I had bought and returned a Meade StarNavigator102 before I bought this scope. The Meade was damaged in shipment, and we would have never looked at this scope if the Meade had not been damaged through lack of overpacking by the vendor.
However, now that I have seen both scopes, do yourself a favor, and don't bother with the Meade. I had thought Meade optics were the best....the other night, being able to see Jupiter with the 4mm Celestron eyepiece with 4 of its moons made me reconsider who has the best optics. Color was perfect, and the view through the eyepiece matched the pic of Jupiter on Stellarium.
I was also very impressed with the ease and repeatability of the GOTO function. Unlike Meade, where you have to know the stars by name, with the Celestron, you just pick out some bright stars, center them, and you are done. You also learn the names of the bright stars after the alignment is done, so it helps you learn the sky.
I was able to GOTO moon, and back to Jupiter with the 4mm eyepiece, and there was very little drift in the eyepiece of Jupiter. No bubble levels or compass is needed as with the Meade product. The Meade product never did align so perhaps that was due to shipping damage too. However, when I google on the web, it seem like there are a lot of other folks who also can't get their Meade GoTo scopes to GoTo with any repeatability or reliability.
The Celestron mount is soooo quiet, you have to question whether is is operating. The Meade mount sounded like a rechargeable flashlight being cranked.
The finderscope is light years better than the Meade. The Celestron finderscope has adjustable red dot intensity via a thumbwheel rather than just a hi/lo switch. Also, the Celestron finderscope is mounted better, and allows for repeatability which was missing in the Meade.
The power cord wrap with the Celestron is an issue, and having a longer cord to the controller would be nice, but, if you keep an eye on it, it is not to much of a hassle.
I am hoping to use it for my next summer weekly sky programs. We did not buy the Celestron 102gt until we waited over 2 months for Meade to replace their scope....it never happened. We had to use our old 60mm push to scope again this summer. In hindsight, we are glad Meade made us wait., and my very good friend: Starman alias Mike S., and his friends recommended Celestron product to us. This scope really rocks.
We ordered the RS232 cable and are looking forward to integrating this scope with Stellarium which is my favorite sky program.
Having gotten started in the hobby when I was 11 and now 47, I've been through the "usual" progression of scopes from the department-store 60-mm useless refractors when I was young, through the range of newts from 4.5 to 8 inches, and finally into a couple of Mak-Cass's and an 8-inch SCT later in life. Due to family responsibilities I sold all of my astronomy stuff and fell out of the hobby for about 10 years. Finding this scope on the shelf at Costco last Christmas for $149.95, I bought it with a credit card assuming I'd find the "achilles heel" that made it such a bargain and return it. Well, aside from the "beginner" eyepieces, the scope is first-rate. There's a lot of metal here! I oogled over the construction of the focuser itself for quite some time! (The knobs are even oversized cast aluminum, inlaid with rubber grips. Very nice.) The red-dot finder is a real red-dot finder, complete with brightness control -- not a cheap knockoff like I've seen on similarly priced beginner scopes. The finder itself is plastic, but it slides into a standard, single-screw metal mount that's actually part of the focuser. I did toss aside the 45-degree erecting prism in favor of a 90-degree correct-image diagonal from Orion. I gave the scope an initial acid-test by splitting a few of my favorite close doubles, which it did well, and then moved on to Jupiter and Saturn. Very nice and contrasty. M42 was stunning on one cold January night with excellent seeing, and M13 didn't fail to impress with some graininess apparent. Maybe it's the blockage of incoming light caused by the secondaries in SCTs and Maks vs. the unblocked path in a refractor, but this scope's 4-inch lens seems to give the same performance as the 6-inch mirror in my old Criterion RV-6 reflector. Combine the grab-and-go capabilities of a simple, robust refractor and the GOTO features of a higher-dollar scope, and this scope would be a bargain at twice what I paid for it. $149 was a steal! My ONLY complaint is that the mount is designed for smaller scopes and is a bit twitchy with this 1000mm focal length beast riding on it -- and the tripod is too short for adults. Celestron, can you add another foot in length and maybe a slightly more robust mount and offer it as an accessory? I'm tired of getting on my knees in the dewy grass to view half the objects in the sky. And the battery pack should be built for D-cells, the way this thing eats up the power -- or at least include an adapter cord as standard equipment. Anyone contemplating purchasing this scope as a lightweight travel scope needs to factor in the purchase of the DC-to-cigarette lighter power cord -- or build one of your own for about half as much using your local Radio Shack. I was a bit surprised to see no "on-off" switch on the mount; the act of plugging in and unplugging the power cable turns the scope on and off respectively. A switch would've been a nice touch. I purchased a Zhumell soft-sided telescope case from telescopes.com and it works well for keeping the scope ready to travel out to my favorite out-of-town state park. Even though I think all beginners should use a "manual" scope at first (or binoculars) and learn the sky before going to a GOTO mount, I can't help but highly recommend this one for beginners. It gives great, rewarding views, it comes with a range of eyepieces that can be upgraded to nicer stuff later, it's of very high quality construction, and most of all, it's a real telescope for not much more than the crap offered in the department stores during the holidays. If you're new, or looking for a way to get back into the hobby for a relatively small outlay, or you're looking for a grab-and-go scope for those nights when the LX-10 Million is just too much to bear, get yourself one of these. You will be impressed! (Posted on 8/29/12)
This refractor telescope is great for both the young and the old. The computerized hand control is very simple to use as well as being effective in its accuracy(e.g. panning left, right, up ,down, and even diagonally). This product is my 3rd Professional telescope, despite me being only 12 years of age. However for a sale of £136.00 from Costco Wholesale, I admire the way Celestron have designed thsi telescope for all ages. A must buy for young but responsible astronomers(like me :) (Posted on 1/4/12)
I got this fantastic telescope for Christmas 2011 from my parents and i love it! It was easy to set up, generally easy to align with the walk through steps, and from my back yard i could see Jupiter clear as day along with at least 6 of its moons. And speaking of moons the view of our own moon was fantastic the details you could see on the lunar surface were incredible! I kept running back inside to get my family to show them every time i got something new into view! I'm also going to buy a moon filter, an AC power adapter for endless power, and the Omni Barlow lens that doubles the magnification of all my 1.25" eyepieces for a better view of our universe!
(Posted on 12/29/11)
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An award-winning legacy brand for over 50 years, Celestron has grown to become the world’s leading telescope maker, and enjoys brand-name recognition among serious amateur astronomers for superior optics, outstanding design, and innovative technology. Celestron also develops a wide range of exciting products and technologies that enhance the science, outdoor and educational markets. At Celestron, we strive to inspire a sense of wonder, knowledge and fun in our customers and throughout our company.