Celestron SkyProdigy 130 Telescope Review

Type Reflector/ Newtonian
Aperture 130mm (5.1 inches)
Focal Length 650mm
Mount Fully Computerized Alt-azimuth
Accessories Sturdy Stainless Steel Tripod, Accessory Tray, Astronomy Software, 2 Eyepieces and a StarPointer Red Dot Finder Scope.
Focal Ratio f/5

Overview

The Celestron SkyProdigy is a fully computerized alt-azimuth reflector. It is a modestly sized telescope at only 130mm, but that is sufficient for viewing everything within the Solar System and an array of the most prominent deep sky objects.

The telescope’s standout feature is that it can automatically be aligned with great accuracy and without any real effort on your part. This is thanks to the electronic motors, on-board computer, built-in camera, and StarSense technology. It is a combination of these components which allows you to simply turn the telescope on and push a button for it to automatically align just like that.

Within just a few minutes of the quick set up, the telescope is ready to view the thousands of objects it reveals. Beginner stargazers will love the SkyProdigy’s “Tour” option. This feature provides you with a list of favorite targets, all of them customized to your exact time and location anywhere in the world so you can explore the night sky with ease and precision. The SkyProdigy is able to find over 4,000 celestial objects giving you so many wonderful planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies to explore and the press of a button.

You also get a free astronomy software download complete with a 10,000-object database and sky maps that you can print and personalize with your own notes.

Celestron is a known and trusted brand of telescope, and that shows in the SkyProdigy’s optics and most of the design elements. The go-to features are very simple to familiarize yourself with, and it is easy to transport and assemble. The price is a little higher than other telescopes beginners may consider, but is reasonably priced considering its specs.

Buy Celestron SkyProdigy 130 Computerized Newtonian Telescope

Review

The SkyProdigy’s integrated camera, comprehensive database and motorized mount all feed into a more convenient viewing experience. Beginners will never have to worry about complicated methods used for aligning a telescope. It uses an integrated imaging camera and unique technology to orientate you. The process is a surprisingly simple one. It captures an image of the region the telescope is pointed at and runs this against its internal database to identify the stars within the image. The SkyProdigy then determines the coordinates of the centre of the image and repeats the process a couple of times for increased accuracy. It also has a StarPointer Red Dot Finderscope to help you pinpoint your targets. Tracking objects throughout the night is a straightforward and automatic process which requires no fussing over buttons or adjustments on your part.

Of course, a slew of great technical features wouldn’t be able to mask a telescope with sub-par optics. Thankfully, the SkyProdigy’s optics hold up to the quality standards that you would expect of a Celestron, or any telescope in this price range.

Unfortunately, a few users have expressed frustrations that the electronics are rather poor despite the SkyProdigy’s quality optics. These complaints have been few and far between though, and are generally addressed with a new telescope that works as it is supposed to.

One thing to take note of is that the digital camera is not permanently fixed and aligned to the tube of the telescope. You mount and remove the optical tube and the camera assembly every time you set up and pack away, so essentially the two may not be aligned every time. In other words, even though the camera is perfectly aligned to the sky it may not be perfectly aligned to the tube, and the two may not be pointing at exactly the same position. Essentially, you will have to recalibrate the camera sometimes and align with the tube. Then select an object you are very familiar with using the go-to feature to make sure everything is aligned.

All these small technical niggles aside, you have a good telescope in the SkyProdigy and can view an assortment of breath-taking objects. The Moon’s craters and valleys stand out with lovely clarity and you will be surprised at the small details you can see on the lunar surface. Be sure to spend a night or two every month just viewing the Moon’s terminator – the line that divides the light and dark halves – since the contrast allows you to see more.

You can observe all the planets in the Solar System, even though some of them don’t reveal much detail. You can sweep over to Mercury and Venus, best viewed at maximum elongation. It is fun to take note of their phases, but just be sure to observe them when they are furthest from the sun, and use a good solar filter if you would like to view them during the day. The SkyProdigy will also reveal some color in Mars, and allow you to catch a glimpse of its polar ice caps.

The two most popular planets to view are of course Jupiter and Saturn. This 130mm Celestron clearly shows the giant planet’s gas bands as well as the Galilean Moons. You will also be treated to views of Saturn’s extraordinary rings, which never disappoint.

The SkyProdigy, though small, has sufficient aperture to separate binary stars as close as nearly 5 arc-seconds apart. The telescope has a 1.9 ° field of view, so it is quite wide and nicely suited for viewing open clusters. There is a host of other deep sky objects you can view with the SkyProdigy including all the Messier objects, prominent galaxies, a variety of nebulae, bright comets and more.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The telescope is fully computerized with a built-in camera and database for automatic alignment. This is part of its no-tool, easy setup.
  • A useful telescope for someone who isn’t yet familiar with the sky and has almost no idea where to start looking. The customized list of top targets is the perfect starting place and will have observers coming back for more until all those objects ticked off the list!
  • The battery keeps for hours and hours of use without a charge, so you don’t have to worry about the electronics dying during a late-night observing session. Computerized telescopes usually get a lot of complaints about batteries running flat way too quickly, but the SkyProdigy is not one of them.
  • The SkyProdigy is relatively light and compact. It is easy to pack in the car and transport, and just as easy to store away at home. The telescope weighs around 18 lbs. fully assembled.
  • Tracking objects during the course of a night or couple of nights couldn’t be simpler thanks to the option to change tracking rates from sidereal to solar or lunar.
  • The SkyProdigy’s Newtonian designs eliminate chromatic aberrations.
  • The device has a pleasantly quiet motor compared to other competing designs.
  • When it comes to viewing, the telescope’s optics deliver clear, sharp images.

Cons

  • The alt-azimuth mount, although motorized and good for tracking, is not suited to astrophotography. You will need a reliable equatorial mount if astrophotography is one of your eventual goals.
  • Newtonian telescopes are constructed with two mirrors which may misalign occasionally due to handling and transporting. This means that your telescope will need to be collimated from time to time. It can be a little overwhelming at first if you don’t know how to do it, and you may require a professional service the first time around. Once you understand how to collimate the telescope, it is very easy to do at home.
  • Newtonians also require more maintenance than refracting telescopes. The mirror is exposed and will need to be cleaned every so often.
  • As is the case with any device, the electronics are bound to fail sometimes! It usually isn’t a big deal and can easily be fixed or replaced.
  • It is not necessarily a con, but having a fully computerized telescope as a complete beginner can be disadvantageous. You may rely on the telescope’s go-to feature to find celestial objects and be totally lost without it. Learning to navigate the sky the “old-fashioned” way really does give you a sense of stellar direction and spatial awareness.
  • The eyepieces that come with the telescope are stock-standard. They aren’t terrible by any means, but if you can afford to spend a little extra on a quality eyepiece and a nice Barlow lens, the clarity of the optics will astound you even more.
  • Celestron really markets the telescope’s revolutionary technology but there are some basic features it is sorely lacking. For one, there is no memory so you may save your previous settings.
  • The remote’s thick spiral cord is not the most intuitive design and is prone to getting in the way.

Verdict

The Celestron SkyProdigy is a safe purchase if you would like some modern features. The optics are good, the telescope’s aperture is perfect for most amateur needs, and the design is kept simple enough for first-time telescope owners. More seasoned observers may appreciate the time-saving element a go-to mount offers. Star hopping and manually navigating the skies are both important skills for any observer, but sometimes you know exactly what you want to view, and it is nice to be able to just go there.

All that being said, these features aren’t really anything new or ground-breaking. If you are into astrophotography and the truly technical dimensions of amateur astronomy then a computerized equatorial telescope is the way to go.

With or without its technology, the SkyProdigy is a solid telescope, so if you are searching for the right telescope for you it is definitely worth considering.

Buy Celestron SkyProdigy 130 Computerized Newtonian Telescope

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