Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Review

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Orion has a solid track record of creating quality and affordable telescopes aimed at the average user. They continue that reputation with their SkyQuest line of Dobsonian scopes. If you are looking for a solid light bucket Dobsonian at a reasonable price, then the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope should be on your shortlist.

Dobsonians have been growing in popularity in recent years and for good reason. Orion has seen this trend and has continued to tweak and produce a full line of Dobsonian telescopes. The SkyQuest XT8 is their 8” aperture model in their popular SkyQuest line.


  • Dobsonian reflector design
  • 8” primary aperture
  • f/5.9 focal ratio
  • 406x highest theoretical magnification
  • 41lbs assembled weight

This telescope offers a lot in terms of power and poise at a reasonable price. There are a few hiccups, mainly in quality control and how the unit ships but the telescope itself has very few issues in terms of performance.

Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Review
  • Powerful Dobsonian telescope offers awesome views
  • Potential to be a long term light bucket telescope
  • Sturdy and durable construction
  • Comes with useful accessories
  • Requires assembly
  • Issues with shipping
  • Not portable
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A Classic Dobsonian Light Bucket

If sights from the Hubble Space Telescope inspired you to get into astronomy, you are going to love the type of images that the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope is going to offer. The massive 8” aperture and the focal ratio of f/5.9 gives you the perfect one-two punch of wide-angle goodness and ultimate power.

Dobsonian telescopes were developed so that backyard astronomers could continue to ramp up the size of their telescopes without the pesky limitations of tripods and simple mounts. These beefy scopes, with their large apertures and heavy bases, give you the ability to possess far greater light gathering ability than any other backyard astronomers in history – at your home.

Under the right sky conditions, this telescope is going to excel at peering into deep space and bringing into focus things that most telescope just aren’t equipped to see. If you are excited by the thought of far distant star fields, stellar nurseries, galaxies with numbers instead of names and more then this is the telescope for you.

The XT8 is exponentially more powerful than the XT6, a fact which can be most clearly noticed by its highest theoretical magnification limit of over 400x. The SkyQuest XT6 has a highest theoretical magnification of 300x. That means that this scope has a limit that is 100x higher than the next closet model.

This kind of light gathering ability is huge for imaging the kind of objects that you want to see from deep space.

Let’s Get Technical

The magnification is a solid way to get a glimpse of how good this telescope’s optics are. It has great image quality and a huge light potential. When you dig into some of the finer, more technical details, the performance of this telescope really starts to stand out.

The limiting stellar magnitude of this telescope is an impressive 14.2. For comparison, Rigel is one of the brightest stars in the sky in the constellation Orion and has a stellar magnitude of .13. The 100th brightest star in the sky has a magnitude of 2.5. A limiting stellar magnitude of 14.2 is exceedingly faint which highlights the kind of light that this telescope can absorb and process.

It has an incredibly impressive resolving power of 0.57arc*sec. This will only really shine under incredibly dark skies but if you can get this telescope under a super dark sky, it’s contrast and resolution will amaze you.

If you take into account the magnification, focal ratio, resolving power, and the limiting stellar magnitude and put it all together you get a technical picture of an extremely high functioning telescope. Even the dimmest of stars and most distant of galaxies will not be out of reach with this Dobsonian beast.

A Solid Foundation

The thing that differentiates a Dobsonian telescope from any other reflector is the size of the aperture and the base that supports it. You can get pretty large reflectors without a Dobsonian base but the bigger the optical tube the more unstable the entire assembly gets without upgrading the base.

The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope comes with a solid wooden base and an altazimuth mount. The whole thing is very sturdy and feels weighty. It is the perfect counterbalance to the large optical tube.

In fact, the weight distribution is almost evenly split between the base and the optical tube which leaves this telescope extremely well balanced and stable.

The manual altazimuth mount is fluid and smooth to use. Despite the bulk of the optical tube, the whole thing moves fluidly and easily allowing you easy control and searching of the night sky for your favorite sights.

You will be surprised at how well this telescope moves in your hands. This is much needed because light buckets are the best when you get to search a dark sky for interesting views and sights in the eyepiece without much guidance or direction. You will want to be able to swing this telescope around, point it at a patch of a dark sky and just let the rest of the world melt away.

SkyQuest XT8 Overview Video

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The heavy duty altazimuth mount will make all of this possible and is something that is usually taken for granted.

It is not just the weight and design that makes the base a solid piece of this setup but also the high quality of material used. The bearings, an integral part of a Dobsonian telescope, has seen some notable upgrades in terms of quality.

Bearings made from low-quality materials will wear out under the weight of use over time leaving you with a telescope that is less precise and harder to move.

The bearings are made from highly scientific and well engineered polymers that give them a leg up on the competition in terms of durability. The bearings are made of polytetrafluoroethylene and Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMW) polymers. This level of forethought and engineering shows the quality of the construction of this telescope from top to the very bottom.

Thoughtful Accessories

On top of being a spectacularly good light bucket, Orion has also thrown in a great accessory kit on top of the optical tube and the base. The accessories included are useful and add a lot of value. There are even a couple of game changing addons that really up the value of this whole setup.

This telescope comes with, one eyepiece, a collimation cap, a dust cap, a finderscope, and a universally compatible Crayford focuser.

Normally, including only a single eyepiece would be a big negative in this category and for some people, it still might be. However, the inclusion of a Crayford focuser with the ability to accept both 1.25” and 2” eyepieces and accessories changes the equation.

Most telescopes are hardcoded to be either a 1.25” or 2” compatible scope. This telescope can take both sizes of eyepieces. This means that the entire library of available accessories is compatible with this model. The purchase of any eyepiece set, variable lens or other accessories will be able to fit this telescope no matter the configuration.

While it is a little bit of a bummer that it only comes with one eyepiece out of the box, the ability to attach any reflector eyepiece on the market to this scope makes up for that quite a bit.

Skyquest XT8 A Video View

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The other great additions here are the inclusion of a dust cap and a collimation cap. You would be surprised how many reflectors on the market do not come with any caps, which is usually a shame. Not so with this scope.

The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope gives you everything you need to keep your telescope in good working order. A collimation cap with an 8” aperture is necessary and they include one here. The dust cap is also welcome because, with such a large opening, it would be easy to get particle matter on the mirrors which is a headache for any reflector telescope owner and more so the larger the telescopes get.

Now you can keep your telescope clean and in focus without having to buy anything after the fact.

Minor Headaches

As great as this telescope is right out of the box, nothing is perfect. There are a few issues that have been reported with this telescope.

Due to the size and shape of this telescope, it ships in multiple pieces, and depending on the vendor the complete setup will ship in two or three boxes. Some people have reported not receiving one of the boxes during shipping or reporting that there were pieces missing during setup.

These are simple problems to fix with good customer service but they can be frustrating to deal with after purchase. Few things are more annoying than running into a problem during the setup phase of any new item, especially a pricey one.

That leads into the next gripe which is that this telescope requires a decent amount of assembly before it will work properly. Smaller telescopes just require you to attach an eyepiece and a tripod and away you go. Not so with this one.

The Dobsonian base requires assembly and the optical tube requires some minor assembly as well. The setup isn’t difficult but some people do not expect to do a lot of work when they purchase a new telescope. Be aware this one will take some building and fiddling to get set up for the first time.

beyond the setup…

Once it is set up properly, it will require little maintenance, which is good. However, the assembly and weight of this telescope mean that it is not a very portable telescope. If you are someone who absolutely has to take their telescope with them when they travel, you are going to want to downsize to a more reasonable reflector size that can be tripod mounted. This telescope performs the best when it is set up and then moved very little after that.

Overall though, these are minor issues that will not even affect the majority of users. They are things that could arise during shipment or assembly and even if they do, it does not take away from the excellent performance that this telescope offers when it is assembled properly.

Other Models

The other models in this family are also great. The SkyQuest XT6 was on our list of best Dobsonian telescopes available and the XT10 also gets great marks as a massive light bucket. Both offer their pros and cons but the SkyQuest lineup is versatile for anyone looking to get a solid Dobsonian telescope.


The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope checks all of the boxes. It is not too big, it is not too small, it offers amazing views and doesn’t cost too much money. It lies right in the middle of the SkyQuest line and definitely does everything with a high degree of competence.

With the 1.25”/2” universal focuser, high-quality materials, and excellent design, the XT8 has the potential to be a lifelong Dobsonian telescope that will be able to entertain, educate and amaze you and your loved ones.

If a solid, smooth deep space telescope is the thing you have been missing from your astronomy arsenal then the XT8 deserves a place in your home. It’s unbelievable power and scope will be able to stretch the limits of what you thought was possible out of a telescope, all for less than $500.

There is a ton of value here and an excellent telescope to boot. With the unlimited potential for accessory compatibility, the limits of what the XT8 can do and become are only hampered by your own imagination. With a little bit of planning, use, and thinking you can turn this Dobsonian telescope into whatever you want it to be and that will give it an unrivaled lifespan and usefulness.