Best Dobsonian Telescopes to Buy in 2024

by TTB

Hello. It has been a long time since my last post, so I thought it might be good to give a small update regarding what to buy in 2024. In this post, we are going to focus on dobsonians due the very obvious reason that they are the go-to choices for most amateur astronomers.

Why a dobsonian?

Good question. Well, in amateur astronomy our focus is gathering as much light as possible from the night sky, and focusing it accurately so we can see as much as possible as sharply as possible. Dobsonians do that in the cheapest way possible. Their reflective mirrors, which in the $600 to $1000 price range are around 6” to 10″. For other telescope models such as catadioptrics, and refractors the price would at least double. So a new comer should definitely focus on purchasing a dobsonian.

Why more aperture means a better image.

OK. Consider two telescopes with the same exact design. One has a 4” aperture, while the other has 6”. Might not seem like a big difference at first. However, let’s do the math. A circle is a 2 dimensional shape. So if it’s diameter(aperture) increases 1.5 times, how much more area will it encompass, thereby gathering more light?  1.5 times 1.5, equals 2.25. Your images will be more than 2 times shaper, brighter etc.! That is why in amateur astronomy we say aperture is king.

I have a refractor, should I still go for a dobsonian?

Absolutely. The simple reason being that a dobsonian, while less portable, will provide images you have never been able to see from your 3” or 4” refractor telescope. An 8” telescope for example, such as zhumell Z8, will provide 4x times more light to your mirror, which in turn is a 4 times better image. In addition, more light means more objects that you can see. For example, ice caps on Mars might be visible with an 8” telescope on a clear night, while with a 4” refractor, would be difficult task.

If a Dobsonian is the way to go(which it is), what are my options?

As always, I focus on my reader’s price range, and provide the best choice possible.

SkyWatcher 6_ Traditional Dobsonian Telescope Main 3

SkyWatcher 6” Dobsonian

The Good

  • Excellent Optics
  • Great build quality
  • 2" focuser
  • Easy to use

The Bad

  • 6X30 finder
  • Cheap, nylon bearings
  • No balance adjuster
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I think the SW 6” is available on Amazon 460$. Prices change in time but it s an affordable entry-level dobsonian telescope. If your budget is limited to around 500$, I would recommend the SkyWatcher 6” telescope. Of course, you could lean to Orion’s model, SkyQuest X6, which would provide the same performance, but be careful around the selling prices. They tend to fluctuate a lot recently. If you see it for around 460$ or lower, I would say that it a good deal.

Zhumell Z8 Review

Zhumell Z8

The Good

  • 8" APERTURE
  • STURDY BUILD
  • 30MM EYEPIECE
  • SMOOTH MOUNT
  • TENSIONERS

The Bad

  • 9MM EYEPIECE
  • HEAVY
  • EXPENSIVE
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A Zhumell Z8, as always. Last time I have checked it was available on HighPoint Scientific for 700$, which has been Z8’s standard selling price for quite some time. I have been recommending this fantastic scope for quite some time(nearly 4 years now). It has been my go-to recommendation for it’s build-quality and accessories that come with it. If you browse around cloudynights.com and read a few posts about this telescope, most reviews you see are positive. So you are on safegrounds with this one.

Zhumell Z10

The Good

  • POWERFUL OPTICS
  • EXCELLENT BUILD QUALITY
  • GREAT ACCESSORIES
  • MOVABLE TENSIONERS
  • 2" FOCUSER

The Bad

  • WEIGHT
  • 9MM EYEPIECE
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A Zhumell Z10 for people who don’t mind carrying around some weight for better images.

A Z10, similar to Z8, is fantastic. Not much to say about the Z10 that different from Z8, other than the fact that it is a bit heavier and pricier. It weight around 60 pounds, which is 27kgs. Manageable in my opinion, but you might consider a Z8 due to its portability at this point.

Zhumell Z12

The Good

  • POWERFUL OPTICS
  • RELIABLE BUILD
  • GREAT ACCESSORIES
  • SMOOTH AND SOLID BASE

The Bad

  • WEIGHT
  • INADEQUATE EYEPIECES
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A pricy life-time telescope. A Z12, with it’s 12” mirror would be a nice choice. However, quick reminder, it weighs 34kgs(75 pounds). So, at this point I would consider this telescope if weight was no problem for me at all. The difference of light gathering power with a Z10 would be 44%. So you are getting around 1.5x more light gathering power and better image quality. Is the 7kg weight difference a problem? Well, most telescopes are carried around disassambled, and assembled at the observation sight. So consider this fact, and also, how large is your car? Are you driving a Fiat 500 or a Range Rover? All these Zhumell models, Z8, Z10 and Z12 will provide fantastic images. My personal favorite being a Z10.

Honorable Mention: SkyWatcher Heritage 150p

The Good

  • 150mm Aperture
  • Compact
  • Simple To Use
  • Decent Included Accessories
  • Surprisingly Low Price Tag
  • Portability

The Bad

  • Needs A Sturdy Surface
  • Needs A Shroud
  • Helical Focuser Sags With Heavy Accessories
  • Can’t Use A Solar Filter

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While being a considered a “tabletop” telescope, SkyWatcher Heritage 150P is still a Dobsonian by design. The “150P” represent the 150mm diameter of the telescope, which is again, 6 inches. A great telescope for beginners, mid-level amateur astronomer or an advanced astronomer. It weights around 10kgs, which is half of SkyWatcher 6” Dobsonian(22kgs). A bit of build-quality sacrifice for better portability is a smart choice for most.

There we go, these are my go-to choices for Dobsonian telescopes in 2024. If a new and better model comes out this year, I will be sure to update this post. And also, I have to say, these telescopes are not only my top recommendations for Dobsonians, but mostly encompassing all categories. I am jealous of anyone who has the luck to explore the night sky with a warm cup of coffee with one of these bad boys.