There’s something magical about that first time you look through the eyepiece of a new telescope. Maybe you suddenly see the rings of Saturn, or admire the dusty tail of a passing comet, or a distant star cluster that suddenly pops into focus. Telescopes are a big step in your stargazing journey, as is upgrading when it comes to that point.
Dobsonian telescopes are a great option if you’re looking for an easy-to-use, powerful piece of equipment to unlock the wonders of the night sky. However, they typically aren’t starter ‘scopes – so most people look into them – literally and figuratively – when it’s time to upgrade their starter or budget telescope. Additionally, the 8-inch Dobsonian is a nice size if you want the flexibility of being able to travel with your scope to dark sky areas and star parties.
So how can you narrow down the field and choose among the best 8-inch Dobsonian telescopes? Here are five of the best out there as of late 2022, plus full breakdowns on the pros and cons of each.
Featured photo credit: pdcf75 via Flickr
Apertura AD8 Dobsonian
The Apertura AD8 Dobsonian is one of the – if not the – best 8-inch Dobsonian telescopes. The amount and quality of accessories it comes with is unbeatable.
Unlike other packages, you won’t need to do some extra shopping, meaning you’ll be ready to surf the night sky right off the bat. The package includes a full-sized right-angle (RA) image correct 8×50 finder scope, two eyepieces, a laser collimator, cooling fan, a 1.25″ adapter for focuser, 35mm extension tube, and a Moon filter… phew, that was a long list.
As for the optical performance, the Apertura comes with a large 8″ aperture and 1200mm focal length, providing a moderately wide field of view with vivid detail and accurate color. Its primary mirror features a parabolic design coated with silicon dioxide and aluminum coatings, which enhances the telescope’s light-gathering ability.
The only drawback of the Apertura is that the finderscope can be confusing for beginners who aren’t familiar with the sky. Other than that, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a telescope that delivers such a great performance and comes with a generous assortment of accessories.
Orion Skyline 8″ Dobsonian
A beginner favorite, the Orion Skyline 8″ Dobsonian is a solid telescope. It also features a nice selection of accessories. This Dobsonian reflector has a focal ratio of f/5.9, comes with a 8″ aperture (as you’d expect on this list) – and has a focal length of 1200mm. Thanks to its wide aperture, the telescope gathers enough light to provide you with pristine views of open star clusters, the moon, and the planets even in urban areas with light pollution.
As most reflector telescopes, the Orion Skyline 8″ requires collimation every time you set it up. Luckily for beginners, it’s fairly simple to collimate the Orion Skyline 8″. The primary mirror requires no tools to adjust and for the secondary mirror you’ll only need a screwdriver to tip and tilt.
As for the accessories, this telescope comes with a 2″ Erfle eyepiece, a 1.25″ Plossl eyepiece, a 9×50 right-angle correct image finderscope, a 1.25″ laser collimator, a 35mm extension tube, and a 2″ to 1.25″ eyepiece adapter. Once again, the finderscope is a bit tricky to use. Also, while the Orion is advertised as one of the best 8-inch Dobsonian telescopes for beginners, take into account that it has a hefty price tag of $849, which may be outside some stargazers’ budget.
Sky Watcher Classic 200 Dobsonian
The Sky-Watcher 8″ is not only is one of the best 8-inch Dobsonian telescopes, but also is one of the cheapest in the market.
Stargazers love this telescope’s versatility. It has exceptional optics, featuring a 1200mm optical tube, 8″ aperture, and an f/6 focal ratio. The telescope gathers enough light to observe details in the Solar System. Deep space objects also appear detailed and bright. A huge advantage of the Sky Watcher is that despite having a large aperture, the telescope isn’t as bulky as other counterparts.
The biggest letdown of the Sky Watcher are the accessories. It only comes with four accessories and they aren’t the best quality. The package comes with a 2″ single-speed focuser, a 9×50 finder, a 10mm Plössl eyepiece, and a 25mm Plössl eyepiece. Moreover, the eyepieces are not compatible with telescopes as they are 1.25″ and the focuser 2″.
Nonetheless, the affordable price is highly attractive, especially if you’re on a budget. If you feel comfortable purchasing more and suitable accessories in the future, the Sky Watcher is still a good alternative.
Sky-Watcher Flextube 200 Dobsonian
The Sky-Watcher Flextube 200 Dobsonian is beloved by amateurs. Its optical performance is remarkable.
With an f/6 focal ratio, an 8″ aperture, and a1200mm focal length, this Dobsonian delivers sharp and detailed planetary images. It also comes with fully multi-coated borosilicate primary and secondary mirrors. There’s no astigmatism or spherical aberration. The optics are also in perfect collocation and stay in collimation even when sliding the upper end down for storage.
As for the accessories, the package is pretty standard, including two Plossl eyepieces (a 25mm and 10mm), a 8×50 Right Angle Correct Image Finderscope (RACI Finder), and a 2-inch Crayford-style focuser with 1 1/4-inch adapter. A nice feature of the Sky-Watcher is the “FlexTube” functionality, which allows it to be stored more compactly than a traditional Dobsonian.
If you’re not familiar with the night sky, the Sky-Watcher also comes with an excellent computerized GoTo mount to ease you in and help you find celestial objects.
Zhumell Z8 Deluxe Dobsonian
The Zhumell Z8 Deluxe Dobsonian is perfect for beginners. It is affordable, has excellent optics, and comes with quality accessories and features that will make your introduction to stargazing a lot smoother.
A true all-rounder, the Zhumell comes with an 8″ (203mm) aperture and a (47.2″)1200mm optical tube, meaning you will have a mid-range field-view. Images of deep space objects and planets appear detailed and bright, even in light-polluted environments. The color accuracy is just extraordinary. The deep-space performance is just as good. You can get clear views of pretty much the entire Messier Catalog.
The accessories of the Zhumell are hard to beat. It comes with a Dual-Speed, 2″ Crayford Focuser, a 8×50, 90-Degree Finder, a Cooling Fan, and two Eyepieces (30mm-9mm). The 30mm eyepiece is far superior to the usual Plössl, featuring a wide field view. Once you use the dual focuser you won’t be able to live without it.
Have any questions about these five best 8-inch Dobsonian telescopes, or know of others I should add to my list? Let me know in the comments!