Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 PLUS Dobsonian Reflector Telescope

Editor rating

4/5 on March 12, 2017

User's rating

70 reviews


  • Dobsonian base provides a stable viewing platform.
  • Simple calibration system.


  • It has a fragile finderscope.
  • Requires constant maintenance.


Compact, portable, and stable ground-based Dobsonian reflector telescope that is well-designed, and features easy-to-use components and accessories; and this renders it usable for both amateur and advanced astronomy.

Review of Orion SkyQuest XT8 PLUS Dobsonian Reflector Telescope

The Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus Dobsonian is a reflector telescope that is specially designed for deep sky exploration. It is the deluxe upgrade of the classic SkyQuest XT8 reflector telescope, and it thus boasts of key enhancements and additional features.

This review focuses on these features and how the telescope works. To start off, the pros and cons of the 8974 SkyQuest XT8 Plus telescope are listed, and the comparison of these merits and demerits aids in passing a verdict on this product. The verdict highlights the utility and quality of this telescope. Thereafter follows a detailed review of Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus Dobsonian reflector telescope.


  • Has a stable configuration.
  • Easy to use.
  • Easy montage.
  • Superb light transmission.
  • Dobsonian base provides a stable viewing platform.
  • Portable.
  • High magnification value.
  • Simple calibration system.
  • High quality-to-price ratio.


  • It has a fragile finderscope.
  • Requires constant maintenance.

Based on the aforementioned merits and demerits, the following verdict can be made. The Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus is a compact, portable, and stable ground-based Dobsonian reflector telescope that is well-designed, and features easy-to-use components and accessories; and this renders it usable for both amateur and advanced astronomy.

Technical specifications

Best for viewing: Brighter deep sky
Best for imaging: Lunar & planetary
User level: Beginner
Optical design: Reflector
Optical diameter: 203mm
Focal length: 1200mm
Focal ratio: f/5.9
Optics type: Parabolic
Glass material: Low thermal expansion borosilicate glass
Eyepieces: Sirius Plossl 10.0mm (1.25"),DeepView 28.0mm (2")
Magnification with included eyepieces: 120x, 43x
Resolving power: 0.57arc*sec
Lowest useful magnification: 29x
Highest useful magnification: 300x
Highest theoretical magnification: 406x
Limiting stellar magnitude: 14.2
Optical quality. Diffraction limited
Finder scope. EZ Finder II
Focuser: 2" dual-speed Crayford
Secondary mirror obstruction: 47mm
Secondary mirror obstruction by diameter: 23%
Secondary mirror obstruction by area: 5%
Mirror coatings/over-coatings: Aluminum & Silicon Dioxide
Mount type: Dobsonian
Astro-imaging capability: Lunar & planetary
Computerized compatibility: Not compatible
Bearing material. PTFE and UHMW bearings
Tube material: Steel
Tripod material: Wood
Length of optical tube: 46.5 in.
Weight, optical tube: 20.8 lbs.
Weight, mount/tripod: 21.2 lbs.
Weight, fully assembled. 42.0 lbs.
Warranty: One year

Additional included accessories: 1.25″ eyepiece adapter, Eyepiece rack, 2x Barlow 1.25″, Collimation cap, Safety film solar filter, 8″
Other features: Adjustable altitude axis tension knobs, Dual-speed Crayford, Enhanced 94% reflectivity, Secondary mirror collimation thumbscrews


Orion SkyQuest XT8 PLUS reviewThe Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus is the deluxe version of the classic SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian telescope. It weighs approximately 29.4 pounds and measures 50 inches in length and 17.6 inches in height, with the optical tube boasting a diameter of 16.4 inches.

This telescope is made up of two main parts; the optical tube assembly, and a Dobsonian base. The Dobsonian base serves as the alt-azimuth mounting, as well as a stable platform for maneuvering the left-right alt-azimuth. This base features weight-reducing cutouts. The color of the optical tube is normally metallic-blue. The optical tube features a Newtonian optical design. The combination of the tube and the base is perfect as it ensures that the Newtonian-based optical tube is stabilized on a firm push-and-pull mount. The telescope also features altitude tensions knobs which can be adjusted by the user. These tension knobs also allows the user to attach heavy accessories to the telescope, and still be able to get quality views.

It has a large aperture which gives it a large light gathering capacity. Its aperture modes exceeds 200mm. In the optical tube, the secondary mirror is placed on a thumbscrew-adjustable mount, and this allows for easy collimation. The optical tube also incorporates a large 2-inch dual-speed Crayford focuser which provides fine-focus, by a factor of 11:1, hence allowing for precise focus adjustments which improve the sharpness and clarity of the views.

Its maximum magnification capacity is 240X. It has two coated eyepieces, with the 28mm DeepView eyepiece providing a magnification of 42X, while the 10mm Sirius Plossl ocular eyepiece provides a magnification of 120X. Likewise, it has a focal ration of f/0.8. Its two mirrors are also coated using silicon oxide and enhanced aluminum, and this serves to improve their reflectivity.

Generally, the telescope is collimated and ready-to-use before it is shipped to the user, but the journey from the factory to the customer can cause the optical mirrors and lenses to fall out of proper alignment. For this reason, the product is shipped alongside its user manual which explains the collimation process in a step-by-step manner.

Among its accessories are the 28mm DeepView eyepiece, 10mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece, an eyepiece rack, EZ Finder-II reflex sight, Shorty Barlow 2x lens, red dot finder, and a collimation cap. A special edition of the astronomy software, Starry Night, is also included. This software is bundled with an extensive database of key astronomical events, and it help users to plan their astronomical study schedules.

Whom is it Suitable for?

The Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus Dobsonian is designed for beginner-level astronomy and deep sky exploration; and it is therefore suitable for budding astronomers, sky-gazers, and intermediate-level astronomers. Its high-quality optics provide adequate field of views which enhances the extent of deep sky exploration, and this is of value to intermediate-level astronomers, and professional astronomers can also appreciate it. Even so, its easy-to-use feature renders it usable to ordinary literate people, and it can therefore be used by adult members of the family.

How it Works

The Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus is a Newtonian reflector, and it therefore uses curved mirrors to reflect light rays, as well as form images.

Reflector telescopes tend to have large objective lens, which serves to maximize the amount of light that enters the optical tube from the object being viewed. The light from the objective strikes the primary concave mirror which then reflects and concentrates the light onto the secondary mirror which is placed diagonally inside the optically tube. The primary mirror is located at the farthest point of the optical tube, away from the objective. This allows as much light to enter the optical tube before it is reflected and concentrated onto a secondary mirror.

The orientation of the secondary mirror allows it to change the direction of the light rays, and direct them to the eyepiece lens. The observer can then view the object through the eyepiece.

Price versus Benefits

Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus Dobsonian telescope retails for about USD500. Considering that this is a deluxe version of the classic SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian reflector telescope that normally retails for about USD400 in Amazon.com, then it is a good bargain especially if the additionally features are considered. Its high-qulaity optics are complemented by an adjustable, but firm platform to achieve breathtaking views of the deep sky. Therefore, the benefits and quality of service offered by this telescope far surpasses the price tag, and this shows that it has an exceptionally high quality-price ration.

What customers Say

The telescope has been received well by customers judging from their positive reviews of the product. Most customers are awed by its high quality optics, and sharp views. Some customers also praise its light gathering capacity, and simple collimation procedures. Budding astronomers who bought it state that it provides memorable deep sky exploration experience.

Watch video

This amateur video shows somewhat amazing astrophotography video XT8 is capable.


As the photos below clearly shows, this telescope is excellent also for astrophotography. For example taking photos of moon and planets. Click images to view them in full size.


Orion offers a 12-months warranty for its 8974 SkyQuest XT8 Plus telescope, as long as it is purchased from authorized traders. This warranty covers defects in workmanship, design, and material quality; and the manufacturer pledges to repair them or replace damaged, or non-functional, components. Even so, this warranty is voided if the user undertakes unauthorized repairs, modifies any of the components, or mishandles the device leading to its damage.

Final Recommendation

The Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus Dobsonian reflector telescope is an affordable, user-friendly astronomy scope that comes packed with unique and high-quality features which allow the user to enjoy an unparalleled exploration of deep sky objects. It is a handy tool that any budding astronomer, or mid-level astronomer, is advised to acquire if possible.

This article text “Review of Orion-8974 SkyQuest-XT8 Plus Dobsonian” is (C) Copyright TelescopeStargazer.com. All Rights Reserved.

If you have any questions or comments about SkyQuest-XT8 Plus Telescope, please leave a reply below! Hopefully you found this review helpful, and you will find the best scope for your purpose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *