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As an amateur astronomer, I’m always looking into new telescopes, just browsing and looking at what my next upgrade will be even if I’m not planing it in the near future. While browsing the Amazon, I found out that the #1 Bestselling reflecting telescope there is one of the worst telescopes I know. So I decided to write this article to explain why it is so, and why you should avoid buying this telescope.
So, why is Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ the best selling reflecting telescope? The main reason is its very low price. You can get it for around $130 which is very tempting for beginners looking for their first telescope. The second reason is that it looks well- kind of professional for this price. And the last, it’s bestselling because there are mostly good reviews on this telescope. However, these reviews are from people with very low expectations who probably have never seen the night sky through a decent telescope, and additionally, some reviews can be paid.
It is advertised as an entry-level telescope for beginners. Small, portable and with high magnification. Despite the fact that it is a small telescope it has a long focal length which can provide advertised high magnification and portability, but this is because it has a Bird-Jones optical design that I will explain later. The aperture of this telescope is 127mm or 5inch which is very good for this price, and 5inch telescope can show you a lot of beautiful things, but it is killed with the Bird-Jones design it has.
My head is spinning when I see “astronomy” blogs recommending this telescope for beginners. If you check the astronomy forums, you will not find one good word about this telescope, so it makes no sense why it is the bestselling telescope on Amazon. Ok, let me explain why it is the worst beginner telescope you can buy.
I know from my own experience that if you are looking for the first telescope, the price is the main factor in the deciding process. It was the same with me. Another thing is that there are so many options you can choose from that it needs quite extensive research before you buy anything especially if you never owned or used a telescope before and you don’t know for what are you looking for.
I’m not going to do a long review for the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ because it is not worth to do. However, I will try to point out the main reasons why you should avoid buying it, and you can apply it on any telescope you have on your radar. If you are already convinced, and you are not going to buy one just scroll down to the end of this article where I will give a much better alternative of Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ within the same price range.
The Bird-Jones Desing
It is the first red flag when you see it in the description of the telescope. The Bird-Jones design allows having a physically small telescope with long focal length. The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ has a focal length of 1000mm even when it is much smaller. It is using a permanently mounted Barlow lens in the focuser to increase the focal length which is degrading the quality of the image. This Barlow lens is very basic, and you can not remove it unless you have great handyman skills.
Barlow lenses are commonly used with telescopes but as an optional accessory to increase the focal length and the maximum magnification. And they are usually much better quality than the one in Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ. Barlow lens is used like eyepiece so you can put it in front of the eyepiece and if you don’t want to use it, you can remove it. But here, you have to use it always. This is a very cheap way of achieving the portability and long focal length.
Some designs allow having a physically small optical tube with long focal length, but they are more complex and expensive. These are known as Maksutov-Cassegrain and Schmidt-Cassegrain optical designs. If you are looking for portability and long focal length you should check those but expect a higher price. As with everything else, if you want a good quality product, you have to pay for it and telescopes are no exception.
Many telescopes are mounted on the equatorial mount. In my opinion, this is not a good option for beginners. Especially with your first telescope it can be frustrating to use, moreover, it requires a complex setup that is not always easy to understand for a beginner. You have to learn how to polar align the mount which is not really an easy- out of the box experience. Also, the process of moving the telescope across the sky can be confusing, and a focuser can end up in an uncomfortable position to look through it. Then you have to rotate the tube, and I’m not even talking about balancing the telescope before the use.
There are just too many steps to do before you can enjoy the telescope; it can be a turn off moment for any beginner. Unless you are experienced stargazer and you are familiar with EQ mount, don’t buy it. You will be much better with Alt-Azimuth mount or Dobsonian telescope that doesn’t require any complex polar alignment and setup. These types of mounts have a straightforward point and shoot design, and you will be able to enjoy your first stargazing session.
Even if you take away the Bird-Jones design, the build quality of the optical tube is poor. Some people were reporting that the mirror is made terribly, and I’m not surprised because to make 5inch spherical mirror for the telescope selling at $130 must be fast and cheap. Accessories are also the low quality which will only add to the bad experience of the Bird-Jones design.
The EQ mount is not only hard to use, but it is wobbly. The tripod has weak aluminum legs, and the weight of the telescope is simply too much for this poor mount. Just a little breeze can create uncomfortable vibrations while viewing the object on the night sky.
Some users have a hard time to collimate this scope. The collimation is a straightforward process of aligning the mirrors in the reflecting telescope to get the crystal clear image in the eyepiece. But because of some reasons, it is almost impossible to achieve it with the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ which is most probably the result of the cheap build.
Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Alternatives
So, enough talking about this piece of crap and let me give you some alternatives. But first, let me tell you that if you are serious about astronomy and telescope, wait and save more money for your first telescope. Buying a cheap telescope is not a good idea. If you want to see more than a Moon and two planets, you have to spend a little more money.
Anyway, if you have no other option and you want it now, you will have a much better experience with these telescopes than with Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ:
- Meade Instruments LightBridge Mini 114
- Zhumell Z114 Portable Altazimuth Reflector
- Orion SkyScanner 100mm Tabletop Reflector
My Personal Favorite Alternative Under $200:
Don’t get me wrong; the Celestron is one of the top telescopes manufacturers in the world making high-end instruments for astronomy. But the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ is a sad telescope. This telescope will end up as a decoration in your house or a dust collector in your garage. And it will probably discourage you from continuing with this amazing and rewarding hobby. It is sad to say, but this is a common reason why people are giving up this hobby. They have high expectations when they buy a cheap badly made telescope, and it’s over when their expectations are not met.
So, don’t be that person and don’t make the same mistake. I highly suggest reading my article about the Dobsonian telescope which is probably the best beginner telescope you can buy for the money. It will not break your bank, and it will give you stunning views of the universe.
Here are some of my favorite gear
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you learn more about telescopes. Here are some of the gear I use and recommend.
Beginner telescope: This is by far the best beginner telescope you can buy. The Orion SkyQuest XT6 is the perfect telescope to start with. The aperture is big enough to see almost every object in the night sky and on the other hand, the price is so low for what this telescope can do.
My astrophotography telescope: I use only a newtonian telescope to do astrophotography. I use an 8" newtonian astrograph telescope.
If you want more recommendations please check my recommended gear section.