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Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope Review; Best For Beginners

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Welcome to my Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ telescope review!

The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is a no-frills, affordable option for beginners. Because of its quick and simple no-tool setup, you’ll be ready to observe in minutes. 

The 130EQ produces bright, clear images of the Moon, planets, star clusters, and other celestial bodies for excellent nighttime viewing.

Read this review until the end to discover all the pros and cons of this best-selling reflector telescope.

The Celestron 130EQ 130mm f/5 Reflector Telescope features a 650mm focal length and is a quality reflector telescope that bridges the gap between novice telescopes and intermediate ones. It can be a great entry point into astronomy that will also deliver some great views and light gathering ability usually not seen by telescopes in this price range.

Although serious long-exposure astrophotography isn’t possible with the AstroMaster 130 EQ, you can use your smartphone mounted on a smartphone adapter for snapshots of the Moon and planets through its decent optical system.

Pros

  • Decent aperture
  • Lightweight and simple to use
  • Affordable
  • Decent deep sky performance
  • Great for beginners and intermediates
  • Capable of smartphone astrophotography

Cons

  • Uses a spherical mirror
  • Subpar accessories
  • Need regular collimation

Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Review

As a beginner’s telescope, the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is capable enough to provide excellent views that both please and leave the skywatcher wanting more. 

It’s also a reasonably priced piece of equipment that allows the observer to view decent images of the sky objects and indulge in some basic astrophotography.

What Can You See With The AstroMaster 130EQ?

If you get a better low-power eyepiece than the one that comes with the telescope, the Celestron AstroMaster 130 can show you a wide variety of deep sky objects.

This telescope with a low focal length delivers the most impressive results when it comes to observing planets. 

When used with the Plossl eyepiece, you will be treated to stunning views of the moon’s valleys and craters, the rings of Saturn, and the bands of Jupiter, amongst other planetary details.

As I said before, this telescope performs quite well when it comes to the brighter deep sky objects.

Its five inches of aperture is more than enough for a great reflector beginner scope. The large aperture allows in plenty of light to show you the night sky’s brightest deep sky objects, such as Andromeda Galaxy, the Pleiades, the Orion Nebula, and the Great Hercules Cluster.

Some of the other bright galaxies, such as M82, and M64, will reveal their dust lanes, and under really dark skies, you may also see M51 and M101’s spiral arms.

Note: The 20mm eyepiece that comes standard with the scope is of such terrible quality that you might as well toss it. If you want to make the most of this amazing telescope, you must purchase a couple of high-quality Plossls with both higher and lower magnification.

How Does The Celestron 130EQ’s Mount Perform?

The Celestron 130EQ has a German equatorial mount which is also called the CG-3 by Celestron themselves. 

The mount is well built and provides simple controls that even a complete beginner will be able to pick up quickly.

This mount is made of solid steel so that it can be used daily for many years. Many manufacturers choose frames made of aluminum, which are light but not as strong or durable.

Even though this mount is made of heavy steel, it can shake and vibrate, which can be annoying for experienced astronomers. 

The vibrations aren’t too bad, and there are many easy ways to fix the problem.

Ensure you balance the telescope correctly using the counterweight; once you manage that, the telescope is stable enough.

The equatorial mount is an excellent learning tool. Once you know how to do it, you can align the telescope and watch things move across the sky for hours.

Is the Celestron 130EQ Portable?

The Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector is just the right size to be easy to carry around, as it’s not too big or small. 

When put together, this scope weighs about 20 pounds.

It is powerful enough to be a good reflector by any standard, but it is still small and light enough to carry with you if you want to use it outside or at a friend’s house for a viewing party. It is easy to pack up and take with you on a trip.

Setting up the telescope is a breeze, and you’ll be ready to observe in just a few minutes once everything is out of the box.

Does the Telescope Need to be Collimated?

The internal mirrors of this telescope, which serve as reflectors, occasionally need to be adjusted to ensure they are positioned correctly for best viewing. 

Collimation is a straightforward procedure that you may carry out on your own. 

In just a few minutes, you’ll be prepared to make any necessary adjustments after reading our handy telescope collimation tutorial.

Included Accessories

The AstroMaster 130EQ is supplied in a single box, which includes the optical tube assembly (OTA), a CG-3 equatorial mount, two eyepieces – a 20mm and 10mm, red-dot finderscope and a sturdy stainless steel tripod.

The finderscope is a standard red dot scope. 

The focuser is a 1.25” Crayford style, and while it’s almost entirely made of plastic, it provides smooth and easy operation. 

There’s also an accessory tray, two counterweights, and a Starry Night Basic Edition software copy. 

Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ Motorized Upgrade

The 130 EQ has two slow-motion control knobs that let you make precise adjustments and is a manual focus. 

Making adjustments while observing can be difficult and soon become tiresome. Unless you make these exact adjustments, celestial bodies will drift across the sky as the Earth spins and will leave the eyepiece.

This problem can be resolved by using the EQ mount with a motor drive. 

Once you’ve located the object you wish to see, turn on the drive so the telescope can track it for you, freeing up your hands.

This motor drive is available for purchase as an additional kit, or you can buy the telescope that automatically comes with the motor. 

So, you can either buy the motor drive, or you can choose to buy the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD Newtonian Telescope.

Can Celestron 130EQ be used for astrophotography?

The AstroMaster 130EQ is not a telescope that you can use for serious astrophotography.

For astrophotography, it’s better to use refractor telescopes. Refractors are telescopes that use lenses instead of mirrors.

Moreover, you will need some form of tracking to take decent images of anything except the Moon and bright planets. 

Also, the telescope’s mount is suitable for supporting the OTA, but will struggle if you add weighty accessories such as a particularly hefty DSLR camera.

However, with this telescope, you can still use your iPhone mounted on a smartphone adapter to take good night sky pictures.

Alternatively,  you can also use lightweight webcams or CCD-style cameras with this telescope.

You can also check out my article about the best telescopes for astrophotography.

Conclusion

The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is undoubtedly worth getting and is ideally priced for the beginner. The telescope optics and mount are excellent, and the fit and finish of this scope are among the best in this price range, which makes it an excellent first telescope for new amateurs.

Buy Astromaster 130EQ from Amazon

Written by:
Jason Parnell
Jason Parnell

At 15, I sold my bike to buy my first telescope. I spent the next 3 years sketching as many Messier objects as I could find from my garden, then at the age of 18, I discovered beer. I have wandered through California's Mojave Desert with other amateur astronomers in search of the best stargazing experience.

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