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Dobsonian telescopes offer the best bang-for-your-buck visual views of any telescope type. This is due to a simple design that's easy to manufacture large mirrors for an affordable price. Even with a budget of below $500, you can get an excellent performing Dobsonian for visual observing.

Dobsonians can provide fantastic views of both deep sky objects and solar system objects like planets and the moon. This is due to their large aperture and therefore light-gathering area. Other than Dobsonians, telescopes in the sub-$500 price range rarely exceed 4" in aperture due to their cost to produce. In comparison, you can get an 8" Dobsonian for that price, which has 4x the light-gathering power of a comparably-priced 4" telescope! This translates to more overall detail in observing planets as well as being able to observe much fainter objects, so Dobsonians are especially great for observing galaxies and nebulae. If you ever attend a star party, you'll notice that most of the visual observers are using Dobsonians for this reason. Dobsonians come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from small tabletop Dobsonians to medium and large-sized models, which can become very heavy and difficult to transport. A good rule of thumb for visual observers is to get the largest telescope you can both afford and also carry.

For a beginner looking for a telescope with great visual performance and versatility, the Dobsonian is tough to beat. So what are some downsides to using Dobsonians? For one, Dobsonians are a type of reflector telescope, meaning they use mirrors to form an image, and these mirrors need to be frequently aligned. This process is known as collimation, and it's similar to having to tune an instrument before playing it. It's a brief process once you get the hang of it, but you'll need a special tool to do it: a collimator. Collimation normally takes around 5 minutes, but it is an added step compared to other telescopes like refractors.

Second, most Dobsonians are entirely manual, meaning they usually don't have computers or motorization to point at targets for you automatically. Some Dobsonians have this go-to ability, but come with an added cost. Third, Dobsonians make for below-average telescopes for deep sky astrophotography. Due to the type of mount Dobsonians have, the alt-azimuth type, they can't track the night sky long enough for most deep sky imaging of galaxies or nebulae. As a silver lining, Dobsonians can make for great budget planetary imaging telescopes. However, a Schmidt-Cassegrain will usually outperform a Dobsonian of similar price for planetary imaging.

All said and done, Dobsonians are among the best visual telescopes out there, and can give the best views of both deep sky objects and solar system objects for the money. If you need help picking out a Dobsonian, continue reading below, or get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable Sales team!


Manual Dobsonian Telescopes

Best for those on a budget & comfortable navigating the night sky

Manual Dobsonians are the classic Dobsonian design: the simple up, down, left, and right pointing system makes Dobsonians very easy to aim at different objects in the night sky. Recommended for beginner visual observers for decades, manual Dobsonians can help budding amateur astronomers learn the night sky. These telescopes are also highly affordable for what you get — an 8" Manual Dobsonian can be found in the sub-$500 price range, which cannot be said for other types of telescopes. If you're looking for pure visual performance on a budget, a Manual Dobsonian Telescope is your best bet.

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Go-To Dobsonian Telescopes

Best for those who want automatic pointing and tracking on a Dobsonian

Go-To Dobsonian Telescopes are a great choice for those who might be a little daunted by the idea of having to manually point and track the telescope. Most Dobsonians feature an all-manual design, so you have to find objects yourself and keep them centered in the eyepiece by continuously moving the telescope slightly. With a Go-To design, it eliminates all of that extra work. You can enter in any object, and the telescope will automatically point to that object and track it so it stays centered in the eyepiece. This added functionality comes at a higher cost, but has the benefit of automation, which can be especially ideal for beginners.

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Tabletop Dobsonian Telescopes

Best for beginners and those who want a portable Dobsonian

Tabletop Dobsonians can be thought of as miniaturized versions of their full-size Dobsonian counterparts. Unlike a full-size Dobsonian that you need to stand up to use, a Tabletop Dobsonian can be used on a table or other platform so you can sit down and use it. They're also much smaller, portable, and affordable, making them an excellent choice for kids and newcomers on a tight budget. Tabletop Dobsonians will give the best aperture for the price compared to other beginner telescopes, so they're a great choice especially for observing deep sky objects from home.

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