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Meade Infinity 90AZ Review

Meade’s Infinity 90AZ is my favorite of the three larger Infinity AZ scopes. It has enough aperture to show you a fair amount of things, but its slightly longer focal ratio makes for lower chromatic aberration and thus better planetary performance.

It seems to be the least-purchased of the “big” three Infinity refractors, a pity since it provides some of the nicest lunar and planetary views of the lot. So, let’s get into the review. 

In This Review

Ranked 3rd out of 12
4.4/5

(4.4)

Optical Tube Rating 80%
Accessories Rating 80%
Mount Rating 80%
Visibility Score 76%

*Rankings and ratings are calculated by comparing similar telescopes, in this case, 12 telescopes between $100 and $175.

Overview Of The Infinity 90 Optical Tube

The Infinity 90 is one of the few inexpensive scopes on the market these days that doesn’t seem to bear superficial resemblance or directly copy anything else. It’s a 90mm f/6.7 achromatic refractor, a rather uncommon configuration to be sold as a beginner instrument.

With a focal ratio of f/6.7, there is of course a significant amount of chromatic aberration in the Infinity 90’s images, but certainly less than that of the Infinity 102 and considerably less than the Infinity 80. A longer achromat or an apochromat will of course crush the Infinity 90 but for the price and considering its portability the scope produces really excellent images.

The dew shield at the front of the Infinity 90 is entirely plastic, and the inside is almost shiny. Scuffing the interior up with coarse sandpaper (#80 or #120) and spraying it flat black, or simply installing some flocking paper, will greatly improve image contrast – you’d really be surprised by the effect it has!

The scope’s focuser is largely plastic, but works pretty well and has no trouble holding heavy eyepieces.

As with the Infinity 80 and 102 the Infinity 90 has a Vixen dovetail plate for use on more expensive astronomical mounts, but it attaches to the Infinity AZ mount using a simple ¼ 20 threaded hole and screw/washer.

Accessories

The Infinity AZ refractors come with three eyepieces: A 26mm MA (23x), a 9mm MA (67x) and a 6.3mm MA (95x). 

Meade Instruments 209005 Infinity 90 AZ Refractor Telescope

Price – $254.93

The MA design is a derivative of the Kellner eyepiece and while cheap, they work pretty well (though a good Plossl or wide-angle design will dispense with them easily).

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Meade Instruments – Infinity 90mm Aperture, Portable Refracting Astronomy Telescope for Beginners – Multiple Eyepieces & Accessories Included – Fun Space Activities for Kids & Adults – See the Moon

The Infinity scopes also come with a 2x Barlow lens, an Amici prism star diagonal, and a red dot sight.

The MA eyepieces are plastic-bodied, but the eyepiece lenses themselves are glass. The 6.3mm MA is rather hard to look through due to it small lens and low eye relief, and the view is less-than-sharp – a 6mm “goldline” eyepiece would prove far superior.

The included 2x Barlow seems to be entirely plastic, including the optics. It works, but you really don’t need to use it in the first place and it is definitely not the sharpest.

The plastic Amici prism diagonal provides correct non-inverted left-right and up-down images, making it useful for terrestrial viewing. However, the net effect on astronomical use is a dimmer-than-normal image with slightly more chromatic aberration than with a regular diagonal, and the Amici prism design produces a bright, distracting diffraction spike on the planets and bright stars.

The included red dot sight works reasonably well, though at 600mm focal length a real finderscope or reflex sight would be preferable for locating deep-sky objects. The shoe for the finder is the industry standard size, so a good 6×30, 8×40, or 9×50 finderscope bracket (or a bracket for some reflex sights) should slide right in.

The Infinity AZ Mount & Tripod

With a design resembling more of a pan-head photo tripod than an astronomical mount, the Infinity AZ is a little confusing to get the hang of, but it works quite well. Balancing is achieved by sliding the small ¼ 20 captive knob much like a photo tripod head screw, and if the scope is still back-heavy (if, say, you use a large ultra wide angle eyepiece or 50mm finderscope) you can tighten the altitude axis a bit using a wrench. Azimuth tensioning is adjusted via a small knob, and there are slow motion knobs for both axes. Keep in mind that the slow motion knobs on the mount are tangent arms and thus will run out of travel if you keep turning them in one direction.

The tripod is steel, and while some plastic is used in the construction the thing overall feels pretty sturdy and solid, far better than the cheap EQ-1, EQ-2, and EQ-3 mounts supplied with many entry-level instruments both in its sturdiness and ease of use.

The only major downside of the whole mount is that you may have trouble pointing the scope directly overhead; it’ll either bump into the knobs or the tripod legs.

Looking For Better Alternatives?

Meade Infinity 90AZ is our third most recommended telescope for someone with a budget between $100 and $175, behind Meade Lightbridge Mini 114 and Zhumell Z114.

If you have a flexible budget, you may choose to increase your budget and pick the best from our $175 to $225 telescopes’ category

Zhumell
Z114

$100 to $175 Category
  • Rank 2 in category
  • Our expert's rating of 4.6
Best In class

Zhumell
Z130

$175 to $225 Category
  • Rank 1 in category
  • Our expert's rating of 4.6
Best Choice

Final Verdict

Overall I would definitely recommend the Infinity 90AZ. If your budget is a little bigger and you aren’t too worried about the chromatic aberration, I might steer you towards the 102AZ instead - it’s only a little more expensive and less portable, but has a 2” focuser and larger aperture. However, if you would prefer better lunar/planetary performance there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting the 90, and all three of the larger Infinity series refractors are fine telescopes.

Rank

1

In $100 - $175 category

Best pick in the categoryMeade LightBridge Mini 114

Meade Infinity 90AZ Awards

Based on positive ranking from our team of experts and telescope owners, the Meade Infinity 90 has earned the following awards in our buyer’s guides.

Best Refractor Telescope

Best refractor telescope between $150 and $200 on Best Refractor Telescopes guide.

3 thoughts on “Meade Infinity 90AZ Review”

  1. Hi,

    I was wondering if you could help me decide between this Meade telescope and the Orion StarBlast II 4.5 EQ. This would be my first telescope purchase with no targeted purpose, no prior experience of anything optics related and no immediate plan to purchase additional equipment, although not against it. My main concern is the added work that seems to be needed to use the Orion telescope for a complete beginner. Although the Orion seems to be superior in every way (except ease of use), I wonder if the Meade is not “good enough” for an easier entry in the telescope world

    Thanks a lot for all the in-depth reviews, it spared me of buying some apparently awful products with spherical lenses!

    Reply
  2. Hi,

    thank you for this great review, I’m grateful for all the useful information, it’s great to know exactly what we’re buying.

    I’m a bit confused about the difference with the Meade StarPro 90mm, sold at the same price. It looks like it’s more or less the same tube, with a new mount, and the same accessories. At the moment the StarPro is much easier to find in my country. It’s also lighter, which is a prime criteria in my case.

    It would be great if you could review one telescope of this StarPro line.

    Reply

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