Orion SkyQuest XT8i Intelliscope Telescope Review


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What do you get when you merge a Dobsonian with a little bit of electronic tech?

The Orion SkyQuest XTi Intelliscope Dobsonian telescope.

One of the most affordable of this series is the XT8i model.

As an optic that is used as the primary telescope for many including advanced astronomers, it’s worth checking out to see if it could be your default scope for every need from here on out. 

Zooming in…

✔️ Best Feature: Excellent optics

Worst Feature: Not GoTo

👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Beginners, Intermediates, Experts

  • Optical Design: Reflector
  • Aperture: 203 mm (8”)
  • Focal Length: 1200 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.9
  • Eyepieces Included: 25mm, 10mm
Orion Skyquest Xt8i Intelliscope
Image Credit – Telescope.com

Our Verdict: The SkyQuest XT8i is a favorite power-horse of a telescope with limited computer assistance to make an observation session more productive. As a Dobsonian with Intelliscope tech, you can’t go wrong, so it earns two thumbs up for optical quality, performance, and user-friendliness.

Who is the Orion SkyQuest XT8i Intelliscope Dobsonian Best Suited to?

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The XT8i is a great telescope for all astronomers of all skill levels. It’s affordable, portable, and offers great balance between manual and computer-assisted benefits.

Beginners will find the stability and value that a Dobsonian offers very attractive especially since this model provides many opportunities to discover and learn the night sky.

One thing a beginner will need to master is collimation – a routine maintenance procedure required of all Dobsonians. Fortunately, a collimation cap, hex wrench, and instructions are included with the scope.

How Does the Orion SkyQuest XT8i Intelliscope Dobsonian Perform?

Orion Skyquest Xt8i Telescope
Image Credit – Telescope.com

The SkyQuest XT8i is such a reliable and high-performing telescope that it is easily many an owner’s primary scope for everything from planets to double stars, clusters, nebulae, and more.

It’s 203 mm (8”) aperture gathers a ton of light that brings out faint objects that would otherwise be invisible in a smaller scope. More lunar and planetary detail is brought into sight, contrast and resolution allows for clearer and better-quality views, and with computer assistance, you’ll be able to find objects you couldn’t find alone.

Its optical quality is excellent as you home in globular clusters. You can crank up the magnification up to a usable 300x to see the separation of individual stars – just check out M92! Another good example of a clean split is the Double Double – attach a Barlow and see how neat they twinkle at over 200x magnification.

The locating accuracy of the Intelliscope is impressive, and with its navigation knob, slewing up/down, left/right is easy to get the tube in position. No more lugging along a deep cycle battery – the XT8i doesn’t need it.

Features & Benefits

Excellent Optics

As is expected for a Dobsonian, the XT8i provides excellent optical quality. Its large 8” parabolic primary mirror pulls in maximum light transmission for seeing everything there is to see. Globular clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and more – the Orion Intelliscope not only helps you see them, it will also get you finding them in the night sky.

To see these larger DSOs, you’d need a 2” visual back and quality eyepieces. Fortunately, the XT8i does this as a standard upgrade. You have a 2” Crayford and two Plossl eyepieces that are included with the scope.

You could also stretch your views with some wide-angle eyepieces for large nebulae and clusters, and as a fast optic, it will be more demanding on cheap eyepieces, so good eyepieces are a great excuse to collect a high-quality set of accessories.

Push-To

The XTi series of computerized Dobsonians have push-to technology. This means there is a hand controller that provides computer-assisted mount benefits but there are no motors. This is a good and bad thing depending on your needs.

With the lack of motors, there is no automatic slewing or tracking, so no long exposure astrophotography is in store for you. But this isn’t necessarily a downside as you won’t need an expensive power supply to keep your scope tech powered. The hand controller needs just a 9V battery to operate.

The buttons are large enough to use them with gloves on and are backlit for visibility without being too bright to ruin your night adapted vision.

Intelliscope Computerized System

What is the Intelliscope computerized system? It’s the computer-assisted tech in the form of a hand controller that provides an object database, coordinates, digital setting circles, and more. You can try your hand at seeking out any of the 14,000+ objects within its database and the XT8i is very accurate.

The display will provide directional arrows to tell you how to move your scope into position to see the desired object. You must manually move the scope in place. That is a nice feature to have since you can use the scope with or without the Intelliscope – not all GoTos allow this type of capability.

Why pay more for this tech? It’s cheaper than GoTo, and on a Dobsonian mount, you have guaranteed mount stability for excellent viewing. If you don’t know the night sky, are tired of star hopping, don’t want to pull out the charts, or you can’t see the stars you need to star hop, you’ll need assisted tech. Even though the Intelliscope is telling you where to point, not all the hard work is done for you as you still need to slew, so you will be able to learn more than a thing or two on your own.

It’s also an excellent telescope for those who are viewing from light polluted areas not only because of its large 203 mm aperture but also because of its push-to. When you can’t see the night sky as clearly as you need to find objects, let push-to help you out.

Portable

The 8” scope is small for what is currently available in the Dosbonian style, but it’s just the right size for travel, transportation, and for relocating from a room in the house to the outdoors. The tube length is 44.5” and can fit across the back seat of a sedan. If you have a larger vehicle, it could be loaded into the back of the SUV fully assembled to the mount quite comfortably with the third row down.

When it comes to weight, the OTA weighs 20.3 lbs and the mount weighs 21.3 lbs. You can always move these two pieces one at a time with a shoulder or carry bag to hold the accessories for just two trips back and forth.

However, if you know at some point that you will be upgrading to a larger size after owning the 8” for a while, it will be a great time to purchase a cart or hand truck to move the scope fully assembled. You’ll already be prepared for a larger scope if it’s in your future.

Limitations

Not GoTo

If you were after automatic motorized locating, slewing, and tracking, you’ll need GoTo which this Orion telescope does not have. GoTo incorporates motors and provides a slew of benefits but is also expensive and requires a heavy-duty power supply.

The XT8i keeps things simple but with computer-assisted technology via its push-to Intelliscope system, it provides a slew of benefits of its own.

Popular Questions

What is the Difference Between Orion’s XT VS XTi VS XXG? Telescopes?

Orion’s Dobsonian XT and XX series can get pretty confusing between all the letter designations used to specify a certain model and its features. To break it down simply, the XT line are Orion’s classic Dobsonian scopes with all-manual movement.

The XTi with the “I” designation is for Intelliscope. These are computer-assisted mounts with push-to technology, no motors, and allow for manual slewing. The XTG and the XXG with the “G” designation is for GoTo. The XX designation indicates a truss tube design.

The optical tubes are identical between the different lines of the XT series, but the mount and accessories will vary.

What is Included with the SkyQuest XT8i Intelliscope?

The Orion SkyQuest XT8i comes with the OTA, mount, 2x Plossl eyepieces, and an Orion 9×50 finderscope. It also comes with a 2”-1.25” adapter, collimation cap, Intelliscope object locator hand controller, and all the necessary hardware and parts needed to assemble the scope and mount.

What is the Warranty on the Orion Intelliscope?

The XT8i is covered with a 1-year warranty by Orion. It is not owner transferable and starts from the date of purchase.

Can the Dobsonian Intelliscope be Left Outside?

The Orion Intelliscope Dobsonian should not be left exposed to the elements. The base is made from laminate-covered particle board that can absorb moisture and warp. While it should be stored indoors, it can be left in a dry, unheated, well-ventilated garage where it will actually stay close to the ambient temperature to eliminate the cool-down period needed with reflector telescopes.

Conclusion

It’s not hard to see why the Orion SkyQuest XT8i is a popular telescope with the masses. In fact, any one of its classic, Intelliscope, or GoTo truss tube versions would make for an excellent buy.

For the price, it’s absolutely worth it to have the Intelliscope feature for nights you need help, when light pollution makes things hard, and when you want to improve your navigation skills. Since push-to requires you to slew, you’ll earn some much-needed skills that will only prove to make you a better, knowledgeable astronomer.

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