The Gskyer 70 mm AZ Refractor is a best-selling telescope for under $100 that many buy as a first-time telescope buy for themselves or their children.
It’s cheap enough that if the kids don’t stay interested, you didn’t spend a fortune on it. But, it’s also cheap enough that if you want to upgrade a few things, you can justify it without spending a fortune in the end.
Being realistic, there are compromises in a telescope that costs under $100.
Is the Gskyer really good enough for adult beginners to use?
Will it see anything other than the moon?
Can it do double duty for viewing wildlife, too?
Let’s take a closer look.
Gskyer 70mm Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: Good optics
❌ Worst Feature: Lacks educational and instructional manual
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, Kids
- Optical Design: Refractor
- Aperture: 70 mm
- Focal Length: 400 mm
- Focal Ratio: f/5.7
- Eyepieces Included: 25 mm, 10 mm
My Verdict: The Gskyer is an entry-level telescope with the very basics. Even so, I think it performs better than many other comparable scopes in its budget range. In my opinion with some compromises that are solvable, the Gskyer is a worthy investment if you’re after a real telescope, and not a kid’s toy, for young users. You may be surprised to find that with some modification, you’ll end up using it yourself!
Who is the Gskyer 70 AZ Refractor Best Suited to?
The Gskyer telescope is marketed as a kids and beginner’s telescope. Due to its build quality and included accessories, it’s more of a telescope designed for young users. Adults will find the tripod too short to be comfortable to use, and I feel some accessories will need upgrading if an adult wants to make the most of the telescope system.
While user experience is a large contributor of obtaining maximum performance, the Gskyer would make a great telescope for a kid if the parent already has some knowledge of telescopes, the night sky, and owns some additional telescopic accessories.
How Does the Gskyer 70 AZ Refractor Perform?
The Gskyer 70 mm AZ is akin to telescopes in this price class that are sold as “Travel Scopes.” They’re lightweight, convenient to transport, and easy to setup. With its focal specs and included accessories, you’ll be able to see the moon and planets with some features including craters, cloud bands, Jupiter’s moons, and Saturn’s rings. The Gskyer doesn’t have the quality to resolve fine details but being able to find these objects and view them is a feat in itself for a child.
The refractor isn’t large enough or optically suited to find deep space nebula and galaxies, and many of the faintest DSOs will not be seen. However, if an adult is willing to put their experience to use with the Gskyer and use quality eyepieces, you may be able to identify a few and explore nearby stars and clusters.
I believe the Gskyer has the ability to perform well, but many uneducated and inexperienced users buy it and are disappointed because they’re not sure how to manipulate the setup for the best viewing experience. It doesn’t help that detailed instructions on use or how to use it to see astronomical objects are missing.
Features & Benefits
The Gskyer has some decent optics and a slightly longer focal length than telescopes within the same budget. As a refracting telescope, it incorporates lenses made from glass and are fully coated with anti-reflective coatings. The optical system is closed, so it’s somewhat protected from weather like rain. Due to its optical assembly, it won’t need to be collimated by the user as Newtonian reflectors do, so it should be an easy setup to maintain and use.
The Gskyer comes with a multitude of accessories. Granted, they’re not the best accessories out there, but the fact that it comes with so many that work with this setup makes for additional value in the buy. The first set of accessories are the included Kellner eyepieces that work well with the scope. The 25 mm provides low power of 16x magnification and the 10 mm provides 40x. The lower power eyepiece provides wide-field low power viewing for finding and identifying objects, and the 10 mm will get you a closer look. However, these eyepieces are still not powerful enough alone to resolve any details on space objects.
To help boost magnification, Gskyer also includes a 3x Barlow lens that triples the magnification of any given eyepiece. For example, with the included eyepieces and the Barlow lens, you’ll have power of 48x and 120x which is about the limiting useful max power of the telescope anyway. Use the Barlow lens for up-close views, but you must first align the included 5×24 finderscope to find the object you want to see. Speaking of the finderscope, I think it’s likely the first thing to go. I don’t think it is powerful enough to sight-in objects that you may want to find, and it dims the image.
A carry bag, tripod, zenith mirror, and accessory tray are additional accessories you’ll receive in the box. Unusual for a telescope buy is an included Bluetooth remote and smartphone adapter so that you can take pictures through the telescope.
An erect image diagonal is included with the refracting telescope. Gskyer calls it a zenith mirror. It’s set at 48 degrees, so it’s obviously going to be good for land-based viewing (terrestrial use), but it’s only ideal for astronomical use up to 30 degrees above the horizon. This may be a good thing if you’re looking to use the Gskyer as a spotting scope 80% of the time and using it for astronomy 20% of the time and don’t plan on observing near Zenith. To change up the percentage for astronomical viewing 80% the time, a 90 degree diagonal would be better.
On a refractor, the diagonal serves two purposes: comfortable angle for viewing through the eyepiece and correcting for image orientation when viewing terrestrial objects. Due to the lightweight setup and use of the diagonal, you can observe wildlife, ships and fishing boats, people, and possibly to spot groupings at the range.
An attractive feature of the small aperture telescope is its transportable design. Due to its lightweight of 6 lbs (approx.) and the tube length of around 18”, it’s extremely convenient to transport to the range, while on a hike, or to a remote location to test out its real astronomical performance. I believe a child could carry the bag with the tripod with no problems. It can easily fit on the backseat or in the trunk of a small car.
The tripod is easy to setup, but since it extends to a height of 31.5”, it’s very short. Again, further evidence that the Gskyer is made for young users. Since it doesn’t do so well fully extended, you can always retract the length and use it as a tabletop tripod. Just be sure to bring your own table!
Lacks Educational and Instructional Manual
A basic assembly pamphlet is included in the package, but if you’re expecting to be informed about telescope use and how to view space bodies with it, you’ll be dissatisfied. If you buy the Gskyer telescope, it’s either assumed you already have the know-how to use it or you plan on educating yourself on the matter on how to best maximize your telescope system.
If you’re planning on pointing the telescope randomly in the sky and are expecting to see something and you don’t, it’s not the telescope’s fault. There’s a learning curve in using telescopes regardless if it’s a $100 model or a $1000 one. Sadly, no user education is included in this package. You’re on your own to figure it out and incorporate maps, online apps, and additional accessories for effective observation sessions with the Gskyer.
In my opinion the tripod seems to be the weakest link in the entire telescope system. While it’s usually expected that you will replace some accessories at some point, the tripod is part of the buy that should be dependable as it makes or breaks the setup. Unfortunately, the tripod is very flimsy and is prone to movement that affects seeing quality.
The biggest complaint is that it’s too short for adults. The Gskyer is mainly made for children, so the tripod would need to be placed atop a table for extended height for adults. It may be the better option to completely replace the tripod with one you already own or a heavier-duty one with height that suits an adult. Luckily, this setup allows for replacing the tripod – not all cheap, entry-level scopes do.
Other Telescopes to Consider
There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to a kids telescope, but if you want quality ones, I recommend taking a look at the Emarth Travel Scope 70 mm Refractor, the Celestron FirstScope and the Orion SkyScanner 100 mm.
After the initial assembly, setup and pack up is approximately five minutes. The mount with the tube attaches to the tripod very easily and simply. Extend the legs of the tripod, attach the accessory tray and eyepieces, and you’re good to go. Even if you remove the tube from the tripod every time you pack up, reassembly and setup is fast and easy.
Many remove the caps and install an eyepiece and find it’s too blurry to see the moon. One solution is to focus the image first. Attach the 25 mm eyepiece and use the knobs on the focuser to bring the image into focus. The moon is also a very bright object even though it has no light source of its own. A moon filter will help to dim the brightness to view the moon’s surface.
The Gskyer cannot track sky bodies. It is a manual telescope where you must make alt-az adjustments to keep a target within the field of view. Note: at high power, objects will move through the field of view faster than viewing them at low power.
Yes! The focuser is a 1.25” rack-and-pinion and works with 1.25” accessories and eyepieces. It will not fit 2” accessories, so be sure that any additional accessories you purchase are 1.25” in diameter.
In my opinion the Gskyer 70 AZ Refractor telescope is a good buy if you understand what you’re getting in the first place.
There are compromises with every telescope under $100, and while the Gskyer has its own fair share, it’s still a good buy if you have some accessories and knowledge under your belt.
If you’re willing to put a little more money into upgrading a few things here and there, the Gskyer could be a long-lasting investment for not only the kids to enjoy, but yourself too!