Celestron is a highly respected brand in the telescopes business. The Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope was released in 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. It was a special year, the 400th anniversary of the first ever telescope used by Galileo. And this is a pretty special telescope, as we will demonstrate in our in-depth review. The FirstScope is special because it balances several things exceedingly well: price, simplicity, size, and capability. We will carefully examine the pros and cons and tell you why this is one of the best beginner’s telescopes in the market.
What is the Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope?
The Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope is a Newtonian reflector telescope. This is one of the several kinds of telescopes commonly found in the entry level market. It has a wide 76mm aperture primary mirror, and a very compact design typical of reflector telescopes. This was a commemorative edition product, and it shows in the design. The tube is decorated with the names of dozens of great astronomers in a spiral script, and it looks pretty good.
The telescope has a tabletop design with a lightweight base. The base has three rubber feet for rock-solid stability on any surface. And the mount is a Dobsonian design, which makes it very easy to use. It is an altazimuth mount, meaning it can be moved in four directions, up-down and left-right. The package is completed by two eyepieces, a 4mm, and a 20mm variant, with a maximum magnification of 75x.
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Pros & Cons to Using the Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope
- It is very lightweight, and easy to carry around.
- The mount and base are very stable.
- Excellent build quality and finish, better than some higher priced models.
- The design is so good; it could even be a decorative showpiece.
- Requires no assembly, can be used straightaway.
- Insanely inexpensive.
- Comes with barely any instructions.
- There is no bundled software.
- The included eyepieces are not that useful.
- The magnification capabilities are rather limited.
- Image quality is rather low, compared to other marginally expensive telescopes.
Where to Find the Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope
You can find some great deals on this telescope at Amazon. The model is also on sale on other e-retail sites like Walmart and eBay.
This Celestron model was launched with the explicit purpose of popularizing astronomy. The aim was to deliver a capable telescope at rock bottom prices for astronomy beginners. And to that end, they have certainly succeeded.
The FirstScope can be found online anywhere within the sub-$50 price bracket. Even if you find it for $49.99, that itself is a fantastic value for money proposition. But you will probably be able to snag one for $30 or less if you dig deep enough.
At that kind of prices, you really should not be looking at used options. These telescopes can’t get any cheaper, so it is best to buy one new.
For starters, operating the Dobsonian mount is child’s play. The telescope works well right out of the box. The base and mount are so stable; there is simply no trouble in keeping track of objects once you focus them. Maximum magnification is on the lower side, but still robust enough to get a good view of objects in the solar system, like the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn.
The telescope doesn’t have a finder, and seeking out objects smaller than the moon can be a bit of a chore. This being a budget model, the signs of cost cutting are very much there. For instance, the primary reflector mirror is a cheap spherical model and not a parabola. This means that unless the object is dead center, it can appear severely skewed, rather like a fish eye lens.
And keeping things centered is a challenge with the two included eyepieces. The R4 has a wide view but blurry images with its 75x magnification. The H20 has a small view, but pretty sharp images with its 15x magnification. All in all, this is a great scope if you want to look at the moon and the bigger planets, but no so enjoyable when it comes to the distant stars.
Before you decide to buy the Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope, you need to keep several things in mind. One, being a reflector model, it is not suited to look at objects on the earth on its own. The reflector mirror will show the images upside down. This does not matter when looking at things in the sky obviously. But to look down at trees and birds on earth, you will need a special erecting eyepiece.
And this is a tabletop model, meaning, it works best if you have a platform to keep it on. It could be anything from a table near a window or the hood of your car outdoors. But since it is so lightweight and easy to manipulate, you could even get away with carrying it in your hands.
The reflector models like the Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope have a very wide opening that can gather a lot of dust if left open. Remember to keep the lens and eyepiece openings securely shut when not in use. The eyepieces should also be kept securely in their cases. With reflectors, you can try keeping the mirrors pointing downwards to protect them from falling dirt and dust.
When it comes to sensitive optics like telescopes, less cleaning is the safest. Cleaning can cause minute cracks on the lens, even when done carefully. The more you clean, the more cracks keep accumulating. Don’t mind a few specks of dust. Clean only when there is a severe accumulation of dirt and grime. And if you have to clean, use light camel hair brushes or lens cleaning solutions.
- Moon Filter;
- Carry bag;
- R4 Eyepiece;
- H20 Eyepiece;
You might want to look at other eyepieces to replace the R4 and the H20. Search for eyepieces with wider focus and magnification within 10-25x for best results with this telescope. A red dot finder is also a good choice since there are mounting points for a finder on the telescope.
Warranty & Guarantee Information
You get a two-year manufacturer’s warranty for this product, with repairs as well as replacements for regular wear and tear.
The Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope works well for those who want to buy a basic starter telescope for themselves or their kids. It has excellent design aesthetics and is incredibly easy to use. It has its failings, but that is all forgiven at the given price point.
As long as you are a complete beginner to astronomy, you will not mind its imaging quality. Yes, you will soon outgrow it, but you can always keep it around for decorative purposes in your room! We hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to comment below, with your thoughts/suggestions.