Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ is a great refractor and a good beginner model. But it is not worth higher than 200$. If you manage to find it around 170$, it is a steal.
The main advantage of the AstroMaster 90AZ is its long optical tube. This reduces image defects quite a bit, which is usually the case with refractors.
The Lunar and planetary performance with AstroMaster 80AZ is great. Jupiter’s storm clouds and The Great Red Spot are easily visible, including the 4 Galilean Moon’s. Rings of Saturn are easily distinguishable from the planet, and with a high-quality eyepiece, you can get some detail on Mars.
The Moon looks spectacular with this telescope. For this price, there is no other model that can provide a better view of the Moon. The mountain ranges and craters look gorgeous, with no color defects.
You might get some idea about this telescopes’ capabilities from this video. Keep in mind the real image would look vastly better.
Deep space performance is another story. It is average at best due to its narrow aperture. A reflector would be much better for deep space objects.
You can still get good images of brighter Messier objects such as Pleiades Star Cluster and Orion Nebula. But aperture is vital for deep space, and 90AZ falls short in that area.
The mount is mostly plastic, as you might expect at this price range. It doesn’t provide optimum stability, but it works fine.
The tripod is reasonably stable. It doesn’t bring up any complaints.
AstroMaster 90AZ comes with a 10mm and 20mm eyepiece and a red dot finder. There is also an amici prism for terrestrial viewing.
The accessories are the same as most other models at this price range. They are pretty good for the beginning. But changing the eyepieces with Plössl’s would vastly improve the image quality.
This is a telescope that performs decently in all areas, and there is no significant drawback. Deep space performance is average, but it is sacrificed on purpose to increase planetary and Lunar performance.
There are models at the same price that have better optics or mounts. Zhumell Z130, for example, has a vastly better mount and slightly better optics. If you are insistent on getting a refractor with a tripod, this model is strongly recommended. Otherwise, you should check out tabletops and Dobsonians.
In-Depth Review and Technical Specifications
To be honest, AstroMaster 90AZ is one of the few models that provide good value for the price in the AstroMaster line. It is easy to use, powerful enough for most of the celestials a beginner would expect and comes with decent accessories.
An f/7.3 focal ratio is ideal for a refractor. It doesn’t provide too much power, but it significantly reduces chromatic aberrations. The result is a pretty good image quality than can compete with reflectors at the same price range. This is a huge deal for a refractor since they have narrower apertures.
You can get pretty much all the major details in the Solar System with fair brightness and sharpness. Mars and Venus are hard to see with most telescopes, but the amount of detail you can get from Jupiter and Saturn is amazing for a telescope at this price.
The Lunar surface looks amazing, perhaps the best at this price range. Due to high levels of brightness, the narrow aperture loses its significance, and what you are left with is an incredible amount of detail with good enough brightness.
Deep Space performance is not the best you can get for the price, due to the narrow aperture. Although you can get decent images of exceptionally bright objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy and Hercules Star Cluster, a reflector would be much better in this area. If you are going for deep space specifically, we would recommend Zhumell Z130.
The mount is a plastic altazimuth. The upside is it is easy to use. It only moves up, down, left and right, which is great for beginners. The downside is it’s made of cheap materials. This results in instability at high magnifications. But you can’t find anything better that comes with a refractor for this price.
The tripod is pretty solid and stable.
If stability is a huge concern for you, which in my opinion should be, you should get a tabletop or a Dobsonian.
AstroMaster 80AZ’s mount proves adequate.
The accessories are the same as most other beginner models. Celestron includes 10mm(66x) and 20mm(33x) Kellner eyepieces. They are usable and of decent quality for the beginning.
The red dot finder is a modest device that solely projects a red dot on a surface for aligning. It works fine and doesn’t bring up much complaint.
The amici prism diagonal is usable for terrestrial viewing but lowers the image quality quite a bit for space objects.
Although its performance is “not bad” with deep space, don’t buy this telescope for viewing nebulas, galaxies, and star clusters.
AstroMaster 90AZ is one of the best refractors at this price range. Although it has a plastic mount, its optical quality is one of the bests at the beginner level. Adding to that, it comes with decent accessories. A tabletop would perform slightly better in all areas, but it is a little less convenient. But still, they might be worth checking out before buying.