Breaking Down Orion SkyQuest Series’ Nomenclature & Characteristics

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Written By: Ed Anderson
Category: Learn

Many of the members of my astronomy club own or have owned Orion SkyQuest Dobsonian telescopes, including myself. When we have an observing night, there are many Orion scopes on the field. I can say for sure that this is a very popular line of products.

Orion’s SkyQuest Dobsonian line includes solid-tube Newtonian optical tubes and truss design Newtonian optical tubes.

Unfortunately, many of these scopes were forced to be discontinued partially or fully by 2021–22, following Orion’s acquisition of Meade.

Manual SkyQuest Dobsonians (XT Series)

In the Orion SkyQuest series, there are manual mounts, which Orion refers to as the Classic Dobsonian series. These have no end-letter designation. These include the XT4.5, XT6, XT8 and the XT10.

PushTo SkyQuest Dobsonians (XTi or XXi Series)

The SkyQuest XT Intelliscope series includes the XT8i that I own, XT10i, XT12i, XX12i and the XX14i. The XX indicates that those are truss tube designs as compared to the XT solid tube designs.

Skyquest XT8i Intelliscope
SkyQuest XT8 Intelliscope that I own, with the hand controller placement on Dobsonian mount

With the Intelliscope series, you gain computer guidance to find your targets at a fairly incremental cost with very little increase in weight as compared to a GoTo mount. And you don’t need an external power supply to drive the mount.

The Orion SkyQuest XT Intelliscope series is based on the same Dobsonian mount but Orion has added encoders to the package, all the needed wire, and a handset that reads the position of the optical tube. These are computer-assisted mounts that are also called PushTo or digital setting circle mounts. The Intelliscope hand controller will show you where to point the tube to find your target. However, the base does not incorporate motors, so you have to “PushTo” the target with computer guidance.

As there are no motors, you do the tracking as you would with a manual Dobsonian scope.

GoTo SkyQuest Dobsonians (XTG or XXG Series)

The SkyQuest XT GoTo series is based on the same Dobsonian mounts. These carry a G designation. This series includes the XT8G, XT10G, XT12G, XX12G, XX14G, and XX16G.

In the G series, they have added motors to the mount. You enter your target into the hand control, hit the GoTo button and the mount moves the optical tube to the target and then tracks it as it moves through the sky.

Whether manual, PushTo or GoTo, the solid optical tubes are the same within size as are the XX truss tube designs. It is the mount and the accessory packages that differ. So an XT8, XT8i, and XT8G have the same optical characteristics.

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An amateur astronomer and telescope maker from Connecticut who has been featured on TIME magazineNational GeographicLa Vanguardia, and Clarin, The Guardian, The Arizona Daily Star, and Astronomy Technology Today and had won the Stellafane 1st and 3rd place Junior Awards in the 2018 Convention. Zane has owned over 425 telescopes, of which around 400 he has actually gotten to take out under the stars. These range from the stuff we review on TelescopicWatch to homemade or antique telescopes; the oldest he has owned or worked on so far was an Emil Busch refractor made shortly before the outbreak of World War I. Many of these are telescopes that he repaired or built.

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