This is a decent little scope, with good optics and a reasonably stable mount- as long as you use it sitting down, with the legs unextended. For $200, it's a good entry level choice.
I wouldn't say the same about the optional computer-aided pointing system, though. Adding a $149 accessory to a $200 scope is a poor way to allocate funds on a budget. For $350, you'd be far better off buying a 6" or 8" "dobsonian-type" reflecting telescope from Meade or another vendor. You'd have much more light gathering ability, and a much more stable platform. Instead of buying a computer, buy instead a copy of "Turn Left at Orion", a wonderful book that will show you how to star hop around the night sky and find scores of delightful objects to view.
on October 16, 2001
After going through two very disappointing experiences with department store telescopes over the years, I decided to move up to something more capable. Yes, it cost more, but this telescope, especially when equipped with the optional 495 Autostar computer, is far more capable than others I tried. It is easy to setup out of the box and comes with an excellent tripod. The Autostar computer is easy to use and assists in finding all of the major planets, stars and other interesting items without numerous star charts to refer to. The optics are very good for a telescope of this price, but you do have to focus a lot after changing eyepieces. Views of the moon are simply incredible, views of Venus, Mars and Saturn very good. Highly recommended if this is all you can afford - as a first scope you wont be disappointed.
on April 13, 2001
This a good entry level scope. I got it for my 11th birthday. Here is what you can see with this scope: Mercury: Looking hard, you can see its phases. Venus: You can easily see its everchanging phases. Moon: Hundreds of craters. Mars: During oppisition you can easily see Syrtis Major. (Dark spot) and looking closely, might be able to see a polar cap. You'll pick up more detail the more you look. Jupiter: You can see three bands.(Can't see great red spot)You can also see its four moons. Saturn: Rings are easy at High power. No bands resolved. You can see bright moon Titan. No Cassini Division. (maybe) Uranus, Neptune, Pluto: Can see small disks. Pluto invisible. If you expect flashy visuals, why do you think they sent a billion dollar probe to get great images. This telescope is only good for the bright deep sky objects. I only recommend Autostar if you have no time and only want to see photos. I think you get more pride if you find it yourself than a computer. This is a pretty good beginners telescope.