Sky-Watcher Heritage P130 Information (5" Dobson)

Motivation | Look | Visited Sky Objects | Photo Attempts | Conclusions | What Others Say... | Links | Appendix: Data


On this page, I present some information about my first travel telescope (Dobson), a Sky-Watcher Dobson Telescope Heritage P130 FlexTube DOB, or Heritage P130 for short (purchased in February, 2010). In the end, it proved too big for travelling, but I still kept it for home use, either on its own base or on the Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo mount. See the appendix for the data.

Note: Since I bought a 6" Newton tube in April 2017, the Heritage P130 had become somewhat redundant (see below), and I gave it away in mid-April 2017. I therefore can no longer report any experiences with this scope here.



Why did I buy the Sky-Watcher Heritage P130 telescope and for what purpose? In 2009, after 10 years of a mixture of joy and frustration, I bought a Meade 10" LightBridge truss Dobsonian telescope to get into astronomy more seriously. As beautiful as this telescope was, it was always a little tedious for me to set it up on our terrace, and it was not suitable for travel anyway. After some Internet research, I came up with the idea to add a small Dobsonian telescope, which is also suited to traveling. The Heritage P130 seemed ideal for this purpose, it was inexpensive too, and its sliding mechanism reminded me of a truss Dobsonian. This mechanism also made it quite compact when stowed away.

On the Internet, the Heritage P130 was rated quite well, although not by everyone. Primarily, its eyepiece holder gave rise to complaints, and I can only agree with that. Overall, I have observed a lot of sky objects with this telescope, especially after my entry into the world of deep sky objects in 2016.

The Heritage P130, however, turned out to be a bit too bulky for travel. So I soon bought a Heritage 76 for this purpose, and, because I was not satisfied with it, a Heritage 100P. It turned out that I often used the Heritage 100P instead of the P130 for quick observations... After purchasing a Star Discovery GoTo mount in 2016, I also used the P130 on this mount instead of its astonishingly shaky own Dobsonian base.

In spring 2016, I parted with the Meade 10" Lightbridge Dobsonian telescope, becaue it was too heavy for me, and replaced it with an 8" GSD680 from GSO. But soon I found this telescope too heavy for me as well, so that in spring 2017 I parted from it, too (my dealer sold it for me), and bought a Sky-Watcher Explorer 150PDS-Newtonian tube. Why do I write all this? Because with this step, the distance between my large and the P130 tube had decreased from originally 10" to 5" to 6" to 5". Thus, the P130 did not make much sense to me any more, especially since I had bought a small telescope for travel. And so I decided to give the P130, which I appreciated very much (except for the eyepiece mechanism...), to a friend. This unfortunately meant that the base that I had intended to use for my Maksutov tubes and maybe even for my Explorer tube was also gone, but that is another story...



First Day: Unpacking and Assembling

Outer package

Package of the Heritage P130

Package of the Heritage P130

Opened package

Content of package, telescope collapsed


Telescope assembled and at full length

Accessories: 10mm and 25mm eyepieces; red dot finderscope

Package Dimensions:

Outer Package:
P130: 53.5 x 41 x 41 cm

P130: 50 cm x 37.5 cm x 39 (40) cm

Second Day: Outside

On the Following Days...





Expanded and "in use"


Comparison of my Dobsons (2010)

Meade Lightbridge 10" versus Skywatcher Heritage 130P



Heritage P130 Telescope Tube on Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo Mount

The Heritage P130 tube weighs less than 4 kg and can therefore be used on the Star Discovery mount. Here are some photos:

P130 "compact" seen from the side

P130 in "working mode" seen from the side

Ditto, seen from the other side

P130 "compact", seen from the other side

P130 in "working mode", overview

Ditto, seen from the other side


Visited Sky Objects

I visited (and documented...) the following sky objects with the Sky-Watcher Heritage P130:

This list is probably incomplete, because I did not document my observations well. But, at least, it shows, which objects can be found with this telescope. In addition, this telescope should be able to access all those sky objects that I listed for my smaller telescopes.



Photo Attempts

First Photos with Camera held to the Eyepiece

Mond      Mond
My first, usable attempt (April 20, 2010)   My second, usable attempt from a series of similar shots (April 20, 2010)

See more photos of the moon from April 2010

However, Saturn was too much for my camera (24.4.2010):

3 photos of Saturn

3 photos of Saturn

See more photos of Saturn from April 2010

Moon Photos 2016

Mond      Mond

Photos with 16 mm wide-angle eyepice, Leica-M (Typ 240) with 50 mm lens held to the eyepiece (1:50 method)

Photos taken on April 14, 2016

The following versions of the photos are the result of some post-processing to show more details in the lighter region of the moon:

Mond      Mond
Mond   Mond

Bottom row: Two different attempts at the same photo...

Venus Crescent March 2017

On March 16, 2017, I observed the Venus crescent with my Sky-Watcher Heritage P130 (5") telescope, using a 16 mm and a 4 mm UWA eyepiece. The selected photos below are 100% crops. The photos were taken with a Ricoh GR (1:50 method).

16 mm UWA eyepiece (about 40 x)

4 mm UWA eyepiece (about 160 x)

4 mm UWA eyepiece (about 160 x)

Photos with Camera (Ricoh GXR) Mounted to the Eyepiece

See my photo attempts with the camera (Ricoh GXR) mounted to the eyepiece on pages:



My experiences with the Heritage P130 Dobsonian telescope (purchased in February, 2010, given away in mid-April 2017, see below) were very satisfying. Photos of the moon were surprisingly sharp, and the planets Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn could be identified well* by their details (crescent, stripes, ring) (the Cassini division could not be identified, however; perhaps the air turbulence was too high). Major deep sky objects were also nice to observe in this relatively small telescope. Obviously, the parabolic mirror showed its advantage. All in all, I was satisfied with the image quality of this low-cost telescope.
*)This judgment refers to an "adjusted state" as well as to the state before my adjustment attempts in 2015.

Since I purchased the Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo Mount (July 2016), I was also able to use the tube as a GoTo telescope, especially for deep sky objects. I was able to observe a number of deep sky objects (summer/autumn 2016, spring 2017).

There were two things that I did not like about this telescope:

Everytime I changed the focus and thus, rotated the eyepiece the view got into trembling. This was very disturbing for me. Unfortunately, it did not seem possible to replace the eyepiece with a better one. These two items were also addressed by other owners (see below).

The quality of the eyepieces is also judged very differently on the Internet. Most reviewers find the 25 mm eyepiece (a Kellner-type eyepiece) acceptable. On the other hand, I found strong red color fringes when using it (in daylight). Others think that the 10 mm eyepiece is very poor. I found that it has at least less fringing. Since I bought additional, better eyepieces, the quality of the kit eyepiece was not important to me. It would probably make more sense if they would deliver them without eyepieces - or with better ones.

Comparison with Sky-Watcher Heritage 100P (Dobson)

Compared with the Heritage 100P, this scope is definitely bulkier, heavier and not as easy to use - although as a table-top Dobsonian it is still easy to use. But it takes more effort to take it out on the terrace or balcony and start observing. I also did not take this scope with me on vacations (only to friends, relatives, or where we do not sleep in our car). The mount exhibited more shivering, probably because of the higher weight on a one-arm mount.

Quality-wise, the P130 clearly has the lead and magnifies about 1.5 x more than the 100P, given the same focal length of the eyepiece. The same accounts for the different types of maximum magnification (see Basic Data). It can also be collimated (adjusted) correctly, whereas on the 100P only the secondary mirror can be adjusted. Nonetheless, since the 100P can be grasped and used quickly and easily, it was significantly more often in use than the P130.

Comparison with Sky-Watcher Skymax-102 OTA (Maksutov-Cassegrain)

In the summer of 2016, I bought a Sky-Watcher Skymax-102 OTA (a tube only) because a dealer persuaded me to do so. It is a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope with approximately the same opening as the Heritage 100P (the Skymax-127 would be a direct companion), but twice the focal length, and thus, you get twice the magnification for the same eyepiece. At maximum, the P130 gets a little bit higher: 220 x (factor 1.5) or 260 x (factor 2) versus 204 x (factor 2).

With my existing eyepieces, the Heritage P130 reaches a magnification of 162.5 x (4 mm eyepiece) and the Skymax-102 reaches 186 x (7 mm eyepiece), with respect to the beneficial magnification. The Skymax-102 can exceed the beneficial magnification: the 6 mm eyepiece reaches already 217 x. But for certain deep sky objects you might, according to Stoyan, even go to 300 x, provided the seeing permits this. The 4 mm eyepiece reaches a magnification of 325 x for the 102, but then the image is, for my taste, no longer good...

The Heritage P130, like the 100P, has the advantages of a wide field of view and a "faster" focal ratio (f/5 versus f/12.75) over the Skymax-102. Such a "fast" focal ratio puts higher demands on the eyepieces, but later I had some better eyepieces in my collection... Thus, in this respect, the P130 should be more suitable for deep sky observations, in particular, for more extended objects, than the Slymax-102. I h used the P130, more or less successfully, for this purpose, but a direct comparison with the Skymax-102 on the same sky objects is missing and can no longer be done. I cannot say anything about the deep sky abilities of the Skymax-102, whereas I was disappointed by those of the Meade ETX 90/EC (I was barely able to see the Andromeda galaxy, but this may also have been due to the observation conditions...).

A comparison of the image quality at day-time and at night between the Heritage P130 and the Skymax-102 was on my waiting list - and this will remain so, because I gave the P130 away in mid-April 2017 (see below)...

Comparison with Sky-Watcher Explorer 150PDS (Newton)

In early April 2017, I bought a 6" Newton tube, a Sky-Watcher Explorer 150PDS 150 mm / 750 mm (f/5), as a replacement for my 8" GSD 680 Dobsonian telescope, which had become too heavy for me, and it made a good first impression on me. I would also like to to use it on the Sky-Watcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo mount, which is not possible with the 8" GSD 680. A first test revealed that this seems to be a "borderline case " - I do not know whether the engine and the gearbox will last long under this heavy load. But it seems to work at the moment...

About a week later (April 9, 2017), I performed a simple comparison of the Heritage P130 and the 6" Explorer 150PDS using the targets M 42/43 and M 35. Since I was not able to operate the telescopes in parallel at exactly the same magnification, such a comparison is, of course, problematic. Overall and hardly surprising, the view was somewhat better in the 150PDS than in the P130, although I would not say that the differences were huge.

Final Words...

Considering the results of the comparison with the Explorer 150PDS, I could not see any advantages in owning both telescopes, since they are fairly similar optically, although the P130 is certainly better suited to traveling. So I gave the 5" Heritage P130 away, as nice as it was, in mid-April 2017.


What Others Say...

A Brief Review and First Conclusions

Skywatcher Heritage 130P Flextube Dobsonian (Dodge, Stargazers Lounge, 2011-08-18):

This is a nice review of the Heritage P130, from which would like to cite a few remarks:

Someone else in the thread (nick-named "Astronomical") suggested using Teflon tape for making focusing smoother. This seeemed to work for other posters.

My Comment: In my opinion, the poster pointed exactly to the shortcomings of the telescope: the inaccurate focuser and the wobbling (or trembling) of the telescope each time you touch it, which can be very disturbing. The poor 10 mm eyepiece can be easily replaced with a better one...

Why Isn't the Skywatcher Heritage 130p Ideal for Astrophotography?

There is a thread in (requires registration) asking the question above. Here are the answers that "Super Moderator" KeithBC provided:

There are several reasons why it is not suitable for astrophotography:

  1. A Dobsonian mount (any alt-az mount, really) limits you to 30 seconds maximum exposure due to field rotation.
  2. It does not have tracking motors, which further limits you to less than 1 second exposure time.
  3. Newtonians are not generally able to focus a DSLR camera.

You can do planetary astrophotography (AP) without a tracking mount, though tracking will considerably improve the convenience. Planetary AP is usually done using video, at fast frame rates. You would be able to shoot a few seconds of video before the scope has to be repositioned.

You absolutely need tracking for imaging deep space objects, though. A tracking alt-az mount will allow exposures up to 30 seconds. To go beyond 30 seconds, you need a tracking equatorial mount. Deep space objects benefit from exposures that are several minutes long.




Appendix: Data for Sky-Watcher Dobson Telescope Heritage P130 FlexTube DOB

Telescope: Sky-Watcher Heritage P130
Optical Design Newton (Parabolic)
Primary Mirror Diameter 130 mm (5")
Focal Length, Focal Ratio 650 mm, f/5
Resolving Power (arc secs) 0.9"
Limiting Visual Stellar Magnitude 13.3 mag
Light Gathering Power 344.9
Maximum Practical Visual Power ca. 195/220 x (260 x)
Optical Tube Dimensions (diam. x length) Tube collapsed < 37 cm (14.5") long
Net Weight Basis 3.1 kg*
Net Weight Optical Tube 3.25 kg*
Net Weight Complete < 6.5 kg or 14 lbs.

Dark Blue: Telescopes that I still own; italic and dark red: telescopes that I owned; black: for comparison; *) own measurement; corrected values

See also the table of data for all of my telescopes (and a few more...)

Observation-Relevant Data (in Comparison with other Newtonian Tubes)



Usable Magnification
Usable Focal Length
of Eyepiece (mm)
Factor/Exit Pupil (mm) >
Dobson/Newton 10"
Explorer 150PDS/Dobson 6"
Heritage P130
Heritage 100P

*) Calculated for an exit pupil of 6.5 mm and 7 mm
+) Factor 1.5 or 2 for Dobsonian/Newtonian telescopes; in general, the lower value of 1.5 is used for Newtonian telescopes; if the manufacturer specified a different magnification, it is also listed (some manufacturer provide considerably higher numbers...).

Recommendations for the Focal Lengths of Eyepieces for Heritage P130 (Following My Recommendations and Those of Others)

Criteria Exit
Focal Length of Eyepiece
Category Application Area
On the Market
Maximum FOV Search
32, 40
Minimum Magnification / Large FOV Overview, large-area nebulae
20, 25, 26, 32
Normal Magnification Large-area, faint nebulae; nebulae, open star clusters
18, 20
18 oder 20
Best for many objects, e.g. for most galaxies, and mid-size DSO
10, 12, 15
10, 15
Maximum Magnification / Maximum Resolution "Normal" upper magnification limit; globular star clusters
5, 6, 7
5, 7
Maximum perceptibility of small, low-contrast details; planetary nebulae, small galaxies;
maximum magnification for moon and planets
3, 3.5, 4
Separation of narrow double stars, small planetary nebulae;
perception of faintest details
2, 2.5

**) Typically no suitable 1,25" eyepieces available; problems with viewing at 40 mm; italic: not possible; red: magnification too high; blue: commercial focal lengths


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