Celestron AstroMaster 76EQ Telescope Review: Cheap Mirror
Although its optics aren’t bad, AstroMaster 76EQ still is not a good choice.
Celestron AstroMaster 76EQ is much better than the other AstroMaster’s, but we still don’t recommend it. The plastic mount is a frustration. While the optics are not bad, there are better choices for the same price.
Around 130$, a tabletop Dobsonian would be the best choice. Zhumell Z114 would be much better in optical quality and has a vastly superior build. Or the Orion SkyScanner 100, which is even cheaper than the AstroMaster 76EQ.
Do a favour to yourself and don’t buy an AstroMaster 76EQ.
Still, if you want to read the review, here it is.
The primary mirror is spherical, which is easy to manufacture and low in quality. But with a long optical tube, most optical defects disappear, and you get a decent image. This is the reason why the optics of this telescope is not bad. They’ve managed to use a cheap mirror and provide a good image regardless.
The primary mirror is low in quality.
You can see Jupiter and its moons, Rings of Saturn, and Mars as a red dot with this telescope.
Deep space images are not good. A 76mm aperture doesn’t let in enough light for detailed images of star clusters, nebulas, or galaxies. But you can see extraordinarily bright ones such as Pleiades Star Cluster, Andromeda Galaxy, and Orion Nebula. As you might guess, a tabletop Dobsonian with a 114mm aperture(Z114) would gather a lot more light, providing a much better image.
The Moon looks spectacular with any telescope.
The mount is absolutely frustrating. It is not usable with any other model in the AstroMaster line. Its connections don’t provide smooth motion, and plastic parts create annoying movements.
At this price range, there is no proper equatorial mount you can get in the market. That is why you should spend your money on an altazimuth mount. They are easier to produce, therefore, are done in higher quality most of the time with beginner telescopes.
The mount is a disgrace to the astronomy community and also to entire humanity.
The 20mm eyepiece that comes with the telescope is a marketing scam. It is a correct-image eyepiece, which is completely unnecessary. In space, there are no directions. The extra lens just dims the image.
The 10mm Kellner eyepiece is a decent accessory that comes with most beginner telescope.
The red dot finder works well. It is a simple accessory.
The mount is not good at all. Tiniest movements at high magnifications cause massive dislocations in the image. That is why a sturdy mount is a must with any telescope.
The accessories are not good at all.
You can get a telescope with more powerful optics for the same price.
We regard this model as “usable”. It has major problems and shouldn’t be bought in most cases. But if, for some reason, this is the only model you can get, or it was gifted to you, it may serve as a proper gateway to the astronomy community.
In-Depth Review and Technical Specifications
The more complicated any object is, the harder it is to manufacture for a lower price. Experienced companies like Orion or Meade manage to do it rarely. Celestron, on the other hand, couldn’t do it with any of their beginner, equatorial models.
Spherical primary mirror designs are usually awful. They have multiple focal points, which creates blurry images. They are hard to collimate, which discourages most beginners from astronomy.
700mm focal length is enough to reduce most of the defects. This is the reason why we gave three stars to this telescope instead of one. The optical tube actually provides decent images of Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon.
The lengthy optical tube reduces optical defects quite a bit.
Deep space performance is below-average, but this is not due to the spherical mirror. It is because of the narrow aperture. You can only get proper images of exceptionally bright deep space objects.
The mount would be acceptable if the telescopes’ price tag was under 100$. But for this price, you can get a rock-solid and buttery smooth tabletop Dobsonian. Or at least a somewhat sturdy altazimuth refractor.
The mount simply has too many plastic on plastic parts. The parts that are in continuous motion and are metal are worn down in a short amount of time. Without regular greasing, the mount would become useless, and most beginners wouldn’t want to bother with that.
Overall the mount is disappointing.
The 20mm eyepiece is useless. We don’t understand why Celestron still includes these. They dim the image quite a bit and create defects. This eyepiece is only usable for terrestrial viewing.
The 10mm eyepiece is a proper Kellner. It doesn’t bring up any complaints.
The red dot finder is a simple accessory that just projects a red dot. It is easy to align. It does its job.
I cannot put into words how annoying the mount is.
Most of the accessories are completely useless. Celestron should start providing decent Kellner eyepieces.
The proper optical tube is the only thing that saves the telescope from becoming junk.
A telescope must be a good combination of a solid mount and a good optical tube, at any price range. If Orion, Meade, Skywatcher, and Zhumell can provide this, Celestron should as well. But instead they try to make profit off their strong brand name, which is a shame considering how good their more expensive telescopes are.