Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ Telescope Review

Type Reflector
Aperture 130mm (5.11 inches)
Focal Length 650 mm
Mount German Equatorial
Accessories 20mm eyepiece, 10mm eyepiece, Starpointer red dot finder scope, Starry Night software
Focal Ratio f/5

Overview

Celestron is a leader in telescopes, and the AstroMaster 130EQ does not disappoint. An excellent option for amateur enthusiasts, this model includes everything you need to get started in stargazing. Bundled with the telescope are two eyepieces, a Starpointer red dot finder scope, and free Starry Night software for easy navigation and identification of celestial objects.

The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is built from premium materials that are durable and easy to use for adults and kids alike. Set up is quick and easy, and there is little fuss in operating the telescope. While it is best used for viewing planets, the moon, and galaxies, you can use it during the day for scouting objects on land as well.

Keep in mind that although this is an impressive starter telescope, it lacks some sophisticated features. Its mount is manual, so you will have to find your way around it.

Regardless, this telescope will give you a crisp and precise viewing of the sky. It is easy to control once you get the hang of it, and is well worth investing in if you are just getting started in astronomy.

Buy Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope

Review

The AstroMaster 130EQ is undoubtedly one of the best beginner’s telescopes you can find. It replicates the power of higher-end Newtonian models at a more reasonable price, so it is a telescope to try out if you are looking for excellent quality at a competitive price. Not every stargazing enthusiast goes into this hobby with a boatload of funds, so it is great to know that this telescope will meet your every need as a novice without burning a hole in your wallet.

This model covers all the main features you would expect from a starter telescope. You will not have any trouble at all observing the moon and planets with surprisingly high clarity, and you will be able to enjoy a host of deep sky objects including all of the Messier Objects, prominent galaxies and noticeable nebulae too. Planets that you can view easily with this telescope include Jupiter and all four Galilean moons, Saturn (including its magnificent rings), Mars, and Venus (though the latter two will appear quite featureless).

A drawback, however, is that this telescope is not suitable for astrophotography. If you want to capture all the gems you find, you will either have to modify the telescope or upgrade to a more advanced model.

Thankfully, there are no complaints about this telescope’s overall performance. It does exactly what is needed and provides an almost seamless user experience. As for the Starry Night software, it is a fun tool that absolute beginners will find much value in. Using it to track, spot and research the objects within your view is simple to do, and is bound to teach you something. Older kids will have a lot of fun with it as well.

Right off the bat, you will notice how easy this telescope is to set up. No tools are required to get it up and running, and the instructions are easy to grasp. Note that it is a little heavier than expected, so kids might require assistance when it comes to lifting. This is not a drawback though, as its weight contributes to the durability of the design is.

Unfortunately, it is not without its flaws. There are two main criticisms: its mount is lacking and its tripod is frustrating at best.

The mount is manually operated, and while it comes with a few fancy features such as a slow motion controller knob, it is not seamless and has a tendency to glitch. A noticeable problem is that adjusting it is rough, but applying a small amount of grease to it will solve the issue (just take care, as you do not want to damage or stain the mount).

The tripod is quite poor. Contradicting the durability of the rest of this model, it is flimsy and quite unstable and is bound to interfere with your viewing if you do not set it up just right. The result is shaky viewing and unstable navigation, a problem that is worsened by the already difficult mount. It is recommended that you avoid putting too much in the tripod, and upgrade it as soon as you can. That said, if you are patient, you can make it work as it is.

You can always build upon the telescope, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to invest in a few additional eyepieces and a Barlow lens. You will not need many more – one or two will do – just ensure they are quality pieces.

Other considerations before you settle on this one is that all reflectors need extra maintenance than refractors, and will need to occasionally be collimated. Kits for adjusting the collimation are available, but it is an extra cost you will have to budget for. You will also need to find an appropriate travel case if you are hoping to travel with this telescope.

Regardless, the AstroMaster 130EQ is a fantastic place to start and shines in what is most important. You will get the best of it at x111 – x166 magnification, and there is a lot of room to experiment and grow using this model.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Excellent optics for a beginner’s telescope.
  • The telescope is built from great materials, and will last you a long time.
  • The lightweight frame and top notch materials make for comfortable use.
  • Set up is easy, no tools are required, and each component fits well.
  • Bonus features, including the red dot pointer and Starry Night software, are great additions to the bundle.
  • Upgrade kits and add-ons are available, if you are looking to branch out.

Cons

  • The tripod is flimsy and may prevent a stable viewing experience.
  • The mount is not perfect and will require maintenance for seamless operation.
  • The telescope is heavier than expected.
  • It does not fare well for astrophotography.

Verdict

In a nutshell, the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is perfect if you use it as intended: to get started in astronomy. It is an excellent beginner telescope that includes everything you need for serious amateur astronomy, without having to dig deeper, spend more or understand the advanced aspects of stargazing. It is also a wonderful telescope for the whole family, as it is simple enough for kids to enjoy, but boasts enough features to keep adults interested too.

Though it has a few design flaws and lacks the finesse of more professional instruments, it is surprisingly powerful considering the affordable cost. Celestron, a leader in telescopes, is yet to seriously disappoint and the AstroMaster series is a fine introduction to their quality and utility.

Still, it is not perfect, and I would not recommend it to more seasoned amateur astronomers. Upgrading it to suit your needs may not be worth the extra money, and its power – though impressive from an amateur standpoint – may disappoint those hoping to take their stargazing or astrophotography to the next level. If you are up to the challenge of adding on to it, the AstroMaster 130EQ will serve as an excellent frame, but ultimately, there are more impressive telescopes available that could suit an experienced backyard astronomer far better.

My final verdict is that this is a must buy if you are new to telescopes, just getting interested in amateur astronomy, an astronomer who will not desire more advanced features in the years to come, or someone looking for a family-friendly instrument. Celestron did an excellent job of the telescope, and in any of these cases, you are sure to be stunned by it.

Buy Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope

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