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Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Review – Not Recommended

Celestron’s PowerSeeker 127EQ is so bad that we’re genuinely baffled as to who in the world would’ve given this product a green light for manufacturing.

Tested By

TelescopicWatch

1 /5
1

Celestron’s PowerSeeker 127EQ is the perfect example of why our website exists, and why some Amazon reviewers are not knowledgeable enough to review complicated telescopes.

Its reviewers are written by a mix of incompetent and misdirected newbies with extremely low expectations, old fogies who only briefly look at its specs and assume it’s a bargain, and outright fake or misleading reviews written by paid shills or robots. With a poor optical design, poor construction quality, abhorrent eyepieces, an impossibly undersized mount, and marketing claims that should be confined to the days of mail-order scams, it’s almost believable that the 127EQ is some kind of mischievous prank pulled on beginner astronomers. 

Celestron mentions that this scope can achieve up to 450 power, which is too high for a 5ʺ telescope, or any telescope. An advertisement like that should be an immediate red flag for anyone looking to purchase a decent telescope. If this information hasn’t convinced you already not to buy a 127EQ, read on.

Ranked #19 of 19 ~$150 telescopes

Rank 2
Rank 19
Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ
  • Looks like a telescope
  • Might actually provide a focused image
  • Terrible optics
  • Terrible accessories
  • Mount literally incapable of functioning with the included telescope
Optical Tube Rating 0%
Accessories Rating 0%
Mount Rating 0%
Visibility Score 0%
Not Recommended Telescope

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ doesn’t belong on any reputable website that sells telescopes, Amazon, the collection of any amateur astronomer, or anywhere that isn’t the bottom of a landfill. It’s one of the lowest-quality telescopes around, and yet it’s peddled by a world-renowned brand and given praise by many experienced astronomers – most of whom have, of course, never actually bothered with trying to use one. Don’t take one even if it’s for free.

I spent a few days doing everything possible to get my 127EQ to work. I’ve owned dozens of telescopes. I’ve serviced hundreds. I know what I’m doing, and after all my efforts I was still presented with images worse than any telescope I’ve ever looked through.

Overview Of The 127mm Bird-Jones Optical Tube

127EQ Optical tube

The PowerSeeker 127EQ is a 127 mm 5ʺ f/7.87 (focal ratio) Newtonian with a focal length of 1,000 mm. If you do some basic math, you’ll immediately notice something odd. The 127EQ’s tube is only twenty inches long – 500mm. How does one fit a “Newtonian” optical system (not a Cassegrain, which actually “folds” the light path into a smaller physical package) into that small of a tube?

The answer is that the 127EQ is not a Newtonian. It’s a Bird-Jones. Bird and Jones were two amateurs in the 1950s who sought to create a simple telescope with a spherical instead of parabolic primary mirror, with a corrector lens/Barlow in front of the secondary mirror. This design in theory can work well, and some properly executed Bird-Joneses do in fact work quite well. But the 127EQ is anything but properly executed.

Unlike the classical Bird-Jones style, which puts the corrector lens just in front of the secondary mirror, the 127EQ’s “corrector” is mounted in the focuser. This means that it will move whenever you dial in the focus, thus assuring the correction is basically never spot-on.

Even if the corrector being mounted in the focuser was not an issue, the 127EQ’s corrector is just a Barlow lens inserted into the focuser drawtube – not a proper corrector lens. It doesn’t actually fix the massive amounts of spherical aberration inherent in the f/3.5 spherical primary mirror, which by default should prevent the telescope from forming a sharp image at even very low magnifications. Rather, the corrector-Barlow simply makes the path of the light rays through the telescope a little steeper, which in theory might be enough to provide a pretty decent – if not the sharpest – image. But due to the constant displacement from its ideal positioning thanks to being mounted in the focuser, the 127EQ’s corrector at best enables the scope to deliver images that are barely acceptable for a telescope of its size and price. At worst, the views are a completely mushy, unusable mess.

To make matters worse, the PowerSeeker 127EQ’s primary mirror isn’t even a precisely manufactured sphere; it’s a random shape that came straight out of the polishing machine. The 127EQ primaries I’ve tested have had rough surfaces and all sorts of microscopic holes and hills which damage the image, and many other complicated flaws. These are all caused by the fact that nobody actually bothers to test these things before throwing them in the telescope. If Celestron performed any quality control on the 127EQ, after all, it might not have been created in the first place. The primary mirror also appears to be secured to its support with solid gobs of epoxy, which warp and distort the mirror due to the stress they induce on the glass. This further hinders  the already-low capabilities of the telescope.

The 127EQ is rather difficult to collimate with the corrector lens in the focuser, as the corrector makes the reflected image of the primary and secondary mirrors look rather tiny. The corrector lens also inhibits the function of a laser collimator. Thus, to collimate the 127EQ, you must first remove the corrector lens, which requires taking apart the focuser, carefully unscrewing the ring that holds the corrector, and avoiding getting fingerprints (or grease from the focuser drawtube) on the corrector lens, then re-assembling the focuser temporarily to collimate. After collimating the scope, you then have to take the focuser apart again, re-install the corrector, making sure to put it in the right way, and then re-assemble the focuser. In addition, the collimation screws on the 127EQ  have next to no travel and are easily stripped. Collimating the 127EQ was hard enough for me to do in the shop – a beginner attempting it out in the cold and dark will find it impossible.

Problems With Powerseeker 127EQ Accessories

127EQ Accessories

If you thought the 127EQ’s optics were bad, the eyepieces are actually worse by every stretch of the imagination. 

The low-power eyepiece included with the 127EQ is a 20mm Kellner with a permanently installed “erecting prism to flip the image right-side up, and it provides 50x. 50x is a bit of a high magnification for “low power” with a 5” telescope, especially one with poor optics. The erecting prism is included so that Celestron can claim the telescope is capable of terrestrial viewing, and comes at the expense of sucking up quite a bit of the light entering the telescope, blurring the image due to its extremely low quality, and providing a field of view reminiscent of a drinking straw. As a result, you’ll struggle to locate targets (a problem worsened by the next-to-useless included finderscope) or fit them into the field of view.

For high magnification, the 127EQ comes with a 4 mm Ramsden. The last time a Ramsden had any place in the amateur astronomer’s eyepiece box was the 1960s, when a Kellner or Orthoscopic was rare and sought after. Like the included 20mm eyepiece, the 4mm Ramsden has a tiny field of view. Worse, however, it has a tiny eye lens and next to no eye relief – meaning you’ll need to jam your eyeball into it to see much of anything – and provides 250x, which is too much for even a quality 5” telescope (which the 127EQ is a far cry from). It’s also generally low quality and would provide a mushy image anyways even if it were not too much power for the scope to handle.

The included “3x Barlow” is a plastic-lensed abomination that exists to provide the “450x” Celestron claims the telescope is capable of (in actuality, very few telescopes are capable of, let alone used at, 450x). It is completely useless and should be discarded.

For a finderscope, the 127EQ comes with a 5×24 unit with a single plastic lens and a plastic eyepiece. The lens is stopped down to an aperture of less than 10mm in order to provide a usable image, depriving it of light gathering power. The bracket is also next to impossible to align with the telescope, meaning that the finder is almost always pointed askew and thus completely useless. You’re better off removing the finder itself and using the bracket as a peep sight.

Accessory Rating -
1/5

About The Mount

The EQ-1 mount provided with the PowerSeeker EQ telescopes is actually fairly respectable in build quality and operation. However, it is completely incapable of supporting a telescope as large as the Powerseeker 127. Not only is the mount incredibly wobbly with the 127mm optical tube placed atop it, but the included counterweight is literally not heavy enough to balance the telescope. As a result, when operating the 127EQ you have to always lock up the mount axes somewhat to prevent the whole telescope from moving around of its own accord, and thus also guaranteeing that motions will be jerky and less-than-smooth as you move the telescope around the sky, exacerbating the stability issues we’ve already mentioned. Between these issues and the terrible included finderscope, it is hard to get the 127EQ pointed at pretty much anything besides the Moon.

Should I buy a Used PowerSeeker 127EQ?

No, not even for $1.

Alternative Recommendations

At the same price as the 127EQ, and even well below it, there are a lot of telescopes that will beat it in almost every conceivable way, providing sharper and brighter views, sturdier mounts, and an overall more enjoyable user experience.

  • Zhumell Z114  – Tabletop Dobsonian mount provides ease of pointing and maximum stability. Great optics, and decent accessories. 
  • Meade Polaris 130EQ – Truly parabolic optics (usually), slightly larger aperture, sturdier EQ-2 equatorial mount, and decent accessories.
  • Meade Infinity 90 – Sharp achromatic refractor optics, easy-to-use sturdy alt-azimuth mount, and good accessories.

What can you see?

The PowerSeeker 127EQ’s low-quality optics are a permanent handicap even if you upgrade the accessories. If you can manage to get the scope collimated and deal with the frustration of aiming it, expect to see the following

Solar System

  • Mercury – An ill-defined smudge. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to resolve its phase.
  • Venus – The phase is easy to see, albeit with a lot of glare surrounding the planet caused by the corrector lens and low-quality eyepieces.
  • The Moon – A fairly decent view, however nowhere near as detailed as the sights delivered by a telescope with quality optics.
  • Mars – An ill-defined blob even when it’s close to Earth. You might just be able to make out an ice cap and maybe a dark smudge.
  • Jupiter – The moons are obvious (but then again, they’re obvious in a pair of cheap birding binoculars too). The two equatorial cloud belts are visible, albeit low in contrast. The Great Red Spot, normally a pretty easy catch with a careful eye and almost any half-decent telescope, is not sharply defined enough to spot.
  • Saturn – The rings are visible, though fuzzy, and maybe a couple moons can be spotted. The Cassini Division in the rings cannot be seen and you won’t be able to glimpse any of Saturn’s fainter moons besides Titan and Rhea.
  • Uranus and Neptune – Assuming you can even find them, the PowerSeeker’s optics are bad enough that you can’t distinguish either planet as a clear disk.

Deep-sky objects 

Many of the most exciting star clusters are visible, but lack crispness. 

Emission nebulae: The Orion Nebula looks okay but the Trapezium star cluster is mushy. The Lagoon is a wispy cloud, with bloated, ugly stars inside it. The Swan is ill-defined. 

Galaxies are troublesome to find and lack anything resembling detail. 

Forget most planetary nebulae; they’ll be blurred beyond recognition.

Splitting any remotely close double star with the 127EQ is impossible.

10 thoughts on “Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Review – Not Recommended”

  1. You said in your review the following: “So, to summarize this review of Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ, there are better options than the 127EQ in its price range.”
    What are some of the options to which you alluded?

    Reply
  2. This is my fist telescop..,,,and the last one from Celesting….
    The focuser is cheap, it moves of axis , the colimation is real bad…
    The quality of optic is almost like viewing a plastic lens telescope….
    I feel even bad to seal to someone else…

    Reply
    • Celestron makes GREAT telescopes. The NexStar line is fantastic. The 4/5/6/8SE, EVO9.5 and EDGE11 are very well regarded in the field. HOWEVER as with anything you get what you pay for.

      Reply
  3. I agree with everything said, but want to add one ray of hope. The collimation of this telescope is nearly impossible, but there is an unorthodox salvation. Collimate as usual to the point where the bad cannot be made better. Then, as the final step, do not adjust the primary mirror further, but make the final movement(s) on the secondary mirror with its adjustment screws. Keep adjusting (small movements) until the diffraction disks when defocusing both directions are perfectly circular (yes, it is possible). This will yield pinpoint stars and good detail in lunar craters not otherwise achievable. Then, at best, the frustration ends and one has a decent grab-and-go scope. Finally, plan on trashing the accessories and buying replacements at the outset. However, never plan to use an eyepiece more wide-angle than 20mm; focus on the periphery is unachievable at a wider angle. The advice not to buy this telescope is actually sound, though, especially for the novice.

    Reply
  4. wish i found this site before i bought the eq127 . while i got good veiws of moon jupiter saturn, not much else ,i had a 50 dollar scope years ago, i was able to see the horse head nebula. couldnt get it with this (as you said) garbage i,m just going to give it to someone i,d like to annoy. and pick one of your recommendations thanks .

    Reply
  5. I was considering this one for my daughter (11, first telescope) until I came across this page.

    But now I don’t know what to buy at all

    Maximum budget of $150 and she is hoping to see plenty of stars and planets, but nothing too complicated or large…medium is fine. Any recommendations?

    Reply
  6. The only reason I bought EQ127 is that the equatorial mount was a pretty good deal for me to mount my DSLR camera. I would say for some astrophotography beginners if you need an equatorial mount for wide-field photos, it is an OK deal. However, do keep in mind that don’t expect to obtain good astrophotos through the telescope itself.

    Reply
  7. OMG I thought I was crazy!!! This telescope is belongs in the garbage. I 100% agree with everything the reviewer said. I’ve never been able to see anything!!! My eyes and neck hurt from the award way you have to bend to view through the straw hole!! The quality of the lenses suck and it’s impossible to get the telescope to remain still/not move

    Reply

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