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First session with an Astromaster 130EQ

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Nearly a week after I bought it, the skies finally cleared enough for a bit of early morning stargazing. I've read a few negative reviews of the 130EQ, but found the scope to be very good. Using a 32mm EP I got some very sharp views of Dubhe and Merak, the two pointer stars in Ursa Major. The real treat was still to come as I waited for the clouds to clear to give me a view of Venus, Mars and Jupiter. Venus was first and, once located more by luck than by using the red dot finder (which, whilst good for finding the general area, is useless for pinpoint work), was absolutely beautiful. Switched to a 15mm EP and could clearly see the planet's current phase. Swapping to a 25mm EP enabled me to see Mars, Jupiter and three of the Galilean moons in the same FOV. 

Most of the reviews I've read comment that the EQ mount is not strong enough to take the weight of the OTA. Yes, if you nudge the scope you do get a little wobble, but that was also a feature of my dad's Nexstar 6SE. If knocked, the scope settles down very quickly and you can get back to your viewing.

The focus wheels are very sensitive and enabled me to get a really sharp view of both planets and stars - even through the 25mm EP, I could clearly make out the colour of Mars.

I found the slow motion controls could be a little difficult to use accurately, though I'm sure with more use I'll get the hang of them.

All in all, I am very pleased with this scope. Is it perfect? Well, the red dot finder is the only real let down for me - I wouldn't have objected to paying a bit more for the scope if it meant Celestron had fitted a decent finderscope. However, I'd definitely recommend this as a scope for beginners as it's very easy to set up and align (I had the mount and scope assembled in less than 45 minutes - including a break for dinner...)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Absolutely, though I agree with the Telrad recommendation; set up last night after finishing work and, in my haste, managed to nudge one of the tuning controls on the red dot finder. Whilst I managed to find most of the things I was looking for, it did make it slightly awkward.

It's still a great little scope, though - especially combined with the X-Cel LS eps that I've bought.

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