The Sky-Watcher 8” Flextube Dobsonian telescope is a travel-friendly, yet powerful amateur telescope that retails for around $600 (click here for today’s price, which opens in a new tab). Eight inches of aperture make this an entry level scope for the serious astronomer; you have moved past the beginner level.
Sky-Watcher’s 8” Dob has a solid rocker mount, flat equatorial disc stand, and a 1200mm focal length with a 203mm aperture designed for deep-field viewing with ease. If great imagery of galaxies, nebulae and star clusters is your backyard stargazing desire, then this scope may well satisfy both your astronomical and financial desires.
Sky-Watchers 8″ Collapsible Dob Scope (source)
With the Sky-Watcher’s 8” aperture, you’ll gather so much light that your images will be viewable at a high magnification than you’ll get with smaller scopes.
This allows resolution of smaller details on the surface of the moon and brighter planets, as well as the deep space objects that a light bucket such as this excels at.
If your wallet is less constrained, the Sky-Watcher 8” Collapsible Dobsonian also has two bigger brothers, with diameters of 10 inches and 12 inches respectively, that will show you even more detail and even fainter objects.
Users love the SkyWatcher 8” for its portability, ease of use, affordability, and value for money – no other style of telescope gives you so much aperture for so little money.
In this article, we’ll review the specifications and merits of the SkyWatcher 8”, and see which features owners love… and which they would like to see improved.
Specifications for the 8″ Collapsible Dob
|Telescope Type:||Dobsonian mounted Reflector|
|Aperture:||203mm (8 inches)|
|Finderscope:||8 x 50|
|Optical Tube Length:||113c.m (44.5 inches)|
|Eyepieces Supplied:||1 x 10mm Plössl & 1 x 25mm Plössl|
Sky-Watcher 8″ Dob, Pros and Cons
The SkyWatcher 8” Collapsible Dobsonian telescope is built for the serious amateur astronomer to have access to a powerful yet portable platform at an affordable price point.
The telescope’s large aperture – a full eight inches – it is known as a “light bucket” style telescope. Its job is to collect as much light as possible so you can see more detail and fainter objects than a smaller scope at the same price can show you.
- Collapsibility improves makes a big scope portable
- Great value for aperture size
- Extremely easy to use
- Weight detracts from portability
- Cradle may drift during use
- Some owners report issues with parts quality
Overview of Sky-Watcher’s 8″ Collapsible Dob
The SkyWatcher 8” boasts dual eyepieces, a large mirror, and a f/6 focal ratio. The highest useful magnification you’ll get from the SkyWatcher 8” is quoted as being 406x. However, this is somewhat misleading, since atmospheric conditions will rarely let you enjoy more than 200x.
But, don’t worry about that too much. If deep space is your thing then its the light gathering power of this telescope which matters more than magnification. With a limiting stellar magnitude of 14.2 you have the ability to tease out views of incredibly faint and distant objects.
Bigger magnification, as for most scopes, is reserved for bright objects. The specs of Sky-Watcher’s Dob mean you’ll see the surface of the moon in mind-blowing detail, and the details you’ll see in Saturn’s rings and jupiter‘s belts are a step beyond what beginner scopes can expose.
Not many astronomers appreciate that the name ‘Dobsonian’ actually comes from the mount, rather than the telescope.
The telescope itself is actually a Newtonian-style reflector, but it is mounted on a Dobsonian cradle. The big benefits of the Dob mount are simplicity, effectiveness and low cost, which means more of your dollars can go into the telescope itself. This is why Dob’s offer more inches of aperture per dollar than any other telescope style.
Like most Dobsonians, this Sky-Watcher is moved manually and can be locked in place, swung quickly or moved in smaller increments, all thanks to the teflon-coated rockers and built-in tension clutch.
The downside of the Dobsonian design is it is not computer controlled, so all tracking has to be done manually. Also, unlike an equatorial mount, the Dobsonian has to be tracked in two planes: up & down and left & right. This is not actually a big deal – and most users consider it a small sacrifice for an affordable large scope.
One final benefit of a Dobsonian cradle is its simple and elegant design which can be repaired with basic parts that you’ll be able to find at your local hardware store, if necessary.
Portability Through Collapsibility
As its title suggests, a big claim of this Sky-Watcher 8”, is its ability to be collapsed and extended as needed for travel purposes. The ability to easily break this telescope down is a big benefit if you want to use it in different locations.
When it is made up it is a big old beast. But, dismantled, it’ll fit into an SUV or perhaps a duffel bag without any issues, although you shouldn’t expect to fit it in carry-on luggage.
Easy portability is clearly one of the advantages of this telescope, but it comes at a cost in weight. Because there are external struts which the telescope uses to collapse and extend, there are more metal parts than other telescopes, which adds to the overall weight.
The 8 inch telescope itself weighs 24 pounds, and its stand is a not lightweight 33 pounds, which means that while portable, you won’t be moving it around often if you don’t need to.
Be aware that you’ll need to assemble the SkyWatcher 8”, which, while not difficult, may be daunting for new, aspiring astronomers. All of the tools required for assembly are included with the SkyWatcher 8”, and the video below shows you the general principle of the collapse in action. (Note: this video is from 2008, so detailed designs may vary today).