UPTC_Oct2015 (24)

Celestron Travel Scope 70 used during a public observation.

The Celestron Travel Scope 70 is a small telescope designed for viewing distant land-based targets (such as birds and trees) and for casual astronomical observations. While many enthusiasts would purchase this telescope perhaps as a grab-and-go telescope, my intention for acquiring one is different since I intend to use it as a guide scope for my autoguider setup (if you want to know more about it, click here).

I have been using this telescope for several months now, and I believe I now have a firm grasp of what it can and cannot do, and its advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I intend to share some of my insights about the Celestron Travel Scope 70, particularly in the context of visual observation and astrophotography.

Upon inspection, you can immediately tell that the Celestron Travel Scope 70 is a small telescope supplied with a rather flimsy tripod (which is expected since the telescope is being sold for a fair price). I have purchased mine from a local telescope shop for 5400 php (about 120 USD). I’d like to think of it as a fully-functional telescope complete with low and high-power eyepieces and a 45-degree star diagonal (with a bonus generic tripod, carrying bag, and other things such as an astronomy software, and a toy finder scope). For its intended use and for the price you pay for the complete package, I believe this is somehow acceptable.

For the telescope to be useful for more than just the casual astronomical observation, some parts must immediately be replaced: tripod and finder scope.

The supplied tripod must be replaced with a larger and more sturdy one. I think the telescope itself is of decent quality, but the supplied tripod was never meant to support a load such as a telescope. If you are willing to upgrade the tripod sometime later (just replace it with the most sturdy tripod that you can find), then the Celestron Travel Scope 70 could very well serve as a beginner’s telescope.

The finder scope must be replaced as well, since the one supplied with the telescope actually looks and feels like a toy.

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Celestron Travel Scope 70. Note that the photo shows a Celestron 8×20 finder I purchased separately to replace the supplied finder scope.

The Celestron Travel Scope 70 has a front lens diameter of 70 mm (larger than the front lenses used in a typical pair of binoculars) and a focal length of 400 mm. A telescope with these specifications works well for terrestrials observations, both for daytime and nighttime. Due to its size, however, it has a very limited use for astronomical observation. Also, note that the telescope showed signs of chromatic aberration (i.e., a bluish tint appears to surround the objects being observed), like any other low cost telescopes.

For astrophotography, you can actually expect to capture some decent images, but only for large targets such as the moon and the sun. Note that photography with this telescope is achievable only when the scope is attached to a sturdy mount (which in most cases, more expensive than the telescope).

To take a photo through the telescope, a DSLR can be connected using a metal connector called a T-ring.

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Connect a DSLR to a Celestron Travel Scope 70 using a metal adapter called a T-ring. For a closer view of the telescope connectors, click here.

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A DSLR attached to a Celestron Travel Scope 70. Note that the added weight of the DSLR will dramatically shift the balance of the telescope. Thus, you need a very good tripod/mount such as this if you were to attempt any photography with it (just use the most sturdy tripod that you have access to).

Below are actual images taken with a Celestron Travel Scope 70 (to produce these images, the telescope was mounted on a Kenko NES):

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Jupiter’s four brightest moons taken with a Canon 1100D DSLR mounted on a Celestron Travel Scope 70. To view highest resolution available, click here.

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Sunspot 2529 taken with a Canon 1100D DSLR mounted on a Celestron Travel Scope 70, with the help of a solar filter (for safe viewing of the Sun). To view highest resolution available, click here. To view the setup used to capture this image, click here. WARNING: Looking at the Sun without proper solar filters would result to permanent eye damage.

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Moon, taken with a Canon 1100D DSLR mounted on a Celestron Travel Scope 70. To view highest resolution available, click here.

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A closer view of the moon, taken with a Canon 1100D DSLR with 2X Barlow mounted on a Celestron Travel Scope 70. To view highest resolution available, click here.

What then can you expect with small telescope such as the Celestron Travel Scope 70? After replacing the tripod with a more sturdy one, I was able to:

(1) look at the moon and actually see some craters
(2) observe a solar eclipse with the use of proper solar filters
(3) observe sunspots, again using appropriate solar filters
(4) look at some fuzzy deep-sky objects in the Milky Way region
(5) look at bright deep-sky objects such as the Orion Nebula, Lagoon Nebula, and Omega Centauri
(6) see the four brightest moons of Jupiter (the same moons that Galileo saw!), and
(7) take some photos of the Sun, Moon, and Jupiter’s four brightest moons

WARNING: Looking at the Sun without proper solar filters would result to permanent eye damage.

Perhaps the Celestron Travel Scope 70 is a decent telescope after all, you just have to replace the tripod and the finder scope. Do not expect much though, as the scope is so small that it is only capable of showing very limited astronomical objects.

If you have questions about the Celestron Travel Scope 70, or about telescopes in general, feel free to leave a comment below.

If you would like to know more about amateur astronomy and astrophotography, kindly follow the link: Getting Started.

For featured photos, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

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