The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is actually a great example of low-priced telescopes with cheap parts that the masses have cashed in on.
Most buyers are happy with their purchase and others expected more. I think the key to buyer satisfaction is to know what you’re buying and determine if it aligns with your expectations.
While I feel the AstroMaster does have its disadvantages, it does have its benefits.
But, do they outweigh the cons?
Is the price worth it, or would you be better off buying something else?
Here’s my honest review with some tips to get the most out of this budget telescope.
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: Low-price refractor
❌ Worst Feature: Limited Mount
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Wildlife Observation, Range Use, Lunar & Planetary Observation, Beginners
- Optical Design: Refractor
- Aperture: 70 mm (2.76”)
- Focal Length: 900 mm (35”)
- Focal Ratio: f/13
- Eyepieces Included: 20 mm, 10 mm
My Verdict: The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is a dual-purpose telescope that works well for beginners and novices. In my opinion it’s easy to setup, the optics are worthy of the price, and the accessories work well with the setup. For a budget option, it would make a good amateur telescope for recreational use.
Who is the Celestron AstroMaster 70 AZ Best Suited to?
The AstroMaster 70AZ is designed to attract beginners new to using telescopes. You have both celestial and terrestrial viewing capabilities, and with that, it serves as a multi-purpose telescope. However, its build and optical quality is only good for recreational and amateur use.
If you’re looking for one of the best afforable telescopes that you can grow with over a few years, I think you may have to look elsewhere. The AstroMaster is designed to provide simplicity and instant viewing that comes with its low price point. With a small aperture and multi-purpose platform, I believe it’s a good backyard and deck telescope to observe both the land the skies.
How Does the Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Perform?
As a cheap telescope with decent specs, the AstroMaster has pleased many buyers. Used as intended for amateur sky and terrestrial viewing, the 70AZ telescope performs quite well. Thanks to its slow focal ratio, minimal chromatic aberration is present on high-contrast targets. You will be able to see more than you may have expected as image quality is good enough for most users that are looking for a multi-purpose, recreational instrument.
With a 70 mm aperture, DSO (Deep Sky Objects) viewing will be a challenge although some targets can be seen. Faint and dim objects will be difficult to locate and resolve details. However, you will achieve excellent lunar observation and you can extend magnification to get a better look at planets.
Features & Benefits
Low Price Refractor
Refractors always cost more than reflector telescopes, but in this case, the 70 mm telescope offers great value since it does have some low-priced parts that results in an overall lower cost for the consumer. This may be great news for the amateur astronomer, but it will limit you from getting “more” out of your telescope as you won’t be able to justify modifications.
So, why is this a highlight? Well, refractors have their own benefits. You don’t have to collimate the scope, you can use it for terrestrial viewing with the correct accessory, and they’re very easy to use.
For a functioning refractor telescope that comes with decent accessories and can be used for land-based observation for under $150, I believe it’s a good buy for the beginner or older child as a starter telescope. Making the leap to upgrade to something bigger in the future won’t be as hard since the cost to get into the hobby with this telescope is minimal.
The AstroMaster 70 is a refractor with a 70 mm aperture and fast focal ratio of f/13. This indicates that it would be a great telescope for lunar and planetary observation. However, because of its small aperture, it’s quite limiting on DSO objects.
So, what can you see? Within the solar system, you’ll have fantastic views of the moons and its craterlets, mountains, ridges, etc. You’ll also be able to see Jupiter, its moons, the Red Spot, and cloud belts. When it comes to Saturn, you’ll be able to identify the planet, see its rings, and the Cassini Division. However, Neptune and Uranus will appear as dots. This is how the latter are usually seen in many similar telescopes.
Beyond, you’ll identify open clusters, double stars, Orion Nebula, and Ring Nebula. Although still limiting, I think it’s certainly enough to wet your taste buds and eventually justify buying a larger telescope.
Celestron includes an erect image diagonal for terrestrial use. It means that you can observe with correct image orientation for land-based use. If you’re willing to haul this telescope out to the range, you should be able to spot groupings and sight-in your rifle. You can also use it to observe wildlife from a distance, say, for deer in the backyard or watching fishing or ships along the coast.
The diagonal is an Amici prism made from plastic. This can result in light loss and light diffraction on very bright objects. A trick to getting the most out of the prism is to use low and moderate magnification. This is also applicable for star-hopping.
I think the accessories are good because they’re appropriate for the telescope. They’re not of the highest quality, but they work well with the AstroMaster. The Amici diagonal performs as expected, and there is no need to upgrade it for this scope. Interestingly, Celestron changed up the shape and included a grip because many observers end up grabbing it as a handle. It was a smart move to improve build quality for this purpose.
The 7AZ telescope also comes with a red dot finder that when installed and used correctly, it does its job and is suitable for the 70 mm aperture. It’s not everybody’s favorite, but it can be replaced. The 1.25” rack-and-pinion focuser is made from plastic. This is to be expected for the low price, but it’s easy to use and focus.
The two included eyepieces are 1.25” Kellners. The 20 mm provides 45x magnification, but you can get a longer focal eyepiece to take advantage of a wider field of view with lower magnification. This should be a serious consideration since the AstroMaster can be focused down to 10x power. The 10 mm provides a high magnification of 90x. While the highest theoretical magnification is 165x, I feel you’d want to stay around 120-140x to so that you don’t compromise image quality.
So, if you’re buying this telescope purely for astronomical use, you may want to upgrade the mount. Of course, you could just buy a different setup, but this mount is sufficient for terrestrial use and I think the optics are great for the low price.
The AstroMaster has an Alt-azimuth mount that is limited in capabilities. With no slow-motion controls, you’re essentially limited to lower magnification and manually tracking objects. Sounds okay, but there are some tedious compromises. You’ll have to overuse the altitude lock because balancing will be an issue. This stems from the dovetail being directly screwed to the tube and doesn’t allow sliding for balance. The tube length is long and there is some play in torque that may result in losing the target while locking it down.
While the tripod legs may be decent, the mount is not sturdy enough for astrophotography equipment. A smartphone will be okay with the supplied focuser and mount, but any additional gear will strain the setup.
Fortunately, using a different mount and tripod is possible. If this concerns you, buy the setup for the optical tube and swap out the mount.
Other Telescopes to Consider
If you are not completely sold on the Celestron 70AZ Astromaster then there are a few other options that are great for beginners. They are the SkyWatcher Traditional 8″ Dobsonian, the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX102 AZ and the Orion StarBlast 6 Astro.
This is a beginner telescope for an adult. It’s appropriate for a novice because it’s easy to set up and use. Because it’s a basic and simple telescope, children can use it with adult supervision and guidance. It’s also priced fairly cheaply for a telescope, and most of the quality is in the optical tube. Be sure to read the instructions and manual as it will provide correct methods to maximize performance out of the AstroMaster.
The tripod has an adjustable range of 32”-51” with a maximum height of 4.25 feet. Its steel legs are 1.25” in diameter, and the weight is 7.6 lbs.
You can purchase the adapters necessary to connect the camera to the telescope, but the concern is really about support. The focuser will likely creep under heavy loads, and with the existing balance issues, it would make the eyepiece end very heavy. Even if you lock down the altitude lock and can achieve a long focal length for focus (perhaps with a Barlow lens), the Alt-az mount only has manual tracking, so you won’t be able to achieve long exposure astrophotography.
Additionally, you would likely need more equipment to adequately achieve high power astrophotography quality. With the small aperture and small mount, the odds are stacked against you unless you make severe modifications. This is not the telescope for astrophotography.
No. This is a real telescope with real parts. The optical tube is made from aluminum, it has real glass achromat lenses, and the tripod has steel legs.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of plastic parts from the focuser and accessories to mount and tripod components.
The mount may prove too tedious for you to deal with, but I don’t think you should let it be a deal-breaker on buying the telescope.
In my opinion the optics alone justify the price, and if you’re after a starter telescope to dabble in both land-based and astronomy viewing, the Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ will prove worthy.