An Astroscan telescope is probably one of the simplest and most convenient around – unless you’re serious about performance, at least. Great for beginners and kids, this design avoids any complex adjusters and stands, allowing you to start skygazing without any prior knowledge whatsoever. The telescope, because of its minimal part count, is also very inexpensive compared to some other tabletop models, though in terms of performance it doesn’t compare at all well to options like the Orion Starblast.
What Makes an Astroscan Unique?
An Astroscan telescope, like the somewhat similar Dobsonians, utilizes a reflective design that allows for plenty of light-gathering ability. A curved objective mirror concentrates incoming light, sending it to a secondary mirror from where it travels to the eyepiece. The most unique feature is that this mirror is housed in a kind of oversized globe attached to a short light tube, making it look like anything but a telescope.
One thing that makes an Astroscan so easy to use is its mount: instead of being perched on top of a tripod, it simply lies loosely in a kind of cradle – just grasp it and pull to change where it’s pointing. This simple system works well enough considering this compact telescope’s wide field of view and relatively low magnification, but would cause serious problems with a more powerful scope. If what you need is an easy-to-use scope that doesn’t need to be able to spot fainter objects, perhaps as a present for a younger child, an Astroscan is a solid choice.
The mirror is also permanently aligned so there’s no need for the difficult collimation process that is an unfortunate necessity with most reflective telescopes. This, too, comes with a caveat: since the mirrors are aligned at the time of production, they will probably focus well enough to see, but not to the level of perfection demanded by serious astronomy enthusiasts. Still, many of us have fond memories of the Astroscan, which won several design awards for its innovative features.