Whenever people are searching for the best telescopes online, the two most popular names that pop up are Celestron and Orion (among many others, obviously). Since it seems that they share the pedestal, most of us want to know which brand has the upper hand over the other.
And when it comes to amateur astronomy, these are probably the first two brands that many people think about when looking to buy their first telescope. We’re going to look at both of them so you start gazing up and the night as soon as possible.
Celestron vs Orion
In short words, the differences between these brands are relatively minor due to the fact that they are supplied and even owned by a singular entity called Synta. Since this company dismantled last year, the brands ‘branched out’ and have been on a steady path of reinforcing their uniqueness. Without any further ado, let’s see which brand is better and why.
Many of the telescopes you find at each brand will have very similar models at the other. For example, the Celestron 127EQ is very similar to the Orion Starblast 4.5. Though they’re not exactly the same, both brands have filled out the budget market quite successfully with a range of refractor and reflector telescopes.
So whatever Celestron telescope you may find, there’s usually an Orion equivalent with a similar focal length. Let’s run through both brands to see where their strengths lie.
Celestron is an American company that specializes in the distribution of various optical instruments, including spotting scopes, binoculars, telescopes, as well as microscopes and numerous accessories. As mentioned earlier, the manufacturing process was handled by Synta TC.
This brand exists for over half a decade as it was founded in 1964. With that many years of experience under its belt, it’s pretty obvious that Celestron is doing something right. The gear they’re selling is state-of-the-art, and they’re most famous for NexStar (the 8SE gets my vote for the best telescope), AstroMaster, TravelScope, PowerSeeker, CPC, and Ambassador Telescopes.
What they offer
Celestron’s catalog of astronomy telescopes is absolutely huge; additionally, they offer a premium selection of optical tubes, mounts, tripods, astronomy binoculars, solar films, astroimaging cameras, and various accessories.
However, what’s best about their menu is that you can easily find whatever you are looking for by simply filling in the criteria that interest you. You can choose the aperture diameter (ranging from mere 2 inches up to 11), sort the models by the type of mount they come supplied with, cherry-pick through both popular and obscure optical designs, or simply browse their most popular series.
Choosing top telescope models from a brand that already has plenty to offer was pretty hard, but we’ve still managed to narrow down the selection to the top five. Flagship models that are Celestron’s pride and joy are;
- Ambassador 80 AZ Brass Telescope – this is a classy-looking telescope packed with full-brass hardware and a rugged alt-azimuth mount. Its optics is great and it rocks an accessory tray for further customization.
- Astro Master 114 EQ – Astro Master Series is famous for custom equatorial mount and fully adjustable tripods made of steel. The 114 EQ also rocks three eyepieces and Celestron’s Starry Night software database containing tens of thousands of celestial objects and sky maps.
- Cometron First Scope – ideal for a beginner, the First Scope packs outstanding focal ratio, lightweight construction and a remarkably simple design that is incredibly easy to operate. Though it does come supplied with relatively basic features, its performance is superb.
- Star Sense Explorer DX 130AZ – unlike Cometron models, Star Sense Explorer 130AZ is the go-to telescope of many professional astrologists, including numerous scientists from the famous NASA. Unprecedented performance and bleeding-edge features are the reasons why it’s so popular.
- Power Seeker 80 AZS – this is an all-rounder, suitable for almost any kind of situation and astrophotographers at all skill levels. Its optics is almost unparalleled, and it comes with three different eyepieces.
Orion was founded in 1975 by Tim Gieseler in California; just like Celestron, it’s a branch of Synta Company and distributes premium telescopes and top-quality binoculars for astrology and astronomy. Their catalog is vast and versatile, including models for beginners, skilled, and professional astrophotographers and astrologists.
What they offer
Most of Orion flagship models are advertised as ‘amateur’ and ‘beginner’, although that’s not necessarily true. For instance, their SkyQuest XT6 and XT8s are entry-level telescopes that are very easy to operate, which makes them an ideal choice for astronomers-in-the-making, but powerhouse models such as SkyQuestXX14G or the Sirius ED80 are absolutely phenomenal for experienced astronomers and astrophotographers.
They also offer a huge variety of custom Cassegrain telescopes in the StarMax and Apex series that are generally well-rounded and suited for pretty much everyone and anyone.
Even though Orion’s selection of telescopes is absolutely massive, it wasn’t so hard to pluck out the best-selling models from relatively unpopular ones. The following telescopes can be considered as Orion’s flagship models:
- Orion SkyQuest XX14i – a huge Dobsonian telescope with tremendous optics and pre-installed software that includes a database of 14,000+ celestial bodies. It’s quite expensive, but it’s a must if you’re a pro.
- Orion SkyQuest XX16g – if you want to explore every little bit of our solar system, the XX14i will suffice. However, if you want to go beyond, we recommend XX16g. It sports improved aperture, mirrors, and portability, but comes with a hefty price tag.
- Star Blast 6 Moon Kit – the best reflector in Orion’s catalog is a beginner’s model. Even so, it’s great for the buck, even though it’s highly affordable already.
- Sirius ED80 EQ-G – Sirius ED80 EQ-G is a computerized refractor that is leagues above Star Blast telescopes and other ED80 models. It sports a superiorly durable mount, it’s very easy to install, and it packs the exquisite ED glass feature that allows you to observe deep space with almost unparalleled quality.
- Ritchey-Chretien Astrograph Telescope – this is an oddball pick since we’re talking about flagships, but it actually holds huge value for the money. Orion’s 10-inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope sports unparalleled FL ratio, coma-free optics, and exceptional imaging performance. It’s pretty expensive for a Cassegrain telescope, but it’s undoubtedly one of their best models.
At the end of the day, both Orion and Celestron stemmed from the same mother company that supplies them with every little bit of gear they are distributing. In that regard, the question of which brand is best can be reformulated to ‘which brand receives better telescopes and accessories?’
Oddly enough, it seems that Celestron’s catalog is just slightly more versatile and budget-friendly than Orion’s. Even so, we can safely conclude that both brands offer top-shelf telescopes and cameras, so they’re both worth checking out.