Without spending a fortune you can get a telescope that will not only satisfy the kids, but the kid in you! Our SkyQuest XT4.5 is a quality telescope, with point-and-view simplicity that makes it easy to use and makes stargazing fun! The optical performance is far and away better than flimsy department store models. Its 4.5" (114mm) mirror, housed in an enameled steel tube, gathers 260% more starlight than a 60mm refractor. More light means you can see a lot more celestial objects in greater detail. In a review of low-cost beginner telescopes, Sky and Telescope (12/05) proclaimed the XT4.5 "The best of the bunch - a solid combination of optics and mechanics." Try it and see for yourself!
Amazon.com Review Orion’s Skyquest XT4.5 is the smallest in their Dobsonian line of telescopes that includes the B00020WZB0 XT6 , XT8 , and XT10. Newcomers to the hobby are always surprised at how large amateur telescopes are, but to experienced observers, this XT4.5 is considered a very small scope. Tiny, in fact (It’s so small, astronomers are buying them just because they think they're so cute). Make no mistake, though--the XT4.5 is a full-fledged telescope, and is a serious observing tool that could last you for years.
Your money buys you a lot in this case. Included are a good-quality 4.5" f/8 primary mirror, two eyepieces, a finder, and a CD-ROM with a stripped-down version of The Sky, a software guide to the sky. The scope comes in two cartons. One contains the optical tube, and the other is a flat-packed box containing the base, which you assemble yourself. Orion includes all the hardware and tools you need, and the instructions are well written. Allocate about 30 minutes to assemble and align everything.
There are a couple of cost-cutting measures. The primary mirror is spherical, not parabolic (this is not likely to affect the views, however). Also, the focuser is plastic. While I’ve never seen one break, plastic focusers are by nature less robust than metal ones. Finally (and this may be the most serious concern of all), the scope is a little short for an adult. The eyepiece is only 3 feet off the ground, which may force you to stoop over (hint: try sitting on a short chair or stool while observing). On the other hand, the height is ideal for a child, and as a result, I heartily recommend this telescope for children.
Under the stars, the XT4.5 exhibits excellent performance. Once properly collimated (aligned), the optics give clear, sharp, contrasty views. I’ve spent enjoyable nights using these telescopes, both as a teaching tool and by myself. Jupiter’s cloud band and four moons are no problem to see, nor are Saturn’s rings. The Orion Nebula is a glowing fan of green gas, with a quartet of tiny stars at its core. Under dark skies (and with some diligence) the XT4.5 can even pull in some of the fainter deep sky objects, like the brighter galaxies in the Virgo Cluster.
Despite the fact that I have a garage full of expensive telescopes, I never feel compromised with any of Orion’s XT scopes. As recently as a few years ago, the old adage regarding telescopes was that you must spend at least $300 to avoid buying junk. While this is still mostly true, Orion’s little XT4.5 breaks the price barrier in a big way. As long as you can deal with the short eyepiece height, it’s a great starter scope.
- Very good optical and mechanical performance
- Fully accessorized
- Great value
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- Short eyepiece height
- Plastic focuser