If you’re new to amateur astronomy, it can be daunting trying to decide on the best telescope for you. You’ve probably come across the Zhumell Z130 telescope after seeing it being highly praised in reviews and on forums. Whilst it is true that it is a fantastic telescope for beginners and offers excellent value for money, there are some things to consider which might mean an alternative telescope would be a better fit for you.
In this review, I want to take a look at the pros and cons of the Zhumell Z130, analyse it in a bit more detail, and then look at some similar telescopes you might also want to consider.
The Zhumell Z130 is a great telescope for beginners who don’t want to spend a huge amount on their first telescope but still want something that’s fairly powerful.
The 5″ aperture on the Zhumell is really quite large for the price giving you a lot of power for a low price. The focal length is relatively short at 650mm which means it’s a good choice for viewing deep space objects. However, with a more powerful eyepiece or a barlow lens, this telescope is also great for viewing planets and the Moon. Overall, a great all-round telescope for beginners.
- Type: Reflector
- Aperture: 5″ (130 mm)
- Focal length: 650mm
- Focal ratio: f/5
- Included eypieces: 25mm and 10mm
- Focuser: 1.25″
- Finderscope: Red dot finder
- Mount: Altazimuth (Dobsonion)
- Excellent value for money
- Easy to use
- Requires maintenance
- Requires a raised surface
- Short focal length means you will need more powerful eyepieces
Who Should (& Shouldn’t) Buy the Zhumell Z130?
The Zhumell Z130 is a great telescope for beginners who are looking to get into amateur astronomy but don’t want to break the bank. It’s reasonable priced and very powerful relative to the low price, and the Dobsonion mount makes it fairly easy to setup and use.
However, you might want to look at alternatives like the Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ if you want a telescope that’s easier to maintain. Because the Zhumell Z130 is a reflector telescope, it will require regular collimation (alignment) and cleaning. The Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ is in the same price range, but it is a refractor telescope which means it won’t require as much maintenance (although it will still require some). The main trade off is that the AstroMaster isn’t as powerful as the Zhumell. There are other differences between reflector and refractor telescopes which you can read more about in our telescope buying guide.
You might also want to look at alternatives if you have a larger budget. Although the Zhumell Z130 is very powerful considering it’s price, if you can spend a hundred dollars or so more, you can invest in a more powerful telescope like the Orion SkyQuest XT6. The SkyQuest is similar to the Zhumell, but quite a bit more powerful.
If you plan on doing any astrophotography, the Zhumell Z130 isn’t the best choice. For astrophotography, you want to be able to track the planets, and an EQ mount or GoTo mount is best for that. The Dobsonion mount on the Zhumell Z130 is great for simple viewing, but not for astrophotography.
I know this section covers a lot of scenarios where you shouldn’t purchase the Zhumell Z130, but I do want to make clear that this is a fantastic telescope, as long as it fits your requirements.
How Easy is it to Use & Maintain?
If the Zhumell Z130 will be the first telescope you buy, you will probably want to know how easy it is to use and keep maintained. For the most part, it’s fairly easy to use, but it will require a bit of maintenance like all reflector telescopes.
The first thing I want to point out is that this telescope has two handles on the mount making it easy to carry. This is something many other telescopes don’t have. Due to the fairly small size of this telescope and the style of mount, you will need to use it on a raised surface like a table for comfortable viewing.
Once you have the Zhumell Z130 in place, it’s fairly easy to use. The Zhumell Z130 uses a Dobsonion mount which is a type of altazimuth mount. The advantage of these mounts is that they are easier to setup an use, but they aren’t as good at tracking objects as equatorial mounts. The video below does an excellent job of explaining how to use a Dobsonion telescope.
The Zhumell Z130 is a reflector telescope which means it uses mirrors to gather and focus light. Because of this, it will require more maintenance than a refractor telescope like the Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ. The mirrors will need aligning (known as collimation) and cleaning fairly regularly.
What Can I Expect to See with the Zhumell Z130?
What you can expect to see with any telescope depends on a few factors. The viewing conditions play a big part. The clearer the skies and the less light pollution there is, the more you will be able to see. The main factor of a telescope that will determine what you can see is the aperture.
The aperture of a telescope refers to the diameter of the lens or – as in the case of the Zhumell Z130 – the primary mirror. A larger aperture will be able to gather more light which will allow you to see more objects and more detail in those objects.
The aperture of the Zhumell Z130 is 5″ which is very good for the price. Although you can technically use any magnification with any telescope, a good rule of thumb is to go no higher than 40x the aperture in inches. So in the case of the Zhumell Z130, you wouldn’t want to go much higher than 200x magnification.
With the Zhumell Z130, you should be able to see:
- Great views of the moon and it’s craters
- The rings of Saturn
- The bands on Jupiter and some of it’s moons
- Mars, Mercury, and Venus but without much detail
- Possibly the colors of Uranus and Neptune
- Lot’s of star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies with some detail
What’s Included & Should I Upgrade Any Parts?
One of the great things about telescopes is that you can upgrade various parts to improve them even further. First, let’s look at what comes included with the Zhumell Z130 and then the upgrades and additional parts I would recommend purchasing.
Included with the Zhumell Z130:
- Reflector telescope with 5″ aperture and 650mm focal length
- Dobsonion (altazimuth) mount with eyepiece tray
- 25mm and 10mm eyepieces
- Red dot finderscope
Out of the box, the Zhumell Z130 is a great telescope and there aren’t any upgrades that are absolutely required.
One thing to note is that the telescope doesn’t come with a case. If you will only be using the telescope from your garden or nearby, this isn’t a problem. It might be an issue if you plan on taking it further out though.
The one addition I would highly recommend is a barlow lens. With the included lenses, you have the options of 26x magnification and 65x magnification. A 2x barlow lens like this Celestron Omni 2X from Amazon will also allow you to use 52x and 130x magnification. To give yourself even more magnification options, you might want to consider another eyepiece like this 6mm Omni Plossl eyepiece from Amazon. With this eyepiece (and the barlow lens) you will also have the options for 108x and 216x magnification.
Similar Telescopes to Check Out
If you’re still not sure the Zhumell Z130 is the right telescope for you, the telescopes below are worth checking out.
- Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ – The Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ is similarly priced to the Zhumell Z130, but it is a refractor rather than a reflector telescope. The main advantage is that it is much easier to maintain but it isn’t quite as powerful. – Find it on Amazon
- Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 – The SkyQuest XT4.5 is slighly less powerful than the Zhumell Z130, but is has a longer focal length. This means you won’t require as powerful eyepieces to achieve high magnification. – Find it on Amazon
- Orion SkyQuest XT6 – If your budget can stretch to a SkyQuest XT6, you can get your hands on an even more powerful telescope. It’s a similar style of telescope to the Zhumell Z130, but it will allow you to see more objects and detail. – Find it on Amazon