Review: SkyWatcher StarTravel 102 AZ3 Telescope

Author: Luna Gregoria


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The StarTravel 102 AZ3 is the currently available incarnation of a Synta telescope that has been available under a number of different names from Celestron and SkyWatcher. It’s a classic for good reason and is a good telescope for a mature beginner or an experienced astronomer. I wouldn’t recommend it for children or anyone who is intimidated by lots of controls and clutches. The scope performs very well on Deep Sky Objects, though its planetary performance leaves something to be desired.

Total Score

6/10: Recommended with reservations

Score Breakdown (out of 5)

Optics: 3

Focuser: 4

Mount: 4

Moon & Planets: 3

Rich Field: 4

Accessories: 4

Ease of use: 3.5

Portability: 3.5

Value: 3

Read our scoring methodology here.


  • Four inches of unobstructed aperture provides contrasty deep-sky views
  • Altitude-Azimuth mount is well suited for beginners
  • Sturdy construction
  • Attractive livery


  • Chromatic aberration noticeable at high powers
  • Slow motion system is somewhat unintuitive, especially for kids
  • 45-degree erecting prism not useful for astronomy

The Competition

For the same price, you can get a 6” Dobsonian reflector, which will be as good or better at Deep Sky Objects, far better on the Moon and planets, and more intuitive to use. It will be a lot heavier to lug around though, compared to the 102 AZ3, which I can almost lift with one arm. If portability and weight is a concern, most of what you can see with this scope (and better planetary performance) can be found in a tabletop reflector like the StarBlast 4.5 or AWB OneSky 130 / SkyWatcher Heritage 130P, and at a far lower price.

Our Verdict

The StarTravel 102 AZ3 is a beautiful instrument capable of showing beautiful views. Though the mount is not perfect, it is not frustrating enough to prevent it from being used. It is a serious instrument that will age well if taken care of. When used as intended--for wide-field scanning and deep-sky viewing, and not for planetary viewing, it can be an excellent choice.

Because it’s not a planetary scope, users in heavily light polluted skies may be disappointed, as will anyone interested in looking at planets. But for someone who is interested in stargazing and deep-sky viewing, as I am even in my suburban viewing site, the telescope works very well.

Because of other cheaper reflector options, the mount weirdness, and the useless 45 degrees diagonal included, I can only recommend this with some reservations, however, it is overall a fine instrument for what it’s meant to do.

SkyWatcher StarTravel 102 AZ3

SkyWatcher StarTravel 102 AZ3

Rating: 3/5