All About Space
Is the Sky-Watcher Explorer-130PS the right telescope for you? Here's our full test
A telescope that can be easily transported to sites untouched by light pollution has great appeal whether used by a beginner or a more seasoned astronomer, and that’s exactly the sort of telescope Sky-Watcher’s Explorer-130PS is, fitting the bill nicely as a ‘grab-and-go’ instrument. The telescope and its AZ PRONTO mount are a compact and light package. Assembly and operation are user-friendly in the hope of providing a welcoming introduction to observing the night sky, making it an ideal telescope for those new to touring the heavens.
It uses a Newtonian reflector design that employs a parabolic primary mirror to collect and focus the light and a flat secondary mirror to reflect it to the eyepiece. This design requires collimation to align the two mirrors accurately with one another and the eyepiece. To make life easier for beginners, a large chunk of this potentially perplexing process has been removed. The telescope has a fixed mirror cell for the primary mirror which is collimated at the factory, so it’ll only require occasional adjustments to the secondary mirror, for which a suitable Allen key is supplied. Upon delivery the review telescope was in excellent collimation and produced well-formed stars during this test – it really did work well straight out of the box. The AZ PRONTO mount didn’t disappoint and was quick to assemble, providing a sturdy platform for the telescope. An accessory tray for your eyepieces also serves to help stabilise the entire set-up – we discovered that there was minimum shaking during our observations and sufficient resistance against the light breeze that picked up throughout the course of the evening. Adjustments with the mount are smooth and it’s easy to keep objects centred in the tube’s field of view.
The Explorer-130PS also comes with a pier extension to keep the telescope from clipping the tripod legs while slewing – something that got a lot of use throughout our review. The Explorer-130PS’ steel optical tube is finished in a high-gloss black with a silver-flecked finish – making it aesthetically appealing – and cradled in two substantial felt-lined tube rings, which are attached to a Vixen-style dovetail bar. The dovetail bar isn’t used to attach the telescope to the mount. Instead a bolt on the mount is screwed into a matching threaded hole in the base of the bar – pleasingly, no slippage was experienced during our review of this feature.
A rather basic, plastic, single-speed rack-andpinion focuser completes the optical tube, but despite some initial reservations we found this to be effective in use. With it we were able to achieve focus amazingly quickly and easily. The supplied red dot finder is certainly an excellent choice, especially for beginners, as it’s so easy and intuitive to use. Over a smaller optical finderscope, we relied on it extensively for star hopping to a selection of deep-sky objects that peppered the mid-summer evening sky.
“The telescope and its AZ PRONTO mount are a compact and light package, and Assembly and operation are user-friendly”
With its focal length of 650mm, the Explorer130PS is a good compromise for observing a wide range of objects in the Solar System and deep-sky categories. Taking our observations until dawn, we enjoyed some excellent views of Mars in the small hours of the morning, then a variety of open clusters, boasting its wide-angle capabilities. In both the 25mm and 10mm eyepieces the rugged lunar surface was a wonderful sight through this telescope, sure to delight those who have only just been introduced to astronomy.
Overall the scope and mount package was a pleasure to use. It’s simple to assemble and easy to get to grips with, while its optical system gives good views of popular targets. With no immediate teething faults, the Explorer-130PS is a highly recommended instrument for the beginner.