Most beginner stargazers have a tough time finding the location of particular stars or planets in the night sky. With a basic telescope, you have to spend some time looking up coordinates on maps. But with current GPS and electronic technology one no longer has to do all that. iOptron is a global brand in the field of computerized telescopes and mounts. The iOptron 9802 SmartStar-R80 GPS Telescope is a very affordable computerized telescope aimed at newbie astronomy enthusiasts. This in-depth review will try to figure out how they managed to keep the price so low in this segment.
What Is the iOptron 9802 SmartStar-R80 GPS Telescope?
This telescope is for those who don’t want to (or have) time to learn the finer points of star mapping. These days, almost every object comes with digital technology and microprocessors attached. There is no reason why telescopes should be any different. This iOptron scope has a built in GPS and tracking and “Go To” star pointing system. All one needs to do is input the location or star you want to look at, and the onboard Cube mount + GPS system will do the rest. This is a great scope for night parties on the roof or outdoor camping trips.
Besides the Cube mount, the actual telescope itself has a modest 80mm aperture lens. This is a regular old refractor telescope, of the same timeless design used by great astronomers like Galileo. The focus length is also kept to a lower than average 400mm. With this telescope, you can go up to a maximum of 150x magnification (250x for nearby planets and the Moon) and still get acceptable results.
The package includes two good quality eyepieces and an aluminum tripod with adjustable height settings. The smart tracking system includes a 32 channel GPS, combined with a GoToNova Hand controller. The controller has a built-in database of over 5000 celestial objects which you can ask it to point to. The system requires 8 AA batteries to function.
|30 x 15 x 8 in.||
||8 x AA batteries||80 mm||400 mm||8405 GoToNova Controller with built-in database|
Pros & Cons To Using The iOptron 9802 SmartStar-R80 GPS Telescope
- An affordable computerized telescope;
- The two extra eyepieces are better quality Kelner (K) variants;
- The Smart Cube mount is very easy to use;
- The GoToNova is very accurate at locating and tracking stars and planets;
- Highly portable, with short setup times;
- Has 90 degrees erecting eyepiece to look at terrestrial objects as well;
- They have used a lot of plastic in the construction;
- Lens aperture is only 80mm, not very high;
- With the low powered optics, this is strictly for beginners;
- The aluminum tripod is flimsy and prone to shaking;
- Magnification levels are average;
- The controller is not the latest; it lacks USB ports and firmware upgrade options;
Where To Find The iOptron 9802 SmartStar-R80 GPS Telescope?
Amazon is a reliable place to find some sweet deals on this telescope.
eBay and Walmart are other sites where you can find this on sale online.
iOptron has firmly placed this scope in the sub-$500 segment. Many of the higher specced computerized telescopes tend to retail at $500-600 or above. It is available on Amazon for an asking price of $370.99. This is the same price mentioned at the manufacturer site as well.
But this telescope can be had for under $300 with special deals and discounts. We feel that it would be a good price for a computerized telescope launched all the way back in 2012. You might even be able to get good deals on a used model, which is also not a bad option for a telescope in this price range.
The viewing performance of this 80mm telescope is strictly average. Sure, it is much better than most bottom dollar models in the sub-$100 categories. The aperture is wide enough to get a good look at most objects in the solar system, as well as some other stars.
But the centerpiece is the automatic locating and tracking system. The GPS is precise and helps the computer to track your location. Based on this, it can then calculate the coordinates of over 5000 celestial objects which are stored in its database.
The controller is very easy to use. Use the GoToNova Controller to select the objects you want to view from the list and the system will take care of the rest. It is quite accurate and can center in on most planets and stars with accuracy. The tracking system impressed us with the ability to remain locked on your target for hours without any fuss.
In fact, the mount and controller work flawlessly. It is only marginally let down by the average optics. The K10 and K25 eyepieces offer a decent mix of wide view and extra magnification. The tripod though is a big letdown and prone to wobbles that can hamper a smooth viewing experience, especially in windy conditions. The overall portability of the system is also noteworthy. All it takes is five minutes to get it out of the box and setup.
iOptron has included detailed instructions on the package. New users would do well to go through them before handling the telescope. There is a minimal amount of assembly required. You need AA batteries to run the computerized system, so remember to keep some spares handy.
As mentioned, the tripod is a bit fragile. But the vibes can be minimized somewhat by weighing it down. There is a hook on the underside of the tripod which can be used for this purpose.
With a computerized telescope, you need to be extra careful about humidity and dampness. Dust and dirt are always a concern for the optics. Always keep the components stored away securely in cases when not in use. Do not clean the optics often. Use camel hair brushes to remove dust particles from the lens gently. Do not use compressed air to clear the dust. When using liquids to clean, stick with distilled water or alcohol based lens cleaners specified by the manufacturer
The iOptron 9802 SmartStar-R80 GPS Telescope comes with the following accessories:
- Aluminum tripod;
- K10, K20 Eyepieces;
- Cube Telescope Mount;
- GoToNova Hand Controller;
The manufacturer also sells a bunch of accessories for this model on their website. It includes a moon filter, smartphone eyepiece adapters, and backpack bags.
Warranty And Guarantee Information
iOptron provides a limited manufacturer warranty on all their products.
The iOptron 9802 SmartStar-R80 GPS Telescope is ideal for those who like some “smart assistance” in their astronomy learning phase. Many purists might feel that this removes valuable experience gained from manually finding stars in the sky. But not everyone has the inclination or the time to learn all that. This 80mm telescope allows you to scope out planets and stars like a pro, right out of the box. And that is a great deal at the asking price, even with the mediocre optics. Thank you for visiting this page, and feel free to share any thoughts/comments below.