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Home / Review & Comparison of Astro-Physics 130 GT & TEC 140
by William Rison 04/19/12

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Review & Comparison of Astro-Physics 130 GT & TEC 140

Manufacturer Astro-Physics Telescope Engineering Company
Country
USA
USA
Year
2011
2005
Serial number
13063-336
193
Objective diameter
130mm (5.12 inch)
140mm (5.51 inch)
Focal length
819mm (f/6.3)
980mm (f/7.0)
Objective type
EDF Triplet APO
Aplanatic Oiled Triplet APO
Focuser type
Astro-Physics 2.7" rack & pinion with Feather Touch 9:1 Micro
Starlight Instruments 3545 3.5" rotatable with TEC collet
OTA weight with tube rings, finder and diagonal
17.0 lbs
21.5 lbs
Tube diameter
120mm (4.7 inches)
150mm (5.9 inches)
Dew shield diameter
155mm (6.1 inches)
178mm (7.0 inches)
OTA length
33 inches (838mm)
27.5 inches (598mm) with dew shield retracted
41 inches (1041mm)
34 inches (864mm) with dew shield retracted
Limiting magnitude
13.3
13.4
Resolving power
0.87 arc seconds
0.85 arc seconds
Fit and finish
AP 130 GTTEC 140
Painted tube is white power coated, finish is excellent. The tube rings have thumb screw locks with knobs that are very easy to adjust and use, their rings are also very light weight. The optical tube comes apart into 3 sections, lens and dew shield, main tube and focuser. Threaded metal caps and plugs are provided to cover the 3 pieces, however the the caps and plugs when not being used are stored in a foam fitted cardboard box. The scope comes with a Astro-Physics foam line hard box that fits the scope with the dew shield retracted. The scope is a little nose heavy without an diagonal and eyepiece attached and cannot be slid as low as other tubes because of the couplers that allow the scope to be disassembled. Painted tube is white power coated, finish is excellent. The latched tube rings are great but I did have to be careful not to hit them while carrying the tube because sometimes one would unlatch after rubbing against my leg. They allow quick release and hold of the OTA without having to worry about being too tight or too loose. The tension is adjustable but I found the factory setting is just right. I attached the tube rings to a Vixen dove tail bar that put the OTA lower to the mount. This allowed me to mount the heavier OTA without needing additional counterweights. A custom handle was added to the top of the tube rings to make it easier to mount and carry the optical tube.
Dew shield extendedDew shield retracted
Objective lens, cell, coatings and dew shield
AP 130 GTTEC 140
The coating is very dark and makes it look like there is on lens in the scope. I rate the coating as better than the TEC. The lens cell is thinner than the TEC so even though the lens is only 10mm smaller it looks much smaller overall. A metal lens cap fits over the dew shield and the dew shield retracts for storage. The dew shield also has a twist locking feature to lock it when extended and is felt lined. Coating is very dark blue and the glass disappears under most lighting conditions. Best coating I have seen except for the AP 130 GT. The lens cell is not adjustable. The dew shield retracts and extends to shorten the tube for transport and to fit into the ScopeGuard case. It is a bit hard to move so I found it best to use both hands. Once retracted the lens cap locks into the lens cell with 2 spring loaded catches. The lens cap must be removed to extend and retract the dew shield and will latch loosely to the dew shield when extended.
AP 130 GT & TEC 140AP 130 GT & TEC 140
Side by side lens showing coating, cell. Note the smaller cell in the AP 130. Lens cap on the AP is felt lined press fitted over the dew shield. On the TEC is is spring latched to the cell. This makes the TEC cap fit loosely when the dew shield is not fully retracted
Rear
AP 130 GTTEC 140
Uses 3 large thumb screws and a compression ring to attach accessories. Locks very securely. Has a custom collet to secure accessories and diagonals. I find it can let things rotate if heavy off axis such as a diagonal with Nagler 31mm eyepiece.
Focuser
AP 130 GTTEC 140
The Astro-Physics 2.7" focuser has a Feather Touch 9:1 micro adjustment for fine focusing. The focuser's coarse adjustment knob is stiffer to turn than the TEC but has less stiction to get started making it work better than the TEC. There is no difference in the operation of the fine focus knobs of both scopes. The focuser is rotatable but does not have a variable friction adjustment like the TEC and I find you just cannot move it very well while viewing. It seams to be made to adjust and then use. The 2" compression end piece works better than the TEC in that the diagonal will not slip when using a heavy eyepiece at certan positions. This focuser makes a buzz sound when turning the focus knob which is normal according to Astro-Physics. The locking knob is on the side of the focuser. The TEC uses a Starlight Instruments 3545 focuser that has holes for an Astro-Physics finder bracket. The focuser if fully rotatable by loosing the collet located at the OTA end of the focuser. The eyepiece end has a 2" collet for attaching a diagonal for any 2" piece of equipment. This works better than set screws or compression rings because it holds everything the same regardless of whether is has any type of undercut. I did fine that the diagonal would want to rotate when using heavy eyepieces no matter how tight I tried to tighten the collet that holds the diagonal. The rotation of the entire focuser with it's variable friction adjustment is a lot nicer than on the AP 130 GT. The locking and tension knob is located on the bottom of the pinion.
AP 130 GT & TEC 140
Side by side comparison of the focusers.
Cases
AP 130 GTTEC 140
Astro-Physics vinyl covered foam fitted wooden case. This case holds the optical tube assembly only. Two straps are provided to help remove the scope from the case. Tube rings will not fit in this case. ScopeGuard case is large enough to fit the optical tube assembly and tube rings. I was able to close this case with the tube rings, handle and dovetail bar attached.
AP 130 GTAP 130 GT & TEC 140
Does not fit in case with tube rings attached. Size comparison of the two cases. TEC 140 on the left, AP 130 GT on the right.
Mounting
AP 130 GTTEC 140
The AP 130 GT scope will work with my old Vixen GP mount. The TEC 140 needs a more substantial mount than the AP 130 GT.
Viewing
I set the two scopes up on my Astro-Physics 900GTO mount for the viewing comparisons.
Saturn
Saturn looked excellent in both scopes with all the eyepieces that I used. This surprised me some because I figured Saturn would be a bit brighter in the TEC 140 but I could not tell any difference. Seeing was never very good during my testing so I did not do any imaging. Will add planetary imaging of Jupiter later using the AP 130 GT to that I have already done using the TEC 140 in 2010.
Moon
AP 130 GTTEC 140
Moon 11 days old taken 3-Feb-2012.
Mount used is an AP 900 GTO.
Camera Canon Rebel XS (1000D) at ISO 100 for 1/250 second, size 10.1 megapixel.
Moon 10 days old taken 18-Sep-2010.
Mount used is an AP 400 QMD.
Camera Canon Rebel XS (1000D) at ISO 100 for 1/60 second, size 10.1 megapixel.
M27 (Dumbbell) Planetary Nebula
AP 130 GTTEC 140
M27 (Dumbbell) Planetary Nebula, upper left of field. Blue box is equivalent field in TEC 140.
The AP 130 GT shows more elongated stars in the corners of the field than the TEC 140. This is mainly because of the faster f/ ratio. TEC 140 has less elongated stars at the edge.
Edge of images for comparison for field curvature.
The above pictures were taken with a Canon Rebel XS (1000D) DSLR at ISO 800 consisting of 10 two minute exposures each totaling 20 minutes. They were aligned, combined and processed using ImagesPlus 4.0.
Pictures were taken on the same night. Using the same exposure times and being processed exactly the same the AP 130 GT shows a brighter nebula due to it's shorter focal length.
M13 Globular Cluster
Appeared the same in both scopes with the sky being a little darker in the AP 130 GT. The galaxy NGC 6207 at mag. 11.9 was visible but dim in both scopes.
M92 Globular Cluster
Could not tell any differences. Stars resolved to the center in both scopes.
NGC6210 Planetary Nebula in Hercules
Looked a little brighter in the TEC 140. Both scopes showed it's nice blue color.
M57 Ring Nebula
Looked the same in both scopes, could see brightness differences of the ring in both scopes. The 12.5 mag. star just to the outside of the ring was also visible in both of the scopes.
Conclusion
Everything about these scopes are of the best quality I have seen. There were no winner and loser in my testing. Some features I liked better on one and some I liked better in the other. I think what it really comes down to is size, price and how long you have to wait for the AP 130 GT, it takes years to get one new. The TEC 140 being longer is not as portable as the AP 130 GT and it also cannot be taken apart. The weight of both scopes are very close and was not much of an issue although I did find I could use the AP 130 GT on my Vixen GP mount but the TEC 140 was just a little to large.

I owned both scopes at the time of the review last summer. I have since sold the TEC 140.

February 9, 2012

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