We test drive Skywatcher’s popular “big league” telescope
First off, this has to be one of the prettiest telescopes on the market right now, with it’s sleek and attractive metallic cobalt blue finish, highly rated EQ5 mount and super sturdy tubular stainless steel legged tripod.
Surprisingly, the mount doesn’t have a polar scope however you can use the hollow tube as the polar scope for basic alignment if desired. As with most Skywatcher Explorer models, items such as the polar scope, motor drives and GoTo system can be bought separately allowing you to upgrade your scope to a more convenient point and find viewer.
What you do get with this model is a 9×50 straight-through finder, two eyepieces at 10mm and 25mm plus a 2x Barlow lens which has a camera attachment included.
First set up was straightforward however, we did find the overall height of the telescope to sit quite tall – not great for the kids or smaller folk. To compensate, the eyepiece can be placed in a more comfortable position is desired by rotating the tube in the rings.
Once in place, the mount was a very stable base to work from with minimal flexible noticeable. The slow motion axis controls were smooth as silk, with minimal play when put to good use.
Field of View Report
Using the supplied 25mm eyepiece, we firstly set our sights on the star of Arcutus and the resulting image was incredibly sharp across 75% of the view, with only minimal trailing occurring towards the edges.
At low magnification, Epsilon Lyrae looked superb, showing two main stars. When switching to the 10mm eyepiece and Barlow lens, we enjoyed a superb view of its four stars and dark skies between. Using the same setup, Saturn also looked fabulous displaying its belt and sharp rings in all its glory along with five of its moons.
Closer to Earth, our Moon was a breeze to enjoy a mass of craters and maria in superb crisp detail.
Deep Sky Observations
Further afield, more distant celestial objects were mighty impressive through the Explorer 200P. With the 25mm eyepiece in place, the Whirlpool Galaxy was very simple to find and we enjoyed views of a large mysterious disc on that particular evening. Switching to the 10mm eyepiece revealed some subtle mottling on its surface, with some hints of edge detailing.
Looking out to Ursa Major, M82 was very strong through this scope, as was the M13 cluster. We even managed to catch a glimpse of the faint but distant NGC6207 galaxy with both the 25mm and 10mm eyepieces in place.
Nebulae also looked good, with the Ring Nebula showing its hollow ring at low powers. We also managed to find the Beehive Cluster and M39 during our tests using the 25mm eyepiece, with the stars in sparkling sharp quality through the viewer.
As expected, this telescope passed with flying colours and delivered on all its promises. Both optically and practically, this telescope is a winner with our test team even without any mod cons such as motor drives and GoTo systems installed.
As a base unit, it delivers for what most demanding amateur astronomer would demand and with the additions such as the polar scope,motor drives and auto finder system in place, this is a set-up that would satisfy even the most pickiest of telescope enthusiasts.
At around the £400 mark, its a fairly sizeable investment yet it delivers on its promises as most Skywatcher Telescopes do. Set up is simple, the tripod is study and the images achieved are a joy to behold.