Meade and Celestron are two of the most recognized, popular and respected manufacturers of Astronomy equipment. Chances are, if you are in the market for a a new telescope, it will likely be one of these brands.
With Astronomy Equipment, and manufacturers in particular, it can be a real challenge to identify what is going to be best for you. We all have our own needs, preferences and budgets, but sometimes we can get lost in the weeds comparing specification that will never be of any real significance for us.
Most of the time, it is best to focus on the reputation, public opinion and perception of the manufacturers. The best feedback is user feedback and reviews of the many products in their product range.
Typically, the better manufacturers use the best components and therefore they tend to be of a higher quality. This is where locating a reputable and proven manufacturer can pay dividends. Meade and Celestron are two brands like this.
So, what is the better manufacturer, Meade vs Celestron? From research, experience and opinion, there is no real difference between Meade and Celestron because they are both owned by the same company, Synta. They are both reputable, widely respected brands with thousands of satisfied users and featured models. However, there are some things which will make a brand more suitable or preferable to you over the other. Ultimately, what is best for you will depend on your preferences, experience level and budget.
So with this in mind, let’s now take a closer look at both of these brands. Hopefully, I can help you identify which one will be best for you and suggest some telescopes along the way.
Meade vs Celestron
I am going to make an assumption that you understand the basics of selecting a telescope. That you are aware of the differences between Reflector and Refractor telescopes. That you are aware of the different designs like Schmidt-Cassegrain and Dobsonion. This article will not focus on how you should choose a telescope, instead it will look only at comparing Meade and Celestron Telescopes.
It is commonly agreed among astronomers that there are no major differences between Meade and Celestron. This is not just limited to these two brands, you’ll find that there is not much difference between all of the common Astronomy Equipment Manufacturers (including Orion and Skywatcher). One of the primary reasons for this is that three of these brands: Celestron, Orion and Skywatcher are in fact all made by the same company, called Synta. So, for the most part, a lot of the equipment is made with the same components, is the same quality, and usually has similar if not the same spec.
Celestron and Meade offer a range of telescopes, starting at entry-level (for beginners and smaller budgets) all the way to high-spec technology driven and advanced telescopes.
Both brands have telescopes that include Go-To computerized technology and also GPS tracking.
You will find that prices start around $100, but they do scale all the way up to $2000. As such, you will find a few outlying models like the Meade LX90 which was designed for advanced astronomers in mind.
Celestron have built quite a reputation in the last few years for their sleek and impressive looking designs. Meade on the other hand are the biggest manufacturer of telescopes worldwide, and are thus usually a more popular choice.
Both brands have been operating for over 50 years and have a long history/tradition providing equipment to astronomers. It is a result of their innovations that we can choose from a whole host of features and spec on a telescope which makes observing the sky more fascinating and rewarding.
Featured Telescopes in the Meade Range
Firstly on the Meade telescope range, there are some great entry level telescopes available. The Meade ETX Series Telescopes is one of the most popular.
The Meade ETX series has been a mainstay for some time; as Meade have brought out various models and upgrades over the years. The Meade ETX-80 Telescope is perhaps is one of the most purchased telescopes in this range due to its relatively low price yet high quality imaging. It also includes Go-To technology and automatic tracking (fixing onto planets, stars etc in the sky for you), aiding its ability for first time users and astronomy beginners.
Due to its specification, the ETX-80 is a solid choice for planetary viewing. With the right conditions (dark skies) theETX-80 can provide views of deep-sky objects including: star clusters, galaxies and brighter planetary nebulae.
At the higher end of the product-line, the Meade LX90 Telescope is popular and recommended choice.
A Closer Look at the Meade LX90
If you have a bit more cash to spend and a higher budget, the LX90 will be one of the models that you will want to look at.
While it may look like it was designed for advanced astronomers, it’s actually excellent for all experience levels. Its very simple and easy to set up and use; it has a slow focal ratio which provides extra time and tolerance to eyepieces (regardless of the brand, variety or size you are using).
Whilst I have mentioned it has ‘slow’ optics – this does not mean that using it takes time or you will have a delayed experience. Instead, its quite the opposite and a quick telescope to work with and navigate the sky with.
Having a slow focal ratio essentially means the speed that the optics work at. Specifically, the LX90’s focal ratio is f/10, providing you with slow views of the sky making it ideal for observating the planets. There is also an Auto Align GPS feature that helps you to identify and track over 30,000 objects in the sky.
In terms of the downsides, the LX90 is not very practical and easy to move. Whilst the LX90 provides great views and optics, it is also on the more expensive side. If you find it to be too expensive, then I suggest you read my buying guide here.
Featured Telescopes in the Celestron Range
The Celestron NexStar SE Series is perhaps the most popular, and my personal favorite, series of telescopes that have become available over the last few years.
Starting with the 4-inch, they also provide a 5-inch, 6-inch, and 8-inch variant for this trusted telescope design (the inches refer to the Aperture of the model). As such, it is a multi-purpose telescope that was built for a range of users in mind.
Now depending on your experience level and preferences, the NexStar 4SE is at the cheaper end of the price range, whereas the the largest aperture NexStar 8SE is about double the price but affords you double the Aperture.
Each telescope in the series is easy transported and portable – even the 8-inch model can be taken with you on the go without much difficulty.
A Closer Look at the Celestron NexStar 8SE
The Celestron 8SE is premium option in the NexStar series, but even then, it is considerably more affordable than other telescopes with this kind of specification tend to be.
There are several factors that contribute to the popularity of the 8SE. As previously mentioned it is particularly portable, especially when you consider its larger size. This is unlike many telescopes of 8″ Aperture which tend to be rather immobile and better suited to fixed locations (such as your home). The NexStar scopes are easy to set up and get started with; which makes a welcome change to any typical Dobsonian telescope.
The NexStars, including the 8SE, are of the Schmidt Cassegrain design, which comes with a lot of benefits for us astronomers – particularly as we gain experience.
The 8″ Aperture provides excellent magnification in unison with image quality which makes it an ideal choice if you want to observe planets, galaxies and DSO (Deep Space Objects).
You can also benefit from the Celestron SkyAlign technology; which enables you to quickly and easily identify thousands of objects in the sky. Being computerized, it can automatically point to thousands of objects selected from its vast database (that is improving and being updated all the time.) This makes it an excellent choice for beginners, or intermediate/advanced astronomers who want to expand their observations.
In terms of downsides, you can expect a little bit of noise (due to the computerized mechanisms) and some astronomers report that automatically finding stars, planets and objects takes some of the fun away (ultimately it is down to preference).
Final Words and Verdict
What is best, Meade or Celestron?
In summary, Meade and Celestron are both reputable brands that you should consider when looking to purchase a telescope. They have hundreds if not thousands of positive reviews on Amazon across their telescope range respectively.
There is not much difference when you compare the two brands which is not surprising considering they are both owned by the same company, Synta.
So whichever brand you decide you’ll be making a good choice.
If you are interested in either the LX90 or the NexStar 8SE having read this article, then the NexStar 8SE is the better, more affordable choice.