AstroMaster 130EQ shouldn’t be bought in any case. It comes with a spherical primary mirror, which is low in quality and easy to manufacture.
Although we’ve heard from various sources that Celestron puts parabolic primary mirrors in some AstroMaster 130EQ’s, this still doesn’t eliminate the fact that most of these telescopes come with cheap optics.
To be honest, if you find a model with a proper parabolic mirror, this is a good telescope with a decent optical design. But you have to be absolutely sure that the primary mirror is parabolic. Other than that, the optics are nothing worth spending this much money.
The mount is mostly plastic. This would be acceptable if the turning motion of the mount was smooth and the base was relatively stable. But the base is too wobbly, and the turning motions are just frustrating.
The mount is not good at all.
The 20mm eyepiece is useless. A corrector lens for any eyepiece is unnecessary. There are no directions in space. The lens just lowers the quality of the image.
The 10mm eyepiece is decent for the price.
The red dot finder doesn’t bring up any complaints. It just projects a red dot on the night sky.
The focuser works properly.
The major drawback is the spherical primary mirror. It lowers the image quality greatly.
The mount is too wobbly and feels cheap.
The 20mm eyepiece belongs to thrash.
If Celestron decides to put parabolic primary mirrors to all AstroMaster 130EQ telescopes in the future, then this model might become something worth considering. But as long as they ship spherical primary mirrors, you should avoid the AstroMaster 130EQ.
Especially Meade Polaris 130, which is almost the same as this model but comes with parabolic mirrors and better accessories.
In-Depth Review and Technical Specifications
We don’t understand why a company like Celestron is trying to make a profit off of innocent beginners. Celestron’s higher-priced telescopes are remarkable. But they are insistent on trying to sell expensive, useless beginner telescopes.
In our opinion, such a business model discourages a lot of people from considering astronomy as a serious hobby. They might get discouraged from purchasing a more expensive telescope from Celestron, which in turn hurts Celestron itself.
The optical design choice is actually pretty good and is used with many great telescopes such as Meade Polaris 130. But AstroMaster 130 comes with a parabolic mirror.
A parabolic mirror is hard to manufacture. It changes the direction of the incoming light in a precise way so that the mirror has a single focal point. The result is a high-contrast, crispy image that you desire from a telescope.
A spherical mirror has multiple focal points because it is not designed to change the course of the incoming light. The result is a blurry, dim image.
AstroMaster 130 uses a spherical mirror, AND it is more expensive than Meade Polaris 130. This is is simply a giant rip-off.
The mount is a cheap equatorial. It is mostly plastic, and its metal connections get worn down in a short amount of time. It requires regular greasing and a few mechanical corrections which no beginner wants to bother with.
The 20mm eyepiece is a marketing scam. The corrector lens inside it lowers the contrast and the crispiness of the image greatly.
Image quality is vastly more important than seeing the image in the correct rotation. Especially if the image you are trying to see is in space, and most of the time spherical, like a planet or a galaxy.
The 10mm eyepiece is a decent Kellner. But it provides too much power for a good image anyway. So it is almost useless like the 20mm eyepiece.
The red dot finder works properly and doesn’t bring up any complaints.
The focuser is the best part of this telescope, which is almost funny. It provides smooth motion with sturdiness.
The spherical primary mirror is a rip-off.
The mount is too wobbly, and it doesn’t provide the smooth motion you desperately need for stargazing.
The only accessory worth using is the red dot finder.
You shouldn’t buy this telescope. Companies like Meade, Orion and Zhumell actually try to come up with good beginner telescopes, and they are the ones that deserve your hard-earned money.
Meade Polaris 130 has exactly the same design with this telescope but actually comes with parabolic primary mirrors.