Review & set up of the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD (Motor Drive) Telescope
1 Comment6 May 2023 | Admin
Review of product and set up of the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD (Motor Drive) Telescope.
The Celestron AstroMaster range of telescopes are a popular next step for those who are developing their interest in the cosmos and so investing money into the larger, higher powered scopes.
I consider myself a competent novice having had a scope in the past, I decided I needed a better scope to take me through to the next level and so ordered a Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD from PicStop.co.uk . Then it was just a matter of eagerly awaited delivery.
A wait that was over in just three days, great on its own, but even better as PicStop offer free delivery on all purchases. A secure, sturdy box arrived, I carefully opened it up, which did require steady use of a knife.
Feeling quite excited, I laid out the beautifully made components. The high quality of the manufacturing is obvious. Sturdy well machined and cast components, beautifully finished and assembled. The German equatorial mount is a mix of stainless steel, cast alloys and anodised orange aluminium. The main tube of the 130EQ is surprisingly light, the main bulk of its weight being its mirrors, that said it by no means feels unbalanced
I had to force myself to stop, pick up the instructions and read, I cannot stress the importance of instructions in the assembly of scopes. These are precise pieces of engineering. An error in setting up can result in the scope not functioning as it should.
A cup of coffee and a half hour read and re-read, and I was ready to set about the task. (Cue the A-Team music) Assemble was very simple, here is a quick walk through and video of the unboxing….
Take the Equatorial Mount and seat it on top of the tripod, securing it on with the captivated nut located underneath in the apex of the tripod. Screw in the balance weight slide bar and fit on the two 5 kg weights, ensuring they are securely locked on with their finger tightened grub screws.
Attach the fine adjustment controls, then all that's left is the tube of the telescope itself. This slotted into a dovetail fitting and is held in place by two finger screws. The whole assembly came together in less than ten minutes.... Impressive... With practice, no doubt I'll have it down to several minutes.
Classed as a dual-purpose telescope the 130EQ-MD provides bright, clear views of both terrestrial objects and astrological bodies, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
As anyone buying a scope will find out, the weather is cruel. I had to wait an entire week for my first good clear night, so I could get to grips with the workings and try out my new toy, And another week or so waiting after that for my next turn.
A patchy, clear night presented its self. I levelled the scope. Aligned it north, checked it was balanced in both planes and was ready to test. The moon and planets are well within the range of these precise, coated optics and with the added motor drive more time is available to study your chosen view as the scope tracks through the night sky. The drive does take some getting used to and will require patience and practice. It comprises a geared motor that can be sped up or slowed down by the means of a small dial on the control box. I found that once I had my chosen object sat squarely in the scope and the motor was on, I had to look and see if the object was racing ahead or being left behind by the scope and then make adjustments accordingly to speed up or slow down the motor.
This adjustment was quick and easy on such fast moving objects as the moon but a little harder on slower objects such as stars and planets. But with perseverance and practice, I can now get it to track an object quite quickly. I’m still learning so for me, It is not a pinpoint accurate track as you would get with the computer aided trackers, I don't think I'll be taking any photo sequences to stack with this rig, but it does enable you to concentrate on your chosen object without having to perform repeated alterations to your orientation quite as often. Which leaves you more time to watch and take it all in and the wonder of the heavens.
With practice, this scope is capable of seeing a competent novice astronomer achieve some fantastic results. I have now had plenty of nights seeing the moon up close as it passed through its phases and showed off its creator pitted face. I’ve watched Jupiter be circled by its moons, they actually shone brightly and were pin sharp to the eye. I even managed to capture a picture with my phone. Over the last few months, I have practised further.
The Celestron 130EQ MD has enabled repeated steady views, it is beautifully made, relatively light weight and easy to transport and quick to set up, Its use is simple with incredible results from its crystal clear optics. Accessories are available to help you get more from your scope and let it grow as you do, and I hope to try out a few from the AstroMaster range, for example the addition of a camera mount enables the fitting of a DSLR or compact camera or even a purpose built, Wi-Fi transiting camera the Celestron NexImage solar system imager.