The AstroMaster Series produce bright, clear images of the Moon and planets. It is easy to see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn with every one of these fine instruments. For views of the brighter deep space objects like galaxies and nebulae, we recommend the larger aperture and light gathering ability of the Newtonian reflectors.
Pros: Cheap, lightweight, short, good quality, versatile.
Cons: Will probably not support high magnifications.
A small f9 Newtonian with a modifying lens in the eyepiece train to shorten the tube. It has two eyepieces (x50 & x100), two tube rings and a red dot finder. I don't like the finder - too bright. A right-angled telescope finder would be nice but more expensive. The tube rings have 1/4 inch threaded holes (different pitches but easy to find bolts for). The equatorial mount is adequate and the tripod is good. I have made a teeny weeny Dobsonian mount for it to replace the equatorial so making it easy to use and much, much lighter. The Dobsonian took a few hours of leisurely work and fits on the tripod giving a total weight of 14 lbs, making it portable in a rucksack. Well, in my big rucksack, which also has room for a tent and sleeping bag etcetera. As for optical quality - the main mirror seems good enough as does the shorter eyepiece, but the longer one (x50) needs the eye to be some distance away. It is an erecting eyepiece however. I fancy getting a longer, normal eyepiece for lower magnification. The tube will fit onto a standard camera tripod, but it is a bit heavy for my lightweight one. That makes it very portable indeed. The supplied equatorial mount is good for back garden use especially if you can keep it somewhere ready assembled. A man can carry the whole thing a little way easily enough. The telescope can be taken apart completely if you wish, everything seemingly fixed with screws of one kind or another. For example, only two screws fix the red dot finder. I imagine that the mirror is of short focal length and the modifying lens is a kind of Barlow lens to give it an effective focal length of 1000mm, but I may be wrong. This gives a good range of magnifications and a very compact size for cheap eyepieces, but means that there is an extra lens in the system. Shorter focal length mirrors are more prone to optical defects so high magnifications would not be useful. Optical alignment seems as good now after shipment and backpacking as it can be, but there are all the usual adjustment screws for when needed. Definitely suitable for an amateur astronomer and takes 1.25 inch standard eyepieces. M. Felton, Feb 2008.