Tasco Telescopes make good birthday presents for children interested in astronomy. But would we spend more than 50 bucks on them? Not a chance!
The Tasco telescope is often insulted and abused in online forums by experienced astronomers. They’re dismissed as products that are cheap, defective, and about as useful as cardboard tubes.
We think this is a pretty harsh assessment of Tasco’s goods, but then again, we can’t praise them, either.
Tasco is an optics manufacturer that has been around for many years–they opened their doors in 1954–offering low-priced binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes, trail cameras, and telescopes for consumers who are on a tight budget.
Their association with upscale brand Celestron has given their reputation a minor boost among inexperienced astronomers, but their wares remain low-quality and suitable mostly for children.
Tasco Telescopes: Brief Overview of Selection
Tasco offers a very limited catalog of telescopes, found in just two categories: Novice and Spacestation. Over the many years since its formation, the company has introduced and cancelled several series of telescope, each aimed at budget-conscious amateur astronomers. But they’ve recently streamlined their offerings to just these two lineups, each with only three models apiece. Perhaps in the future, they’ll decide to try another collection–hopefully one that offers more advanced devices.
For the time being, though, here’s a brief overview of what’s available.
As the name suggests–rather blatantly–this Tasco collection features models aimed at beginner astronomers. The three telescopes here are very inexpensive and suited perfectly for kids wanting to learn a little bit about the night sky.
As the more advanced series, Spacestation features three telescope models aimed at intermediate and experienced astronomers–though new-comers can certainly figure out its easy interface without much trouble.
While these are the only two series currently being manufactured, you can still find models from the old Luminova line pretty easily. Those scopes were designed with hopes of higher light transmission and clearer imagery… but they never really lived up to those hopes.
Tasco Telescope Review: Focus on the Spacestation Series
Tasco’s Novice series isn’t worth much discussion. They’re scopes made for kids and ground-floor beginners, offering little in the way of modern telescope technology and versatility. The only thing to be said about them is that they can generally be purchased in a bundle with a similarly remedial microscope device, making them great birthday presents for young kids interested in science. Other than that, though, the Novice series is pretty self-explanatory.
So, let’s talk about the more advanced Spacestation collection instead.
As mentioned above, there are three models to be found under the Spacestation banner:
- Tasco Spacestation 114 x 500mm Telescope
- Tasco Spacestation 70 x 800mm Telescope
- Tasco Spacestation 60 x 700mm Telescope
One of the positives in this lineup is the surprising range the series has. In just three models, you can find apertures from 2.5″ to 4.5″, which is relatively expansive.
Also positive is the step up in technology used from the Novice series to this one. Whether or not the features are truly beneficial in and of themselves, it’s still nice to see Tasco attempt to create a more advanced line of scopes. The Spacestation collection features a variable red dot LED finder scope for quick constellation location.
Other Spacestation features and accessories include a Tasco FirstLight introductory CD-ROM, a 3x Barlow lens, a single fork Alt-Azimuth arm mount, and three separate eye pieces: 4mm, 10mm, and 25mm.
Unfortunately, though, while these telescopes are marketed for more advanced astronomers, they simply cannot stand up to the competition in any area aside from price (the models range from $70 to $115).
Any astronomer with more than an ounce of telescope experience will tell you to stay far away from Tasco devices. These are cheaply made products (hence the ultra-low price tags) that offer very little in terms of performance or reliability. The optics are poor, the materials are low-quality, and the chance of the Spacestation breaking down on you is pretty high indeed.
Often found on department store shelves, Tasco Spacestation telescopes (and Novice models, too) seem to be best suited for parents who are looking for optics for their children, and who don’t mind them being used once and then forgotten in the back of dusty closets. And, in fact, we will say that is exactly who should buy them–and no one else.
Tasco Telescopes: The Details
Here’s a broader look at some of the technical details of Tasco telescopes to give you a better idea of what the catalogue has to offer.
Because there are so few models available from Tasco, the range of aperture sizes is unsurprisingly small–there aren’t any professional-grade models here. At the low end, you’ll find the Novice 100 x 50mm Telescope with a 50mm aperture, while at the high end sits a Spacestation 114 x 500mm Telescope with a 114mm aperture. Between the two not-so-extreme extremes are models with 60mm and 70 mm apertures.
Tasco telescopes generally come with a couple of different eye piece options, though the quality of the offerings is nowhere near as high as with other brands, like Celestron or Bushnell.
Tasco telescopes are known for the vast multitude of accessories they each come with. Some people throw most of it away, but you may find some of the add-ons to be helpful. These include: moon map, moon filter, 3x Barlow lens, Tasco Sky Watch CD-ROM, adjustable aluminum tripod, erecting lens, and plentymore.
Tasco Telescope: Consumer Information
Now let’s move onto the business side of things, where we’ll take a peek at price tags and warranty information.
One of the few great things about Tasco telescopes that everyone can agree on is that they’re very affordable. The most expensive model they offer, the Tasco Spacestation 114 x 500mm Reflector ST Telescope, can be yours for less than $120. On the other end of the fairly short spectrum, you can get a Tasco 49TN Refractor Telescope for less than $40 (and you even get a microscope with the bundle!).
The real surprise here isn’t that they offer a warranty at all (which is pretty surprising, considering the extremely low price of their products), but that it’s such a good one. Every Tasco telescope comes with a limited lifetime warranty that covers defects and manufacturing error for the original owner.
Tasco Telescopes: Customer Reviews
For a better understanding of how Tasco telescopes perform in the real world, here’s a look at what actual consumers have had to say about them.
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