The Dobsonian telescope was designed by a man who wanted to share the beauty of the night sky with as many people as possible. He knew that the most important part of any telescope was the optics, and he knew that those optics needed to be as big as possible to really blow people’s minds, and so John Dobson set out to create a telescope tube and mount that was as simple (and inexpensive) as possible so he could put the bulk of the money into what mattered most: The Mirror. Today there are several companies that make a Dobsonian telescope style. Some are small, some are big, some are completely manual (like the original Dobsonian), and some are computerized since computerization is a prerequisite for many folks these days.
A list of our best Dobsonian telescope styles is listed below. They represent available Dobsonian telescopes fairly well, from a small, manual 5” table-top model to a big-dog 16” computerized Dob that collapses into itself for extra portability. If you have any questions about buying telescopes online or need help figuring out which scope is right for you, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our non-commissioned customer service department. Our mission is to put more people into the driver’s seat of the telescope of their choice so that they too can experience the awe-inspiring, calming and seductive night sky that envelopes us all.
For your consideration…
Zhumell Z130 Tabletop Dobsonian Telescope
The Zhumell Z130 is our favorite tabletop Dobsonian reflector telescope due to its portability, performance and affordability. For such a compact scope, this introductory Dobsonian packs quite a punch. With a 130mm aperture, you get over 5 inches of light-gathering power that cannot be found in most tabletop Dobsonians out there. Because of its larger mirror, the Z130 can show you fainter details in your favorite deep-sky objects, like the Orion Nebula or the giant star cluster, M-13.
Kids will love the Z130 Dobsonian, too! It’s lightweight and small enough for older children to enjoy without any extra assistance. The featherlight yet robust design makes this an excellent choice for teachers as well. The Z130 has enough aperture to keep students engaged but is easy to set up, carry and store. Little assembly is necessary, so budding astronomers can get started viewing the Moon, planets, and beyond right out of the box. The Z130 is also the most portable Dobsonian on this list, making it an excellent choice to take when camping or for a picnic under the stars.
Apertura AD8 8” Dobsonian Telescope
Declared the “Best Telescope for Beginners” by AstroBackyard, the Dobsonian telescope 8 inch Apertura will satisfy your longing to explore the moon & planets as well as galaxies & nebulae while also satisfying your desire to spend less than $500! The AD8 comes with a large 8” diameter mirror and a classic Dobsonian design that is built to last. This telescope has enough light-gathering power to reveal hundreds of celestial objects in all their glory, and it is oh-so-simple to use!
You will love how the Apertura 8 can go with you to star parties and dark sky locations and offer a consistent, impressive observing experience for years to come. The Apertura AD8 also comes packed with a dizzying array of accessories! You will receive not just one, but two eyepieces, so you can switch between highly magnified and wide-field views. Also included is a neutral density filter (it’s like sunglasses for the Moon!), and a full-sized 8x50 Correct-Image Finder to help you zero in on your next celestial target. A laser collimator is included with the Apertura AD8 as well so that you will have the tools necessary should you need to align your optics.
Meade 10” LightBridge Plus Dobsonian Telescope
The Meade 10” LightBridge Plus is the latest addition to the popular LightBridge series of Dobsonian telescopes by Meade Instruments. We love that the LightBridge Plus features a high-quality 10” mirror mounted in an innovative, and extremely portable, truss tube assembly. Because a truss-tube Dobsonian breaks down into several pieces, it can easily fit in most any vehicle, allowing you to experience the awesomeness of a big telescope without the bulk of a solid tube model.
The Meade 10” LightBridge Plus Telescope is easy to put together, thanks to its no-tools-needed assembly, and it is really easy to use. Just fit the trusses into place between the base and top components, insert an eyepiece, and start exploring! Speaking of the eyepiece, you will enjoy the enhanced accessories that come with this telescope, which includes a robust 2” dual-speed rack and pinion focuser, a 26mm Series 4000 eyepiece, a red dot finder to help you find and center celestial objects, and a DVD full of software to enhance your viewing enjoyment.
Apertura AD12 12” Dobsonian Telescope
This 12” Dobsonian from Apertura has all of the fantastic features of the 8” version, but with a larger 12” diameter mirror. With the increased aperture comes enhanced light-gathering ability, allowing you to see more detail on brighter objects and discern fainter items that would not be visible in smaller telescopes. Keep in mind, however, that large apertures require larger tubes and mounts, and of course, that means extra weight. The AD12 tube assembly weighs about 48 pounds and the base is about 38 pounds. That might be a tad heavy for some folks, but with the views, this Dobsonian telescope is capable of, you should have no trouble getting someone to help you carry it as long as you promise a look in the eyepiece!
The Apertura AD12 telescope is truly a “light bucket” designed to show you the universe for as little money as possible. This robust Dobsonian is decked out with everything you’ll need and more to explore the cosmos. For instance, a cooling fan is normally found on more expensive telescopes but we included one with our Apertura Dobsonians to help your telescope acclimate to the outside temperature more quickly, improving overall seeing conditions as it does so. Also, because we offer a good quality 2” dual-speed focuser on this telescope, we had the luxury of including an upgraded 30mm SuperView 2” eyepiece as well as a 9mm Super Plossl 1.25” eyepiece. The 2” barrel of the 30mm wide field eyepiece lets tons of light reach your eye; perfect for seeing more details in fainter galaxies & nebulae, and the 9mm cranks up the magnification to 168X for close-up views. You’ll also receive a 1.25” Moon Filter so you can see more details on that bright moon of ours and a full-size 8x50 Right-Angle Finder to assist you in finding and centering objects in your eyepiece, not to mention a laser collimator for any needed optical alignment. Decked out, indeed!
Skywatcher 12” Flextube Dobsonian Telescope
If you are looking for a no-fuss Dobsonian with a large aperture that you can take anywhere, look no further than the Skywatcher 12” Flextube Telescope! This Dob telescope offers a high-quality 12” primary mirror for amazing views of both bright and faint celestial objects. The observatory-grade optical components are made of borosilicate glass and then coated with quartz, titanium, and silicon dioxide to ensure an outstanding viewing experience. This results in enhanced views of star clusters, galaxies, nebulae, and other deep-sky objects.
The Skywatcher 12” Flextube Dobsonian features an improved collapsible design that is easier to use than standard cross-bar truss tubes. Like it’s big-dog SynScan counterpart below, the SkyWatcher Flextube can be broken down so that the top of the tube sits on the bottom portion. This allows the 12” Flextube to become half its original size! There are no extra pieces to account for and all pieces stay connected. This also makes it easy to transport the Flextube Dobsonian to star parties, family gatherings, dark sky locations, and much more.
SkyWatcher 16" Flextube SynScan GoTo Dobsonian Telescope
For the astronomer with a serious case of Aperture Fever, this giant Dobsonian telescope, with features like a collapsible tube and a GoTo computerized mount, will delight you with amazing views of our Universe! What is aperture fever? Well, first of all, it is definitely contagious! All it takes is a look through a telescope with a large aperture to make you want a big telescope with all your heart! This big telescope ticks off a lot of boxes for amateur astronomers looking for a scope that can peer into deepest space. First of all, a 16” mirror not only increases the light-gathering capability of your telescope, it increases resolution, or the ability to distinguish details, as well. In other words, you will see far fainter objects with a 16” than you would with, say, an 8” telescope, but the details will appear sharper and more defined as well. The increase in light-gathering really is staggering. For instance, a 16” telescope has 300% more light gathering than an 8”! How much you can see will depend on your viewing conditions, but seriously, that’s a BIG difference!
As we mentioned earlier in this article, larger aperture telescopes are obviously bigger and heavier, but Sky-Watcher has helped to counteract that issue with an innovative collapsible tube design. Unlike other Dobsonians that have a solid tube or truss tubes that must be disassembled into multiple pieces, the top section of the optical tube assembly collapses into the bottom section, changing the total length to a more manageable 42.5”. The ability to collapse into itself allows this 16” Dob to fit in places where similar-sized Dobsonians cannot. Now we must caution you that this telescope is still heavy and will require either He-Man like strength or, more likely, two people to set it up and break it down. That said, we have yet to see the owner of a giant telescope lack the help needed to get it up and running, especially with the promise of a look or two at objects that most telescopes cannot see.
This 16” Sky-Watcher Flextube is also a different type of Dobsonian in that it includes a GoTo system, called the SynScan GoTo AZ. Most Dob’s are strictly manual, but SynScan turns a normally simplistic mount into a tracking powerhouse, allowing you to accurately find and track planets, star, clusters, galaxies, and so much more with the simple push of a button. The SynScan uses a dual encoder design that is precisely engineered to record the position of the telescope. The included SynScan hand controller comes equipped with a 42,900-object database, allowing new and seasoned observers alike to discover new treasures in the night sky.