Sky-Watcher’s 6-inch Dobsonian Telescope Reviewed – AstroGear Today

Sky-Watcher’s 6-inch Dobsonian Telescope Reviewed

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SkyWatcher Heritage 150p 6-inch tabletop Dobsonian telescope. Credit: SkyWatcherUSA

Sky-Watcher’s Heritage 150p is a collapsible 6” f/5 truss Dobsonian reflector telescope. You could be observing in less than five minutes after pulling the scope out of the shipping carton (the scope comes fully assembled) sliding on the red dot finder, inserting an eyepiece, and extending the truss poles.  It’s a more purist telescope viewing experience, freeing the observer from fussing with batteries or computers.

The main challenge with any tabletop telescope is finding a suitable platform to set it on. Whatever you use, it should be something you can walk around, and it must be sturdy. Many beginners are unprepared for how steady the telescope needs to be while observing. Any flexure or instability will magnify the jiggles and shakes in the eyepiece. I have used everything from a specially-braced plastic tub to a small reinforced end table. In a pinch, you can set the scope on the ground and kneel down, but this can quickly get uncomfortable (hint: if you do this, get one of those foam kneeling pads from the gardening center of your local store – your knees will thank you!)

The optical tube can be removed from the tabletop mount and placed on a tracking mount via a Vixen-style plate. Here it is aboard the author’s Celestron AVX mount. Credit: Ed Ting

 

It’s difficult to convey just how compact the telescope is when fully retracted, which is one of its main assets, as it is easy to tote to remote locations. The package is so small, some local club members who first saw it assumed it was a 4.5”.  It is small enough to fit in even the smallest of spaces, yet it contains a 6” mirror. Also, its 13 lb (nearly 6 kg) weight is far less than that of a typical 6” reflector.

The SkyWatcher Heritage 15op 6-inch Dobsonian telescope open for observing (left) and closed for transport and storage (right). Credit: Ed Ting

There are a few drawbacks. You can’t expect a $280 telescope to be perfect. Its imperfections fall under the category of “quality of life” rather than any outright flaws. First, some observers don’t like helical focusers, where the entire focuser screws in and out, finding them less convenient than traditional rack and pinion focusers. I am guessing Sky-Watcher included it due to cost and weight considerations. The supplied helical focuser was of decent quality, but there is some side-to-side play in the mechanism, and it can also be completely unscrewed if you’re not careful.

The Sky-Watcher 150p has a screw-type helical focuser. Credit: Ed Ting

Second, the scope’s open design leaves the secondary mirror exposed to moisture and glare. Of the two factors, I found the susceptibility to glare to be the more serious. Any stray light from your home, garage, a passing car, or even your red light can temporarily “wipe out” the views. The ideal solution is to get to a dark location, although I realize that isn’t an option for everyone. 

Finally – and I admit this falls under the category of nit-picking – I found one of the plastic truss knobs to be awfully close to the base of the finder, making it difficult to locate in the dark.

Portability and speed are the scope’s strong points. I should repeat here that the scope needs a sturdy platform. If you are the type who doesn’t like spending time initializing computers, wondering if your battery is charged, or calibrating “go-to” systems – in other words, if you’re the type who likes to spend time simply observing – the 150p could be just the solution you’ve been looking for.

MSRP: $280
Website: www.skywatcherusa.com

About Ed Ting

Ed Ting is a well-known amateur astronomer. His work has appeared in Sky & Telescope, Night Sky, Skywatch, Amateur Astronomy, Discover, and Popular Mechanics magazines. His web site, www.scopereviews.com, is a widely-read telescope review web site. He is a National Science Foundation Ambassador to Chile and a NASA Solar System Ambassador.

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