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Pentax 10x50 PCF WP II Binoculars
Pentax 10x50 PCF WP II Binoculars
Price: 168.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Binos, 27 April 2011
Well worth the money. Well made, they feel solid in the hands. Robust enough to sling in the back of the car. Ideal for casual astronomy or wildlife viewing. Only gripe is the lens cover which does not stay on. Pentax 10x50 PCF WP II Binoculars

The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
The Backyard Astronomer's Guide
by Terence Dickinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.40

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Holding Hand, 17 Mar 2011
Anyone embarking on astronomy as a hobby should read this book before they even step outside and look up at the heavens. It is packed with useful and 'to the point' advice. And with its accompanying website it is bang up to date. Make it your first astronomy purchase, follow its advice and avoid buying the 'wrong' kit and wasting money. This book pays for itself over and over.The Backyard Astronomer's Guide

Celestron Astromaster 130EQ
Celestron Astromaster 130EQ
Price: 123.98

149 of 155 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New to Astronomy, 3 Mar 2011
Celestron Astromaster 130EQ

I purchased the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ as a starter telescope aimed at 'newbie' astronomers. For the price it is an impressive piece of kit. It comes well packaged and is easy to assemble using the picture guide that comes with it. If you get stuck there is a YouTube video to help you.

Of course you get what you pay for and the 130EQ has limitations. It is best suited to observing the Moon and planets. Don't expect closeups of deep space objects. Using the telescope takes practise, but on the first evening out we got some great views of the moon.

Included in the package is TheSkyX - First Light Edition software. This is a great tool. Input your latitude and longtitude (available from Google World) and TheSkyX will deliver a view of the night sky at any time you choose. It recommends some targets complete with RA and DEC. Great for planning your observing sessions.

The two lenses supplied with the 130EQ are just adequate to get you started, but you will soon want to add to them, for example you should purchase a 2x Barlow lens.

On the downside there is a major problem with the 130EQ associated with aligning the telescope and finding objects. The problem is the starfinder that comes fitted to the telescope. It contains two concentric rings and a central dot. The dot is illuminated red for use at night. The concentric rings worked well in daylight, but at night they are impossible to see and aligning the red dot with a star is near impossible. For novice users this finder is a source of frustration and would put off all but the most dogged new astronomer. I wonder how many people have given up on the hobby because of this cheap piece of optical engineering. Celestron should ditch it and do better. However, there is a simple and cheap solution - the Telrad Refex Finder. An oversized, odd looking device (costing around 35) that works superbly well. It has three illuminated target rings. Point the Telrad at a star and bingo it appears in the center of your eyepiece. I love the Telrad. It makes the 130EQ usable.

In summary the 130EQ is a mixed bag. I would recommend this telescope to those people with a budding interest in astronomy or those with a casual interest in the near objects of the solar system. If the interest survives a year or so of using the 130EQ there are plenty of motorised and computerised Goto telescopes (costing many times more than the 130EQ) to take you forward. The Celestron Astromaster 130EQ does little to solve the two biggest challenges for inexperienced astronomers - aligning the telescope and finding objects. The poor finder means that I can only give it 3 Stars. Fit a Telrad and get some better quality eyepieces and it becomes a 4 Star telescope.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 20, 2013 9:15 AM BST

Celestron SkyScout GPS Star Locater
Celestron SkyScout GPS Star Locater
Price: 177.22

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super SkyScout, 25 Jan 2011
Celestron SkyScout GPS Star Locater The SkyScout does for astral navigation what the Sat Nav does for terrestrial navigation. There will always be those diehards who stick with maps and star charts, and good luck to them, but the SkyScout drags star finding into the 21st century. Straight out of the box and with the batteries installed I lined up the brightest object in the sky - Jupiter - and the SkyScout correctly identified it. Then using both the 'Identify' and 'Locate' functions I spent a happy hour exploring the stars. You can listen to an audio description of many of your identified targets or obtain scientific data about them, including the RA and DEC, so you can home in with a telescope. My only gripe - it is expensive. The SkyScout is rightly identified as a "personal planetarium". Pricey but fun.

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