I was in my late 20's when the Astroscan first hit the market in the mid-1970's, and it remained in production for over 35 years. It was considered a breakthrough scope in it's day, because it produced wide fields of view, and it didn't require a mount and tripod to use it. It was the polar opposite of the other scopes on the market at that time, and many amateurs saw it as an ideal grab and go scope. It's unusual shape and red color also added to its appeal.
The problem is that it was designed for beginners, not serious amateurs, so they cut a lot of corners to keep the cost down. The optics were okay, but QC was erratic, and the optics were better in some production runs than in others. The focuser was it's worst feature because Edmund designed a rubber compression wheel to apply pressure on the eyepiece to move it. A rack & pinion focuser would have been far better, but it would have increased the price beyond the retail price point they had in mind. The scope was also difficult to aim, so eventually, they added an inexpensive sheet metal site to it.
I had the opportunity to observe with them many times back then, and they were good for what they were designed for. Unfortunately, you can't make an Astroscan into a planetary scope any more than you can make an SUV into a sports car. The optics aren't good enough to deliver detailed planetary images. Precise high-power focusing is next to impossible with its quirky focusing system, and its ergonomics will make it extremely difficult to track planets.
At a price of $50 with 3 RKE eyepieces, you got a fantastic deal. My advice would be to enjoy it for what it is, but I wouldn't put another penny into it. Save your money, and use it towards the purchase of a scope and mount that would make planetary observing into an enjoyable experience, rather than an exercise in frustration. That's my 2 cents, based on 58 years of observing.
Thanks for the information on the Astroscan! The scope is definitely an attention getter, I was surprised it was able to work as well as it does. It is a nice little scope and perfect for learning the sky but you're right, it has it's limits. I have heard that the models varied wildly because of the lack of consistency during production.
The older man I bought it from took great care of it and wanted to see somebody get some use out of it. He was insistent on only charging $50 even though both of us knew it was worth much more than that, especially in the condition it's in. He gave me a breakdown of when he was younger and would go to the park with friends to sky watch, over the years learning much more about space. He got this Astroscan as he got older but eventually wanted to hand it off. It was right as I was looking to buy a scope, so the timing couldn't have been any better.
I know you said not to put any more money into it but I can't. I'm going to at least buy a laser finder with some sort of mount and possibly a Barlow or cheaper eyepiece. You stated your opinion, which I believe is definitely the right move; however, would you at all consider a Paradigm 3.2mm eyepiece worth it? It's around $60 (more than the scope and eyepieces haha!) and might add an extra push for seeing the planets while considering another scope in the future. I know that overall I'll likely still be disappointed with planetary features, but I want to get the most out of this telescope.
Thanks again for your input!