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Nov 17

Telescope Reviews: Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope

If you’re not familiar with the Celestron brand name then rest assured that you soon will be. We’re not going to spend much time explaining who Celestron are as a company because it’s been covered elsewhere on the site, but in brief this company has been manufacturing telescopes since the 1960s and remains one of the leading manufacturers of high-quality telescopes both in the United States and throughout the rest of the world.

The model we’re going to review for you now is the Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope, one of the few refractor telescopes we’ve actually reviewed here.

Celestron AstroMaster 70

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Refractor Scope

A lot of people turn their noses up to refractor scopes because they’re seen as being the tools of novice astronomers, but the reality is that even Carl Sagan was a total noob at some stage in his career. So we’re not going to get snobby about what we review and the Celestron refractor telescope deserves its place here as much as any other telescope we’ve covered.

Plus a refractor scope of this size is more than enough for viewing local solar system bodies and events, but it will lack the power to view deep sky celestial objects. That being said it’s worth remembering that refractor scopes can be used for both terrestrial and celestial viewing, so you’re getting two telescopes for the price of one.

Easy To Use

Newtonian and compound telescopes might offer heaps more power than a refractor like the Celestron AstroMaster 70, but they’re generally also far more complicated to set up and use. For example one of the many things you and your kids will love about this scope is that it’s so easy to actually put together – there’s no tools involved at all. Another fringe benefit of this style of telescope is that it’s light enough to be quickly disassembled and moved somewhere else – trying doing that with a large Dobsonian in a hurry!

Permanent Finder Scope

Something else we really like about the Celestron AstroMaster 70 is the StarPointer finder scope which is permanently fixed right next to the eyepiece, so you’ll never misplace it. This finder scope has a red dot reticle for lining up a celestial body – this is actually similar to the red dot technology you find on other more expensive telescopes. The StarPointer is battery powered though, so make sure you turn it off when it’s not being used/in storage.

Alt-Azimuth Mount

This mount features a clutch and large pan handle to offer you a lot of targeting precision when you’re lining up planets, moons, comets, etc to gaze up at. Obviously an AZ mount requires a slightly more steady hand than an EQ mount, but with practice you’ll find that it’s very easy to use. The clutch does help to smooth everything out though, so as long as you have a little patience and you use the finder scope properly you really shouldn’t have any problems.

70mm Aperture

The 2.6-inch lens of the Celestron AstroMaster 70 might seem small when measured against the gaping maw of a bigger Newtonian telescope, but it captures more than enough light for some very cool lunar viewing sessions for example. In terms of eyepieces you get two Plossl units with a 45x and 90x magnification respectively, each of these lenses coated to provide bright and clear images and to help prevent any potential issues you might have with chromatic aberration.

Color Choices

The Celestron AstroMaster 70 comes in a nice gunmetal blue/grey finish, which makes it look just that little bit different to all the other black ‘scopes you find on the market.

Dimensions

This Celestron telescope has the following dimensions:

  • Aperture: 70mm
  • Focal length: 900mm
  • Eyepiece: 10 – 20mm
  • Max magnification: 165x
  • Total weight: 18 pounds

Additional Features

You obviously get an accessory tray between the legs of the tripod, which is just as well considering that the supplied Plossl eyepieces have no protective case of their own. You also get a Celestron two-year limited warranty for almost total peace of mind.

Included Accessories

This Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope comes with your own copy of the “The Sky” CD-ROM, containing a 10,000 object database, which acts as a beginners guide to our solar system and nearby celestial objects. It also includes printable star maps too, so you can take them with you when you’re out in the field.

Pros

  • This is a lightweight, easy to use refractor telescope that even a child could set up
  • You’re spending your cash on a Celestron so you know you’re getting quality
  • The 70mm aperture is more than enough for checking out what’s in our own solar system
  • It’s one of the single most popular beginner’s telescopes on the market today

Cons

  • Refractors can suffer quite badly from ambient heat from the ground distorting the images you see, so ideally set up the telescope away from any type of heat source
  • The tripod was obviously designed for use by children so adults might find it a little short

Consumer Ratings

As telescopes go the Celestron AstroMaster 70 is very popular with consumers – most of the shoppers have given it a 5-star rating. Overall it scores above 4.2 out of 5.0 on most online stores, which is nothing to be sneezed at!

Price

When you buy this Celestron refractor telescope online you’ll pay less than $100 for it, meaning you save almost $100 off the regular retail price – that’s a real bargain right there folks!

The Verdict 

The Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70 AZ Refractor Telescope is an easy to maintain, child-friendly telescope with more than adequate performance for anyone interested in doing a little bit of back yard sky watching. It’s not the most powerful refractor on the market but it is a Celestron, so you’re getting a quality telescope, period.

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