Category : Equipment Reviews

Bresser Messier 130N Telescope Review

The Bresser Messier N130 or 130N is a 5” or as the name implies a 130mm aperture Newtonian Telescope with a focal length of 1000mm/100cm/1m.

Bresser Messier 130N TelescopeThe Bresser Messier 130N was my first telescope purchase, and I was glad to know that it came complete with a number of eyepieces – 25mm, 15mm, 10mm and a Barlow lens, a planisphere, a good manual, as well as the astronomy software Cartes Du Ciel which can also be downloaded for free on the internet.

I paid £190 for the telescope new. At the time I only wanted to pay a maximum of £250 for a telescope, so it was nice to have some money spare, although this money and more was subsequently spent on astronomy accessories.

There were two largish boxes to unpack; one contained the tripod and equatorial mount whilst the other box contained the scope and the accessories. It did not take me too long to unpack and setup the telescope, although reading the manual was necessary.

As soon as I unpacked the telescope I was amazed that the equatorial telescope mount was so well made and very sturdy for the amount I paid. You may find the tripod quite heavy especially when you add the balancing weights to the tripod, so the 130N scope is not for young children due to the weight. The tripod height can be altered by loosening the tripod locks on the legs in order to get the telescope to a comfortable height for viewing. The tripod base underneath also has a plastic triangle to lock the legs in place, this also doubles up as an accessory tray, which can hold three 1.25 inch eyepieces and other bits and bobs.

N130 Mount and TelescopeWhen it’s your first telescope you never know what to expect when it comes to what you are going to see. I began by using the scope to see trees and plants outside of the window, and I was amazed to find out that I could see magnified images of ants on trees which were about 30m away.

Using the telescope indoors also gets you used to using the scope and how the equatorial mount works and how to get the scope in focus etc.

The 130N moves across the RA and Dec axis via manual control, although an optional RA motor drive can be fitted to the MON1 mount in order to track objects.

Bresser 130N TelescopeOne good thing about the 130N is that you can remove or unscrew the barrel part of the eyepiece focuser on the telescope, which provides you with even more focusing range when doing imaging with the scope.

I have used the 130N many times for taking images of the moon (see my gallery to view the images) and this telescope excelled at viewing the moon as well as planets such as Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. I also managed to use a web cam to get some great images of Jupiter, unfortunately due to the time of year when I owned the telescope; Saturn and Venus were not available for imaging.

N130 Telescope TubeI was also able to view other objects such as the Ring Nebula, Hercules cluster, Andromeda Galaxy and Whirlpool galaxy. But don’t expect to get views such as those from the Hubble Space Telescope for £200, but you can see a whole lot of sky if you can find the objects. Astrophotography of certain fast moving deep sky objects will be very difficult with this scope but viewing them will not.

Moving and setting up the Messier 130N telescope was relatively easy with most of the weight being in the tripod mount, it was then just a matter of setting the tripod height and then placing the telescope tube onto the mount and tightening it onto the mount via a screw and you are ready.

After a while I got used to polar aligning the scope as directed in the user manual and then finding objects by using the RA and Dec settings.

Really I don’t know what else to say about the scope, other than for the price the telescope was very good value for money, and I can definitely recommend the Bresser Messier 130N as a starter scope.

Philips SPC900 vs Logitech Quickcam Pro4000

For a long time Philips web cams have been the defacto standard of web cams to use for CCD imaging of astronomy objects. Many people own or have used a Philips ToUcam web cam, the latest version of this is the Philips SPC900NC web cam.

I originally already owned a Logitech Quickcam Pro4000 so I decided to start to use this webcam and purchased a web cam adaptor for it, luckily this webcam adaptor also fits the SPC900. The Adaptor I purchased was a AC414n nose-piece. I also purchased an IR filter.

After reading a lot of information about the Philips web cam and because it was only around £45, I decided to purchase one, and try it out.

I was very happy with the Quickcam Pro4000 images of the moon, but curiosity got to me, how much better could the Philips SPC900 really be? The Logitech Quickcam was not so good when used with a barlow or an imageMate when trying to look at far off planets, so I was hoping that the Philips web cam would be a lot better.

There are modifications you can make to the webcams, but I have not modded either of them.

Philips SPC9000NC

The Philips was used together with its bundled VLounge software, and this software did introduce me to a lot of available settings such as gamma, saturation, brightness, shutter speed, contrast etc which just were not available with the Quickcam.

The Philips does seem to be a pain when it comes to starting up sometimes on the laptop, sometimes I find myself pulling out the USB cable and re-inserting it or closing down VLounge and re-starting it.

I also find that the Frames Per Second (fps) setting in VLounge seems to change on it’s own, back to 5fps, but I usually try to image at a higher fps.

I have written a post on how to get your Philips SPC900 ready for observing.

Logitech Quickcam Pro4000

The bundled software with the Quickcam is very similar to VLounge, but there are less settings to tweak with this software and web cam, only

I never have any problems in plugging in the Quickcam into the laptop, I just plug it in insert it into the eyepiece setion of the telescope and away I go, completely trouble free.

I have written posts on how to get your Logitech Quickcam Pro4000 ready for observing.

Observing the Moon Test

The two videos below have each been taken with the Philips and the Quickcam, to try and demonstrate the differences with the web cams. Both videos were taken within about 10minutes of each other, on basic web cam settings.

I shall try and add extra videos and stacked images from both web cams of other items in the solar system at a later date.

Philips Moon Video

This video shows a dark patch on the right, which is a house roof coming into view as the moon dipped beneath it, but the overall video is a lot darker, but I think the resolution is a lot better.

Quickcam Moon Video

I think you can see from this video that the moon was quite low, hence the astmospheric ripples, like the moon is underwater. But I was happy with the focus, detail and the brightness of the video from the Quickcam.

Overall

I think the Philips SPC900 is definitely the better webcam when it comes to functionality, there are more settings to play with and you can get better resolution and record what appears to be a darker output of the sky with it.

If you already have a Logitech Quickcam Pro 3000, 4000 or 5000 then use it and have a go. If you don’t have a webcam at all then buy the Philips SPC900, I purchased mine in the UK from Pixmania (whose stock comes from France) or they are available at time of writing from Amazon.

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