Well, I spent allot of time researching a good beginner scope for myself and my family and after much deliberation I chose the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ. I think I need to look a bit more.
1. Price: Very affordable, I got mine on sale for $213. 2. Optics: Very good and clear for this price point. 3. Appearance: Very cool looking scope, impressive.
Cons: (PLEASE PAY ATTENTION!!!!, I'm Not Kidding)
1. Mount: Ummm, Check Please! The German Equatorial mount supplied might as well be a solid block of steel, that would be about as easy to adjust and MUCH more stable, unacceptable. The Latitude adjustment screw requires gloves if you don't want permanent indentations in your fingers. Mine would actually make the whole scope jerk sideways when you would engage it, it's a heavy scope and allot of the weight is exerted on this adjustment, even if you balance the scope correctly. The Declination adjustment was stiff and would not track smoothly...and forget turning the scope....see a trend here? 2. Tripod: Solid Steel construction....."Solid"??? I'll put it this way, Steel is a solid, so is Silly Putty. As long as you DO NOT plan to fully extend the tripod legs and view it upright it's more stable than Silly Putty. But if you want to stand as you view the sky (most adults would prefer that to bending over like you're talking to a 2 year old) once the legs are fully extended it just adds to the shakiness. Brother! 3. Focus: Are you good at "Estimating"? You'll have to be to focus this thing; any time you even touch this thing (or breathe on it) the objects in the eyepiece do their best 7.5 earthquake impersonation. Once you wait a day or so, it stops shaking.....Now....DON'T TOUCH IT! VERY Frustrating, by the time I got Jupiter and its moons in focus it had practically moved out of view. But Jupiter was VERY cool to see.
The Viewfinder has been trashed by allot of people for being inaccurate and basically useless, maybe I lucked out because mine actually worked well. Too bad the rest of the scope didn't.
So there it is, it's a really great scope crippled by a cheap mount and tripod. At this price point it's a good Kids Scope and for adults who are not too picky about trivial things like being able to focus and see what you're looking at clearly.
I'm returning mine and going back on the Good Scope Hunt, BTW Amazon does not pay for return shipping on this item, I had a $25 gift certificate that I used to get my purchase price down to $188, kiss that goodbye, return shipping was $28.