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Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P Review – Recommended Scope

The Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P is compact enough to go almost anywhere, and delivers quite a punch for its price point. Beloved by beginners and veteran observers alike, the 130P is one of our most-recommended telescopes.

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TelescopicWatch

4.6 /5
4.6

The Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P, also sold as the Astronomers Without Borders OneSky in the US, is one of the most popular beginner telescopes sold today, and one we highly recommend. It is similar to the other 130mm tabletop Dobsonians available on the market, but with a key difference – a collapsible optical tube that makes the scope compact enough to fit in a backpack!

In addition to its collapsible tube, the Heritage provides a whopping 130mm (5.1”) of aperture, with quality optics capable of revealing fantastic lunar and planetary detail as well as what lies beyond.

Ranked 2nd among 16 telescopes in $200 range
Rank 1
Zhumell Z130
Rank 3
Orion StarBlast 4.5 EQ
Rank 2
Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P
 

Amazon prices as of 2020-11-24 at 12:33

  • Great value
  • Collapsible tube
  • Good optics
  • Good accessories
  • Helical focuser
  • Stray light issues
  • Needs a table for use
  • Can’t use a solar filter
Optical Tube Rating 0%
Accessories Rating 0%
Mount Rating 0%
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Recommended Product Badge

The 130P provides fantastic value for the price, and we highly recommend it. However, if you live in a heavily light-polluted area, you may want to consider the Zhumell Z130 instead.

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Recommended! Why?

Analysing The Optical Tube of Heritage 130P

The Heritage 130P, AWB OneSky in the US, is optically a 130mm (5.1”) f/5, with a focal length of 650mm – just like the Zhumell Z130 and numerous tripod-mounted 130mm f/5 scopes like the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST and Celestron NexStar 130SLT. However, unlike those telescopes, the 130P has a collapsible tube – the entire front section has been replaced with a pair of struts similar to those found on Sky-Watcher’s larger collapsible/FlexTube Dobsonians, and a minimalist circular frame holding the focuser, finder, and secondary mirror.

Obviously at this point you’re probably wondering why more scopes aren’t sold in this configuration. The answer is that it does inevitably come with compromises which not all users are not willing to contend with. The first, obviously, is the large amount of stray light that can get into the tube. The scope does have a baffle directly across from the focuser that prevents light from shining directly into it, but light pollution, moonlight, and even the glare from bright stars can still get in around this baffle – or bounce off it, since it is rather shiny plastic. You can solve this with a DIY shroud, but this is of course an additional hassle and expense, and it’s still not quite as good as a closed tube.

Second, the scope does tend to lose collimation a little more often. This to me is almost a nonissue; the tube is so short that you can make adjustments while looking through the eyepiece at a bright star or using a collimation tool, and it only takes a minute or so to do anyways.

Lastly, the biggest (and seemingly least-discussed) issue with the 130P, and a compromise due to the collapsible tube, is the scope’s helical focuser. Rather than using a gear and teeth (as with a rack and pinion design) or rollers (as in a Crayford) the helical focuser is simply a threaded drawtube that slides in and out of a threaded receptacle. This works okay, but can be confusing if you’ve been using another telescope, and it cannot hold heavy eyepieces or cameras (it will also spin a camera around as you focus, which can be infuriating).

If you are okay with the aforementioned compromises, the 130P will deliver plenty. The scope has very good optics, and overall performs just as well as any other 130mm reflector on the market.

The tube also has a Vixen-style dovetail, which allows it to be slid back and forth on its mount to balance and be compacted for storage. You could use this dovetail to put the scope on another mount or tripod, but keep in mind that the finder will be in a rather inconvenient location if you mount the scope on an equatorial mount or a standard photo tripod.

Reviewing the Accessories

The Heritage comes with a red dot finder and two eyepieces: 25mm and 10mm “Super” eyepieces yielding 26x and 65x respectively. The “Super” design seems to just be a modified variant of the Kellner configuration – a little suboptimal for an f/5 telescope, but decent performers nonetheless. The two eyepieces have mostly-plastic bodies, but are built to a fairly decent standard of quality and I have no complaints about them, especially given the price of the telescope they are included with.

The scope’s included red-dot finder works very well, especially given that this telescope is a wide-field instrument so precise aiming isn’t really required anyways.

How Good is the 130P’s Mount?

The 130P’s mount is often referred to as a “tabletop Dobsonian”. Technically, it is not a Dobsonian as the altitude axis only uses one bearing which has no reliance on gravity – simply a bolt, a knob, some standard and lock washers, and a felt pad. Other than the fact that the balance can be a little sensitive and the altitude knob will sometimes get “stuck” and loosen or tighten itself as you move the telescope, I have no real complaints about this system. The azimuth bearing is of the standard Dobsonian design: Teflon on laminate. 

Obviously, given that this is a tabletop telescope, you’re probably wondering what we recommend putting it on. My personal preference would be 3-legged stool. They’re cheap, they’re sturdy, and they look classy. A 4-legged stool works too, but it’s more likely to wobble. You could also make your own stand for the scope that could accommodate an accessory tray or storage container, or in a pinch the telescope will work on the hood of most cars – the rubber feet allow it to rest on a slight incline.

Should I buy a Used Skywatcher Heritage 130P?

If you can find one of these telescopes used, I’d absolutely recommend buying it. Keep in mind that you should always check for coating deterioration with a used Newtonian, especially one with an open tube like the Heritage.

Alternative Recommendations

For the same price as the Heritage, there are some other options you might want to consider:

  • Zhumell Z130: Closed tube, more readily adapted to another mount
  • Orion XT4.5: Longer focal ratio means easier collimation and slightly better planetary performance
  • Apertura DT6: More aperture, better focuser, better accessories and doesn’t need a table

Aftermarket Accessory Recommendations

Besides of course some sort of stand/stool/table, and perhaps a homemade shroud, there are a couple of accessories that are really worth picking up for the Heritage 130P to maximize its performance.

The first of these is a 6mm goldline eyepiece such as the one sold by SVBONY . This will provide 108x, which is going to show you significantly more detail on the Moon and planets than the mere 65x provided by the included 10mm eyepiece.

The second thing we’d recommend is a collimation tool of some kind. While you can collimate by eye or on a star (the latter providing more accuracy than any other method), a real Cheshire collimator such as the Solomark Cheshire  or a high-end laser helps speed things up. Avoid cheap lasers; they are hard to use and typically have issues with the laser itself being aligned. For more information on collimation, check out our tutorial.

What can you see?

The Heritage 130P’s 5.1” aperture is enough to show a lot of the brighter deep-sky objects, such as the Andromeda Galaxy, Orion Nebula, Ring Nebula, Dumbbell Nebula, and various globular clusters. The scope’s wide field of view also makes it great at showing open clusters such as M11 and M35, and asterisms like the Coathanger. 

The scope is also really great for solar system objects. The Moon shows details as small as a couple miles. Venus and Mercury will reveal their phases, while Mars’ ice caps and a few dark regions are visible. Jupiter and Saturn’s moons, cloud bands, and of course the Great Red Spot and rings respectively are visible, and you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Cassini Division within Saturn’s rings on a steady night. Uranus and Neptune are, of course, merely teal and azure dots with no detail whatsoever – you may struggle to differentiate Neptune from a star at all due to its tiny angular size!