Heritage 150P’s Optical Tube
The Heritage 150P is a 150mm (6”) f/5 Newtonian reflector with a focal length of 750 mm. This is the same optically as many 6” Newtonian astrographs, equatorially-mounted reflectors, and the 6” tabletop Dobsonians sold by Orion, Omegon, and others. The main difference is that the Heritage 150P has a collapsible tube, which essentially consists of the bottom half of one of those telescopes with a triad of struts and a plastic upper ring assembly replacing the upper half of the tube.
The obvious advantage here is that the telescope is significantly more compact by collapsing the upper half of the tube, which means it can fit in a large backpack, a suitcase, or in the trunk of even a very small car in a way that even a regular 6” f/5 Dobsonian just quite can’t. However, there are several disadvantages. Namely, the lack of a tube means that glare, moisture, and curious hands can get inside the tube. There’s a small plastic baffle across from the focuser, but that’s wholly inadequate to block light pollution, glare from direct light sources, moonlight, or sometimes even the light of bright stars or planets from entering the eyepiece and causing glare and loss of contrast – the baffle itself is also shiny, defeating its purpose. You can make a DIY shroud out of foam to alleviate this problem, but that’s another hassle to deal with too.
Due to the movement of the struts, the Heritage 150P also tends to go out of collimation a little more often than a solid-tubed scope, but this is hardly more than a moderate inconvenience, and you should always check collimation frequently with any telescope anyway. Lastly, the Heritage 150P’s focuser is probably the weakest link in the whole telescope. It is of the simplest helical design – just a threaded tube that screws in and out of a corresponding receptacle, both of which are plastic. For eyepieces like the ones included with the 150P this is fine, but the helical focuser is not really capable of holding anything heavy such as a nice ultra-wide-angle eyepiece or Barlow lens.
The Heritage 150P attaches to its tabletop Dobsonian mount with a standard Vixen-style dovetail bar bolted directly to the lower half of the tube. Thus, you could theoretically put the telescope on another mount, but it’s possible this could result in the focuser/eyepiece being located in an awkward position.
The Heritage 150P includes two eyepieces: a 25mm “Super” providing 30x, and a 10mm “Super” ocular providing 75x when used with the 150P. Both are 1.25” diameter, interchangeable, and made largely out of plastic, but are good optically and comfortable to use – the 10mm has more eye relief than a regular 10mm Plossl or Kellner, and thus is a lot easier to look through – especially for children or beginners not used to centering their eye on the exit pupil of the eyepiece.
Both of the included Super eyepieces are pretty good, if a bit short of being perfect for an f/5 instrument. They do have some reflections that a higher-quality Plossl ocular won’t suffer from, but they make up for it with their ease of use and for the low cost of the Heritage 150P it’s hard to complain – some manufacturers sell 6” reflectors with only one included eyepiece for a much higher price.
For aiming the Heritage 150P, a red dot finder is provided, which attaches to a rail affixed to the front of the telescope. This is really all you need for aiming a wide-field instrument like the Heritage anyway, and a heavier finder would neither fit nor be secure on the small amount of real estate the upper part of the Heritage’s frame provides.
Its tabletop “Dobsonian” Mount
The Heritage 150P uses a tabletop “Dobsonian” mount—technically not a true Dobsonian but rather a one-armed fork design, with the tube pivoting up and down on a plastic pad and ball bearing and swivelling like any other Dobsonian using three small Teflon pads on the laminated base. The tube attaches to the mount with a Vixen-style dovetail rail and clamp, and can be slid along the clamp for optimal balance. There’s also a built-in handle. You can adjust the friction of the altitude axis by tightening a large knob, while adjusting the friction in azimuth requires a pair of pliers or wrenches.
Being a “tabletop” telescope, you’d think the Heritage 150P is best suited for use on a table, and counterintuitively, it isn’t at all. For one thing, almost any table is not going to be sturdy enough for the 150P nor its smaller sibling, the 130P, and the 150P is actually quite tall when assembled. Our pick would be either a sturdy plastic bin (which you could also store the scope in) or, our favourite, a milk crate. For children or seated adults, this is more than an adequate amount of elevation. It’s lightweight, and you can carry the Heritage 150P and accessories around in it.
Should I buy a used Sky-Watcher Heritage 150P?
Given that the Heritage 150P is a new product in Sky-Watcher’s lineup, the likelihood of encountering a decrepit or damaged unit is very low. However, the usual precautions apply: check to make sure the mirror coatings aren’t damaged, the trusses extend smoothly, and hopefully the base is in good shape. Damage to the plastic and metal body of the optical tube is very hard, if not impossible, to fix. Otherwise, a used 150P will make for a great scope.
The Heritage 150P is the top scope in its price range, so most of our alternative recommendations are either inferior or in another price category.
- The Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P is essentially just a shrunken 150P, which fits in a smaller space and has slightly more forgiving mechanics due to its smaller size.
- The Zhumell Z130 is essentially the Heritage 130P stuck in a tube, with a worse mirror cell but a better focuser and fewer worries about stray light.
- The Bresser Messier 6” Tabletop Dobsonian is essentially the Heritage 150P but with a full-length optical tube and a rack-and-pinion focuser instead of a helical unit. It can also be upgraded to the 6i with Orion’s IntelliScope package.
Aftermarket Accessory Recommendations
In addition to sourcing a suitable stand, stool, or table and crafting a homemade shroud to enclose the tube, there are several affordable and highly beneficial accessories worth obtaining for the Heritage 150P in order to fully optimise its performance. A wide-angle low-power eyepiece with a wider field stop than the stock 25mm (30x) Super eyepiece, such as the 25mm Omegon FlatField ED or Celestron X-Cel LX, is a good choice and typically a higher-quality aftermarket ocular will also boast more eye relief and slightly better performance and contrast, as is the case with the aforementioned two options.
For medium power, a 16mm Ultra Wide Angle (UWA) eyepiece (41x) is an immersive and sharp option, while a 15mm redline/goldline (47x) serves as a decent budget alternative. A 10mm UWA (75x), or a 9mm redline/goldline (83x), delivers sharper views, a wider field of view, and a more comfortable experience compared to the 150P’s stock 10mm ocular. For higher magnification, a 4mm planetary eyepiece or a 4mm UWA (188x) is a solid choice. A dedicated 2.5mm planetary eyepiece provides 300x magnification, which is the absolute upper limit of what can be considered a useful magnification for this telescope. However, this high of a magnification may not be as useful if you live under frequently turbulent skies, and it is generally only effective for viewing planets and double stars.
Lastly, a narrowband Ultra High Contrast (UHC)/OIII nebula filter can significantly improve your views of nebulae, such as the Orion Nebula, when using almost any telescope, including the Heritage 150P. This filter also enhances the visibility of planetary nebulae by reducing the brightness of surrounding stars, making it easier for you to locate them at low power. Furthermore, it provides enough contrast improvement to reveal previously invisible targets, such as the Crab Nebula and Veil Nebula supernova remnants, when using this telescope under dark skies.
What can you see with the Skywatcher Heritage 150P?
A 6” telescope like the Heritage 150P can show you a lot of stuff, especially under dark skies, which it is thankfully very easy to transport to. Views of the Moon and planets are largely the same regardless of light pollution conditions, apart from the faint moons of the outer planets, where local atmospheric turbulence (seeing) is more important when it comes to getting the best clarity. However, for viewing galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters, it is best to get out into dark skies that are at least good enough that you can faintly see the Milky Way with your naked eye.
Within the solar system, the Heritage 150P can reveal the phases of Mercury during a favourable apparition of the planet, while Venus’ phases are an easy catch. The Moon shows thousands of craters as small as a few miles, along with cracks, ridges, fault lines, mountain ranges, and frozen lava flows. Mars’ polar ice cap is visible most of the time, and when Mars itself is close to Earth around opposition biannually, you’ll have no trouble seeing a few dark patches and any Martian summer dust storms, which usually tend to envelop the entire planet and obscure all other surface details. The two small asteroid moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, are also theoretically possible to observe but quite difficult. Deimos is the easier of the two and still quite an achievement.
The Heritage 150P will show a wealth of festoons, storms, and cloud bands on Jupiter ranging from blue, to red, to tan, to pink, to grey and brown. The Great Red Spot is also clearly distinguishable, even as it continues to shrink over the years. You’ll also be able to see the 4 Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto) as tiny disks, with equally tiny shadows when they transit across Jupiter and eclipse its cloudy surface.
Saturn’s rings and the Cassini Division within them are well-resolved with the Heritage 150P at high magnification, and several cloud bands on the planet itself can be seen, along with a gray-blue area near the poles. A few moons are also visible, including Titan, Rhea, Tethys, Dione, Enceladus, Mimas, and Iapetus, the latter of which is much harder to see depending on whether its dark or bright side is facing the Sun and Earth. Hyperion, while difficult, can also be seen under dark skies and good visibility conditions.
The Heritage 150P reveals Uranus as a tiny greenish-blue dot barely bigger than a star, much as William Herschel’s similarly-sized telescope did when he discovered it. The Uranian moons are barely within reach of a 6” telescope, but it’s theoretically possible to see at least Titania and Oberon, and perhaps Ariel. Umbriel is just a bit too faint to see, especially given Uranus’ glare, and Miranda is well beyond the reach of most backyard telescopes.
Neptune is little more than a fuzzy bluish “star” with the Heritage 150P, but you can see its moon Triton without too much trouble; it’s a full magnitude brighter than Uranus’ moons. Pluto is just barely visible with the Heritage 150P at a similar brightness to the brighter moons of Uranus, but it is hidden among a field of thousands of similarly-dim stars in the constellation of Sagittarius for the foreseeable future and will require careful searching and observations spaced at least a few days apart to be sure. You can also see bright asteroids like Ceres and Vesta fairly easily with the Heritage 150P, though they will be little more than grey or yellowish points of light, far too small to actually resolve.
Outside the Solar System, what you can see again is strongly correlated with the quality of your night sky. Even under light-polluted conditions, star clusters look great. You can see the colours of the brightest open clusters, like M11, the Flying Duck, or M35, or the Double Cluster. The Pleiades look great too; under dark skies, the wispy nebulosity the cluster is embedded in can also be clearly seen – though you may not be convinced and simply mistake it for a smudge on the lens or simple glare. Globular clusters like M13, M22, and M15 can be clearly resolved into individual stars, transforming from fuzzy to grainy as you increase magnification-and the different shapes of each can be seen too; M13’s dust lanes, M15’s bright core, M92’s ellipsoidal shape, and M4’s lack of density are all obvious.
The Orion Nebula and Lagoon Nebula both look magnificent, even under fairly light-polluted skies with the Heritage 150P. A UHC filter will improve the view, but you’ll have best results under dark skies, where nebulae like the Swan, the Eagle, and Thor’s Helmet become visible, as do the Crab, Rosette, and the Trifid. In addition to seeming brighter, the faintest wisps of nebulosity in these objects extend further out and fade slowly into the background under the darkest skies, and it becomes hard to tell where the background ends and the nebula itself begins.
Under light-polluted skies, the Heritage 150P can’t reveal much detail in galaxies besides their bright cores, and the high-contrast dust lanes in bright galaxies such as M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, or M82, the Cigar Galaxy. But under dark skies, you can begin to see the spiral structure in many of the brightest galaxies in the Messier catalogue, such as M33, M51, and M101. You can see dozens of galaxies in the Virgo Cluster, the tidal stream of the Cocoon Galaxy, and Andromeda’s elliptical galaxy companions, M32 and M110. There’s also a plethora of quasars to see, too—points of light billions of light-years away.