Celestron C5 Spotting Scope Review

Aperture5 inches/ 127mm
Focal Length650mm
MountDovetail Rail/ Threaded Mount Suitable for Photography
Accessories25 mm Plossl Eyepiece
45° Erect Image Diagonal
Erect Image Finderscope (6×30)
Insulated, Soft Carry Case
Focal Ratiof/10
Angle of View1°/ approximately 17 meters at 1000 meters


Spotting scopes are compact and portable high-powered devices used primarily for terrestrial viewing. They have added optics which provide an erect image (many telescopes show inverted images which you need to correct), so they can be used for a wide variety of daytime viewing. Keen observers typically use spotting scopes for outdoor activities including bird watching and following other wildlife, though these scopes are also used for activities such as hunting, target shooting, and even surveillance.

Celestron’s C5, Schmidt-Cassegrain 5 inch scope gives you a truly high quality optical system that nature lovers will appreciate. The lightweight and compact scope allows you to travel and set up easily, so heading out to your favorite destinations is never inconvenient. One of the standout features the C5 boasts is that it is suited to most of your photography needs. It is great to be able to spy a rare bird from the distance, but even better to be able to capture the moment forever.

At 5 inches, the Celestron C5 easily outperforms spotting scopes with a smaller aperture, which is often the case, giving you the kind of optical power and crisp views you would expect from a high end small telescope.


From birds and wildlife to plants and a range of landscapes, the C5 spotting scope is a versatile instrument for terrestrial viewing and can be used without any fuss. Thanks to its sufficient aperture, Celestron’s spotting scope also makes a wonderful astronomical telescope. Expect sharp views of your terrestrial targets: relatively bright images in accurate color. Some may expect a little more contrast, and that surely would not hurt, but overall the images the C5 displays are clear and focused, with great resolution. If you are going to be using this scope for target shooting, expect a really good range of over 300 yards and more. Where most rifle scopes are great for identifying shots at shorter ranges, they tend to struggle at increased distances, and it starts becoming problematic to differentiate shots especially when the targets are close together. Thankfully, the C5 instantly rectifies this.

Another feature that makes this the perfect spotting scope for outdoor activities is the great case the scope comes in – one that is good quality and houses the scope with the care you need to be able to withstand the bumps and shock of being on the road.

The C5 also has the added versatility of effortlessly transforming into a powerful camera lens with its excellent camera-adaptable design. Taking your own professional snaps is quite straight forward with the C5 Spotting Scope, which mounts smoothly onto a photographic tripod: simply take the appropriate T- Adapter and T-Ring suited to the camera and attached to the rear of the scope.

The focusing mechanism is quite sensitive, but is smooth and has a good feel to it. It should not take you long to be able to get a sense of the scope’s slight nuances. Also, the eyepiece that comes with the spotting scope is a quality Plossl design, one of the best eyepiece designs you could ask for. The resolving power of the scope with the eyepiece inserted certainly is not much, especially if you are accustomed to larger aperture devices or instruments made especially for astronomical observations, but it is certainly more than sufficient.

Though spotting scopes are mainly intended for terrestrial views, the C5’s power is well-suited to a variety of amateur stargazing needs. The spotting scope will reveal most of the more popular celestial objects, surely all the ones you would expect from a beginner’s telescope. You would not have any difficulty in observing the moon and planets with great clarity and focus, and you will even be able to explore a few of the more prominent deep sky objects. Head out on a clear, dark night with great seeing conditions, and you could spot several Messier Objects, bright galaxies and a handful of the most popular nebulae too.

The spotting scope particularly shines within the Solar System. Crank up the magnification as high as you can go and point your scope towards the Moon (especially as it is waxing or waning) to get a view of our satellite that will have you coming back for more. The C5 will reveal several craters, mountains, and valleys. You can also enjoy wonderful views of Jupiter and four of the planet’s larger moons, Saturn’s rings, and Mars and Venus.

Celestron’s C5 has a very well thought out design, and most of its components are high quality that will withstand years of good use. One of the only parts of the scope that does not quite measure up is the mount. It does support the scope, but honestly, some would consider it flimsy and unstable. The quickest way to avoid frustration – especially if you are using your scope for delicate work such as hunting – would be to replace it with a much sturdier one. A few other components including the knobs are also made from cheap plastics. The scope has no weatherproofing measures in place, so take care if you are in an environment prone to harsher elements.

Pros & Cons


  • A very reasonably priced scope considering the superior optics and versatility.
  • The C5 delivers sharp and vibrant images in true color.
  • This device is straightforward to set up and even easier to use for all the basics.
  • Calibrating your instrument takes no more than a few minutes.
  • One of the best features is the telescope is that it is astrophotography supported/ photography supported.
  • A well thought-out design which can support a variety of useful attachments.


  • The mount is somewhat flimsy and may need replacing.
  • The high magnification and overall design of most spotting scopes makes them more susceptible to vibrations (so again, a good mount is essential).
  • The scope has a few low-quality plastic components that detract from its design.
  • No weatherproofing, making the scope vulnerable to the elements especially under the conditions spotting scopes are typically used for.


Birdwatchers may initially dismiss the C5 due to its weight, larger proportions, heavy weight and lack of weatherproofing measures – but this would be a hasty decision. After all, the C5’s optics are of such high excellence and so reliable that it was chosen by NASA for a couple of space missions! Also keep in mind that you will be getting a scope that is actually a fair deal shorter in length than many competing 65 mm scopes, and the 5 inch aperture far exceeds the light-gathering power of other popular spotting scopes used for bird watching. It also has the added benefit of far less chromatic aberration than is typical for bird watching instruments.

The Celestron C5 is an advanced Schmidt Cassegrain device, and really in a class of its own. Celestron’s C5 offers you optics above and beyond what you would expect for the price, or for the standard spotting scope in general. It is suitable for astronomical needs and photography too. Overall, this is a highly recommended scope for beginners and more seasoned observers alike.