Beginner telescopes don’t offer the capability and versatility of more advanced models. But for the price, the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ offers plenty. I love the high quality optics, the beautiful planetary and lunar images and of course, the equatorial mount.
The Celestron AstoMaster 130EQ’s 130mm aperture and high quality optics makes it a good choice for beginners looking for an affordable telescope that is easy to use.
It’s mostly ideal for lunar and planetary observations. But with the right eyepiece, you can coax some decent quality deep space images out of it, though you’ll be limited to the brighter galaxies and clusters.
It comes with two eyepieces, an equatorial mount and finderscope that make alignment and tracking easy and downloadable astronomy software.
Read on for my full review.
Celestron Astromaster 130EQ review
What are you buying?
1. Beginner 130mm reflector telescope
If you are looking for a capable and versatile telescope to observe planets, galaxies and stars, the AstoMaster 130EQ is not it.
This is a beginner reflector telescope and the price reflects that (no pun intended).
The 130mm (5.1 inches) aperture is slightly wider than the 60mm you get from very basic telescopes. But it’s still limited to planetary and lunar observations.
If you are looking for a telescope mostly to observe Jupiter, Saturn and the moon, then the 130EQ is a great choice.
The high quality optics ensures sharp and clear images with minimal distortion. With the right eyepiece, and with the right night conditions, you’ll get a brilliant view of various objects in the solar system.
One feature you’ll really appreciate is the equatorial mount. More on that next.
2. Equatorial mount and tripod
Here’s a tip you’ve probably heard from experienced astronomers: one feature worth paying more for when buying a telescope is an equatorial mount.
If you can get one that’s motorised, even better, especially if you want to do some astrophotography.
The 130EQ has a non-motorized equatorial mount. But Celestron has a more expensive motorised version, the 130EQ MD, which you can select on the same Amazon page.
An Equatorial mount makes it much easier to track objects across the sky compared to a traditional alt-az mount. The ease of tracking comes in handy when you need to keep up with objects drifting across the sky as the other rotates.
The mount sits on a steel tubing tripod that prevents shaking and vibrations. You can adjust the tripod’s height to raise or lower the telescope to your most comfortable viewing level.
The red dot finder mounted on the telescope makes it easier to find and focus on objects. You first align an object with the red dot and then use the telescope eyepiece to fine-tune your focus.
Like other Astromaster telescopes, the 130EQ is conveniently lightweight and compact for those who’d love to take their planet gazing on the road.
All the parts weight about 13kg, which is a bit hefty but not enough that you can’t take it with you when camping.
How easy is it to use?
The Equatorial mount and finderscope make easy work of locating and tracking objects in the sky.
It takes some time to learn how to use the mount and pointer, but once you do they are really easy to operate.
As some users have noted, you may need to adjust some nuts on the pointer to get it to work properly.
Overall, the AstroMaster 130EQ is very beginner friendly.
If you are a beginner or you are thinking about getting it as a gift for a beginner enthusiast, it’s a great choice.
It’s also ideal for older kids – 8+ years – though you may need to help them learn the basics of using the mount and finderscope.
What accessories are included?
Mounted red dot pointer
Two 1.25” eyepieces: 10mm and 20mm
Equatorial mount and steel tube tripod
Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Pros and cons
Beginner-friendly – easy to set up and use.
Great for lunar and planetary observations.
Equatorial mount makes tracking objects easy and accurate.
Not ideal for deep space observations.
Anything else you should know?
The AstroMaster 130EQ comes with free downloadable Starry Night Basic Software. It gives you access to a vast database with 10,000 celestial objects as well as high quality images and printable sky maps.
The software is handy for beginners who need some help identifying different objects in the sky.
Beginner telescopes don’t offer the capability and versatility of more advanced models. But for the price, the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ offers plenty.
I love the high quality optics, the beautiful planetary and lunar images and of course, the equatorial mount.
It has everything a beginner needs to get started.
Jack Bennett is the founder and editor of Stargazing in the UK. He lives in London and have started this blog about stargazing and amateur astronomy for beginners to keep track of his attempts to explore the Universe.