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Considering a Skywatcher Heritage 130P or...

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Hi !

I'm new to this, I mean I've looked up at the sky before plenty of times and wondered about what was up there but only recently via smart phone apps found that I've been able to look up what I'm seeing as I'm seeing it and that makes all the difference. My daughter is 12 and she's also interested in seeing things in the night sky and knowing what they are. I've got a pair of quality 1970's binoculars (10x50) and have been using them recently, I was stunned by how much brighter and more details the night sky is under even that magnification. I then pointed my camcorder at the half moon and got it to x50 in focus, snapped a shot. Wow. Anyway, this year we bought a small motorhome and plan to spend a lot more time under dark skies so that's going to be ideal for me and the kid to look at the stars while Mrs gets some quiet reading time.

Now a few years ago my son was that age, he was also interested in the night sky so a kindly relative bought him a £30 astronomy kit consisting of a cheap refractor, a book and a CD. Shortly after he broke the scope and completely lost interest in astronomy :(

I don't want to encourage my daughters interest in a similar way so I've been looking at buying myself an upgrade on the binoculars. This way I will look after the scope and it becomes something she does with me so no hassle, she just gets to see cool stuff when I'm looking. Problem is I appear to have a few contradicting requirements, so I find myself here - asking for your help.

Our motorhome is a Talbot Express van conversion. So its small and the space inside is at a premium, if I buy a big scope it will get left behind or tripped over. I'll also be walking a few hundred yards with the scope and setting it up in the dark. Between times we have nowhere to store it other than in the corner of the living room.

I'd like to be able to mount a camera to the eyepiece at some point, I'm talking about photos good enough to share on facebook not for selling to magazines!

I keep reading journalists and semi-pro's that write articles about beginner scopes that a 6" reflector is the entry size... but they all look too hefty for the space and honestly too pricey for a punt. I'd be interesting in hearing views of real people.

My shortlist and thoughts based on what I've seen is as follows:-

Skywatcher HERITAGE-130P FlexTubeTM 130mm (5.1") f/650 Parabolic Dobsonian Telescope @ £130

  -- my current favourite but can I fit a proper mount later, can I fit a camera bracket and does it take standard eyepieces?

SkyWatcher Explorer-130/9​00 EQ2 Telescope @ £140
  -- probably too bulky which risks it being left at home instead of getting used.
Celestron 31051 Astromaster 130EQ-MD Motor Drive Reflector Telescope @ £150
  -- if the explorer is not too bulky would I be better off with a motor drive, will this one pan with the earth's rotation allowing long exposure photographs?
Sky-Watcher Heritage 76 Mini Dobsonian Telescope @ £45
  -- perhaps this little cheapy is a good portable stand in for 6-12 months ?
Are Skywatcher and Celestron decent brands?
Thanks for reading this far, sorry if I prattled on a bit. I would be very grateful of any opinions and advice you might have even if it might not be what I want to hear. Many thanks. :)
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welcome yes skywatcher and  celestron are reputable brands. you have a few conflicting demands to make of one scope. firstly footprint the dobsonion type scope has the smallest footprint the heritage is a good portable scope but getting a photo out of it isnt easy as the focusser can't take the weight. 

the astromaster has a larger footprint so will take up more space forget long exposure on the astromaster the mount isn't  up to it although moon shots and planetary imaging may be possible. 

My advice is to get the 130 heritage or better still its bigger brother the 150p dob http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html

standing in a corner it doesn't take much room. and read up on imaging requirements


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With the skywatchers, P = parabolic mirror = good quality image. Conversely a 130M or 150M or anything non-P is not so good. The flexi-tube 130P heritage sounds like it could be ideal for you, but you need to put it on something, a chair or table etc I think.

It partly comes down to what you want and expect to be able to look at. Faint deep sky objects, the the bigger the aperture you can get the better. For planets smaller aperture but longer focal length is a better bet.

At this level I'd forget long exposure photography. You should be able to take some basic snaps the Moon and maybe some planets (all requiring very short exposures) but tracking for long exposure starts to get progressively expensive (& bulky). At that level what a motorised mount will do for you is keep things in the eyepiece without having to recenter it periodically.

The 130P tube (in whatever form you go for) is a great entry level tube. Alternatively you can also get quite a good view from the Skywatcher Startravel 80, it's very light so a cheap simple mount would hold it steady. You'd have to put up with some false colours etc, but it would be usable and fun. They do a little tabletop one on a tiny tripod. It's not going to find new parts of the universe, but for portable fun at a low price you'd probably get some use out of it. The 150P dob is also a good idea, definitely a step up in tube size though, the 130 is probably the best compact reflector size that delivers fairly good visual performance of the brighter objects in the sky.

Just some ideas.

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As already said the 130P is a great scope, quite a few members on here had/have this scope and all speak very highly of it.

All the scopes take standard 1.25" size eyepieces and any extra you purchase later will fit any future scope you may purchase.

Astro photography is a very specialised branch of the hobby and IMO is best left to those with very deep pockets.

Good luck to you and your daughter.

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EagleC..........look at your current favourite here.

   If you like the idea of that type of telescope buy one, as you`ve already done some of your homework, however that is still in the realms of a Starter scope! I would seriously suggest you get an 8" or 6" version of a Newtonian reflector telescope on a Dobsonian mount. I have the 8" version Skyliner. You could lift the tube off its base and strap that across a seat. Its about 45" long and 9" wide, but to include the fitted finder scope and mini grab handle, its about 16" between those two points(at one end only) The base would sit quite happily on the floor. You say your mobile. If you manage to visit dark sky sites, a 6" telescope would put a 10" to shame if the 10" scope was in a light polluted garden. The larger the aperure the better, everytime. The dobsonian mount  is the simplest of devices, no set up.
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As has ben said avoid anything that does not have a "P" attached, also some of the 130's have a short focal length and a magnifier built into the focuser. The result tends to be fairly poor.

I will say that if possible do consider the 150P Dobsonian. Stored upright they are not that big a footprint, a corner and a bungee cord should take care of it. Another point is that the 130 heritage need a table to stand on, so you will have to transport a suitable table as well as the scope. So in some respects the 130 and table are getting to be much the same size as the 150 dobsonian.

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I'll comfortably sit on my behind in the mud with the Heritage 130P, very comfy observing  :D Anyway on a more serious note I often observe  that way just sat on the ground.  If cold and wet all you need is a mat. To be honest that is more comfy compared to using my 10 inch standing up where a seat of sorts is also needed for lengthy observing. If you  have a fold up chair in your  mobile home that will work to put the scope on,  I use that too, as well as a fold up table. If you already happen to have those for your mobile home when on trips  that'll serve a dual purpose at the loss of no space for sitting and observing. 

By the sound of it seeing your home is a Talbot van conversion, and having googled the Talbot van, it looks small to me, a 6 or 8 inch Dob is a lot of space to give up. I'd say the Heritage sounds a bit more suitable in this case IMO with much less fuss. With the Heritage  you can carry it into a field, take it for a walk without thinking about it as much of a ballast at only 6 kilos or so. The 6 inch solid tube is still a lot bigger, the Heritage is really compact in comparison, all for the loss of <  1 inch aperture.

If you think you can afford the space and don't intend to carry it more than 30 meters or so from your mobile I'd consider the larger options.

All measurements and weights are available here in any case.


Good luck with whatever you go with :)

Edited by AlexB67
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Thank you all for so many helpful comments and links. I have decided to go for the Heritage 130P, it will be on my Xmas list.. Or I'll buy it before and put eyepiece and filters on the xmas list instead :o

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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  • 2 years later...
On ‎20‎/‎11‎/‎2013 at 00:49, Big_Daz said:

+1 for the Heritage 130p, I fit mine into my motorcycle helmet box.

i know this is an old thread,  but may I ask what size helmet box your fitting it into?  didn't think youd get mount in one , alth thought about using a cargo net just for the mount.

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