Best Celestron Spotting Scopes – Reviews and Buyers Guide

Spotting scopes are a vital part of the gear of any individual whose profession or hobby requires them to scout out the great outdoors. They let you look farther ahead than a binocular (or even a sniper scope) and provide significantly improved visual fidelity as well.

However, their advanced functionality requires complex internal components, making them prone to damage as well as a bit tricky to handle – and I’m referring to better quality products! In that context, as an apprentice hunter, the fear of ending up with an inferior and overpriced spotting scope kept me from buying one for a long time – and consequently, my hunting capabilities suffered considerably.



Zoom Range

Objective Diameter

Our Ratings

Celestron Trailseeker 65

5.2 lbs


65 mm

rifle scope review of the vortex viper

Celestron UpClose 60

2 lbs


60 mm

Top rifle scope

Celestron Ultima 100

4.5 lbs


100 mm

Top rifle scope

Celestron C90 Mak

5 lbs


90 mm

Top rifle scope

Celestron Hummingbird

1.3 lbs


56 mm

I’ve wised up since then, having done a lot research on long range optics – including these scopes. One spotting scope brand that has consistently stood out with its commitment to quality, reliability, and compatibility with all budget-segments is Celestron.

I’ve put together this guide, and complemented it with Celestron spotting scope reviews, to introduce my fellow outdoorsmen to their offerings, in the hopes that they may find a product that matches their expectations for both budget and performance.

You also might be interested in our top rifle scope comparisons here.

A little history

Originally founded as Valor Electronics, an aerospace electronic component manufacturer, in the late 1950s, Celestron entered the telescope market with the introduction of the C-8 in 1970 – the world’s first high end mass-manufactured portable Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT).

Over the years, the company expanded its product line to C-5, C-7, C-10, C-11, C-14 and so on. The company saw many ownership changes (not all of which were beneficial), but it always managed to come out on top after each dip, even continuing their pioneering trend. For instance, in in 1996, they introduced the Ultima 2000 – the first ever mass-manufactured computer controlled 8 inch SCT.

Alongside their telescopes, Celestron also created several spotting scope product lines geared towards every segment of the market. They introduced the technological innovations used in their telescopes into the spotting scopes as well – such as their recent extra light transmission (XLT) coating, which is responsible for a huge boost in light-transmission for these devices.

Today, besides producing professional and amateur optic devices such as spotting scopes, monoculars, binoculars, microscopes, and telescopes meant for a plethora of applications, Celestron also manufactures mounts, tripods, GPS systems and weather stations. All in all, they’ve garnered a lasting reputation for quality, innovation, and competitive pricing among both terrestrial observers and astronomers.

Standout features of Celestron spotting scopes

Commendable value for the money

As I’ve mentioned above – any halfway decent spotting scope requires a significant cash investment – and even then you may have to compromise on critical features such as low light performance and aperture size, however – the trend with this manufacturer is a bit different:

There are endless consumer reviews which praise even their budget products for providing core performance (i.e. visual clarity, depth of field, FOV) that is on par with what you’d normally expect from much higher priced brands. Some of the budget offerings even contain features such as rotating tripod mounts, changeable eyepieces and sliding sunshades, which you may not even find in every high end scope!

Diverse product line

Whether you’re a casual bird watcher looking for a lightweight, affordable spotting scope, or a professional marksman requiring a high-end long-range scope with uncompromising low-light performance, Celestron products will definitely meet your needs.

Furthermore, even within each spotting scope series, there are models ranging from lightweight, portable 60mm aperture sizes to low-light centric 100mm ones (there’s a significant difference in price between these two limits as well). So there is a good chance you can find a product that is both affordable and high-end, depending on your needs.

Robust construction

The manufacturer recognizes that spotting scopes are meant to be used in trying situations that involve rapid motion, jerks, humidity, and temperature extremes - this is why most of their products are nitrogen filled and waterproof.

If you’re looking for even more protection – certain products feature fully armored builds to provide protection against aggressive handling in the field.

Complementary accessories

Although this doesn’t apply to all Celestron products (particularly the high-end ones), the mainstream and budget friendly offerings often come with useful accessories such as tripod stands, carrying case, eyepiece covers, lens cloths etc. This makes them especially suitable for budget-minded or newbie users who can’t afford to spend cash on aftermarket accessories.

Limited lifetime warranty

The majority (but not all) of these products are covered by a lifetime warranty for defects in workmanship and materials, which is limited to the original owner. Note that this warranty does not extend to damage from misuse, alteration, defects due to normal wear, and so on.

Nonetheless, it is impressive to see sub-$100 spotting scopes being given full coverage – in light of their relatively sensitive nature.

Detailed support pages

As stated before, using a spotting scope requires knowledge and practice – sometimes even pros may come across a query that leaves them confused. Fortunately, Celestron has a jam-packed knowledge base section which will address most queries you may have while using a spotting scope for the first few times.

This knowledge base also contain solutions to certain problems in the context of their products, as well as practical advice on using your scope in various situations; it is quite rare to see a manufacturer showing this kind of concern about their customers.

Top five Celestron Spotting Scope Reviews

Celestron Trailseeker 65 – Straight Spotting Scope

  • Lens Coating: XLT fully multicoated
  • FOV : 136-68
  • Eye relief: 18-15 mm
  • Exit Pupil: 4-1.3 mm

Sporting a rigid construction and an affordable price-tag, the Celestron Trailseeker series’ 65mm straight model is a great fit for DSLR photographers, long-range hunters, and bird watchers who require a robust yet flexible sighting solution.

The Celestron Trailseeker 65 has the manufacturer’s signature XLT fully multicoated optics to enhance light transmission in dim light and at it its highest zoom setting of 48x (in spite of the low 65mm objective). Obviously, some diminishment in visual fidelity is to be expected, given the limited objective size.

Thanks to the dual focus feature – you can quickly reach the desired focus with the coarse knob, and then tune it with the fine knob.

The straight variant of the Trailseeker 65 lets you easily spot and track the subject, and also helps to protect it against rainfall. For enhanced convenience, the scope can be rotated in a full circle while inside its tripod collar. Photographers will be pleased to know that the scope comes with a T-adapter that allows you to affix it to your DSLR for digiscoping.

The standard zoom eyepiece can be switched with 1.25” astronomical eyepieces to get better visual results if necessary. The scope’s tough body is both fog-proof and waterproof, and it comes with a carry case that can be kept on while the scope is in use.

The only snag is that the Trailseeker is a bit bulky because of its tough construction – at around 5.2 lbs., which could prove tiring on longer excursions.

What We Liked

  • Reasonably priced.
  • Decent optic performance at a low price.
  • Compatible with DSLR cameras.
  • Switchable eyepiece to enhance performance.

What We Didn't

  • Some visual degradation at higher zooms.
  • Somewhat heavy for its small objective size.

Celestron UpClose 60 – Tilted Spotting Scope

  • Lens Coating: Fully coated
  • FOV : 130-65
  • Eye relief: 15-11 mm
  • Exit Pupil: 3.0-1.0mm

Budget bound bird watchers and range shooters often have to compromise on core performance when it comes to spotting scopes – but the Celestron UpClose 60 is unique in that it packs solid image resolution and reliable construction, in a sub-$100 package.

The scope has a quoted zoom range of 20-60x, but obviously the limited objective lens diameter, as well as the regular fully coated optics mean that the image starts to get noticeably unclear beyond 50x. Surprisingly, users have reported that it is still possible to read text off distant sign-boards at the 60x setting in spite of the fuzziness!

The tilted variant makes this scope suitable for convenient use whilst laying down – perfect for observers in the wild, as well as snipers on the range. While the scope has a lightweight and sturdy refractor optical design, it does suffer from poor eye relief.

It comes with a soft bag, an aluminum hard case and a tabletop tripod – but you’ll need to ditch the cheap complementary tripod in favor of a proper aftermarket one for serious use. Still, considering the extremely low price-point of this scope, it is impressive that the manufacturer managed to pack in so much.

What We Liked

  • Extremely cheap.
  • Passable optic performance at mid-high zoom.
  • Lightweight, dependable construction.
  • Complementary carry bags and tripod.

What We Didn't

  • Some blurriness at highest zoom setting.
  • Poor eye relief.

Celestron Ultima 100 – Straight Spotting Scope

  • Lens Coating: multi-coated
  • FOV : 94-52
  • Eye relief: 18 mm
  • Exit Pupil: 4.5-1.5 mm

The Ultima 100 is one of the finest offerings in the market when it comes to balancing extra-long-range visual quality with affordable pricing.

Housed in its gracefully ergonomic, if bulky, construction is an optic system utilizing multi-coated lenses and a huge 100mm objective diameter that enable the Ultima to perform reasonably even at magnifications up to 55x. Blurriness creeps in after this point, but you will rarely be stretching farther than this, given the extreme sensitivity to vibrations introduced at these limits.

The Ultima 100 has an acceptable 52ft minimum FOV (at the highest zoom setting), as well as a generous 18mm eye-relief. The exit pupil, too, is higher than expected and should ensure low light performance sufficient enough to spot planets and their moons. The controls of this scope operate satisfactorily as well, as per feedback from users.

Some users may find this scope a bit difficult to manage outside of home / range setups, but if you do take it outdoors, moisture and fog will not be a problem. The scope comes with a soft carry case to protect it from light damage – but be warned, it will not offer protection against major bumps in motion.

Still, it packs the same lifetime warranty as the higher priced offerings from Celestron, which indicates some degree of confidence in the (Chinese) workmanship.

What We Liked

  • Nicely balanced price and long-range optic performance.
  • 100 mm objective diameter provides good light transmission in spite of only multi-coated lenses.
  • Generous exit pupil for a budget scope, allows for basic astronomy.
  • Strong yet ergonomic construction.
  • Complementary carry bag.

What We Didn't

  • Noticeable blurriness at highest magnifications.

Celestron C90 Mak Spotting Scope

  • Lens Coating: multi-coated
  • FOV : 68
  • Eye relief: 20 mm
  • Exit Pupil: 2.3 mm

Featuring the Maksutov-Cassegrain Optical Design, the C90 Mak is a customizable and portable sighting solution for budding astronomers as well as serious bird watchers.

The 32mm eyepiece it ships with offers a fixed magnification of 39x; while this can let you view your subjects at a distance, it doesn’t allow you to get up close and personal. Fortunately, the eyepiece can be switched with a different eyepiece to boost the magnification to as much as 210x, so you can count Jupiter’s moons or identify Saturn’s rings!

The lenses are multicoated, as opposed to fully multi-coated, but they are still able to transmit enough visual input to the scope to yield crisp visuals – no doubt, some of this proficiency can be attributed to its large 90mm objective lens diameter.

The spotting scope, in spite of its relatively complex inner mechanism, is remarkably intuitive to use – a single knob controls the focus; it is just the right amount of firm to withstand accidental adjustment due to bumps. The scope even has its own 8x21mm image finderscope to help you track your subject when the primary FOV is too restrictive – perfect for telescopic slewing, or a tracking a fluttering hummingbird!

The spotting scope, in spite of its relatively complex inner mechanism, is remarkably intuitive to use – a single knob controls the focus; it is just the right amount of firm to withstand accidental adjustment due to bumps. The scope even has its own 8x21mm image finderscope to help you track your subject when the primary FOV is too restrictive – perfect for telescopic slewing, or a tracking a fluttering hummingbird!

The flipside to this otherwise highly versatile and affordable device is that it is a bit fragile – and the included carrying case does not have the padding to protect it in rough conditions. Furthermore, it isn’t waterproof, so you’ll need to be careful not to expose it to overly damp conditions.

Also, there have been a few complaints about damaged / non-functioning products, so you might want to check it thoroughly upon arrival and avail the Limited Lifetime Guarantee if necessary.

What We Liked

  • Cheap.
  • Geared towards astronomers and seasoned birdwatchers.
  • Customizable zoom range.
  • Included finderscope for tracking your subject at a higher FOV than the primary.

What We Didn't

  • Quality assurance problems.
  • Delicate construction.
  • Not waterproof.

Celestron Hummingbird 9-27x56mm ED Micro Spotting Scope

  • Lens Coating: multi-coated
  • FOV : 68
  • Eye relief: 20 mm
  • Exit Pupil: 2.3 mm

True to its namesake, the Hummingbird 9-27x is an ultra-light, highly portable spotting scope that is perfect for outdoor adventurers who are always on the move.

Weighing a mere 1.3lbs, the scope is small enough to go into a coat / vest pocket – a feat that is normally only achievable with binoculars. In other words, you can carry it around on your birdwatching expeditions without getting tired of the added weight.

The 9-27x zoom allowed by the default eyepiece is sufficient for most terrestrial observation – just don’t expect to distinguish the color patterns on a small bird from a very long distance. However, if you do want to do this, the eyepiece can be replaced with one that allows for a greater zoom range – this isn’t recommended though, since there’s only so much light that can be gathered with a 56mm objective diameter (even if the lenses are extra-low dispersion fully multi-coated).

While many larger spotting scopes settle at near focus values of over 16 ft., the Hummingbird has a tighter 10 ft. near focus for close range birding applications. The scope is nitrogen filled and waterproof, and comes with a soft cover for protecting it during transportation.

What We Liked

  • Lightweight, portable construction.
  • ED fully multi-coated lenses provided ample light transmission for a 56mm objective.
  • Birder friendly close focus value.
  • Switchable eyepiece.
  • Generous exit pupil.

What We Didn't

  • Visual clarity will not be on par with full sized spotting scopes.


Now that you have read the guide and the reviews accompanying it, I hope you’ll see that it is impossible to find a single spotting scope that will be suited for all applications – the reason for this is that these devices have such diverse applications: birding, astronomy, hunting, sniping, photography etc., that a product meeting the situational requirements of every application is virtually impossible.

Nonetheless, this manufacturer’s lineup seems to have something for everyone – in fact, you may find a more suitable solution in one of the products that are not covered in this guide! Personally, I’d go with the Celestron Ultima 100 Straight Spotting Scope because of its solid visual output at all but the highest magnification settings (you’ll probably not be using these anyways), and it's strong and durable construction.

Combine this with a very reasonable price (for a 100mm objective scope), and you’ve got a bargain solution for mainstream users – as is evident from the market feedback.


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