It’s a loaded question: does Meade or Celestron make the best telescopes? Both companies are well-established, both make exceptional telescopes, and both come with their own set of pros and cons. So how do you choose between them? We’ve created this handy guide to help you get a feel for the market between these two top brands, to take away the guesswork, and help you pick the best model for your astronomy needs.
The Meade Instruments Corporation has been in business since 1972, when it began by selling reflector telescopes via mail order. Since then they’ve established themselves as a cornerstone in the market of reflectors, refractors, and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, and are famous for their creation of Advanced Coma-Free optics.
The Meade Company’s website boasts an impressive array of options from devices for the beginner to the most advanced astronomer. You can find various telescope models, lenses, computerization, and imaging devices all in one place. You can also sort the devices by activity, such as astronomy, hunting, birding, etc. Their prices have a wide range, but they tend to offer most of their models in the affordable home-use range of $300 to $1000. They also offer a one-year warranty on all their products.
Meade’s StarNavigator series runs around $300 to $400 and offers a wide range of models from refractors to Maksutovs. They provide versatile specs, tripods and mounts, and computer controllers.
The LX model series may set you back a few thousand, but they boast an impressive apochromatic reflector telescope with StarLock target acquisition technology and precision focusing.
On the upper end of price and technology, Meade offers some fine models over $10,000. Their robotic capacity, Ultra-High Transmission Coatings, and Crayford focuser make them cutting edge in the telescope industry.
What began as Valor Electronics in the late 1950’s grew over the decades to become one of the top telescope makers in the world. Their famous C8 SCT model in the 1970’s cemented them as a popular creator of devices with affordable price tags for home viewing. Their products would eventually go on to spearhead the field of astrophotography and would even be used by NASA.
While the Celestron website does not offer the same convenient search menus as Meade, they still offer an impressive array of models and options across the gamut of optics devices. While their prices vary greatly, Celestron is known for their affordability and for catering to home users as well as professionals. While Meade offers a 1-year warranty on their products, Celestron tops it with a 2-year warranty and a lifetime limited warranty.
You can’t go wrong with the PowerSeeker series, which offers multiple models below $200. They include a mount, tripod, extra lenses, and the excellent Starry Night software.
The NexStar computerized telescope series comes with Celestron’s automated GoTo and SkyAlign technology for automatic object location. They also come equipped with a durable tripod and mount.
At the upper end of Celestron’s impressive lineup are the CGX models. They come equipped with a fully computerized equatorial mount, StarBright XLT coatings, stainless steel tripod, and StarSense technology.
It’s difficult to compare two top manufacturers like Meade and Celestron. Meade has a streamlined website and an impressive array, but Celestron’s models are consistently top-rated, durable, and easy to use. Their 2-year warranty clearly wins the day against Meade’s 1-year warranty, and Celestron’s lower overall price points and reputation for affordability make it rank just a bit higher on the scale. While buying a telescope from either company will provide you with a great telescope, Celestron wins this comparison for best bang for the buck. Good luck finding the right telescope. We hope this guide will help you decide which is best for you.
We recently compared Orion against Celestron telescopes. You can find our article here.
Header image credit: AlejandroLinaresGarcia, Wikimedia
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