I can’t imagine anything more fun (and scary) at the same time than to think about how we came into existence and to contemplate what else is out there in this big vast universe of ours.
Nowadays, with a little investment, you can watch almost as far as the biggest and most expensive telescopes out there, right from the comfort of your home. To view the stars, moon, and planets with your own eyes is something that just can’t be replicated by anything else than a telescope and is a truly magical experience.
In reality, there is a legion of options out there at many different price points, shapes and designs. Some telescopes are perfect for beginners, where other astronomical telescopes are for the professionals (with a little more budget).
However, it is always essential that the telescope you choose is made of high-quality optics and has a firm mounting. You would want to avoid buying a cheap telescope, and to help you, I’m here with in-depth reviews of the best telescopes for both beginners and professionals star-gazers.
The Best Telescope for your Home
In choosing the best telescopes, you should consider your level of expertise. There are numerous choices out there and selecting the best one can be mind-boggling especially if you only have a limited budget. Most people think that getting a starter telescope costs a lot, however, you will notice below you can get started for the costs of a fine dinner.
Best Telescopes for Beginners: Comparison Table
I’ve tested and chosen some of my favorite, top-rated telescopes for beginners below, with in-depth reviews and all their features clearly outlined.
Telescopes for Beginners: In-depth Reviews
Below the best telescopes for beginners in the market right now. Based on extensive research and vigours testing, I believe these are the best telescopes for a beginner to buy online right now.
1. Celestron NexStar 8 SE Telescope
Celestron NexStar SE is chosen as the best telescope of the year for four consecutive years. It has the best technological features, aperture, and value. It is also very portable to use. Regardless, if you are a first time or you want to upgrade your current telescope with a new gadget, Celestron NexStar SE is the best choice.
- This is one of the best telescopes since it uses the Schmidt-Cassegrain or Maksutov-Cassegrain optical system. It allows you to broaden your aperture from four inches to eight inches.
- The StarBright XLT optical coatings offer you excellent brightness and clearness.
- The SkyAlign Technology allows you to locate several celestial objects by merely pointing 3 objects in the sky.
- You can choose to add the SkyQ Link 2 Wifi Module. With this module, you can make use of your smartphone is managing your telescope.
- The telescope can align on its own with the use of StarSense AutoAlign.
2. Celestron CPC ® Deluxe 800 HD Telescope
Celestron CPC Deluxe HD Series are considered as the best telescopes for navigation. It is very easy to set up. It comes with a GPS. All you have to do is turn on the telescope and it will automatically recognize the time, date, latitude and longitude. Just point it at the center of 3 objects and you can instantly locate numerous celestial objects in the sky.
- Deluxe HD models come with enhanced tracking accuracy.
- You can guarantee its stability because of its dual form arm mount.
- The EdgeHD of Celestron has superb clarity.
3. Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ Telescope
Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ is one of the best telescopes for beginners. A lot of people are using this telescope in viewing the universe. This is due to its large primary mirror. It is the perfect telescope for first-timers since it has a very simple design.
- This telescope has an excellent light-gathering ability to let you see different celestial objects clearly.
- The equatorial mount is very useful for first-timers. It can track the celestial objects accurately even if it moves.
- Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ is very affordable since it only costs below $200.
- It comes with everything you need including the tripod, mount, accessories and of course the telescope.
- Download Celestron’s stargazing app, SkyPortal to learn more about various celestial objects.
4. SkyWatcher S11800 GoTo Collapsible Dobsonian
If you require a larger telescope then the best option is the Sky-Watcher GoTo Collapsible Dobsonian. There are different sizes to choose from. The bigger the size, the more details you can see. Storing is not a problem since it can be disassembled. This is perfect if you are transporting it from one place to another.
- The GOTo technology and the large aperture are very useful for astronomy enthusiasts.
- The SynScan hand control is very easy to use.
- The telescope remains aligned regardless if you swing it.
5. Vixen Space Eye 50mm Telescope
Let your kids discover the universe with Vixen Space Eye 50mm Telescope. This is one of the best telescopes for kids. It is very easy to use, making it perfect for kids. This telescope only weighs 6.2 lbs so your children can install it on their own. It comes with a 50mm refractor that can be used for gazing at the planets and the moon. You can easily make any adjustments through its altazimuth.
- It includes two eyepieces.
- The finderscope is very helpful if your children want to explore the night sky.
6. Celestron NexStar 127 SLT
Celestron NexStar 127 SLT might be a bit expensive, however, it definitely is one of the best telescopes for beginners. This telescope is computerized, this means that you can easily locate celestial objects in the sky.
A lot of astronomy enthusiasts get easily frustrated if they can’t find any celestial objects after a couple of hours. With this computerized telescope, they won’t get discouraged anymore. Even amateurs can get the chance to watch the stars instantly.ORDER NOW
7. Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian Telescope
This telescope is the most expensive on our list, however, it’s also the best rated. It has a superior image quality. Orion 8945 can be used by any stargazers of different levels. If you want to attach a camera to the telescope then you should purchase an additional attachment. It weighs more or less 40 lbs. after it is assembled. It is a little bit heavier if you want to transfer it to another location.
- It comes with the Starry Night astronomy software which is perfect for beginners.
- This is the best telescope for those who love to watch celestial objects that do not fade too quickly.
- Orion 8945 can last for years.
8. Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
If you have a tight budget then Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope is the best option for you. This is also one of the best telescopes for kids. It is very easy to set up and it does not require any tools. It gives you 300x magnification.
- It comes with two types of eyepieces.
- This telescope includes TheSkyX software where you can learn a lot of things about celestial objects.
- This is the best choice for those who are looking for cheap telescopes.
9. Orion 10014 SkyQuest XT 4.5 Dobsonian
At first glance, you can quickly tell that this telescope is durably built. You can guarantee that this telescope can last for years. You can easily transfer it from one place to another since it is mounted on wheels. The only downside of this telescope is that it does not stand too tall. This means that huge people have to bend over in order to look through the telescope.
- It comes with TheSkyX software to help you in exploring the universe.
- Orion 10014 is very portable. It is your best companion while you travel.
- This is a mid-range telescope and has a reasonable price. If you want to enjoy the amazing view of the sky but don’t want to pay more then this is the best telescope for you.
10. Celestron 70mm Travel Scope
Celestron 70mm Travel Scope is the cheapest and the smallest telescope on the list. It is a fact that great things come in small packages. And this telescope is the proof of that. This telescope is very convenient and portable.
It is ideal for people who want to travel to places where they can enjoy a vast view of the sky. Obviously, if you travel you don’t want to bring those bulky devices with you, this isn’t practical. What this telescope lacks are power and size.
- This telescope includes a bag and a tripod.
- It is very easy to set up so you can start stargazing right away.
- This can make a great gift for your kids who are interested in astronomy.
Telescopes Buying Guide
If you are a beginner or a child, then here are some important things that you need to consider. The mounting of your telescope is very important. Always make sure that it is durable, a good telescope generally includes a tripods or mount. However, smaller telescopes come with a mounting block which can be hooked up to a photo tripod.
Take note that there are some mounts that can only work on telescopes. Blocks which include screw attachment are important in order to have a sturdy mounting. At the same time, it can also accommodate bigger plates.
Altitude-azimuth mounts are the types of mounts that are capable of swinging upwards and downwards as well as to the right and to the left. It works just like a photo tripod. A telescope that includes a wooden platform is also known as Dobsonian.
If you want to monitor the movement of the stars then you should choose an equatorial mounting. All you have to do is to move it on a single axis. This type of mounting is a bit heftier compared to altitude-azimuth mounts. Additionally, the first thing that you must do is to look for the North Star and make sure that you are aligned with it.
Telescope with or without a Motor
Some telescopes come with small motors. With these models, you can easily move and point the telescope to the sky. On the other hand, there are also advanced models which are also known as the “go-to” scopes.
By entering the location, date and time, it will point you to several celestial objects. Some models include a guided tour to provide you with some essential information about the celestial realm.
Aperture Size of Telescope
Another important aspect that you should look into is the aperture. This is the diameter of the mirror which can be found near the focuser. The typical measurement is 2.8 inches. A larger aperture is preferable if you want to have a clearer view of the details. A small telescope is still useful even if you live far from the city.
The maximum magnification of a telescope is usually 50x its aperture. Therefore, if you require a 600x magnification then you should get a 12″ scope.
The telescopes we use today came a long way from the first versions that appeared in the Netherlands around the beginning of the 1600s. From there many genius minds have contributed and developed the basic telescope concepts that we still use until this day.
The Inventor of the Telescope
Since the inventor is the person who invented the actual machine or application, we have to give credits to Dutch eyeglass maker Hans Lippershey. When he saw his two children hold up two lenses and noticed it create a magnification of the object seen through the lenses, he came up with the first concept of a telescope.
The first design of the early refractor telescope that Lippershey invented, had a convex objective lens and a concave eyepiece. He tried to patent the telescope, which was able to magnify an image up to 3 times, but unfortunately never received the patent.
Regardless of the patent for the telescope, it is widely considered Lippershey is the official inventor of the first telescope. After the news of this invention spread, over time, people like Galileo, Newton, and Hubble would all help to improve the designs and development of what is now one of the most important pieces of equipment in science, astrology, and astronomy.
The History of the Telescope Design
The news about the concept of the telescope reached Galileo Galilei within a couple of months, and he promptly began to improve on it (without having seen the actual telescope).
His improvement increased the magnification of the telescope with more than 20 times, and he was reportedly the first person to point the telescope to the sky to first see the landscape of the moon.
After the groundbreaking work of the first telescope was done, many more interested scientists, astronomers, philosophers, and inventors started working on improved versions of the telescope.
In 1611, Johannes Kepler described how far more useful telescopes could be made with a convex objective lens and a convex eyepiece lens, the famous Keplerian Telescope.
Dutch astronomer Christian Huygens, inspired by the previous versions, built the biggest and most powerful telescope for that time in the year 1655 and was the first to see the solar system and its planets in great detail.
Working from the writings of Kepler, it was Isaac Newton who figured out it made more sense to create a telescope that used mirrors rather than lenses and built the first reflector telescope in 1668.
His designs incorporated a small diagonal mirror to reflect the light to an eyepiece on the side of the telescope. Up until this day the reflecting telescope dominates astrology and the list of the best telescopes featured above.
Types of Telescopes
As slightly discussed in the history of the telescopes, there are two types of telescopes, namely a refractor and reflector telescope. The way how to determine which telescope is used, the objective of the telescope (the part that gathers light) needs to be studied.
The first invented refractor telescope uses a glass lens as its objective at the front of the telescope where light is refracted (bent) as it goes through the lens. Refractor telescopes are long and slim, and are ideal for viewing larger, brighter objects such as the planets and the moon.
After the refractor telescope was invented, about 50 years later Isacc Newton devised the reflector telescope which uses a mirror as objective. Light is reflected towards the end of the telescope. Reflector telescopes are usually shorter and wider in appearance and are the instrument of choice for deep space and wide-field viewing.
Reflector vs Refractor Telescope
The big difference between a reflecting and refracting telescope is that a reflector telescope uses two mirrors instead of two lenses in order to eliminate chromatic aberration (a rainbow seen around the object). Using a mirror lens to gather light eliminates this effect and provides for a clearer image.
When using mirrors on a telescope though, some of the light will be lost along the way and the mirrors might not be aligned perfectly which can result in a dragging effect where a point could be seen as a line. With a reflector telescope, you also need to regularly clean and realign the mirrors for the best result.
Pluses for refractor telescopes are that your images are the ‘right-side-up’ and having a sealed tube which means little maintenance is required. However, these telescopes are often more expensive than a reflector telescope.
In the end, the real question is, for what purpose will you use your telescope, and what kind of result or imagery do you want? As a beginner, and being on a budget, it is probably your best bet to choose a reflector telescope, due to the more affordable costs, the clearer imagery, and a deeper and wider view of the universe.
If you’re a professional, have some money to spend, and time to wait for those perfect nights, the refractor wins every single time. And dollar for dollar, high-quality reflectors rule.
Who makes the Best Telescopes?
Before getting your first telescope, you have to understand that this tool requires patience, knowledge and most of all money. If you ask an astronomer then he’ll probably tell you to start with a pair of binoculars.
It is much cheaper than telescopes. Also, it can let you see more than you’ve ever imagined. Aside from this, binoculars can also be used for outdoor activities such as birding.
By the time that you are already ready for some genuine stargazing then you can buy your first telescope. The most popular brands are Celestron, Meade, and Questar. Celestron is the most prominent of them all.
They offer different types of telescopes from larger reflectors to small portable scopes. There is also a wide range of apertures to choose from, so you can choose the one that suits your preference.
When Meade first introduced their product in 1996, most people predicted that they can beat Questar. However, it did not satisfy the customer’s expectations. But in recent years, they have amazingly improved and have incorporated their products with Go-To technology. With this latest innovation, you don’t have to do any manual adjustments. It’s tripod also offers more stability.
Questar is the most prominent brand among beginners. They are best known for making quality products. There are several models that you can choose depending on your needs and usage. This brand is best known for its high-quality telescopes that come in different eyepieces and finder power. Astronomers are happy and satisfied with their products.
Frequently Asked Questions on Telescopes
Below you can find the most send-in reader’s questions on the latest telescopes, its features and how to use a telescope to the best of its abilities.
Why do things look upside-down when I look through my telescope?
There is nothing wrong with your telescope. The lens it uses flips the image so that you can see an enlarged version of what is being displayed. In other words, there is no need to worry, your type of telescope is working as designed.
Does it have to be dark to use a telescope?
The main purpose of a telescope is to give you a clear view of the nighttime sky. However, you should always set up your telescope where there is adequate lighting to avoid accidental damage to its components.
Can I use my telescope through a window?
Technically, yes. The quality of the image that is provided, though, will be very poor. The materials of the viewfinder and eye of the telescope are specially formulated to give the clearest and sharpest picture. A window is not formulated with the same contents, so this is not an ideal setup.
Can I leave a telescope outdoors?
You should never leave a telescope outside when you are not using it. Moisture from the air and any rainfall can permanently damage the optics and render your product useless. You should always make sure your telescope is stored in a climate-controlled, environment with the dust caps secured over the viewfinder and eye.
What do the numbers mean on a telescope?
The numbers correspond with the matching aperture on the eye of your telescope. The large the setting, the sharper and more vibrant the image will be.
Can you see planets with a telescope?
Yes. You can actually see planets with the naked eye; they just look like stars. With a telescope, though, you will be able to see the planets in much more detail.
There are abundant models of really good telescopes that are available on the market today and hopefully, I made your decision on which telescope to get a little bit easier. I truly hope more people get interested in astronomy as there is so much more to explore.
Remember you do not have to be a professional astrologer or scientist to take a look at the universe and wander away with what else might be out there! Happy stargazing to everyone, and feel free to leave a comment below on what you have discovered in our universe.
SAY CHEESE! My name is Mike and I love technology, software, and crypto. I grew up around my ‘nerdy’ engineering parents who’ve worked for high tech start-ups and aerospace companies. They’ve taught me everything I know, from destructing the latest phones to playing around with drones, writing lines of code and investing in cryptocurrencies. I take things apart, put them back together and add some (code). I breathe and live tech and can’t wait to teach you more!