Celestron is a company famous for its overpriced beginner telescopes. Thankfully, AstroMaster 80 AZS is not one of them. It is a decent refractor worth its 140$ price tag.
An 80mm aperture is wide enough for decent deep space and planetary performance. You will be able to get images of brighter nebulas, star clusters, and galaxies. Jupiter’s storm clouds will be visible, Rings of Saturn will be distinguishable from the planets, and Mars will appear as a red dot.
The problem with a short refractor is what is called chromatic aberration.
You can see the color inaccuracies around the edges of the Moon in the image above, and what you will get with this telescope is a bit worse than it is in this image. As the celestial you are trying to see gets brighter, chromatic aberrations increase. If you are thinking of buying this telescope, you should keep this in mind.
A tabletop reflector or a Dobsonian doesn’t suffer from such problems. They also have higher apertures. But if you are insistent on getting a refractor with a tripod, the optics are not bad at all.
The mount is what you expect to get at this price range. It is mostly plastic, therefore provides good enough stability for a short refractor. Motions on the axis’ are smooth, and the tripod is pretty stable.
Again, a Dobsonian or a Tabletop Reflector would be much better at this area since they usually have Teflon bearings.
The accessories are OK for a telescope at this price, and honestly, I am relieved that Celestron didn’t send “marketing scam” accessories like with their PowerSeeker’s.
The eyepieces have 10mm(40x), and 20mm(20x) apertures, and the are usable. Although a slightly expensive Plössl would improve the image quite a bit.
The red dot finder is humble and easy to use. It doesn’t bring up any problems.
The amici prism is usable for terrestrial viewing. It lowers the image quality with celestials.
The biggest and only drawback is the severe chromatic aberration you get with this telescope. Some don’t mind it, some can’t stand it.
This telescope performs “OK”. The optics are fine, the mount is fine, and the accessories are fine. There is no major drawback, but there is no apparent advantage either.
The problem is a 130mm(5”) or 114mm(4.4”) TableTop would be much better on all areas. If the tripod is a must, then we recommend this telescope. Otherwise, you would be better off with a Zhumell Z114 or Heritage 130P.
In-Depth Review and Technical Specifications
AstroMaster 80AZS is a decent refractor. What you should be careful about this telescope is its price. You can find this telescope for 100$ on an online-retailer and for 250$ somewhere else. In our opinion, 140$ is an acceptable price for this telescope. But for any price higher, you should search for other models.
An f/5 refractor is not preferable. Due to the short optical tube, the light comes in a high angle, and it gets scattered on both lenses. This results in color inaccuracies around the edges for bright objects.
Is this the end of the world? No, definitely not. Some people don’t even notice it. But a good image must be the most important area for any telescope.
The detail you get from the optical tube is what you expect at this price range. You can see the major details such as the Great Red Spot on Jupiter and its 4 Galilean Moon’s, Rings of Saturn, and craters and mountain ranges on the Moon.
You can see brighter deep space objects in the Messier Catalog, such as Pleiades Star Cluster, Orion Nebula, and Andromeda Galaxy.
The optical performance of a 114mm tabletop is better, but not enough to completely disqualify AstroMaster 80AZS. If the optical performance of a 114mm reflector was 9/10, AstroMaster 80AZS would get at least 8/10.
The differences with the mounts are much more important, in my opinion.
The mount is a plastic altazimuth. It is incredibly easy to use since it only moves up, down, left, and right.
As you might expect from a plastic mount, it doesn’t provide the stability you desperately need for a pleasant stargazing experience. But at this price range, there are no better mount choices for tripod refractors.
Overall the mount is acceptable, though don’t expect anything rock solid.
The accessories are surprisingly good considering the fact that Celestron’s PowerSeeker line is filled with useless accessories. Celestron went with legitimate accessories in their AstroMaster line, and it is a nice thing to see.
The eyepieces are Kellner’s, and they have 10mm(40x) and 20mm(20x) apertures. As mentioned before, these are “usable” accessories. The problem is a good eyepiece would cost almost half of this telescopes’ price. So keep that mind if you are going to purchase this telescope.
Chromatic aberrations around the edges is the major drawback. Other than that, there is no apparent problem with this telescope.
If you find this telescope for a bargain, say around 100$, it is a steal. But if you consider the fact that a tabletop Dobsonian has a much better mount with slightly better optics, any price higher than that should make you think and search a little more.