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Before I order an Orion Skyquest XT8 ...

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#1 USA2CUP

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 03:19 PM

Hi all, me and my family (me, wife, 7yo daughter) are relatively new to astronomy.  My daughter has a big fascination with space (mostly moon and planets but is starting to be interested in nebulae etc. and has shown a lot of interest in learning more).  So far we have been using a tabletop Celestron FirstScope with the basic 20mm and 4mm eyepieces it comes with.  I also grabbed a couple of Plossl eps on Craigslist (25mm and 10mm) and we've enjoyed looking at the moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars and feel like it's time to upgrade.  It'll be a present for our 7yo daughter, but in reality it will be used as a family scope (until she gets older).  After all of the research I've done on this site (and others) I was drawn toward the Orion XT line of dobsons.  Originally I was thinking the XT6 but read so many compelling arguments for the XT8 so that's what I'm thinking now.  Granted, my daughter won't be able to move it by herself for several years.  I'd be open to other suggestions if you think there would be something of high quality but more manageable for a 7yo, but otherwise I will move ahead with the XT8.  With that in mind I see Orion offers the scope (with a 25mm Plossl) or for an extra $40 as a kit which includes Orion Shorty 2x Barlow Lens, 1.25", Orion Star Target planisphere, Orion MoonMap 260, Orion Telescope Observer's Guide book, Orion RedBeam Mini LED keychain flashlight.  It seems to me that all of this will be useful for us as beginners but if you with experience think otherwise, please let me know.  If I do move forward with the XT8 with kit as mentioned, will I be missing anything that you think we'd really find helpful (let's say, in our first year)?  I was looking at a Celestron 8-24 zoom EP if that would useful.  Any thoughts you have on all of this would be greatly appreciated.  If it wasn't for Covid we'd find a local astronomy club and see if anyone had one for us to check out.


Edited by USA2CUP, 23 February 2021 - 03:48 PM.


#2 USA2CUP

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 03:21 PM

Additional note:  we live in NJ with a fair amount of light pollution.  We will want to use it in our backyard as much as possible but at times will load it into the SUV to find better viewing.



#3 wrvond

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 03:38 PM

As a rule, I avoid buying anything in "kits". Most of the stuff included is of sub-par construction or less than useful. You'd be better served purchasing a set of inexpensive eyepieces from Astronomics (our sponsor). 

 

Here's a bunch of very inexpensive Plossl's: https://www.astronom...iece_series=482

 

The Astrotech Paradigm's are considered an excellent value: https://www.astronom...iece_series=478


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#4 sg6

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 03:46 PM

The kits are generally not considered a great deal of use. Not sure without it what eyepieces you would have but a nice wide eyepiece is generally the first when using a dobsonian.

 

Usualy advice is use what you have and work out what you might need. Usually it is different to what you expect.

 

Moon Map I suggest forget, sounds nice but you are not going to work out what you are looking at outside.

Planisphere unsure, it could be a small one and they are useless. The standard ones - about 8" - are OK. Have 2 and again never use outside.

 

A lot of astro items are really to use inside planning what you will do outside. Of all the bits I use outside a decent book is the main (only) thing. And that rarely. Even Skysafari isn't used greatly.

 

Barlow, never used one yet. But only been doing it for 21 years.

 

I do have a heck of a collection of red light torches. Some dim, some (one) that will burn your eyes out. It's sort of bright, I just had to have it mrevil.gif

Think the scope is f/6 sp will be reasonable on eyepieces, decent plossl's (Vixen NPL), Paradigms, and oddly you do not need many. I use in general 3. Paradigms at 8mm, 12mm and 25mm. And I suggest you consider those for yourself.

 

Any way it is your daughters scope, ask her what her ideas are. lol.gif  lol.gif  lol.gif

Then buy the 3 Paradigms.

 

Real must haves are warm jacket clothing. Then stand outside and learn the various constellations. When someone says Try M13 in Hercules. You first have to know where Hercules is, then you start on the detail of where M13 is hiding. For that warm clothing, maybe a pointer, binoculars. And a book, I use The Monthly Sky Guide, Ridpath and Tirion. It also has a moon map at the front, quite a reasonale one.


Edited by sg6, 23 February 2021 - 03:48 PM.

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#5 fallenstarseven

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 03:58 PM

I have an Orion XT10g and also purchased an Orion eyepiece kit.    In retrospect the ep kit hasn't really added much to my overall experience, and I haven't used them nearly as much as others that I bought.  I ended up buying several wide angle Explore Scientific eyepieces which have been a delight and make it easy to share the experience family members comfortably and accommodates more casual viewers who may struggle to look through tighter eyepieces with narrower fields of view but they are pricey.  

 

Depending on the price differential between the kit version and the standalone, I'd rather buy a nice copy of Turn Left at Orion, which will cover most of the subjects in a collection of books and help guide your viewing seasonally.  Look at reviews and buy an inexpensive red flashlight which you will need in the dark, and then invest in a few good inexpensive eyepieces.  I would also save and or invest toward an adjustable observing chair or come up with something you can use in its place.   I went out on a beautiful night last night and forgot to pack my observing chair and regretted it every minute.   It's more than a convenience, it makes it possible to spend far longer on an object at the eyepiece and for a group of people of varying heights is darn near essential.

 

As far as the Dob, I can't imagine anything more practical and versatile at this stage for you!

 

One other thing that may be a next down the road investment would be a 45 dollar Telrad finder which makes locating objects and star hopping much much easier.   Don't forget a good app like Stellarium for your tablet or phone.


Edited by fallenstarseven, 23 February 2021 - 04:01 PM.

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#6 Mike G.

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 04:08 PM

the planisphere, while I think it will help her visualize the constellations and DSO's, might be a bit advanced for a 7 y.o., I don't know.  you might find it useful though for helping plan what to look at.  the adjustable chair is a necessity for me, but depending on her height, she might need a small folding stepladder when the scope is at zenith.  red light, good.  Telrad, definitely.  also, I have found at Outreach events and back in the day when we had neighbors over, a green laser pointer is a big help pointing things out to others when all they see are a bunch of stars.  be warned though, laser use needs to be done with great care and caution.  you need to check the sky before using it to make sure NO aircraft are in the general neighborhood of where you are pointing.  not even close to where you are pointing.  a free phone app that shows the sky and International Space Station passes for your phone...  chemical handwarmers for this time of year...  that should get you going.  the 8" dob is something that will last for a long long time and show you more than you can see in a lifetime.  good choice!  and good luck with your budding astronomer!


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#7 sevenofnine

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 04:35 PM

My first really good scope was/is the Orion XT-8 Plus. No regrets there. It's completely manual so you and family will have the fun of learning the night sky. Like others have said "cool your jets" on accessories for now. Adding the zoom eyepiece can be fun but the more expensive Baader Mark IV is a decent upgrade from the Celestron. I have them both. The scope can be moved in 2 pieces by a strong adult. Easily moved with a good hand cart in one piece. If you have stairs to navigate, look at the 6 wheeled stair climbing models on Amazon. It made a world of difference to me. Good luck, it's a good choice! waytogo.gif


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#8 SeattleScott

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 04:39 PM

It is a reflector so you need a collimation tool.

Be advised that unless your 7 year old daughter is taller than mine, she will need a step stool to look through it when it is pointed high in the sky.

The Orion 4.5” would be more her height and better for her to carry herself, but it is much less capable.

I would hold off buying more eyepieces for the moment. Gauge the interest level, for her and you. Then decide how much you want to spend on eyepieces. Right now you might think $250 for an eyepiece is way too expensive. Maybe it is. But you know what is more expensive? Buying a $30 eyepiece and replacing it with a $60 eyepiece, then replacing that with a $120 eyepiece and finally replacing that with a $250 eyepiece. There is a thread going in the eyepiece forum where someone asks if going from $30 eyepieces to $250 eyepieces is overkill. If you are going to end up at $250 eventually anyway, then it sounds pretty smart. You might argue three or four $250 eyepieces would cost more than your scope! Lol, join the club.

Scott

Edited by SeattleScott, 23 February 2021 - 04:46 PM.

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#9 Hexley  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 04:55 PM

An XT8 is a fine choice, and will not break the bank too badly. I keep both an XT8 and a 6SE in my garage, they're pretty much polar opposites in astronomy philosophy. The 6SE is fully computerized, key in the messier object or planet easy... the XT8... it's you and the telescope navigating the skies, full manual control -- but that's most of the fun. I feel like Sir Isaac Newton (though I wear deodorant). Also, for a quick peak, it's arguably faster to deploy a Dob than the 6SE (needs alignment, charged battery, tripod deployed).

 

Depends what your goals are. My little girls are 3 and 5 (you can see my 3YO's face the first time she saw the moon through the scope), my wife is not into astronomy, so the 6SE is more commonly used by the family to look at planets and the moon. The Dob is my guilty pleasure, when the girls are asleep, you might find me in the backyard at 1AM Dob-driving and getting lost in the heavens lol.gif

 

When astronomy clubs were a thing, I'd alternate which scope I'd bring... or if I knew it'd be a planetary night, I'd bring my GoTo to keep Saturn firmly in place haha

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Edited by Hexley, 23 February 2021 - 04:56 PM.

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#10 SeattleScott

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 05:05 PM

My son was confused, because the scope flips the image. He kept looking back and forth between the Moon in the scope and the naked eye, trying to figure out why one was backwards.
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#11 Hexley  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 05:32 PM

There’s no up or down in space, just a side effect of us experiencing gravity our entire life 😂

#12 Mitchell M.

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 06:07 PM

Yeah, forget the kit. Stick with the scope and the included eyepieces. That alone will keep you occupied for a while and will give you an opportunity to gauge what areas to improve; finder scope, additional eyepieces, filters, etc. It's easy to get overwhelmed. Start with the basics and then go from there. Truth be known, star gazing can be very satisfying with very little gear. A lot of folks with many years under their belt eventually settle with one or two scopes and a few eyepieces they use on a regular basis and sold off most of the extra stuff they purchased over the years.


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#13 spaceoddity

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 06:55 PM

I think some people are confusing the dobsonian kit with the eyepiece and filter starter kits. Those cheap eyepiece kits are generally not worth the money but this kit looks like it has useful stuff - orion shorty barlow, red keychain light, observers guide, moon map and planisphere. I'd say those are all worthwhile items and worth $40. I think the XT8 will be a great scope for your daughter and family. I see it only has a red dot finder. A 9X50 Right Angle Correct Image finder scope would be a helpful addition. You might want to also look at the Zhumell or Apertura dobs. They come with a 2-speed focuser and a better low power eyepiece.


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#14 No N in collimation

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Posted 23 February 2021 - 08:01 PM

For a kid I would order something smaller. Orion has a 6" table top. She could use it on the ground or put it on a picnic table. I would just think a full-size dob is too big for a 7-year-old. My two cents. 

 

Get the Barlow, get the planisphere, and Orion has a nice map of the sky. More importantly, get a moon filter and some good children's books. Here is what I recommend: 

 

The Total Skywatcher's Manual: 275+ Skills and Tricks for Exploring

50 Things To See With A Telescope - Kids: A Constellation Focused Approach

50 Things to See on the Moon: A first-time stargazer's guide

Night Sky: A Field Guide to the Constellations

Night Sky Playing Cards (constellation flash cards)

Find the Constellations (by H. A. Rey of "Curious George" fame)

 

Also get some 10x50 binoculars and a green laser pointer to point things out in the sky. Enjoy! 

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Edited by No N in collimation, 23 February 2021 - 08:15 PM.

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#15 USA2CUP

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 12:06 PM

Thanks everybody for all of your insights ... I really appreciate it!  I saved all of your recos in a consolidated list so I can refer to them as needed.  As for the scope itself, I'll probably stick with the XT8 since most responses were quite favorable to that.

 

No N in Collimation and SeattleScott- thanks, I was expecting that more people might have veered me to a tabletop for my daughter but not many did.  The loss of optics and having to deal with a table were my concern there.  Hopefully you won't be telling me 'I told you so' in a few months. No N - I saved the list of books you reco'd.  Thanks!

sg6 - Yes, ask my daughter for her suggestions.  Great idea!  LOL When she saw a picture of the XT8 she said "Whoa yeah, I want that!!!  Everybody will know I'm really into space if I have that!).  I'm going to stop asking her from now on!  hahaha

spaceoddity - agree, many people saw the word kit and thought 'cheap bundle of eps'.  Well, I will need a red light anyway and might use the barlow at some point (tbd) but not sure if this one is decent or not.  Not sure about the quality of the written materials; sounds like Turn Left at Orion is the go to for that stuff anyway. Undecided about the kit still.

sevenofnine (and many others):  "cool your jets"  hahaha point taken and agree.  I'll settle in with the scope first then decide from there about additional accessories.  My immediate fear is that I get this thing and having my family be disappointed simply because I was using a crappy stock eyepiece or something like that.  I'll keep everybody's reco's for a later date as needed.

fallenstarseven and Mike G. - An adjustable chair ... great idea!  I am sure that my family will appreciate that reco.  Thanks!

Hexley - my daughter absolutely LOVED that pic!  

 

Everybody - thanks so much for your input.  I'll continue to refer back to all of your reco's over time. Of course, everything is on backorder at this point in time but once we're up and running I'll post an update.  This is a great community and I'm glad I joined.  Thanks again!



#16 SeattleScott

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 01:24 PM

Kids can be fun. They do like to take control so if you want to see any stars yourself, you might need to buy a second scope. I tend to like to find targets for them to see but half the time they want to be in control and just look around. Dad, I found another star!

I got the kids a cheap scope and eyepieces when they were about four so there wouldn’t be sticky fingerprints on my higher end stuff. Worked pretty well until this happened! https://www.cloudyni...tole-my-nagler/
Now that they are a bit older they are better about not getting sticky fingerprints on eyepieces and telescope lenses. I often use my scopes and eyepieces with them now.

Scott
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#17 USA2CUP

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 02:42 PM

Hahaha ... I thought that was going to lead to a pic of a seriously damaged Nagler.  Fortunately just a custody battle.  At this stage of the game my daughter needs me to find everything for her (well, get it in the proximity then "let her find it").  So I'm completely hands on at all times (for now).  But the more time we spend with it I'm sure she'll develop more independence ... but at least with the XT8 she won't be tempted to try to cart it around by herself ... so maybe I have a little built in safety because of the size of it.  But expensive eyepieces ... yeah that's where I could run into some issues.



#18 aeajr

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 03:14 PM

XT8 is a great scope.   XT 6 would be lighter meaning she could take ownership sooner.

 

XT 4.5 would be very much sized right for a 7-9 year old, but since this is really more of a family scope, the XT8 is the way to go. 

 

  • Where will you store it?
  • Where will you use it?
  • How will you move it? 

 

Can you keep it in the garage or other ground level location? That will make it very easy to move around if you put it on wheels.  

 

 

See Photos

 

  • My XT8i lived on a cart.
  • My AD12 lives on a hand truck.
  • 12" Dob next to an 8" Dob

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  • Apertura fitted to red handtruck (240x320).jpg
  • Apertura AD12 and Orion XT8i (240x320).jpg

Edited by aeajr, 24 February 2021 - 03:18 PM.

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#19 USA2CUP

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 03:20 PM

Wow that's quite a difference in size from an 8 to a 12 !  Boy does that make the 8 look inferior!!!

Yes my plan is to keep it in the garage, quite possibly on a cart as well.   It helps to see what other people do.  Thanks!



#20 aeajr

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 03:25 PM

Nothing inferior about the XT8.  That is a great scope.

 

 

I had the XT8 Intelliscope. This is a PushTo computer assisted version of the XT8.  No motors.  The computer shows you were to point the scope.  Worked great, especially in a light polluted area.  I am on Long Island.  Likely my light pollution is worse than yours. 

 

 

So, make the first scope hers and the XT8 the family scope.

 

Hers is optimized for low power and wide views.   Use Plossl eyepieces in it as the stock ones are poor quality.

 

How is she at finding things in the sky?   

 

If she can find things on her own, let her pick the targets, get them in her scope and let her "help" you get them in the big scope.  Let her start to take leadership and ownership.

 

Make a list of things that can be seen naked eye for her to find and show you.

 

This is going to be great fun!

 

I am a Father of 2 girls.  They always liked to be in charge.   Today they have careers and are still trying to be in charge.  wink.gif


Edited by aeajr, 24 February 2021 - 03:30 PM.

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#21 Bigal1817

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 04:43 PM

8" Dob is a great scope.  Make sure and save your current scope as there may be nights you or she want to have a look but don't feel like hauling out the dob.  In addition to other mentions (collimation tool, avoiding kits, etc.), let me suggest thumbscrews.  As the telescope operates best with collimation before each use, thumbscrews make the process easier and avoid the need to use an Allen wrench.  You might buy them at the hardware store or perhaps buy them as an accessory when you make your purchase.  Good luck!


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#22 Myk Rian

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 04:54 PM

Apparently some people don't read complete messages. Your daughter is 7 now, and you want the scope to be useful when she grows up.

Get the XT8, and a good 8-24 zoom eyepiece. It can be used with a barlow to give a wide range of magnification.

I have an XT8i and it's the last scope I would part with.

 

 


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#23 RobertMaples

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 07:01 PM

... agree, many people saw the word kit and thought 'cheap bundle of eps'.  Well, I will need a red light anyway and might use the barlow at some point (tbd) but not sure if this one is decent or not.  Not sure about the quality of the written materials; sounds like Turn Left at Orion is the go to for that stuff anyway. Undecided about the kit still...

That barlow is a good one, it's not a high dollar Televue, but it's a lot better than the cheap ones that I see come with some scopes.  I have and use that one and have never felt any need to replace it.  The kicker is, the barlow by itself is $40 dollars, so to me it makes getting the kit a no-brainer.


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#24 Jeff Lee

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 07:08 PM

I would think about the i version as in light pollution some type of finding aid can be a deal maker. I started out without DSC or goto. I love DSC's or goto.


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#25 Sheol

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Posted 24 February 2021 - 07:15 PM

                                I own the Intelliscope version of your target 'Scope here. My advice? Get the Barlow, the Orion Shorty 2X is a great way to increase EP numbers without really doing so. It is also much more comfortable on the eye! Also, no one said it yet, but if you are starting to get an interest in Nebulae & other DSOs, get a couple of nebula filters. Best money I spent on equipment! I have the Skyglow, the Ultrablock, & the OIII. The last 2 are must haves! If you have LP you will greatly benefit from the filters.

 

                                     Clear Skies,

                                            Matt.


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