A Guide to the Best Dobsonian Telescopes on the UK Market

So you finally made up your mind about getting a Dobsonian telescope? Well, you’re no doubt finding out just how many different models and types there are in the market. But before you get overwhelmed and make a hasty decision, we’ve chalked up this here buyer’s guide and some of the best telescopes already making rounds.

Looking for a balanced, powerful yet affordable dobsonian telescope with all the frills? Then look no further than the SkyLiner 200 P Parabolic Sky Watcher. This is the best overall Dobsonian that has some of the characteristics of a high end model without the unbelievably high price.

How about a state of the art, fully computerized dobsonian telescope to give you a huge head start? The Orion SkyQuest XT8i Dobsonian IntelliScope is the smart solution for the tech loving astronomer willing to make a solid investment.

So you love peering into the great expanse of space but barely have a budget to work on? If you’re looking for something affordable but still capable of doing the job, how about the simple, budget friendly Skywatcher HERITAGE-100P T Parabolic Dobsonian Telescope?

Buying Guide for Dobsonian Telescopes

So you’re looking to get yourself the best dobsonian telescope out there (or at least as much as you’re budget will allow)? Well, it’s definitely a huge decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly (pun intended). Lucky for you, this here nerd has compiled all the information you need to buy the most suitable telescope. But first, let’s take a look at why you want to go with a Dobsonian.

What is a Dobsonian Telescope?

Dobsonian is simply a Newtonian style telescope that uses classic or traditional optical reflector systems. However, it differs slightly when it comes to the mounting mechanism. Dobsonians come with an azimuth mounted design that pitches up down left and right.

What makes Dobsonian telescopes incredibly popular with beginner astronomers is that they are very easy to setup and use. For most of the models, all you have to do is place the tube on the mount and get it working. You don’t even need to be a professional or even a bit familiar with equatorial mounts to install. Likewise, it’s pretty much a point and look type of telescope that rotates any way you want.

Another benefit of dobsonians is their unrivalled light gathering capabilities when compared to the cost. Another telescope with the same size and aperture such as a Schmidt would cost twice as much. Seasoned astronomers know that the more light you can gather, the further away you can see and the more you’ll be able to explore. Unfortunately, Dobsonian Telescopes tend to be quite heavy.

Key Considerations when Purchasing a Dobsonian Telescope

i) Consider the Aperture

When talking about telescopes, you want to start with the aperture. This is the size of the light socusing mirror or lens. Typically, astronomers try to go as thin as possible with dobsonian mirrors. This allows for even more cut backs on the cost and weight.

ii) The Mount

While there are many different types of mounts available (including computerized ones that are able to track movements in the sky), it’s the altazimuth design that really characterises Dobsonians. Not only are they cheaper, but they make operation simple and enjoyable.

iii) Other Considerations

Funny as it might sound, eyepieces are actually the most overlooked components when buying a telescope. The variety of these pieces are staggering – they come in a broad range of fields of view, magnifications and price. Those cheap eyepieces can make you really squint without any clear results. Make sure you get an eyepiece that is both clear and comfortable to look through. And lastly, make sure you get a solar filter if you want to look at objects close to the sun to avoid damaging your eyes.

Best Dobsonian Telescope Reviews

1. BEST OVERALL: SkyLiner 200 P Parabolic Sky Watcher

Pros

  • Great value for the money
  • Highest practical power x406
  • Large aperture offers more light grasp

Cons

  • Viewing might be impossible in cities and well lit nights (might require a moon filter)

Overview

As the name suggests, the SkyLiner 200 P Parabolic Sky Watcher is among one of the best models for star gazers and deep sky astronomers. You’re going to need a lot of light grasp to see fainter and more distant objects; and that’s exactly what this Dobsonian telescope offers. Thanks to their larger aperture, a parabolic mirror is ideal for some serious deep sky peeking.

The Skyliner 200 P boasts of some sharp optics across 80% of the 1 degree field of view. The optics are diffraction limited and the manufacturer incorporated a telescopic focus length of 1200mm. At the same time, gazers get a highest practical power potential of x406. As for the mount, it consists of an easy to set up and use box that pivots in altitude and rotates at the base in azimuth.

What It Does Best

So what does the SkyLiner 200 P Parabolic Sky Watcher do best? Well, it excels at the very thing that you want your telescope to do – viewing distant objects. Thanks to the Dobsonian’s 0.5mm ultra thin mirror supports, the 200 P has visibly reduced light loss and diffraction spikes. At the same time, the top quality parabolic mirrors help eliminate spherical aberration for an even clearer image.

So with this particular telescope, you can catch the Crab Nebula M82 and M81 in near full moonlight. Most other scopes will just struggle at such light levels. In fact, if you can find some darker skies to peer into, you can view the Double Cluster in all its glory. The 200 P telescope has actually been used to see clearly as far as Saturn. This includes a clear cut Cassini Division, the distinct colour differences between the rings as well as five of the moons orbiting this beautiful planet.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

While the SkyLiner 200 P Parabolic Sky Watcher is definitely one of the best in its class, even it isn’t immune to a few imperfections and flaws. The first and obvious shortcoming has to be the sheer weight of it. As with all dobsonian telescopes, the mount contributes a very large portion of the final weight.

When packed, the thin weights almost 40 Kg. So it’s safe to say that once you get her set up, make sure you choose a spot where you won’t move the thing too much. Fortunately, the azimuth mount makes positioning your scope that much easier. But since it’s not computerized, everything has to be operated manually. So you better be prepared for some serious manual adjustments and repositioning.

What Other Customers Think

One trend I noticed with the SkyLiner 200 P Parabolic Sky Watcher telescope is that almost every newbie astronomer couldn’t stop gloating about how wonderful the telescope was. Beginner stargazers love the model because not only is it super easy to use and set up, but it offers great cost savings as well. More experienced consumers had a few things to add, but all in all, everyone was satisfied with the power capabilities of the 200 P.

Should You Buy It?

If you’re just starting out your stargazing journey and are wondering which telescope will best suit your needs, then look no further than the SkyLiner 200 P Parabolic Sky Watcher. Not only is this telescope among the most affordable Dobsonians out there, but its ease of assembly and use make it a favourite among beginner stargazers. Most scopes of the same class wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near the power range; but with this beauty, the universe is indeed your oyster.


2. BEST COMPUTERISED: Orion SkyQuest XT8i Dobsonian IntelliScope

Pros

  • Large 8 inch aperture for deep space exploration
  • Incorporates computerized object locator
  • Super stable Dobsonian base

Cons

  • The Intelliscope will cost you a pretty penny

Overview

Who says that you have to go manual just because it’s a Dobsonian? With today’s tech packed solutions even some of the simplest models still incorporate a bit of tech for the modern astronomer. So, why do you want a telescope with a computer system in it? Allow me to blow your mind.

The Orion SkyQuest XT8i Dobsonian IntelliScope is a price leader and a highly advanced model with a built in computer that takes exploration to a whole new level. This particular computer boasts of a comprehensive database with more than 14,000 fascinating celestial objects already programmed inside.

The XT8i takes things a step further by getting the mount to actually move automatically and focus on any pre programmed location. So if you’re an entry level astrographer or a beginner astronomer, star gazing never seemed so easy, natural and accurate.

What It Does Best

First off, the Orion SkyQuest XT8i is an extremely large telescope. Thanks to its larger 203mm aperture, users can see all the planets and even a clear image of the moons of those planets. But that’s not all; you can also get a view of bodies even further away including distant galaxies and some elusive nebulae. If we’re talking physical power, then this bad boy is definitely built for the long haul. But that’s just the appetizer.

Where the Orion intelliscope really excels is the computerized object locator that gives users easy access to over 14,000 different and equally fascinating celestial objects. So instead of having to spread around charts looking for any signs of light up there, the intelliscope makes things a whole lot easier by giving you something new to look at every night.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Now, while the Orion SkyQuest XT8i Intelliscope is a super advanced piece of tech, there are a couple of things they could have improved on. For instance, if you’re going to install a computer on board, why not make the thing motorized? Sure, there are 14,000 preset locations, but you’ll have to actively push your telescope through each and every one of them. Still, it’s a whole lot easier when the telescope knows where it’s pointing.

What Other Customers Think

Looking at other reviews, it seems most of the customers who bought the SkyQuest XT8i Dobsonian IntelliScope were pretty happy with their purchase. After assembling the unit, all previous customers seem to appreciate how easy the telescope is to use. The computerized system is an obvious strong point that gives the intelliscope an edge over other dobsonians. Still, some customers feel that the manufacturer should have done something more with the mount. There are no motors so moving the scope is a fully manual job.

Should You Buy It?

If you ask me, the Orion SkyQuest XT8i Intelliscope is a purchase that you can’t afford to miss. This advanced piece of space peering technology is ideal for beginner astronomers or stargazers who want something more than expensive binoculars. Thanks to the comprehensive database, this scope comes with 14000 different objects already programmed inside. With the Orion SkyQuest XT8i, deep space exploration never seemed easier.


3. BEST BUDGET: Skywatcher HERITAGE-100P T Parabolic Dobsonian Telescope

Pros

  • Best budget dobsonian on the market
  • Nice balance between price range and power
  • Extremely light grab and go model

Cons

  • Might need routing resetting and adjustment

Overview

Looking for a cheap, affordable telescope to get you started on your journey to space exploration. There’s no doubt that with today’s technologically advanced models, prices can soar though the roof. But just because the top dobsonians are super expensive doesn’t mean that you should ditch your hobby. Instead, why not get the best budget dobsonian telescope in the market?

The Heritage Skywatcher 100 P telescope is a super light and convenient grab and go scope that is perfect for your first unit. But don’t be fooled by the low price, this scope really holds its own out there. The high quality 100 mm parabolic optics lets you see the bright planets and moon as well as other distant nebulae and star clusters.

With the supplied optics, the magnification levels are also pretty rad for the price range. The manufacturer incorporated a parabolic primary mirror, rack and pinion focuser, as well as a red dot finder to give this affordable scope even more value. It’s also not as heavy as some of the other Dobsonian’s we’ve looked at – and that can be credited to the lighter wooden azimuth mount.

What It Does Best

Well, compared to all the other Dobson telescopes we’ve looked at, I can confidently say that what the Skywatcher HERITAGE-100P Tabletop Parabolic Dobsonian Telescope does best is saving you money. Even without looking though the eyepiece, it’s clear that this here model is the cheapest one on the list.

Still, the manufacturer did quite a job of balancing a lower price range that is sure to attract beginners with higher performance that is also sure to deliver impressive views. And lastly, the 100 P must be the easiest and most convenient model to operate. With no counterbalances, messy tripods, and annoying stands, it really is a grab and go.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Being a budget telescope, it’s only natural to expect more than your average number of issues and disappointments. However, the Skywatcher HERITAGE-100P Tabletop Parabolic Dobsonian Telescope really went above and beyond to please. I noticed that the basic rack and pinion focuser was a bit stiff to adjustment, but it’s still workable enough. Another issue was the zero magnification finder with the small red dot. To me, it felt a bit off and in the way.

What Other Customers Think

Naturally, budget dobsonian telescopes are usually a hit with novice stargazers and even kids. So most customers were very pleased with both the low price range as well as how easy the model is to set up. Another factor that people can’t stop talking about is how light it is. The telescope is small and light enough not to be an inconvenience. However, experts and experienced stargazers couldn’t help but notice that the scope keeps shifting and needs frequent refocusing and you also can’t quite see Saturn’s rings.

Should You Buy It?

If you’re just starting out on your stargazing hobby or want to introduce your child to the universe, then this s the way to do it. The Skywatcher HERITAGE-100P is simple and easy on the bank, but it’s also powerful enough to grab some spectacular views off it. Of course, you might want to upgrade once you become an expert gazer, but for now, this is the best budget model you’ll find.

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