This telescope is great but daunting. This is my first telescope. It was very easy to assemble, and the instructions are very simple to follow. it is also very light weight and pretty compact making it easy to travel with. I live in Mesa, AZ and there are a few mountains around here that I can hike up, and taking this with me is no trouble at all.
Red Dot Scope:
The Red Dot Scope has proven itself pretty much useless. I cannot tell where i'm supposed to put my head in order to have it lined up with the view of the scope itself. it is slightly adjustable, but I have not been able to line it up with what I see in the scope. Because of this i usually find myself just pointing the red dot at an object and then moving the scope in mini circles while looking through the eye piece. *(Tip: if you are looking for a bright object you can pull the eyepiece all the way out of focus. This will make the object look like a big bright disc with a cross in it. When you see this disc you can start focusing while adjusting the angle of the scope. It makes the hunt sooo much easier. Do not use this method with the moon. It's just too big.)*
You cannot perfectly balance this scope. Because of the aesthetics on the scope i cannot center the scope in the rings where it will be perfectly balanced, however i have not tried mounting the scope just off center of it's bracket to change the position of its axis of rotation. At the same time i feel that i shouldn't have to. Since i cannot perfectly balance the scope i find at certain extreme angles the scope will rotate on its own, however because of the method i use to find objects with this scope that balance issue does not really affect me since i'll be holding the scope the entire time until i lock it in.*(Tip: While locking the scope into position, the scope will move. So be sure to look through the eyepiece while locking the axes(axes is plural for axis)so you know which direction the object went. Right and left are flipped with the 25mm eyepiece, and up/down are flipped with the 10mm eyepiece.)
Fine Tuning Knobs:
The fine tune knobs look cheap, but they are flexible for a reason.
Using an equatorial mount for a novice is very daunting at first. However it is important to learn how to use this mount if you plan to get into Astrophotography. Also the movement of the scope does not take long to get use to, and all of the aggravation accumulated while getting your object into view is immediately dissipated when you finally get the object in sight.
What You Will See:
The Moon: They moon will take up the entire scope of view with the 20mm eyepiece. It is Awesome. Very Awesome. And if you find it too bright the center of the scope cover pops out so you can limit the amount of light coming into the scope. Very awesome.
Jupiter: You will see Jupiter. You will even be able to see a few of Jupiter's bands. You will also see some of Jupiter's moons.
Venus: It is super bright. every time i see it through the scope i also see a lens flare, but you still will be able to make out its shape.
Saturn: You will see Saturn. You will also be able to see its rings,(it will look like 1 ring) as well as 1 color band. The reason i bought this scope was to see Saturn and it does not disappoint. *(With the 10mm eyepiece Saturn will take up about 1/100th of your viewing area. Still awesome.
Mars: You will see mars, but because of its color, it will seem feint. I have found the view of Saturn, Jupiter, and Orion's Nebula to be much more satisfying.
M42/M43(Orion's nebula): You will not really be able to see the nebula since it is very feint, but you will see the star clusters with ease which is still very breath taking.
To be honest i have found these sights to be so satisfying i haven't even begun to look for other object. I have seen all of these with ease in my apartment complex, which is filled with light pollution. All of these have been seen as described using only the eyepieces that came with the scope. There are also many filters and many eyepieces that can be used to enhance your view of the heavens.
This scope has a maximum useful magnification of 269x. This means that the smallest useful eyepiece is 3.71mm. This magnification can also be obtained with a 7.40mm eyepiece and a 2x Barlow lens. *(Tip: The smaller the number on your eyepiece the higher its magnification. So, if you cannot find these exact eyepieces go for a larger number so that you do not exceed the Max. Mag. This does not apply to the Barlow Lens)*
All in all this is a very good beginner telescope; especially for its price. Not only will you get decent views of bright astral bodies, but the scope itself is challenging enough to develop real astronomical skills that will prove useful if you decide to delve deeper into the world of amateur astronomy.
The only thing keeping this scope from attaining 5 stars is the red dot sight. (this took me too long to write for proofreading so sorry for any typos or grammatical errors.)