Celestron Astromaster

What is the difference between the Celestron Astromaster 70AZ and Celestron Astromaster 70EQ?

I'm looking to buy a telescope and came across the Celestron Astromaster 70AZ and the Celestron Astromaster 70EQ.
They have the same aperture, magnification, focal length etc. but between them there is a $100 difference.
My question is why are they different in price and which would you recommend to buy for an aspiring astronomer?

Thanks

The difference is in the mount. The 70AZ has an altazimuth mount (motions left-right and up-down) and the 70EQ has an equatorial mount (must be aligned with the Earth's polar axis but allows tracking with a single motion). I would not recommend _either_ of these telescopes to a beginner. The aperture (diameter of main lens) is too small to show much beyond the surface of the Moon and Jupiter's moons, and both mounts are light weight, flimsy, hard to use, and unsteady.

There are only a very few telescopes worth considering in this price range -- most of the others are toys.

Orion FunScope 76mm reflector @ $50:
http://www.telescope.com/control/product/~product_id=09766/~pcategory=telescopes/~category_id=countdown

Orion GoScope 80mm refractor @ $100:
http://www.telescope.com/control/telescopes/refractor-telescopes/orion-goscope-80mm-tabletop-refractor-telescope

Orion SkyScanner 100mm reflector @ $100:
http://www.telescope.com/control/telescopes/dobsonian-telescopes/orion-skyscanner-100mm-tabletop-reflector-telescope

Orion StarBlast 4.5-inch reflector @ $200:
http://www.telescope.com/control/product/~product_id=09814/~pcategory=telescopes/~category_id=dobsonians

What makes all of these scopes stand out is their smooth solid Dobsonian-style mounts, as distinct from the wobbly tripod mounts on the competition. In this price range, slight differences in price make for major differences in quality, so concentrate on items towards the bottom of the list.

For just slightly more money you can get a 6-inch reflector on a true Dobsonian mount.

Here are a few web pages with good information on beginner's telescopes:
http://www.gaherty.ca/tme/TME0702_Buying_a_Telescope.pdf
http://www.scopereviews.com/begin.html
http://observers.org/beginner/j.r.f.beginner.html

For more advanced information, read Phil Harrington's Star Ware, 4th edition (Wiley).

You'll get the greatest value for your money with a Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount, such as these:
http://www.telescope.com/control/category/~category_id=dobsonians/~pcategory=telescopes/~VIEW_INDEX=0/~VIEW_SIZE=1000000
http://www.skywatchertelescope.net/swtinc/product.php?class1=1&class2=106

Buy from a store which specializes in telescopes and astronomy, either locally or online; don't buy from department stores, discount stores or eBay as mostly what they sell is junk. Find your local astronomy club and try out different telescopes at one of their star parties:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/organizations

I strongly recommend that beginners steer clear of astrophotography until they have learned their way around the sky. Astrophotography is by far the most expensive and difficult area of amateur astronomy.

Many people who buy telescopes have no idea how to find interesting things to observe. A good introduction to finding things is NightWatch by Terence Dickinson (Firefly). A more advanced book is Star Watch by Phil Harrington (Wiley).




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