The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ telescope is one of the most popular beginner's telescopes in the country, and with good reason. But, although it is a wonderful scope, it has a couple of quirks you should be aware of before buying.
Our comprehensive review will help you decide if the 127EQ is the perfect model to get your astronomy adventures off the ground.
Its aperture is 127mm, which is five inches. This makes it about as large as a 'beginner' scope can get and...
The whole package comes for less than $200 (click here for today's price on Amazon.com), which is, frankly, brilliant.
To hit such a desirable price point, Celestron has made some sacrifices.
At Love the Night Sky, we believe you shouldn't be surprised by any aspect of your telescope after you've read one of our reviews.
So, read on to discover why the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ is one of the most popular telescopes in the world and what makes it a great telescope for the money.
The Celestron PowerSeeker Range of Telescopes
The PowerSeeker range has been specifically designed by Celestron to...
"...give the first-time buyer the perfect combination of quality, value, features and power."
It's true the range aims squarely at the beginner.
It spans quite a range of sizes, from a 50mm refractor at one end (for less than $50, this is practically a 'toy' scope with little more power than a decent pair of binoculars) to the much more serious 5" Newtonian reflector at the top end.
There are nine options in the range, which includes 7 different telescopes and two different mount options:
- PowerSeeker 50mm refractor on alt-az mount
- PowerSeeker 60mm refractor on alt-az mount
- PowerSeeker 60mm refractor on an equatorial mount
- PowerSeeker 70mm refractor on alt-az mount
- PowerSeeker 70mm refractor on an equatorial mount
- PowerSeeker 80mm refractor on an equatorial mount
- PowerSeeker 80mm refractor (short focal length) on an alt-az mount
- PowerSeeker 114mm reflector on an equatorial mount
- PowerSeeker 127mm reflector on an equatorial mount
The 127EQ model is the top end of this range and the focus of the rest of this review.
The rest of this review covers these sections:
- The PowerSeeker 127EQ’s Specs
- The 127EQ Telescope and its optics
- The equatorial mount
- What PowerSeeker 127EQ owners say about their scope
- Our recommendations for the PowerSeeker 127EQ
To go straight to the section you’re interested in, use the 'Quick Navigation' box on the right.
Telescope Type: Reflector
Current Price: Click here for current price
Focal Length: 1000mm (39.4")
Aperture: 127mm (5")
Focal Ratio: f7.87
Maximum Theoretical Magnification: 250x (4mm eyepiece)
Likely Useful Maximum Magnification: 250x (4mm eyepiece)
Full Specification List: Click Here
- Amazing value for money
- Full 5-inch primary mirror
- Short tube = easy to move/store
- Need to learn collimation for a spherical mirror
- Additional 12 or 15mm eyepiece needed
Ideal For: Beginners who want a large aperture for a relatively low price. The 127EQ is a great first telescope and introduction to astronomy with a reflector.
The PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope and Optics
This PowerSeeker's 5” primary mirror is not to be sniffed at.
You can reasonably expect to use magnifications as high as 250x (with good seeing) and anything up to 200x is within easy reach of this telescope.
Each of the scopes in the PowerSeeker range comes with two eyepieces (4mm and 20mm) and a 3x Barlow Lens. The 4mm eyepiece is so powerful for the smaller scopes that it's nonsense to include it.
However, these options are more realistic at the top end, including for the 127EQ we're reviewing.
The 5-inch mirror on the 127mm PowerSeeker model limits useful magnification to about 250x, which is achieved using the 4mm eyepiece. (Don't use it with the Barlow though, this will give you 750x magnification, which is too powerful and won't show you anything).
The larger 20mm eyepiece provides a more useful 50x magnification. This grows to 150x when coupled with the 3x Barlow.
If you purchased an additional eyepiece, like this 15mm Plössl, you'd have a much better option. It would give you 66x magnification on its own and 198x magnification when used with the Barlow.
Don't worry too much about all these numbers.
Experienced telescope owners rarely use very high magnification, and you rarely will too. Most nights you'll get best results with magnifications below 150x. The highest magnifications are only used for bright objects like the moon and planets, and only when the seeing conditions are excellent.
Under a dark sky, you'll be able to see objects down to magnitude 13 with this telescope. This puts some incredibly faint objects within your reach - including all 110 objects in the Messier catalogue. Begin with the brightest, then move on to dimmer objects. With experience and dark skies, you'll be very pleased with what this telescope can do for you.
In the introduction, we said that compromises are needed to offer a scope of this size at such a low price.
In the case of the 127EQ's optics, the compromise is to use a spherical primary mirror rather than a parabolic one.
The big advantage of this is the body of the telescope can be made shorter than its focal length. In the case of this PowerSeeker, the focal length is 1000mm (39") but the body length is much shorter at 508mm (20"). The big disadvantage is that optical aberrations are more common with a spherical mirror than a parabolic one.
The telescope contains a corrective lens, but you will still experience some image distortion (like coma - tails on stars near the edges of your view). But, if you've never looked down a scope before, the effect is unlikely to dampen your joy at seeing your first planet or galaxy - you may not even notice it at all!
You may find 'those in the know' make a lot of noise about this in astronomy forums. Honestly, though...
If you're brand new to the hobby, have never seen the rings of Saturn or a close-up lunar crater before and don't have hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to test whether astronomy is the hobby for you, then this scope is a great way of finding out!
For well under $200, you'll get a piece of equipment which does a wonderful job of introducing you to some of the best sights our night sky has to offer. If you accept that at this price the optics won't be as great as on a $1000 scope, then you won't regret starting your backyard astronomy adventures off with this 5" scope.
What You Can See with the PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope
At a dark site you should be able to see the following objects with this 5” aperture telescope:
- Phases of Mercury
- Lunar craters as small as 3 miles across
- The Martian ice caps and some shading (when it is closest to Earth)
- Jupiter's largest cloud belts, and her moons (and their shadows) transiting the planet
- Neptune and Uranus look like discs, not just points of light
- The Cassini Division in Saturn's rings and her brightest moons
- All the Messier catalogue and some of the brighter NGC objects (although with little detail)
This article gives you much more detail about what you should expect to see with your 5" of aperture.
Collimating the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope
The biggest frustration for the first-time owner of reflecting telescope is collimation. Discovering that your mirrors need regular tweaking for perfect performance can be shocking.
The primary mirror is mounted on a set of three adjustable grips at the rear of the telescope tube. The secondary mirror hangs off three bars at the opening of the scope tube.
With normal use, the mirrors will move slightly over time. When they do, they no longer send a perfectly focussed image to your eyepiece.
To make sure you get the best seeing possible with this scope, you will need to adjust the mirrors now and again. This adjustment is called collimation and can be a scary task for the beginner.
Firstly - do not worry! All of us who own a reflector (and that's most of us) have to collimate on quite a regular basis.
Secondly, there are so many resources out there to make this easier to do. Our favorite is this video, which is so much more useful than page 12 of Celestron's instruction manual.
If you prefer your to read your guides, there is a great written description of collimation from Sky & Telescope here.
Finally, there are pieces of equipment designed to make collimating easy. We recommend a set of ‘Bob’s Knobs’ for safer tweaking of the secondary mirror (no chance of dropping your hex keys or screwdriver onto the primary) and a laser collimator (as used in the video above) to get the mirrors perfectly aligned with each other and your eyepiece.
If you've read the full review to this point, you already know that there is a corrector lens in the 127EQ to deal with the spherical mirror. That corrector lens is within the focuser tube and needs removing before using a laser collimator. The video below helpfully shows you exactly how to do that for this PowerSeeker model.
Verdict: A strong contender for 'Best Beginner's Telescope'. The PowerSeeker 127EQ provides 5 inches of primary mirror in a compact tube, which is easy to store and move.
Like all reflectors, the mirrors will need collimating from time to time. With the right tool and the videos above, that is a simple skill to master.
The PowerSeeker's Equatorial Mount
Equatorial mounts are designed so that one axis is parallel to the Earth's axis. It sounds a little complex but it gives a really simple benefit:
You can follow stars and other objects across the night sky by turning your telescope in just one direction.
When you find the object you're looking for, you need only turn the left/right axis to keep it in the eyepiece. An alt-azimuth mount, by comparison, has to be constantly moved in the up/down and left/right directions.
Like collimating, setting up an equatorial stand can be a little confusing to a new astronomer, but it is quite simple once you get the hang of it.
The video below is the best one we've found on setting up an equatorial mount.
The set-up of an equatorial mount only needs to be 'about right' to give you good viewing results.
There is one final thing to note about the mount. For reasons of cost control, the mount is strong and rigid enough to give good viewing, but it will not dampen out all vibrations. Thankfully, there are many free and cheap ways you can reduce any vibration you do experience.
Verdict: Even though setting it up takes a little getting used to, a German equatorial mount is a great choice for finding your way around the night sky.
What PowerSeeker 127EQ Owners Say
We think it’s really important to hear what existing 127EQ owners have to say about the scope before you make a final buying decision.
There are plenty of reviews around the Internet, so we’ve gathered a sample of views from owners of the PowerSeeker 127EQ. You can read the full detail by clicking on the links below.
Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Users' Reviews
- This video comes from an owner and sets out the joys of this scope, whilst covering off the challenge of collimation
- A member of the Cloudy Nights forum shares how they collimate the 127EQ
- This 'most helpful' review on Amazon.com sets out dealing with the frustration of collimation (details above) and what great value for money this telescope offers
Verdict: Most owners give this telescope really positive feedback on being great value - Five inches of aperture for less than $200. Most owners that are frustrated have been let down by the poor collimating information from Celestron.
Follow the guides set out above, and you too can be one of the happy owners of a decent size scope for a great price.
Recommended Extras for the PowerSeeker 127 EQ
We hope our thorough review of the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ has helped you choose it as our first telescope.
If you go ahead and buy the 127EQ you might want to consider purchasing the following pieces of kit to get more enjoyment from your new telescope on day one:
We at Love the Night Sky think that if you can take on the simple challenge of collimating, upgrade an eyepiece and the viewfinder, the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ is a bargain telescope for a new backyard astronomer.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com