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Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Newtonian starter scope for the price, 14 Mar. 2012
By 
This review is from: Celestron 31051 Astromaster 130EQ-MD Motor Drive Reflector Telescope (Electronics)
This was my first scope (I'm a complete beginner) and it is a good product, for a competitive price, but there are drawbacks, however that's why you can spend £1000's on scopes....

The Good
* The larger the big mirror at the back (the primary mirror), the more light you get in and the better everything will look. For the price, you'd struggle to find a starter kit to beat this with its 130mm mirror.
* Supplied is everything you need to be able to see fantastic images of the moon, and clear nights, jupiter, its stripes and its moons. And from there all the other 100's of interesting celestial objects. Suggest a beginner gets a copy of "Turn Left at Orion" Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope - and How to Find Them.
* The "erecting" (means the image is not upside down and back to front) eyepiece is great for using the scope in the day to watch aeroplanes, birds and landscapes etc.
* The tripod stand is perfectly adequate for the weight of this scope.
* The front dust cover can be placed on the end, but with a small cap remove. This can be used when looking at the moon to slightly reduce the amount of light, giving a better image.
* The fine position adjusters on the axis work well.

The Bad
* Assembly out of the box is not trivial, though not fiendishly difficult. Certainly a child is likely to need some adult help. On the celestron website there is a video guide that should help if you get stuck.
* In theory all the optical components are correctly aligned when you get this scope, but in my case all I got was slightly fuzzy images. To rectify this the scope required collimating. This means ensuring all the optics are correctly aligned. There are countless guides on the web to do this for this type of Newtonian scope. I opted to purchase a laser collimation tool. However to use this the primary (the big) mirror should have a spot indicating its centre. This scope does not. I was able to take the rear mirror assembly apart and add a dot to mark this position (reply with a comment if you want instructions on how to do this). With the centre mark in place and the laser collimation tool within a couple of minutes the scope image was perfect.
* The focuser could do with being a finer action, a small turn of the wheel, and the image is out of focus.
* The 'red dot' finder is simply useless. This is the tool to initially point the scope at your celestial object of choice. Even finding the moon can be a pain. You'll be spending quite a while trying to locate objects in the sky.
* The motor drive - only useful if your trying to take long exposure photos, I tried it once but gave up. You cant disengage the motor from the control without removing the motor
* The 'German equatorial mount' takes a bit of getting used to, but is great for tracking an object once you've set it up.

Overall
It sounds like I have a lot of complaints (hence a harsh 4 stars), but to remedy these you generally need to start looking at scopes at least twice if not three times this price, so still even with the downsides, its good value as a piece of starter kit. Remember if looked after it wont wear out, so you'll be able to flog it when you upgrade.

And finally
Assembled its quite big/tall, You can take the tube off easily but think where you will be storing it for 99% of the time!!!. Consider a collimation tool, a book and possibly a Barlow Lens (Doubles the magnification).

Have fun, comment if you have questions.
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