If you’re looking to buy your first proper telescope, the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is definitely one to check out. The Dobsonion mount makes it easy to use for beginners, and this telescope gives you a lot of bang for your buck so you don’t need to break the bank to get a good quality telescope.
In this review, I want to take a look at the pros and cons of the SkyQuest XT4.5, analyse it in a bit more detail, and then look at some similar telescopes you might also want to consider.
The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is a great telescopes for beginners to get started with amateur astronomy. It’s budget-friendly and has a decent sized aperture of 4.5″ which is very good for the price. Although the similarly priced Zhumell Z130 has a slightly larger aperture, the SkyQuest XT4.5 has a longer focal length which means it is particularly good for viewing the planets in out solar system and the Moon. The Dobsonion mount makes it easy for beginners to use, although it will require some maintenance due to it being a reflector telescope.
- Type: Reflector
- Aperture: 4.5″ (114 mm)
- Focal length: 900mm
- Focal ratio: f/8
- Included eypieces: 25mm and 10mm
- Focuser: 1.25″
- Finderscope: 6×30
- Mount: Altazimuth (Dobsonion)
- Great value for money
- Relatively long focal length
- Easy to use – ideal for beginners
- Fairly portable
- Smaller aperture than similarly priced Zhumell Z130
- Requires more maintenance than a refractor telescope
- Awkward eyepiece height
Who Should (& Shouldn’t) Buy the SkyQuest XT4.5?
The SkyQuest XT4.5 is best suited for beginners looking to buy their first telescope and will primarily be using it to view planets in our solar system and the Moon. It has a Dobsonion mount which is easy to use, and it offers excellent value for money so you can still get a fairly powerful telescope without having to break the bank.
Due to the fact that the SkyQuest XT4.5 is a reflector telescope, it will require some maintenance. This involves collimation (aligning the mirrors) and cleaning. This isn’t too hard to do, but it does take time and some getting used to. If you want a telescope that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, the Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ is a great choice for a refractor telescope at a similar price. The trade off is that the AstroMaster 90EQ has a smaller aperture, so it won’t be quite as powerful as the SkyQuest XT4.5.
Although the SkyQuest XT4.5 offers excellent value for money, if you can stretch your budget a little, you can get your hands on a more powerful telescope like the Orion SkyQuest XT6. The last thing you want to do is regret your purchase and wish you invested a bit more for a telescope with more power.
You will also want to look elsewhere if you plan on doing any astrophotography. The Dobsonion mount on the SkyQuest XT4.5 is great for simple viewing, and perfect for beginners, but it’s not so good at tracking objects. You will want a telescope with an EQ or GoTo mount for astrophotography.
How Easy is it to Use & Maintain?
The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 has a Dobsonion mount. This is a type of altazimuth mount that is ideal for beginners because it’s pretty easy to use. The downside being that they aren’t as good as harder-to-use equatorial mounts for tracking objects through the sky. But for beginners, Dobsonion mounts are great. The video below shows how you use a Dobsonion telescope.
The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is a reflector telescope which means it uses mirrors to gather and focus light. Unlike refractor telescopes like the Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ which use a lens, reflector telescope do require more maintenance. Regular collimation (aligning the mirrors) and cleaning will be required. The main advantage of reflector telescopes is that they are cheaper to produce so you get more bang for your buck. You can read more about the different types of telescope in our telescope buying guide.
What Can I Expect to See with the SkyQuest XT4.5?
When you set your expectations of what you think you will see through a telescope, you need to remember that many of the photos of space you will have seen have been taken through huge telescope like the Hubble telescope. This doesn’t mean you won’t get to see some amazing views, but you do need to be realistic.
With any telescope, the viewing conditions play a big part in what you can see. Clearer skies and less light pollution will allow you to see more. The main aspect of a telescope which dictates what you can see is the aperture.
The aperture is the diameter of the lens or mirror. A wider diameter will allow more light in and you will be able to see more objects and detail. The SkyQuest XT4.5 has an aperture of 4.5″. Although this is very good for the price, it is relatively small for a Dobsonion reflector telescope.
With the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5, you should be able to see:
- Great views of the moon and it’s craters
- The rings of Saturn
- The bands on Jupiter and some of it’s moons
- Mars, Mercury, and Venus but without much detail
- Possibly the colors of Uranus and Neptune
- Lot’s of star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies with some detail
What’s Included & Should I Upgrade Any Parts?
One of the great things about telescopes is that many of the parts can be upgraded and you can purchase addons. First, let’s look at what is included with the SkyQuest XT4.5, and then look at any additional parts you might want to purchase.
Included with the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5:
- Reflector telescope with 4.5″ aperture and 900mm focal length
- Dobsonion (altazimuth) mount with eyepiece tray
- 25mm and 10mm eyepieces
- 6×30 finderscope
If you were to simply use the telescope out of the box, it would work great, but the one addition I would recommend is a barlow lens. A barlow lens is placed between the telescope and the eyepiece and gives you even more magnification. Usually 2x or 3x.
Although any telescope can technically achieve any magnification, a good rule of thumb for the maximum magnification you should use is around 40x the aperture in inches. So with the SkyQuest XT4.5, it will be around 180x.
The two eyepieces which come with telescope will give you 36x and and 90x. A 2x barlow lens like this Celestron Omni 2X from Amazon will mean you will also have the options for 72x and 180x magnification.
Similar Telescopes to Check Out
If you’re still not sure the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is the right telescope for you, the telescopes below are worth checking out.
- Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ – The Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ is similarly priced to the SkyQuest XT4.5, but it is a refractor rather than a reflector telescope. The main advantage is that it is much easier to maintain but it isn’t quite as powerful. – Find it on Amazon
- Zhumell Z130 – The Zhumell Z130 is similarly priced to the SkyQuest XT4.5, but it is slightly more powerful with a 5″ aperture. It has a shorter focal length giving it a wider field of view which is great for viewing deep space objects. – Find it on Amazon
- Orion SkyQuest XT6 – If your budget can stretch to a SkyQuest XT6, you can get your hands on an even more powerful telescope. It’s a similar style of telescope to the SkyQuest XT4.5, but it will allow you to see more objects and detail. – Find it on Amazon