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National Geographic CF700mm Telescope : FirstLook

70mm aperture, alt-azimuth mount, and red-dot finder

Optical telescopes have not changed much since the days of Galileo. Sure, there have been some design innovations, since the good Signore Galilei turned his device towards the heavens, but the same principles behind them are the same, especially for refractors. However, the same is not true for the materials used and the supporting accessories.

In fact, much of the resurgence of the popularity and enjoyment of astronomy can be attributed to accessories such as red-dot finders, GPS/GoTo trackers, and digital imagers. With the ever increasing capabilities of smartphone cameras, astrophotography is now possible even for newcomers to astronomy.


Today, we take a FirstLook at a telescope we got from Explore Scientific. While simple enough for beginners, it has features and capabilities that will impress even seasoned skywatchers.

National Geographic CF700mm Telescope


The optics for this telescope are made of glass. The main tube appears to be carbon fiber, but it may just be a CF-like pattern wrap. It is kind of hard to tell, but the entire unit is very light.


The CF700mm scope comes with all the accessories needed for celestial observations:


This NatGeo scope comes with an alt-azimuth mount. This mount supports and rotates the instrument about two perpendicular planes (vertical and horizontal). Movement along the vertical changes the altitude (angle of elevation) of the telescope. Movement along the horizontal varies the azimuth (compass bearing) of the telescope.


The tripod of the CF700mm telescope has legs which extend for comfortable viewing while standing, a lens hood to block stray light, and a dust cap to protect the lens during storage and transport.


Many starter scopes come with an optical finder, which is less than useless because it actually hinders the process of finding what you are looking for—looking through a tiny lens and seeing the thing doesn’t mean that when you look through the telescope you’ll still be able to see it. The NatGeo scope comes with a red-dot finder, which is not only simpler to use, it is actually useful! When you align the red dot to the thing you want to see, when you look through the telescope the red dot is still aligned to the thing you want to see. All scopes should have this basic and necessary accessory.


At less than 7 lbs, this refractor is a super-light “grab & go” scope, perfect for that quick look at the moon or planets. With the included afocal adapter for smartphone, images of what is seen through the scope can be quickly shared.


We plan on taking this telescope out on the next clear night, and with the Google Pixel smartphone attached, see what kind of photos we can get. We will post the results once we get something worth sharing….which we are pretty confident will be sooner rather than later.

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