SkyWatcher 6″ Classic Dobsonian Telescope Review: Near Perfect
SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian is the ultimate telescope for the ultimate beginner.
I don’t recommend this scope to advanced astronomers, but for newbies, it is a no-brainer. The reason is its simplicity. Everything about this scope is simple. The build, the mount, the optics, the accessories… It is an effortless gateway to astronomy.
SkyWatcher 6″ is ideal for both deep-space and planetary detail.
In addition to the simplicity, SkyWatcher 6″ is a long-term purchase. It has the ability to become a powerhouse with several upgrades. Although out of the box it provides average power, with the right accessories, it will become a portable observatory.
1200mm Focal Length
The aperture is 6″(153mm), and the optical tube is 1200mm. This kind of optics, with its longer-slimmer tube, leans more towards planetary performance.
An f/8 doesn’t require precise alignment.
The advantage of a longer optical tube is that it doesn’t require precise collimation. This is huge for beginners as they will be rid of technical struggle and go straight into observing. This is the simplicity aspect of the optical design. Other than that, it is the usual 6″ Dob. It is easy to manufacture, so the performance is the maximum amount for the price.
Normally an f/8 would be considered narrow-field viewed, but this is counteracted with a 2″ focuser instead of a 1.25″. This is one of the reasons why SkyWatcher 8″ is a long-term purchase, and I will delve into this in the accessories section.
The Lunar Surface through SkyWatcher 6″ – The image will be vastly better in real life.
The planetary performance is the strong suit of SkyWatcher 6″ Dob. This is due to the f/8 focal ratio, which is easier to use at high magnifications and will provide better images.
Jupiter is visible with its many stripes and The Great Red Spot, with its 4 Galilean Moon’s in orbit.
Saturn will show its Rings with the infamous Cassini Division, and its many moons are visible. Its largest moon Titan looks clear and sharp.
Mars will show some amount of detail on its surface with black stains. It’s Polar Ice Caps are visible with white stains.
Uranus and Neptune are visible as blueish dots as they are farther away, but Triton is visible in orbit around Neptune.
Phases of Venus are easily observable.
The Lunar surface will show a mesmerizing amount of detail with countless craters and mountain ranges.
Deep Space Performance
Deep space performance would normally be below average due to the f/8 focal ratio. But this is where the 2″ focuser comes in.
Compared to a 1.25″ eyepiece, a 2″ eyepiece will provide a much wider view. The eyepieces that come with the telescope are 1.25″, but the ability to use a 2″ eyepiece is vital for the deep space performance.
The 6″ aperture will let in enough light for brighter Messier Objects such as the Pleiades, Orion, Andromeda, and Hercules. Most of the Messier catalog is observable, but unusually dim space objects are not easy.
If you get a wide-field, 2″, high-quality eyepiece for this scope, deep space performance will improve two-folds.
25 lbs (11.3 kg)
The Dobsonian mount is heavy, but rock-solid as well.
The mount is pretty good, but it comes with a couple of small weaknesses.
The first one is the Nylon bearings instead of Teflon. This not a deal-breaker, but most Dobsonian’s come with butter-smooth Teflon bearings instead of Nylon. The Nylon doesn’t lower the observation experience quality that much, but it is not a premium choice.
The second weakness is the lack of a balance adjustment. If you get a heavy eyepiece and a heavy finder, the optical tube will become top-heavy. This issue can be solved with additional weights that you will attach to the optical tube, but it is not ideal. Orion SkyQuest XT6 comes with springs for balance adjustment, so there is no reason for SkyWatcher not to include such a feature.
The base is particleboard, which easily gets damaged due to moisture if the coverings get peeled off. This is present with almost all the Dobsonians in the market, so it is not a huge deal.
Other than these problems, the base performs great. The motions are stable with adequate smoothness, the tensioners work well, and the weight is not too much to carry.
10mm Plössl Eyepiece
25mm Plössl Eyepiece
2″-Single Speed Focuser
The accessories are what to be expected at this price range. The eyepieces that come with the telescope are budget Plössl’s, and the finder is the usual 6×30. The classy 2″ Crayford Focuser is what makes this telescope future-proof.
SkyWatcher 6″ comes with a 10mm and a 25mm Plössl eyepiece. The 10mm will provide 120x magnification for planetary detail, and the 25mm will be ideal for deep-space, with 48x magnification. Both of them won’t provide what SkyWatcher 6″ is capable of; therefore, we strongly recommend getting a 2″, wide-field eyepiece as well as a 6mm Goldline.
The 6×30 finder is the most disappointing part of the scope. The images it provides are dim and narrow, and the scope as a whole is uncomfortable to use. It sits at a weird angle you have to bend down every time you use it, and your back won’t thank you for that. A red dot finder wouldn’t solve the angle problem, but at least it would drive the price down. I recommend getting a 9×50 90-degree finder for the SkyWatcher 6”.
2″ Crayford Focuser
The focuser is what sets this telescope apart from its 6″ competitors. It is a single-speed, 2″ Crayford, as I’ve told many times in this review. The 2″ focuser is important for two specific reasons:
Firstly, it is compatible with wide-field eyepieces, and this counteracts the narrow f/8 image. Deep space performance will greatly benefit from this focuser.
Secondly, the 2″ focuser makes this telescope future-proof. If you get a Dob with a 1.25″ focuser, you will eventually want to upgrade it to a 2″. But no one will buy a second hand, single-speed, 1.25″ focuser, and the new one will be more expensive. The 2″ focuser just makes sense.
Overall, other than the focuser, the accessories are average. You will probably upgrade all of them eventually.
Agena 15mm Starguider
SVBONY 6mm Redline
The 6×30 finder provided with the 6” Traditional is somewhere between adequate and abysmal depending on who you ask – which is why a Rigel Quikfinder makes a great addition or replacement. Its light weight won’t disrupt the balance of the 6” Traditional much, either. The 15mm Starguider (80x) provides medium power suitable for viewing galaxies and the entire Moon at once, while the 6mm redline (200x) provides sharp planetary images near the limit of what this scope can handle.
No Balance Adjuster
The 6×30 finder is not ergonomic, and the images it provides are of low quality.
The bearings in the base are Nylon instead of Teflon.
There is no balance adjustment.
With a good finder and a couple of high-quality eyepieces, SkyWatcher 6″ will become a portable observatory. The fact that its optics are less delicate than its siblings makes the whole thing even better.
SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian is the best beginner telescope in its price range, and there is no argument possible against it.