Earth and Sky: Celestron Regal M2 80ED Spotting Scope

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The Regal M2 ships with a soft case with shoulder strap that can be worn at all times. Credit: Celestron

Plus: Excellent optical clarity; outdoorsy carry case; attaches to photographic tripods; can take any 1.25” eyepiece; weighs 74oz/2.1kg

Minus: No telescope mount or tripod included; angled eyepiece

Summary: A good value, lightweight, easy to set-up and aesthetically pleasing spotting ‘scope with an outdoorsy build that boasts high quality glass and lens coatings and a large objective lens. 

Who Is It For? Casual urban observers who want a great close-up of the Moon, planets and star clusters in an easy to set-up and lightweight form factor.  

The eyepiece protector is included, but you’ll need to add your own tripod. Credit: Jamie Carter

Why buy a spotting scope? There’s an expectation among both the public and amateur astronomers that anyone showing even a remote interest in the night sky must, and inevitably will, purchase and master a telescope. I have always railed against that assumption. For most people – particularly the massive majority living in light-polluted cities – a telescope is not only overkill, but it’s set-up, alignment and maintenance can easily become a tiresome barrier to actually enjoying the night sky. 

It’s for that reason that I have always been a binocular astronomer, and now, a spotting ‘scoper. Sure, I have owned and used telescopes, but typically I’m only interested in getting a close-up of deep sky objects when I’m under dark skies attending star parties. 

I’ve also always remained slightly aghast that refractor and Cassegrain telescopes create images that are upside down. That leaves beginners terrified when learning how to manually navigate or, much more likely, to rely so heavily on computerized ‘go to’ software that they never actually learn their way around the night sky.

The 1.25” zoom eyepiece toggles through 22x, 34x, 45x, 56x and 67x. Credit: Jamie Carter

Completely manual and designed to be used easily and often, Celestron’s Regal M2 100ED is everything it should be. Astronomically speaking it’s ideally sized for looking at the Moon, planets and star clusters. 

For someone who lives in a city and spends a lot of time moon-gazing, owning a simple to use, easy to set-up scotting scope seems to me to be a no-brainer. A thoroughly outdoorsy instrument, the Regal M2 100ED is fully waterproof and nitrogen-purged to prevent fogging. Its tube comes dressed in a rubber-effect green color and it ships with a carrying case. That’s partly what attracted me to it. I’m a frequent traveller but I always travel light, so while a telescope is never going to find its way into the trunk of my car, this spotting scope already has. 

As someone who enjoys nightscape photography, but likes to keep considered astronomical observation completely separate, the fact that the Regal M2 100ED attaches to a standard photographic tripod is also hugely attractive. For those that want to dabble in astrophotography at its simplest it also ships with a T-adapter ring for directly attaching a DSLR. Cue some basic digiscoping. 

Adding Celestron’s NexYZ 3 Axis Universal Smartphone Adapter for imaging with the M2. See our review of the NexYZ also by Jamie Carter. Credit: Celestron

Elsewhere in the range is the Regal M2 65ED and the Regal M2 80ED, but it was the possibility to have the Moon full-screen that convinced me to go for the Regal M2 100ED (it gives an angular field of view of 1.9° to 0.9°, which is perfect for our satellite). 

Its objective lens is 100mm, equivalent to 3.9”, and its focal length is 540mm. It ships with an impressive 45º angled 1.25” zoom eyepiece (which can be replaced with any 1.25” eyepiece). Really easy to use, just a twist toggles it through 22x, 34x, 45x, 56x and 67x, with the latter allowing the Moon to dominate the field of view. It’s also got a twist-up eyecup that offers 20mm eye relief. 

There’s a dual focus mechanism on the side of the Regal M2 100ED, with one dial for rough focus and one for a finer adjustment. Either way, focusing is fast. 

The ergonomic dual focus mechanism is easy to find in the dark. Credit: Jamie Carter

What gives the Regal M2 100ED its clear views at night is its extra low dispersion (ED) glass element and XLT coatings for its optics. Light transmission is impressive, with bright views of the Pleiades (M45) and the Beehive Cluster (M44) in our test. Brightness isn’t an issue for the Moon, whose terminator looks sharp and detailed. With the eyepiece on full zoom the Moon’s southern highlands at First Quarter look fabulously well defined. Conversely, the eyepiece allows for a pin-sharp wide field of view, which proved useful for viewing the close Hyades cluster and for viewing a crescent Moon in a reasonably close conjunction with Mars. 

The Regal M2 100ED is obviously not only aimed at moon-gazers and planet-hunters, being as much for hunting and bird-watching as astronomy. It’s excellent in daylight with sharp, colorful images the norm throughout the field of view (which is 110-52 ft. at 1,000 yards). 

Despite its all-round optical quality I’m mostly attracted to its irresistible usability. Weighing just 74oz (2.1kg) thanks to its magnesium alloy body, the Regal M2 100ED can almost be considered as an add-on to an astrophotography rig. Its soft carry case even comes with a comfortable shoulder strap. What’s more, that case can be left on the Regal M2 100ED when in use, with a zip-off objective lens cover and a six-inch zip on its undercarriage to allow it to be attached to a tripod. However, the zipped sides that open-up access to the eyepiece don’t make it easy to reach the focus knobs.

The scope can be used without completely removing the case. Credit: Jamie Carter

Everyone knows that there are far more dusty, unloved telescopes than active and well-used telescopes. Here’s a lightweight, easy to set-up and simple to use spotting scope that’s a fine performer with the Moon, planets and star clusters. It’s so easy to whip out for a short observing session, and the politics are wonderful. 

Photographers always say that the best camera is the one you have with you, and if you own the good value Regal M2 100ED and get used to its high quality glass, lens coatings and large objective lens, it’s likely never going to be far from your side. 

MSRP: $890

Website: https://www.celestron.com/products/regal-m2-80ed-spotting-scope

 

About Jamie Carter

A science, travel and technology journalist for over 20 years, UK-based Jamie Carter writes for Forbes Science, Sky and Telescope magazine, the BBC's Sky At Night, Travel+Leisure and the South China Morning Post. He edits WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com, leads tours to see eclipses, and regularly tweets about stargazing (@jamieacarter) and eclipses (@thenexteclipse).

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