If you’re strapped to a tight budget, I think the Celestron PowerSeeker is one of the best telescopes you can get for the money.
With better than average optical tube and visibility performance, it’s a telescope that would be great for any beginner or a buyer looking for both celestial and terrestrial viewing in one package.
While each telescope puts its best foot forward, I’ll also take a dive into the not-so-obvious disadvantages of the PowerSeeker.
Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: German EQ mount
❌ Worst Feature: Mediocre accessories
👌 Ideal For: Terrestrial Viewing, Celestial Viewing, Range Use, Wildlife Observation, Beginners
- Optical Design: Refractor
- Aperture: 80 mm (3.15”)
- Focal Length: 900 mm (35”)
- Focal Ratio: f/11
- Eyepieces Included: 20 mm, 4 mm
My Verdict: The Celestron 80EQ is the largest refractor in the PowerSeeker scope series. With both celestial and terrestrial viewing through a decent optical tube, in my opinion it has great value at its price point. For these reasons, it’s a winning telescope for under $200.
Who is the Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Best Suited to?
The PowerSeeker is a telescope designed specifically for the beginner. With its capabilities and at its price point, I think it has excellent value which is important for a newbie getting started in the hobby. But, even with its advantages, it’s still a beginner scope, so an upgrade will be inevitable at some point in the future as if you are anything like me, you will yearn to see further and deeper into space.
However, its equatorial mount can be upgraded with motorized control allowing precision tracking of space objects and some astrophotography. Intermediates may want to spend more on a higher quality telescope, but the 80EQ would not be wasted on a beginner.
How Does the Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Perform?
I think it performs very well, the optical tube and visibility are by far its best assets allowing observation of the moon, planets, and double stars. As a refractor with an included diagonal, you can also use this telescope for terrestrial viewing for short-range use.
If you’re willing to haul it to the range, you can observe bullet groupings and you can adequately watch wildlife and the landscape. However, due to chromatic aberration, it just won’t do for professional birdwatching and photography. For casual and amateur use, I feel it’s more than suitable for a variety of applications.
Features & Benefits
German EQ Mount
In my opinion, one of the most attractive features of the PowerSeeker is the German equatorial mount (GEM). This is the same mount that is equipped on all the PowerSeekers and is a manual model. One thing that must be appreciated is that this small mount does okay with the 80mm scope. Too often, large telescopes are paired with too small mounts which introduces strain and instability that renders both the scope and mount system useless. In this case, the mount and scope work well together.
However, it can be upgraded to provide motorized control for those looking for hands-free tracking of space bodies. With its manual capabilities and accurate polar alignment, it can stay locked-on to track a particular object in the night sky, but again, you must do this manually by using the slow-motion control rod.
Fortunately, the adjustments are smooth and easy to make. However, long exposure astrophotography may be a challenge with manual controls. With the right magnification and a decent point-and-shoot camera device, you can take photos, but this will require some experimentation to reduce blurriness.
Good Optical Tube
The optical tube is well made and may be the telescope’s saving grace when it comes to performance and value. Although it does lack the bells and whistles of higher-end telescopes, it is significantly cheaper and offers decent value with an 80 mm aperture and f/11 ratio.
With these specs, there is some apparent aberration, but it’s not a deal breaker for those looking for casual use. As a relatively lightweight model, I feel it’s ideal for taking out to multiple locations to get a better picture of the night sky. Looking for Jupiter’s Galilean moons and Saturn’s rings is easily done, and views of these bodies are in clear focus.
Included in the package is a 1.25” erect image diagonal that allows for terrestrial viewing. The diagonal is an Amici unit made from plastic, so it will result in noticeable chromatic aberration when viewing bright and high-contrast objects.
As such, I don’t believe it is suited for landscape photography or serious birdwatching as color fidelity will be compromised. But, you can watch wildlife and spot groupings at the range. Following the 80/20 rule, if less than 20% of scope use will be used for terrestrial viewing, the PowerSeeker may fit the bill.
Unfortunately, there is nothing special about the included accessories. In fact, most are made of plastic and do not provide justice to the optical tube in maximizing its full potential. To make the most of it, in my opinion you’ll have to replace these accessories with something better which means more of an investment.
Probably the only useful accessory is the 20 mm Kellner eyepiece that provides 45x magnification. The 4 mm Ramsden eyepiece with 225x magnification is too much. With an actual maximum magnification of 189x (according to Celestron), both the 4 mm and all-plastic 3x Barlow lens would be rendered useless on an 80 mm scope. Then there’s the question of optical quality with the included accessories which should speak for itself if it’s listed as a con.
Other Telescopes to Consider
Being able to manually track with the GEM and with the use of an adapter, you can take photos with the PowerSeeker. While it may not produce the best images for long exposure astrophotography, lunar and planetary pictures can be taken. It’s not a professional astrophotography telescope, but it may suffice for amateur and personal use.
Observers with multiple telescopes will want to mix and match pieces with other telescopes to improve visibility and magnification. The PowerSeeker 80EQ has a 1.25” rack and pinion focuser, so as long as the telescope accepts 1.25” eyepieces and accessories, it can be used with other telescopes.
A tripod is included but it’s said to be wobbly and unreliable. To get the best use from it, it must be retracted which compromises height. Fully extended, it becomes too unstable to use. You may have to purchase a more dependable and sturdier tripod.
A 5×24 finderscope is included with the PowerSeeker telescope. Unfortunately, it’s unusable as picture quality is poor, is difficult to align with the main tube, and can easily be knocked out of place. Fortunately, the focuser comes with a slot that allows you to replace the finderscope with a higher quality one or even a red dot as long as it has a Vixen Synta-style base.
The PowerSeeker 80EQ is a portable and lightweight telescope. It’s lighter than many other telescopes due to its 80 mm aperture, and the included tripod is collapsible and can be folded down. Total weight of the entire telescope kit and assembly is approximately 19 lbs. You will have to purchase a separate carry case to haul your tube and equipment.
Overall, I feel the PowerSeeker 80EQ is a manual, simple, and easy to use telescope.
It does not have complicated features that would initially make it difficult for a beginner to learn with, and in this case, less is more. Although the accessories, such as eyepieces, tripod, and finderscope, will need upgrading, the optical tube is excellent, and the mount is adequate.
For its price, the 80EQ is a great, first-time buy for a beginner looking to dip their toes in the world of multi-purpose telescopes.