Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor Telescope Review

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The Celestron Inspire 100AZ telescope ($359.95 / £249) is well worth looking into if you want to get great views of the moon, planets and more while experimenting with basic astrophotography.

Celestron Inspire 100AZ: Key Features

Optical design: Refractor

Opening: 3.94 inch/100mm

Focal distance: 25.98 inch / 660mm

Focal report: f/6.5

Eyepiece focal length: 0.8 inch/20 mm (33x) and 0.4 inch/10 mm (66x)

Total kit weight: 20 lbs / 9.07 kg

Type of mounting: Alt-azimuth

A basic 4in/100mm refractor, it doesn’t have ‘go-to’ features, so you’ll need to be confident enough to find your own targets in the night sky.

If you’ve ever thought about taking pictures of the moon, you’ll love the innovative smartphone camera mount hidden in its dust cap. It’s a neat way to position your smartphone over the eyepiece with any slippage, though beyond that novelty is a good value telescope that gives good views of the moon, planets, and Earth. deep sky.

Celestron Inspire 100AZ Telescope: Design

A view of the goal

This 4 inch refractor telescope has an anti-fog cap to protect the objective lens. (Image credit: Jamie Carter)
  • Stick movement
  • 1.25 inch focuser
  • Achromatic lens

An achromatic refractor with a 4 inch/100mm aperture and a reasonably short 660mm focal length, the Celestron Inspire 100AZ is designed for beginner home use for planets, the moon and deep sky objects. It’s perched on a simple azimuth mount that moves side to side and up and down, with a handle to find the exact position you want and to lock it into position.

The eyepiece and the dust cap together

A smartphone attaches on one side using bungee cords while an eyepiece fits on the other. (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Additional kit supplied with the telescope

10mm and 20mm Kellner eyepieces

Camera dust cap

StarPointer Pro Red Dot Finder

Right Image Star Diagonal

Red LED light

Celestron Starry Night Basic Edition Software

The Celestron Inspire 100AZ is quite light. Weighing 20lbs/9.07kg in total, it’s by no means a heavy telescope, but the 26in/660mm long optical tube and large tripod give it a reasonably large footprint. That said, it can be built and deconstructed quickly and easily, so it could certainly be placed in the back of a vehicle and taken on trips to dark sky destinations.

It also comes with a StarPointer Pro finderscope and also a 90º image diagonal, which makes viewing objects at the zenith more convenient and comfortable.

Celestron Inspire 100AZ Telescope: Performance

The researcher attached to the telescope

A StarPointer Pro finder scope has a bull’s eye and sits near the eyepiece. (Image credit: Jamie Carter)
  • Excels with lunar views
  • Slight chromatic aberration
  • Deep space objects lack the wow factor

Rising to the east just as we began the review, Saturn was easy to locate using the bullseye finder scope and 20mm eyepiece. A bright image with plenty of detail can be obtained through the 20mm eyepiece, but not the 10mm, which was still blurry in comparison. We found the same on super-bright Jupiter, where wide-field views revealed a purplish halo around the giant planet. However, this chromatic aberration “fake” color is fairly minor on the 100AZ and much less of a nuisance than on some cheaper competitor refractors. Ditto for the moon, which we observed from a crescent to its full moon phase and got excellent close-ups of its craters, although a purplish line around its limb was visible, although not dominant.

The side profile of the star diagonal

The Celestron Inspire 100AZ comes with 20mm and 10mm Kellner eyepieces. (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

Go further into the cosmos and the 100AZ continues its good work, clearly showing Andromeda (M31) and some of the brightest star clusters, although it lacks the aperture to explore the true deep sky.

Celestron Inspire 100AZ Telescope: Feature

A red flashlight that fits into the tripod

A small red flashlight inserts to illuminate the accessory tray. (Image credit: Jamie Carter)
  • Easy installation and disassembly
  • Built-in red light/flashlight
  • Integrated smartphone adapter

The Celestron Inspire 100AZ is really easy to set up. The telescope tube itself attaches to the tripod mount using a Vixen-style dovetail plate, so it’s simple to set up and take down. Unfortunately, the azimuth mount is of average quality, lacking precision. For example, the left-right pivot is stiff and must be extended well beyond the target as it recoils slightly when the grip is released. However, once in place, the elevation movement is more precise and can be locked in place using the handle. Thanks to the relative solidity of the frame, it is then possible to simply push the eyepiece slightly to follow, for example, the moon as it begins to drift out of the field of view.

Showing the smartphone holder in action

The lens cap doubles as a smartphone adapter for taking afocal photos. (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

The tripod has an accessory tray that also acts as a stabilizer, on which you can store a few eyepieces in handy custom slots. However, something he also has here is a red light. It points down and can illuminate the accessory tray on demand, although you can just as easily remove it since it’s really just a red flashlight.

If it’s an unusual and clever design, so is the Celestron Inspire 100AZ’s innovative dust cap. The idea is that a smartphone can be attached to the front and fixed in position with its camera on a circular hole in the dust cap. It works well, with elastic straps provided to secure a smartphone in a fixed position. It is then necessary to remove a small cap in the dust cap and insert the top of the eyepiece, which then needs to be secured with a few tiny thumbscrews.

A close up of the focus knob on the telescope tube

The rack and pinion focuser is easy to grip with gloves, but of poor quality. (Image credit: Jamie Carter)

With everything securely in place, the eyepiece can then be inserted diagonally with a perfectly positioned smartphone to begin taking focal shots. It works well, although it’s worth being quick to set it up because once you’ve attached your smartphone and secured the eyepiece, your target will be out of sight. The only way to get it back will probably be to use that same eyepiece. Users are advised to obtain a second 20mm eyepiece.

It should be noted that due to its rather unusual cowl design, the Celestron Inspire 100AZ cannot take solar filters, so it should never be used for observing the Sun.

Should you buy the Celestron Inspire 100AZ telescope?

It’s not perfect and it excels and like most refractors it does its best with the moon and planets, but the Celestron Inspire 100AZ has more to get excited about than many of its budget rivals. The build quality – especially its tripod – is a step up while its openness is just wide enough to allow beginners to explore objects beyond the solar system. The icing on the cake is its clever lens cap, which turns into a smartphone holder for astrophotography, which instantly gives it another dimension. If you want to avoid the bottom of the market but don’t want to spend big, the 100AZ is an attractive solution.

If the Celestron Inspire 100AZ telescope is not for you

If you need help finding your way through the night sky, consider the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ, which comes with a smartphone holder and an app to create satellite navigation in the night sky.

For maximum aperture access to bright images of deep sky objects, try the Dobsonian Celestron StarSense Explorer 8 inches, which is large in size and value. If you’re looking for something as small as possible and only interested in the moon, then a mini Dobsonian like the Celestron FirstScope 76should appeal.

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