BEST CELESTRON TELESCOPES
Telescopes are the ultimate scientific hobbyist’s dream toy, and the California-based company Celestron has been making some of the best since 1964. Capable of collecting and magnifying light, a decent telescope can be a passport to visit everything from the craters of the moon and the rings of Saturn to the dim flickering of distant galaxies.With such lofty abilities, it should come as no surprise that Celestron telescopes can also be a bit complicated and quite expensive. It’s important to know what you want a telescope to do and how much you should be paying for the features you need.
Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope – Portable Refractor Telescope – Fully-Coated Glass Optics – Ideal Telescope for Beginners – BONUS Astronomy Software Package
Celestron 21023 Cometron 76mm Firstscope, White
Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope – Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users – Fully-Automated GoTo Mount – SkyAlign Technology – 40,000+ Celestial Objects – 8-Inch Primary Mirror
Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope – Manual German Equatorial Telescope for Beginners – Compact and Portable – Bonus Astronomy Software Package – 127mm Aperture
Celestron – AstroMaster 90AZ Refractor Telescope – Refractor Telescope for Beginners – Fully-Coated Glass Optics – Adjustable-Height Tripod – BONUS Astronomy Software Package
Manual vs. GoTo telescopes
Telescopes ship in a variety of shapes and sizes, but one big consideration you will need to tackle early on is whether to buy a manual or a GoTo telescope.
As the name implies, manual telescopes are controlled by you. The telescope is manipulated through controls that you manually manipulate to scan the sky. While you can use sky charts and other sources to help you identify and observe planets and stars, you are largely on your own to find specific celestial objects. Manual telescopes can be found in Celestron’s AstroMaster and TravelScope series, which are designed for beginner astronomers.
GoTo telescopes are motorized, often depending on a database of celestial objects that the telescope will access for you. These databases range from a few thousand objects up to 40,000 or more, and once a GoTo is aligned, it will find and track these stored planets, individual stars, and even whole galaxies. These are great options for both beginners and more experienced astronomers.
Celestron offers a variety of GoTo telescopes, which are generally more expensive. The majority are battery-operated, although some have AC or even car adapter options. GoTo telescopes, such as their LCM models, are relatively inexpensive and geared towards beginners, while more expensive models such as those in the NexStar SE line, are for both beginners and more advanced users.
How easy is it to set up?
The majority of Celestron telescopes are easy to set up pretty much right out of the box, but actually finding something like a star that you can put a name on might be difficult. This is where a GoTo telescope can be a plus, although you will need to align a GoTo every time before using it. A manual telescope requires no alignment and should be easy enough to use for all ages.
How large is the telescope?
Celestron offers a range of telescope sizes, from lightweight tabletop models to full-featured GoTo telescopes with heavy mounts and steel tripods. While large telescopes tend to show more, they can also be heavy and more difficult to set up and use out in the field. Heavier telescopes can also be sturdier, however, which will almost always improve image quality.
Celestron telescopes can weigh from 10 pounds to 50 pounds or more. Know the size and weight of a telescope before placing your order.
Aperture size, or the diameter of the telescope’s primary lens or mirror, is one of the prominent specifications that telescopes are rated on. Basically, the larger the aperture, the sharper and brighter the image will be. A larger aperture will also help you to observe fainter objects.
It will also run you more in terms of price. Celestron aperture sizes range from 3 inches up to 11 inches.
The larger the aperture, the more magnification you can achieve. And the more magnification your telescope has, the better you can observe details of distant objects, such as Saturn’s rings.
Magnification will vary by telescope, with the majority of Celestron telescopes offering from 120X to 480X.
Another factor of telescopes to consider is the focal length. This is the distance between the primary lens of the telescope and the point where light rays come into focus. The longer the focal length, the better the telescope generally is at viewing close-up images of planets or the moon. Celestron focal lengths can vary considerably, ranging from about 360-millimeters to 1,250-millimeters.
Think of the finderscope as a low power pre-telescope. With a finderscope, you can more easily locate the objects you want to view, then use the regular telescope to focus in on the object.
Some Celestron telescopes ship with finderscopes, but you can also buy them separately. While it is often more affordable to purchase a Celestron telescope that includes a finderscope, some of their separately sold finderscopes are fairly low-priced.
While compact and simple in design, eyepieces are a crucial element of a quality telescope. Eyepieces help to magnify the image, allowing you to realize the highest image quality. They are made in a variety of sizes, and while it may seem counterintuitive, the higher the number (in millimeters), the lower the magnification power. A large number of Celestron telescopes ship with more than one eyepiece.
A Barlow lens is a special type of eyepiece add-on that will allow you to often double (2X) or triple (3X) the magnification. While this is not standard with all telescopes, some Celestron telescopes do ship with a Barlow lens.
The mount is the device that sits between the telescope and the tripod. This determines how the telescope moves. It also provides a shake-free viewing experience.
While primarily for larger telescopes, there are a number of different kinds of mounts. Some of the more common mounts offered by Celestron include:
- Alt-azimuth: This is one of the simplest mounts, and it may be manual or computerized.
- Dobsonian: This is usually used with reflector telescopes and is designed for tabletop use.
- GoTo: This is a motorized mount for GoTo telescopes.
- German equatorial: This mount is aligned to the celestial pole, making for easier object tracking. It may be manual or computerized.
A staple of all ground-based telescopes, the tripod can vary telescope to telescope. Some are made of lightweight aluminum, while others are built from a more durable steel; the majority of Celestron telescopes use a steel tripod. Any tripod you go with should be long-lasting and stable enough to protect the telescope from tipping over and keep it in a fixed position for image clarity.
If you plan to travel often with your telescope — or just wish to securely store it — check whether a telescope ships with a durable storage bag capable of holding all elements of the telescope. Some Celestron telescopes will include a storage bag or case, while others require you to purchase them separately.
CELESTRON TELESCOPE PRICES
Celestron telescopes can range in price from under $50 to well over $2000.
At under $50, you are usually limited to PowerSeeker telescopes. In general, Celestron telescopes under $100 are lower-powered models and may be portable or tabletop based. These telescopes won’t provide you with a ton of image clarity for close-up views of the outer planets, but you will still be able to manually find stars and observe a variety of moon features, planets, and other celestial objects.
In the $100 to $500 range, you will find more powerful manual telescopes, and the apertures will increase in size. This range also offers the lower-priced computerized telescopes, in addition to a variety of lower-priced refractor telescopes.
The $500 to $2,000 range is home to some of Celestron’s most popular telescopes, including a number of GoTo telescopes that offer extensive databases and larger apertures. Finally, anything over $2,000 is generally for serious amateur astronomers. These telescopes include astrograph telescopes and larger than 8-inch-aperture GoTo telescopes.
- If you are seeking to expand your telescope, Celeston sells a wide variety of accessories for their various telescopes, from single eyepieces all the way up to cleaning and multi-piece accessory kits.
- Celestron telescopes and accessories feature a two-year warranty. You can find out more about this by visiting their warranty page.
- If your NexStar hand control becomes stuck and won’t work, check the power supply and buttons to make sure everything is functioning properly. You can also try resetting to factory settings, or updating your firmware.
- If you need to manually enter your GPS coordinates in your Celestron hand controller, you can use a map app on your smartphone to quickly grab coordinates.
Q. What is the difference between a reflector and a refractor telescope?A. These are the two primary types of telescopes, and they do vary quite a bit from each other. A reflector telescope uses mirrors and is usually better for viewing deep-sky objects. If you are searching for a larger telescope for less money, a reflector is your best bet.
A refractor telescope uses lenses instead of mirrors and is a better choice for viewing the moon and planets. These are maintenance-free and great for beginners, but they can be expensive if you want a larger telescope.
Q. Do these telescopes ship with software of any kind?
A. The majority of Celestron telescopes do offer some form of downloadable software (such as the Starry Night Basic Edition) or an app (SkyPortal) to use with your telescope. These can help you easily find celestial objects and learn about them. SkyPortal can also be used with your smartphone to control some telescopes.
Q. Can you take pictures with these telescopes?
A. By themselves, these telescopes rarely can take photos, but you can often purchase adapters that can be used with your DSLR camera to photograph what you are observing. While expensive, Celestron also sells a variety of astrograph telescopes that will yield better results than using a DSLR with an adapter.
This activity is popular enough to have its own name — astrophotography — and while difficult to master, it can be a rewarding element of your telescope experience. There are a number of websites dedicated to getting started in astrophotography and excelling at it.