Home Comparisons Orion vs. Celestron – Who has the best telescopes?

Orion vs. Celestron – Who has the best telescopes?

by Rizka Amir

If you have had the pleasure of looking through the lens of a telescope and got to see the mind-blowing celestial events in the night sky, you must be appreciative of these impressive devices. You must also understand the headache involved in selection of the best telescope. With brands and their incessant marketing, we know it is a little frustrating.

Being two of the dominant brands in the market for telescopes and binoculars, Orion and Celestron are renowned and well-loved. The other thing they have in common is their manufacturing company which is Synta, a Taiwanese heavy-weight in the creation of varied optics. This makes comparing the two a lot harder.

Either way, allow us to take a peak at what’s possible with these two.

What are the differences between Orion and Celestron?

Niche telescopes
Categorized by design
Variation of prices
High end prices
Top 3 distributor
Top 3 distributor
Physical and virtual service centers
Distributors across select continents

Orion Vs. Celestron – A look at how they differ


Orion is a niche product mass retailer of company branded optic devices. There is almost no angle that this company has left out. From Dobsonians, Newtonian, Maksutov-Cassegrain’s, or Schmidt-Cassegrain’s Orion has covered them all. Other than telescopes, the brand sports binoculars, microscopes, relevant accessories and mounts & tripods. What’s more impressive is the product description, simplicity and volume of detail available for each and every different product.

Orion prospered under the primary sale of self-made telescopes and binoculars. Regardless of the fact that Synta Technologies is now their manufacturer, Orion makes the specifications on material, build and design on their own and other branded products sold in their store. As long as you buy from authorized dealers, quality is guaranteed here. In terms of variety, whether you are a doctor, scientist, astrologist or just a curious little kid with great interest, Orion has got you covered.

Celestron tries to match up to most of Orion’s vast production line and they do come close but they are not there yet. They have stocked up on binoculars, telescopes, microscopes and a myriad of other accessories but they are not as niche-targeted as the Orion brand. Their much more general approach to product ranges limits a first-timer who is more often than not a little shy to ask questions.

We also find that their product description is a little too vague and technical for interested amateurs and beginners. The type and tone of language they use is more intimidating than welcoming. A visit to their website leaves a novice feeling inadequate and apprehensive. They probably target an intermediate to expert customer segment. Although they have products that they market as for beginners, I wouldn’t be quick to point them in Celestron’s direction.


Orion has been consistently seen to be a reliable and formidable telescope brand. Currently they rank among the top three telescope manufacturers featuring Celestron and Meade. Orion are best known for their Ritchey-Chretien models whose performance merits their ranking. One of Orion’s most powerful creation to date is a Ritchey-Chretien 12” Truss Tube that is a reflector astrograph that captures breathtaking flat and coma-free images of the deep-space universe. Foregoing the lens on this masterpiece, Orion uses a primary and secondary mirror to produce sheer perfect imagery. This is the perfect gift for those committed to pursuing astrophotography as more than just a hobby.

In terms of mounts and tripods, Orion has designed options in both the altazimuth and equatorial type mounts that operate on computerized systems. In application of GoTo systems, their mounts can find and track a target object helping to keep the object within viewers (FOV) field of view. This is important to enable for longer observations because objects tend to drift quite fast across the FOV. Enriching further the telescope experience, they have computerized scopes that use the SynScan Pro App and Apple or Android phones for hands-free control.

Celestron is the pioneer of the Schmidt-Cassegrain models which they did back in 1970 with the introduction of their C8. Their models stood out due to the innovative master block that would work as a corrector plate allowing for a vacuum to reflect off the curved mold. Celestron’s tubes are easy to spot with their eye-catching orange glossy finishes and their equatorial mounts which are single or double-forked.

They too have invested heavily in computerized systems and they have Sky Portal App that enables a user to connect their Apple or Android phone to have control over the telescope electronically. Celestron are well known for their NexRemote hand controller which has also greatly improved observers experience with these smart telescopes. Just like Orion which uses the StarSeeker software that is rich with planetary details of celestial objects and events, Celestron employs the Starry Nights software.

It’s interesting to note that much recently in 2005, Orion now spots Celestron branded optics in their catalogue. This is after an agreement between the two mega brands for Orion to sell Celestrons Schmidt-Cassegrain models on condition that their orange gloss would be substituted for a metallic gray, have “Orion” branded on them and be sold together with German-made Orion EQ mounts and eyepieces.

Orion – Overview

Founded by Tim Geisler in his basement back in 1975, Orion rose to fame with its main products, telescopes and binoculars. At the time, they made and sold their self-manufactured products. In 1997, Imaginova, a U.S. conglomerate made the move to buy Orion. Lou Dobbs, Imaginova’s CEO opened up the company to sell products that were not of their brand. Orion is now, since 2017, a fully employee-owned business selling optic devices and accessories that are company branded.

They operate out of California where they have two store outlets. They have outsourced much of their manufacturing processes to companies in Syria and Taiwan but are very involved in the entire process.

Orion XT8

XT8 Dobsonian has a 203mm diameter parabolic primary mirror that collects a great amount of photons. This way, your ability to see the nebulas dust lanes, hash-out the bright clusters and the much fainter structures on galaxies is greatly increased. The XT8 mirror gives sharp and true views with low to high magnifications. That’s accurate for good nights with clear conditions.

The included 1.25-inch 25mm Plossl eyepiece gives a 48x magnification with the XT8 Dobsonian telescope. It gives a wide 52-degree field of view, this Plossl eyepiece provides really crisp images of great contrast. Expanding the variations of magnification can be done by buying additional wide-angle eyepieces of 1.25-inch or 2-inch focal lengths. These are sold separately.

Orion StarSeeker IV

A Maksotuv-Cassegrain boasting a 102mm aperture and a 1300mm focal length which gives a f/12.7 focal ratio giving us crisp images of the moon, planets and other deep-sky objects. It has an altazimuth GoTo seeker mount that allows you to point in the sky and direct the telescope to find and track that object. Using the SynScan Pro App you can control the scope hands-free through the use of your wi-fi activated phone. The mount has an option for hotspot so if you are out of service it will still connect to your Wi-Fi. You can also control the telescope with a SynScan hand controller with a database of 40,00 objects that you simply select to have the scope direct you to it.

They come with two eyepieces a 10mm and a 23mm and it has an EZ finder II finderscope for easy alignment procedures. It also has a 90-degree diagonal mirror for more eye-relief.

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12’ Ritchey-Chretien Astrograph

A 304mm aperture housed in a carbon fiber, thermally stable truss tube, this telescope gives us a focal ratio of f/8 and with the use of hyperbolic primary and secondary mirrors, we are guaranteed coma-free flat images. The lack of lenses in design decreases the chromatic aberration associated with lensed telescopes resulting in fake colors. The low-quartz glass used in the manufacture of both mirrors plus the aluminum coating on them proves for 96 percent reflectivity.

The thermally stable truss tube minimizes the effects of ambient temperatures changes that affect the telescopes focus also being an open tube helps the optics cool down quicker than those of a closed-up tube. Keeping the optimal elements parallel to each other is crucial for focus and this is effectively done by the placement of truss tubes at opposing sides of the plane pivot of declination. Scope is powered by eight AA batteries that should be bought and slotted into the provided battery pack. For longer and uninterrupted observations, it is wise to consider an external power source such as an AC/DC adapter.

Celestron – Overview

In 1955, Tim Johnson founded Valor Electronics after he successfully made a 6” reflector telescope for his sons. Later in 1964, Tim introduced Celstron Pacific which made the 4 to22-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain at high volumes and at much lower costs incentivizing the amateur astronomers. He went on to sell Celestron in 1980 which was bought by Tasco in 1997 and was almost wiped out by financial woes. Until 20015 when it was acquired by Synta Technologies, its 15-year long optics supplier, it was state-owned.

NexStar 4SE

The NexStar 4SE has a 102mm aperture and 1325mm focal length giving it a focal ratio of f/13. It is a GoTo technology enabled telescope which means it can be controlled by a computer connected to the provided NexRemote or hand control. Among Celestron’s NexStar series, it is the smallest and this makes for easy storage and transportation. With a computerized database filled with over 40,000 astral objects, searching and tracking is a breeze and add to the ease of the set-up which requires no extra tools. Celestron provides the user with a 25mm eyepiece with a magnification of x53, a Star Pointer Finderscope, fork arm mount, a flip mirror, a photographic port and an altazimuth base all resting on aluminum tripod stands with rubber grips for maximum stability.

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AstroMaster 114 EQ

With a 114-inch lens and a 1000mm focal length, this telescope provides a focal ratio of f/8.8 mounted on an equatorial German mount fitted with settings balls for fine tuning your focus on a target object. At 4.49 inches, the aperture gives enough light to allow for moon craters clear and detailed views. Setting up is easy to do with no need for use of any extra tools. 10mm and 20mm eyepieces are provide and come fully coated to reduce and eliminate chromatic aberrations in viewing. The mount rests on sturdy and adjustable tripod stands that work great on both flat and uneven surfaces guaranteeing great balance in high magnification tracking. It is important to not that you could increase the stands strength and stability by adding rubber bases at its feet. Also, collimation of the 114EQ is done by caps and this could be frustrating for first-timers. It’s a great telescope for intermediary astronomers.

PowerSeeker 70EQ

A perfect refractor telescope for a beginner boasting a 700mm lens and a 70mm aperture which gives a f/10 focal ratio guaranteeing us some clear imagery at a very affordable rate. It stands majestically on an equatorial mount that helps you find and track targeted celestial objects simultaneously turning to the earths revolution and keeping the object within the field of view for longer observation. It has a rod that you can use to manually point and direct the scope in objects direction and a knob with which to screw the scope in place once the focus is achieved. The 70EQ comes with two eyepieces of 20mm and 4mm, right angle image corrector, Finderscope and a 3x Barlow that triples their magnification.

Now let’s compare these two Orion and Celestron brand models.

Orion StarSeeker IV
NexStar 4SE
Focal length
Focal ratio
Low Magnification
Max. Magnification
User Level
SynScan Pro App
Starry Night Software


Both Celestron and Orion have impressive telescopes that come in a variety of designs, builds and color combinations. In terms of performance and productivity they seem to be going toe-to-toe and a decision to buy a model from either brand rests solely on personal preference. Whatever level of specialization you have achieved in your astronomy pursuits, you will be sure to find one that fits your exact specifications among these two’s catalogues. Happy shopping and clear skies.



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