Meade Infinity 102 AZ Review: Good at Everything
Infinity 102 is good at everything, but great at nothing.
Before the review, you should know that if you are going for a budget telescope you should consider Dobsonian’s such as Orion XT4.5. But they are not as portable and convenient as Meade Infinity 102. They are much harder to carry around or fit inside a room. So you have to make a choice between optical power and convenience.
102mm is a reasonable starting point.
Speaking of optical power, the optics of Meade Infinity 102 are not bad at all. It has a 102mm aperture which proves enough for major Solar System and deep space objects.
You will be able to see Saturn and Jupiter in detail. Moons around Jupiter are quite easy to see and Saturn’s rings are easily distinguishable from the planet. The Moon looks incredibly detailed and sharp.
Expect some chromatic aberration around bright objects.
Deep space performance is pretty good. Bright deep space objects such as the Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, and Pleiades Star Cluster look detailed.
The alt-azimuth mount is mostly plastic. It is quite sturdy but it is not as smooth as you want it to be. Although it is OK for the beginning we recommend changing it.
The eyepieces that come with the telescope are not very good but they are quite sufficient for the beginning. There is a 6.3mm, 9mm and 26mm eyepiece included. Although the 26mm is not bad, the others are not that fun to use. We recommend changing eyepieces as well.
The red dot finder is a standard among budget telescopes. It is a cheap finder but very easy to use and practical.
The focuser is a rack-and-pinion. It is metal and has a size of 1.25”. It is quite solid and smooth.
Although the accessories are not high-quality, Meade Infinity 102 has quite good fundamentals, especially the optics. It has the potential to become an amazing grab-and-go telescope. So if you are willing to spend a little on accessories, we would highly recommend Meade Infinity 102. Especially for youngsters and beginners.
The main reason why we call Meade Infinity 102 a great entry-level telescope is its main optics. They are actually pretty good for a telescope in this price range. There are other good aspects as well, such as the sturdy tripod and useful slow-motion knobs. But one thing you can’t change in a telescope is its optics.
660mm Focal Length
First of all, let’s talk about planetary performance. Although you can easily see details such as stripes on Jupiter, moons around Jupiter and rings around Saturn; because of the short focal length, there are chromatic aberrations. Meaning colors may get inaccurate. I would recommend a longer optical tube telescope for planets.
The Moon is a whole different story. Although there are color inaccuracies, the Moon looks incredibly detailed and sharp. Craters and mountain ranges look astonishing. If you are getting this telescope for majorly Moon observations you won’t be disappointed.
Deep space performance is a little better than planetary. Bright deep space objects such as the Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy or Pleiades Star Cluster look detailed. Around mid-range magnifications, this telescope provides much better views and it is much more fun to use.
The optics are built for all-round performance.
The eyepieces have 26mm(23x), 9mm(67x) and 9.3mm(95x) apertures. They are cheapened versions of Kellner eyepieces and they are actually OK. Most eyepieces included at this price range are pure garbage and compared to them these eyepieces are quite good. But you should still change them to get the maximum out of your telescope.
The mount is alt-azimuth, meaning it only moves up, down, left and right. It is mostly plastic. To be honest it is not the sturdiest mount for a telescope. As we’ve said before a Dobsonian is much more sturdy.
Around mid-range magnifications, a plastic mount doesn’t bring up any complaints. But around high-range, it can be a pain to use. Although the horizontal movement of the mount is smooth the vertical movement is shaky. Adding to that you can’t point the telescope directly upwards since the slow-motion knobs get in the way.
The mount is not mesmerizing. It is sufficient.
Speaking of slow-motion knobs, we have to admit they are quite good. They are simply solid and useful.
The tripod is made of steel and this is greatly appreciated. Most tripods at this price range are aluminum which makes the tripod not so stable. The one that comes with Meade Infinity 102 is pretty solid and sturdy.
Red Dot Finder
The focuser is, as it is with other Infinity’s, surprisingly well-built.
The focuser is one of the best parts of this telescope. It has a rack-and-pinion design. It is 1.25 inches and is made of metal. It is much better than the other focusers at this price range which are mostly plastic. It is more than enough for 2” and 1.25” eyepieces. It is solid and has a smooth motion if greased properly.
The red dot finder is quite enough for an entry-level telescope. It is easy to use and very practical at finding celestials in the night sky.
The 90-degree prism that comes with the telescope corrects the images’ rotation and saves you from bending over. Although it seems to be very useful the one that comes with Meade Infinity 102 is of low quality and is mostly plastic. It dims the image and creates spikes. Therefore we only recommend it for terrestrial viewing.
The Barlow lens is another unnecessary accessory. It doubles the magnification with any eyepiece. For example, if you are using the 26mm(23x) eyepiece with the Barlow it becomes 46x. A good quality Barlow is very useful but like the prism, it is mostly plastic and has a small lens. We recommend using a small aperture-good eyepiece or a high-quality Barlow instead of this one.
The major drawback is the plastic mount.
The accessories are of low quality, except the focuser.
There is moderate amount of chromatic aberration.
If you are concerned about a Dobsonian’s weight and size, Meade Infinity 102 is a no-brainer. All the not-so-good parts of the telescope can be improved and changed. But the parts that you cannot change are pretty good quality, such as the optical tube. Therefore with a couple of improvements, this telescope will become a really good quality grab-and-go.
It is an excellent telescope for any beginner.