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130pds vs Astromaster 130


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Hi all,

 

Wanted to ask if anyone has had experience with both scopes:

- Astromaster 130

- Skywatcher 130PDS

 

I have the AM130, and just found a used 130pds up for sale. Thinking if it's worth upgrading or the improvement would not be as significant and I should rather keep the AM130 until I can afford something bigger?

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I cant speak about th Astromaster but the 130pds is an absolute steal at £ 209 (new)  . A dual speed focuser , Short tube and light weight . Great to get into astrophotography . Its a winner ! Plus it takes 2" EPs . 

 

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I bought my Astromaster 130EQMD as a beginner. I did not get on well with the equatorial mount, but the optical tube assembly (OTA) is reasonable. I now use the OTA with my GoTo azimuth/altitude mounts, and it is much more user-friendly.

Geoff

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16 minutes ago, Pitch Black Skies said:

Is the AM 130 a Bird-Jones design with spherical mirror? I've heard nothing good about that design.

If it is, I reckon the 130P-DS would be a definite improvement.

No, it's a Newtonian reflector. 

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Cornelius Varley said:

No, it's a Newtonian reflector. 

Yes, you're right. The AM 114 is a Bird -Jones. The 130 doesn't have the correcter, just the spherical mirror.

Edited by Pitch Black Skies
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I dont think the astromaster is suitable for AP at all, go for the PDS if you can.

The astromaster has a plastic focuser that is hardly usable for visual and will make consistent collimation impossible if you try to load it with a camera. The spherical mirror is also not really a fixable issue.

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4 hours ago, Geoff Lister said:

I bought my Astromaster 130EQMD as a beginner. I did not get on well with the equatorial mount, but the optical tube assembly (OTA) is reasonable. I now use the OTA with my GoTo azimuth/altitude mounts, and it is much more user-friendly.

Geoff

Well I can say that AM130 is quite reasonable. I also use it on the azgti mount and have modded it with motor focuser, flocked the tube, placed a telrad, spotted the mirror, trying to find a DIY bobs knobs for secondary. 

 

 

3 hours ago, ONIKKINEN said:

I dont think the astromaster is suitable for AP at all, go for the PDS if you can.

The astromaster has a plastic focuser that is hardly usable for visual and will make consistent collimation impossible if you try to load it with a camera. The spherical mirror is also not really a fixable issue.

I have absolutely zero interest in AP at this stage,  know the 130PDS has a better mirror, focuser etc. But trying to figure out if it's worth dishing out 200 euros and will it bring a significant improvment to my views.

AM130 has this issue with outer 15% being out of focus and having a really crap focuser :)

I am certainly watching the market for some improvement and looking towards 6"sct or potentially a better refractor. Of course that will have to wait, so was hoping this could be a quick fix and better views.

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1 minute ago, Apprentice said:

Well I can say that AM130 is quite reasonable. I also use it on the azgti mount and have modded it with motor focuser, flocked the tube, placed a telrad, spotted the mirror, trying to find a DIY bobs knobs for secondary. 

 

 

I have absolutely zero interest in AP at this stage,  know the 130PDS has a better mirror, focuser etc. But trying to figure out if it's worth dishing out 200 euros and will it bring a significant improvment to my views.

AM130 has this issue with outer 15% being out of focus and having a really crap focuser :)

I am certainly watching the market for some improvement and looking towards 6"sct or potentially a better refractor. Of course that will have to wait, so was hoping this could be a quick fix and better views.

Oh, sorry i mistakenly thought this was post was in the imaging section when its not!

But i think the same points stand, actually especially for visual only. I found it really difficult to get ideal focus with my astromaster 130 because of the focuser and possibly because of the spherical aberrations produced by the primary mirror just not producing a sharp view. I dont have a 130PDS but judging from a thousand comments from users it cant be worse than the astromaster. I would be very surprised if on-axis performance wasn't significantly better with a parabolic mirror like with the one in the 130PDS, but not sure if 200€ better of course.

For imaging the primary mirror issue is actually not nearly as big of a deal when tracking issues and the atmosphere will probably be bigger sources of blur than the spherical mirror, but for visual with your own eye it is a big deal.

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I started this hobby with the astromaster 130. For the price the scope is a decent one, for wide field views is actually pretty good. The blurred stars on the edge of the field are normal in all Newtonians due to coma.

Where the AM130 starts to fail is higher mags, , use anything over x80 and the spherical aberration plus the poor focuser are immediately noticed. I then upgraded to a 150mm Newtonian with a parabolic mirror and noticed the difference. My Newtonian cost only £100 from FLO and it was definitely worth the money. Is it worth £200 or £300? To me, still yes, but on the used market you should be able to pick one for less.

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9 hours ago, Apprentice said:

placed a telrad,

I found the original RDF almost impossible to use, so, when I replaced my Skymax 127's straight-theough 6x30 finder with its RACI equivalent, I put the straigt-through one on the Astromaster.

Geoff

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Nik271 said:

I then upgraded to a 150mm Newtonian with a parabolic mirror and noticed the difference. My Newtonian cost only £100 from FLO and it was definitely worth the money. Is it worth £200 or £300? To me, still yes, but on the used market you should be able to pick one for less.

Do you reckon that the 20mm increase in aperture might have some to do with the difference, or you believe that the parabolic mirror itself can have much benefit. I usually keep my observing with AM up to x65 with my 10mm BCO. Tried barlowing it, and using the 6mm which brings it to x108 roughly, but it's just didn't look good enough.

 

2 hours ago, Geoff Lister said:

I found the original RDF almost impossible to use, so, when I replaced my Skymax 127's straight-theough 6x30 finder with its RACI equivalent, I put the straigt-through one on the Astromaster.

Geoff

TBH the RDF was quite sufficient for me, but took the telrad mainly based on the hype. But I have to say I love the telrad. And my 32mm plossl kind of works as a finder for scanning the sky once I am pointing to the right part.

Edited by Apprentice
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Posted (edited)

I have the AM130 and use it for both visual and AP (see my signature link for details on my AP journey). The mount is critical IMO hence placing the AM130 on a better mount has helped me a lot. I have also tried to compare a parabolic mirror vs a spherical one using a borrowed 130PS (not the PDS but I understand its same mirror but a shorter tube) and I noticed that at higher magnifications the 130PS seems to do a better job for visual observations.

21 hours ago, Apprentice said:

Thinking if it's worth upgrading or the improvement would not be as significant and I should rather keep the AM130 until I can afford something bigger?

I would put the money in getting a better mount as that would stand you in good stead for the longer term.

Edited by AstroMuni
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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Apprentice said:

Do you reckon that the 20mm increase in aperture might have some to do with the difference, or you believe that the parabolic mirror itself can have much benefit. I usually keep my observing with AM up to x65 with my 10mm BCO. Tried barlowing it, and using the 6mm which brings it to x108 roughly, but it's just didn't look good enough.

The extra 20mm did not make a huge difference in the brightness of the image, I could still see the same DSOs. The difference was the ability to use higher magnifications with the 150P, something like x120 was easy and the details stayed sharp.

Actually if you want to use higher magnification on the brighter objects, like Moon and planets with the Astromaster you can make an aperture mask for the fron opening, bring it down to 80mm and the focal ratio becomes F8. Then the spherical aberration of the mirror is not going to be noticeable. You will lose some resolution, but will be good enough for medium high mags like x100. 

Edited by Nik271
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