Instruction Manual and Software
The printed instruction manual applies to the XT10, XT8 and XT6 scopes and is well written (in proper English, not the terrible translated pigeon English we all love to laugh at!). It has clear descriptions and several black & white photographs showing the key points of construction, although a couple of them are a little dark. Reading the manual is actually quite a pleasure, compared to some I have read.
From the photo you can see that also included is an Orion Special Edition branded version of Starry Night Version 5.0 Astronomy Software for Windows and MAC. This also includes a bonus "SkyTheater" DVD, which is where;
"Your TV becomes a spaceship on a voyage through our solar system. Take off on an awe-inspiring tour of its mysteries in this feature-length DVD. Topics include: Earth's Moon, Finding Spacecraft, Meteorites, Inner Planets, Outer Planets, Moons of the Planets, and more."
The DVD is well presented and informative and I found it quite interesting to watch.
The Starry Night software is a basic introductory version (it requires purchase/upgrade to the Starry Night Pro version to actually be able to interface it with the IntelliScope), but it offers a useful means of learning the night sky if you have nothing else available. While there are several buttons and options available, it is not immediately apparent or intuitive how to use the software. It's not difficult, but to get the most out of it you should read the online help section entitled "Starry Night Basics", because this makes some additional buttons appear at the bottom of the screen and explains how to get going.
Don't limit yourself just to what is provided with the Orion XT, as there are plenty of other excellent astronomy software packages available. For a very realistic rendering of the night sky I highly recommend the free Stellarium software available from www.stellarium.org. Stellarium can not interface with the IntelliScope, but for a freebie it provides a wonderfully quick and natural interface for panning around the sky, and zooming in on stellar objects while you are learning about the constellations and would like some "eye candy". The other popular freebie is Carte du Ciel, but that is intended for printing sky charts of the sky, so its display doesn't look quite as "sexy" as Stellarium.
The manual provides sections for using the telescope, and useful reference formulas for calculating magnification and focal lengths, and notes on astronomical observing, covering observing sites, seeing and transparency, cooling prior to use, dark-adapting your eyes, eyepiece selection, and briefly astrophotography.
Of course there is a major section for alignment (collimation) of the optical system, with diagrams and more photographs detailing the process for the Primary and Secondary mirrors, and describing star-testing the telescope to check for proper collimation.
Finally care and maintenance is covered, which describes cleaning eyepieces, and stresses very rare cleaning of the mirrors, and to finish off the specifications of the XT6, XT8 and XT10 are included.
A parts list acts as a checklist for you to ensure you have everything from the start, listing the items that should be found in each of the 2 main boxes you should have received, one for the tube and accessories, the other for the dobsonian base. If, like me, you ordered additional items such as the Intelliscope Computer Object Locator, and other optional accessories you will likely have another package.
All parts are well packed with liner sheets, bubble-wrap, and foam padding. Once you have familiarised yourself with everything, you will probably be able to put everything together basically in a couple of hours. Thereafter you will spend more time getting used to using your scope and likely making adjustments, such as aligning the Finder Scope to the main tube, focusing, collimation or even some of the common modifications applied to these scopes by owners.
Over the next few pages I discuss the following topics:-