Celestron’s PowerSeeker 70AZ continues the grand PowerSeeker tradition of great expectations and huge letdowns. Generally, we recommend steering clear of sub-$100 telescopes, as well as sub-$200 tripod-mounted instruments, and scopes like the PowerSeekers are part of why. The 70AZ is actually one of the better PowerSeeker scopes but still falls short of delivering a really useful instrument out of the box.
Overview Of The Powerseeker 70
Optical Tube & Quality
The PowerSeeker 70’s optical tube is shared between the EQ and AZ versions, and thus identical. It’s a 70mm f/10 achromatic refractor. The images provided by this scope are surprisingly good when coupled with decent eyepieces, which it sadly does not come with. There is some chromatic aberration but nothing severe enough to hamper the quality of the image. The rack-and-pinion focuser on the scope is also acceptable in quality.
The inside of the scope’s dew shield is shiny which hampers image contrast – blackening it is relatively easily accomplished, however.
Most of the parts on the OTA are plastic, but plastic doesn’t necessarily mean bad quality on its own. Celestron has done a pretty good job on keeping the parts of the scope overall metal when they need to be. However, the same cannot be said for the accessories.
Unlike some of the other PowerSeekers which have severely deficient mounts or bad optics, the main killer of the 70AZ is really its supplied accessories.
The PowerSeeker refractors all come with a 20mm Kellner eyepiece (45x), 4mm Ramsden eyepiece (175x), and a junk 3x Barlow (the Newtonian scopes come with a 20mm erecting eyepiece instead of the 20mm Kellner). The 20mm Kellner is decent, but 45x is simply too much magnification for a 70mm telescope’s low power eyepiece. The 4mm Ramsden already provides too much magnification for 70mm of aperture, and its narrow field of view and low quality don’t help. The 3x Barlow is entirely plastic and is utterly useless as anything more than a dust cap.
The included diagonal is an Amici design, shaped like a handle after Celestron noticed that people tend to grab the diagonal as such during product testing. It works fine and presents correct left-right and up-down images for terrestrial viewing. However, this is not really useful for astronomical viewing and the Amici prism absorbs light making for a dimmer image at the eyepiece.
The 5×24 finderscope on the 70AZ is also near-useless, being made entirely of plastic with a dim, narrow field of view and a bracket that is all-but-impossible to use to align the finder.
Unfortunately, by the time you replace all these accessories, you will have spent as much as if not more than the cost of the entire telescope, and there are options for telescopes with better accessories at and above the 70AZ’s price.
By the way, the scope also touts itself as coming with astronomy software. This software (I believe it’s TheSkyX Lite edition or something like that) is outdated and easily dispensed with by the free software Stellarium.
The PowerSeeker 70AZ’s mount is certainly not worthy of much in the way of praise, but it is not useless either.
The 70AZ mount is an alt-azimuth fork design, which works well for both terrestrial and astronomical purposes. There are no slow-motion controls but the mount’s tension can be adjusted via small knobs, which works well enough. The aluminum tripod legs are small and thin, but just adequate enough to support the whole scope. Overall the mount is not my favorite, but it works well enough.
The 70AZ’s small aperture makes it limited to the Moon, planets, double stars, and a handful of the brightest deep-sky objects. The Moon will show a wealth of detail, and you can view the phases of Venus and ice caps on Mars. Jupiter’s cloud belts and the Great Red Spot (as well as the giant planet’s moons) should be visible along with Saturn’s moons, rings, and maybe a hint of its cloud belts or the Cassini Division in its rings.
Outside the solar system, you are again severely limited simply by the telescope’s small size (as well as the lack of an adequate finderscope). The Andromeda Galaxy is visible as a fuzz, as well as a few other galaxies with some difficulty. Globular clusters are all smudges. A fair amount of open star clusters are mildly interesting as are some double stars, but don’t expect anything eye-popping, especially if you don’t have pristine dark skies.
All in all, I do not recommend the Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ due to its weak mount and low-quality accessories. We would recommend the Meade Infinity 70AZ over this scope since it is available at a similar price but comes with superior accessories and a steadier mount, or you could spend more money on a better and larger telescope capable of showing you more stuff.