Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope
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Ships to the U.S. including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Classic entry-level scope at an amazing priceCrisp images from the craters of the moon to th
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
First, the product is easy to put together -- maybe half an hour of simple assembly. In fact, all you are doing is constructing the swivel stand -- there is no assembly required for the scope itself.
Next, the 6" is a bit large -- not something you're going to cart around much (as an aside, its impressive size makes for a very cool conversation piece when not in use. I keep mine in our media room and it always draws questions from visitors. It may sound trivial, but it's a good-looking, visually alluring item!
Now the really good part: this machine puts you on the moon! I finished putting my baby together by early evening and couldn't wait to try it out, so I carried it into the yard and pointed it at the sky. Mind you, it was still a very bright sky -- the sun had set and the full moon was sitting in a sea of light-blue dusk. With no difficulty I located my target and I'm sure my neighbors heard my startled gasp as I took my first look at the lunar surface. It was so crisp, so full with detail that I pulled my head back from the lens and let fly an expletive. I was knocked out by what I was seeing! My joy increased ten fold when I attached the Orion Shorty 1.25 2x Barrow magnifier lens that I purchased at the same time (highly recommended) -- the detail was stunning. And this is smack in the middle of a city with plenty of sunlight still in the sky.
This all occurred in April 2011. Time passed, and being not much more than a hobbyist, I spent the summer occasionally pulling out the scope when the urge struck to pass a few hours studying the lunar surface. My kids, their friends, family, and others were treated to their first real look at our heavenly neighbor -- "you wanna see something amazing?" is the line I always use before blowing someone's mind -- and then something even more amazing happened:
The other night, Oct. 20th, I was out in the yard letting the dog do her thing when I noticed a very large, bright "star". More seasoned sky-watchers may roll their eyes but I had no idea what I was looking at, so I thought to pull out the Orion and give it a look. I had to patiently locate the object because the battery had worn down on the laser scope/finder, but once I had zeroed in on the 'star' and turned the focus knob I gave a repeat performance of the first time I had 'found' the moon: it was JUPITER!
And I mean, it really was Jupiter! I could see the familiar streaks of the planet's surface and it took me a few seconds to realize that the four tiny "stars" surrounding the sphere were Jupiters MOONS! I was stunned! I ran into the house yelling "Jupiter...I see Jupiter!"
As luck would have it, my kids both had a few friends over and everyone was treated to their first real look at another planet. Gasps and hushed exclamations were plentiful, "Oh...my..God!" as my wife put it. It was a great and memorable experience.
All of this may sound corny -- especially to anyone who really knows astronomy and has more experience viewing heavenly objects -- but I need to express how mind-blowing all of this is to someone who has only ever "seen" our solar system in pictures and illustrations. To really see something like Jupiter or the canals and craters of the moon is a profound experience.
Get this scope if you're at all interested in such things. This is a great item. Remember to get some magnification via an add-on lens. They really do enhance the experience. I intend to get even more magnification because if there's only one negative it's that I crave more detail. Maybe that's something an 8" or larger would automatically provide, but I'm content with the 6" as a matter of practicality and price.
-Tiny craters on the moon
-Detailed cloud bands on Jupiter
-Saturn's rings, with the Cassini division.
-Polar caps and surface detail on Mars
-The ENTIRE Messier Catalogue
-A significant chunk of the NGC and IC.
Just make sure you get as far away as possible from those pesky city lights.
How deep-sky objects look:
-Open Clusters are absolutely gorgeous. My favorite is the Perseus Double Cluster.
-Globular Clusters are a nice treat, with the brightest ones being fully resolved into giant balls of stars.
-Emission Nebulae are nice, especially the Orion Nebula. You can see the general shape of most others.
-Planetary Nebulae are pretty cool in this scope. They are dim, but you can pick up the very distinct shapes of some of the brighter ones.
-Galaxies are a little tough to spot. They appear as faint smudges with vague shapes. You can't get a lot of detail from them. However, you can see the distinct dust lane in M104.
This is a great scope for the family or emerging astronomer. It easily lies down in the back seat of a car so it's nice and portable.