Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Celestron 60mm PowerSeeker Telescope Review

I recently moved houses, from a house with a view of a dead end street and lots of trees, to a house overlooking the beautiful Lake Washington, boats, hot air ballons, stores, float planes, and at night, neon signs. Me and my dad often spend the late part of the day outside on the deck, looking across the water, and recently, he said he was wondering what the large red neon sign across the lake said. Being miles away, it wasn't readable to the naked eye; it just appeared as a bright red blur. This got me thinking; could I purchase a telescope to use for terrestrial (land) viewing, rather than just the sky? Would it allow me to see that far away (2+ miles)? After getting an Amazon gift card, I had some extra money to spend, so I purchased the Celestron 21041 60mm PowerSeeker Telescope from Amazon and got to try it out today.

Celestron telescope's official web page with specifications (lenses, zoom, etc.): click here
Amazon page: click here

Click on any image below (in any section) to see larger versions



Here are some pictures of the packaging, parts, and set up.
This was the box the actual telescope box was shipped in The box the telescope was actually in The box the telescope was actually in All the lenses, 3X barlow, and various parts and instructions laid out The end without the targeting scope or diagonal attached An interesting way to get a picture of the view from the telescope Celestron 21041 Fully Assembled

Now for the terrestrial viewing tests. Keep in mind that I was using a sub-par digital camera, without a telescope adapter, so any blur in the pictures is most likely from the camera and my poor setup - not the telescope. In actuality, I was extremely impressed by the quality of optics in the telescope - they were so clear I could read the prices on a gas station sign OVER 2 miles away! Don't take my word for it though - check out the examples below!
 
All pictures taken through the telescope were taken with the 20mm eyepiece (35x) and NO barlow lens! This means I was using the lowest magnification available, which makes my results even more stunning!

Click on any image below (in any section) to see larger versions


Example 1: Neon Sign 2.2 Miles Away (taken at 8:20 PM)

Neon sign 2.2 miles away (without telescope)
Neon sign 2.2 miles away (without telescope)
Neon sign 2.2 miles away in finder scope
Neon sign 2.2 miles away in finder scope
Neon sign 2.2 miles away (with telescope)
Neon sign 2.2 miles away (with telescope)
Neon sign 2.2 miles away (with telescope)
Neon sign 2.2 miles away (with telescope)

Wow! For a cheap $50 telescope, these results seem pretty amazing to me! Not to mention, the actual results were much better than how they look on this page - the digital camera was hard to position over the eyepiece and as a result the digital images ended up less clear than they actually were.


Example 2: Water tower 2.1 miles away (taken during daylight)

Water tower 2.1 miles away (without telescope)
Water tower 2.1 miles away (without telescope)
Water tower 2.1 miles away with telescope
Water tower 2.1 miles away with telescope




















This was actually the first picture I tried to take with the Celestron 21041 60mm PowerSeeker Telescope, even though I listed it second here, so the results were not as good as my later tries. Even though the letter may appear blurry in the above picture, rest assured that in person I could read every letter clearly, as though the water tower was right in my front yard.


Example 3: Powerline about a block or so away (daylight)

Powerline blocks away through finder scope

Power line a few blocks away (without telescope)
Power line a few blocks away (without telescope)

Power line a few blocks away with telescope
Power line a few blocks away with telescope
WOW! So not only does this telescope work great looking at tiny details miles and miles away, but it also is great for focusing on objects close to the viewer! Needless to say, I was very impressed. Without even squinting, I was able to very clearly read the numbering on the pole and even get a good picture with the digital camera, even though I don't own a telescope digital camera adapter.


Other Stuff:

I noticed a TON of crows on a roof across the lake (somewhere around 2 miles away)

I can read gas prices from the Safeway gas station 2.2 miles away! Now no one can stop me from making bad jokes about the high price of fuel!



What about sky viewing?

Well, to be frank, I bought this telescope (Celestron 21041 60mm PowerSeeker Telescope) mostly for terrestrial viewing, and plan to barely every use it to look at stars and the moon. I did try looking at some stars last night, but I had some trouble and wasn't really in the mood to deal with anything complicated. The main issue is that to see far away objects, you have to use the barlow and the higher powered lens, but doing so makes the image dimmer and smaller to see. In addition, when you are looking at something with near 100x or higher magnification, the slightest touch, even the wind, can make the telescope shake a little, moving the object you are observing completely outside the view of the telescope. My suggestion; if you are planning on using this telescope for sky viewing, you must have a lot of patience, very little polluting light, and good vision. Otherwise, I would suggest spending extra and getting a really good scope. That being said, if you are at all interested in terrestrial viewing, this scope is EXCELLENT and a steal at the current price.


Other options

If you are interested in other ways to view far away objects, don't forget about binoculars and spotting scopes. In fact, as I have not tried them, I have some suspicion that some of them might be better suited than this telescope. Primarily, I feel they would be better because this telescope goes from a 35x magnification lens to a 175x magnification lens, not offering much room in between for objects that are much further than a few miles away, but a lot closer than the moon. Binoculars and spotting scopes on the other hand usually offer a magnification range, with a dial you can use to fine tune your magnification, usually between 20x and 60x. Also, since both binoculars and spotting scopes are designed for terrestrial viewing, you don't have to worry about whether or not they are refractors or if they have diagonals (to make the picture right side up), but they tend to be less powerful for more money, so be careful what brand and model you buy. To see around 2 miles, you probably want something in the 30x and up magnification range, so keep that in mind too. Lastly, in optics, bigger pretty much always means better. The bigger the objective lens, the more light comes in, the clearer and more defined your view is going to be. On scopes and binos, the naming method is usually "zoom range x objective", so a binocular might say "20-60x60", which means it has a zoom magnification range of 20-60x and an objective lens of 60mm.

If you want to see a list I created of some of the best-rated spotting scopes, low-priced telescopes, and binoculars, check out this Amazon wish list. However, I would really recommend searching some more for yourself, so you can find the product that will best fit your needs.

I hope you enjoyed this post (it was a long one)! As always, if you have comments or questions, feel free to comment below, or send an email to: joshblogs.com@gmail.com. Thanks again for checking this page out!

3 comments:

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  2. I happened to come across this looking for reviews for a completely different telescope and enjoyed reading it. It may be a bit late, but I did have some comments regarding using the telescope at night versus during the day.

    During the day it seems obvious that you should use maximum magnification in order to get the best view of what you're looking at. At night this only applies to the moon and planets, though. For looking at most deep space objects (stars, star clusters, nebulae, other galaxies) you actually want to use *low* power rather than high power.

    The reason is that one of the main benefits of using a telescope to look at the night sky is that it concentrates light and allows you to see objects that are too dim to see otherwise. You've no doubt noticed during the day that the image is darker at high power than it is at low power; the same is true at night. At low power you'll be able to see fainter stars and the fainter fringes of nebulae and galaxies. When you "zoom in" the brighter core of the object might look bigger but you stop being able to see the dimmer edges. On the other hand, using more magnification darkens the background and can make dimmer things easier to see so sometimes there's a fine balancing act to find the optimum magnification for whatever you're looking at.

    Oh, and your telescope is perfectly capable of showing you many dozens of star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies, but you need to be as far from light pollution as you can get and you need to know where to look. There are several sky map / star chart free apps for phones but a book like Turn Left at Orion or Nightwatch is a lot more helpful for finding interesting things to look at.

    Lots of experts look down on 60mm scopes like yours but I use my 60mm scope just as much as I use my 130mm scope. You can see a lot with them if you try and it's hard to beat the convenience and portability.

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