Astronomy

Astromaster Celestron 130 EQ

Astromaster Celestron 130 EQ


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I brought a new Astromaster 130 EQ and collimated it using a laser. However, whenever I try to observe moon I get a perfect picture but with other planets I see only a bright glowing ball which increases and decreases in size as I adjust the focusing knob. Also, I see secondary mirror shadow in between that bright glowing ball. Kindly help me where I have gone wrong. I am using all kinds of eyepieces from 20mm to 06mm. I have a Barlow lens 2x also.


Subject Size

In angular dimensions, planets are tiny compared to the Moon. The Moon is roughly 30 arc-minutes (about 1/2°… varying slightly from apogee to perigee). In real life they are, of course, MUCH larger than the Moon… but they are also MUCH farther away so they appear much smaller.

In comparison to the Moon's approximately 30 arc-minutes size, Mars is nearing it's closest approach (making it appear larger than usual) but is a still a mere 23 arc seconds. Saturn is 17 arc-seconds across.

This means you are trying to resolve fine detail on an extremely tiny area and this is pushing the limits of what your telescope handle.

Collimation

Other factors such as optical collimation (alignment of the optical axis of the primary and secondary mirrors). Portable Newtonian reflectors tend to need somewhat frequent collimation. Collimation is easy to perform and will improve optical quality. Also, if the temperature of the telescope mirror has not had time to acclimate to the ambient temperature, the mirror itself will reduce the quality of what you can see (e.g. if a telescope were stored in a warm house but taken outside on a cool evening). Smaller telescopes will acclimate faster because the mirror has less mass.

Seeing Conditions

Seeing conditions will also have a large factor. Weather fronts such as cold fronts, warm fronts, or the presence of the jet stream will impact seeing quality. There is little you can do about this. (Large telescopes can use 'Adaptive Optics' but this isn't a common thing in amateur astronomy.)

The best analogy I've come across to describe seeing conditions is to imagine placing a coin in the bottom of a pool or fountain. If the surface of the water is perfectly flat -- no waves -- then you can easily see the coin. With magnification you can see details on the coin. But if a second person starts tapping the water surface to create waves… you can see the coin… but not details. The coin is optically distorted by the waves. The atmosphere does the same thing when we use telescopes. It need not be physical "waves" but can be things such as mixing warm & cool air in the upper atmosphere.

Infinity Focus

Everything in space is effectively focused to "infinity" for your telescope. If anything is focused, then everything is focused. This means if it makes things easier for you, focus your instrument on the moon and achieve the sharpest focus possible. Then re-point the telescope to a planet and should not need to re-focus the telescope. You will likely want to do this using your 6mm eyepiece (because changing eyepieces usually requires re-focusing the instrument. There is such a thing as "parfocal" eyepieces -- which all share the same focus and you can swap eyepieces without refocusing. Most eyepieces are not parfocal with other eyepieces.

Maximum useful magnification

There are some formulas for working out the maximum useful magnification of an instrument.

One such (rather simplistic) approximation is that the maximum magnification is 2x the aperture when measured in millimeters. As you have a 130mm aperture, this would imply that 260x is the maximum magnification. HOWEVER (huge caveats) this assumes flawless optics in flawless seeing conditions -- which almost never happens. A more practical limit is roughly 1x of your aperture. This becomes subjective as to when you decide that the magnification is making things worse instead of better.

It turns out mathematically… that the focal length of an eyepiece needed to provide magnification that matches 1x of your telescope's focal length in millimeters… will always be the same as the focal ratio of the telescope.

Since you have an f/5 telescope, a 5mm eyepiece will provide 130x magnification.

Both your 20mm and 6mm are fine and should not over-magnify the image… you can use a 2x barlow with the 20mm, but you will not likely enjoy the views of the 6mm eyepiece combined with the 2x barlow.

There are more technical ways to discuss maximum focus such as the very simple Dawes' Limit or using Rayleigh criterion. These methods discuss maximum resolving power of an instrument based on aperture and wavelength of the light. But even these methods have a low-bar. That is to say… their standard is whether two points of light with some amount of angular separation could be resolved as two points of light and not just one merged point of light. They wont look sharp… they'll just be blurry points that have noticeable separation.

One conclusion that can easily be drawn by looking at the formulae for maximum resolving power of an instrument… is that the bigger the aperture of the instrument, the greater the detail it will be able to resolve (which is why professional astronomers want to strive for larger and larger telescopes).

On a personal note, my first telescope had a 3.5" aperture. I could see that Saturn had "rings" and I could see that Jupiter had "bands". Then I got a 5" telescope… and on nights with better seeing, I could just barely make out that the ring system on Saturn had a dark band in it (the Cassini division) and that Jupiters belts sometimes had texture. Over the years I would eventually get larger telescopes and, unsurprisingly, larger aperture telescopes allowed for viewing greater amounts of detail. Have a reasonable expectation as to what you should be able to resolve with a 130mm (roughly 5") instrument.

Atmospheric Dispersion

When looking at anything low in the sky you may notice some "color fringing". If a planet has a slightly blue edge on one side and a slight red edge on the opposite site, then this is typically a result of the atmosphere acting like a prism… it's separation the light spectrum because the object is very low in the sky. I live at fairly northern latitudes and this is true of observing outer planets during the summer months (when Earth's northern pole is tilted away from the outer solar system and toward the Sun… from my latitude. But southern hemisphere observer's are tilted toward the outer solar system, so they see these same planets very high in the sky where atmospheric dispersion doesn't impact them as much. Basically outer planets appear high in the sky when observed during your hemisphere's "winter" season and low in the sky when observed during your hemisphere's "summer" season.

This dispersion will tend to blur the surface details of any planet. It isn't really the fault of your instrument (there is a device called an Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector which is basically an adjustable prism and it is used to reverse the dispersion created by the atmosphere).


Actually you only think the Moon appears to be perfect in your eyepiece. Take a good look at Lunar images made from above the atmosphere.

Campbell gave you an very good explanation for what amounts to eyepiece viewing with any telescope is disappointing. This will of course get all the traditionalists up in arms but you have the ability to make up your own mind.

You have done nothing wrong, you have only discovered a seldom discussed truth about amateur astronomy. To me the view is all that matters. I have dumped all my traditional eyepieces into a junk box and exclusively view with electronic eyepieces.

No doubt someone will cry foul and say this answer has nothing to do with the question but your question indicates you want to see better with your telescope and that is what I am responding to.

By the way I started viewing with an eyepiece over sixty years ago and acquired all the skills many claim make them the best observers. I just never let the experianse get to my head. I used some very good equipment and but did not like the view because I always knew some sort of technology would come along and give me the view I wanted, and it has.

Now watch the fur fly. If you find any humor in the responses to my post, do a Google on Vogon :)


Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ Telescope

Discover our Solar System with the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ! You’ll be ready to observe in minutes thanks to the quick and easy no-tool setup. The 130EQ provides bright, clear images of the Moon, planets, star clusters, and more for great nighttime viewing.

Manual German Equatorial telescope

The AstroMaster mount comes with two slow motion control knobs that allow you to make fine pointing adjustments to the telescope in both Right Ascension and Declination axes, also referred to as RA and DEC.

Accessories Included

Accessories include a 20mm and 10mm eyepiece, and a finderscope. The two eyepieces offer different magnifications for low and high powered views. The 20mm has a built-in erect image corrector.

Starry Night Software

Download Celestron’s Starry Night Software and learn about the night sky, celestial objects, and how to plan your next observing session. Celestron Starry Night Software is the premier astronomy software package on the market, providing resources and knowledge to view our solar system and beyond.


If Celestron decides to put parabolic primary mirrors to all AstroMaster 130EQ telescopes in the future, then this model might become something worth considering. But as long as they ship spherical primary mirrors, you should avoid the AstroMaster 130EQ.

Here are some of the best models in this price range: Zhumell Z130, Meade Polaris 130 and SkyWatcher Heritage 130P. These telescopes are durable, and they have much better optics.

Especially Meade Polaris 130, which is almost the same as this model but comes with parabolic mirrors and better accessories.


Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ - Is it any good?

I am looking at buying a telescope somewhat better than the $20 PoC Chinese junk refractor I currently have. I am able to pick up a Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ within my extremely limited budget (That my partner will let me spend without getting shot for "Wasting Money") and was wondering if it's a good unit given the price.

Realistically what kind of objects would I be able to see?

What kind of accessories would be best to buy to go with it?

If I were you, Iɽ instead be looking into dobsonians for that price point. If you don't know, the key specification of telescopes to be aware of is aperture, or the width of the primary mirror (on reflectors) or objective lens (on refractors). The bigger the mirror/lens, the more light your telescope can take in, the more photons that will reach your eye, and therefore your view will be brighter and more detailed. With that said, mirrors are much cheaper to produce than lenses, so reflectors (for the same aperture) will almost always be cheaper than refractors. Dobsonians are reflecting telescopes on a very simple to build and simple to use base/mount, which also reduces the cost (and learning curve). So, dobsonians tend to be the cheapest way to get as much aperture as your money.

You should be able to expect to see quite a bit from a 5" or 6" scope. The planets will look pretty tiny, but you should be able to see quite a bit of detail on the larger and nearby ones (if the atmosphere allows). For Mercury and Venus, you'll see no detail other than the phase. On Mars, you should be able to see some surface detail and ice caps on the planet (unless there's a major dust storm). For Jupiter, expect to see its bands and zones, possibly the Great Red Spot, shadow transits, and its Galilean moons (usually no more than just points of light, but I think I've resolved one of them in my 6" scope once during a transit). On Saturn, expect to see some cloud detail, the rings, the Cassini division, and its larger moons (points of light). On Uranus and Neptune, you'll probably just be able to tell that they're not stars. For deep-sky objects, you'll definitely need to let your eyes fully adapt to the dark, as almost all of these objects are quite dim in even large scopes. For brighter nebulae, expect to see some detail, especially if you get a nebulae filter at some point. For globular clusters, they'll probably appear as fuzzy balls of light, but on good nights you should be able to resolve quite a few individual stars. On galaxies, don't expect to see much other than just a faint smudge.

Iɽ recommend taking a look at the Orion SkyQuest XT6 Dobsonian. The 6" inches of aperture on this telescope would be plenty to show you much of what the sky has to offer. Also, the dobsonian mount this telescope uses is much, much simpler to use than the equatorial mount the Astromaster 130EQ is on, and much more stable. Up to you, as there's many other choices out there, but that's my recommendation.

For accessories, Iɽ take a look at getting a few decent eyepieces. Usually, the eyepieces that come with these scopes are pretty sub-par. The main optics are great, but the eyepieces not so much. Also, many of these scopes only come with a single eyepiece (usually a 20mm or 25mm), so you won't be able to change your magnification at all. Iɽ check out Meade's 4000 Series Plossls for longer focal lengths (lower magnifications) and maybe Agena's EWA eyepieces for shorter focal lengths (higher magnification). You could also look into getting some sort of moon filter for your scope as well if you intend on observing the moon (it's often too bright, so moon filters dim down the view a bit). Just be aware that you won't be able to use any 2" eyepieces or filters with either of the scopes mentioned, as they both have 1.25" focusers.


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Celestron - AstroMaster 130EQ 130mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope

The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is a 130mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope with a f/5 focal length and light gathering power of 345x, making it probably the best model in the AstroMaster series for both planetary and deep sky observing.

CELESTRON &bull AstroMaster 130EQ 130mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope &bull 31045

The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is a 130mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope with a f/5 focal length and light gathering power of 345x, making it probably the best model in the AstroMaster series for both planetary and deep sky observing. Setup is very simple by mounting the optical tube through the dovetail connection on the equatorial head and adjusting the aluminum tripods. The equatorial mount includes a setting circles to help in adjusting right ascension and declination. With a permanent StarPointer finderscope, the observer can easily track where the telescope is pointed at. The SkyX First Light Edition Astronomy Software helps the beginner astronomer get their first advanced understand of the night sky with the 10,000 celestial object database to learn from!

  • Newtonian Reflector
  • Equatorial mount with setting circles
  • StarPointer
  • f/5 focal length
  • SkyX First Light Edition Astronomy Software
More Information
Product Name Celestron - AstroMaster 130EQ 130mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope
SKU CEL-31045
UPC 50234310451
Brand Celestron
Free Shipping Spend $300 and get free shipping
Aperture 130mm (5.11")
Focal Length 650mm (25.6")
Focal Ratio f/5
Focal Length of Eyepiece 1 20mm (.78") with built-in erect image corrector
Magnification of Eyepiece 1 33x
Focal Length of Eyepiece 2 10mm (.4") standard
Magnification of Eyepiece 2 65x
Finderscope Included Built-on StarPointer™ red dot finderscope
Diagonal Included None
Optical Tube Material Aluminum
Highest Useful Magnification 307x
Lowest Useful Magnification 19x
Limiting Stellar Magnitude 13.1
Resolution - Rayleigh 1.07 arc seconds
Resolution - Dawes .89 arc seconds
LIght Gathering Power (Compared to the Human Eye) 345x
Size of Secondary Obstruction 44mm (1.73")
Secondary Mirror Obstruction By Area 11%
Optical Tube Length 610mm (24")
Included Dovetail CG-5 Dovetail bar
Accessory Tray Included? No
Tripod Height Adjustment Range 812.8mm - 1295.4mm (32" - 51")
Adjustable Legs? No
Tripod Weight 7.6 lbs (3447.3 g)
Slew Speeds Manual
GPS No
Includes Autoguide Port No
Included Software Starry Night Basic Edition | SkyPortal App
Periodic Error Correction No
Warranty 2 Years

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Celestron’s CG-3 Equatorial Mount

The AstroMaster 130 EQ mounts onto the Celestron CG-3 equatorial mount. The fully height-adjustable and pre-assembled tripod is stable and provides low vibration support to the telescope. Accessories can be kept within easy reach of the accessory tray.

The hour axis of this equatorial mount is to be aligned with celestial north, (parallel to the Earth’s axis of rotation) so it is easy to follow objects in the sky with the fine adjustment of just one axle. Precise hands-free tracking is available with the optional motor drive, making the whole instrument also suitable for the beginning astrophotographer.

Advantages

  • Powerful optics
  • Quality coated mirrors and eyepiece lenses
  • Easy to set up and adjust
  • Red dot viewfinder for easy finding of objects
  • Upgradeable for astrophotography with motor and camera adapter
  • Great value telescope for beginners

Disadvantages


The Celestron 130 EQ is the perfect telescope for a beginner.

I got a Celestron Astromaster 130 EQ from Costco online for $200 shipped and yes, I went for the top of the line 130. Not the 70, 90, or even the 114. No, the full 130 Baby! I got this scope because right now while I wait for a SCT and go-to mount to ship, which is taking months. I need something to play with and that is how I discovered that the Celestron Astromaster 130 EQ is the perfect telescope for any beginner. First of all, you will have to learn to collimate the secondary and the primary because it will change every day. I recommend a laser, it’s very fun. Second you will have to figure out polar alignment otherwise the entire EQ thing is pointless coz you won’t be able to track. Speaking of tracking you are going to have to add the motor drive for $40. If you don’t, every time you touch the fine RA knob the image will shake so bad for at least 5 seconds, you won’t be able to see anything. However, once you add the motor you will not be able to fine adjust RA coz there in no clutch on the motor. That just adds an extra challenge. Now maybe you want to throw your DSLR on there. Well, that’s not happening because there is not enough back focus. Speaking of focus, as with any adjustment you make that involves touching anything on the scope, the image will shake so badly for at least 5 seconds that you will not be sure if your target is even still in FOV never mind in focus.

So, after reading this, you maybe thinking “how can this be the perfect scope for a beginner?” Well first it costs $240 with motor drive. I have lens caps that cost more than that! Well OK EP. But here is the main point. The Astromaster 130 EQ is such a nightmare to use in almost everyway that once you have experienced it, you will never question, even for a split second why it was that you spent Thousands and Thousands of $$ on a “Real” Telescope and you will appreciate that “Real” telescope and what it can do, So Much More!

#2 Tulloch

I purchased a 130EQ 2nd hand off eBay. It was a happy day when I bought it, but an even happier one when I on-sold it a few months later for not much less than I paid for it, to some poor shmuck who then had to deal with it.

When I saw your heading, I thought I had to provide the wisdom of my experience to say why the 130EQ is a terrible scope, but your last comment "The Astromaster 130 EQ is such a nightmare to use in almost everyway that once you have experienced it, you will never question, even for a split second why it was that you spent Thousands and Thousands of $$ on a “Real” Telescope" made me cheer up.

My next scope was a Celestron Evolution 6" SCT, so much nicer. More expensive sure, but a joy to use by comparison.

#3 stargazer193857

I bought a used Celestron 130 EQ off Craigslist for $140.

It was very heavy. The person selling it thought so too. I did not notice the vibration issue, but I was using the slow motion controls. The axis locks were small and black, so hard to find in the dark. Also too small to give torque, so hard to unlock them.

I sold the tripod on CN for $100 shipped.

I made a very crude minidob base for the OTA. I liked the wider view, but I saw coma for the first time. I gave that scope to my friend. He loves the ultra transportability, and the ES 68 deg 24mm, which I now miss.

As for polar aligning, that is easy. Just put the polar axis at about 45 degrees and from the hip point at the north star. That won't keep stuff centered everywhere but will greatly slow the drift.

Another person had the astromaster at a dark sky site and asked me to help aim it. I failed.

Some eq mounts have polar locks that give under the weight, not staying at the angle you put them at.

#4 rhetfield

For the same money, you could have had a zhumell 130 or AWB OneSky. Add degree circles to the base so you can find the dim fuzzies. Nice little grab and go travel scopes for those quick sessions.

Sad part is the OTA is probably decent - 130mm/f5 optics tend to perform well. You just need to get it on a better mount.

#5 cookjaiii

A narrow field of view is a drawback because it's hard to locate the dimmer targets such as nebulae and globular clusters. The Moon and bright planets are easy to find, but if you want to find dim targets, you have to learn to "star-hop". That is, you need to start at a bright star and move the telescope from star to star using an atlas or star map as a guide until you get to the target. When you have a narrow view, it is hard to figure out where on your map you are looking. A wider field of view lets you see more stars in the view and that makes it easier to recognize patterns to compare with your map, and in turn, easier to navigate.

For reference, the Moon is one-half of a degree in diameter. The 90mm Maksutov has only a one-degree field of view at its lowest magnification. By contrast, one of the Newtonians referenced above has a two-degree field of view. That may not sound like much, but it makes a huge difference when you are star-hopping.

A magnifying finder is a good accessory to consider for a telescope with a narrow field of view, especially in an area of high light pollution. A magnifying finder may have a field of view of five degrees or more. It makes star-hopping much easier. A "RACI" finder is preferred because it gives a correct image instead of a mirror image.

I'm sure you are thoroughly confused at this point, but I'm only pointing out that a telescope with a narrow field of view will require a magnifying finder scope if you want to see anything besides planets and the Moon.

#6 psugrue

For the same money, you could have had a zhumell 130 or AWB OneSky. Add degree circles to the base so you can find the dim fuzzies. Nice little grab and go travel scopes for those quick sessions.

Sad part is the OTA is probably decent - 130mm/f5 optics tend to perform well. You just need to get it on a better mount.

I think you are right. It will be interesting to get the OTA on a decent mount just for fun.

#7 Augustus

Some AstroMaster 130s are actually sold with spherical primaries - at least the ones from Costco.

#8 FLord

Some AstroMaster 130s are actually sold with spherical primaries - at least the ones from Costco.

This. There are lots of reports of people testing the mirrors in the AM130s with the result of spheres - and uneven, pock-marked ones at that. At f/5 this produces very bad images. It makes you feel sorry for the newcomers that know no better.

By comparison, I have the spherical f/7 (SkyWatcher) and it's actually a good scope if you can't get a 6" dob.
Celestron really have to up their game on their mid-range scopes, IMO.

Edited by FLord, 17 December 2020 - 07:44 AM.

#9 KerryR

This. There are lots of reports of people testing the mirrors in the AM130s with the result of spheres - and uneven, pock-marked ones at that.&ampnbsp In f/5 this produces very bad images. It makes you feel sorry for the newcomers that know no better.

By comparison, I have the spherical f/7 (SkyWatcher) and it's actually a good scope if you can't get a 6" dob.
Celestron really have to up their game on their mid-range scopes, IMO.

I bought a discounted Meade Polaris 130. I knew ahead of time it might have a spherical mirror, which it did, in fact, have. Lowest power images were usable, but beyond that. yuck.

On the bench, it showed a rough zoney surface, but, luckily, a good edge. I polished off the coatings, smoothed out the spheroid, and parabolized. It's now one of my favorite scopes for grab and go-- very solid on my lightest mounts, yet very comfortable to use. They're great scopes. if you get one with a paraboloid.

I have no idea why these f5's would ever be made with spherical mirrors. Hobby killers for sure. Odd thing is that some appear to ship with paraboloids, others not.

#10 Jon Isaacs

Given the fact that you can buy a competent tescope for $200 a very capable scope for $500, scopes like the Astromaster 130EQ are just very sad.. I do have several telescopes that cost thousands but I have some simple telescopes like my 10 inch Dob, it cost $500 new and is a solid performer.

Thinking one needs to spend thousands, that's the wrong conclusion.

#11 FLord

Some AstroMaster 130s are actually sold with spherical primaries - at least the ones from Costco.

Sad part is the OTA is probably decent - 130mm/f5 optics tend to perform well. You just need to get it on a better mount.

That blog has a date of 2011 though — how come this has not fully come to light? I've seen many CN posts since then, assuring that "at least it has a parabolic primary".

Another write-off from Celestron — trash optics in all the AM130 models as it turns out. Guess it wouldn't even be worth much on a good mount after all.

Edited by FLord, 17 December 2020 - 09:27 AM.

#12 CosmoSat

Oh, God! — they all do!: https://www.celestro. -the-difference

That blog has a date of 2011 though — how come this has not fully come to light? I've seen many CN posts since then, assuring that "at least it has a parabolic primary".

Another write-off from Celestron — trash optics in all the AM130 models as it turns out. Guess it wouldn't even be worth much on a good mount after all.

I too have got similar experience as you, for some reason a lot of people come in defence of this telescope. It still gets recommend a lot.

In my country, Celestron doesn't even have an authorised dealer, yet this is the most sold telescope here even though from the grey market.

Earlier I used to think they sell factory rejects here or something, but that does not seem to be the case, the optics are just not well made.

Have been pointing this out for many years now.. links to a few earlier posts below..

#13 FLord

I too have got similar experience as you, for some reason a lot of people come in defence of this telescope. It still gets recommend a lot.

In my country, Celestron doesn't even have an authorised dealer, yet this is the most sold telescope here even though from the grey market.

Earlier I used to think they sell factory rejects here or something, but that does not seem to be the case, the optics are just not well made.

Have been pointing this out for many years now.. links to a few earlier posts below..

Link 1

Link 2

Clear Skies!

Satish.

Thanks for the info Satish, and here's to Celestron improving their midrange. Too many first time buyers have had the misfortune to own one of these "Hobby Killers".

Edited by FLord, 17 December 2020 - 05:13 PM.

#14 rhetfield

I have no idea why these f5's would ever be made with spherical mirrors. Hobby killers for sure. Odd thing is that some appear to ship with paraboloids, others not.

Especially when one remembers that other synta 130mm/F5's are parabolic mirrors. From a manufacturing standpoint, it seems that once one had a source for parabolic mirrors, they would go in everything rather than trying to stock 2 mirrors.

#15 KerryR

Especially when one remembers that other synta 130mm/F5's are parabolic mirrors. From a manufacturing standpoint, it seems that once one had a source for parabolic mirrors, they would go in everything rather than trying to stock 2 mirrors.

Case in point: My Celestron SLT 130 f5 ota (only) has a decent parabolic mirror, while the Celestron Astromaster 130 f5 (which I don't have) does not. Further confusion: Some Meade Polaris 130 f5's are reported to have parabolic mirrors, while most(?) do not.

This is a sad state of affairs considering how cost effective these scopes can be- when they have a decent paraboloid, they have that magic ability to provide very wide fields yet are able to hold a high degree of magnification on doubles, planets, and small planetary nebulae, an attribute that is normally relegated almost exclusively to fast ED/Apo refractors that cost vastly more (but also have zero coma, 2" ep's, better focusers, minimal thermal issues, and better contrast). Plus, they're easy to mount rock solidly on comparatively small low-cost tripods and heads, with a very comfy eyepiece height without reliance on tall tripods or piers/elevators.

#16 Sky_LO

No Kick - Mount Marker Lights

I can totally relate to the small reflector nightmare.

I had a Celestron Nexstar 114 -

Which has just a bit smaller aperture and another difference, an Alt/Az go to.

It was fun to learn how to use the computerized go to with it.

But beyond that. the views were. sad and disappointing every time.

I came to think of it more as a "toy" and not a "real" telescope

Thankfully I was able to sell it for the same $80 I paid for it (used).

I actually felt a bit bad for the buyer, but I told them it was an "very entry level" scope.

I could not wait to get something else. anything else!!

My experience says (to me) stay away from any reflector 5 inches or less !

Or if you get one, keep your expectations low.

They can be good for learning or practice.

But if you buy one thinking its a "real" telescope. they can be hobby killers indeed.

Edited by Sky_LO, 19 December 2020 - 12:14 PM.

#17 KerryR

My experience says (to me) stay away from any reflector 5 inches or less !

Or if you get one, keep your expectations low.

They can be good for learning or practice.

But if you buy one thinking its a "real" telescope. they can be hobby killers indeed.

This is probably a bit of an over-generalization. There's certainly no reason to avoid 5" and smaller Newts in general, just the ones with (fast) spherical mirrors and/or super wobbly mounts. Homework before purchasing is key, unless luck prevails.

There are some great and inexpensive options that come to mind in the 5" and smaller arena: Most of the table top dobs have decent parabolic optics, and are solidly mounted to boot. Vixen's 130 f5 on a Porta II is a solid performer. The Orion XT 4.5, despite it's spherical mirror is (usually) excellent on all fronts. I even have a Zhumell 76mm f11 Newt that's actually very good.

It's too bad, though, that there are so many hobby killer scopes aimed at the single-purchase impulse market. It's got to do more harm than good, both for our hobby and for long term sales.

#18 Sky_LO

No Kick - Mount Marker Lights

>This is probably a bit of an over-generalization<.

Yes, guilty of overgeneralizing ! Sometimes we don't know what we haven't seen right?

and I see I am becoming an aperture snob - yeeks !

Edited by Sky_LO, 20 December 2020 - 12:30 AM.

#19 MajorTom63

My Meade Polaris 130 has a parabolic mirror and so far I'm happy with it and it performs well. Planning on upgrading the focuser and doing some modifications to the secondary mirror holder, and I see a new mount in the future.

#20 BlueTrane2028

I ended up with an AstroMaster 130 yesterday off Facebook for free because one of the tripod spreader legs on the CG-3 snapped. Those parts are on Thingiverse and I have access to a printer, so that solves that.

I will give it a go just to see how bad it is, can compare right to my OneSky, if it's as atrocious as people say, guess it's a slight upgrade in mount from the EQ1 that came with my ST80, bin the OTA.

#21 Sheol

When I first entered the Hobby the advice on Telescopes was 3 inches for refractors, 6 inches for reflectors. Well that issue was lost on my parents who bought me an abominable something purporting to be a reflector at 2 inches. Later a 70 mm Jason Refractor. I actually used that for years. Nice scope for scanning around & viewing the Moon. My Mom finally bought me a used 6 inch Criterion as my High School Graduation present. I had great views despite the fact I would never praise a GEQ mount for a newbie. I thought I had the experience! LOL. But I digress, My friend in HS in Lake Toxaway, NC. got one of those smaller reflectors as an X-mas gift. I think he used it, I moved to California a few weeks later.

Anyway, I have often endured atrocious crap, but managed to see stuff, but a lot of people would probably just leave the Hobby. I think it was surviving the first piece of Cr. toy scope, that I learned patience with things in this Hobby. You can see stuff with small stuff, but there is a Truth I see often, a bigger scope doesn't mean a new astronomer will see a faint object with subtle details. It takes experience too.

#22 CollinofAlabama

Sad to hear about the Celestron "Astromaster" and its spherical mirror. Talk about master! Well, I suppose it would make a good low-power sky-scanner. I got the C130SLT and have been quite happy with it, but I already have the GSO Alt-Az Deluxe (original AstroTech Voyager, with the AstroTech Voyager column extension on wooden Ho legs and Vixen-style steel spreader/eyepiece holder). Had to do some modifications to it, mostly getting rid of the ridiculous bar affixed to the side of the tube and replace that with harder-to-find-than-should-be tube rings. I also replaced the secondary collimation screws with some thumb screw ones.

The idea of a nice 130mm tube is quite good. These are easily collimatable due to their small size and ease of adjusting the secondary while looking into the focuser. But the mount design the C130SLT came with is ridiculous. Personally, not being much of a gadget-person under the stars, I am not enchanted with GoTo so the original mount is not such a concern to me. But the wide angle views, and the apparently very good optics, make the concept of a 130mm parabolic F/5 reflector a good idea, indeed. This is most of a 4" APO, quite frankly, and even though my costs would add up with the extras I've put in, this could all be available in the $400-$600 range, easily. I look forward to replacing the focuser with a dual speed Crayford (or high end rack and pinion) as soon as I can find one sold with an adapter plate that fits the tube, but I think this type scope is quite good, and a very good choice for grab and go, provided one gets a parabolic mirror, and 2" focuser version. With my 30mm APM UFF eyepiece, I get 3.35° TFOV out of mine, so it's a joy to use as a sweeper, and being able to split Alnitak make it a very good scope. But a person must have a parabolic mirror, 2" focuser, tube rings, and a decent mount, of course, to achieve these things with such a telescope. Those are non-negotiable to obtain a 130mm reflector that can hope to compete with a 4" APO. They certainly can with the right options, and although perhaps not quite all a 4" APO is, certainly very, very close, and lighter-weight to boot, and cheaper, too.


Celestron 130EQ Astromaster or Celestron 102GT?

I have an opportunity to buy either Astromaster 130 or 102Gt(Costco) for cheap. Both are brand new, astromaster is a eq mount reflector and 120gt is a nexstar type of refractor. I can buy astromaster for 110 dollars and 102 gt for 180. I'm having a hard time deciding which would be the better choice. I guess I'm looking for a grab and ho mount with good overall performance under 200 dollars.

#2 Gary Riley

I suppose between the two I would probably go with the 102mm f/10 refractor. Quicker setup, hopefully no collimating of the lens required, longer focal length will allow a little higher magnification, has the Nexstar object locator too. The 130 EQ will require regularly checking your mirrors alignment and the EQ takes a little bit more of a learning curve. Both scopes will suffer from vibration some when focusing with the light weight tripods and also with the light EQ mount itself. 102 should have a little quicker cool down time too. Just my opinion.

#3 SeptemberEquinox

#4 Gary Riley

September,
The 102 is basically the same as the Omni XLT 102 that I own just on a Nexstar mount and the red dot finder I believe. But if I'm correct it is the same focal length (1000mm) and uses the same lens. My 102 throws up a good image for the most part, especially for the Moon, planets, double stars, and open clusters. Does a fair job on globulars and some of the brighter nebulae and brightest galaxies. It will show some CA around bright objects, but I have found the CA to be not all that bad.

#5 BigC

The 130 should do better at higher magnification and being a reflectore won't have CA 9violet halos around bright objects),and if polar aligned ,you can follow stars easily.It can be motorized later.

The 102 ,being a refractor ,needs less adjustment, and the goto will find things for you.

#6 csrlice12

#7 BigC

8" Dob IS good scope but much more difficult to carry than either tripod mounted scope the OP asked about.

If someone asks which of two specific non-Dobsonian telescopes is better why do so many here insist on injecting the same tired old "get an 8" Dob" comment .

Perhaps the questioner doesn't care to buy used scopes without warranty and return privileges ,whereas that I am not the first owner of a scope bothers me not in the least,if the price is right.

Back to the original question.

The deciding factor probably should be "is goto important to you?"
If it is-and it can be a nice thing to have-then get the 102 Nexstar.

If false color (Chromatic Aberration) annoys you, and you like a wider Field Of View,then the 130 f5 reflector is a better choice.

An f5 scope will have a wider FOV than an f9 scope.

Subtracting the central obstruction of the relector's secondary from the 130 aperture versus the unobstructed refractor's 102 aperture means the two scopes are very,very close in the amount of light reaching the eye.

#8 BigC

Quote:"I'm looking for a grab and ho mount with good overall performance under 200 dollars"

I say that pretty much rules out 8" Dobsonians .

I don't know anyone who thinks an 8" Dob is grab-n-go !

#9 BSJ

No to the AstroMaster. Shacky pile of mostly usless plastic.

I started with one myself. Came with a Pringle shaped mirror. Nothing would really come into focus. Sloppy focuser. Way under monuted. Etc. Etc.

#10 csrlice12

#11 Meadeball

Hi SeptemberEquinox et al --

I've owned a 102GT since late 2011. I have nothing but praise for this scope for the price. I encourage you to read the handful of reviews about the telescope on Celestron's page. (My review is the second one -- the one with the author "M".) Funny, I gave them my name as Meade I don't think they wanted that word on their website, LOL!

I agree with the 8-inch Dob comments. When somebody asks about two specific scopes, and an 8-inch Dob, or a Mak, or a TriShiefspiegler, or whatever, isn't one of them, LAY OFF.

Have a nice day. And here's the link.

#12 BigC

An 8" Dob is more of a grabngo then a refractor/reflector on an EQ mount. While it may be a little heavier overall, it can easily be moved in two pieces (I even move my 102XLT refractor in two parts: mount/tripod and the scope). You'll be looking thru the dob's eyepiece while the EQ mount guy is still aligning his scope. I'd pretty much say any manual/push-to dob under 10" is fairly GrabnGo, especially a 6" or 4.5" (8" would be tops for GrabnGo though, and may not work for an older person or young child). But for your average teen/adult--an 8" shouldn't present a problem.

Well then we have a huge difference of opinion in what constitutes "grab-n-go".

I have scopes from 30mm to 300mm so am familiar with carrying each size.And I accept that getting the better view often means more effort in moving and setting up a bigger scope.

I find it much easier to pick up an assembled tripod mounted refractor of the 4 inch size and move it in one trip, than either grunting with effort carrying an assembled 8 inch Dob or making two trips with the extra inconvenience of finding a good spot to lay the tube whilst I move the base.Even my 6 inch dob is not g-n-g in my view ,but the 4.5 ? Most certainly ! Stepping up to a 5 or 6 inch long-tube refractor then I do resort to two trips again because of the awkwardness of such a setup.

Now that I understand polar alignment I can have my scopes on EQ mount aligned well enough for visual use in literally a moment.

There is no Astromaster 130 in my inventory or history as I bought a nice used SkyWatcher 130 f5 on EQ -that is a good scope and why I believe a 130mm f5 is a nice beginner scope AND it is still light enough to be a one-trip carry.


Astromaster Celestron 130 EQ - Astronomy

The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD is a big 5.1" (130mm) aperture equatorial reflector designed primarily to give exceptional wide angle views of the faint fuzzies outside the solar system - nebulas, galaxies, open star clusters, and more. It includes a right ascension motor drive for no-hands tracking of celestial objects. The AstroMaster 130 EQ is a surprising bargain when you consider the high level of performance and features you get versus the low price you pay.

While the AstroMaster 130 excels at deep space views, it also will perform surprisingly well on the Moon, planets, comets, and other objects inside the solar system by adding an optional higher power eyepiece to increase the magnification. It will even work for observing things on the ground, as it comes with a low power eyepiece that gives upright images, unlike most reflectors that provide images that are upside down.

Its rugged and stable CG-3 equatorial mount has manual slow motion controls in both axes. These let you easily locate solar system and deep space objects and manually track them across the sky. The supplied motor drive allows hands-free tracking that will let the whole family observe without having to re-aim the scope each time a new family member or friend steps up to look through the telescope. At only 25 lbs., it's lightweight and compact enough to fit in virtually any storage space, but it's optically big enough to keep an observer happy for years. At its very affordable price, the Astromaster 130 is a bargain indeed.

This Telescope's Optical System . . .

Reflector optical tube: 130mm (5.1") aperture 650mm focal length f/5 focal ratio Newtonian reflector. All-glass mirrors, coated with highly reflective aluminum and overcoated with quartz for long life. There are no plastic optical components. The 24" long aluminum optical tube has protective tube end rings. The reflector design of the scope is totally free of the purple haze of spurious color visible around the Moon and planets in lesser refractor scopes. Images are sharp and clear. You can even collimate (align) both mirrors for the sharpest images. This will have to be done only rarely, thanks to the special push/pull design of the cell holding the primary mirror.

Rack and pinion focuser: The 1.25" focuser has dual focusing knobs for precise image control with either hand. The large focus knobs are easy to operate, even while wearing gloves or mittens in cold weather.

Two eyepieces: You get a medium power 1.25" 10mm (65x) eyepiece and a lower power 1.25" 20mm (32.5x) erect image eyepiece with a 1.5° field of view (three times the diameter of the full Moon). The 32.5x erect image eyepiece lets you use the 130EQ terrestrially, as its images are not upside down as they are with most reflectors. However, the equatorial mount will make it difficult to center and track objects on the ground. The erect image eyepiece will probably serve you better for lunar observing, as it will show you a familiar image of the Moon, oriented as you see it with your unaided eyes or binoculars. Both eyepieces are of a higher quality optical design than you'll find in most other telescopes in this price range. They have antireflection coatings on their lens surfaces for sharp images and very good contrast. Instead of providing low quality eyepieces that give unrealistically high (and generally unusable) 200-300x magnifications as most economy telescope manufacturers do, Celestron has chosen to provide higher quality eyepieces with sensible powers you can use and enjoy every time you take your AstroMaster 130 out to observe.

Finderscope: A non-magnifying red dot finder is permanently attached to the side of the optical tube. The battery-operated red dot finder seems to project a dot of red light on the sky or on the daytime landscape exactly where the telescope is pointed. The red dot will help you center distant objects in the telescope so you don't have to search for them using the narrow eyepiece field of view. Collimating knobs on the finder let you line up its red dot precisely with the main telescope optics to make centering distant objects easy and painless.

This Telescope's Mount . . .

Equatorial mount: The scope's sturdy CG-3 equatorial mount is designed for astronomical observing. By aligning the mount on the north celestial pole, you only need to turn one slow motion control knob to follow planets and stars as they travel across the sky (or let the supplied battery-operated motor drive do it for you automatically). Two counterweights on the opposite side of the mount from the telescope tube balance the weight of the optical tube and make it easy to move the scope effortlessly from one part of the sky to another. No tools are required to adjust the position of the counterweights to quickly and precisely balance the optical tube. A micrometer control lets you adjust the altitude of the scope mount to match your latitude for fast alignment on the north celestial pole with no tools required.

Motor drive: A battery-operated motor drive makes following the stars a no-hands operation. The drive is a single axis right ascension drive motor only. It does not have drive corrector functions for long exposure astrophotography. The drive has a variable speed control to match the differing speeds at which the Moon, planets, Sun, and stars move across the sky. It also has switch-controlled northern/southern hemisphere operation. The drive runs for up to 40 hours from one 9 volt transistor radio battery (supplied), depending on the air temperature (battery life is shorter when the temperatures are colder). Your telescope can be manually moved to any part of the sky while the drive is functioning by releasing the right ascension and declination locks and pushing the telescope tube in the desired direction. However, the drive does not have a built-in clutch, so the thumbscrew attaching the drive to the telescope must be loosened if very precise centering and positioning is desired using the manual slow motion controls.

Split Ring Optical Tube mount: The optical tube mounts in hinged split rings that are attached to a dovetail bar that fits into a quick-release dovetail groove on the top of the mount. Installing the optical tube on the mount is quick and easy, even in the dark. The optical tube locks securely in place with no tools needed.

Setting circles: Setting circles (graduated scales marked in either hours and minutes or degrees) are provided in both right ascension (the east/west position of objects in the sky measured in hours and minutes) and declination (the north/south position measured in degrees). These allow you to align the scope on the approximate position of an object in the sky by using its r. a. and dec coordinates from a star chart or atlas - before you search for it in the finderscope and eyepiece. Setting circles can reduce the time it takes for you to find the fainter and more difficult deep space objects.

Manual slow motion controls: There are two slow motion control knobs conveniently positioned on the mount so they are easy to reach while observing. One controls the scope's motion in right ascension (the east/west direction in the sky). Turning this knob enables you to follow the motion of celestial objects as they travel from east to west across the sky if you are not using the supplied battery-operated motor drive. The second controls the scope's motion in declination (the north/south direction in the sky). Turning this knob enables you to correct for any north/south drift a celestial object may take as it moves across the sky, due to an improper alignment of the scope on the north celestial pole when you first set it up. The two controls combine to give you complete access to any part of the sky. They give you the ability to star hop from a known object to any other object by using a star chart. They let you center objects in the field of view, then track them effortlessly with only an occasional quick turn of the r. a. knob. As mentioned above, a motor drive is also provided for hands-free tracking of celestial objects.

Tripod: The lightweight pre-assembled tripod has 1.25" diameter stainless steel legs to provide a rigid and stable observing platform. It easily adjusts in height with no tools needed. The no-tool lock knobs that adjust the leg height of the tripod are on the inside of the legs so they won't snag on clothing in the dark, a thoughtful touch that's sure to be appreciated. Spreader bars lock the legs firmly open when the tripod is set up. The tripod includes a convenient accessory tray that attaches to the spreader bars to hold your eyepieces and accessories close at hand and up out of the dew-soaked grass.

Two year warranty: As an expression of Celestron's confidence in the quality of their products, the AstroMaster is protected by Celestron's two-year limited warranty against flaws in materials and workmanship.