Polaris 70 has a decent optical tube that comes with a rather complicated mount.
Meade Polaris 70mm EQ Refractor is a great beginner-level telescope that provides good value for its price. It has substantial advantages over its competitors at this price range.
The problem is most people would prefer a simpler mount for a beginner telescope. So keep in mind that Polaris 70EQ has a learning curve.
The mount is the main problem.
A 70mm refractor will provide good images around 35x-140x powers. And this telescope does just that.
The view is narrow, ideal for planetary detail.
The planetary images you get from this optical tube are pretty good. Details such as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and Rings of Saturn are easily visible. You can also get good images of major moons such as Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Europa, and Io. With a good eyepiece, you can get detailed images of Mars and Venus as well.
The Moon looks spectacular with incredible detail. You won’t get any low-brightness problems there. If viewing the Moon is the reason why you are getting a telescope, this is a no brainer.
The 70mm aperture is pretty narrow. So the optical tube is able to get the images of only brighter deep space objects. The Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, and Pleiades Star Cluster are easily visible. Just don’t expect to get good images of dimmer deep space objects with this telescope.
You should keep in mind that an equatorial mount has a learning curve. If you are buying this telescope for your kids, you should consider a telescope with a simpler mount. (Infinity Series telescopes are easier to use)
The optical tube is attached to the mount with a dovetail, which is solid and fairly stable. The movement of the mount is pretty smooth, and the slow-motion controls work properly. The tripod is sturdy and doesn’t create much wobbling. High-magnification viewing is not the smoothest, but this is the best you can get at this price range with a refractor.
The eyepieces that come with the telescope are modified Kellner’s. They are OK for the beginning. We strongly recommend changing them with Plössl’s to increase the quality of the image. The difference will be huge.
The red dot finder is a standard, cheap model among beginner telescopes. It works without any problems, but a 6×30 finder scope would make things much easier.
The prism corrects the image but dims it quite a bit. We recommend it only for terrestrial viewing.
The finder’s attachment to the optical tube is a little inconvenient.
Accessories are below average.
The Barlow lens is unnecessary.
The mount is too complicated for a beginner.
At this price range, this is, without a doubt, one of the best telescopes for beginners. If you are going for planetary and lunar detail, just get this telescope. If your main reason for getting a telescope is deep space performance, you should look for a Dobsonian. We would recommend Zhumell Z130 for deep space at this price range. It has almost double the aperture will be able to provide images of much dimmer space objects.
The Infinity 70 is absolutely a great model and very popular among serious beginners, but its mount makes it harder to use at high powers. Polaris 70mm solves this problem by changing the altazimuth with an equatorial mount that has slow-motion knobs, and it just works. We think it can be worth the 50$ price jump.
Extra 50$ can be worth it if you absolutely need slow-mo controls.
900mm Focal Length
The optics are pretty simple. It is a 70mm refractor with a 900mm optical tube. It will provide great planetary and lunar detail for the price. Details the optical tube is able to provide are The Great Spot and Galilean Moon’s of Jupiter, Rings of Saturn, and with a high-quality eyepiece polar ice caps on Mars.
The Lunar surface will probably blow your mind if this will be your first telescope. This is one of the best telescopes in the market for viewing the Moon.
Deep space performance is another story. The 70mm aperture is simply too narrow for deep deep space objects.
Deep space performance is disappointing.
Only the exceptionally bright deep space objects will be visible such as the Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, Pleiades Star Cluster and brighter objects in the Messier Catalog. Don’t get this telescope for viewing deep space. (For deep space, check out Zhumell Z Series)
Keep in mind that equatorial mounts have a learning curve, but it definitely pays off to learn how to use an equatorial mount. The viewing experience gets much better with slow-motion controls.
The tripod is sturdy and stable, but don’t expect incredible precision at high-magnifications. Only a Dobsonian or a tabletop telescope can provide you that at this price range.
Red Dot Finder
The eyepieces that come with the telescope are 6.3mm, 9mm, and 26mm Kellner’s. They will give you 143x, 100x, and 35x magnifications, respectively.
They are below-average eyepieces. They will prove enough for the beginning, but we strongly recommend changing them.
The accessories are far from impressive.
The 2x Barlow lens doubles the magnification with any eyepiece. We think it is unnecessary since it can only be used with 35x.
The prism that comes with the telescope corrects the images’ rotation, but dims also lowers the quality of the image. We recommend using it for terrestrial viewing and maybe the Moon.
The focuser is smooth and solid but a little stiff in the beginning.
Hard to Use
The mount is rather complicated, and it is made of plastic.
Polaris 70 is one of the best models for beginners, but it has its flaws.
If you are on a budget, by all means, go for the Infinity series of Meade. They are much cheaper due to their simpler, altazimuth mounts.