First Light for my Sky-Watcher Explorer 130 PDS

22 November 2021

The time has finally come and I bought my very first proper telescope for astrophotography: a Sky-Watcher Explorer 130 PDS, which is a Newtonian reflector. Why a reflector one would ask, especially since the common recommendation is to buy a refractor telescope, which will require less maintenance and is more similar to the photo lenses I am used to.

And indeed, initially, I considered buying a wide-field reflector like the Sharpstar 61EDPH II or even a William Optics RedCat 51 but whenever I saved up enough money to buy new equipment I want to buy something that will have the greatest effect on my images. Sure, dedicated telescopes will perform much better than telephoto lenses and will be much easier to focus but due to the very similar focal length, the resulting images will be very similar to those I took so far.

Considering all this, as well as the price point of a reflector versus a refractor, I went for a Newtonian telescope. Eventually, it all came down to the choice between the Explorer 130 PDS and the Explorer 150 PDS. After spending some time in Stellarium and Sky Safari I figured that the extra 100mm focal length would not make much of a difference in terms of imaging very small targets but I would run into problems when capturing larger targets. Some of them are just too big for a 750mm focal length telescope with an APS-C sensor. Other points in favor of the smaller refractor were the lower price, less weight, and lower susceptibility to the wind.

Altogether I am very happy with my purchase and I am hoping for a bunch of clear nights to put the scope to proper usage. As for the first light image, I am quite happy. There are some very prominent optical issues, which are the yet missing coma corrector and a largely uncollimated scope. Both these issues have been addressed at the time of writing this article so you can be looking forward to the follow-up post.

To conclude this article I want to share some images of my current deep-sky setup including the new scope.

My current deep sky setup
Riding on top of the scope the Asiair PRO
The nearly full moon rising above my scope

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