Celestron ExploraScope 80AZ Refractor Telescope Review: Made for Planets and the Moon
Celestron ExploraScope 80 is a great refractor that comes at a good price. This is surprising considering how bad other beginner Celestron models are.
What surprised me the most is the price. Celestron produces “OK” quality beginner telescopes and sells them at ridiculous prices. This is a way for them to make higher profits and I’ve written many articles about that.
ExploraScope 80 is surprisingly reasonable.
But ExploraScope 80 is different. It is a good refractor, and it is being sold at a reasonable price.
This is going to be a long part, so buckle up. In case you don’t want to read the whole thing, the overall message is the optics are pretty good.
80mm refractors usually come with short, 400mm optical tubes to cut down the manufacturing cost. Although it is an acceptable sacrifice, the result is severe chromatic aberrations around most bright objects.
Chromatic aberration is a colorful halo around bright images. Although most beginners don’t notice it, it is widely regarded as an aspect that lowers the image quality.
Chromatic Aberration is a common problem, and it is hard to get rid of. ExploraScope 80 doesn’t have it.
The short optical tube combined with a wide aperture makes these models more of a wide-field, deep-space telescope rather than a device for providing planetary detail.
ExploraScope 80 is the complete opposite of these models.
What makes ExploraScope 80 different is its 900mm optical length. The unusually long optical tube almost completely eliminates chromatic aberrations, providing a color-accurate, detailed image. Adding to that, it is easier to focus on higher magnifications, making it a great planetary and Lunar performer.
4 Galilean Moon’s of Jupiter and its stripes, Rings of Saturn and its largest moon Titan, The Great Red Spot, are all easy to see with this telescope. You can observe phases of Venus and some detail on Mars, though the latter is only possible with an expensive eyepiece. With the eyepieces that come with the telescope, Mars will appear as a red disk.
The unusually long optical tube is delightful.
ExploraScope 80 provides exceptional detail on the Lunar Surface. If that is the reason why you are getting a telescope, this is a great choice.
Deep space performance is pretty good as well, but not as good as a tabletop reflector.
The 80mm aperture is modest.
Aperture is key when it comes to deep space observing. The more light you gather from the lens, the more stars you are able to see in a single image. The smallest increase in aperture goes a long way in this price range. If you are specifically going for deep-space observations, I recommend getting the widest aperture telescope possible. Zhumell Z114, for example, has a much wider 114mm aperture.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get decent deep-space images with this telescope. Brighter deep space objects such as the Pleiades Star Cluster, Orion Nebula, and Andromeda Galaxy appear with decent detail.
The mount is mostly plastic, as you might expect at this price range. It has two attachments to the optical tube. It provides average stability. At high-magnifications, tiny wobbles get slightly annoying, but other than that, the mount doesn’t bring up any problems. At this price range, only tabletop reflectors can provide rock-solid stability.
The mount is mostly plastic and unstable.
There are no slow-mo controls.
There is a slow-motion control knob attached to the mount and the optical tube. It is useful since an optical tube at this length gets shaky due to gravity. A slow-motion control knob for the horizontal axis would be appreciated, but there is none.
The tripod is aluminum, and it is surprisingly sturdy. It has an eyepiece tray in the middle and a foldable connection on each leg. Overall it is a well-made part of the base.
The 4mm eyepiece is completely useless. It is an accessory included so that Celestron can write a ridiculously high magnification number on the poster of ExploraScope 80. The truth is 225x magnification is impossible for this telescope. No matter the kind of eyepiece you are using.
The 20mm eyepiece is usable. It provides 45x magnification. Although the lens and eye-relief are quite small, a high-quality eyepiece is impossible to provide at this price range. This eyepiece will get you through the first months, but I strongly recommend getting a Plössl eyepiece in the future. It will vastly improve the image quality, and you will be able to use the optical tube to its fullest potential.
The 4mm eyepiece and the 3x Barlow belong to thrash.
The 3x Barlow, like the 4mm eyepiece, is a marketing-scam. A decent 3x Barlow lens is incredibly hard to manufacture. The one that comes with ExploraScope 80 is more of a piece of glass than a 3x Barlow. It lowers the image quality so much that it becomes nonsensical to use. It belongs to thrash.
The finder and the 20mm eyepiece are “usable”.
The red dot finder is strongly attached to the optical tube. It is sturdy and easy to align. It is pretty easy to use. It is easy to attach and detach. It is overall a good accessory for this telescope.
The focuser is mostly plastic with a small amount of metal built-in. It does its job, but tiny wobbles occur at high-magnifications. Most telescopes at this price range have plastic focusers, so it is hard to complain about that
The 4mm eyepiece and the 3x Barlow lens are completely useless. Celestron should have provided a decent 10mm Kellner eyepiece with this telescope.
The plastic mount is not that stable.
I criticize Celestron a lot for their overpriced beginner telescopes. ExploraScope 80, in contrast, is actually a good telescope that provides decent value for the price. The accessories are still junk, and the mount is mostly plastic. But the unusually long 900mm optical tube is an excellent advantage over other refractors. This telescope also doesn’t require any kind of maintenance, and it takes 15 minutes to set it up. These are golden aspects for most beginners.
The long optical tube and the low price tag are vital.
If you are one of those buyers who is looking for pure optical performance, Zhumell Z114 and Meade LightBridge Mini 114 will provide better images. Aperture size is the most important for beginner telescopes, and most tabletop mounts are smooth and rock-solid. They also come with better eyepieces.
But I understand if a tripod is a must for you. If that is the case, Celestron ExploraScope 80 is strongly recommended.