AT72ED 72mm f/6 ED doublet refractor, black tube

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This Astro-Tech ED refractor has:

• 72mm f/6 fully multicoated ED doublet refractor optics
• dual-speed rotating 2” Crayford focuser with 10:1 ratio fine focusing
• 2” and 1.25” non-marring compression ring accessory holders
• combined dovetail/tripod bracket for use on a photo tripod or a German equatorial mount
• retractable self-storing lens shade
• amazing wide field astrophotographic capabilities
• long-lasting hard anodized black finish with black trim
• aluminum-frame foam-fitted hard case

Astronomy magazine called this scope’s predecessor, the 66mm Astro-Tech AT66ED, “a product everyone should own.” The new Astro-Tech AT72ED upgrades that best-selling predecessor by increasing the aperture to 72mm to give you 9% higher resolution and 19% more light gathering; upgrades the focuser to 2”, with a 1.25” adapter; and increases the focuser travel to 80mm to allow imaging with a wider variety of camera types. Astronomy said the AT66ED was “a great grab-and-go scope, a fine little astrograph, a super-finder scope, and a daytime spotting scope.” The same is equally true for the new AT72ED.

The images from the 430mm f/6 ED air-spaced doublet optics of this Astro-Tech AT72ED refractor are virtually free from spurious color (chromatic aberration), even at high magnifications. At its low price, the optical performance is little short of astonishing. The exceptional AT72ED optics are even more impressive when you consider the package they come in. The finely-machined scope has a dual speed 2” Crayford-style focuser with a microfine 10:1 fine-focusing ratio. You can rotate the focuser a full 360° to put your eyepiece or camera in the most comfortable observing position. The supplied 2” and 1.25” eyepiece adapters use non-marring brass compression rings that won’t scratch your eyepiece and accessory barrels. The Astro-Tech AT72ED has a retractable lens shade and comes in a locking aluminum-frame hard carrying case.

This 12” long refractor optical tube (14.5” long with the lens shade extended) has the right balance of aperture and focal length to use as a low-power rich field telescope, as a medium-power planetary telescope, or as any kind of telescope in between. Its compact size, light weight, and convenient removable L-shaped mounting foot that mounts on any photographic tripod also make it an excellent terrestrial spotting scope for vacations, birding, or nature studies. In addition, optional camera adapters turn the AT72ED into a superb 430mm (8.6x) f/6 daytime telephoto lens and nighttime wide-field astrograph, as can be seen in the feature image below. The tripod mounting foot is also a dovetail adapter that fits directly into the dovetail slot on the top of many altazimuth and German equatorial mounts, such as those from Astro-Tech, Celestron, Meade, and Vixen.

The AT72 image of M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, shown in the feature image section below is by Tibor Mihalovits. He was happy to share the image with us because, as he said, “I'm at the very beginning on my astrophotography adventure and it is a good example for people trying to start out to see what the AT72ED can do with an unmodified Canon EOS Rebel T1i DSLR camera in 90 minutes. With the AT72ED, you don't have to spend $5000 on a single scope to get something nice! Since I got the AT72ED, I've been recommending it on the Cloudy Nights imaging forum a lot for the guys that want to start out. You just can't beat that scope, price, quality, aperture. My next imaging scope will be an A-T scope also! Thank you!”

Features of this Telescope . . .

  • ED doublet refractor optics: 72mm (2.83”) aperture, 430mm focal length, f/6 focal ratio air-spaced doublet lens using premium Ohara glass from Japan, including an ED (Extra-low Dispersion glass) element to reduce spurious color halos and fringing to vanishingly low levels. While we do not claim fully apochromatic performance in the class of a multiple thousand dollar Takahashi, Astro-Physics, or TMB refractor, the AT72ED is so free from spurious color as to be virtually indistinguishable from an apochromatic system. And, as Mr. Spock probably said in one episode of Star Trek or another, “Any difference that makes no difference, is no difference.”

  • Multicoated optics: The objective lens has the latest state-of-the-art broadband antireflection multicoatings on all four air-to-glass surfaces for high light transmission and excellent contrast. This can easily be seen by looking into the objective lens of the scope. Virtually no reflection of your face will be seen. It’s a sure sign that the high transmission coatings are doing their job, by letting virtually all the light enter the scope, rather than reflecting some light back to your eye.

  • Internal light baffles: There are three contrast-enhancing knife edge baffles inside the optical tube, and anti-reflection threading the full length of the focuser drawtube, for truly dark sky backgrounds and high terrestrial contrast. In addition, the edges of the objective lens are blackened to eliminate contrast-reducing stray internal reflections.

  • Full power range capability: The “highest useful magnification” listed above right is 143x. This is the power obtained with a 3mm eyepiece, which provides an exit pupil of 0.5mm (about 1/50th of an inch) and 51x per inch of aperture. This is generally the smallest exit pupil recommended with any telescope before the images start to become too dim to be consistently useful.
    Higher powers are possible for lunar and planetary observing, however, given excellent seeing conditions, although the increasing dimness of the image will start to limit the performance on all but the brightest objects.
    The lowest useful power is 11x, achieved with a 40mm eyepiece (a 40mm 1.25” TeleVue Plössl will give you a 4.2° field at that power). At 3.8x per inch of aperture, this is very close to the 4x per inch of aperture generally regarded as the lowest practical power with any telescope. A 40mm eyepiece on the AT72ED will give you a 6.67mm exit pupil, larger than most eyes can dilate. Any lower power would simply waste some of the scope’s light gathering capacity, as its collected light would fall on your iris, rather than entering your eye.

  • Dew shield: A self-storing retractable dew shield slows the formation of dew on the lens in cold weather to extend your undisturbed observing time. It also improves the contrast, similar to the effect of the lens shade on a camera lens, when observing during the day or when there is excessive ambient light at night, such as a neighbor’s backyard security light.

  • Dual speed microfine 2” Crayford focuser with 1.25” adapter: The precision-made 2” focuser has dual-speed focusing. There are two coarse focusing knobs. The right knob also has a smaller concentric knob with 10:1 ratio reduction gear microfine focusing. This provides exceptionally precise image control during high power visual observing or critical DSLR or CCD imaging. The focus knobs have knurled rubber and ribbed gripping surfaces so they are easy to operate, even while wearing gloves or mittens in cold weather. The 80mm (3.15”) travel focuser drawtube has a scale marked in 1mm increments so you can note individual focuser positions for easy return to the correct focus when switching between visual use and photography. A lock knob under the focuser lets you lock in your photographic focus.
    The focuser drawtube terminates in a 2” compression ring accessory holder to accept a 2” star diagonal and 2” photo accessories. A lock knob on the top of the scope allows the focuser to be rotated a full 360°. This lets you rotate the focuser to line up a camera in either a landscape or portrait orientation (or any orientation in between), as well as put a star diagonal and eyepiece into the most comfortable observing position, and then temporarily lock the focuser in that position.
    The supplied 1.25” accessory adapter slips onto the 2” accessory holder and uses a soft brass compression ring to hold 1.25” star diagonals and photo/visual accessories in place. The 1.25” and 2” compression rings won’t scratch the barrels of your star diagonal or accessories as an ordinary thumbscrew can.

  • Combined equatorial dovetail/tripod adapter: The AT72ED has a removable L-shaped dovetail mounting foot/tripod adapter. The 1.75” wide x 3.25” long mounting foot is sized and shaped (with slanted sides) to fit the Vixen-style dovetail slot on the head of many altazimuth and equatorial mounts. It will fit, without modification, the Astro-Tech Voyager altazimuth mount and the Celestron CG-5 and Advanced Series, Meade LXD-75, and Vixen Great Polaris German equatorial mounts, among others.
    In addition, the mounting shoe has two 1/4”-20 thread mounting holes that allow it to be installed on any camera tripod that has a standard 1/4”-20 thread mounting bolt. You can choose the mounting hole that provides the best balance when used with your particular combination of star diagonal, eyepiece, and/or camera.
    Cork pads on the underside of the mounting shoe help keep the scope from swiveling when mounted on a photo tripod. The dovetail is removable to allow the AT72 to be used with optional guidescope rings as a photoguide for a larger telescope.

  • Tube finish: The optical tube is finished in a durable liquid black anodize with anodized black trim that makes it an excellent choice as a photoguide scope to mount on a large Celestron catadioptric.

  • Other supplied accessories: A slip-on metal dust cap is standard. Two threaded holes for installing a finderscope mounting bracket are located on the upper left side of the scope body. One hole keeps the finder in a fixed position relative to the scope’s mounting foot, regardless of how the focuser is rotated. The other rotates with the focuser, keeping the finder in the same position relative to the focus knobs, again no matter how the focuser is rotated.

  • Shipping/storage case: The scope comes in a 15.5” x 10” x 7.5” aluminum-frame locking hard case with carry handle. The foam-fitted case has cutouts for the scope, a 1.25” or 2” star diagonal, and up to three eyepieces (two 1.25” and one 2”).
    Astro-Tech is one of the very few manufacturers to provide a case at no charge for protection during shipping and as a storage convenience when the scope is not in use. Unfortunately, FedEx, UPS, and the Postal Service are very good at treating packages roughly. Occasionally, your scope can arrive in perfect condition, but with the walls of the shipping case dented in transit from rough handling, or the aluminum frame sprung, rendering the appearance of the case less than pristine. Damage to the shipping/storage case in such instances is not covered by warranty.
1 year
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Overall Product Rating: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics(5.00)   # of Ratings: 6   (Only registered customers can rate)

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Showing comments 1-6 of 6
1. Jeffrey on 5/16/2013, said: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics
I purchased this scope a few months ago. I planned to use it for astrophotography, grab and go, and for outreach programs at my astronomy club. The scope has performed very well. I image with it on my Celestron AVX mount and use it with my Nexstar SE 4/5 for grab and go and outreach events.

The scope is solidly built and feels heavier than it actually is. It did not come with a finder mount, but has two predrilled holes at different locations on the tube. I was able to easily add a Synta/Orion style finder shoe but it is only secured with a single screw. But that seems to do the trick. The Vixen style mounting foot that comes with the scope works well also. It does not appear that this scope was intended to be used with tub rings given the varying outer diameter of the tube along with thee short tube length.

The carrying case is a nice feature for storage and travel. Since I use the scope for my outreach volunteering, it comes in handy. The case is well built and provides slots for a diagonal, two 1.25 eyepieces and one 2" eyepiece. I even managed to fit a small red dot finder in it.

Visualy the scope performs well for its size. In my very light polluted sky, I can resolve stars up to a 9.8 magnitude. Brighter deep space objects show up well and the fainter ones do not show as much detail as expected. At my first outreach, I received many compliments for the view of Saturn and M42 through the scope using only mid-grade eyepieces.

For astrophotography it is a great beginner scope at an affordable price. The short 430mm focal length makes tracking easier. I am just starting out with imaging and have imaged the Leo triplet, M3 and M44.

I give this scope a great rating because it does well what I bought it for. It is a great multi-purpose scope with a good price point.
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2. Conrad on 5/2/2013, said: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics
Several years ago, I bought an AT72 scope plus an AT Titan ED 35mm eyepiece. With these two, I have have fantastic deep sky views. My favorate is having both M31 and M32 in the same field of view. Image quality has always been very good and portability is a real plus. 1 minute photos of M31 with a Canon DLSR do show the dark lanes.
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3. DOUGLAS on 4/30/2013, said: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics
Bought this as a finder scope and 2nd imaging scope to mount on my Celestron C11HD mounted on a Celestron CGE Pro. Absolutely love this and have been able to get very good alignment relative to the CCD camera on the C11HD. I am able to get very sharp and focused image with an 12mm astrometric eyepiece and will soon mount my Canon T3i for one shot color fun. Also have a DMK21 to use for guiding and am able to get very good image and stars with this scope. For the money I can not think of a more cost effective solution. Highly recommended.
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4. David on 3/11/2013, said: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics
I purchased my AT72ED last Autumn and have been using it pretty much weekly (weather permitting) from a light polluted backyard on the central California coast.

The construction of this little 'scope is solid and the finish is good-looking (I have the green-and-black model.) The rotatable focuser is a nice addition that really improves the user experience and allows use with more mount types. Also the 10:1 two-speed focuser is great.

I was originally worried that I wouldn't like living without a finderscope, but a widefield 30mm 2" eyepiece gives a *5* degree true field and is great for low-power star-hopping to the next target.

Optically it performs to its specifications - it splits Castor without breaking a sweat. The four brightest components of the Trapezium are never a problem. On good nights I can easily split both components of the Double-Double (Epsilon Lyrae) with a 4.5mm eyepiece, and I can usually catch the companion to Rigel as well.

When seeing permits I can "max out" the magnification with a 3mm planetary eyepiece for 143x. At this power I can easily see several of Jupiter's bands, the Great Red Spot and nearby festoons. I've also used the AT72ED to follow several shadow transits.

Deep-sky: Despite the 2.8" aperture there's still plenty to look at. M81/82 are both visible in the same low-power field and clearly show their different shapes. M57 shows as a ring, and smaller bright planetaries like the Blue Snowball and the Cat's Eye are easy if you use enough power to make sure they're not stellar. A 13mm Ethos gives a well-corrected 3-degree true field and 33x, which I found a good combination for sweeping the summer Milky Way.)

Color Correction: It's not quite a "true apo" - there is a small amount of false color at high power, but it's still much better corrected than an equivalent short-focus achromat.

Solar-System imaging: The 430mm focal length is short enough that the moon and sun both just fit inside a maximum frame in a NexStar 5 imaging camera.

Although my 10" dob and 4.7" refractors have more resolution and light gathering, there are those nights where they are just too cumbersome and heavy to set up on a moments notice. The AT72ED has become my grab-and-go 'scope of choice. I keep it attached to my alt-az tripod so I can carry it outside when I want a quick look (or just a low-stress observing session.)
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5. Patrick on 3/1/2013, said: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics
The AT72 is an amazing value. I sold my 12.5" Portaball because I was not taking the time to set it up and observe. I bought an AT72 to console myself and...WOW. I'm observing again and am blown away by the quality of this jewel. I still can't believe this sells for under $400.

Day and night images are crisp. If there are fringes, I can't detect them. Star images are disks. The moon and Jupiter are a joy to behold...and my back does not hurt the next day.

Have not tested it under dark skies, but expect that will be fun too.

Buy one and have some won't regret it.
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6. Kevin on 9/10/2012, said: AstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomicsAstronomics
The fit and finish of Astro-Tech 72ED is great very smooth dual speed focuser. The focuser has no trouble holding my Canon DSLR camera. Focus travel rides true to the light path with no significant play. Stars look nice and round with only small amount of distortion at edge FOV. Overall a great product.

Kevin Davis
Oklahoma City
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Showing comments 1-6 of 6
General Accessories
Altazimuth Mounts (1)
Astro-Tech Voyager 2 altazimuth mount
by Astro-Tech
Finderscopes (1)
Illuminated multiple reticle finder
by Astro-Tech
Visual Accessories
Image Erecting Prisms (1)
45° Prism for 1.25" eyepieces
by Astro-Tech
Miscellaneous (1)
Kit of 1.25" eyepieces and visual accessories
by Astro-Tech
Star Diagonals (2)
1.25" 99% Reflectivity dielectric mirror diagonal
by Astro-Tech
Astro-Tech 2" 99% Reflectivity Dielectric Mirror Secure-Lock Diagonal For Refractors
by Astro-Tech
Photographic Accessories
Camera Adapters (1)
2" Prime focus adapter, needs T-ring
by Astro-Tech
  • Combined 1/4”-20 thread mounting foot and equatorial mount dovetail
  • Dust covers
  • Self-storing retractable dew shield
  • Dual speed 2” Crayford focuser with 2” and 1.25” non-marring compression ring accessory holders
  • Fitted aluminum-frame case
  • Dust caps
  • Anodized black finish
Astro-Tech - AT72ED manual 669 KB
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Astro-Tech - AT72ED 72mm f/6 ED doublet refractor, black tube

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Astro-Tech - AT72ED 72mm f/6 ED doublet refractor, black tubeSide view of Astro-Tech AT72ED with lens shade retracted.Comparison of Astro-Tech AT72ED with lens shade extended and retracted.Close-up of Astro-Tech AT72ED dual-speed 2Rear view of Astro-Tech AT72ED.Close-up of the Astro-Tech AT72ED 2Close-up of objective lens of Astro-Tech AT72ED with lens shade retracted.Image of the AT72ED fitted hard case.AT72 image of M31, by Tibor Mihalovits. AT72 piggyback on Meade LX200GPS unguided; Astro-Tech field flattener; unmodified Canon T1i; 40 light, 40 flat, 30 dark 90-second exposures.
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Clear skies,

The Astro-Tech AT72ED is a worthy successor – and upgrade – to the AT66ED, an Astro-Tech scope that Astronomy magazine called “a product everyone should own.” The AT72ED is optically so good, despite its low price, that you might swear this compact air-spaced ED doublet refractor is an apochromat. Anodized in Celeston black, it also makes a great choice as a photoguide for a large Celestron catadioptric . . .

. . . our 38th year