Celestron 22065 AstroMaster 102AZ Refractor: Review

Celestron packs a punch with the 22065 AstroMaster 102AZ. It strikes the balance of being well-suited to first-time telescope owners and fully delivering to stargazers interested in deep sky viewing. The refractor telescope is easily assembled, requiring no tools to set up and get viewing.  It delivers sharp images of the Moon and planets, clusters, and bright galaxies and nebulae. Thanks to the AstroMaster’s erect image optics, you get a dual-purpose telescope which is perfect for viewing terrestrial landscapes and wildlife, in addition to observing the heavens.


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Celestron 102 AZ Refractor Quick Specs Chart

Telescope Type Refractor
Aperture 102 mm/ 4 inches
Focal Length 660 mm
Highest Useful Magnification 240 x
Mount Alt-azimuth
Weight 14.1 lbs./ 6.4kg

About the Celestron 22065 Astro Master 102AZ Refractor Telescope

The 102AZ refractor is part of Celestron’s popular AstroMaster series. These telescopes are known for being affordable, portable, and delivering crisp, clear images. The AstroMaster has a modern design with a minimalist approach to features, but retains all the high quality expected of the classic Celestron telescopes.

The instrument is the ideal size if you are looking for an entry-level telescope which is relatively lightweight and portable, but still has sufficient power for viewing deep sky objects. The AstroMaster 102AZ is a refractor that is well-constructed; resistant to shocks and bumps, and requires little maintenance apart from using and storing it correctly.

Part of the Celestron AstroMaster package includes great computer software. It allows you to connect the telescope to a computer and conveniently track and plan your observations. As an added bonus you can access valuable information on 10 000 celestial objects.

It is not the flashiest telescope, but the Celestron AstroMaster 102Az is an affordable instrument and good value for money.

Performance

The Celestron 22065 AstroMaster 102AZ may by all means be an entry level telescope, but it is has a really professional performance. The telescope does offer a greater aperture than many of the standard beginner telescopes on the market. These devices often have apertures of only 70mm to 90mm. Small aperture telescopes are a solid choice for terrestrial viewing and observing within the Solar System, but they are not suitable for deep space objects. The AstroMaster remedies this simply by being bigger than other entry level telescopes.

Of course this does mean that the telescope is also heavier than smaller aperture scopes, but thankfully it still remains portable and easy to assemble alone. The optical tube is about 36 inches long when it is fully extended and the telescope weighs in at only 6.4 kg (14.1 lbs.).

The AstroMaster features an Image Erect Star Diagonal so that the views produced are upright rather than inverted. Using the finderscope and searching for targets while you navigate the sky is a lot easier with these corrected views. This also makes the telescope perfect for daytime/ terrestrial observation. Focusing the AstroMaster 102A is also very simple and precise.

While the telescope is by no means designed for deep sky viewing (apertures of 6 inches and upward are better for deep space) you can easily observe brighter galaxies, nebulae and clusters with the Celestron AstroMaster 102 AZ.

The telescope’s alt-azimuth mount features a panning handle/ altitude cutch so that you can tilt the telescope to any angle you need. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the clutch should make the mount easier to use, positioning the telescope with the mount can be a trial and error.

Overall, the performance of the Celestron 22065 Astro Master is one of a quality telescope that offers a good amount of power, reliable optics, easy assembly and great views of targets both near and far.

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Review of the Celestron 22065 Astro Master 102AZ Refractor

Since this is a refractor telescope, there is no need to align the instrument’s optics (collimate). This is a definite plus when getting the AstroMaster 102AZ, especially for a novice. You could take the AstroMaster straight out of packaging and it would be ready to use in a matter of minutes.

Though the aperture is only 4 inches, the telescope is certainly powerful enough to show the Moon in wonderful detail, delivering clear and bright images of its valley, peaks and craters. Head over to Mars to view its rusty red surface and polar ice caps, or to Jupiter where you can view the gaseous cloud bands and the Great Red Spot. You can even see the planet’s four biggest moons. Saturn’s rings are clearly visible too.

The Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ is not really made for very faint or distant deep sky objects, but works exceptionally well for viewing all Messier object like M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy) and M42 (the Orion Nebula). Throw in the Celestron’s AstroMaster lens accessory kit, and the range of what you can see with your telescope broadens instantly.

Overall set up of the telescope is really straightforward even for a total novice, but the red-dot StarPointer can be a lightly tricky to use with precision.

The telescope is very well built. While the alt-azimuth mount is sturdy enough to support the telescope, there are a few niggles that could be ironed out. The mount does seem to spring back slightly whenever you make a small adjustment, so familiarizing yourself with the nuances of the mount will take some patience. Thankfully the telescope’s dovetail mount is threaded so you could mount it to a better tripod that is smoother and easier to use.

One last thing to consider is that the AstroMaster, despite being smaller in aperture and reasonably portable, does take up a fair amount of storage space. It is also worth noting that the instrument does not come with any sort of housing.

How Does the AstroMaster 102AZ compare to Similar Telescopes?

Compared to the Orion StarSeeker IV 150mm Telescope: Right off the bat, Orion’s StarSeeker IV offers greater aperture than the Celestron AstroMaster – a clear preference if you want sharper views of faint deep sky objects. Orion’s instrument also has many great modern features that tech savvy users will love, and which aim to simplify the viewing experience for a beginner. Such features include a computerized finder that makes locating and tracking objects uncomplicated. The StarSeeker IV is a fully computerized telescope that has a database of tens of thousands of celestial objects.

The StarSeeker is a made with durable components, making it a truly lasting investment.

Orion’s telescope is certainly the more modern and professional of the two, but it also has its downfalls. The telescope has to be collimated before use. It also requires an external power source and extra batteries which makes it impractical to use in rural areas which offer dark skies. Though it is computerized, it has no memory settings and will have to be programmed every time it is plugged in. Orion does offer real value for money, but it is an expensive device.

If you are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with high tech gadgets, then the AstroMaster is the better and more affordable choice. However, if you are already comfortable using telescopes and want a fuller deep sky experience, the StarSeeker is a worthy investment.

Compared to the Meade Instruments Infinity 80mm AZ Refractor Telescope: Meade bring you this wonderful and compact entry level telescope, the Infinity 80mm AZ Refractor. Like the AstroMaster 102AZ, the mount is an alt-azimuth design with panhandle and slow motion controls. The mounts are no doubt sturdy and straightforward to use, but neither are suitable for astrophotography. The Infinity is a smaller instrument but does come with some nice perks compared to the AstroMaster. For one, it usually includes a 2x Barlow lens, and three eyepieces for a wider range of magnifications. It also includes astronomy software and an instructional DVD so that your entire experience is made simpler.

Meade’s telescope is more affordable, lightweight and portable but it is best used for terrestrial use and viewing within the Solar System. It will show brilliant views of the Moon and planets and even deliver with very bright clusters and nebulae, but it is definitely not intended for deep sky observations. The AstroMaster 102AZ beats the infinity on this account.

Compared to the Celestron NextStar 102SLT GoTo Telescope: Celestron’s NexStar 102SLT and AstroMaster 102Az go head to head as both instruments have the exact same aperture. How do they fair when comparing other specifications? The NexStar 102 SLT is a durable short tube – styled computerized refractor. With a fully computerized hand control and a database of over 4000 objects, finding the perfect viewing targets is a quick and effortless process. The NexStar has a convenient SkyAlign feature so that the instrument can actually align itself using three spots in the sky, or one or two different locations.

These are wonderful features that do add the extra elements of ease, convenience, and modern technology. However, the NexStar 102 SLT is double the price of the AstroMaster 102 AZ, and some users might find that an unnecessary expense for features they could easily do without.

Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • The AstroMaster is made with high quality coated optics.
  • Observe targets with clarity, contrast and detail.
  • A dual-purpose telescope suited for terrestrial views as well as astronomical use.
  • Fast and simple setup.
  • Affordable telescope suitable for some deep-sky observations.

Cons:

  • The mount is not as smooth as it could be.
  • Not suitable for astrophotography

Should I Get the Celestron Astro Master 102AZ?

The Celestron 22065 Astro Master 102AZ is one of the higher end and more powerful telescopes readily available to beginners. The aperture is perfect: it will not disappoint in the detailed views of land and wildlife, as well as the Solar System and deep sky objects. Upgrading the telescope into a more powerful device is as easy as adding in some additional eyepieces, rather than having to get a bigger and more expensive instrument. It comes at a very competitive price for what the telescope offers. Overall, Celestron’s AstroMaster 102 AZ is an excellent pick for beginners and slightly more seasoned stargazers alike.

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