The Optical Tube
The Gskyer 130mm EQ is a 130mm (5.1”) f/5 Newtonian reflector with a focal length of 650mm. This is the same as the optics in telescopes like the Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P and Zhumell Z130, all of which we recommend. Some people might worry that the Gskyer 130mm EQ has the same bad spherical optics as the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ, which can’t make a sharp image at high magnifications. Thankfully, this does not seem to be the case on the units we have tried. These scopes have good optics, and the primary mirror can be collimated without the use of tools, which is fairly important at a fast f/ratio of f/5. The secondary mirror requires a hex key for adjustment. As with most telescopes, a collimation tool is not provided; check out our collimation guide for info on collimation, tools, and how you can make a simple collimation cap yourself.
The 1.25″ Crayford focuser is one of the best things about the Gskyer 130mm EQ. This focuser is all metal and free of the cheap plastic housing and the molded plastic gear teeth or threads often seen on smaller telescopes’ focusers. It’s easy to adjust the focuser for tension as well as lock it in place, and it securely grips your eyepieces with two thumb screws. The focuser also has T-threads to attach a DSLR camera and T-ring, though the 130mm EQ’s mount is insufficient for long-exposure astrophotography and a dedicated planetary camera is better for planetary imaging than a DSLR.
The Gskyer 130mm reflector optical tube is attached to its mount by two tube rings that are bolted to a Vixen-style dovetail. In theory, you could put it on any mount that works with it. One of the tube rings has a ¼ 20 screw attachment to piggyback a DSLR or similar camera for astrophotography with a lens if you install motorized tracking on the telescope’s equatorial mount.
The Gsyker 130mm EQ comes with an impressive (at least for the price) set of three 1.25” eyepieces. They are claimed to be Plossls but are actually of the Kellner design. You get a 25mm (26x), a 10mm (65x), and a 5mm (130x). These eyepieces are pretty sharp, especially considering that the body and internal housing of each are entirely plastic, though the apparent field of view is less than 50 degrees in all three oculars, which can feel a bit narrow. The set of three focal lengths is enough for you to start off with; apart from perhaps a wider-angle eyepiece for low-power viewing, you really don’t need more oculars or a Barlow lens right away.
The dome-shaped tops of each Gskyer eyepiece housing are designed to fit into an eyepiece-to-smartphone adapter that is also included. A remote shutter button to use with your smartphone is also provided.
For a finder, Gskyer provides a simple 6×30 unit. This finder has a field of view of about 7 degrees, similar to that of a pair of 7×50 binoculars, and will show slightly fainter stars than you can see with your eyes alone, along with some of the brighter deep-sky objects if you live under good skies. The view is upside down, just like through the main Newtonian telescope tube. A red dot sight would be a little easier to use, but the provided 6×30 is just fine for what it is and attaches with a standard Synta-style finder shoe, making it easy to swap to a larger magnifying finder or red dot sight if you wish.
The Gskyer 130mm EQ comes with an EQ-3 class equatorial mount. This mount is entirely metal, and features slow-motion controls for fine adjustment in both directions (right ascension and declination). The mount has a standard Vixen-style dovetail saddle, which makes attaching the 130mm optical tube quick and easy, as well as allowing you to attach a different telescope to the mount if you wish. It’s pretty simple to use—just assemble and balance the mount, roughly polar align, unlock the clutches to aim, lock them when you’re close to your target, and then use the provided slow-motion cables to make fine adjustments and track the sky along the right ascension axis.
The Gskyer EQ-3 tripod is steel, though the legs are a bit on the thin side. It’s stable enough when the legs are fully extended, but it takes longer for it to stop moving when you touch it than a good Dobsonian telescope or a more rigid alt-azimuth mount and tripod, like some of the computerized ones that Celestron and others sell. There’s also an accessory tray that twist-locks into place and helps make the tripod a little more steady; placing heavy objects on the tray to lower the telescope’s center of gravity also helps significantly with stability.
The EQ-3 mount has provisions to attach a standard motor drive for the right ascension axis if you wish to have automatic tracking of objects, though the machining accuracy of the mount and lack of provisions for a polar scope mean that long-exposure astrophotography through the 130EQ telescope is out of the realm of possibility.
Should I buy a Used Gskyer 130mm EQ?
A “used” Gskyer 130mm EQ is actually something we’d recommend you avoid unless it’s from an individual seller. Many of the Gskyer 130EQs sold by third parties on sites like Facebook Marketplace or eBay are actually returns or quality-control rejects, which can have damaged components or compromised optics. If you are buying from a private seller in person, however, you should be in the clear. Just be sure to check that the mirrors’ coatings are in good condition and for any obvious damage to the tube/mount, and prepare to pay less if any accessories are missing.
The Gskyer 130mm EQ isn’t our first pick if you’re okay with a tabletop Dobsonian instead. Here are some of our other picks, sorted by price.
- The Zhumell Z114 and the nearly identical Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro are a little smaller than the Gskyer 130mm EQ, but their simple and compact tabletop Dobsonian mounts make them extremely portable and fast to set up.
- The Zhumell Z100 and its twin the Orion SkyScanner 100 are extremely compact and sit on tabletop Dobsonian mounts which can also be attached to photo tripods with ease. The super-wide field of view thanks to their 400mm focal length is superb for viewing the largest deep-sky objects.
- The Orion StarBlast II 4.5 EQ uses the same optics as the standard StarBlast/Z114 but is attached to a spindly equatorial mount and tripod. Like the Gskyer 130mm EQ, it’s a little less sturdy than an equivalent tabletop Dobsonian telescope, but does the job.
- The Sky-Watcher Heritage 150P offers slightly more aperture and thus better performance than the Gskyer 130mm EQ, with a simple and stable tabletop Dobsonian mount and a pair of high-quality Super Konig eyepieces included. The tube collapses for transport, too.
- The Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P uses the same optics as the Gskyer 130mm EQ, but atop a tabletop Dobsonian mount and with a collapsible tube for maximum portability.
- The Popular Science Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 100AZ Refractor has a similar amount of light-gathering ability to the Gskyer 130mm EQ and the same focal length, but its refractor optics have some chromatic aberration on bright targets. However, its alt-azimuth mount and tripod are rock-steady and easy to aim, especially with the aid of Celestron’s StarSense Explorer technology.
Aftermarket Accessory Recommendations
The Gskyer 130mm EQ includes a pretty ample set of accessories to start out, but the included 26mm Kellner eyepiece’s field of view is rather narrow. We’d recommend an Agena 25mm Starguider (26x) to replace it. It’ll give you a true field of 2.4 degrees with the 130mm EQ, versus the 1.8-degree field provided by the stock 26mm eyepiece, as well as being sharper and more comfortable to look through.
A 15mm SWA or redline eyepiece (43x) fills the gap between your 26mm and 10mm eyepieces and provides a good medium magnification appropriate for viewing many deep-sky objects with the 130mm EQ. If you’re keen on using very high magnification, a 3.2mm planetary eyepiece will provide 203x magnification, pushing to near the limits of the telescope for viewing the Moon, planets, and double stars on a crisp and steady night.
The Gskyer 130mm EQ’s mount can be motorized for hands-free tracking capability. The Celestron Logic Drive is cheap and attaches easily to your mount, giving you automatic tracking and adjustable drive rates for the Moon. It’s accurate enough for simple lunar and planetary astrophotography, too.
Lastly, a UHC (ultra high contrast) nebula filter like the Orion 1.25” UltraBlock filter greatly enhances viewing contrast on nebulae like the Orion Nebula and brings out previously-invisible objects like the Veil Nebula supernova remnant under good skies. It simply screws onto the threads at the bottom of any of your eyepieces.
What can you see with Gskyer 130mm EQ?
The Gskyer 130mm EQ’s short focal length and resultingly wide field of view make it great for viewing large deep-sky objects like open star clusters. Open star clusters are bright enough that many can be viewed from fairly light-polluted skies in cities and suburbs without too much difficulty, and many feature hundreds of colorful stars within. Examples include the Double Cluster in Cassiopeia, M35 in Gemini, M11 in Scutum, the famous Pleiades (M45) in Taurus, and many more.
The Gskyer 130mm EQ can also resolve the brightest globular star clusters, such as M13 or M15, into individual stars at high magnification, provided you are not under extremely light-polluted skies. Dimmer ones will remain fuzzy at any power, however, and don’t expect to see any colors. Galaxies are visible in the Gskyer 130mm EQ, though in fewer numbers under light-polluted skies than dark ones. Most will remain featureless, but a few, such as M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, or M82, the Cigar Galaxy, will show dust lanes. You can also see galaxy groups like the Leo Triplet or the huge Virgo Cluster of galaxies, which contains dozens of members visible with the Gskyer 130mm EQ or a similarly sized telescope under decent viewing conditions. A few planetary nebulae can also be seen, such as the Ring Nebula (M57).
The Gskyer 130mm EQ will also show you the bright emission nebulae in the sky, like the Orion Nebula (M42) or the Lagoon (M8). A UHC nebula filter enhances these objects regardless of your overall sky conditions. A UHC filter will also allow you to see the Veil Nebula supernova remnant, which spans several degrees across, or the North America Nebula (both in Cygnus).
The Gskyer 130mm EQ is also great for viewing Solar System objects. You’ll be able to see the phases of Venus and Mercury easily, as well as thousands of craters, mountains, and ridges on the Moon, some just a few miles across. The Gskyer 130mm EQ will also show you the polar ice caps and any ongoing dust storms on Mars; high magnification will reveal a few dark markings on the planet when conditions are favorable and it is at its closest to Earth. You can see the moons of Jupiter even in the 6×30 finderscope; higher magnification and steady seeing reveal their disks and shadows when they transit in front of the planet. The cloud belts on Jupiter are colorful and full of constantly changing festoons and storms, while the Great Red Spot can also be seen on a clear night.
A 5” telescope like the Gskyer 130mm EQ not only shows Saturn’s rings but also the Cassini Division within them. You can also see some dull beige and brown stripes on Saturn itself, along with a handful of moons next to the planet. Uranus’ disk can be resolved at high magnification with the Gskyer 130mm EQ, but its moons are too faint to see with a small telescope. Neptune’s disk can prove hard to resolve, but Triton is just barely visible next to the planet on a clear night under at least semi-dark skies. Pluto is simply too dim to see with a telescope under 8-10 inches in aperture.