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Skywatcher, orion, celestron, Meade-general reviews

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So I have been an amateur astronomer since last few years and now I see that so many people have asking me about general telescope suggestions. (Guess the next step will be helping to set up small observatories...Ah dreams!)

We don't have many telescope brands available. The major brands that are available here are Meade, orion, celestron and skywatcher.

The confusion starts to rise when the other party is interested in little larger scopes like 8 inch sct or 12 inch reflector with eq mount or dobsonian mount.

Would like to know overall experience that you guys have had with these brands like optical tubes, mount, eyepiece etc. Sort of like "this is good, this is not so good" type.


For e.g. I have used celestron 6 inch sct, 12 inch (sort of) sct and 102mm short tube refractor. Although I love their optics, I haven't had good experience with their mounts.

Meade : Used their 8 inch sct with fork mount (and liked it). Used their 90 mm refractor and didn't like it much.

Skywatcher has given balanced performance overall. Decent mount, decent optics, decent supplied eyepiece etc.

Also, on the same topic, I am quite confused with how much importance does having a good telescope dealer has. As in we do have many dealers here, but many times I have experienced things like overpriced scopes, no decent guidance etc. If I suggest just one dealer with whom I hadam good experience then it looks like biased opinion.

Edited by Rhushikesh-Canisminor

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Difficult to say as there is moe then one aspect.

For Newtonians I suspect there is little difference, differences being the added items like focusers, single speed, two speed. Mirrors are going to be simialr as they are all mass produced. Likely not the same place but could be the same machinery used.

Optically I would expect Skywatcher, Orion to be the same as the Skywatcher items are the base product for Orion.

As you mention the 90mm refractor I expect them to all come from the same source with a different name on the side.

SCT/Mak/goto is going to be a lot on electronics. Skywatcher seem to be poor on this. Orion ones I hear less problems about and Meade are kind of quiet. Celestron now owned by Syntat (=Skywatcher) seem to be gewtting a bit worse then they used to be.

There is a lot of historical reports, the common one that Meades stripped gears, the early ones did - I bought one - and I recall that Celestrons also did the same at the same time. For some reason the reports stuck to Meades. I think I bought the Meade over the Celestron as it seemed better on the gear stripping aspect. Another aspect is people will say how poor Meades are but every club I have visited has used a large Meade not a large Skywatcher or Celestron. If so bad why?

Meades may be a bit better electronically, I have a small ETX, takes 9v. But the Weasner site pointed out that Meade said it was the same as the 12v scopes so was fine at 12v, it runs happily on 12v. I suspect you would have a dead Skywatcher if you gave it 15v and not 12v. Long time ago the ETX got way over voltage. It screamed and displayed an over voltage message. I think it was up at 15v or 16v. It was fine afterwards.

I have managed to give my 9v ETX reverse polarity at 12v, nothing on the display but after I changed the leads I was surprised to find it still worked. So early Meades had better protection. Cannot say for the new ones but seems little point is changing.

There is likely more features on a Skywatcher, Meade never went for adding on a great deal of stuff. But I find Meades are easier to align. The start is simpler, they also made a sensible decision on the alignment stars available. Not as many but generally only obvious ones. Synta/Skywatcher have some strange ones.

If I recall Meade have reissued the ETX 125, they have the ETX 80, maybe the ETX 90 also. One thing I have heard about the 125 is that the OTA is removable, meaning you can remove it and possibly swap to say a 72mm refractor. I need to find out about this as it is interesting.

Also think that Meades are configurable for Alt/Az use or Eq use, the Skywatcher seem not to be but I think the Celestrons are - they were not for a spell (one firmware upgrade where it was removed) but it was reinstated. That is a maybe however.

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Celestron and Skywatcher and many Orion products are manufactured by Synta so their quality is comparable although each model has it's quirks. Meade equipment is of generally similar quality although again each model has it's good and not so good points.

It's difficult to generalise really without a specific model being specified.

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What you will find is that 'bundled packages' (scope, mount, eyepieces) at the lower price brackets for all of the manufacturers you have listed will normally result in a good telescope, poor (wobbly) mount and 'useable' eyepieces.  So ok for the beginner, but the mount is usually the problem.

When looking at the higher price brackets, you can get a good telescope, good mount  - but again bundled with 'ok' eyepieces.

Many more experienced observers will buy everything separately.  Not unusual to see a Skywatcher mount, with a Celestron Schmitt Cassegrain telescope (SCT) being used with Televue eyepieces.    We can mix and match to get the best for our personal requirements.  I currently use a Skywatcher mount with a Celestron newtonian for deep sky and then change for a Russian refractor on the same mount for observing the moon.  I use Celestron XCel eyepieces which are not Televiews, but they are much better than the bundled eyepieces.

Generally speaking, I think all manufacturers mentioned are very good.

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SkyWatcher and Celestron generally offer very good quality. Orion usually offer the same as SkyWatcher but at inflated prices. My own opinion about Meade is that their mounts are often poorly designed and use cheap components. When Meade gets involved with a product, the product quality suffers! 

Stick with Skywatcher/Synta or Celestron and you'll not go far wrong.

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