The Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope is the largest and priciest member of the popular Astromaster line of telescopes. True to their usual form, Celestron is offering a great telescope for a great price. Geared towards the casual or novice astronomer the Astromaster telescopes have been a great starting point for aspiring stargazers for years. The Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector is on the higher end of telescopes offering more power and more features for deep space viewing.
- Newtonian reflector
- 130mm primary aperture
- f/5 focal ratio
- 307x highest theoretical magnification
- 20lbs assembled weight
This is the largest reflector in the Astromaster line and thus offers the best light gathering ability out of all of their starter telescopes. It still comes in at an affordable price but starts giving you some of the numbers familiar to higher-end light bucket reflectors.
The 130mm primary aperture and f/5 focal ratio are perfect for deep space viewing. The size and design of this scope give it 345x more light-gathering ability over the naked human eye. This is a great mid-level reflector telescope that has a lot of promise for the aspiring astronomer.See Latest Price on Amazon
What Can I See?
This telescope is going to be better for general sky viewing as opposed to specific targeting of objects. This is because of the low focal ratio of f/5. This is going to give you a wide field of view which benefits looking at a large patch of sky opposed to a small patch of sky.
This means that objects that are larger or farther away are going to show up better than smaller closer objects. You can still look at the moon and Jupiter and other local favorites but getting it to focus on those kinds of objects are going to be more difficult than with other telescopes.
This is a great telescope in terms of light-gathering power. The large 130mm aperture is able to gather a ton of quality light from space. Light gathering is the name of the game for telescopes, especially reflectors and this one offers a lot of great power in that regard.
The size of the aperture allows this telescope to gather 345x more light than the unaided eye and can reach the highest theoretical magnification of 307x. That is a lot of power that allows you to try and see distant objects that other telescopes struggle to view.
The kinds of objects this telescope is going to be best at spotting are going to be distant stars, star clusters, nebula, other galaxies, and intergalactic dust clouds.
The low focal ratio and high light-gathering power make this a classic, powerful reflector which is great if you want to scour the dark skies for unique sights and star-filled eyepieces. However, I wish they had changed the mount to complement these strengths better.
The Right Mount For the Job
This telescope comes with a manual equatorial mount and I am disappointed by Celestron’s choice in this case. The equatorial mount is great for long-form tracking of individual sights and objects in the night sky over the course of hours which is something I don’t think benefits this telescope.
The equatorial mount is great for telescopes with high focal ratios or more general-purpose telescopes. But the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector is designed to be more of a distant space light bucket than a specific sights kind of scope.
I would have much preferred to see this telescope with a simple manual altazimuth mount than the equatorial mount. The equatorial mount makes it harder to do more free-handed viewing and requires a more rigid approach which I feel does not mix with the specifications of this telescope.
That being said, the German manual equatorial mount is solid quality. It works well and if you can see Polaris to align it properly then it works great. I just feel boxed in by the equatorial mount when I want to be wheeling my aperture across the sky more freely.
The equatorial mount is a great tool to learn on. Once it is mastered you can align the telescope and track objects across the night sky for hours. It is a great thing to practice micro-movements and tiny adjustments. While I think an altazimuth would be a better fit, the equatorial mount works fine and can be a great learning tool for those wanting to learn about night sky tracking and equatorial alignment.
ASTROMASTER 130EQ Set Up & Use
Small Yet Powerful
If you get much bigger or more powerful you quickly start to run into Dobsonian designed telescope opposed to the traditional tripod reflectors. Once you get much bigger, portability goes way down as size creeps up. The Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector resides in a sweet spot for portability.
It is powerful enough to be a respectable reflector by any measurement but still small and light enough to be portable if you want to take this telescope along with you outside or to your friend’s places for viewing parties. It can be packed up and traveled with without any issues.
This scope weighs about 20lbs when assembled. Dobsonians jump up to 40lbs and up due to their large bulky bases. Basically, if you want a powerful reflector that is still feasible to move (they all claim to be portable when some really aren’t) then this is a great choice to get.
(Lack Of) Accessories
One of the big downsides to this telescope is the lack of included accessories. While this is still part of the more budget Astromaster line it is one of the more expensive models in the line but you still don’t get any extra addons with this kit.
This telescope includes two eyepieces, a red dot finderscope, the tripod and a copy of the Starry Night astronomy software. The eyepieces are standard options and you can always purchase more as the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector features a 1.25” eyepiece hookup which is the most common size for eyepieces.
The finderscope is nice but nothing special. It would get more use if this telescope came with an altazimuth mount rather than the equatorial mount. Even so, it is a nice thing to have for lining up your telescope during use.
Starry Night is a good deal if you are a beginner astronomer or someone who likes to employ astronomy software during their viewing sessions. Starry Night is one of the oldest and most prestigious astronomy software packages on the market and it is a good addition to this kit.
That’s it though. There are no moon filters, Barlow lenses, or any other common addon that is usually thrown in to fluff up the accessory list. You get the bare minimum and that is it.
The telescope is still able to be used right out of the box but you won’t be getting any fun extras to mess around with.
AstroMaster 130EQ-MD (Motor Drive) Tour
The biggest issue this telescope seems to have is with the documentation. A lot of people reported missing instructions, unclear manuals and lack of information regarding important parts of this scope. For a telescope line that prides itself on being great for beginners, having poor documentation can turn some new telescope users off to your product.
The lack of proper instructions or a good manual has led people to become frustrated while assembling the telescope, focusing it and collimating it. It is not Celestron’s job to teach you the ins and outs of astronomy but a little bit of documentation could help cut down on some of the larger frustrations out there.
There were also a few complaints of quality control issues. Small things like parts that came loose during shipping, stripped out screws and accessories that didn’t fit right because of warped pieces.
None of these were super prominent or overly concerning but it did crop up enough during my research to mention it here. I did not have any such issues.
This is the last version of the Astromaster line of telescopes by Celestron. It 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.
This telescope is a little skimpy on extra features, accessories, and documentation but if you are looking for a reflector telescope that works and works well without any frills then this is a great option.
It can learn and grow with you as you journey into the world of backyard astronomy, it can be a great scope for families or social astronomers. It is small but powerful, easy to take along with you and can deliver some fantastic views of the night sky on any given night.
For the price range, the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector can offer you everything you could want in a powerful yet affordable telescope.