Product Type: Skywatcher telescopes
Newest Review: ... are Multi-Coated with Silicon Dioxide as standard for Optimum Durability and Long Term Performance. Telescope Focal Length: 650... more
A great telescope at a very good price
Skywatcher 130/650 EQ-2
Member Name: pumfster
Skywatcher 130/650 EQ-2
Date: 31/07/11, updated on 20/02/12 (340 review reads)
Advantages: Good level of magnification for the price. An ideal first telescope which won't become obsolete.
Disadvantages: Can be awkward to store in a smaller house
Now I had a small telescope when I was a kid, and found it slightly difficult to use, with only a small magnification factor and so I didn't really know what to expect from my new present. Obviously I realised that technology had moved on a great deal since that first scope, but what kind of magnification could it offer? How easy was it to actually find an object in the viewer? Was it all worth it? Obviously with this being the UK, Christmas night was cloudy and miserable, and so these questions had to wait a while until the New Year bank holiday.
This telescope cost £189 and I have had a quick look on the Internet and found it on sale on a couple of websites for the same price today. It is a Parabolic Newtonian Reflector, which is a description of the way that the telescope allows you to see the stars. This particular design of telescope was invented way back in 1668 by Sir Isaac Newton, and uses a concave primary mirror and a flat secondary mirror to focus the image into an eye piece situated on the top of the telescope. The other main type of telescope is a refractor, which uses mirrors to focus the image at the end of the telescope. I won't go into individual scientific terms or specifications here, as I don't think it will help the average consumer to make a decision, although I will provide a list at the end for reference for the more serious astronomer.
The telescope is really easy to set up. The tripod can be height adjusted, making it suitable for people of all sizes, and also to be used whilst sitting down. The main body of the scope is then simply screwed into place, which doesn't take very long at all. This is all very straightforward, and with having the eyepiece on the top, makes it a very comfortable telescope to use, with no contorting yourself into weird positions to look down the end of the scope. One thing I should point out here is that once set up this telescope does take up a fair bit of room. This isn't an issue if it's going to be set up in a shed or some sort of observation shelter, but for the more casual astronomer such as myself, it can be awkward to store when not in use. It's easy enough to move around however so this shouldn't really provide much of a problem. I will also point out briefly here that the user guide states that this telescope can be used for terrestrial use, and I suspect it could easily be set up to observe things like rare birds nests etc, but I have never used it for this reason, and suspect that 99% of people who would consider purchasing this telescope would use it for astronomical observations.
A very useful addition to this telescope is the rather grand titled red dot finder. This is simply a little assembly, which projects a red dot onto an image of the sky. It just slots into position on the top of the telescope, and is powered by 3V lithium battery. The first time the telescope is used, you follow a simple little procedure, which aligns the finder with the telescope, and from then on, you simply turn on the red dot, and line this up with the object you are trying to observe. This will then ensure that the object will be centred on or near to the telescope, making finding an object very easy. Now I will admit to being rather sceptical about this before using it, and I remember my old child telescope, which had a little view finder, but it was still virtually impossible to then find the star, no matter how centralised in the view finder it was, but to be fair I was suitably impressed with this little red dot. From starting off with the easy objects such as the moon, (Even I could find this on my own!!!), even faint stars, once locked onto by the red dot turned up in the eyepiece without too much hunting around. This meant that I didn't lose my enthusiasm getting cold whilst being frustrated moving the scope around for ages before finding anything to observe.
Another fancy addition to this telescope is the auto tracking facility. This is basically a motor, which attaches between the telescope and the tripod, and can be used to track objects in the night sky, which is particularly useful for those people who wish to photograph stars, planets or even the moon with long exposure pictures. This tracker is electric and requires a 12V battery pack, which equates to 8 AA batteries, which is a lot, but to be fair it is a fancy bit of kit for such a reasonably priced telescope. Again you have to follow a little simple procedure, which is well explained in the user guide to calibrate the auto-tracker. This basically ensures that the tracker is set up for use at the latitude that you are at, to enable it to accurately track an object. Once this is done, you are ready to go. The operation of the auto-tracking device is done via a very simply designed hand control, which controls elevation and direction. You can vary the speed at which the device moves, as well as when its tracking. It is impossible to move the telescope when this device is active without using the hand control or you risk damaging the unit. Once you are happy with the object you have found, you simply set the device into tracking mode, and the telescope will automatically adjust for the rotation of the planet and keep the target object in the middle of your eyepiece at all times, which is great for distant objects such as stars as they quickly disappear out of view (Its amazing just how fast the planet really does rotate, and the effect is all magnified by looking at distant objects). It is also very useful as I previously mentioned to take long exposure photographs of nebulae, stars, planets or any other astronomical feature of your choosing.
The telescope has a maximum useful magnification factor of x260 depending on what choice of lens you use. The telescope came with 3 different lenses, although many others are available to purchase at a later date, depending on how seriously you take your astronomy. 2 actual eye pieces were provided which were a 25mm wide angle lens and a 10mm lens, which provide x26 and x65 magnification respectively. The wide-angle lens, despite having a lesser magnification factor is very useful for looking at little clusters of stars or the moon as it's wider angle allows more features to be observed. The 10mm lens is a good all round lens, which offers good magnification on objects such as the planets, and as an example I have clearly observed the planet Jupiter along with the 4 larger Galilean moons with this lens. The third lens that the telescope was supplied with is a x2 Barlow lens. Now this is not so much of a lens in itself, but works in conjunction with another lens. It is basically a diverging lens, which will magnify the image further, and in this case rather unsurprisingly given the name adds a further x2 to any lens used with it. This effectively means that the two other lens can also be used with this to provide x52 and x130 magnification respectively. This allows objects to be viewed a lot closer, which I have found makes looking at individual craters or other features on the moon especially awe inspiring. As I said, other lens can be purchased as can Barlow lens of x3 and x4, but for this telescope I wouldn't recommend anything more than a x3, as it will quickly exceed the useful magnification factor of x260 of this scope. This means that the images produced will be more and more distorted due to interference from the atmosphere.
So to sum this up, I would say that this is a fantastic telescope for the inexperienced astronomer and is ideal as a first telescope. I happily categorise myself in that bracket, as I don't think my little child's one really counts in this day and age. It is suitably simple to set up, with a good user guide, which gives step-by-step instructions for all features of the telescope. It also provides a very good level of magnification for the price, which is also ideal as an introduction to astronomy, as it won't break the bank if you don't really take to it. The additional lenses mean that this telescope can continue to be of use to people even if relatively experienced, and I would seriously recommend it to anyone with an interest in purchasing that first telescope or to anyone who watched the Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain astronomy live television shows a few months back and thought that they would like to give it a go.
Finally here is the list of technical stuff for those that are interested: -
Eyepieces Supplied (1.25"): 10mm & 25mm
Magnifications (with optics supplied): x26, x52, x65, x130
Highest Practical Power (Potential): x260
Diameter of Primary Mirror: 130mm - 30% more Light Gathering than 114mm
ALL Sky-Watcher reflector mirrors are Multi-Coated with Silicon Dioxide as standard for Optimum Durability and Long Term Performance.
Telescope Focal Length: 650mm (f/5)
X2 Barlow Lens
Parabolic Primary Mirror
0.5mm Ultra-Thin Secondary Mirror Supports
Red Dot Finder
EQ2 Equatorial Mount
Aluminium Tripod with Accessory Tray
Thanks for reading this review, and it will also appear on Ciao under my same username.
Summary: A cracking telescope with plenty of features at a superb price.