The history of the Celestron brand actually goes all the way back to 1955, to the days when Valor Electronics was founded by Tom Johnson. In fact what Valor did back then was produce electronic components for the US military, which it continued to do for several years after starting to manufacture their range of telescopes. What actually got Valor Electronics involved in the manufacturing of telescopes was when Tom Johnson built a 6-inch reflector telescope for his two sons. This gift to his kids spawned the astro-optical division of Valor, which then became Celestron in and around 1964.
What made Celestron telescopes almost instantly popular with amateur astronomers is that you could now get a high-quality, catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain) telescope without having to spend a fortune, which made amateur astronomy more accessible to the masses. This was all due to Tom Johnson finding a way to keep the quality of the optics high, but keeping the cost down at the same time. The first fully fledged Celestron telescope was the C8 8-inch catadioptric scope which was produced in 1970, and it was this one telescope which allowed Celestron to become a household name in astronomy almost overnight.
Tom Johnson sold Celestron Telescopes in 1980 and after a few years of confusion the company is now owned by Synta Technology Corporation of Taiwan, but are still based in Torrance, California.
The innovators behind Celestron have ensured that the company never got stereotyped as just being the manufacturer of one particular type of telescope, so they were always looking for new ways to impress their customers and market their products to new niches within the astronomy community. So you can expect to find refractor, reflector and catadioptric telescopes proudly carrying the Celestron brand name, in addition to their range of computerized telescopes using GoTo technology. In fact lots of Celestron telescopes are designed to be compatible with the GoTo technology even if they don’t feature a motor in the first place. What this means is even if you buy a non-computerized Celestron scope in many cases you can actually upgrade it later on to feature the GoTo technology and hook it up to a computer via an RS232 cable and port.
You don’t just need to take our word for it when it comes to the quality of Celestron telescopes because they’ve won numerous awards from Reader’s Digest, PC Magazine, Popular Science and several other major publications. It’s this award-winning range of products which has seen these telescopes sell to customers right around the world from the hand-picked Celestron distributors and a number of highly-specialized retail outlets.
Here are some of the more popular Celestron telescopes on the market today:
This 8-inch computerized Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope features the SkyAlign technology which helps make the chore of polar alignment a thing of the past. The handheld computer controller also makes looking at whatever celestial body you choose as easy as just pushing a few buttons, all from the included database of over 40,000 different objects. It also comes in a bright orange finish which is a nice change form the typical gloss-black finish most telescopes come in.
Another of the Celestron telescopes in the NexStar range means that you’re getting most of the technology and features found in telescopes like the NexStar 8 SE but at a fraction of the price. The 5-inch mirror in this Newtonian telescope has more than enough light grasp for amateur astronomers, so unless you’re really fussy you should find this telescope more than up to the amateur astronomy jobs in you have in mind. It also features the SkyAlign system and at just 10 lbs it’s much lighter than some of its larger cousins.
This is another of the catadioptric telescopes in the Celestron range and features a 6-inch aperture, created by a mixture of lenses and curved mirrors. The major benefits of the catadioptric design and aperture size of the NexStar 6 SE is that it’s far lighter and far more portable than larger reflectors or refractors. The computerized alignment system is very easy to use, can be upgraded online and contains a huge database of celestial objects for you to stare up at each night.
In A Nutshell
Celestron are one of the leading manufacturers of telescopes in the world and obviously having a heritage going back to the 1950s helps. It’s not just about age though because the guys at Celestron are always looking for new ways to innovate and, in turn, keep their customers both loyal and happy.