I received a Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ with Eyepiece Kit from Costco for Christmas. I've read a few opinions here and elsewhere that generally say this isn't a great telescope but a decent one for the price. Ultimately it seems to come down to, "What do you want to look at?"
Good question. I have no idea.
This is my first telescope. I know jack about stars although I have been known to find the big dipper a few times in my life. I like going out and watching the space station fly overhead at night (Thanks, SpotTheStation!). I'd say I have a casual interest in looking at things in the night sky, but admit it is a bit intimidating reading on here how to set up the telescope, needing to buy an Collimation eyepiece, etc. I just want to casually "Browse the sky" and take in the sights. Based on opinions I've read, I don't know if I'll end up getting frustrated with this telescope instead of using it.
While at Celestron's website, I saw some computer based telescopes that seem to be dummy proof - it'll know where you're at and show you stuff in the sky - at least that's the impression I've gotten. I'm wondering if I should get something like that. Maybe something I can use my iPhone to take pics too.
Anyways, enough of my rambling. I'm looking for some guidance on the appropriateness of this telescope for me. I understand it's basic and an optical store wouldn't recommend it but is it good enough for someone that has a casual interest in browsing the sky? With the upcoming fancy moon making itself known in a few days, I thought about unboxing the telescope, but wanted to share my thoughts and ask for input first.
If you got the kit for $189, then you got a decent deal. Although, this one would've been better...
...in so far as the telescope itself, as it comes with a parabolic primary-mirror, and for sharper images at the higher powers. The Celestron variant comes with a lesser, spherical primary-mirror, regrettably.
But that's not to say that you should return the kit and get another instead, for you do get a CG-3(EQ-2) equatorial mount with the kit, which will enable you to motorise its RA-axis inexpensively, and for automatic, hands-free tracking of any object. You will, however, need to ensure that the RA-axis overall, including its worm-shaft, rotates freely and smoothly, and with no binding whatsoever, as you would not want to also bind up the motor-drive and damage it...
I have that drive, and I will be using it on my smaller equatorial mounts.
Without the counterweight(s) and the telescope attached, you should be able to at least, somewhat easily, twist the RA worm-shaft with your fingers. The worm should also mesh to the teeth of the RA-gear squarely and true. These entry-level equatorial mounts, like my own...
...do not necessarily arrive from the factory overseas in tip-top condition. Consequently, they lend themselves quite well to DIY enhancements and improvements. For the greatest stability, do not extend the legs of the tripod. Extending the legs is desirable with a refractor, given its eyepiece location at the back, but is not necessary with a Newtonian with its focusser on the side of the tube. You will also be able to rotate the tube, the focusser, and for more comfortable observing positions. An EQ2-class mount can be most versatile when mounting many smaller telescopes upon it, like an 80mm f/5 achromat or a 90mm Maksutov, for examples.
For the medium to higher powers, the telescope itself will need to be collimated, aligned, the two mirrors with the focusser, upon arrival, and occasionally thereafter as the telescope is used and moved about. If you want to ramp up the power with the telescope, you'll need at least a quality 2x barlow, if not a 3x, and a collimation-cap or Cheshire...
You can also make one of those with the focusser's dust-cap, and by drilling a very small hole precisely in the center, then lining the underside with the dull or shiny side of a circular piece of aluminum-foil, like so...
But in order to use the tool, you must first center-spot the primary-mirror...
I use the polyvinyl(plastic) reinforcements, not the paper, and for durability, for down the line you will need to clean the mirror from time to time.
I would not suggest "tussling" with a laser-collimator, as an entry-level unit oft requires collimating, and before it can be used to collimate the telescope itself.
When collimating with a cap, the telescope should be placed in a horizontal position, the front of the tube, the opening, covered with a white cloth or other, then a lamp in front of that to illuminate the telescope's interior. You then look through the cap and you will see the entire optical system...
...with that being the scene from my 150mm f/5 Newtonian, and well collimated. Your own scene should appear very similar if not identical. Instructions for collimating a Newtonian abound online.
Incidentally, it is known that the telescope of the Meade version of your Celestron kit comes with a parabolic primary-mirror...
The reason that I have listed those two kits with parabolic mirrors is because you seem to be thinking about returning the Celestron version, but perhaps getting a go-to model instead, the 130SLT(?), or with an entirely different telescope. Please correct me if I'm mistaken. In any event, I hope I've explained the nature of the kit you have at present, and of those I listed as alternatives. If you feel that collimating a Newtonian may prove frustrating, know that a refractor requires virtually no maintenance, no collimating...
Edited by Sky Muse, 17 January 2019 - 04:59 AM.