Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian Review

The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian allows beginners with a curiosity for the night sky to explore space on a moments notice.  Stargazing is eazy and enjoyable for the whole family thanks to the Dobsonian design.  This reflector telescope is extremely portable, so stargazing will become a regular outdoor activity at home or the cottage.

Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian Review

The innovative design of this telescope make it a "point-and view" instrument, perfect for wandering around the stars.  This user-friendly design is a great way to find Messier objects and learn the location of many deep-sky objects on your own.  Use the included 6 x 26 correct-image finder scope to locate objects in space, and then peer through the included eyepieces for a deeper look.

Two fully coated 1.25" Sirius Plossl eyepieces are included with the telescope:

  • 25mm for wide views at 36X magnification
  • 10mm for close up views at 91X power

Intermediate telescope users will find the high quality construction and handy accessories are welcome change from the old department store telescopes of years passed. The handy navigation knob, CorrecTension spring system, and rack-and-pinion focuser are built to last through a lifetime of night sky observations.

Add more eyepieces to your astronomy gear over time.  The SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian accepts all 1.25" telescope eyepieces.

Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope
Everything that comes with the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Telescope

View Galaxies and Nebulae

The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian's tube assembly features a 4.5" mirror with enough light-gathering power to put on a real show.  This 114mm spherical primary mirror soaks in over 200% more starlight than the lens of a 60mm refractor.

This light gathering ability means that you can see more celestial objects in the night sky, and in greater detail! This means views of nebulae and galaxies are possible with the Orion Skyquest XT4.5.  You will never forget your first look at the Andromeda galaxy, I promse you that!

View the Moon and Planets up Close

 This telescope is perfect for surveying the Moon's craters and valleys.  Watch the different lunar features present themselves through each phase night after night.  The SkyQuest also excels at well-defined views of the planets in our solar system including the cloud bands of Jupiter, and it's nnearby Galilean moons.

The moon through Orion telescope

If you really want to impress the neaighbours, move the scope towards the dazzling planet Saturn.  One look at Saturn's rings through the Orion SkyQuest4.5XT will change the way you look at our planet!  Experience the humbling feeling of the realization of how small and fragile our planet really is.

Saturn through a small telescope
Saturn captured by One Minute Astronomer

Classic Dobsonian Reflector Design

 The design of the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian telescope was built with ease-of-use in mind.  The Dobsonian reflector design is extremely popular in all sizes, for good reason.  It is arguably the most user friendly style of telescope, thanks to it's versatility.  Moving the telescope up and down, and side to side is comfortable and easy.  Young children and older observers will have no trouble with this telescope.

Why are Dobsonian Telescopes a Favorite Amatuer Astronomers

You do not have to worry about lock knobs or adjusting the telescope balance at all.  The sturdy base provided with the Orion SkyQuest handles the weight of the reflector optical tube and finderscope.  The base includes Nylon bearing pads to make sure that the telescope glides smoothly during use.  The base itself is extremely stable, much more so than a traditional tripod.

The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian Telescope
The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian sitting on a table from AstroBackyard

The best part about the SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian model is that it is the smallest version in the series, which makes it easy to carry and travel with.  You'll never go camping without it!

View the SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian

What's Included with the Telescope?


  • 25mm Sirus Plossl Eyepiece
  • 10mm Sirius Plossl Eyepiece
  • 6 x 26 correct-image finder scope
  • 1.25" rack and pinion focuser
  • collimation cap
  • eyepiece rack
  • Starry Night software


Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Specs:

Optical Diameter: 114mm
Focal Length: 900mm
Focal Ratio: f/7.97
Optical Design: Reflector
Weight: 17.6 lbs

Final Thoughts

 The Orion Skyquest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian telescope is a very capable telescope for beginners and intermediates alike.  Amateur astronomers agree that this is one of the best possible "first telescopes" one can own. With a large 114mm reflector mirror capable of providing views of the solar system and deep-sky objects, the Orion SkyQuest will bring the "wow-factor" to any backyard.

The portable size and versatility of the XT4.5 make observing the night sky a hassle-free experience, which is important for beginners learning the night sky.  This telescope provides an incredible value considering it's quality and included accesories. 

 This is the highest rated beginner telescope on Starter Telescopes.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope Review

In this review we take a look at the popular Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope.  This Newtonian reflector is a popular choice for beginners and is a top seller on Amazon.  Celestron has been building quality telescopes since the 1960's, and the PowerSeeker 127EQ is an affordable model for beginners.


The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ

This telescope is the perfect way to discover the wonders of the Universe to the aspiring backyard astronomer.  The PowerSeeker 127EQ was designed to give beginner telescope users the perfect combination of quality, features and value.  This telescope is easy to setup and requires no tools for assembly.

This telescope has enough aperture for breathtaking views of the moon and planets.  View the cloud bands on Jupiter, Saturn's rings, and take a good long look at the wispy glow of the Orion Nebula.  The Andromeda galaxy is unmistakable through the included 20mm eyepiece, as you contemplate the thought of life on other solar systems and galaxies.

Andromeda galaxy through telescope
The Andromeda Galaxy - AstroBackyard

What's Included?


 The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ includes 2 eyepieces and a 3X barlow lens.  The 20mm eyepiece is great for wide field views of star clusters and a full view of the moon.  The 4mm eyepiece is reserved for a close up of the moon craters or the rings of Saturn.  Use the 3X barlow lens to triple the magnification in either eyepiece.

Eyepieces included with the PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope
The 3X barlow lens will drastically increase the magnification, but the objects will also become much dimmer and less sharp.  This is true of all telescopes and eyepieces.

It also includes a 5 x 24 finderscope.  This is a smaller telescope that is used to find and locate objects.  Once you have found your target in the finderscope, you simply have a look through the telescope eyepiece for a closer look.  This finderscope can be easily calibrated in a under a minute.

5 x 24 Finderscope

Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Specifications


Telescope Type: Newtonian Reflector
Aperture: 127mm (5 inches)
Focal Length: 1000mm
Focal Ratio: F/7 
Weight: 17 lbs
Finderscope: 5 x 24
Mount Type: German Equatorial
Tripod: Aluminum


The PowerSeeker series of telescopes


The PowerSeeker series was designed for beginners, so that they have a positive first experience observing the night sky.  These telescopes are very easy to setup so that you can be outside enjoying the stars in your backyard in a flash.  Clear nights don't happen all the time, so you want to make sure that when the clouds part, you are ready!

127mm Newtonian Reflector

The inlcuded equatorial mounts is sturdy, and perfect for effortlessly tracking objects in the night sky.  The collapsible tripod makes transporting and storing the entire rig in and out of the house a breeze.  The Newtonian reflector tube is held securely in the provided tube rings.

Overview of the PowerSeeker 127EQ

  • Quick and easy setup 
  • No tools required
  • Slow motion tracking controls
  • Erect image optics 
  • Fully coated glass optical components 
  • High transmission coatings
  • 3x Barlow lens Included
  • Eyepiece Accessory tray
  • “TheSkyX” astronomy software

Overall Impressions

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ was built to last by a trusted manufacturer.  Beginners looking for their first telescope will be very pleased with the quality and value in this telescope package.  Backyard astronomers looking to get into astrophotography can also dabble in the hobby by taking pictures of the moon through the 20mm eyepiece. 

Actual photo using the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ:

Read more reviews from owners of the PowerSeeker 127EQ

 The smooth tracking controls on the sturdy mount are what make this telescope stand above the rest in terms of quality at this price point.  This telescope and tripod are light weight, so aspiring astronomers young and old will be able to handle the load.

With the included eyepieces, barlow lens, tripod, finderscope and equatorial mount, the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ telescope packages lets you start enjoying the night sky from your own backyard right away.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Light Pollution Factor

Light pollution is a major issue when trying to observe the night sky.  Street lights, cars and exterior home lighting all contributes to light pollution in the city.  What this means for backyard astronomers is a washed out sky with very few observable stars.

Light pollution is also bad for your health, it affects more than just astronomy.


The dissappearance of the Milky Way


Less than 100 years ago, everyone on Earth could look up at the night sky and see a stunning sight of the Milky Way.  With today's light pollution, children across the globe will never experience the night sky in this way where they live.  The widespread use of artificial light not only affects our view of the night sky, but also our environment and our health.


Light Pollution's affect on Human Health 


What is light pollution?


Also known as luminous pollution, light pollution is the excessive artificial light created by humans on Earth.  This light is misdirected and obtrusive in nature because it serves no useful purpose.  Artificial lighting should be concentrated towards the ground and not up into space.  It is the alteration of natural light levels in the outdoor environment.

Telescope with light pollution surrounding it

Light pollution is a major side effect of urbanization, and is linked to several negative health issues including insomnia. Not only that, but it affects the lives of animals on Earth as well.  This sprawling epidemic of light disrupts ecosystems.

Light pollution spoils aesthetic environments.  According to the World Atlas of Artifical Night Sky Brightness, 80% of the world population lives under skyglow. 


What this means for Astronomy


For observers in the city, light pollution competes with starlight in the night sky.  It interferes with astronomical observatories that were built before such levels of light pollution existed.  The David Dunlap observatory in Richmond Hill, Ontario is an example of an observatory surrounded in light pollution.


David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill


The excessive light produced by growing cities intrudes on areas that would otherwise have a natural low-light setting.  The intense glow from major cities like Toronto, Ontario can be seen for 100 miles in every direction. 


Toronto Light Pollution Map 

What contributes to Light Pollution?


  • Building exterior lighting
  • Interior Lighting
  • Advertising
  • Commercial Properties
  • Offices
  • Factories
  • Streetlights

Light pollution is the most severe in highly industrialized areas.  Densely populated cities such as Toronto are the worst offenders. Luckily, a global dark-sky movement has emerged, with concerned individuals campaigning to reduce light pollution worldwide.

Do your part to reduce light pollution by avoided uncessary artifical lighting at your home or business.  Together we can move towards a future with less wasted energy and reclaim our connection with the night sky above.




International Dark Sky Association

Light Pollution Atlas

Light Pollution Map

Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to choose your first Telescope

The night sky is amazing. The countless stars, deep-sky objects, comets and planets are waiting for you to observe them in real-time.  In this post we discuss how to choose your first telescope.

How to choose your first telescope

Starting your astronomy adventure off right is important.  A lack-luster view of the moon through a shaky department store telescope may spoil your interest in the beginning.  The wonders of the Universe are waiting for you to discover them, you just need the right tool.

There is an overwhelming amount of telescope choices to choose from. First, let's take a look at the different types of telescope designs on the market today:

Types of Telescopes


  • Newtonian Reflector
  • Refractor
  • Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Ritchey-Chretien
  • Maksutov

The different types of optical telescope designs each have their own strengths and weaknesses.  For example, a Newtonian reflector offers the largest aperture at an affordable price.  This is why a large Dobsonian telescope is great option for beginners wishing to see more deep-sky objects.

How to choose your first telescope
Types of Telescopes - Telescopebasics.com

Newtonian Reflectors, such as the Orion 8" Dobsonian like the one pictured below need to be collimated on a regular basis.  Collimation is the act of aligning the mirrors in the tube correctly so that your image appears as sharp as possible.  It's easy to learn, once you get the hang of it.

How to collimate your telescope

Refractors come in different forms, with the same basic optical layout.  The very first telescopes, including the one Galileo used, was a refractor. Refractors with an Achromatic objective are much more affordable than their Apochromatic cousins.  Apochramtic telescopes excel in astrophotography applications.

Schmidt-Cassegrains have become a very popular choice for astronomy observers.  These telescopes have a versatile and compact design, only about twice as long as their aperture.  They are also well suited for computerized mounts and astrophotography applications.

The Nexstar 6se is an example of a Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope:

How to choose the right telescope

A wide variety of retailers offer telescopes for sale online.  With some homework, you will be able to make an educated decision on which telescope is right for you and your budget.  The first telescope you own should be comfortable an easy to use.  As the old saying goes

"The best telescope is the one that gets used the most".

It takes time to develop your observing skills to fully enjoy astronomy with your telescope.  Remember, observing means long periods of time outside in the dark!  Not everyone is used to the conditions required to view dim objects such as nebulae and galaxies.  All unnecessary forms of light must be avoided to preserve your night vision.

Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope

Telescope Observing Tips

It takes time to develop your observing skills to fully enjoy astronomy with your telescope.  Remember, observing means long periods of time outside in the dark!  Not everyone is used to the conditions required to view dim objects such as nebulae and galaxies.  All unnecessary forms of light must be avoided to preserve your night vision.

  • Observe away from buildings and homes
  • Don't observe through a window
  • Let your eyes adapt to the dark sky (20 minutes)
  • Observe with averted vision

Read more telescope observing tips



Astrophotography is the art of capturing images of the night sky with a digital camera. Astrophotographers will connect their DSLR camera into the eyepiece of a telescope and use it as if it were a super telephoto lens.  This is how images of deep-sky objects are captured by regular people from their own backyards.

Astrophotography - The Whirlpool Galaxy
The Whirlpool Galaxy - Astrophotography by AstroBackyard

Most beginner telescopes will be capable of certain types of astrophotography.  The most common type photographing the moon and bright planets through the eyepiece.  The moon is the perfect target for beginner astrophotography enthusiasts.  Once you master the art of capturing a sharp image of the moon, you can progress your skills further by attempting to capture the Planets Jupiter and Mars.

How to take images of planets with your Smartphone


Sky and Telescope:
How to choose your first telescope

DSLR Astrophotography

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Orion 70mm GoScope II Refractor Review

The Orion GoScope II 70mm Refractor travel telescope is a grab-and-go instrument for stargazers young and old.  The included backpack and moon map in the Moon Kit are a nice bonus.

This affordable starter astronomy kit is available on Amazon

Orion GoScope Review

Bright nebulae, galaxies and star clusters are all within your grasp.

If you've always been interested in viewing the night sky from a new perpective, now is your chance.  The Orion 70mm GoScope II Refractor offers beginners an affordable opportunity to enjoy stargazing.

The best part about this kit is that it's affordable price tag means that even casual night sky observers have a chance to take a closer look.  It is important that your first astronomy experience be a positive one, to ensure that your passion for astronomy can develop.

Stay on top of the latest astronomy events at EarthSky Tonight.

Orion GoScope II 70mm Refractor Review


A quality telescope from a top manufacturer

This is a great beginner telescope to bring with you to the cottage or campsite. Travelling to dark skies is important if you wish to observe some of the fainter deep sky objects such as nebulae and galaxies.

The 400mm focal length means wide field views of star clusters such as the Pleiades will be completely within your field of view.  Use the provided 25mm and 10mm eyepieces to increase the power for a closer look.

The Moon will look even better, as you scan across the lunar surface enjoying all of the detailed craters.  This is a view of the moon like you have never seen before!

Take your stargazing to the next level 

The ultra-portable Orion GoScope II is small enough to easily pack with the rest of your other camping gear. This telescope doubles as a terrestrial spotting scope during the daytime.  This makes the GoScope perfect for enjoying wildlife up close.

The entire kit can be set up in a number of minutes.

No previous telescope experience necessary


Show your kids a view the moon like they have never seen beforeThe 70mm achromatic lens excels in sharp images of the moon and planets.  Take a trip across the summer Milky Way to find the jewels of the night sky.  Bright nebulae, galaxies and star clusters are all within your grasp.






Can you take pictures through this telescope?


Yes, you can take pictures of the moon and bright planets like Juipter using your smartphone. Photography through a telescope is known as astrophotography, and it is a popular form of night photography. You may need an adapter to steady your phone to the eyepiece.  It will be tricky, but photos are possible!

 Click here for a calendar of celestial events


Photo of the Orion 70mm GoScope II from Twitter User @TejeshBagul

Features of the Orion GoScope II Travel Kit

  • Grab-and-go day and night refractor telescope
  • lightweight aluminum tripod for young stargazers
  • Rugged backpack holds the telescope, tripod and accessories
  • 400mm focal length telescope (f/5.7)

Compare this telescope with similar models:


The Orion SpaceProbe 3 includes the Orion EZ finder II finder scope, which is great for locating objects in the night sky.  This reflector design lets in more light than the GoScope II, but does not come with a travel kit, and is a little more expensive.  This is a good option if you are looking for a little more aperture in your telescope.

The Orion GoScope II 70mm Refractor offers an incredible value, at less then $100 US. The portability, included accessories, and afforable price tag make this an attractive choice for your first telescope.

The Orion StarBlast has the largest aperture of the models compared.  This means that this telescope lets in more light, and provides deeper views of fainter objects.  4.5" is enough to obseve brighter galaxies such as Andromeda and M81 and M82.  This telescope also includes the EZ Finder II finder scope and an EQ1 mount.  All of this comes with a steeper price tag.

Read over 100 customer reviews on Amazon