Much has changed in space science and technology in the past 50 years, from men walking on the Moon to the discovery of dark matter and dark energy. But through it all, Celestron has made some of the best telescopes in the world, helping both amateurs and professionals fall even more in love with the sky. “Celestron’s 50th anniversary is a great milestone,” says president and CEO Joseph A. Lupica, Jr.
Like many telescope companies, Celestron’s roots are humble. Tom Johnson, an electrical engineer who owned the aerospace electronics firm Valor Electronics, simply wanted his two boys to have a decent telescope. He eventually decided to build one himself, and realized he just couldn’t get enough. In 1960, Johnson founded Celestron as an astro-optical division of Valor, and it soon blossomed into a vigorous, full-time business.
Celestron was the first large-scale maker of Schmidt-Cassegrains, helping to popularize not just the telescope model, but also the hobby of astronomy itself. Beyond telescopes, the company also makes internationally respected binoculars, microscopes, and accessories for their equipment. “When you … consider what Tom Johnson accomplished, you can’t help but be proud and impressed at his vision,” says Lupica. Celestron’s scopes have even traveled into orbit with NASA astronauts, who brought the C5 telescope on numerous space shuttle missions.
Throughout the year, Celestron plans to continue the festivities both on its Anniversary web site, www.celestron.com/50/, and with real-world events. “We have many plans ahead to show our support to the astronomical community,” Lupica says, as well as crafting new, even more impressive instruments. “It’s going to be a very exciting year!”