We try out Skywatcher’s popular entry-level telescope
When it comes to higher apertures, Dobsonian telescopes are the masters of this domain and the Skywatcher heritage range is no exception to the rule. This 4-inch table top telescope which is incredibly cheap, costing under £100 is the perfect example.
It’s a stylish stargazing gadget, packaged in a nice design and a sleek looking metallic hot red finish. It’s focal length can reach 400mm, giving it a focal ratio of f/4 thanks to the 4-inch parabolic mirror. It comes packaged with two eyepieces as standard, one 25mm and the other 10mm, a 2x Barlow lens and a very useful red dot finder.
Set up is a breeze and takes literally seconds. Simply unbox it, pop on the finder, add an eyepiece and you’ll be staring at the sky a few moments later. With its small scale design, the Heritage 100P is designed to be a tabletop viewer, so you’ll need something flat and sturdy to get the best results from this telescope. A good quality garden table would suit best as you can sit back and enjoy the views in comfort, with minimal shake or image blurring.
In terms of focussing, this model is equipped with a rack and pinion system. Our test model was a tad stiff to adjust but overall, the control we found to be good enough at this price point.
The finder is a basic zero magnification unit. With the small red dot that is projected onto the clear screen, we found it surprisingly easy to align it to the main telescope. If we did have one small gripe, it would that both the focuser and finder didn’t feel very well positioned to the telescope whilst in use and it could get in the way from time to time when viewing through the eyepiece. Strangely enough, if their positions were flipped, it would make a great deal more sense and alleviate this problem.
On the plus side, we found the mount that comes equipped with the telescope to be nice and sturdy and a breeze to use.
Field of view tests
The put the Heritage’s optical qualities to the test, we first pointed it at Regulus in Leo. Using the 25mm eyepiece, the star remained sharp and crisp for the central 60% of the view, but outside of that, the image quality swiftly started to deteriorate.
Overall, wide field views were decent, confirmed when we pointed our new toy at both M81 and M82 in the Ursa Major constellation. Switching over to the 10mm eyepiece however, gave us much sharper edges when viewing M82 and we could even make out some structural textures at times when the skies were at their darkest.
In terms of planet watching, we found views of Jupiter to be rather small even when using the 10mm eyepiece but e could still make out the equatorial bands and the four Galilean moons which is impressive for a budget telescope.
Observing Mars was a real treat as we were able to see ice caps and some interesting markings whilst it was great for viewing the rings of Saturn, with both Titan and Rhea both clearly visible through the eyepiece.
Closer to home, the Moon was a breeze to observe, with plenty of craters and Lunar Mare to enjoy although not in great a detail as we would have expected.
As with any telescope, the set-up process is what makes or breaks the deal and this one gave us no fuss whatsoever, making it the perfect choice for beginning astronomers and stargazers.
With this model being so compact and lightweight, its the ideal telescope to take to friends to enjoy or pack away on short trips. Weighing in at just over 2.8kg, its no heavyweight and can be enjoyed by practically anyone, of any age, making it the ideal entry level telescope to start a lifelong interest in the constellations and beyond.
Storing it was easy, with it being compact and easy to move, to it will never be a purchase getting in the way or collecting dust. As always, it comes with the usual high end build quality you’d expect from Skywatcher Telescopes and at a price under £100, you can’t realyl go wrong.
Overall, a great entry level telescope for someone who is just starting out on their stargazing journey or an ideal purchase for an experienced astronomer who wants something more compact to take on the road.