Detailed Drawbacks: Celestron 70mm Travel Scope

As mentioned in the previous post, I quickly realized there were some shortcomings with the Celestron 70mm Travel Scope.  I’m thankful that the $80 price tag was low enough to entice me into the world of amateur astronomy, but anything more than a glance at the Moon or Jupiter, it won’t cut it.  Here are the issues with this telescope in no particular order:

  • The tripod is extremely lightweight and flimsy, thus vibrates quite a bit and easy to bump out of position.
  • The locking clutches to adjust the tripod have A LOT of play.  You may think you’re set on an object, only to “lock” the tripod and have it drift significantly.
  • This scope comes with an altazimuth mount.  I didn’t know about mount types before making my purchase, so I recommend you check out that link and do a little research.  Basically an altazimuth mount is great for regular photography and easy to aim, but the other mount type, called an equatorial mount, is specially designed to help you counteract the Earth’s rotation.  This is especially useful for tracking and photographing objects in the sky.
  • I found the tripod to be fairly limiting in the height range, so it got tough to look at objects overhead.
  • The aperture of the travel scope is very small (70mm).  This works well for spotting things at a distance on the Earth, but it’s underpowered for trying to capture dim objects up in the sky.

So, I decided that with my trip to the Southwestern national parks coming up, I would be well served to step it up just a bit.  Moral of the story is do your research!  It’s possible to get a good value deal on a telescope, but I’d be extremely cautious spending under $200.  Whatever you get most likely won’t be much more than a toy.  If you get a telescope in the $250-$500 range, you’re much more likely to end up with a quality instrument that will take you a long way in amateur astronomy.

3 comments on “Detailed Drawbacks: Celestron 70mm Travel Scope
  1. Matt Wedel says:

    Interesting review. I agree for sure about the tripod–I found it profoundly frustrating even for mounting a point-and-shoot digital camera that weighed about a tenth of what the telescope weighs. The scope itself can be massively improved with a few tweaks–I wrote a blog post about this here–but it is still a fairly limited instrument.

    It is definitely worth keeping an eye on the sale bins from the various online telescope retailers, especially Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT). Last year they had a 4-inch Celestron refractor tube with a 2″ focuser for under $100. I got one, as did many of my friends, and we all love that scope.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Matt! Just read your post about the travelscope…great stuff! I’m going to have to give that thing a second chance, it’s certainly convenient. Plus I used the tripod for some camcorder filming and still use the backpack, so I guess it wasn’t a total waste!

  2. Matt says:

    Also, OPT is definitely great. I live about 40mins from there and love to go and drool over the scopes in there!

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