Best Telescope To See Saturn


When I first started to study Astronomy, one of the first things I was most curious about was viewing the planet Saturn.

The best telescope to see Saturn is the Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope. It has a 5-inch aperture which offers plenty of light gathering ability at a very affordable price. Here is my list of the best telescopes to see Saturn:

  • Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker – Best Value!
  • Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 – Best 8-Inch Dobsonian-style
  • Gskyer 130EQ Reflector Telescope – Professional German Technology
  • Orion 13161 StarSeeker IV 150mm Computerized Telescope – Premium Quality

In general, I recommend an optical device with at least a 4-inch aperture is needed for satisfactory results. With a telescope of this size, I utilize a power magnification of 200x which allows me to view the planet Saturn and the surrounding rings which make it so unique from all of the other planets.

Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope – Best Value!

celestron 127eq powerseeker
Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope

One of the first telescopes I bought when I became interested in astronomy was a reflector telescope.  I found it at a garage sale and knew immediately after I saw it that I was going to own it. My biggest mistake was letting the person that was selling it how much I really wanted it.  I gave away more power and bargaining position immediately… and we hadn’t even started the negotiations yet!  It was an old reflector telescope that was probably originally purchased from a department store that sold 1000’s of items. It was plain and basic, but I couldn’t wait to get it home right after I bought it. My love for astronomy had started soon afterward.

Now I am older and wiser, and my small collection of telescopes includes a Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope. It is very capable of viewing the planet Saturn with its 5-inch aperture/objective size. This telescope has been one of my “go to” telescopes ever since I purchased it almost two years ago. Not only is it well made and constructed of quality materials, but the tripod (included in the box) is also a bargain. While the tripod is not super heavy-duty, it is hefty and strong enough to easily accommodate this telescope. It also came with an equatorial mount, finder scope, and several eyepieces.

Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 – Best 8-Inch Dobsonian-style

Orion 8945

This telescope is one of my favorites to use because of one thing, the Focuser. It lets me find and view the object that I’m viewing quickly, and then I can precision focus on it so that I can every tiny detail. What’s the secret? It comes with a 2-inch dual-speed focuser coupled with an 11:1 fine-focus capability. This focuser is super simple and easy to use.

The objective mirror on this telescope is 8-inches in diameter, which is fairly large for most casual astronomers. However, this might be considered a minimum acceptable size for the more aggressive astronomy enthusiasts. Because this telescope is a Reflector-type, it does require adjusting the mirrors in order to achieve an accurate alignment of the image.

Gskyer 130EQ Reflector Telescope – Professional German Technology

This telescope is superb in quality. Not only are the optical tube assembly and optics high quality, but it also comes with a precision equatorial mount and a stainless steel tripod.

It is solidly built but easy enough to take apart and move or for storage. It comes with a set of three lenses, which are plenty sufficient for most casual viewing. I like this telescope because of the quality, but also because it would make a good telescope for a beginner.  However, it only came with a single sheet of instructions, so it was a little confusing putting it together and getting it set up properly.  For the initial setup, I would recommend that a beginner get some assistance from someone with a little bit of experience. 

Besides the poor instructions, my only other gripe with this telescope is the focuser.  It is a traditional rack-and-pinion focuser which works fine, but I would’ve much rather seen a friction bearing system (aka Crayford style) because it has a more precise action and smoother feel for less vibration.

Orion 13161 StarSeeker IV 150mm Computerized Telescope – Premium Quality

Orion 13161 StarSeeker IV

This is one of the best-computerized reflector telescopes available on the market today.  It has a big, 150mm objective mirror which brings you bright views of everything from the Moon and planets to deep-sky targets like nebulas and star clusters.

Once aligned, dual optical encoders on both axes of motion allow manual aiming of the telescope without losing GoTo alignment. After an object is selected, the StarSeeker IV 150mm locates and tracks it automatically so you can relax and enjoy the view.

But I need to mention that the finder scope that is included with this telescope is not one of my favorites. For me, I personally find it a little bit lower in construction quality and it only has marginal performance. So when I purchased this telescope, I ended up replacing the finder scope with a different finder scope.

How Far Away Is The Planet Saturn From Earth?

et’s discuss the distance that Saturn is away from Earth. The distance to Saturn from Earth varies because both planets are in elliptical orbits around the sun.

Saturn And It’s Rings

At the closest point, Saturn is 746 million miles (1.2 billion kilometers) away from Earth. That is a really long distance, but let’s put it into perspective. If you could drive a car going 60 miles-per-hour to Saturn it would take you over 12,433,333 hours (that’s equal to 1,419.3 years!).

At their most distant, when the Earth and Saturn are on opposite sides of the sun from one another, they are just over a billion miles (1.7 billion km) apart. That is equivalent to 11 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.

The Key To Viewing Saturn With A Telescope

The key for viewing Saturn through a telescope is not about magnification power, but rather the light gathering capability of a telescope.

If we stop for a moment and think about how a telescope works, the telescope provides the user with a view of a distant object because it captures the light rays reflecting from the object and focuses them to an eyepiece.

So, with this in mind, we know that for a telescope to view the planet Saturn it needs to be able to capture the light rays that have reflected from the surface of the planet. Because Saturn is so far away, the telescope must have substantial light gathering capability in order to “see” the light rays reflected off of the surface.

I have found that a telescope with a 4-inch aperture/objective is needed to see the planet Saturn and its rings on a regular, consistent basis. Yes, it has sufficient magnification power, but it also has the ability to capture the light reflecting from Saturn.

What Is So Special About A 4-inch Aperture Telescope?

The light gathering capability of a telescope increases as the size of aperture/objective is increased.  In other words, the larger the aperture/objective the better the telescope can “see” objects. So in order to see the planet Saturn and its rings, I have found that using a telescope with at least a 4-inch aperture/objective works well.

So it all boils down to this simple little relationship formula:

Large aperture/objective = More light gathering capability = Better ability to see planets

What Magnification Power Telescope Is Needed To See Saturn?

The magnification power of a telescope with a 4-inch aperture/objective can be easily computed using a standard optical formula. The Maximum Useable Magnification power (MUM Factor) provided by a telescope is computed as follows:

MUM Factor = Telescope aperture/objective size x 50

So using this formula, the maximum useable magnification power of a telescope with a 4-inch aperture/objective is calculated like this:

Step 1: MUM Factor = 4-inch aperture x 50

Step 2: MUM factor = 200

So the maximum useable magnification power of a telescope with a 4-inch aperture/objective is 200x. While the 200x magnification power is sufficient to enlarge the characteristics of the planet Saturn, the most important aspect is that the 4-inch aperture/objective is large enough to capture and collect the reflected light rays from the planet’s surface.

What If I Want More Magnification Power?

If you want more than the 200x magnification power that a 4-inch telescope can provide, then you’ll need to increase the size of the aperture/objective appropriately. Rather than force you to make a series of calculations, I went ahead and made some calculations at regular intervals to save you some time.  Here are the different magnification powers along with the associated aperture/objective sizes.

 Desired Magnification Power   Size of Aperture/Objective (inches/cm) 
200x 4 in / 101 cm
250x 5 in / 127 cm
300x 6 in / 153 cm
400x 8 in / 204 cm
500x 10 in / 254 cm

Should I Get A Reflector Or Refractor Telescope?

This question often comes up about the type of telescope to use.  Should it be a Reflector telescope, a Refractor telescope, or a Compound telescope?

The answer to this question depends on what you are seeking from a telescope. So here’s a general guide to help you decide the better telescope for your purpose. If you want to view:

  • The Moon & Close-by Planets = Refractor telescope
  • Distant Planets = Reflector telescope
  • Deep Space Constellations, Nebulas, Star Clusters = Reflector telescope
  • The Moon & Close Planets = Refractor telescope
  • Beaches, Mountains, Landscapes = Refractor telescope
  • Buildings, Structures, Events, People = Refractor telescope

So following this guide we see that to view the planet Saturn, we’ll want to use a Reflector telescope.

What’s The Physical Difference Between A Refractor vs Reflector Telescope?

Just for some quick background information, a Refractor type uses a series of lenses starting with an objective lens which is convex shaped and coordinated with an eyepiece so that whatever is being looked at will be amplified enough and gather more detail for you to see.

Refractor Type Telescope

The difference in a Reflector telescope is that it uses mirrors in order to achieve the amplification that is done with a lens in the previous type. There might be multiple ones or just a single mirror, but in any case, these eponymous reflectors are curved in order to get a detailed image to your eye.

Reflector Type Telescope

For me personally, I find that Refractor telescopes work well for viewing brighter objects like the moon and some of the closer planets. Whereas Reflector telescopes are best suited for observing dimly lit deep-sky objects, like low magnitude stars, clusters, nebulas and distant planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus.

Here’s The Telescope That I Use To View Saturn

When I started getting involved in astronomy, I was looking for a good quality scope at a reasonable price that I could afford.  Since I was initially interested in viewing all of the planets, I was looking for a reflector telescope that had lots of light gathering capability so that I’d have the best chance of seeing the planets (Remember that the key to viewing the distant planets is having lots of light gathering capability!).

Check Out This Refractor Telescope That I Suggest To My Friends

Sometimes I also get asked for a recommendation for good Refractor telescope. Before I respond and answer that question, I always take a few minutes and the difference between a Refractor telescope and a Reflector telescope, and why I think a Reflector telescope performs better for viewing the planet Saturn. If the person pushes me and still wants a recommendation for a Refractor telescope, here is the telescope I suggest.

Celestron 22065 AstroMaster 102AZ Refractor Telescope

celestron AstroMaster 102AZ
Good General Purpose Refractor Telescope

The Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ is a 4-inch aperture Refractor telescope. This is a very capable scope, which includes the ability for the user to see the planet Saturn in addition to the other planets, the moon, star clusters, nebulas, etc.  While I have never directly owned of these telescopes, I have had plenty of opportunities to use them for observing the night sky.  This telescope is extremely simple to set up and very easy to use.

 This s a good, general-purpose telescope that works well and easy for beginners use and operate without frustration. Its large aperture (4-inches) makes it a good candidate for viewing distant planets like Saturn. It is also well-suited for viewing the Moon and other close-by planets (e.g., Venus, Mars).

What Telescope To See Jupiter?

Do You Also Want To See Jupiter?

The same telescope that I recommend for viewing Saturn can be used to also see the planet Jupiter. As it turns out, Jupiter is roughly 14% larger than Saturn. Jupiter has a diameter of 142,800 km and Saturn has a diameter of 120,660 km. So from a size perspective, Jupiter is a larger celestial body to see. In fact, Jupiter is so big that it is even bigger than all of the other planets combined!

In addition to being a larger planet, Jupiter is also closer to Earth. At the closest point, the distance to Jupiter is only 365 million miles (588 million kilometers), that is about half the distance to Saturn.

Leave a Comment: