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Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope ($10 Scope)
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Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope ($10 Scope)
My name is Alejandro Hernandez. I’m 40 years old. I’m a husband and father of three, a full-time editor, a part-time musician, and an avid amateur astronomer.
Here is my review of the Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ, my first scope.
I got it used at a thrift store for $10. It was missing some parts (diagonal, finder scope, eyepieces, and eyepiece tray), but I got it to work (more info at the bottom of this article).
Now, let’s dive in.
This scope is a 70 mm refractor with a focal length of 700 mm and a focal ratio of f/10. At first, I wasn’t sure what all these numbers meant, but as time went on, I started learning and knowing the scope.
I think this telescope has decent optics. Contrast is very good for planets, and with the 700 mm focal length, you can see more than just a dot in the FOV. The moon is also a good target with this scope. Again, contrast is good, and views are clear and crisp.
Aperture is on the small side of things. Being a 70 mm scope there is not much light-gathering power, but it’s usable. I used it, a lot.
The tube and tripod are very lightweight. Being an alt-azimuth mount, it’s easy and intuitive to handle. It’s not intimidating, and you can get it going quickly. The bad news is that it’s wobbly, but if you’re very enthusiastic and patient as I was/still am, it’ll be fine.
The focuser works. It’s not the best but it gets the job done. Once you focus, you’ll have to wait a few seconds for the vibrations to stop completely. Depending on the magnification you’re using, this can vary between 2–3 seconds to more than 5 seconds.
Comparing this scope with another one of the same family, the Celestron PowerSeeker 80AZS, which I also own (can do a full review of that one, too), I like the views from the 80 mm short tube better, even though the shorter focal length means less magnification. I use the 80 mm more for open clusters and wide views.
Back to this one. This scope showed me and my family (wife and kids) the bands of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn for the first time. It made us go “WOW!” And for that, I will always be grateful.
PROS: Optics are decent. It’s lightweight and portable.
CONS: Mount is shaky/wobbly. Not a lot of aperture.
Here is a little background on this scope.
During the pandemic, I saw in the news that a comet was approaching. It was comet NEOWISE. I got a pair of binoculars to try to see it (Celestron’s 7x50 binoculars). Of course I didn’t, but I got the bug, big time.
As time went by, I found myself learning a lot about the night sky with those binoculars. Then, one day, while searching online, I found a telescope for $10 at a local thrift store. I had to get it, so I did.
It was this scope. It was in good shape with no visible/significant damage; only a small dent in the tube but nothing that affected performance. I took it home and my wife gave it a deep clean. I posted it on a very helpful Facebook group where someone reached out to me telling me what I needed to get it going. The scope was missing a diagonal, finder scope, eyepieces, and eyepiece tray for the tripod. This person was kind enough to send me a homemade star diagonal and an eyepiece of very nice quality, I must say, for which I am very grateful.
I used this telescope a lot. A LOT! I took it out to the backyard every single clear night I could. This telescope showed me the planets (Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). It showed me M13, M57, M45 (a closer look than with the binos), M7, M8, M20, and the moon in close detail. It also showed me a power line in great detail; the distant object I used to align the finder scope with the main scope.
I no longer have this scope. I donated it to my astronomy club, hoping it will wow someone else the same way it did with me and my family.
Bottom line is I had fun and learned a lot with this scope. I’ve read mixed reviews about this line from Celestron, and this was my experience as a total beginner.
That is all for now. I hope this has been helpful.
- Jon Isaacs, Bob Campbell, jgraham and 31 others like this
Wonderful review on this telescope. Your enthusiasm and determination says so much about your entrance into the wonderful world of amateur astronomy. : -)
Agreed, while the genre is generally referred to as 'hobby killers' some can be coaxed to perform reasonably well if handled with care, understanding their limitations and in many cases changing the eyepieces to cheap Plossl's along with a diagonal upgrade.
This is mostly so with refractors, much less so with cheap reflectors as alignment/collimation becomes a factor. In many cases those adjustments are just not available plus you have the issue of the newbie user needing to understand them if they are.
I'm currently evaluating a simple alt/az Meade Infinity 70 (70mm/700mm/f10) refractor rescued from a thrift store for $20 (complete in box!) and find even with the supplied MA eyepieces the view was quite good. My non-astro buddy observed the Moon with it while I was testing it and thought the view was quite satisfying.
Within the hours I'm willing to view I don't have Jupiter, Saturn, M42/Orion Nebula nor the M13/Hercules Cluster to view (at a decent angle anyway) so I can't comment on the scopes performance on those seminal targets. Judging from the star test and Moon view I think it will do fine.
Assuming a good night of seeing I feel a scope must deliver a decent star test, a good view of the Moon (admittedly not hard to do), at least three of the four stars of the Trapezium, a hint of the bands of Jupiter, clearly show the rings of Saturn and a bit more than a smudge of M13 to qualify as a usable astronomical telescope. If it can't do all that it goes to the dump.
A well-written and much needed review. The excitement gained from an entry level 70mm AZ scope can be just as great as from a much larger scope.
Very good article. I actually have one of these telescopes that I picked up at a yard sale (also for for about ten dollars) some time ago. It needs some work. I'm going to restore it like Alejandro has done.
Good job Alejandro! You have captured the essence of what this hobby should be, fun, and something to share with family and friends and strangers too.
You don’t need to spend a lot either, as your review well shows. I’m having a blast with a little 60mm x 500mm scope that cost $34 shipped to my door. At the moment it is first in line whenever the opportunity arises.
Thanks for bringing back my own memories...
Been into Astronomy since High School in the 80's
Bought a Celestron Comet Catcher Jr.
Never have been able to collimate it,,,
It gave me my first Wow's none the less...
So glad your first experience was so worthwhile...
One scope or One pair of binoculars are never enough once you get the bug...
Any Scope and Any pair of binoculars that provide a fun factor,
They are ALL worthwhile...
Thanks, and clear skies 👍.
Thanks. Yes, actually, after this telescope I got the AWB OneSky (new), which I love, and this year I got an Apertura AD8 used, which was a game changer!
Thanks, everyone! I learned a lot from this $10 telescope and my binoculars (which I still have). I've since moved on to a 5-inch tabletop dob (AWB OneSky), the short tube refractor I mentioned in the article (Celestron PowerSeeker 80AZS), and this year, I got an Apertura AD8, which was a game changer (and it's the telescope I use the most).
Great scope to begin with. I used it for 2 years before I moved to a 6" F/8 Dobson
these little guys are also wonderful scopes to move DOWN to … that's when you discover the joys of a small refractor (yes, I'm referencing the thread title). Loved the review!
I have one of these that i have fixed up to donate to someone who cant afford anything. I have used it on the moon a couple of times with the eyepieces that came with it and it did better then i expected. Even at 70mm it had the frac magic. The moon was sharp and the contrast good. It is a nice little scope that gives you the moon and planets and a inexpensive way to get into the hobby and it wont break the bank at all.
A great review and another example of why scopes like this are not "hobby killers." If you've got the makings of an amateur astronomer, a scope like this is plenty to light the spark as it did yours. The Powerseeker 70 is a Cadillac compared to my first scope.
I bought a Powerseeker 70 some years ago at Walmart on Black Friday for $40. I was curious about what it could do. I also wanted to see what I could do to improve the scope and mount. The scope itself was pretty good. The mount was wobbly. The diagonal and the eyepieces were usable but upgrades to Kellners and Plossls and a simple star diagonal provided significantly better views.
To eliminate the wobble, I built a set of wooden legs from 2x2s, slotting the ends to fit the tripod hub. There was about $6 worth of wood and hardware. This.made a big difference.
Great to see how many have chimed in praising what some of the scopes often classed as 'hobby killers' can do.
That being said some really are hobby killers (and they go in the metal recycling bin) but as has been pointed out a simple substitution of the supplied eyepieces and diagonals with cheap next step up Plossl's and the ubiquitous prism or mirror diagonals commonly supplied with mid-priced scopes can make a huge difference.
When my pile of truly crappy eyepieces from such substitutions starts overflowing it's storage box I put them up on Ebay in the "Crafts" section as a lot, suggesting they be used for an art project. I specifically state they are not appropriate for their intended use.
I also started with a 70mm Celestron from Shopgoodwill and have been enjoying the hobby with a series of "low end" scopes. Now I'm all the way up to a 90mm Celestron for refractor duties. I find that at the astro club outreach events many folks are drawn to view through my setup by the simplicity. I get remarks like "that's almost as good as that big one over there." I think they can easily imagine dealing with a scope that looks like their idea of a telescope to start the hobby.
I enjoy these small, lightweight, simple refractors and I have spent many pleasant evenings with them. For me the key was using good quality eyepieces, being seated and comfortable at the eyepiece, and using a light touch with the mount. With a light touch I find the motion smooth and easy and not at all bothersome. These qualities may make them challenging for a young beginner, but with patience they can be a delight to use.
I started out with a 40 mm Tasco and had nothing larger for 3 years. Small refractors can be very enjoyable to use if the images are sharp. The 70 mm Celestron certainly is worthy of use as an introductory scope. Very good review!
Good review, and as other have said, it's good to see someone using a modest telescope and using it well to get things started.
My start, many years ago (summer of 1970!), came through the use of a 60mm refractor, which I still have and use. One of the few relicts to survive from my younger days. Far from a hobby killer, the memories I have of nights with this refractor eventually brought me back into amateur astronomy. I used it (with upgraded eyepieces and a hybrid diagonal) to refresh my knowledge of the night sky while I decided on the purchase of a larger instrument. Not long after I obtained the 8" Newtonian I settled on, I realized I wasn't ready to give up on that refractor, and now use it on a light duty EQ mount.
Apparently quite a few of the department store 60mm refractors had decent optics, it was the wobbly mounts that ruined the experience. About 35 years ago I picked up an incomplete one at Goodwill for $5 but never bothered to fix it up until early last year. The views that patched together contraption put up are amazing, once it is on a steady mount.
Mine sports the Towa logo, so yes, a good objective lens at least. I don't recall being all that disappointed with the original eyepieces, either, but then I wouldn't have known any better at that time.
The wooden tripod and alt-az mount mine originally came with wasn't actually all that bad when brand new. I increased its stability by hanging a bag of sand from the center of the accessory tray. I can no longer recall what prompted me to try that, but it did damp down vibration. I also ditched the finder scope, and glued white threads to its mounting ring to form a cross hair sight. That took a lot of fiddling, but in the end worked a lot better for the double stars I was after. Nowadays, a Rigel QuikFinder does the job.
Enjoyed your review!
I started in the hobby with reflectors to get more aperture. Just a few years ago, I "assembled" a 60mm f/16.6 on an EQ2 mostly from junked parts sold at a "Scope Out" swap table - just for curiosity... Still have it. I continue to be blown away at what can be sharply seen and how fun it is to tinker with it.
Sometimes I like to imagine how Galileo would react to having a peek through my humble achromat. He would see with crisp clarity the true nature of Saturn's rings, hints of cloud bands and even Cassini's division on a steady night - all things he never resolved. A fun daydream...
This is one of my favorite telescopes after I did some upgrading and tuning... ie, cradle rings, better mount, collimate optics, resurface inside of focuser tube to cut stray light, and a better diagonal and eyepieces. This telescope and my Skywatcher 72ED are my two most used telescopes, by far. Great sub-$100 telescope!
Great article. It made me remember back in 1962 when I was 11. Santa had brought me an Edmund 3" F/10 reflector which i kept and used until I turned 18. The rest was history through a lifetime of telescopes, star parties, ATM projects, and still going at 71. Never underestimate the power of a small telescope!