This size telescope is the defining line between telescope for fun and telescope for the serious amateur
If you are a serious hobby astronomer, want to take fantastic pictures or are looking for your second and bigger telescope the 8 inch size is a good choice for you. You get 70% more surface area with an 8" than you do with a 6" and you get a significant increase in performance all the way around. In this article I will walk you through a variety of 8 inch telescopes and go over some of the important points, and of course, I will give you some guidelines when it comes to price.
Will's recommendation for Manufacturers: At this size telescope you really have some nice choices. It is a stable and very well engineered product size and there are several companies that make this size with great optics and mounts to match. In no particular order you can go with either Celestron, Meade, or Orion.
Some things to look for when purchasing this size telescope:
- You should make sure it has a 2" focuser. You really need this enlarged size focuser and most telescopes of this size will come standard with a 2" Crayford Style focuser.
- You may need to take into consideration and portability - These telescopes can get heavy and depending on your location you may want to pack it up in the car and take it out to darker skies. The weight can be an issue. If weight of transport, setup and use is an important factor for you then go with a fork mount. If price is a concern but you still want to get it reasonably light then go with a dobsonian.
- Stick with reputable manufacturers with a track record. They put money into the optics which is where the money needs to go!
At the 8" Level you have some great choices and options when it comes to choosing a telescope.
First let's look at the optics: You can get either a newtonian (lower price) or a Cassegrain (better performance) folded optics scope.
- The Newtonian: This is the style optical tube assembly you want to go with if your budget is tight but you still want the light gathering power of an 8" telescope. You can get some great bargains and these telescopes will typically be less than one half to one quarter the price of an 8" Cassegrain.
- The Cassegrain telescope will be more expensive (It has a more complex and better performing optical system) but this kind of telescope is very well suited to phenomenal viewing and this optic set up is often paired with the mount and accessories that make it a really high performer - extracting every bit of light gathering capability possible. This size and type of telescope has been pretty much perfected and been around for a long time. If you can find the budget for this you will be stunned by the performanc vs price.
About the Mounts:
- Newtonion Optics - If purchasing a newtonian optical system telescope you have two basic choices when it comes to mounts. You can purchase an equatorial mount which will give you accurate tracking, better observing and the option of automatic object finding and objec tracking. This will be a bit more expensive than the Dobsonian. With the Dobsonian mount you will get very easy to use, very easy to manipulate and move the telescope and very easy set up/tear down and transport. The Dob is also less expensive.
- Cassegrain Optics: With this type of Optical Tube Assembly you have the choice between a traditional Equatorial mount or some type of fork mount. They are very comparable in many ways but typically the fork mount will be smaller and easier to use.
Let's take a look at some of these 8" telescopes, mounts, and configurations
Dobsonian Mount 8" Telescopes
Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope - This is a tremendous upgrade from the 6" dob without being a tremendous price upgrade. The 2" focuser is a very nice addition and will make a big difference in viewing and in comfort. This telescope is a way for you to get some great viewing and light gathering power at a very reasonable price.
MEADE 0805-05-02 Lightbridge Truss Tube Dobsonian with 8 - This Meade telescope is comparable to the Orion but with the Lightbridge truss tube set up it is significantly lighter and easier to transport.
Equatorial Mount 8" telescopes
Meade LXD75 SN-8AT 8" 812mm f/4.0 Schmidt-Newtonian Telescope, Motorized German-Type Equatorial Mount with UHTC Coatings, Autostar Computerized Hand Controller, Autostar Suite Software, 8x50 Finderscope & Tripod
Meade's Schmidt-Newtonian optics yield pinpoint stellar images over an extremely wide field-of-view with only half the coma of standard Newtonians of the same focal ratio. Schmidt-Newtonian optics are mounted in precision-machined aluminum cells, which are then mounted in sturdy steel tubes which are baked with high-grade textured enamel paint. The optical tube assembly is closed, reducing air currents inside the tube. This prevents distortion of an otherwise sharp image. Plus, a closed tube significantly helps keep the optics clean. The Corrector Lens fully corrects for spherical aberration and provides pinpoint star images. Water white glass is used in all Schmidt-Newtonian corrector lenses to maximize light transmission. The use of water white glass results in an increase of light transmission in excess of 10%, as compared to competitive telescopes using soda lime glass. Schmidt-Newtonian corrector lenses and mirrors are individually figured to create a superior optical system which is renowned for its exquisite smoothness and performance. Premium-grade Pyrex mirrors are used in all Schmidt-Newtonian optical systems, providing exceptional thermal stability versus competing models using standard plate glass
Fork Mount 8" Telescopes
Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope w/ Fork Arm Mount and 40,000 + Object Database - Demo Model Celestron's Nexstar 8 SE telescope combines excellent optics and computerized "GoTo" tracking in a package that's light, portable and affordable. The legendary performance of Celestron's orange tube C8 telescope has been updated with high performance Starbright XLT coatings, and the single arm Nexstar mount now includes Celestron's easy to use "SkyAlign" technology.
The Nexstar 8 SE upholds Celestron's reputation for quality optics. When I use an 11mm Plossl eyepiece (almost 200x magnification) for example, I can easily see the Cassini Division in Saturn's rings. When I look at Jupiter, the pale orange color of Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot is visible, and I've even been able to identify the polar caps and spot dust storms on the planet Mars. A 20mm Plossl eyepiece (about 100x magnification) is a good choice for viewing galaxies and star clusters. When I look at globular cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules the high contrast XLT optics show me a glowing snowflake made of hundreds of tiny pin-point stars! And a low power 32mm Plossl eyepiece is a good choice for views of larger deep space highlights like the Andromeda Galaxy and the Orion Nebula.
Meade LX90-ACF 8 - The Meade 8" LX90-ACF Advanced Coma-Free (ACF) optical system takes all of the features of the Meade SC models and then ups the ante. With it's technologically superior optical design, ACF gives a flatter, coma-free field of view with pinpoint images all the way to the edge of the field, rivaling Ritchey-Cretien performance at a fraction of the cost. ACF is the perfect solution for the serious astroimager or visual astronomer looking for observatory-class optics.