We compare Bushnell’s Ares, Harbormastor & Northstar telescope series against other top brands. Analysis includes aperture, warranty, eye pieces & other details
The available list of Bushnell telescopes on the shelves today is a highly variable one, full of models perfect for beginners and pros alike.
Bushnell was founded in 1948 with the mission: “To develop and market superior optical products that enhance the experience of outdoor and sports enthusiasts.” Over more than half a century, Bushnell has been working towards that goal, and while some astronomers may say they have not succeeded in achieving that superior status, others argue that Bushnell is still on its way to greatness.
Whatever your opinion of the company’s progress may be, you can’t deny that the telescopes they have to offer are very intriguing, both for their innovation and their reasonable prices.
The Selection of Bushnell Telescopes
Compared to other big brand names, Bushnell doesn’t have an incredibly vast array of models available. Instead of spreading themselves too terribly thin, they’ve chosen instead to focus on just a few products in order to develop them as fully as possible. Here’s a look at some of the scopes available over the last few years.
These scopes are advertised as starter devices for brand new astronomers. The lineup features a fair number of models of varying size that are easily portable.
This is one of the most advanced computer-driven telescopes in the optics industry, let alone the Bushnell catalog. The models are varied in their construction, but united in their superior performance.
These fully-featured nighttime telescopes are made just for beginner and intermediate astronomers. A little too clunky to be very portable, these scopes are generally stay-at-home devices for weeknight stargazing.
This computerized lineup of telescopes will show you the stars and tell you all about them with its Real Voice Output technology. Not as advanced as the NorthStar series, Discoverer scopes are still made mostly with intermediate and professional astronomers in mind.
Inspired by vintage British imports, the Harborview scopes are brass constructions that are just as perfect for viewing the night sky as they are for upscale home decorating.
Named for NASA’s Ares Rocket, a vessel of exploration and discovery, the telescopes found in this series are designed to give novice-to-intermediate astronomers a new education in the nighttime sky.
While all of these Bushnell telescope series are available for purchase in one form or another online, the only three currently in production today are the Voyager, NorthStar, and Ares series. But the others are worth mentioning, if only because of the insight they give into Bushnell’s creative history.
Bushnell Telescope Review: Close Up on the NorthStar Series
Bushnell’s NorthStar series is the company’s pride and joy. And why not? These are some of the best computerized telescopes in the business, for the low amount of money you have to spend on them. Inexpensive, well-behaved, easily portable, and relatively powerful: that’s a great combination for novice and amateur astronomers.
There are four models found in the NorthStar series, including:
- NorthStar 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain w/RVO Telescope
- Northstar 1300×100
- NorthStar 675 x 4.5″ w/RVO Telescope
- NorthStar 525 x 3″ w/RVO Telescope
The feature that obviously unites them all is the Real Voice Output (RVO) technology. Similar to the Voyager’s Sky Tour program, but light-years beyond it in terms of usability and performance, RVO allows the astronomer to receive a guided audio tour of the nighttime sky. This is perfect for new and intermediate astronomers who want to learn a bit more about the celestial bodies they see.
Other features in common include: kinematic mount for smooth operation, two extra eye pieces, and a quick-release tripod.
The main difference is in the scopes’ construction. Two of the models feature Maksutov-Cassegrain designs, lending the astronomer top-quality performances with their spherical lenses and mirrors. The M-C scopes are a bit heavier and a bit pricier, but the images they offer are absolutely incredible.
If there is any complaint to be made about the NorthStar series, it’s that the manual is hard to figure out. Unless you’re already a pro, you may have to climb a pretty steep learning curve to figure out the device’s ins and outs.
In all, however, the NorthStar Bushnell telescope series is great for astronomers of every experience level looking to become better acquainted with the stars.
Let’s take a technical look at the entire catalogue of Bushnell telescopes to see what kinds of devices are available today.
Bushnell offers what appears to be a fairly narrow aperture range, but upon closer examination, you’ll see it covers everything a novice or intermediate astronomer needs. At the low end is the Voyager Sky Tour 60mm scope (60mm aperture), and at the high end if the NorthStar 675 x 4.5″ w/RVO and the Voyager 900mm x 4.5″ (both with 115mm apertures).
Every model in the Bushnell catalogue comes with at least two eye pieces: 4mm and 20mm. The two exceptions are found in the NorthStar series; the Maksutov-Cassegrain scopes come with 4mm and 25mm eye pieces.
The features found in the Bushnell catalogue are fairly impressive. As far as voice assistance goes, in the Voyager series there’s the Sky Tour program and in the NorthStar series there’s the Real Voice Output (or RVO) software. The Go-To or computerized models have precision tracking hardware installed. Most models have incredibly stable foundations for shake-less imagery. Also, several devices feature red dot LED finder scopes.
Bushnell Telescopes: Consumer Information
In order to make the most educated decision about whether or not to buy a Bushnell telescope, you need to learn about the company’s price range and warranty offerings.
Most Bushnell telescopes fall in the $100-$300 price range, making them pretty exclusively middle-of-the-road devices. In the NorthStar lineup, however, you can find a few models that can cost as much as $450, like the Bushnell Northstar 1300×100
Most Bushnell products feature a limited lifetime warranty that covers any factory defects or shoddy workmanship for the original owner, including the Voyager and Ares telescope series. But the higher-end Bushnell products, like the NorthStar series, for instance, only feature a two year limited warranty for the original owner. Certainly, it’s not the best warranty offering in the industry, but it sure isn’t the worst, either.
Bushnell Telescope: Customer Reviews
Read what other consumers have to say about their experiences owning and operating Bushnell telescopes.
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