First Light Review of my new Orion SkyQuest XX14g
By Chris Caka
I had been doing research online for a new telescope for months after selling my 6 inch goto reflector. After staying up late night after night reading endless amounts of data, I decided on the new Orion XX14g. I consider myself an amateur astronomer, and when I say amateur, I mean an average Joe with moderate knowledge of the stars interested in what the night sky has to offer.
First thought when it arrived at my house via UPS...it's big! The telescope arrived in 5 big boxes, one of which was the storage cases I order for the telescope. The packaging was double boxed and all the components were securely in place. It took me a couple hours to do the initial build by myself. The instruction book that comes with the telescope is written well and step by step instructions are straight forward and easy to follow. After getting the telescope put together, I collimated both of the mirrors, which were considerably off from shipping. The assembled telescope is slightly over 6 feet tall when pointed at zenith! That being said, a 6 foot tall person still needs a step or step ladder to view through the eyepiece when the telescope is aiming high in the sky.
After a disassembly to get a feel for the process and to test the fit in the new padded cases, it was time to rebuild the telescope outside for a first night test run. The heaviest individual components are the solid round base with the AZ motor drive built in and the lower OTA, both around 50 pounds +/-. It took me
20-25 minutes to carry out the individual components and re-assemble the telescope outside by myself. I made a minor collimation tweak to the primary mirror and was ready for the night.
The XX14g requires an external 12 volt power source to operate the drive motors and hand controller. You can also use an optional 12 volt DC power adapter. Once the sky was good and dark, I switched the power on and began the easy process of initializing the hand controller. After a simple 2 star alignment, it was time to test the goto system. First target… Saturn. To watch this monster dob slew around to a target is nothing short of cool! Once the target was acquired, I took my first look through the provided 2 inch 35mm eyepiece and Viola! Saturn was near center of my field of view! I switched to a 13mm Badder Hyperion. I could hardly believe the accuracy of the goto system as I selected objects from the hand controller’s database and slewed around the night sky. Nearly every object I selected would end up in the FOV of my 13mm eyepiece! And the views… WOW! Nebula and star clusters were larger and brighter than I have ever experienced. Galaxies galore that I have never seen with my previous telescope. I could even faintly make out some spiral arms of some of the galaxies. I could easily split binary star systems. Switching to a 16mm Televue Nagler made me not want to leave double clusters. I would have to make minor adjustments with the hand controller during long duration tracking (more than 15 minutes) to keep objects centered in the 13mm eyepiece, but overall the tracking performance was very good for a visual telescope. Another thing I really like is that you can manually move the telescope anywhere just like a classic dob and not have to re-align the encoders for goto and tracking as each axis has dual encoders. I manually moved the Az. 270 degrees off of a target and pushed the Alt. to 10 degrees (near zero) to test this. The telescope “magically” made its way back to the target using the goto and nearly centered the target! Very cool feature, especially for a classic dob person who likes manually moving to different targets and then have auto tracking instead of pushing to keep targets centered in the eyepiece.
For those of you who were wondering about the goto and tracking performance of the XX14g, have no fear! It works WAY better than I expected. Would I recommend the XX14g? If you’re looking for this size of telescope with goto and auto tracking for an almost unbeatable price for what you get, the answer is an absolute YES!