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Celestron Astromaster 130EQ with or without motor drive?


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I've been thinking about getting a telescope for some time, and for my birthday my wife has decided to help me take the plunge by getting me one.

The Celestron Astromaster 130EQ seems pretty good for a beginner like me, but I'm trying to figure out if I want the version with or without the motor.

I'm hoping at some point, when I get a camera that's physically compatible with it, to do some astrophotography. Would I need the motor to track objects for longer exposures, or is the motor purely for pointing in the right place, rather than tracking? If so, I don't really feel that I need it. Or are there other pros/cons around the motor that I'm not aware of?

Any advice would be much appreciated!

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I had one of these scopes and while the motor is meant to be for tracking objects I don't think the mount is sturdy enough for astrophotography, but since I don't do astrophotgraphy I'm probably not the best person to answer.

TBH I think the motor is more for show than anything else, something to entice beginners like myself at the time, and I ended up removing it because it kept getting in the way of the slow motion controls.

I have no complaints about the scope though, not for the money it costs, I'm just not convinced about the usefulness of the motor.

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hello welcome to sgl. Can I suggest 1 alternative to the one you have suggested and then I will answer your questions. Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 130P

The motor that you get for beginners mounts isn't up to photography standards, They can be nice however for higher magnifications on planets. For photography with that mount, you could get shots of the moon this doesn't need long exposures or you could put a webcam on it and take video's of the moon, planets and (sun with a proper filter) you then load it into a stacking programme on your computer and out comes nice pics.

That your wife wants to buy you the present is lovely (sorry that sounds patronising and I don't mean it to be) but is hers and your heart set on this model. Let me explain the astromaster like many scopes is built to a price unfortunately at the bottom end of the market some of that price includes the name. The astromaster has a spherical mirror. The skywatcher I suggested has a parabolic mirror in astronomy terms the parabolic mirror is better, it gives a clearer, cleaner image that is easier to focus and takes magnification better it is also a lot more expensive to make. as far as I know the Skywatcher is the only entry level scope that has the parabolic mirror and it is worth getting , also the tripod and mount are a little sturdier than the celestron.

If however you and your wife are set on the celestron because of price or the fact it looks nicer or whatever, don't despair the astromaster will give you ok views of the moon, planets etc it's just that for about the same price you can get get a scope that is significantly better.

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I too used to own one of these 'scopes but I did exactly as Scogyrd did and put the motor drive back in the box. It did interfere with the slow motion controls. In fact, it was everywhere I didn't want it to be. I even tried swapping it to the other side and nothing worked. It would always crash into something I wanted to look at. Not only that, but the little tiny pot used to adjust the speed was a bit of a faff to get right, but that's probably just me.

If memory serves me right (and at my age it probably doesn't) the 130EQ does have a parabolic mirror, as does the 76EQ. I believe it's the 114EQ that has the spherical mirror and barlow arrangement (sorry Rowan).

Saying all that, if I was to start again from scratch, knowing nothing as I did, then I would have gone with Rowans choice of a Skywatcher. Why? For no real reason really unless you decide to upgrade parts of the scope such as the focuser.

Bear in mind that I didn't own an Explorer 130P so I can only give you my view on the Celestron scope. Both of which will give you great views, I'm sure. Mine did.

Will it be any good for astrophotography?

With a dslr and everything involved with that, no. The view wobbles just from visual as the mount isn't good enough.

What about with a webcam? Absolutely. Even if you manually track an object you can get good results.

Anyway, that's just my opinion. Others will have differing views.

It is a nice 'scope and it's what got me started.

All the best,

Niall

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Welcome to the forum. I would subscribe to the Skywatcher viewpoint not just because of the motor issue but also because of the red dot finder that comes with the Celestron which is fat too bright to be of any use. Even aligning it is not that straightforward and in use, requires that you align your eye to the finder first and then to use the red dot to adjust the scope to where it needs to be. The skywatcher does not have a red dot finder but an alternative, the Telrad might be a useful accessory to think about adding later on. With the Telrad, you simply look at the red circles (which you can dim) from any position behind the focuser in order to gauge where you would need to move the scope.

I feel that the scopes themselves are alright but that price dictates that the mount/tripod are insubstantial for the job of firm support. Imaging of planets and moon is fine by webcam and so would negate the need to track if that is your ultimate goal. Tracking is really needed for deep sky imaging and for that you need a better mount for accuracy and for its payload capacity. Skywatcher mounts do provide for motors to be attached later on. which I believe are helpful when your attempting to focus, as any contact with the mount will send the image dancing all round the place and tracking will at least reduce one reason to touch the mount and help maintain the object in the eyepiece for you to obtain that bit extra fine focussing.

Clear skies

James

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I quite liked the celestron rdf once I'd got used to it. In fact I actually prefer it to the one I'm using now.

I think the skywatcher and celestron mounts are basically the same too. I used the skywatcher equivalent the other day and the only differences looked cosmetic to me. For example the skywatcher has square legs whereas the celestron's are round and the slow motion controls looked longer on the skywatcher. The actual mount looked pretty much the same, just different colours etc..

Am I right in thinking the celestron gives a wider fov because of it's shorter focal length too? Which makes it more suited to deep sky observing, photography etc..

I suppose the best advice would be for him to try them both out and see what one he likes best.

Edited by scogyrd
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After having read this thread and putting my reply I went to look and see if I had a picture of my old 'scope. I only had a picture I took when I sold it, so that will have to do.

Since doing that I notice that James has added the very same things I was going to say. Namely that the finder is hopeless. It really is. I stuck a Telrad on mine too. It's one of the best things I did at the time.

Should you decide to stick with the Celestron, there are a number of things you can try to stop that wobble. I think there's even some posts about it on SGL somewhere.

One was to adjust the nut in RA axis. Not so tight that you can't move it or so loose that it moves up and down.

The other was to add washers to the legs. Just a single washer in my case. To keep the legs from swaying left to right.

The Celestron is a really nice scope. But I'd still choose the Skywatcher this time round.

Anyway, I'll leave you with a picture. I couldn't find one from the motor side so this'll have to do.

All the best,

Niall

PS I've never seen an otter

post-20677-13387756682_thumb.jpg

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hi i have this scope and motor drive and its true the md is a bit crappy (for want of a better word) the trouble is that when the scope is pointing at a high angle the cable attachments do catch the md housing:mad: i took this off then the tightening bolt for the ra hit . the battery can also be a problem with not lasting to long and as soon as it starts to lose power that's it for tracking but i have bought 2 9v rechargeable batterys they seem to do the trick tho tbh i only used for short while.i also bought some ankle weights to put around the base of the tripod legs.

so id say the md is about as good as the red dot sight not very but i would not be without mine and it will do fine until i can afford to upgrade

have attached my first and only(so far) 7 pane mosaic taken with my scope its not as good as most in the imaging section but i like it. i think i could get a better pic now my scope is collimated and with more practice as im new myself (tho clear skies would help)

hope this helps star

[edit] gonna try the washer thing and cannot really comment on the scope as its the only one i have looked through.but i view in a public place and a lot of people have stopped on there way past and asked for a look and the first word from 99%is WOW. as was mine

post-22266-133877566872_thumb.jpg

Edited by star_chaser
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Wow, great replies, everyone. Thanks! It sounds like the motor isn't that useful, and in some cases can be a problem, so I can live without it.

Just to address a couple of points:

have attached my first and only(so far) 7 pane mosaic taken with my scope its not as good as most in the imaging section but i like it.

Really great pic! Well done.

hello welcome to sgl. Can I suggest 1 alternative to the one you have suggested and then I will answer your questions. Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 130P

If however you and your wife are set on the celestron because of price or the fact it looks nicer or whatever, don't despair the astromaster will give you ok views of the moon, planets etc it's just that for about the same price you can get get a scope that is significantly better.

Mainly, we thought the Celestron was getting good marks in reviews for image quality when compared to the price. The Skywatcher you have linked to looks good as well. Seems like it would grow with my skills for a bit longer than the Celestron. Price-wise, I've seen the Celestron for about £40 cheaper, which doesn't sound much, but because both are at the low end, it's a significant difference. That said, the Skywatcher really does look like a good unit. The Celestron seems of poor build quality, but I expected that from a cheap unit. The Skywatcher sounds a little sturdier, and if I really want a motor later, I could get one.

I looked on Amazon, and I think I found the Skywatcher for a good price, but the name seems slightly different. Is this the same Skywatcher that you linked?

SkyWatcher Explorer-130/900 EQ2 Telescope: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

This one has the correct name, and the picture looks identical, but it costs more, so I just want to be sure the cheaper one is the same one:

Skywatcher Explorer 130P Newtonian Reflector Telescope: Amazon.co.uk: Office Products

Will it be any good for astrophotography?

With a dslr and everything involved with that, no. The view wobbles just from visual as the mount isn't good enough.

What about with a webcam? Absolutely. Even if you manually track an object you can get good results.

I was considering going down the webcam route. I have an excellent compact (Canon Powershot G9), but I know it's not suitable for astrophotography. Rather than get another expensive camera, I think a decent webcam and software would be a good alternative.

Thanks again for the great advice, guys. The Skywatcher is sounding good, so I'm going to just read a few reviews on it to help me decide. If anyone has any compelling arguments about the Skywatcher vs the Celestron, please don't hesitate to set me straight!

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The one to get is the skywatcher 130p if it doesn't have the p then its not the same. as to my statement about the skywatcher. i need to revise that as it now appears that essentially it's the same scope as the celestron. both firms are owned by synta of china and it seems they are using the same bits near enough on both scopes. I still maintain that its a better finder and tripod mount on the skywatcher. but tht mount isn't the best part of either scope and as you say the celestron is substantially cheaper

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I still maintain that its a better finder and tripod mount on the skywatcher. but tht mount isn't the best part of either scope

This is what I was trying to get at, even if it is better than the celestron it's not by much and still isn't up to the job. Telling him to get this scope because it has a better mount, even though he'll still have to buy a better one, doesnt make much sense to me. IMO he'd be better off getting the best scope for the job and worrying about the mount later.

Having now used both scopes I would say they are different too, more so than the mounts.

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