The Celestron Travel Scope in 80mm (link opens new a tab) is one of many affordable telescopes on the market aimed at active families who want to enjoy the brighter views the night sky has to offer when on vacation or a weekend camping trip.
Let’s see what makes this Celestron scope a solid choice for not only budget-conscious shoppers but for outdoor enthusiasts, families, and novices alike.
Things to Consider Before Buying
This scope from Celestron is an excellent entry-level telescope, and it’s powerful, versatile, and portable enough that even more advanced users will be able to enjoy it. But don’t expect to zoom in on the tracks of the Mars Rover.
This is a simple telescope with an easy setup, an affordable price tag (below $120 – check today’s price), and convenient portability via the included backpack. Beginners will enjoy using this scope to see the Moon in bright detail, and it can happily be used to practice your planet-finding skills as well.
All in all, this scope is well-suited for someone starting as a novice astronomer with no immediate plans to go beyond the brightest and most rewarding night sky objects. It also makes a wonderful starter telescope for children!
There is no getting away from its small aperture. 80mm (three inches) is too small to gather lots of light, which is what we need to see faint, distant objects.
It also has a short focal length of 400 mm, which is great for ease of travel, but results in low magnification levels. Again, this is fine if you’re happy to content yourself with fun evenings outside the tent helping your kids see planets and star clusters but you’ll be disappointed if you have ambitions to see fainter galaxies and nebulae.
The main selling point of this telescope is convenience! Consider how this extremely lightweight scope could be a centerpiece of a night spent on a beach, after a hiking trip up a mountain, or during a vacation to a quiet suburban lake house with little light pollution.
That sort of portability makes this an ideal model for outdoor enthusiasts who want to get their eyes (and maybe those of their kids) off of their smartphones and onto the breathtaking night sky.
This scope is right for you if you are looking to track the phases of the Moon with your child, or you want to hike up a hill during the day and then look at Jupiter’s rings after nightfall.
If you are hoping to make astronomy a more serious hobby, then there are many better models for that. These are some of our favorite telescopes.
Features and Benefits of the Celestron Travel Scope 80mm
Whether you’re evaluating a telescope that costs $5,000 or this travel scope at under $120, you should assess it based upon the features it offers and the benefits it provides. Here are the areas we’ll consider in the rest of this review:
- Optical Performance
- Mount Performance
- Included Equipment
- Setup & Use
- What You Can See
Standard Magnification Table
The table below shows the magnification levels you’ll achieve with this scope using a 25mm, 18mm, and 10mm eyepiece. The bottom row shows what this would be with a 2x Barlow Lens.
|With 2x Barlow:||32x||44x||80x|
This scope offers reasonable optical performance for an entry-level model.
As you can see from the table, the magnifications you can achieve are low, which is fine because the small aperture doesn’t gather enough light to make practical use of more power.
Similarly, a low magnification equates to a larger field of view. You’ll enjoy looking at wide star fields, especially taking in most of the Pleiades and other clusters, such as The Great Hercules Cluster and Wild Duck Cluster.
There are two average eyepieces included in the package, one has a focal length of 20mm, the other is a 10mm eyepiece. Respectively, these deliver magnifications of 20x and 40x, which is fine for spying craters on the Moon or the waning disc of Venus.
If this telescope model has a drawback, it is the quality of the mount.
Even after setting it up carefully, there seems to be quite a lot of play in the mount. The plastic construction means that finding the right holding tension is very difficult.
That means that even after aiming using the finderscope and then tightening the knobs to lock in the view, you will have to keep making adjustments to get things just right.
Sadly, those of us shopping at the cheaper end of the range have to accept that manufacturers offer bigger telescopes for less money by shipping them with cheap mounts. Thankfully, there are free and easy ways to add stability. (link opens a new tab).
The big win of the tripod’s design is its lightweight and portable construction. Made out of aluminum, it’s light enough to carry and move about quite easily.
This model’s ease of transport is compounded with the inclusion of a backpack. The whole setup is painless to move by hand or vehicle, which is one of its strongest features.
We’ve already mentioned practically everything you get for your $120, and we didn’t expect much more than the telescope, mount and a couple of eyepieces at this price.
However, it also comes with a 5×24 finderscope, which is fine for what it needs to do. The ‘5’ means it gives 5x magnification, which is ideal for hunting down objects to view once it’s properly aligned.
Also included with the telescope and backpack are a smartphone adaptor for very basic photography – probably just the Moon in reality, and an erect image diagonal (makes the view in the eyepiece upright instead of inverted).
Finally, there’s a copy of the Basic edition of Starry Nights astronomy software and the SkyPortal app, both of which are useful for planning what bright objects to look at and where to find them.
Setup and General Usage
This telescope and its tripod are easily set up in just a few minutes, even when you first open the box. Quickly adjust the telescoping tripod legs for various users of different heights or for viewing from a table or other raised structure.
Everything is pre-assembled for highly rapid deployment. It’s a refractor so no need for collimation, and the built-in accessory tray on the tripod is quite handy for keeping track of the extra eyepiece.
The total weight of this scope and its tripod and mount is less than five pounds. That means it is almost effortless to scoop it up and move it around. And, when broken down and stored in the included backpack, you’ll barely notice the weight even on a long hike.
What Can You See
As we’ve already touched upon, this is a telescope designed for the brightest and most accessible night sky objects.
Celestron’s 80mm travel scope offers reasonably detailed views of the Moon’s larger features, and you’ll see the crescent of Venus and Mercury, the moons and bands of Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn with it. When Mars is close enough (which happens every two years) you’ll also see its more obvious surface features.
In terms of deep sky objects (DSOs), you’ll be mainly limited to stars. So think about using it to split doubles or paint beautiful pictures of clusters. You’ll only be able to pick out the very brightest nebulae and galaxies, such as the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy.
Beyond that, this model is not suitable for peering deep into space. Looking for faint galaxies and gas clouds is not on its agenda.
This model is not suitable for astrophotography because it lacks a motor for tracking the motion of celestial bodies and its mount is not strong enough to support a camera (other than a small smartphone).