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Celestron Travel Scope 50 Review: Not Recommended

The TravelScope 50 is an embarrassingly bad telescope that is little more than a decoration or toy.
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When you read one of my reviews at TelescopicWatch, you can trust that not only have I gotten to use the product, but I’ve compared it to numerous others and tinkered with it down to the literal nuts and bolts. When I'm not writing reviews, I'm out under the night sky with my own homemade or modified telescopes, with over 7 years of hands-on experience in astronomy, having owned 430 telescopes myself, of which 20 I built entirely.

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Score Breakdown

Optics: 1/5

Focuser: 1/5

Mount: 1/5

Moon & Planets: 1/5

Rich Field: 2/5

Accessories: 1/5

Ease of use: 1/5

Portability: 5/5

Value: 1/5

Read our scoring methodology here

Celestron offers two low-cost travel scope packages, the Travel Scope 50 and the Travel scope 70. This review will be about the 50mm model that I’ve had my hands on.

On the surface, this looks like a great package. It includes a 50 mm refractor telescope with a focal length of 360 mm. Also included are 2 eyepieces, a 3X Barlow lens, a 45-degree erect image diagonal, a 5×24 finder scope, a tripod, and a nice little backpack to keep it all ready to grab and go. Sounds great, but read on.


How It Stacks Up

Ranks #29 of 33 ~$75 telescopes





Celestron Travel Scope 50


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Best Similar Featured Alternative: Meade Infinity 70mm Altazimuth Refractor

What We Like

  • Cheap
  • Compact
  • Works

What We Don't Like

  • Mediocre eyepieces
  • Mediocre mount
  • Bad design
Not Recommended Telescope

I can’t recommend this package as more than a child’s toy. Every corner has been cut and the results are a scope that disappoints in every way. There are better options available at similar prices.

The Optical Tube

The Celestron TravelScope 50 is a 50mm f/7.22 achromat refractor. At this size and focal ratio, I’d naturally expect there to be a fairly little chromatic aberration, and it is truly so.

The 50mm aperture, while tiny, is sufficient to show us details of the Moon, planets, and the brightest deep-sky targets. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I can see that the tube’s internal baffling, which is usually there to control light scatter and internal reflections, is poorly designed. This actually stops down the useable aperture of the telescope from 50mm to 20mm, making it essentially unable to deliver an image much better than the naked eye. Our eye dilates to around 7-8 mm under good conditions.

With only 20mm of aperture available in reality, the telescope becomes an f/18 and provides ridiculously dim images of even the Moon. In such a state, you are using a telescope that is about on par with what Galileo had 400 or so years ago.

The TravelScope 50 also has a 0.965” plastic rack-and-pinion focuser. So using a quality diagonal besides the provided one is going to be tricky, if not costly, and impractical.

The entire tube, focuser, and lens cell are made of plastic, making for a ridiculously lightweight instrument—only around 300 grams (less than ½ a pound).


The Extremely Bad Eyepieces

The TravelScope 50 includes two Huygenian eyepieces, 1.25” units with focal lengths of 20mm and 8mm, providing 18x and 45x, respectively.

These are extremely bad eyepieces made almost entirely out of plastic (including the lens), and they provide fuzzy views that require jamming my eyeball into them to even see. They also have narrow apparent fields of view, and the resulting effect feels like staring down a soda straw.

I pulled out two of my Plossl eyepieces, which are much better quality and tried those. With a 26 mm Meade Plossl, 13.8X, the image was significantly better than the stock 20 mm but still not great. The Plossl eyepieces provided a sharper and wider field of view but could not clear up the cloudy edges, which I expect were being caused by the prism in the correct image 45 degree diagonal. 

A 10 mm Plossl was again better than the 8 mm eyepiece provided with the scope but the image was still dark and barely acceptable at 36X. Note that these eyepieces, taken as a pair, cost almost as much as the whole travel scope package. If you had this scope and had these eyepieces on hand, I would recommend them over the included eyepieces, but I would not recommend buying eyepieces for this package.

The Unusable Correct Image Diagonal

For a star diagonal, the TravelScope 50 includes a 45-degree erecting prism that adapts the 0.965” focuser to fit 1.25” eyepieces and flips images to be correct left-right. It’s of quite low quality and does not work well for astronomy in this or in any scope.

To view a target that is more than 40 degrees above the horizon, you have to get into a very awkward position. You could buy a 90-degree star diagonal but I would not recommend investing in that with this scope.

The Unnecessary Finder

For a finderscope, Celestron includes the same 5×24 finder supplied with many of their low-quality entry-level scopes, like the PowerSeekers. Not only is this finder nearly impossible to align with the main telescope, but it also provides extremely dim and fuzzy images thanks to its single-element plastic objective lens.

With the TravelScope 50, which is only slightly larger than some finderscopes and is simple to aim by sighting along the tube with a low-power eyepiece in the focuser, it is also completely unnecessary.

A Backpack that Might Just Work

When I examined the included backpack, I found it to be of low quality but functional.

Everything fits nicely inside. The backpack would work well for a child or teen. I believe most average adults could probably get enough room in the straps to use the backpack. I am over 6 feet tall and the straps were too short for me. I ripped one of the straps out, trying to put it on with both straps fully extended.

The Unusable Barlow Lens

You would not use the 3X Barlow during the day as the magnification would be too high. And the scope doesn’t have enough aperture to be used at night. So the included 3X Barlow lens is really a waste. A 2X might have provided some value, but only with upgraded eyepieces.

By the way, the 3X Barlow lens I received with my scope didn’t work. I tried it in this scope and in two of my other scopes. I could not bring the included eyepieces to focus nor the higher grade Plossl eyepieces that I tried the scope with.

To Celestron’s credit, when I contacted them about the defective Barlow, they immediately sent me a new one. This one worked, but the scope can’t handle the magnification that the Barlow provides with the included eyepieces.

The Tripod

The tripod included with the TravelScope 50 is pretty low quality. Basically, it’s just a cheap camera tripod, like the kind I can order on Amazon for around $10.

The good news is that the TravelScope 50 is so absurdly small and lightweight that it basically does not matter.

For once, Celestron has managed to supply a mount adequate for the scope it’s sold with, though the TravelScope 50 is so bad that this essentially doesn’t matter.

Alternative Recommendations

While the TravelScope 50 is at a price where it’s arguably quite hard to find a good telescope, there are a few options to consider.

  • The Zhumell Z100 and Orion SkyScanner provide double the advertised aperture (and 5 times the real aperture) of the TravelScope 50, with rock-solid mounts, sharp views, and good quality included eyepieces.
  • For a bit less money, the Orion FunScope is an option, and while it comes with good eyepieces and an easy-to-use mount, its optics are far from high quality.

For other telescope recommendations, read our article on ‘Best Telescope or view our Telescope Ranking page.

What can you see with the Celestron TravelScope 50?

As a spotting scope, I would give it 2 out of 5 stars based on the package, but the optics are not great and the included eyepieces are very low quality.

As a daytime spotting scope, the TravelScope 50 produces a fairly dim image with a cloudy edge around the field of view when used with the H20 mm eyepiece, which provides 18X. As long as you are not too fussy about color and clarity, this arrangement is at least usable in bright sunlight. The central 50% of the image can be brought into fairly sharp focus.

In my experience, when fitted with the 8 mm eyepiece at 45x, the image is just awful. It is dark, difficult to focus, and has significant color aberration, even in bright sunlight. I consider this eyepiece unusable for spotting scope service.

As an astronomical telescope, this package fails in so many ways. I give it 1 star out of 5 as an astronomical telescope.

The 45-degree correct image diagonal does not work well for astronomy in this or in any scope. To view a target that is more than 40 degrees above the horizon, I have to get into a very awkward position. You could buy a 90-degree star diagonal, but I would not recommend investing in that with this scope.

With the included eyepieces, you could view the Moon, but typically bright star clusters are very dim and the image is not clean anywhere outside of the center 50% of the field of view with the included eyepieces. 

Zane Landers

An amateur astronomer and telescope maker from Connecticut who has been featured on TIME magazineNational GeographicLa Vanguardia, and Clarin, The Guardian, The Arizona Daily Star, and Astronomy Technology Today and had won the Stellafane 1st and 3rd place Junior Awards in the 2018 Convention. Zane has owned over 425 telescopes, of which around 400 he has actually gotten to take out under the stars. These range from the stuff we review on TelescopicWatch to homemade or antique telescopes; the oldest he has owned or worked on so far was an Emil Busch refractor made shortly before the outbreak of World War I. Many of these are telescopes that he repaired or built.

2 thoughts on “Celestron Travel Scope 50 Review: Not Recommended”

  1. A huge disappointment this item. My sons bought it for me as a present, thinking I would derive hours of enjoyment. I am very resentful that Celestron wasted their money and took advantage of their kind thought by trapping them as novices into this purchase. The scope is UTTERLY useless as an astronomical scope which Celestron’s marketing and additional software disc suggest it is good for. The only thing you can look at in the night sky with this is the moon, and frankly, a pair of 10×50 binoulars of mediocre quality would be far far easier to use and better. This item ought to be immediately withdrawn from sale if Clestron have any desire at all to be a decent company. I doubt they do have any such commitment, since they must know full well, how useless the scope is.

  2. I see that your experience agrees with mine when it comes to this scope. I consider it more of a child’s toy than any sort of serious or useful spotting or astronomical scope. I would not recommend it to anyone.

    The gift was given out of love and affection. If you can’t return it then use it the best you can. If you want a better scope, there are some decent starter scope for about $200. You can read about some recommendations here. Get up to about $400 and they start getting pretty good.

    As in most things you buy, you get what you pay for, but in this case, the Travel Scope 50, I don’t think you do.


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