Best Value All-Round Telescope.


I'm often asked...


by people who have read my Telescope buying guide 'Complete Essentials', the following question.

"I'm just starting in astronomy, what is the cheapest 'proper' telescope that I can buy that will show me all the wonders of the solar system, galaxies, nebulae, double stars and star-clouds?"

SkyWatcher Explorer 130P TelescopeImage Courtesy: SkyWatcher Telescopes



The simple answer is that if you're just beginning on your astronomical journey you could do a lot worse than getting yourself a SkyWatcher 130P - EQ2. (See pic. above) [Image thanks to SkyWatcher Telescopes]

A 130mm (5") f5 Wide Field Newtonian Reflector on an Equatorial Mounting.
This is the only Newtonian reflecting telescope under 150mm (6") that I recommend.
It is of such a size that it will show the detail and the faint stars that you will need to see.  The optics are very good in this model (Note the 'P' in 130P - I only recommend this ' Parabolic' model). 

The equipment level is good with two eyepieces and a Barlow lens (Giving 4 magnifications - More than enough to start with).

The telescope is mounted on a proper equatorial mounting, with 'slow motion knobs', which is easy to set up and will allow you to follow the heavenly bodies easily (See my Equatorial set up guide).    I would not recommend you try astronomy using an Alt-Azimuth or Go-to mounting.

This model is not too heavy to move in and out to the observing site even for young teens and it won't break the bank.  If you decide astronomy's not for you you can quote this guide when selling and you'll get a good price. :o)

The only drawback regarding this excellent telescope is the 'Red-Dot' finderscope, which you can, and should replace with a 6x25mm finder (£25 -New).


What Can We See?

Solar System:
This telescope will show you the basics and a good amount of detail on the planets.
Mercury and Venus will show their phases.
Mars will show some dark markings.
You can see at least ten Asteroids.
Jupiter will show two belts (and, of course, its four Galilean moons).
Saturn will show its ring system clearly and four or five moons on a 'good' night. 
Uranus and Neptune will be visible as tiny green/blue discs.
(You can't reliably see Pluto even with a 150mm refractor by eye!  Currently in Saggitarius, just north of 'the Teapot' ! ) 
You will be able to explore the craters, mountains, rills and valleys of the Moon when it's in a phase, and the ray craters when it's full.
Deep Sky:
This Newtonian will gather enough light to show magnitude 13.5 stars. 
It will show all the Messier objects (M1 to M110) and many more NGC galaxies, nebulae and star-clouds too.
The Andromeda Galaxy M32,
The Great Nebula in Orion M42,
The Dumb-bell Nebula M27
Great Globula in Hercules M13
... will all be clearly visible.  ( Good luck with M97, 'The Owl', though! )
The Pleiades, the Seven Sisters M45, will reveal many more members of their extended family in low power views that will amaze!

At the time of writing this telescope can be ordered new for around £165.

It's not my place to tell you where to buy from - But if you search for SkyWatcher 130P EQ2 - You will find them. 

Make sure it's the 130P model though - I can't stress that enough!

If you find that you're hooked on astronomy the next step would be an entry level SkyWatcher 150mm Newtonian ... That's what I recommend to those with £300 to spend :O)