Bresser National Geographic 114mm (4.5 inch) Reflector Telescope

Explore Scientific / Bresser Model 8010114 114mm Reflector Telescope

My Story With This Telescope

I actually own two of these. I ordered one off Ebay as the tube assembly only from Scopehed and it was a great piece of kit. I liked it so much I decided to look at getting the full package after seeing what I believed to be an extremely unfair treatment of the model on Amazon. It turned out to be that this telescope was mixed up with a cheap refractor by Explore Scientific (and some of the description for this model still IS wrong on Amazon’s page about it as of this writing! – March 2019). I did leave a review on Amazon to counter the terrible review that for awhile went badly for this model. Amazon finally did remove their “Vine Reviewer” review that essentially doomed this model from the start and which was published on the wrong page.

I ordered the second “more complete” scope as a returns box which, when received, proved to be missing the counterweight plus shaft and had to order these off Ebay. My reasoning for ordering the second scope was to expressly refute the bad reviews but I was really surprised Amazon shipped me a returns box missing pieces… Oh well. The good news was I was able to borrow parts from an Orion scope I had and it did the job temporarily.

In researching who makes this telescope, I at first thought it was Bresser in Germany. Bresser turns out to be a division of Explore Scientific and I just never found where I could order parts from them directly, so I managed to find the right parts off Ebay and get a complete scope running. Explore Scientific and Bresser do have a distinctly European feel and perhaps that is just my perception, but they don’t occupy a large space in the American market. It’s too bad, because they make really nice gear.

The first OTA I ordered is going to be placed on a GEM at some point in the future with an eye towards some wide-field astrophotography and general observing with it. More to be added here when that occurs.

What I like

The fit and finish of this telescope are great! The entire optical tube assembly has a lovely paint job and the National Geographic logo and the classic yellow band are beautiful. It just LOOKS good and the optics are great too!

The FEEL is good as well. This tube just feels super substantial and the paint finish is pleasant to run your hands over. It is just one of those well made products that you are glad you got, not knowing much about it when you ordered it. I have a lot of scopes, but there is just something about this model that really appeals to me

The scope comes with two eyepieces which are good quality eyepieces – These are as follows: Two 1.25″ Plossl eyepieces (9.7 and 26mm).

The short F5 tube for this telescope offers wide field views making this a “richest field telescope” in the finest tradition. The optics are excellent and the views are spectacular for those nights you just want a simple, but quality instrument to observe with.

The dovetail mount was easy to use. I do like the ease of mounting the OTA to the GEM with it, but warn people to be CERTAIN the OTA is well secured by the tightening screw before letting go of the telescope.

The OTA rings are WELL MADE! These are just top notch and made of metal and not cheap plastic! If there is anything I don’t like, it is cheap plastic in key structural parts. This telescope rocks with it’s solid mounting rings.

In the field, my first evening test of this telescope showed rock solid performance with zero jitter when moving the telescope. Save for a slight issue with my GEM in right ascension (read on for more), I felt that this mount was a solid performer and the experience observing was enhanced.

The focuser is a plastic model with a decent rack and pinion travel. All my Celestron eyepieces did well in this focuser as well as the supplied Bresser eyepieces.

The front of the scope is secured with a nice plastic cover when not in use and the unit comes with the standard plastic insert to protect dust from getting in through the eyepiece tube.

The tripod is the basic one you see on lots of other telescopes. Nothing outstanding, but it is well made and very easy to deploy and take down.

National Geographic should be proud to have their name on this telescope. It is a really nice short tube reflector and competes well with Celestron and Meade in terms of overall quality. The price was in the $130 range on Amazon, which is excellent for this unit, but floats to the upper $249 dollar range on other sites, dooming it to irrelevance as a competing telescope against the Big-Two. Amazon reduced the price to $109 for the final remaining unit they had in March 2019 and now Amazon sells this model only from third party sources at $199. Explore Scientific would do well to lower the price to stimulate serious competition but I doubt that will be occurring any time soon. It still is in their catalog on the main Explore Scientific web site.

The equatorial mount has a fine fit and finish and works well. It is a good basic mount that easily transports for field missions. The mount feels like it can take the knocks and normal wear and tear an amateur astronomer puts their gear through. This is a well built GEM to last years if well cared for.

The setting circles on the GEM work fairly well as manual setting circles. I wish that the well written manual had included a section on how to use them. It seems like a universal constant that setting circles are ignored by most manufacturers but there are those of us that use them just to keep up with doing things the old fashioned way. Not all of life is digital and it doesn’t need to be. The RA circle can be moved manually, but when new out of the box is a bit stiff and takes time to get it to rotate. The DEC circle was about the same, but it is far smaller which I thought was tragic since both scales should be the same size for ease of use. Once I was able to get both of mine mine moving to match the RA and DEC of a known object, they worked great. The large RA circle was very appreciated and it helps those of us with older eyes. One improvement I’d like to see manufacturers make is to add small red LED lights to the circles so a simple switch could turn them on to help move the scope to a new location and free up the user’s hands for other tasks.

What I didn’t like

Note that Amazon classes this as a refractor!

Amazon completely goofed the description of this telescope and STILL has it portions of it wrong of this writing. It is still shown as being a refractor type!

The returns box was missing parts like I mentioned (Amazon? What the heck? Tell people parts are missing before a person orders one of these!), but there are a few design issues I think need to be addressed based on my experience thus far.

For one, I’m left handed and have a left-dominant eye. The OTA (Optical Tube Assembly) has the finder on the right side making it tough on me to adjust my head to find my targets. I really wish that vendors would add drill holes to all the finder and dovetail mount for the finder to be moved to the left for the ten percent of us who are left-handers. Either that, or add two dovetails so it is easy to swap the finder around or even have two finders on the scope. Yes manufacturers… We are out there and we take notice at being ignored.

This is NOT a refractor!

The finder. What can I saw about these horrible cheap finders on most low to mid range scopes? I won’t even try to share my feelings on these, but the one included with this scope does work and in my test session, I was able to do some basic finding. Still, I plan to use a proper illuminated finder from Celestron or Meade with real optics to let me navigate easily

The GEM mount has two issues. First off, mine has a slight hang-up in the declination axis and I believe I’ll need to take it apart to deal with it, but it does work fine otherwise. I will report on the problem once I delve into it. I don’t think this is a defect in design. Just an issue with mine. It doesn’t seriously compromise my operations.

Secondly the mount suffers because the adjustment for RA and DEC are not equipped with 360 degree gears for manual use. Thus they need to be reset often if tracking for very long due to the shortened travel for both RA and DEC. I’ve seen other mounts with this issue and frankly, I think they should be avoided in favor of equatorial mounts that have 360 degree gears to allow for simplified tracking and also to add an optional tracking motor drive. Celestron does this for it’s Newtonian GEM mounts and it is a very solid design. As it stands, this Explore Scientific GEM cannot do this. I hope manufacturers start dropping these mounts in favor of upgrade-able mounts that can add tracking drives as a standard. To put it bluntly: These oddball short-geared manual trackers just are a pain to use.

I thought the dovetail securing screw needs to have a rubber tip to not dig into the paint on the dovetail. I plan to do that for mine and touch up the damaged paint on mine. A fine point for sure, but less damage is always desirable over time.

Explore Scientific’s web site is a little difficult to navigate to find the manual. Rather than have support links for each telescope, you need to dive into a support link buried at the bottom of the site page menu. It’s really not the best arrangement and I’d suggest Explore Scientific fix this to make it easier to find the support software and manuals for their telescopes. Amazon users complained that they had no manual in their box that came with the telescope, but mine did include the manual. It would do well for Explore Scientific to have a tag with the link to the manual printed on it in addition to the printed manual so people have the option to find the manual link easily.

The date “2012” on the telescope OTA for this model is something I think would be well advised for Explore Scientific to remove from the telescope. It just isn’t needed and “dates” the scope. It’s 2019 Explore Scientific… Just saying.

The Bottom Line

This is a great telescope for beginners and up. It has it’s flaws, but no telescope package is without them. Any small issues that have been pointed out do not detract from this being an instrument that will last years, will give you great views of the heavens, is well made and represents the Bresser, Explore Scientific and National Geographic brands very well.

If Explore Scientific was to hold the line on quality and address the few shortcomings of the telescope plus mount AND to lower it’s price on this, their best National Geographic model, they would certainly give Celestron and Meade a run for their money.

I give this telescope a thumbs up with a 4.5 out of 5 stars.


Per Explore Scientific: “… The Explorer 114EQ Telescope is a perfect portal into the realm of deep sky observation. With its equatorial mounting system, the lightweight Newtonian reflector telescope can follow the Earth’s rotation to easily track an object as it moves through the night sky. Offering a 114mm aperture and a 500mm focal length, the telescope comes with two Plossl eyepieces that produce images with excellent definition and contrast. The set also includes an adjustable tripod, a red dot viewfinder, Stellarium computer software and a star map.”