Auburn Astronomical Society's
Guide to Using the Society's
Orion 8-inch f/6 Sky Quest XT8

Terms and Conditions of Use
Beginner Tips

The Sky Quest XT8 includes three components:
  • Accessory case
  • Optical Tube Assembly (OTA)
  • Rocker box
Rocker Box

The first step in setting up this scope is to select a level place for the rocker box.

You may find observing more comfortable if you place the rocker box on a heavy box to raise the eyepiece height to your own eye level.

Here, our model, the lovely and talented Mike Holley, prepares to remove the OTA from its carrying case.
Carefully remove the optical tube assembly and...
 place it gently into the rocker box bearings, making sure that the focuser on the tube assembly is on the same side as the eyepiece rack on the rocker box.
Secure the tube assembly to the rocker box by placing a finger through the fabric loops attached to the springs on the altitude bearings, and pulling down to extend the spring over the bolt on the rocker box.  Do this on both sides.
The accessory box contains:
  • 6X30mm finder scope
  • 40mm  1.25" eyepiece (30x)
  • 25mm  1.25" eyepiece (48x) 
  • 10 mm 1.25" eyepiece (120x)
  • Telrad 1X finder
  • Sighting tube for collimation

Beginner Tips

If this will be your first time using a telescope like this, here are a few suggestions that may help you get started:

Using the Finders

It's a good idea to check to be sure that the finder, and/or Telrad, and the Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) are aligned.  This is best done during daylight or twilight on a distant terrestrial object such as a street light or a radio tower strobe.  First center your alignment target in the main scope, then adjust the finder.  Should the Telrad need to be aligned, this is accomplished by adjusting the three small screws on the back of the unit.  Although the Telrad may look a bit like a right-angle finder, it is not.  You must place your cheek on the OTA and sight straight up along the OTA through the Telrad until you see the 3 concentric rings superimposed on the clear plastic.  The on-off switch/ brightness adjustment is a small lever on the side.  It's best to keep the circles as dim as possible when location objects in the night sky.  Remember to turn the switch off when you're done for the evening. If you forget, please leave a fresh set of AA batteries for the next user.

When looking through the finder to locate your target, keep both eyes open.  Then move the tube until the 6X image through the finder, and the 1X image of your unaided eye, merge in your brain.

At the Eyepiece

Use your lowest power to locate your object, then switch to the higher power if more detail is needed.  Keep in mind that not only are you magnifying the apparent size of the object you're observing, but also the apparent rotation of the Earth.  You'll no doubt quickly notice that fewer tracking corrections are needed with the lower power.

You can't find your object in the eyepiece if it's not in focus and you can't focus until you've located your object in the eyepiece.  Catch 22?  You bet.  But here's a trick to limit this experience to a one time event.   Using the Moon or a bright planet (NOT the Sun), center the object and focus.  (In an extreme case, you can actually remove the eyepiece and scan until you find the out-of-focus image through the focuser.  Now, center this image, insert you lowest power eyepiece and focus with the eyepiece in place.)  Now that you've achieved focus, normally with your lower power eyepiece, use a Sharpie pen to circumscribe the focuser's draw tube where it meets the focuser body.  (If your other eyepiece reaches focus at a substantially different point, you may want to mark the draw tube there as well, with a different color or dashed lines.)   Then, on your next observing session,  you will be able to fix the focus before inserting the eyepiece.  This is easier to do than to describe.  ;-)

Comfort and Convenience

The configuration of this scope often puts the observer's eye quite close to the ground.  One solution is to use a sturdy box or table to sit the scope's rocker box on.  A box of three different dimensions, for example: 12"x18"x24", would allow some flexibility for seated or standing observing for kids and adults.  Another solution is to put down a tarp (6ft. X 8ft. or so), with the scope placed on top.  This has the dual advantage of keeping the knees of your pants clean and dry and well as making it easier to find dropped eyepieces, filters, screws, etc.