Big Things Come In Small Packages – The Celestron C65 Mini-Mak

Have you been wanting to get your hands on a telescope that’s easy to use, very portable and best of all only costs $55? Don’t you dare go to a department store and pick up a “toy”. I’m here to tell you when you decide to play with a Celestron C65 Mini-Mak, you’ll soon find out that big things really do come in small packages.

So what’s a little telescope like you doing in a dark place like this? I can tell you what you’re doing. You’ve come to let me put you through your paces, use and abuse you, and find fault where I can. You look awfully small in that box. Not much larger than a good sized binocular tube. After all, you are a spotting scope, aren’t you? So, come on… Let me relieve you of that wrapping and show me what you can do.

The Celestron C65 Mini-Mak is a tiny little creature – about the size of a wine bottle minus the neck. However, the moment you lay eyes on it, quality screams right out. Raven black finished perfection, pristine Celestron optics and deep, quality coatings. The eyepiece is angled off the back at 45° so the viewing is user friendly and the zoom eyepiece shows three magnification levels – 30X, 60X and 90X. A little (ahem) testing shows it can be t-thread camera compatible, as well. With it comes a clever little tabletop tripod. Surprisingly enough, it’s a steady affair, with rubber tipped feet and even slow motion controls. The optical tube itself could easily be mounted on a larger camera tripod, too… But we’re thinking economy here. Digging further into the box, I was also delighted to discover it comes with its own soft carrying case, too. Very nice. Not much larger than the average lunch kit, this would easily be considered airline carry-on.

Set up was a breeze. Park it on my patio table and I’m off and running. But there is a slight problem. There’s absolutely no way of aiming it. Sure, I can poke and hope with the best of ’em at 30X… But guess work isn’t exactly relaxing. Back to the box we go and out comes a Celestron StarPointer Finderscope. Now we’ve upped the ante from $55 to $80 and less than $100 plus shipping. Still… that’s not a bad price… If it performs.

Make no mistake. The Celestron C65 Mini-Mak is a high quality, image correct 65mm aperture Maksuktov Cassegrain telescope with a 835mm focal length and f/12.85 focal ratio. Just like its “big brothers”, the astronomical telescopes, this Celestron Mak uses high quality optical glass for excellent image quality and provides bright views of both terrestrial and celestial objects. The StarPointer finder adjusts to both daylight and night and within seconds I was watching a gold finch with unparalleled detail. A hummingbird at the feeder 50 feet away was an iridescent green marvel and the large bird I saw touch down in the woods some 1000 yards away was quickly revealed as a red-tailed hawk. But this is day. What about night?

Over a period of a few weeks, I was equally happy to see what the Celestron C65 Mini-Mak could do for astronomy. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it performed every bit as well at 90X on Jupiter as my Orion ShortTube reflector that costs over twice as much and didn’t have a tripod! The equatorial bands of Jupiter were easily visible and so were all the galiean moons. As for deep sky, brighter galaxies and globular clusters were within the Mini-Mak’s reach, as well as a surprising amount of open clusters. Happy objects, such as the Lagoon Nebula, the Swan Nebula, the Wild Duck Cluster, Brocchi’s Cluster, NGC 457, Omega II Cygni, the Butterfly Cluster, M7, M13 and many more were easily captured. The Celestron C65 also did an outstanding job on the Moon as well, revealing major craters in crisp detail with a full disk image.

Would it pass the Tammy Time Test? In this case, yes. The very best part about this small package is Celestron’s “No Fault” warranty. No matter what you do to it, Celestron will repair or replace it without any questions being asked. That means if it gets knocked off the table and breaks… It gets replaced. If the airplane cabin pressure messes it up? Celestron replaces it. It the neighbor’s dog runs off with your C65? Snatch it and send it back. Celestron will send you a new one.

Parting words? You cannot go wrong with the Celestron C65 Mini-Mak. For those with limited space and a limited budget, there’s no reason to compromise on performance. It’s a very real telescope and it works like one. Sometimes big things really do come in small – and inexpensive – packages!

The Celestron C65 Mini-Mak Telescope was provided for review by Oceanside Photo and Telescope. We thank you!

37 Replies to “Big Things Come In Small Packages – The Celestron C65 Mini-Mak”

  1. Wow, this sounds like a great starter and, at comparable price, even a good alternative to binocs. I’ll have to check this out.

  2. You’re making it easier than ever for me to enter into the practical world of real astronomy Tammy! I’ll be buying a telescope sooner rather than later, and this one looks cool!

    As for my virtual Google Earth astronomy, I didn’t see anything happen in the ionosphere last night, but I did see several bright Perceids! An amazing sight, especially above LA!

    Keep the reviews coming!

    Cheers, Ian

  3. Note: I didn’t see the Perceids on Google Earth, I saw them whilst shivering outside. Seeing meteors with GE might be asking a little too much! πŸ˜€

  4. I love Tammy Plotner reviews!

    One correction. Your first link to Optcorp goes to Optcorp but errors out.

    Thanks Tammy!

  5. Thanks Tammy,

    I always wanted a good quality small portable
    telescope so I bought me one πŸ˜‰

    Kind regards,

  6. Thanks Tammy. I appreciate the review…especially in light of the reviews I read on Amazon regarding this scope…none of them addressed its usefulness as an astronomy tool.

  7. WOW! I stay in India, a country that literally can’t afford astronomy! The only manufacturer of some repute is Tejraj ( and even they manufacture only reflecting telescopes (dirt cheap but exceptionally good bang-for-buck). I wanted a portable refractor, and C65 looks just perfect.

  8. thank you all for the kind comments. one of the perks of my many jobs is that i have this awesome opportunity to examine, test and enjoy a huge variety of optical and astronomy equipment. the only time it’s difficult to write an honest review about a product – and not an ad – is when i run across design flaws, poor workmanship, or cheap construction. it’s easy enough not to blatantly point these things out in advertising for sake of not offending a manufacturer, but it simply wouldn’t be right (or fair to readers) not to disclose it in a review – good or bad.

    as for amazon reviews, i didn’t read them – but i would assume since the mini-mak is classified as a spotting scope that few thought to use it as a telescope. as a straight up spotter, you don’t really even need a red dot finder since 30X makes it a whole lot like using a single tube binocular and sighting down the barrel is accurate enough to give you a visual fix on approximate aiming.

    however, using a spotter for astronomy is basically like aiming at infinity. without a method of pointing the scope accurately, aiming at anything less bright (or small) than the moon or jupiter isn’t exactly easy. it wouldn’t take long (about 20 minutes) to get discouraged and simply assume it wasn’t good at astronomical applications!

    while even i wince at the fact the celestron red dot finder costs about half of what the telescope does, i also know that if you really need to go bargain basement that you can visit the sporting goods department of your local retail establishment and pick up a similar gadget meant for air rifles and bb guns for about half the price. again, use common “bargain” sense if you choose to go that route! read the package and make sure that it has leveling adjustments to help you get it sighted in, comes with batteries and most importantly attaches with double sided tape and is capable of varying brightness levels.

    if you choose to buy from OPT? put “universe today astronomers” in the club afflilation box when you check out… every little discount is a good discount! πŸ˜‰

  9. In checking with Adorama who sells this scope and just about everything else camera or scopewise, they state that this scope is NOT adaptable to T-mount since it does not have a 1 1/4″ eyepiece. Do you have any more info on this. Do you know exactly how this scope can be adapted to a nikon D40?

  10. Customer reviews on are not positive for astronomical viewing. Any explanation for the discrepancy?

  11. This sounds like a great bargain. I’m well tempted to splurge on this for myself just for the heck of it.

    Now if only that Ipod I got on Ebay hadn’t been picked up by customs, I might actually have had the money now …

  12. ok! back to answer some questions.

    first and foremost… i do not read other’s reviews and base my own opinions on what they have to say. i wanna’ do my own thing. but, i am also a curious soul, so i went and read both on adorama and

    oddly enough, i couldn’t find any information on adorama’s site that said anything about it not being adaptable to a camera. i called the folks at OPT before i broke a piece of their equipment they had so kindly lent me and the sales rep told me it was t-thread adaptable to certain models of cameras and adaptable to any digital camera with a universal adapter but that it would introduce balance issues and require a more secure tripod.

    now, here’s the key.

    if nothing else, i’m so practical and realistic that it hurts. i know that a $55 telescope isn’t going to perform like a ritchey chretien, so why would i bother to invest as much money in adapting it to a camera as what it costs? sorry… my idea of practical – and cheap – astrophotography consists of holding my digital camera or camcorder up to the eyepiece, focusing it in and taking a quick pic afocally. if i wanted to do nature photography or astrophotography seriously, i’d know better… and i really think UT readers do, too.

    the same goes with the reviews on you have to remember this is a tiny telescope – the size of bigger binocular tube – and it’s going to perform like a binocular – not a 16″ dobsonian. that’s why the astronomical reviews weren’t favorable… folks went into it expecting something that couldn’t be. if i tell you that i could see M81 and M82, M6, M7, M13, etc. with the celestron c65? brother… the only thing stopping you from seeing them is either your skies or not knowing where they’re at. πŸ˜‰

    all in all, for $55 the celestron c65 mini-mak is a sweet little scope. it is perfect for those who have a very limited budget, limited space and unlimited interest. it’s not a swarovski, and it’s dang sure not the hubble… but it sure is a lot of fun!

  13. Ok one more question if you’re still reviewing this post. I noticed that the scope appears to include a table top tripod. Is the scope compatable with a full sized tripod?

  14. sure, david! i always look back a few times for the first day or two in case someone has questions.

    the mounting plate/bracket assembly that secures it to the included tabletop tripod is 100% a 1/4 20 standard camera tripod fitting. i would pretty much guarantee you that there are adapter plates out there to make it work with any alt-az or eq, too.

    heck, there’s probably even an adapter to turn it into a finderscope! πŸ˜‰

  15. Damn it… DAMN IT !

    I was about to buy this little thing, but it looks like they don’t ship outside of North America…

  16. I inquired “Skyvue” in Calgary AB CA about the Mini-Mak I thought you might be interested in what Blaire Colborne of Skyvue replied:

    “I have not read the review you saw. The last batch of Mini Mak I had were
    so-so optically and the wee plastic tripod was nervous. I no longer
    inventory this item”………..
    “Mak designs have large central obstructions in the light path of about 35%.
    They have larger focal length than other telescope designs and thus higher
    magnifications for whatever eyepiece is involved.
    I have the Celestron Ultima 65 spotting scope 18 – 55x zoom at $95. There
    are no obstructions in the light path so the image will be brighter.”

  17. lord_zapan? they ship all over the world! before you try to order, look on the left column for shipping estimates. i don’t know where you’re at, but i took a clue from dollhopf. from CA to denmark by UPS global priority it’s $37 for shipping.

    dale? yup. it’s twice as much and doesn’t have a tripod… but it does have a non-magnified sighting tube, celestron optics and the same guarantee! again, the c65 isn’t the highest quality spotter out there – but, the point behind the article is that you can find a very inexpensive, single package way to introduce yourself to the hobby and decide if a larger investment is right for you. if it whets your appetite for more? then you know you should be saving your spare change to get telescope. if you only use it every now and again on a whim? then it didn’t cost anything more than a date night out at the movies and it will be around forever to wait until you decide you want to play again.

  18. you are very welcome, sir dale! between you and me? i’d love to get my sweaty little paws on a swarovski or a zhumell… but asking readers to even consider a $3000 spotting scope is… is… well… shall we say not conducive to getting your ordinary average sky watcher into simple astronomy?

    it ain’t easy to find a multi-purpose telescope a college student can keep in their dorm room… the apartment dweller can take out on their ledge-like balcony to peer out at the moon… or that someone who has a tough time paying for that extra tank of gas back and forth to work can afford for his daughter’s birthday.

    give it to your kids or grandkids as a starter telescope! if they break it? celestron replaces it. use it as a carry-on telescope when you travel – and buy an adapter an use it as a finderscope on your big lightbucket if you want. take it to public outreach events and let folks play with it. there are better ones out there, but it’s performance is well worth what it costs.

  19. Tammy
    Souds so good I ordered both the Celestron C65 Mini-Mak and the Celestron StarPointer Finderscope. from OPT.
    Unfortunately they are both back ordered from the manufacturer.
    Do you have ant other source to purchase them?? thanks

  20. Tammy,

    I posted earlier about my order at OPT but they canceled it… This is there reply:

    “Thank you for inquiring with OPT. Unfortunately we are unable to ship Celestron products outside of the United States or Canada due to a contractual obligation. We can ship them anywhere in the US, Canada and US territories, so if you have a US address that we can ship to then we would be happy to accommodate you. We can also ship to any APO or FPO (American Military) address in the world.”

    I live in the Netherlands, so its a no-go for me πŸ™

  21. oh, robert. i’m so sorry they couldn’t send you one! what a shame… it would have been so less expensive, too. πŸ™

    falmastro? i had a litle look around at the companies that i know are reputable and it seems pretty much everyone is sold out at the moment. we must have generated a good response!

    doug? the universal camera adapter. it clamps around the eyepiece and secures your camera on a slider type affair. just remember the tabletop tripod isn’t really meant to balance that type of load and you’ll probably need a regular camera tripod. oddy enough i have pretty good success just shooting through the eyepiece afocally with a camcorder like this:

    i held it up the the eyepiece, wrapped my fingers around it, focused according to what i could see in the viewfinder screen and used the camera’s internal zoom feature for the extra magnification. i’m not going to win any prizes, but all it took was a minute of my time.

  22. Wow, this is awesome! I’ve wanted a telescope ever since I was a child, but they were always too expensive, and then it turned into one of those things that I always wanted to get into, but never really pursued because I figured that the costs would be prohibitive. I remember having a blast the one night in the introductory Astronomy class that I took in college, that we cancelled the lecture and went outside to play around with a bunch of crappy handheld telescopes that my prof brought in because it was clear out for once, so it’s not like I need any super high-end gear. I just want to see some planets and ooh and ahh over how neat it is to be able to see them.

    Thanks a lot for this review! I think I’ll probably order one of these ASAP, as it’s compact enough that I could pack it with me when I ride out to go camping on my bike, and my paycheque just came through, so I can hopefully take advantage of the last bit of clear summer skies.

  23. Tammy,
    This is awesome. I think I may actually take the plunge and order my first scope. Here’s another question…
    I’m very much an amateur and would like to learn the constellations and so forth as I’m viewing. The only thing I have right now to help me is Stellarium, which is installed on my desktop. What do you suggest to help the amateur who is outside trying to figure out what h/she is looking at? What have you found to be the most helpful?
    Many thanks again. Your reviews and articles are excellent…

  24. I tried to order one of these from OPT as a gift for my
    Unfortunately Celestron forbid us here in
    Europe from getting a fair price on our
    their. Such a shame.

  25. Hi, Tammy. First I want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your articles, your skywatching guide, and your own website over the years. πŸ™‚

    Also want to tell you that I read this article early Sunday morning, searched for the scope, found it at on sale for $38 with free ground shipping.

    And it arrived here at my home just a few minutes ago. It’s cute! I can hardly wait to use it. Gonna do some stargazing with this and some binoculars the first clear night we get! πŸ™‚

  26. glad to hear that folks are getting their scopes! let’s see if i can figure out a product that i can test to help beginners learn the night sky…

    i’m on it!!

  27. Well I managed to get one here in the UK and I have to be honest and say that I think it is horrible tacky and cheap. Trying to focus the scope even at 30x is a real pain. Anything above 30x forget it. The you get image is washed out The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true. This one is going on Ebay.

  28. hi, olebrum…

    i’m sorry you were disappointed. please remember that your saying is correct – you do get what you pay for – but i felt the model i tested was well worth the asking price.

    before you sell it, take an evening and try your luck with the moon. and don’t forget to give it to your niece to try as well!

  29. The poor kid couldn’t even focus it. I am really rather disappointed.
    I hate to say it but cheap Chinese tat is just that and I should have taken much more time before spending my money. Also take into consideration that everything we buy here costs double the price in dollars that readers in the USA pay, so a $100 item there is $200 here.

  30. Hi Tammy,

    Hope you get a kick back from all these sales. lol

    Well like so many of your readers, I read your article and took the plunge as well. I immediately wrote my sister and sent her the info since she interested in purchasing a telescope for astronomical purposes. She is by far an amateur astronomer and I hated for her to invest in something expensive because right now it is just her dream to own a telescope someday. I was afraid she would try to buy something around $500 and use it and then stick it back in the back of the closet for the most part.

    Question: I am 57 now and the eyes are going. See double stars were there are only one. Is there some headgear that can bring the sky into focus as it once was as a young man? I now wear bifocals as most of us old farts do.

    Thanks and keep up the good work Tammy.


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