In the last year and a half or so my daughter has had an obsession with space. It was triggered by a VR fly through the solar system and gleefully fed by an aunt who works in the space industry with dehydrated banana and clean room clothes from satellite assembly facilities and followed by tips on nighttime viewing. Soon she wanted to see the solar system closer up. A very cheap telescope from the car boot showed this wasn’t just a short obsession and last Christmas the Meade Infinity 70mm Telescope was under the tree.
Telescopes come in what seems like a bewildering range of types and styles but once you get above the toy level what you need becomes quite clear – something solid with decent optics and the Infinity 70mm Altazimuth Reflector telescope was exactly that. I’d never seriously skygazed before but found it straightforward to use. The manual explained the basics well and we were soon setup and ready for our first night of viewing.
One word of caution – get practiced in the day time! This isn’t a failing of the model but if you know what you’re doing in the light you’ll do much better at night. Meade include a PC star tracking planetarium which although dated in looks works well but isn’t something to take into your garden. We paired it with Star Walk – Astronomy Guide on my phone in night mode and were very happy.
The telescope includes an a altazimuth mount, two eyepieces, a red dot and a Barlow lens. Translated to novice that means you can use the red dot to find the thing you’re looking for in the night sky, the two eyepieces to get the right focus and the Barlow to get a more magnified view. The altazimuth mount lets you follow the object across the sky – great for looking at planets or the ISS.
As an additional bonus because the telescope is a refracting model it does not turn what you see upside down which means that it can be used in the daylight for earthly viewing as well. We didn’t get too much use of of this, apart from practicing focusing and finding targets but if you live somewhere more interesting than our suburban street your milage will vary and it’s a welcome extra.
Price: ± € £77
About Meade Instruments
Meade started as a one man mail order telescope supplier with a focus on serious amateurs. They grew quickly and and have expanded to be the market leader. Meade is based in Irvine California and employs around 100 people.
The Infinity 70mm (and it’s 60mm smaller brother) come in a surprisingly heavy box and need assembly before their first use. The pack has two main parts – the tripod and the telecope body and a number of smaller parts. Once you’ve assembled it once it’s straightforward to remove the tripod to let you transport it, although the tripod is not easily foldable due to it’s integrated stiffening shelf.
- 70mm (2.8″) Refracting Lens system useable with both sky and land based objects
- Altazimuth mount with slow motion control rod for smooth tracking of objects across the night sky
- Detachable tripod that provides good stability and is height adjustable to work well from our six year old to 6 foot me and well if you’re sitting.
- Includes 2 eyepieces (MA9mm & MA25mm) and Barlow lens (2X) for viewing a wide range of objects (Moon, planets, or land)
- Autostar Suite Astronomy planetarium DVD with over 10,000 celestial objects (Windows PC only)
At around £75 the Infinity 70mm is among the most economic options for a full scale ‘serious’ telescope that will not need to be replaced immediately. There are numerous smaller options but they tend to have significantly smaller tubes and desktop tripods rather than full size standing units.
Optical Tube with a focal length of 700mm and a diameter of 70mm and a f/10 focal length
Aluminum height adjustable tripod with accessory tray and an Alt-azimuth mount
Two 1.25″ eyepieces MA25mm and MA9mm,
Bracketed red-dot viewfinder
Warranty: One year. Meade also has a range of replacement parts available to purchase if needed.
As with any telescope you need both clear skies and a minimum of light pollution to get the best out of them. If you’ve a back garden I’d suggest going into it at night and letting your eyes adjust for a few minuites to see if it’s appropriate.
There’s a slice of the market in telescopes between the toy level and the serious amateur that can best be described as family or first timer. If you’re in that slice then you are looking for something that is simple, well made and most importantly will give you a better view of everything that seems like a dot of light at the moment. The Meade Infinity fits this perfectly and with a couple of drawbacks (a folding tripod in the next version would be wonderful) will make any budding skygazer happy and serve them well for a long time. Recommended.
The review is based on the Meade Infinity 70mm Altazimuth Refractor Telescope during 2016. This article was first published on 6th December 2016.