The Sky Watcher Heritage 130 FlexTube Dobsonian telescope

Once in a while something comes along that is so good I just have to have one myself.

I’m convinced that the Sky Watcher Heritage 130 is one of the best value for money scopes available today.  Housed in an extendable tube are two pieces of aluminised glass in a Newtonian arrangement. The optical system is supported by a Dobsonian mount, a simple but yet so effective method of holding an optical tube steady yet with ease of movement up and down, left and right. All in all, a perfectly conceived and executed piece of astronomical engineering.

However the tube decoration may not be to everyone’s taste, but this telescope has been produced to commemorate 400 years of astronomy and has the names of notable contributors along the tube.

The telescope comes fully assembled right out of the box – the two eyepieces and a finder are the only things you have to be fitted to the scope, it should not take more than 5 minutes from opening the box to be observing – it’s that ready to go!

 

Sky Watcher Heritage 130P FlexTube telescope

Sky Watcher Heritage 130 Newtonian Telescope

This is table top scope so apart from what’s in the box, a recommended accessory would be a table, a very handy device for star maps, red lights, mug of coffee, red wine etc.  (I can feel a star party coming on!)  So invite friends and family round they’ll be amazed at what you can show them.

So what can you see with this 130mm telescope, a very high quality view is the short answer. The 130mm primary mirror is just wonderful, it’s the right size to give low-magnification/wide field of view most short focal ratio APO’s would be proud of, and remember this is an apochromatic 5” telescope for less than £140 (even less if you shop around).

The review model was supplied with two eyepieces (though I note that at least one large supplier is giving away a useful 2x Barlow lens with the scope). The two eyepieces, a 25mm giving 26x magnification and a 10mm delivering 65x, are both of good build quality and a simple but beefy helical focuser is provided to get things nice and sharp. I’ve always liked this type of focuser because you can focus very quickly with a small accurate turn.

My first target of the night was the planet Jupiter, straight from the box to outside about five minutes and observing our solar system’s largest planet, a bright sharp disc with 3 moons in close attendance, shimmering in that all to familiar way.  This is a hot scope and its cold out here, cool down time, be patient and let it cool!

I made myself a cup of tea and went back outside twenty minutes later. Now with a nice cold scope back to Jupiter, the reward for letting the scope cool was a view of Jupiter that was not only sharp but full of detail. At only 65x well-defined cloud bands with irregular edges could be seen on the planet in moments of good steady air.  I didn’t expect to see this level of detail at this magnification with such a low-cost telescope. My 80mm William Optics fluorite refractor (£625) split the double-double E Lyra at 80x, here we only have 65x and I was getting first class views.  Ever thought you have spent too much on a telescope?  At 65x a clear gap separated both stars 4 tiny points of light 2+2 with a fifth star visible between the pairs.

So this telescope is sharp and does high-resolution well (alas no Moon tonight) but what about extended deep-sky objects.  My first deep-sky target is M57 the Ring Nebula in Lyra, and the eyepiece view reveals a well-defined donut sharp in a field of very sharp stars.  Big tick here, the view was very good.

Next up M13, simply hundreds of specks of light in a tight ball becoming more diffused at the edges – just stunning. M15 was similar – another big tick for globular clusters.

I wasn’t prepared for what came next. M81 and M82 two galaxies close together in Ursa Major. The low power view (26x) of this pair was just gob-smackingly beautiful.  At this point I have to say that some telescopes magnify too much, not this one, this has to be the best view I have ever had of these two galaxies, believe it or not, my 12” Dobsonian does not do them justice!

I swung the telescope to M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, the view was superb.  I would like to point out the observing conditions at my home are not good for deep sky targets (Bar Hill, Cambridge has enough sky glow to almost read by!). Back to the eyepiece. M31, M32, M110 all three galaxies in the same 26x view with room round them so you could see a clear distinction between galaxy and background sky. M31 definitely oval in shape M32 small and compact and M110 very diffused a text-book view.

As if this is not enough the double cluster in Perseus was a real cracker, sharp stars to the edge of the field and my favourite little red ruby shimmering proudly in between with other stars glittering throughout the clusters.

So far this telescope passed every test object with flying colours but could it see the holy grail of deep-sky targets, the Veil Nebula? I searched around in the right place for about 5 minutes with no luck; I decided to use a Celestron Deep Sky Filter.  Within thirty seconds there it was – a ghostly curve of faint light. I know people have struggled with an 8” and bigger scopes to see this large faint object (the nebula is actually the debris left over from an ancient exploding star). Again, over magnification with the larger scope is the problem.  An eyepiece view of 26x magnification with a 50 degree field of view and this scope bagged it.

Having found the Veil I removed the filter and could still see its faint glow, and remember this target was being viewed from the suburbs!

No matter if you are 6 or 60 – if you’re just starting out on an astronomy journey, I recommend this scope to you. If you buy this one you’ll never stop using it, it works so wonderfully well.

I wish this one didn’t have to go back to the shop, I wonder how many scopes you can bolt to an EQ6?

Ralph Bell

c. 2009

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6 Responses to “The Sky Watcher Heritage 130 FlexTube Dobsonian telescope”

  1. Colin Ayling Says:

    I am seriously thinking of purchasing this telescope for my first foray into the fascinating world of astronomy. Can you tell me whether the tube itself is made of metal or plastic?

    • Hi Colin, thanks for your post and sorry about the tardy reply. We no longer have access to the review specimen but the author thinks it felt like plastic coated metal and was very solid and well made. I’m sorry we can’t be more definite on this point. I hope this helps.

  2. WWPierre Says:

    Tube is seamless steel pipe.

  3. Alex Vyssokii Says:

    Hi,
    I’ve discovered (purely occationallly) that magnetic stickers stick to the telescope’s tube, so there is surely some metal in it 🙂

  4. I saw this scope for sale s/h. Searched the web to see something about it and came across this review.
    Liked this review and think it will make a very handy grab-and-go scope.

    Just a remark: The the double cluster is in Perseus, not in Hercules.

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