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Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Review – Not Recommended

Celestron’s PowerSeeker 127EQ is so bad that we’re genuinely baffled as to who in the world would’ve given this product a green light for manufacturing.

Celestron’s PowerSeeker 127EQ is the perfect example of why our website exists, and why some Amazon reviewers are not knowledgeable enough to review complicated telescopes.

Its reviewers are written by a mix of incompetent and misdirected newbies with extremely low expectations, old fogeys who only briefly look at its specs and assume it’s a bargain, and outright fake or misleading reviews written by paid shills or robots. With a poor optical design, poor construction quality, abhorrent eyepieces, an impossibly undersized mount, and marketing claims that should be confined to the days of mail-order scams, it’s almost believable that the 127EQ is some kind of mischievous prank pulled on beginner astronomers.

Celestron mentions that this scope can achieve up to 450 power, which is too high for a 5ʺ telescope, or any telescope. An advertisement like that should be an immediate red flag for anyone looking to purchase a decent telescope. If this information hasn’t convinced you already not to buy a 127EQ, read on.

How It Stacks Up

Ranks #43 of 43 (£200 Range Telescopes)

Rank 43
Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ
1
What We Like

  • Looks like a telescope
  • Might actually provide a focused image


What We Don't Like

  • Terrible optics
  • Terrible accessories
  • Mount literally incapable of functioning with the included telescope


Bottom Line

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ doesn’t belong on any reputable website that sells telescopes, Amazon, the collection of any amateur astronomer, or anywhere that isn’t the bottom of a landfill. It’s one of the lowest-quality telescopes around, and yet it’s peddled by a world-renowned brand and given praise by many experienced astronomers – most of whom have, of course, never actually bothered with trying to use one. Don’t take one even if it’s for free.

I spent a few days doing everything possible to get my 127EQ to work. I’ve owned dozens of telescopes. I’ve serviced hundreds. I know what I’m doing, and after all my efforts I was still presented with images worse than any telescope I’ve ever looked through.

Overview Of The 127mm Bird-Jones Optical Tube

127EQ Optical tube

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ is a 127 mm 5ʺ f/7.87 (focal ratio) Newtonian with a focal length of 1,000 mm. If you do some basic math, you’ll immediately notice something odd. The PowerSeeker 127EQ’s tube is only twenty inches long – 500mm. How does one fit a “Newtonian” optical system (not a Cassegrain, which actually “folds” the light path into a smaller physical package) into that small of a tube?

The answer is that the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ is not a Newtonian. It’s a Bird-Jones. Bird and Jones were two amateurs in the 1950s who sought to create a simple telescope with a spherical instead of a parabolic primary mirror, with a corrector lens/Barlow in front of the secondary mirror. This design, in theory, can work well, and some properly executed Bird-Joneses do in fact work quite well. But the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ is anything but properly executed.

Unlike the classical Bird-Jones style, which puts the corrector lens just in front of the secondary mirror, the 127EQ’s “corrector” is mounted in the focuser. This means that it will move whenever you dial in the focus, thus assuring the correction is basically never spot-on.

Even if the corrector being mounted in the focuser was not an issue, the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ’s corrector is just a Barlow lens inserted into the focuser drawtube – not a proper corrector lens. It doesn’t actually fix the massive amounts of spherical aberration inherent in the f/3.5 spherical primary mirror, which by default should prevent the telescope from forming a sharp image at even very low magnifications. Rather, the corrector-Barlow simply makes the path of the light rays through the telescope a little steeper, which in theory might be enough to provide a pretty decent – if not the sharpest – image. But due to the constant displacement from its ideal positioning thanks to being mounted in the focuser, the 127EQ’s corrector at best enables the scope to deliver images that are barely acceptable for a telescope of its size and price. At worst, the views are a completely mushy, unusable mess.

To make matters worse, the PowerSeeker 127EQ’s primary mirror isn’t even a precisely manufactured sphere; it’s a random shape that came straight out of the polishing machine. The PowerSeeker 127EQ primaries I’ve tested have had rough surfaces and all sorts of microscopic holes and hills that damage the image, as well as many other complicated flaws. These are all caused by the fact that nobody actually bothers to test these things before throwing them in the telescope. If Celestron performed any quality control on the PowerSeeker 127EQ, after all, it might not have been created in the first place. The primary mirror also appears to be secured to its support with solid gobs of epoxy, which warp and distort the mirror due to the stress they induce on the glass. This further hinders the already-low capabilities of the telescope.

The Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ is rather difficult to collimate with the corrector lens in the focuser, as the corrector makes the reflected image of the primary and secondary mirrors look rather tiny. The corrector lens also inhibits the function of a laser collimator. Thus, to collimate the 127EQ, you must first remove the corrector lens, which requires taking apart the focuser, carefully unscrewing the ring that holds the corrector, and avoiding getting fingerprints (or grease from the focuser drawtube) on the corrector lens, then re-assembling the focuser temporarily to collimate. After collimating the scope, you then have to take the focuser apart again, re-install the corrector, making sure to put it in the right way, and then re-assemble the focuser. In addition, the collimation screws on the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ have next to no travel and are easily stripped. Collimating the 127EQ was hard enough for me to do in the shop; a beginner attempting it out in the cold and dark will find it impossible.

Problems With Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ Accessories

127EQ Accessories

If you thought the Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ’s optics were bad, the eyepieces are actually worse by every stretch of the imagination. 

The low-power eyepiece included with the 127EQ is a 20mm Kellner with a permanently installed “erecting prism to flip the image right-side up, and it provides 50x. 50x is a bit of a high magnification for “low power” with a 5” telescope, especially one with poor optics. The erecting prism is included so that Celestron can claim the telescope is capable of terrestrial viewing, and it comes at the expense of sucking up quite a bit of the light entering the telescope, blurring the image due to its extremely low quality and providing a field of view reminiscent of a drinking straw. As a result, you’ll struggle to locate targets (a problem worsened by the next-to-useless included finderscope) or fit them into the field of view.

For high magnification, the 127EQ comes with a 4 mm Ramsden. The last time a Ramsden had any place in an amateur astronomer’s eyepiece box was in the 1960s, when a Kellner or Orthoscopic was rare and sought after. Like the included 20mm eyepiece, the 4mm Ramsden has a tiny field of view. Worse, however, it has a tiny eye lens and next to no eye relief – meaning you’ll need to jam your eyeball into it to see much of anything – and provides 250x, which is too much for even a quality 5” telescope (which the 127EQ is a far cry from). It’s also generally low quality and would provide a mushy image anyway, even if there was not too much power for the scope to handle.

The included “3x Barlow” is a plastic-lensed abomination that exists to provide the “450x” Celestron claims the telescope is capable of (in actuality, very few telescopes are capable of, let alone used at, 450x). It is completely useless and should be discarded.

For a finderscope, the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ comes with a 5×24 unit with a single plastic lens and a plastic eyepiece. The lens is stopped down to an aperture of less than 10 mm in order to provide a usable image, depriving it of light-gathering power. The bracket is also next to impossible to align with the telescope, meaning that the finder is almost always pointed askew and thus completely useless. You’re better off removing the finder itself and using the bracket as a peep sight.

About The EQ-1 Mount

The EQ-1 mount provided with the PowerSeeker EQ telescopes is actually fairly respectable in terms of build quality and operation. However, it is completely incapable of supporting a telescope as large as the Powerseeker 127. Not only is the mount incredibly wobbly with the 127mm optical tube placed atop it, but the included counterweight is literally not heavy enough to balance the telescope. As a result, when operating the 127EQ, you have to always lock up the mount axes somewhat to prevent the whole telescope from moving around of its own accord, thus also guaranteeing that motions will be jerky and less-than-smooth as you move the telescope around the sky, exacerbating the stability issues we’ve already mentioned. Between these issues and the terrible included finderscope, it is hard to get the 127EQ pointed at pretty much anything besides the Moon.

Should I buy a Used PowerSeeker 127EQ?

No, not even for £1.

Alternative Recommendations

Almost anything is going to be better than the PowerSeeker 127EQ; even a pair of 7×50 binoculars is likely to lead to more satisfaction in exploring the night sky. However, here are a few of our top picks:

Under £250

  • The Zhumell Z100 and Sky-Watcher Heritage 100P have less aperture than the 127EQ, but thanks to the ridiculously poor design of the 127EQ they of course easily best it in image quality. These telescopes – as with all others we recommend both feature parabolic primary mirrors with no internal corrector lenses, and quality accessories and mounts.
  • The Zhumell Z114 and Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro are both even better than the smaller 100mm tabletop scopes we also recommend, with the same great optics, accessories, and easy-to-use mounts. They are night and day compared to the awful experience of the 127EQ.
  • The Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P offers slightly more aperture – and infinitely better views – than the PowerSeeker 127EQ, all in a convenient and portable package thanks to its collapsible tube. The included accessories are great, too.

£250-£325

  • The Sky-Watcher Heritage 150P offers significantly more aperture than the 127EQ or smaller tabletop reflectors we recommend in its stead, with a surprisingly compact tube thanks to Sky-Watcher’s FlexTube collapsible tube design. A computerized version, the Virtuoso GTi 150P, is also available at a slightly higher price but still offers the freedom to be aimed manually if you wish.
  • The Bresser Messier 6” f/8 Planetary Dobsonian provides similar performance to the Heritage 150P, but with a solid-tubed design and a tube and base tall enough to not need a table. It’s a lot more rugged than a tabletop scope, but also a lot more of a hassle to move around. The similar Apertura DT6 and Sky-Watcher 6” Classic are also great choices, but the XT6 is our favorite of the three thanks to its features, price, and availability.

Aftermarket Accessory Recommendations

It might be perceived as an unwise investment to upgrade the PowerSeeker 127EQ with better-quality eyepieces when the funds could be allocated towards simply obtaining a more effective and capable device. Nevertheless, replacement, good quality 1.25” eyepieces can be employed with a different telescope in the future and can mildly improve the viewing experience with your PowerSeeker 127EQ, in spite of its flawed optics, terrible finderscope, and unsteady mount. The 127EQ’s provided 20mm erecting eyepiece is awful and completely spoils any low-power viewing, where the telescope can still do a mediocre but admittedly acceptable job. A good low-power eyepiece gives you a fighting chance. Our pick would be a 32mm Plossl (31x), which is far sharper than the 20mm and presents the widest feasible field of view with the scope, making it ideal for examining deep-sky objects and able to put up decent images of the Moon too. However, it will vignette slightly thanks to the corrector lens in the 127EQ’s drawtube, though it is still a better option than a 25mm unit. A 15mm “redline” or “goldline” eyepiece (67x) should still be capable of providing sharp images in the 127EQ and can unveil some planetary detail without surpassing the limits of what the telescope can genuinely manage before the optics yield indistinct and faint images.

A higher magnification eyepiece such as a 9mm goldline/redline (111x) will be great with another telescope but is probably going to be a disappointment in the 127EQ – though it’s certainly far better than the absurd 250x with the provided toylike 4mm Ramsden eyepiece.

What can you see with the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ?

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ’s low-quality optics are a permanent handicap, even if you upgrade the accessories. If you can manage to get the scope collimated and deal with the frustration of aiming it, expect to see the following.

Solar System

  • Mercury – An ill-defined smudge. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to resolve its phase.
  • Venus – The phase is easy to see, albeit with a lot of glare surrounding the planet caused by the corrector lens and low-quality eyepieces.
  • The Moon – A fairly decent view, but nowhere near as detailed as the sights delivered by a telescope with quality optics.
  • Mars – An ill-defined blob even when it’s close to Earth. You might just be able to make out an ice cap and maybe a dark smudge.
  • Jupiter – The moons are obvious (but then again, they’re obvious in a pair of cheap birding binoculars too). The two equatorial cloud belts are visible, albeit low in contrast. The Great Red Spot, normally a pretty easy catch with a careful eye and almost any half-decent telescope, is not sharply defined enough to spot.
  • Saturn – The rings are visible, though fuzzy, and maybe a couple of moons can be spotted. The Cassini Division in the rings cannot be seen, and you won’t be able to glimpse any of Saturn’s fainter moons besides Titan and Rhea.
  • Uranus and Neptune – Assuming you can even find them, the PowerSeeker’s optics are bad enough that you can’t distinguish either planet as a clear disk.

Deep-sky objects

Many of the most exciting star clusters are visible, but lack crispness. 

  • Emission nebulae: The Orion Nebula looks okay but the Trapezium star cluster is mushy. The Lagoon is a wispy cloud, with bloated, ugly stars inside it. The Swan is ill-defined. 
  • Galaxies are troublesome to find and lack anything resembling detail. 
  • Forget most planetary nebulae; they’ll be blurred beyond recognition.
  • Splitting any remotely close double star with the 127EQ is impossible.

An amateur astronomer and telescope maker from Connecticut who has been featured on TIME Magazine, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, La Vanguardia, and The Guardian.

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