Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian


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Brand and Model:Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
Price ($USD):$299.00
Type:Newtonian
Attributes: un-checked Go-To un-checked PEC
Aperture:150mm (6.0 in)
f Ratio:8
Focal Length:1200mm
Finder:6x30
Electric Power:not applicable
Mount:Dobsonian
Tripod:not applicable
Weight (lbs):38.5
Dimensions (w/h/d):OTA: 45.5 inches
Description:Orion's XT6 Dobsonian Page
Affordable Astronomy's Review
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Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
Out of the box, with just a simple, quick collimation, optics provide good resolution. The XT6 does a good job on double stars, but getting any significant detail out of the larger globular clusters with the XT6 is a bit dicey under "typical" city observing conditions. In a semi-dark location, clusters such as M13 and M22 yield a decent number of resolved stars with typical conditions. Smaller clusters such as M92, M15, and M2 are not so generous and require excellent conditions to show any detail. The XT6 splits the double-double with Orion's 15mm Ultrscopic combined with their Ultrascopic barlow. And in the moments of clear viewing, it can be seen that the split is quite clean. A star test looks good. I think the optics on this scope will make it a good planetary and double star scope, but I can't verify its planetary abilities at this time since the only view I've had of Saturn has been low in the sky on a so-so night.

After owning it for about three weeks, I decided to give it the full-blown optical alignment and collimation. In order to square the focuser with the secondary, I had to remove two of factory screws and use #8 half-inch screws so there would be sufficient length to permit shimming one side of the focuser with two #8 washers on each screw (i.e. four washers total). After the deluxe alignment and collimation, the detail visible through the scope was excellent. Even on nights of mediocre viewing, powers of 200X - 250X are supported with no problems, and close doubles are easily split. It seems like these f/8 six-inchers, when they have been carefully aligned and collimated, are tough to beat when it comes to splitting close doubles and showing detail.

I do have some complaints about the mechanical qualities of the scope.

The mount is rather stiff, probably because the spring tension supplies a little too much tension. When adjusting altitude, there is a tendency of the bearings to initially resist movement then suddenly break loose causing you to go past your target (I think this is called "stiction".). I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I intend to move the teflon base pads a bit closer in to the center to make azimuth movements a little easier; either that or do the milk carton thing.

The focuser is terrible: Being plagued by a ridiculous amount of slop, it's easily the worst I have ever used on a scope (worse than those plastic Meade jobs). There is so much slop in the fit that objects shift considerably when adjusting the focuser in and out. Tightening the tensioner just makes things worse because this presses a plastic bar against the eyepiece tube, and the plastic grabs the drawtube and makes it rock back and forth even more as you turn the adjuster knob back and forth. This also effects one's ability to collimate. With a laser collimator, the red dot will move at least an inch on the main mirror when the focuser knob is turned back and forth. And, as already mentioned, it required a hefty amount of shimming to square the focuser with the secondary. I found that collimating with a Cheshire eyepiece gave the best results. The primary mirror comes with the center already marked -- a nice feature.

I was able to solve the slop by shimming the focuser drawtube with the "vel" part of velcro strip with adhesive backing. I cut two narrow strips from a larger strip and stuck these narrow strips inside the focuser body. After I did that, it occurred to me that sticking a single strip to the tensioner bar might work too. I also cleaned out some chrome chips that had flaked off in the gear mechanism. The shimming and the clean out (mostly the shimming) made a world of difference. I'm wondering if there should have been some additional teflon shims that the manufacturer "forgot" to insert. It's possible that all shimming I had to do to the drawtube is partially responsible for extra shimming of the focuser body in order to get it squared with the telescope.

The instructions mention a 2mm hex key for the smaller adjusting screws on the secondary mirror. On the scope I received, the fit of a 2mm hex key (not supplied with the scope) was so loose as to make me doubtful that these were hex screws. After some experimentation, I found the fit of a 5/64 inch hex key to be correct.

The dinky finder scope is essentially worthless (why do they make these things?). If you don't have one of those red dot finders, get one (and figure the cost of one into your total investment in scope). I'll never understand why dealers don't sell the telescope at a reduced price without options and offer some option packages, at special pricing, for eyepieces and finder scopes so you can decide on the quality and price of the accessories you want instead requiring you to pay for lame accessories and eyepieces you don't want. If they only knew how many scopes I have NOT purchased because I didn't want to pay for the junk accessories. (end of editorial)

Stray light seems to be more of problem with the XT6 than with my 10-inch Dob. My house is located close to an expressway where overhead viewing runs about mag 2.5 give or take a bit. My viewing location is only slightly worse than a Wal-Mart parking lot; so I have LOTS of stray light! I've always read that the smaller Dob should be less affected by city light than the larger Dob; but my experience has been just the opposite. When trying to resolve globular clusters, the stray light does pose a real problem.

For those debating if a 6-inch scope is big enough, some thoughts:

My 10-inch Dob is an excellent Synta-made unit from Oceanside (www.optcorp.com) (essentially, the same thing as the XT10). I have looked through a fair number of 8-inch Dobs and SCT's; and, for deep space observing, the larger scopes do pull in more stuff and resolve more deep space detail. In a crapola viewing location (such as my house), all the extra light negates much of the advantage of the larger scope. But when I go to darker locations, I find that I spend A LOT more time with the 10 than with the 6. So part of your decision should be based on the conditions under which you will use the scope.

I have split the double-double with the 10 only under exceptional conditions. However I, and those who have looked through it, think it shows very good, sharp, images in general. It's relatively short focal ratio (f/5) makes it much touchier about alignment and collimation, and the aperture probably makes it more sensitive to atmospheric turbulence. The 6 is very forgiving of less-than-perfect collimation and routinely splits close doubles with no problems. But in a dark location, the 10 can reveal detail in those deep space objects that the 6 cannot. Also, the two-inch focuser on the 8- and 10-inch scopes is a BIG advantage. Looking through a big, wide-angle eyepiece like the University Optics 40mm Konig MK-70 gives a huge "portal into space" that the 6 can never do (in its stock form). So part of your decision should be based on what you want to spend most of your time looking at -- a case of "the right tool for the job."

Then there is the issue of size and portability. The 10-incher is not much smaller than a 30-gallon hot water heater (non energy efficient model). With the XT6, I can stuff a couple of eyepieces and a barlow in my pockets, grab a stool in one hand (Harbor Freight sells a good pneumatic adjusting stool for about $20), and grab the scope in the other hand. I can grab everything in one trip out of the house.

If one is going to have only one scope and is debating about the size, even though I don't have an 8-inch scoe, I think an 8-inch scope seems like a good compromise between the portability, ease of collimating at least "close enough for government work", sufficient aperture to show some deep space detail, and the ability to give big, rich-field views. For example, the Orion XT8 weighs only about four pounds more than the XT6 (if Orion's published specs are correct), so you have only a little less portability. One thing I do miss with the XT6 are those big, rich-field views that a 2-inch focuser allows when using big, wide-angle eyepieces. Besides providing lovely views of the Milky Way that the XT6 can't come close to matching, those wide views make things a lot easier to find (DEFINITELY an important consideration for somebody learning to navigate the sky). If all you ever did was planetary or double star viewing, then the lack of a 2-inch focuser would probably never be missed. But you WILL eventually want to do some deep sky viewing; and the first time you ever get an eye-full of what a big, 2-inch, wide-angle eyepiece provides, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

Optically, the XT6 is excellent, especially after you give it the deluxe alignment and collimation treatment. Detail is fine, but I find the aperture and overall light gathering to be just under what is required to show any significant detail in glubular clusters or for reeling in a nebula (at least to satisfy my tastes). In this aspect, the 10-inch beats the XT6; but the XT6 can split close doubles that the 10 cannot (usually). Mechanically, the XT6 has some rough spots; most notably, a sorry excuse for a focuser on the one I received. And you are paying for a rinky-dink finder scope that you will end up replacing.

Overall, this is a fine scope for when you want something portable, for splitting doubles, and (I suspect) for planetary work. On deep space stuff, the 6-inch aperture is somewhat limiting if you have easy access to a dark viewing location, but you can still see quite a bit with it. If you are forever stuck in a piss-poor viewing location, then the XT6 will probably be just about as good as the larger scopes.

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:8 Mount:6 Ease of Use:8 Value:8
Weight: 20 (Notable Vote)
Date:
By: percy_smogg
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=129519

I must say I'm surprised at the lack of quality of your XT6's focuser (image shift).  I went through three products before purchasing my XT6, and returned them all with the focuser being extemely poor in all three.  One was a Celestron refractor, and two were from Meade, both reflecters.  All three of them had an EXTREMEM amount of image shift when I focused in or out, and the Meade focuser was obvious after thought cheap plastic junk.  The instant I first focused with my XT6 is was so overwhelmingly obvious it was better than my previous purchases I knew (or assumed) the rest of the scope would prove as nice, which it did.  Granted I'm an extreme amateur, I still can spot obvious differences in workmanship.  I'm willing to bet if you called Orion they would be happy to exchange your scope.  



>Optics provide good resolution; but my other six-incher, the Celestron CR150HD refractor, shows slightly more detail (albeit with a purple halo around bright objects).  The XT6 does a good job on double stars, but getting any significant detail out of the larger globular clusters with the XT6 is a bit dicey under "typical" city observing conditions.  In a semi-dark location, clusters such as M13 and M22 yield a few resolved stars with typical conditions.  I suspect it would take exceptional conditions to dig any stars out medium clusters such as M92 and M15.  The XT6 splits the double-double with Orion's 15mm Ultrscopic combined with their Ultrascopic barlow.  And in the moments of clear viewing, it can be seen that the split is quite clean.  A star test looks good.  I think the optics on this scope will make it a good planetary and double star scope, but I can't verify its planetary abilities at this time since the only view I've had of Saturn has been low in the sky on a so-so night.
>
>I do have some complaints about the mechanical qualities of the scope.
>
>The mount is rather stiff, probably because the spring tension supplies a little too much tension.  When adjusting altitude, there is a tendency of the bearings to initially resist movement then suddenly break loose causing you to go past your target (I think this is called "stiction".).  I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I intend to move the teflon base pads a bit closer in to the center to make azimuth movements a little easier; either that or do the milk carton thing.
>

[snipped by webmaster]

Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
Scope arrived with incorrectly sized screws, precluding mounting the telescope. A call to Orion was answered quickly. The tech rep acknowledge it was a problem they were aware of ("Sometimes the connectors for the screws are sunk too deep") and suggested I purchase longer screws. The mirror is excellent for the money. The mount tends to be a bit tight (cut plastic circular washers out of plastic gallon water or milk jugs and insert between the platform around the center bolt to aid movement)but is otherwise very solid with a good carrying handle. The telescope tube features a hand grip under the lip of the scope to aid in aiming, one of the best ideas I've seen for a newtonian body. The focuser is excellent, one of the best on any scope. The finer scope is good but is difficult to use due to the short "legs" - get a right angle scope that you can look in and then go right back to the main eyepiece. The finder scope mount is very good and, though easy to knock out of alignment, is very quick to be realigned. If it were not for the wrong sized bolts this would an easy "9," possibly a 10 overall rating, but sending out scopes with known flaws and leaving it up to the user to fix them is not a practice which would be acceptable in any field other than astronomy. ("My new Ford was delivered without an ignition switch. When I asked about it they said they knew some cars were being shipped without one and suggested I run down to NAPA and buy a new one." See what I mean?)

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:9 Mount:5 Ease of Use:7 Value:9
Weight: 12 (Trustworthy Vote)
Date:
By: Lobo
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=68929


Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
The reason I gave the mount and ease of use a "9" is that it is a little stiff when rotating in azimuth. This is the 4th telescope I have purchased in a month. First one was actually an X-mas gift from my wife. A celestron 60GT. I returned it after doing a little research on the web. Bought a Meade DS2114AT from the Discovery Channel store because I had to get a scope as soon as possible. After returning the first one for a shoddy mount, I got the second one assebled o.k. Well, after trying in vain to get anything to come into focus numerous nights, and dealing with the cheap plastic focuser that moved up and down every time you turned the focus knob, and the vibrating mount that was just flat out unacceptable, I returned this one too. After researching much much more, I decided upon the XT6. As soon as I had it assempled I could tell it was better quality. No play in the focuser. All metal parts. Still collimated right out of the box. Had to wait 7 days before I got a clear enough night to check it out. Man, was I giddy! The moon? Simply amazing. Saturn and the cissini division. Jupiter and it's cloud belts and 4 moons a piece of cake for this azazing scope. It cost me the same as the Meade after s&h, and about $100 more than the Celestron, but you cannot, CANNOT compare these scopes. The celsetron was actually better than the meade. But this 6" Dob blew me away. Absolutely for the money, this has to be the best thing out there. If anyone has something better, I'd like to know! So after going through 3 other scopes, this is absolutely the hands down winner.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:10 Mount:9 Ease of Use:9 Value:10
Weight: 10 (Trustworthy Vote)
Date:
By: mrhuether
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=59173


Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
Tremendous bang for the buck! I briefly had the XT8, but have to climb stairs to observe. The XT8 is not easily carried up flights of stairs as a single unit, so I reluctantly sent it back for the XT6. I needn't have worried. This scope from city skies has actually been better for me. I can easily carry it fully assembled in one hand up the stairs. I know it's only 5 pounds heavier but it's balanced much better. The optics are actually sharper in this XT6 sample than the XT8 I had. I have split the double-double routinely under 100x in the 6, while never under 120x in the XT8. Cassini Division is very apparent in the 19mm Panoptic (63x) in the XT6, while it took over 100x in the XT8 to see it, and never as sharply. I saw the Great Red Spot clearly in the XT6 the other night and I doubt I could have seen it in the XT8 given that I never saw more than 4 cloud bands in it. I've seen 6 clearly in the XT6. I realize that the 6 inch scope is f/8 while the 8 inch is f/6, but didn't expect it to be this much sharper! Of course I could just have gotten a subpar mirror on the XT8. Regardless, this scope is a 10 weighing performance and value! By the way, views on deep sky objects that are availalbe in my skies are so close between the two scopes as to be a non-issue. From a dark site, try them both if you can, but if you're in the city, the XT6 is a great deal.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:8 Mount:9 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 10 (Trustworthy Vote)
Date:
By: ruffo
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=56091


Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
Best bang for the buck-I'm just starting out in astronomy and I attended a few star parties. I have tried other scopes up to 20 inches and find that the XT6 is a great starter scope especially if you live under light polluted skies. Collmination was very easy for a beginner like me (buy the collmination tool and use the web on how to put the central dot on the mirror and keep the clips loose). The mount is excellent and smooth-the CorrecTension springs gives it just the right amount of friction and added portability. However, an upgrade to a 6x30 Right-Angle Correct-Image Finder Scope would have been nice. Once collminated the optics are very clear Saturns Cassini division are noticeable along with Jupiter and it's red spot. However, M57 (the ring nebula)is like a pinhead at 133X-don't be fooled by the photos in the magazines. Use this scope to get acclimated with astronomy and the maintenance of a newtonian-find double stars and faint fuzzies and then upgrade to an obsession scope.

Overall Rating: 10
Weight: 10 (Trustworthy Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.206.222)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39694


Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
I just purchased my Orion Dob XT6 three weeks ago. I have been out twice on nights that I thought were terrible because of clouds and general haze. The haze was so bad that I could barely make out the man in the moon using my eyes. Upon looking through teh eyepiece for the first time, I was very impressed with the images I could see of the moon. So was my daughter. Even in cloud cover and looking through trees (no leaves), I could still see remarkable detail. Assembly and set up were great. My 5 year old daughter helped me and was very easy to do. Collimation? Yeah, I am new to this but hey, I want perfect and I think I have it. The star test showed perfectly round images. Additionally, I covered up all but 1/8th of the aperature while viewing the moon. I only saw a slight drop in brightness, NOT clarity. The image dimmed a bit but never lost clarity. Very impressed.
I sighted the finder scope in early evening on a street light in my apartment complex that was 100 yards away. I could clearly see a gnat that was stuck on the glass along with a hair / spiderweb that was next to it.

I also purchased the collimating eyepiece and a 2X shorty barlow. They were shipped a bit dirty but I cleaned them very easily.

I have not purchased any additional eyepieces....yet. But soon I think I will try the 17mm and the 7.5mm. Given the 2X barlow, that should give me a pretty decent range of powers.

I can only give it a 9 because I am not qualified to give it a 10. But I bet any expert who knows what to expect would rate it at least a 9. I read through this site for almost 5 hours before deciding to purchase the XT6. I am sure glad I did.
The Dobsonian XT6 is my first telescope. Should be yours too.
KPM

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 10 (Trustworthy Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.59.43)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39688


Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
I compared this scope to a larger truss dob and a schmitt-cass. This scope outperformed the schmitt-cass and was nearly equal to the truss dob. The truss dob cost 5 times as much and was marginally better. The correct tension springs are great. I can carry the thing without worrying about dropping the OTA out of the mount. Yeah the mount is a little stiff, but it stays where you put it, with any eyepiece, anywhere you point it, without shaking, without vibrating. The optics will Ronchi test and star test good. It does all that was advertised in the catalog. The fit and finish is good, with all metal parts, no plastic.
It is a keeper.

Overall Rating: 10
Weight: 10 (Trustworthy Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.194.14)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39687


Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
Very nice scope for the price. Nice optics.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:9 Mount:10 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 7 (Veritable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.230.241)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=95997


Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
i have had this scope for a couple of months now and i love it. the optics always amaze me. i have seen better but what really gets me is the overall quality of this scope compared to its price. when comparing to a 4 inch apo the difference is not much, the apo has better contrast and a slightly crisper view than the xt6, but you really have to go back and forth to really see the differences. i have to agree with ed ting when he says one of the frustrating things about this hobby is that you end up spending alot of money just to learn you didnt have to spend alot of money. if you ever get the chance to compare this scope to other more expensive scopes you will understand what he means. looking for that perfect first scope look no further, this is not my first scope but lately has been my favorite and most used. easily portable, a good 6 inches of apeture, and very good optics. easy to assemble and easy to collimate.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:10 Mount:9 Ease of Use:9 Value:10
Weight: 7 (Veritable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.89.246)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=84597


Orion SkyQuest XT6 (Intelliscope) Dobsonian
had mine out last night for the first time, jupiter in moments of good seeing showed up to six bands, saturns cassini division was easy. double stars were cleanly split and showed good color contrast. the scope was easy to put together and the collimation was simple with the collimation cap that comes with the scope. the focuser is smooth. the finder scope is really good but i do feel a rigel or telrad finder would make it easier to point the scope. the metal tube is really nice and overall the scope looks, feels and performs like something that cost much more than 349 dollars. this is without a doubt the best scope in this size and type i have ever used and orion could be asking much more for the XT series. and compared to the XT8 this scope has slightly better resolution on the planets. highly recomended.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:10 Mount:10 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 7 (Veritable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.89.131)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=66147

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