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Date: NA
Price: $369.99
Design: 6 inch Dobsonian reflector with 1200mm focal length operating at f/8
Description: Medium sized reflector on a Dobsonian mount. It ships with two Plossl eyepieces (25mm and 9mm), a moon filter, and 6x30 finder scope. It also features Orion's proprietary Correct-Tension system to help with balance issues.

The Review

The Orion Skyquest XT 6 is a 6 inch aperture F/8 Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount.  The purchase price when I bought mine was $377.  I believe they are now selling for $369.00.  This telescope comes as a complete observing system, including two Sirius Plossl eyepieces of 25mm and 9mm.  These are decent "middle priced" eyepieces, and will serve the beginner well.  With the addition of a Barlow telenegative amplifier, someone just starting out could be kept busy for years.

That being said, I would like to make it clear that this is not just a beginners telescope.  The images this 'scope throws up to your selected eyepiece, are probably the best overall I've seen for a reflector in this size class, in all my years of observing.  While I have not done any wave front tests on it, it is plain to see that
whomever supplies these mirrors to Orion cares about the figure being correct.  There are no zones ( I have two of these 'scopes by the way) and while the older models had a slight under correction problem, Orion ships all new ones with the kit for fixing this problem already installed.  If you own one of the older ones it would be worth contacting Orion about the fix, although many people do not even notice the problem.

I can't find much to seriously complain about.  Bright and clear deep sky images.  A very good star test on both of the examples I have.  The Dobsonian mount is smooth in both axis, and the "Correct Tension" on the altitude hubs is not a gimmick, as anyone who has ever put a 40mm eyepiece inserted into a Barlow in some 6 to 8 inch 'scopes can testify to.  Planetary images are good, even excellent when seeing conditions permit, (which isn't often at the bottom of Michigan's "thumb")
There is however one problem that small reflectors can have that I have seen in this 'scope.  When viewing bright objects such as planets I have seen six diffraction spikes, (six because this 'scope has a three vane spider) you may or may not find this objectionable.  I don't always see this, and it seems to be more
noticeable when observing in my neighborhood, so I think that it is more a stray light problem than anything.  It really doesn't detract from what you are looking at, and really it is analogus to the chromatic aberration you get in those short focal length small refractors.  Something most folks wouldn't notice or if they did would just ignore, however, if Orion used a thin bladed four vane spider, I don't believe it would even be present, as the thickness of the vanes is the problem.

This is one exceptional telescope.  It works great on a lot of levels.  It is not overwhelming for beginners.  It shows enough that "old hands" won't tire of it easy, and makes a great travel alternative to my big light buckets.  It is a keeper, and I highly recommend it without reservations to anyone!

My next evaluation will be on my newest 'scope Discovery's Premium 10 inch F/6.  Clear skies to all!

Ed Conley - edwardrconley@excite.com - Lapeer County, Michigan

About the author - Hello everyone, my name is Ed Conley.  I have been an avid observer since early in the year 1975, so I've been "at it" for 27 years if my public
school math is correct.  

I saw Curt Irwin's link on the Todd Gross weather and astronomy web page, and checked out his telescope review site.  I believe it is a great site, that will become a valuable resource for amateur observers looking to get information on 'scopes that they might be interested in, but don't have access to for evaluation themselves.

I'll be doing reviews on my collection of 'scopes as well as the 'scopes in our club.  Fellow amateur Charles Nelson and I run a club for 6 through 12 grades, and any and all interested adult guests. The "Eyes on the Sky" astronomy club is a program of the Lapeer County Intermediate school district's Math and Science Center, is open to public participation, and is absolutely free. Anyone reading this who like more information regarding this club e-mail either Mr. Nelson, cnelson@iavbbs.com, or myself, edwardrconley@excite.com.

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