Best Celestron Telescopes

Updated November 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

11 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
217 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Celestron telescopes

Last Updated November 2019

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.

This guide will introduce you to some of the terms and features you should be concentrating on when shopping for a Celestron telescope. We will cover the various telescope price ranges you will find and what you should expect to see within those ranges. We will also point out some of our favorite Celestron telescopes — both in terms of abilities and price.

Longer focus eyepieces are generally easier to use for those who wear eyeglasses.

Key considerations

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.

Manual

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

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

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.

Magnification

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.

Powerful and automated


The 8-inch aperture of the NexStar 8 SE delivers up to 480X magnification for crisp, clear images. This telescope is fully automated and, once aligned, can find and track over 40,000 celestial objects.

Focal length

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.

The finderscope

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.

Eyepieces

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

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.

Tripod

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.

Storage bag

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.

EXPERT TIP

Take a high magnification rating with a grain of salt, as telescopes often provide the best quality images at lower magnifications.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

You can download manuals and software for your Celestron telescope by visiting their Manuals & Software page.


Staff  | BestReviews

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

With a solar filter, you can use your telescope to view the sun.

Tips

  • 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.

An affordable tabletop telescope


This lightweight tabletop telescope is easy to use and portable; even children will have fun using it to observe distant objects like the moon. It ships with two eyepieces and a finderscope.

Other products we considered

We wanted to include a few more telescopes that caught our eye while researching this niche. The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is a refractor telescope that is inexpensive and lightweight and ships with two eyepieces.

Another bargain — especially for a tripod telescope — is the Celestron PowerSeeker 70EQ. This includes two eyepieces in addition to a 3X Barlow lens. It is easy to set up and offers smooth tracking.

Be sure to register your Celestron telescope. Registering is important if you ever need to take advantage of Celestron’s warranty, and it will also keep you up-to-date on any product updates.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey