Reflector telescopes can be intimidating. They have fragile mirrors, a bunch of different designs with names like Newton, Maksutov and Schmidt and they are usually large and expensive. They also offer some of the best power available when it comes to backyard telescopes. Is there a way to dive in without spending too much or getting in over your head?
The Celestron Astromaster 76EQ is the smallest and cheapest Newtonian reflector in the very successful Astromaster series of telescopes. It comes with Celestron’s proven track record for making great affordable telescopes for people of all ages and experience levels. It is perfect for anyone looking to dabble in Newtonian reflectors but does not want the high cost and fragile designs of more expensive and advanced designs.
- Newtonian reflector
- 76mm primary aperture
- f/9.2 focal ratio
- 180x highest theoretical magnification
- 16lbs assembled
This is a decent reflector telescope that will exist comfortably in the middle of the road in terms of power and quality but comes in very low in terms of price.No products found.No products found.
This basic reflector telescope comes with some decent positives for the price and very few negatives. It does not do any one thing particularly well but it also doesn’t do anything poorly either. Which, as one of the most affordable reflectors available, is about as much as you can ask for.
Jack of All Trades
Everything about this telescope is decent but nothing is going to impress very strongly. It does what it sets out to do without any glitz or glamor or attempts to be anything else other than a budget reflecting telescope. And that is completely fine. It balances that out by not doing anything egregiously bad either. Everything about this telescope is just okay and that is okay.
Optical Power and Quality
Reflectors derive all of their power and ability from the size of their primary aperture. Unlike refractors who can compensate from a smaller objective lens through a longer focal length or Barlow lenses, a reflector telescope is very much tied to the diameter of the aperture. The Celestron Astromaster 76EQ features a small 76mm primary aperture.
It is worth pointing out that this is one of the smallest reflector telescopes available on the market which means it is going to be one of the weakest reflectors. It has the highest theoretical magnification of 180x which is the smallest out of all the Astromaster reflectors. That being said, it can still offer some choice views, especially of the solar system.
Many reviewers have reported getting very pleasing and high-quality images of Saturn’s rings, the moon and Jupiter and its moons. The one advantage it has over refractors in this same power category is that the slightly higher focal ratio means that it will be better at glimpsing brighter star features than a refractor. This includes things like the Andromeda Galaxy and the Pleides star cluster.
Just know that you are getting the weakest reflector available which does limit the things that reflectors are traditionally good at.
A Reflector You Can Treat Like a Refractor
The small size, the lightweight and the cheaper price for the Celestron Astromaster 76EQ means that you can treat it more like a refractor telescope than you normally would. This means that you can travel with it, bump it, toy around with it and experiment. This is a great telescope for figuring out how a Newtonian reflector works, what it’s good at and if you want a better one down the line.
Celestron Astromaster 76EQ
It can be hard to travel with a reflector, despite what the ads tell you because the mirrors are sensitive to being moved out of alignment. Reflectors also usually have a larger diameter and more weight to them than the Celestron Astromaster 76EQ. That is the benefit of being small. This makes it easier to take along with you on your adventures.
Reflectors are also open at one end to the environment which is a risk to let in dust and dirt and other particles. Since this is a smaller, more affordable reflector this issue becomes mitigated due to the smaller opening size.
A lot of people suggest myself included, getting a refractor telescope to play around with because they are more durable and versatile and are easy to find in cheaper price ranges than reflectors. I am comfortable recommending this telescope as one that can be bought to mess around with and experiment with. It is only a smidge more expensive than a similar refractor and reflectors are a staple of deep space and more advanced telescoping. If you have any interest in getting into reflectors down the road then this is a great one to take along with you and use to figure everything out.
The Celestron Astromaster 76EQ comes with a manual equatorial mount. The difference between an equatorial mount and a standard altazimuth mount is the inclusion of slow-motion knobs which allows for the user to make small, slow adjustments that allow for long term object tracking. This means that if you align your telescope properly with the equator, tracking stars across the sky over the course of the night becomes easy.
This is a great mount for long term viewing. Perhaps you want to sit next to a fire out at a campsite and watch Orion slowly move across the sky or keep Saturn in view as it wobbles around during the night. This mount is great for that.
This will give you a taste of what reflectors are good at by giving you a glimpse into long term deep-sky watching that is benefits from an equatorial mount. This is contrasted to the short term, a freewheeling approach that a fully manual altazimuth mount offers. If used properly it can keep desired objects inside the eyepiece for hours at a time.
It is also a simple equatorial mount to learn how to align your telescope properly and to learn about alignment mounts in general. Some of the best astronomy comes from using equatorial or polar alignments in order to keep certain views insight for long periods of time. This can be a great skill to have and learn for future astronomical ventures.
This mount comes with a standard aluminum tripod that is easy to set up and breakdown. Unfortunately, this one of the only accessories that this telescope comes with.
(Lack of) Accessories
Accessories are a fun part of any new telescope kit but in this case, Celestron has decided to keep the fun to themselves. No products found. is very light on accessories. Some telescope kits have a single accessory or unique feature that they throw in instead of two or three but this one doesn’t have any.
It comes with the industry-standard two eyepieces for a low and medium variety of magnification. They could have thrown a high powered eyepiece into the mix but they didn’t. The medium magnification eyepiece gives a zoom level of 70x. The highest magnification for this telescope is 180x so they have given you barely half of the total magnification possible.
This could be overlooked if they through in a really good finderscope or focuser or literally anything of note but they don’t. They offer a low-quality red dot sight and that’s it. I would be more okay with the red dot sight but for this telescope’s setup, it is not as useful as it would be with a refractor of similar specifications.
Celestron says this telescope can be used to view land-based objects as well as the stars but they don’t offer any accessories that will make this feasible. There are no diagonals included or any land focused eyepieces. Only one of the two eyepieces shows objects in their natural position instead of upsidedown. It is these little oversights that make me feel like the accessories in this kid were really an afterthought.
What they don’t offer that they should?
They don’t even include a Barlow lens which is usually the thing to toss in as an afterthought to fluff up the accessory list. Usually, Celestron is a little better about adding accessories to their kits but perhaps the low cost of this reflector did not afford them the room to add more of their typical accessories to the mix.
Master of None
While this telescope does a lot of things okay it does not do anything great. It is a true jack of all trades and master of none. It does excel at what reflectors are traditionally good at but it doesn’t do anything poorly either
Reflectors are great light buckets capable of being set up to see many dim deep space objects. The Celestron Astromaster 76EQ will not do that but it will be able to give you a great view of Jupiter and the surrounding stars. It is not quite as durable and versatile as an affordable refractor nor is it a particularly great reflector.
This telescope kind of in an odd space that many telescopes don’t fall into. As an extremely small reflector, it does not cash in on the benefits of being able to have a very large primary aperture that refractors just can’t have. It is small enough to be portable but it is still a reflector so you can’t truly travel with it without any worries because it still has fragile mirrors.
I almost want to say just get a refractor at this point but if you really want to get into reflectors this truly is square one and the very bottom of the totem pole. If you want to start with the most basic, cheapest reflector available this is your telescope.
What do you recommend then?
If not, then there are a few different options. Keeping it in the Astromaster family I would suggest perhaps just getting a refractor. It will give similar views but come with all of the benefits of the refractor over a reflector at this size. Reflectors pros begin to outstrip that of refractors at bigger sizes but this one is so small I would suggest the Astromaster 70EQ Refractor over this model.
If you are hell-bent on sticking with the reflector family you could always go one model up. The next model is a considerable jump in size for a small jump in price. The Astromaster 114mm Reflector gives you over 35mm more light gathering ability which means it has exponentially more potential than the 76mm version. If you want to experience all of the benefits of a reflector and still come in under $200 then I would suggest upgrading to that 114mm size.
I am conflicted about this telescope. On the one hand, it is not bad, it doesn’t do anything to warrant any serious criticism but on the other hand, it doesn’t really do anything well. Reflectors come with some considerable drawbacks over their refractor cousins especially at smaller sizes and lower price points. I did not have any issues with it but I could not help but wonder about the more powerful option or the refractor of the same size.
Overall, the reviews for this telescope are great. No one really has any issues with it. They say it does everything they wanted it to do. It can be used for some novice astrophotography, people have said they bring it with them on vacation. Many of the reviews say “for the price” in them which pretty much sums up how I feel.
Perhaps this telescope could have broken through that jack of all trades barrier if it offered some unique accessories to make it more fun. Or maybe it needed to be just a hair more powerful. It needs something to put it over the edge. If you want to see what a reflector is all about without investing hardly anything in order to discover that then the No products found. is perfect for you. Just don’t expect it to knock your socks off.