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Orion SkyQuest XT12 Intelliscope

Posted by Bo Lowrey   07/01/2006 12:00AM

Orion SkyQuest XT12 Intelliscope
Orion SkyQuest XT12 Intelliscope

By Galen Lowrey
July 1st, 2006

I recently acquired an Orion XT12 Dobsonian telescope from a friend. He had recently purchased a Meade 16in and wanted to get rid of his 12. He had already put the milk jug washers on the base and made modifications described by others to improve the movement of the scope. I already owned an Orion XT6 and wanted to expand my collection. The difference in performance between the two was pretty significant. Objects that were hard to see with my 6in now looked brighter than ever through the 12. The view through the scope is crystal clear on nights when it is clear and cool. It is a great telescope for looking at star clusters, galaxies, planets, and nebulae. The rack on the side of the base has often come in handy with spaces for three 1.25in eyepieces and a single 2in. eyepiece holder. The focuser for the XT12 can accommodate both two and 1.25in eyepieces. The 9X50mm finder scope is perfect for getting into the general area of what you are looking for. On long rides to dark viewing sites, little collimation adjusting is needed and you can start gazing almost instantly.

The main drawback with this scope is its weight. The instructions say that the base weighs 33lbs. and the tube weighs 50lbs. It is impossible to carry in one piece and difficult to move when broken down because of its size and weight. Another consideration is that if you have a small vehicle to transport the telescope, its size leaves little room for anything else if you want to carry multiple scopes.

The scope originally came with 2 Sirius Plössol eyepieces. A 10mm and a 25mm. I did not receive these with the telescope, but I used my own. The 25mm works well for large clusters and getting in the right area of a celestial object and the 10 works adequately to reveal close ups of the objects. I would recommend using wide field of view eyepieces or using Barlow tubes instead of using the supplied 10mm Plössol eyepiece.

The scope is quick to set up and takes about a minute or two from car to assembled on the ground. Cool down of the scope is quick, but the former owner stated that the addition of a cooling fan helped to cool the scope and stabilize the images more quickly. We plan to add this feature soon. Disassembling the scope is just as fast as assembly. Threaded knobs on the sides of the base are used to adjust friction to control the movement of the elevation of the tube. Two plastic knobs on each side of the inside of the base supports are used as bearings. This system works well, and provides smoother control on the altitude than my 6in, which uses springs as its means of tension control. Fit and finish between the XT6 and 12 is similar, both are well made and the paint had no major flaws.

I have looked at many objects in the sky, mainly planetary. Using Jupiter as a target, with this scope details like the rings in the clouds, the shadow of a passing moon and the two Great Red Spots can be seen on the surface of the planet. Stars in clusters can be picked out without difficulty and double stars are easily picked apart. In M13, in Hercules, it is difficult to pick apart individual stars in my 6in., in the 12inch at the same magnification, many stars became distinct.
We plan to add the Intelliscope to this scope in the future, but for now, the XT12 is a welcome addition to our collection.

Click here for more about this subject. -Ed.