Tasco’s name has been widely synonymous with “junk” to amateur astronomers since it came on the scene in the 1960s – though they did produce some surprisingly good equatorially mounted refractors back in the 1960s and 1970s, most of what they’ve ever sold has been unsatisfactory, to say the least.
Despite this, Tasco actually used to be a titan of the amateur/beginner telescope manufacturing industry. So much so, in fact, that when Celestron wasn’t doing so well financially in the early 2000s, Tasco actually bought out the California-based company and revitalized them with flashy marketing and the NexStar line. Tasco also sold some of their best telescopes since the Space Race era during that period, such as “StarGuide” GoTo telescopes that were more or less just rebranded Celestron NexStars.
Today, Tasco is a shell of what it once was, owned by Bushnell. They no longer occupy the department-store or WalMart shelves they once did due to the general decline of the American retail industry and telescope sales as a whole. I was hard-pressed to find any other reviews of the Luminova 114.
The Luminova 114 is billed as capable of “675x” and other impossible feats. That being said, it is not an unusable telescope; it’s just not a great one either and you can do far, far better for the price.
Overview Of Luminova 114
Tasco’s website is laughably bad in quality. The descriptions aren’t even consistent, there are constant grammatical and spelling issues, and all in all it seems like it was designed by middle schoolers. Their Amazon descriptions of their telescopes aren’t much better – the 114mm bills itself as a Bushnell for some reason in part of the description! Thus, getting correct information proved to be a little difficult at first when I was researching this telescope – everything I’ve read is garbled.
It may just be my personal preference, and the aesthetic appeal should of course not be a top priority when shopping for telescopes, but I think the color choice on the Luminova scopes is awful. The yellow-gold color on the tubes isn’t particularly appealing, and it clashes with the black crinkle finish on the rest of the parts.
Tasco’s customer service ranges from extremely poor to nonexistent, another thing to consider if you’re even thinking about buying one of their telescopes.
The Optical Tube
The Luminova 114 is a 114mm f/8 Newtonian. The scope’s optics are the same as the Celestron PowerSeeker 114, making it a surprisingly good performer, actually. However, like that scope, the Luminova 114 is plagued with a number of problems. The scope’s finder is a pitiful 5×24 unit. The objective is a single plastic element, as is the eyepiece, and the thing’s aperture is stopped down to fix the resulting aberrations plaguing the dreadful optics. The bracket is also poorly made and the finder is near-impossible to align as a result.
The supplied eyepieces with almost every telescope tend to be on the cheap side, especially with ones sold for below $200, but the Tasco Luminova scopes come with ones that are such an absolute failure that they make the telescope unusable.
The Luminova 114 comes with three eyepieces: A 25mm Huygens (36x), 12.5mm Huygens, (72x), and a 4mm Ramsden (225x). The scope also comes with a 3x Barlow which, when used in conjunction with the 4mm Ramsden, will provide the “675x” advertised on the box.
The scope is of course too small to achieve 675x without producing a dim, blurry image – my 20” telescope, at twenty times the cost, ten times the weight and 4.4 times the aperture, still struggled at this magnification due to atmospheric seeing. The eyepiece and Barlow are way too poorly made to function well at this power (or at all), and the scope is simply too small to function at anything above 225x magnification at most.
The eyepieces are all plastic, as is the Barlow – this includes the lenses used in them, as well. The only remotely usable eyepiece bundled with the Luminova 114 is the 25mm Huygens, and even it really belongs in the garbage. If nothing else was wrong with the Luminova 114, I would still not recommend it because you are looking at at least $50 to equip it with decent eyepieces, and by the time you buy the Luminova and spend that much, there are many, many more suitable options at or indeed well below your budget.
The Luminova 114 comes with a cheaply made Moon filter. Not only will it slightly tint your view green, but it will reduce the sharpness of the image and you really just don’t need it all that much anyways.
The Luminova 114 comes with an “EQ-1” mount, similar to the ones sold by most reputable manufacturers albeit with a crinkle finish. It’s actually a surprisingly decent mount, but it cannot hold the 114mm f/8 optical tube adequately at all – it is meant for a much shorter and/or lighter weight telescope. Shakiness is evident at powers above 75x or so, even if you keep the tripod legs retracted.
All in all, unless you are a masochist, I would not recommend the Tasco Luminova 675×114. It’s more or less a Celestron Powerseeker 114EQ with worse accessories, far worse customer service from the manufacturer, and a significantly higher price tag. Tasco has failed to deliver a quality telescope with the Luminova 114, or indeed with anything else they currently offer.