The Best Telescope Under 1000? Even before we started, we wondered if it would be possible for our team to test and review all of the candidate telescopes in the short two week period.
The entire staff decided to have shootout of higher-end consumer telescopes, with the only entry criteria being a price tag under $1000. It would've been extremely difficult if not completely impossible for all of our reviewers to have the opportunity to test and review every single telescope individually. We quickly realized that there wasn't a way for every member of our staff to review each telescope, so we decided to use the time-tested "divide and conquer" approach.
So we devised a plan to divide the work up amongst the review team members, with everyone receiving a set of instructions to be used for each the telescopes that they were assigned to review. We tried to standardize the review process in an effort to provide consistency for all of the reviews.
We had been preparing for this massive undertaking months in advance. Good thing, because the logistics of pulling everything together was a nightmare. Fortunately for us, we have an office manager, Brandy, that is super organized and very detail oriented. If there was ever an office manager, it's Brandy !
She began contacting manufacturers six months ago, establishing points of contact, identifying and planning equipment, coordinating deliveries, etc. In the end, she had arranged for us to review equipment from 49 different manufacturers. Here's the list of everyone that responded to our request:
We only had a two week timeframe, so the pressure on us to work smart and efficient... plus some of us also cheated a little bit and took a few of the telescopes home over the weekend to test in our own backyards. Not too bad though, it was a mixture of work and fun at the same time!
So how did we do? After two weeks, we successfully tested and reviewed a whopping total of 157 telescopes from the various manufacturers. It wasn't easy, especially since we encountered one or two nights of cloudy overcast skies that really hampered our efforts. But in the end, we exceeded our own expectations. Here's are the results of our "Best Telescope Under $1,000" competition (listed in alphabetical order):
This telescope has StarBright XLT high transmission coatings for superior opticals. It also includes SkyAlign, which allows for for performing alignment on any three bright celestial objects, making for a rapid, efficient alignment process.
The 'GoTo' system accepts commands through the handset and effortlessly points the optical assembly toward any one of nearly 40,000 objects stored in its database. Using the (optional) CN-16 GPS accessory connection and an external GPS unit (also not included), the alignment process be made to entirely automatic.
This telescope also includes the NexRemote telescope control software along with an included RS-232 for advanced control of the telescope with a personal computer. Unfortunately, most modern desktop and laptop computers no longer support the older RS-232 serial interface. Instead, contemporary computers use the ubiquitous USB interface for serial communications. (Are you listening Celestron? It's time to update!)
The StarPointer finderscope helps with alignment and locating objects. The Star Diagonal internal flip mirror can be set for straight or 90-degree viewing angle. This capability may also be used for rapidly switch from the eyepiece to a camera without disturbing telescope alignment.
It also comes with exceptionally sturdy steel tripod that feels very durable and should provide many years for reliable service and laser-sharp astrophotography.
The unit is light enough that a person can grab it and take it out to the backyard or the end of the driveway for a quick look at the moon or a planet without hesitation.
I just wish that it either got decent battery life on internal power, or could slew around in altaz mode with the power off. I added a Power Tank after reading reviews of the scope's internal battery life. The tank is awkward enough to compromise the scope's ease of deployment, but I suppose I can throw it in a backpack. I'll definitely want to invest in an adjustable chair; the eyepiece wound up at a very awkward height when Jupiter was up near the zenith. For objects closer to the horizon, the height of the tripod makes the eyepiece position much less bad.
Check this one out later... the full review is still on progress, but it will be here soon !
The new motor design offers improved tracking performance & provide more power to overcome load imbalances.
Updated industrial design offers more rigidity, so that there is less flex with improved aesthetics as an additional side benefit. The new overall design allows viewing or imaging across the meridian without interference from the motor housings, providing improved latitude range. This telescope system may be used between 7 and 77 degrees latitude.
The electronics have also been updated with increased memory for future expansion. The NexStar+ hand control offers multiple language programming (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish) for international appeal.
For setup, it is fairly simple and quick once you become familiar with it's operation. To begin with, you place the tripod aimed roughly toward the pole at about the height you're comfortable with (learned from experience), set the level (we used a simple, general purpose level that we purchased from the local hardware store). Next, attach the mount. Followed by the optical tube assembly and counterweight.
Despite it's large physical stature, portability wasn't an issue for our reviewers. In fact, they mentioned that they were able to move and relocate the everything relative easy. The entire assembly can be carried as-is, assuming that you're of moderate strength. The entire assembly is approximately 65 lbs (30 kgs). Otherwise you can break everything down, move the pieces separately, and re-assemble. All of the components seem to be constructed of quality materials, and the unit as a whole feels very durable, sturdy and well-built.
The Gskyer 130EQ is a high quality yet affordable telescope that is capable of being used for multiple purposes: astronomy, landscape, wildlife views, etc. The telescope includes advanced German technology and craftsmanship, which will provide users with spectacular views and and allow them to capture amazing celestial and terrestrial image photos.
The Gskyer Astromaster 130EQ telescope features a 130 mm aperture, with a total focal length of 650 + 50 mm, and a focal ratio of f/5. Additionally, Astromaster 130EQ comes equipped with a 3x Barlow lenses and three different eyepieces (25mm, 10mm, and 5mm). Each of the optical components is constructed with the multilayer green glass, specifically engineered to gather light more efficiently and to increase the magnification factor. Additionally, the eyepiece does not require a universal T-Ring adapter to attach a DSLR or SLR camera since this telescope was specifically made for stellar photography.
The telescope integrates with the a stainless steel tube tripod though the use of an advanced German-designed and built equatorial mount. Equipped with a hook and dovetail plate, the smoothness of the mount allows the telescope to be used for tracking fast-moving objects with exacting precision.
If you'd like to see and compare some lower priced telescopes, be sure to check out our review of the Best Telescopes Under $500.