant light sources.

Needless to say, the 10” aperture offers some serious light gathering ability which translates into raw magnification power.

This can be seen clearly in this beast’s 508x highest theoretical magnification power. That is about twice as much as many average sized telescopes. This power will give you some excellent imaging opportunities for distant objects such as star clusters, nebula, galaxies, and more.

It also has a capable ability to view the closer objects in the solar system and near galactic space as well. The lowest usable magnification is 36x which is plenty to take peeks at Jupiter, Saturn, the moon, and more.

Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Video

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The focal ratio of f/4.7 makes this the classic light bucket style telescope that will excel at sitting and absorbing dim light from distant sources from a single spot. While you might want to check out the local sights, you are really going to want to let this telescope focus on deep space.

This telescope’s image quality is extremely good and you will be able to get images of distant space that will make your jaw drop. The stars are crisp and clear. The nebulas are colorful and bright. If you choose the right galaxy under the right sky conditions, you can see the galactic structure of other galaxies. It is truly an amazing experience.

Going Deeper

We can talk about the raw power of this telescope all day but there are a couple more benchmarks that highlight the image quality of this telescope far better than the pure magnification numbers.

The first is the limiting stellar magnification. Stellar magnitude is the measure of an object’s brightness as visible from Earth (as opposed to its intrinsic luminosity). After some complicated math, it turns out that an object’s apparent magnitude is brighter the lower it gets. So -14.7 is exponentially brighter than 14.7.

All of that being said, the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope has a stunning limiting stellar magnification number of 14.7. That is incredibly dim and highlights how awesome the light absorbing power of this telescope truly is. That is insanely dim but even the dimmest of objects will not escape the gaze of the XT10.

This telescope also has a very high resolving power. The resolving power of this telescope clocks in at 0.46arc*sec which is derived from its large aperture.

What these numbers all translate to is that this telescope is insanely powerful, has great resolution, and can spot the best and most distant objects in the night sky.

Power Flows From the Base

While the aperture of this telescope is the star of the show, the base is the unsung hero. The only reason we can experience such a large and powerful optical tube is because of the innovative and unfaltering Dobsonian base.

This base is made from solid wood which gives it a durable and sturdy platform on which the whole telescope rests. You will immediately feel the stability of the whole telescope once everything is assembled properly. The balance is impeccable and there are no shaking, shuddering, or wobbling issues. That is impressive given the hefty 54lbs overall weight.

This is partly due to the classic Dobsonian base but also because of some choice upgrades and innovations that Orion has added to this model.

The first of these is the CorrecTention system. This is a handy system of springs that Orion have put into the base that keeps the optical tube balanced and secured to the mount. This tension based system removes the need for bulky counterweights and reduces shaking immensely. This unique upgrade really adds a lot of functionality to such a large telescope. The result is a smooth and fluid experience that is a joy to use.

This is also enhanced by their upgraded bearings. They have made the bearings in their altazimuth mount from the highest quality materials available. That means that there is less of a chance of the bearings wearing out, breaking down, or becoming sticky with prolonged use.

The bearings are made from non-stick PTFE and UHMW materials which gives it fluid movements in every direction.

What this all means…

These innovations make this altazimuth mount smooth and fluid despite the size and weight of the optical tube. You will quickly forget the true measurements of this telescope as it begins to feel like a much smaller model during realignment and sky searching.
The result is a telescope that can easily move across the sky in any direction. The whole firmament will open up to you as you casually swing your telescope around to your favorite sights or new patches of sky.

The combination of the optical power and ease of use of the mount makes this a powerful tool in which to search the sky.

Don’t Forget the Accessories

The Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope comes with a few nifty accessories to help flesh out the setup completely. The accessories included here are all useful and Orion has clearly skipped the frills in favor of items that will be of immediate use.

This setup includes a single Plossl eyepiece, an EZ Finder II reflex sight for manual sky searching, a dust cap, a collimation cap, a 2” Crayford focuser and a 1.25”-2” adapter.

First, the EZ Finder II reflex sight offers a great way to line up your telescope when using it to search the sky. Many telescopes add in a finderscope as a second thought but in the case of the XT10, it is an important piece of kit. The freehanded approach to stargazing that the altazimuth mount offers really benefits from a quality reflex sight that comes included here.

The 2” Crayford focuser is a quality accessory made even more useful by the inclusion of a 1.25”-2” adapter. While a 2” attachment slot is best for telescopes of this size, the adapter allows you to hook up whatever accessory you want whether it is a 2” upgrade or a 1.25” upgrade. That means that every upgrade on the market should be able to be used freely on this telescope which is a boon that most people do not have.

There is more…

Lastly, the inclusion of the collimation cap and a dust cap are welcome additions. This telescope will definitely need collimation due to the size of its primary mirrors and the inclusion of a collimation cap makes that process easy.

The same can be said of the dust cap. The 10” opening is great for collecting light but it can also be great for collecting other things that could obstruct the image quality of the telescope. Dust, dirt, and bugs all like to find their way into telescopes of this size. The dust cap will work to ensure that as little of these unwanted things enter the telescope as possible.

Drawbacks and Alternatives

Overall, this telescope is fantastic from top to bottom. The quality of construction is fantastic, the image quality is great and the whole thing is easy to use. There are very, very few downsides to this telescope.

The biggest one is the initial assembly. There are a lot of pieces that are required to attach the large optical tube to the base. This can be frustrating for anyone who is used to opening a telescope up and being ready to go right away. This telescope is going to take a little more work to get up and running.

The whole thing stands over 5’ tall and needs to be assembled and collimated for a smooth first viewing experience. This can take some time and there have been issues with shipping as many of the pieces ships in separate boxes due to the size and weight of the different sections of the telescope. However, once everything is assembled and aligned properly, everything runs smoothly from there on out.

The only viable alternatives to this telescope could be its brethren in the SkyQuest line. If you are spooked by the price point (which is very fair for this size) then you could step down to the XT8 which is of similar quality, design, and power. Or, if you want to go bigger, you could check out the XT12 which features a whopping 12” aperture. But if you are satisfied with a 10” aperture model there are few better than the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope.

It’s a brilliant telescope…

Either way, the XT10 offers a great blend of power, affordability, and design. It falls in a sweet spot where it is large but not overly huge and it does not break the bank. There are other 10” aperture telescopes on the market but many of those are outshone by their 8” equivalents. The XT10 is one of the few telescopes that I have found to be better and more useful than the 8” model.


To be honest, I had to search for downsides to this telescope. I had to rack my brain in order to think up of any downsides to add to this review and the ones I chose aren’t very strong. This is a very complete reflector telescope with almost no weaknesses.

Whether this is your first Dobsonian telescope or an upgrade from a smaller model, this telescope has something for everyone. It has the chops to stare deep into the heart of space and the versatility to see favorites such as the moon and the Andromeda in equal measures without sacrificing image quality.

This telescope is affordable, it is durable, it is made from high quality materials, it offers amazing power and it has great image quality. It has the potential to host any number of aftermarket accessories, it looks sharp and has the potential to keep you occupied for years to come.

If you have a few hundred dollars to spend and want one of the best Dobsonian telescopes on the market then the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic Dobsonian Telescope should be a no brainer purchase.