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Sky-Watcher 8″ Dobsonian Review – Editor’s Choice

Sky-Watcher’s 8” Traditional is simple, offers views simply never before possible at its price range, and gives you excellent bang for your buck.

Tested By

TelescopicWatch

4.4 /5
4.4

The Sky-Watcher 8” Traditional offers the best value of any 8” Dobsonian on the market in the US. It’s great for beginners and experienced users alike, with all the accessories needed to get you observing right out of the box.

Ranked 5th among 29 telescopes in $400 category
Rank 1
Zhumell Z8 Dobsonian
Rank 2
Orion Skyline 8" Dobsonian
Rank 5
Skywatcher 8" Classic Dob
 

Amazon prices as of 2020-11-29 at 07:13

  • Cheapest 8” Dobsonian available and best value
  • Comes with more than 1 eyepiece
  • Fast setup time
  • Large aperture without being too bulky
  • Weird focuser adapters
  • Finderscope is uncomfortable to use
  • Tensioning knobs stick out from the sides
  • Balance with heavy eyepieces can be troublesome
Optical Tube Rating 90%
Accessories Rating 99%
Mount Rating 90%
Visibility Score 94%
TelescopicWatch Editor's Choice

While there are one or two 8” Dobsonians with extra accoutrements that we might recommend over the Sky-Watcher Classic 200 Dobsonian, none deliver the same great combination of value and low price. If you’re on a budget and would rather save additional spending on accessories for later, the Sky-Watcher 8” Traditional  is your friend.

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Recommended! Why?

The Optical Tube In 8" Traditional

Optical Tube of Skywatcher 8" Dob

The 8” Traditional is an 8” f/5.9 Newtonian, manufactured by Suzhou Synta Optical Technologies – the same company that owns Celestron and manufactures Orion’s XT and XX Dobsonians. The mirrors are borosilicate glass (Pyrex) which expands far less with expansion and contraction than plate glass. Quality-wise they tend to be good

At f/5.9 there isn’t any coma like there is with faster scopes such as Sky-Watcher’s 10” and larger models, which have to have faster focal ratios to avoid being cumbersome and (at the largest sizes) requiring a tall ladder.

The 8” Traditional’s tube is identical in length to Sky-Watcher and other manufacturers’ 6” f/8 Dobsonians, and as a result it is not really any more cumbersome to transport or more difficult to store.

I really like solid tubes for 8ʺ Dobs or larger. A 10ʺ scope becomes a bit uncomfortable to wrap your arms around, and a 12ʺ or larger is a nightmare to handle, unless you are built like Paul Bunyan.
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Sky Watcher Classic 200 Dobsonian 8-inch Aperature Telescope – Solid-Tube – Simple, Traditional Design – Easy to Use, Perfect for Beginners, White (S11610)

The Focuser

The focuser on the 8” Traditional is a rack-and-pinion. It works just as well as a Crayford unit, but there are two issues I have with it: First, the knobs are hard plastic with little ridges that dig into your fingers. Second, the focuser comes with a strange thread-on 1.25” adapter and a thread-on 2” adapter, which means that unless you spend additional money on a separate 1.25” to 2” adapter you’ll be fumbling around in the dark with these silly adapters. I don’t get why Sky-Watcher elected to add this system rather than just supplying the 2” adapter and a 1.25” to 2” adapter.

Reviewing the Accessories

Skywatcher 8 Inch Dobsonian's Eyepieces and Accessories

The 8” Traditional comes a 25mm (48x) and 10mm (120x) “Super” eyepieces that seem to be Plossls. They work well, but you’ll want some additional 6mm and 9mm “gold-line” eyepieces at the minimum for high power (the 10mm Super is a little short on eye relief), and a 2” wide-angle eyepiece to get the maximum possible field of view at low power for expansive views of nebulae, star clusters, and other deep-sky objects.

The 8” Traditional comes with an 9x50mm straight-through finderscope. In addition to being uncomfortable to aim through at almost every angle, the finder’s images are inverted. A Telrad is far easier to use, and a 50mm right-angle finder will also work well and do wonders for your neck.

About the Dobsonian Mount in Skywatcher 8" Dob

Like all other Chinese-made Dobsonians, the 8” Traditional’s mount is made of melamine-covered particle board – basically sawdust compressed with glue, and a cheaper version of the stuff your IKEA furniture is sometimes made out of. It’s heavy compared to plywood, and if the melamine is damaged even slight moisture (i.e. being used in the grass) will warp it.

Unlike Orion’s XT Dobsonians which use springs for altitude tensioning and have the altitude bearings sit in cutouts in the mount, the Sky-Watcher Traditional Dobsonians have the altitude bearings sit on brackets inside the rocker sides.

Altitude tensioning is provided by two handles which stick out from the rocker (basically bicycle grips). This system works well but the handles can get caught on things such as loose clothing, especially in the dark.

The scope’s motions are pretty smooth, but the azimuth motion can be improved by replacing the cheap Nylon pads with real Teflon pads (available from various vendors on eBay and some hardware stores) and nailing a sheet of Formica onto the azimuth board. Due to the design of the altitude bearings, I would not recommend tampering with them.

The mount comes with a handle and an eyepiece tray – nice conveniences, but I don’t recommend using the latter as it’s a good way to get your eyepieces damaged/dewed up/dirty.

What All Can You See?

The Moon looks good in any scope, but an 8” is a good general size for lunar viewing – you have decent resolution but the Moon isn’t blinding at sane magnifications. Clavius can show three or four dozen craterlets provided good seeing and collimation.

Jupiter’s moons are nice disks with an 8” and show some amount of color, particularly Io, which is a ruddy orange-yellow. Jupiter itself shows many festoons, cloud belts, and of course the Great Red Spot.

Saturn shows several bands – currently it has three major ones – as well as the Cassini Division in its rings, and several moons. Saturn’s largest moon Titan is a gold color, but it falls short of being a disk with anything less than perfect seeing conditions.

Uranus’ moons can hypothetically be glimpsed with an 8”, but I’ve never done it in practice. Neptune is a nice azure disk and Triton can be seen with some effort.

Outside the solar system, 8” of aperture is enough to show you the entire Messier catalog, though a few galaxies like M74 and M83 may be difficult if you suffer from light pollution. The famous Whirlpool Galaxy can just show a hint of spiral arms from a dark site, and its companion M51B/NGC 5195 is pretty easy to see. M81 and M82 in Ursa Major are quite interesting. In the spring, the Virgo Cluster becomes a bit crowded with galaxies, and in the autumn several smaller galaxy clusters may show at least one or two bright members with effort.

Globular star clusters with an 8” actually start to show resolution. M2, M3, M5, M13, M15, and M92 in particular tend to show a fair amount of stars sprinkled across with an 8”, while M4 may yield fantastic views if you don’t live too far north and don’t have much light pollution to the south of you. Even the dimmer Messier globulars like M10, M12, and M79 can show hints of resolution with practice.

Many planetary nebulae besides the Ring and Dumbbell are interesting to investigate with an 8” (particularly with a light pollution or oxygen-III filter), such as NGC 1535 in Eridanus and the Eskimo Nebula in Gemini in the winter, and the Blinking Planetary nebula and NGC 7027 in Cygnus in the summer.

Alternative Recommendations

For similar prices to the 8” Traditional, there are a number of other scopes you might want to consider, including the following:

  • Orion XT8 – Can be available for a lower price. Slightly better focuser and bearing system. Inferior included accessories.
  • Celestron Astro-Fi 130 – Considerably smaller aperture, but full GoTo and can be controlled via your smart device.
  • Orion SkyLine 6 – Smaller, but even better accessories and at a lower price.

Aftermarket Accessory Recommendations

The #1 accessories we’d recommend for the 8” Traditional are extra eyepieces. Specifically, a 2” wide-angle eyepiece such as the GSO 30mm SuperView, and a high-power eyepiece such as a 6mm goldline or a 5.5mm Meade UWA. The wide-angle 2” eyepiece will make it easier to find objects and provides a sweeping vista that’s great for the largest star clusters and nebulae, while either of the latter eyepieces will provide great close-up views of the Moon, planets, double stars, and globular star clusters.

Additionally, a Telrad or Rigel Quikfinder is a great supplement or replacement for the included 9×50 finder on the telescope.

Skywatcher 8" Dobsonian Awards

Based on positive ranking from our team of experts and telescope owners, the Skywatcher 8″ Dobsonian has earned the following awards in our buyer’s guides.

Best Telescope

Best telescope in the range of $350 - $450 on Best Telescopes guide.

Best Dobsonian Telescope

Best dob in the price range of $350 - $450 on Best Dobsonian Telescopes guide.

17 thoughts on “Sky-Watcher 8″ Dobsonian Review – Editor’s Choice”

  1. If you could only buy 2 additional mid-range eyepieces for this scope, which 2 would they be? I don’t have the budget for a full set of eyepieces… so I just want 2 to go with the basic ones that come with the scope. I want to maximise the magnification capabilities but also give myself a nice wide view. Is this possible with only 2 additional EPs?

    Reply
  2. Hi Zane, I am a first time user of Telescopes. Which would be a better option the 6 or the 8 of the Sky-Watcher Dobsonian ? I am in Ontario and I am getting the 6 for 485 CAD inclusive of taxes and the 8 for 680. For a additional $200 is it worth it or you recommend going with the 6. with $200 that I save I could go for some eyepieces for the scope with your suggestion. Your answer to my query would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers !!!
    Rajeev.

    Reply
  3. Hi Zane what are suggestions for using a SVBONY SV135 Telescope Eyepiece Zoom 7 to 21mm 1.25 Inch Fully multi Coated 6 Element 4 Group for Astronomic Telescopes on this telescope.
    What do you mean when you say “You’ll also probably want a 2ʺ wide-eyepiece” are you referring to a Barlow lens?

    Thanks,
    Rajeev.

    Reply
      • Rats, posted earlier in the wrong place.

        I’m stuck. I ordered (but can still cancel) the Meade StarNavigator Next Generation 102 mm Refractor, mainly because of the goto and audio feature. But I see here that they recommend this 8″ Dobsonian. But I think I would be frustrated trying to find anything except the moon

        Am I over thinking this? Just stick with the meade to get started?

        Reply
  4. Hi Zane,

    I got the 8 inch Skywatcher Dob as you suggested. I am loving it. Got amazing shots of Jupiter and Saturn with my phone. I had a questions about collimating skywatcher 200p. I ordered the SVBONY Red Laser Collimator for Newtonian Reflector Marca Telescope Alignment 1.25 inches 7 Bright Levels Triple Cemented Lens with 2 inches Adapter from Amazon. Do I have to check every time I move the Telescope for Collimation ?

    Reply
  5. Hi Zane, It seems like the current product description for the 8″ Classic SkyWatcher Dobsonian (which I’m assuming same as the “traditional” you have reviewed here) is currently described on the Skywatcher site as having “25/10 Super (modified Kellner)” eyepieces included rather than the Plossl ones you describe in your review. How would that change your thoughts on the value of this model versus the other 8″ dobsonians?

    https://www.skywatcherusa.com/products/sky-watcher-classic-200p

    Reply

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