This time of year I am frequently asked the same question: “What is the best gift for someone who wants to get into astronomy and wants to see more than what binoculars can offer?”

A box store special telescope is a bad choice for a Christmas present. These telescopes are plagued with problems that are usually frustrating and present disappointing views.

If you want to spend a minimum of cash, and don’t want a large and awkward telescope, then there is hope. Binoculars are a great observing tool, but they can only let you see so much. When you want a bigger and brighter view, a telescope is needed.

A company by the name of Sky-Watcher has built an amazing starter telescope for a mere $250. This little (and I do mean little) telescope is designed to sit on a table outside.

This telescope is of a classic Newtonian design with the eyepiece at the top of the tube, on the side. When we say small we are not talking about power, this telescope (the Sky-Watcher Heritage 130) boasts a five-inch aperture and offers plenty of detailed deep-sky observing.

The top half of The Heritage 130 telescope slides down its tube, making it even easier to move around, having an overall length of a mere 14.5 inches. When you are ready to go observing, you place the telescope on a small sturdy table, twist the three release knobs, extend the tube, drop in an eyepiece and away you go.

No clutter, and no complications, you are doing what you set out to do, viewing the incredible Yukon Night Sky.

Right out of the box, this little telescope is ready to go. It comes complete with a mount and two eyepieces, giving you 26 and 65 power. These are not great eyepieces, but a good start. You would be wise to replace them with a couple of good eyepieces and a Barlow, which doubles the power of any eyepiece.

With the addition of a shroud around the open portion of the truss tube to prevent stray light from diminishing the view, this telescope is complete. This could be easily made from a black cloth and Velcro.

Also included is a red dot finder. This finder is much easier to use than the finders found on the box store telescopes and stays very well aligned, with only the occasional tweaking needed. After all, if you can’t point your telescope accurately in the right direction, you are not going to be able to see much.

The Heritage 130 has enough power to see galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets and comets easily.

With easy set up, little or no maintenance, and simplicity of transport, this telescope is a definite winner for anyone on this years Christmas list.

For further information on these amazing little telescopes contact Island Eyepiece and Telescope Ltd, PO Box 133, Mill Bay BC V0R 2P0. Phone 250-743-6633, Fax 250-743-6907 or Email at [email protected]

Clear Skies, from James “Deep Sky” Cackette.

James “Deep Sky” Cackette can be reached at [email protected]. See his photo adventures on Facebook at Yukon Night Skies.