There’s a lot of fun to be had when you’re exploring the night sky when you’re using the best telescope that you can get your hands on. However, if you’re wondering what is the best telescope that is going to give you a clear view of what you want to observe, but also isn’t going to cost a lot of money.
In this guide, we’re going to shed some light (no pun intended) on what features you should look for when searching for the best telescope for kids or novice astronomers.
It’s important that you choose your telescope wisely, because you don’t want to choose a scope that is difficult to use, or is only good for viewing things in the distances on Earth, rather than out there in space! We've got a list of 15 DO's and DON'Ts for you to follow when you consider that important purchase.
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Best Telescope Under $500
Best Telescope Under $300
Best Telescope Under $200
Best Telescope Under $100
Best Travel Telescope
Most people assume that there is only one type of telescope, when in fact there are three different types of scopes that you could choose from. Before we can look at the other features that plays a role in the best telescope for beginners or children, let’s look at these three types:
The refractor telescope uses a refractor mechanism and its shape is usually what people think when they hear the term, telescope. The front of the scope houses a large lens where light is collected. Then the light is sent to a mirror that is in the back of the telescope, where you will look into the eye piece and see the image.
These telescopes has a mirror at the end of the tube. The mirror is going to gather light and it is sent to another mirror before it can be seen through the eye piece. Reflector telescopes are best suited for seeing faint objects because they provide you with images that are much clearer than a refractor telescope.
Compound telescopes are known as catadioptric telescopes. They feature two mirrors at either end of the telescope. This set up is going to produce a high quality image when you look at it.
Beginners will often do best with a refractor or reflector telescope. If you don’t want to worry about maintenance, a refractor scope is the way to go.
After choosing what type of telescope you want, let’s take a look at other important basics:
The aperture indicates the diameter of the telescope’s lens or mirror. This is going to be the most important aspect to consider when you are choosing your telescope because it is going to determine how much you’re going to be able to see when looking through.
Basically, the larger the aperture, the more you’re going to be able to see because more light is being let into the scope, allowing you to see fainter objects in the distance.
Focal length indicates the distance from the telescope’s focal point to the lens or mirror. It is isn’t the most important thing to look for (remember, the aperture is), but it is still something you will want to take into consideration. If you have a larger focal things are going to look larger than if you choose a smaller length.
The point of choosing the best telescope is to be able to see objects in the night sky. The magnification level of the telescope is going to be determined by the eye piece and the focal length. It is worth mentioning that you can have a high magnification, but unless you can get a clear image, that high magnification is going to be pointless.
The finder of the telescope is what helps you find the celestial bodies that you are searching for, and all but the smallest telescope will need one of these.
Usually, the finders you attach to your telescope is going to be a miniature telescope that’ll be attached to the back of the scope by a bracket. It will have a low magnification, therefore having a wider field of view. Most finders will also include crosshair markings to help you search, too.
The eyepiece is often overlooked when people search for telescopes, but it is equally as important as the other features. You want a high quality eye piece because then you’ll actually be able to see through, unlike with telescopes that have a tiny piece of glass or a low quality eyepiece where you are squinting to see.
The mount (or tripod) is an important consideration because you want to have a sturdy foundation for your telescope to rest on. The best mount is going to be sturdy enough to stay in place while you swing your telescope in all directions.
When you do find the object you want to observe, your mount should also lock the telescope in place so that it doesn’t wobble.
There are two types of mounts:
These are best suited for beginners as they can only move vertically or horizontally.
These mounts have been designed to follow the night sky as the Earth rotates. Using this mount will allow you to slowly turn the telescope and the things in the sky will appear to stay still.
Now that we’ve gone over important features, let’s take a look at our top five best telescope choices.
The Orion SpaceProbe Equatorial Reflector Telescope is a compact telescope, much smaller than a refractor telescope. It features a 24-inch optical tube that has a focal length of 5.1 inches. These dimensions are capable of creating a wide field of view, perfect for the novice astronomer as well as more experienced astronomers. Some notable features:
The Orion SpaceProbe Equatorial Reflector Telescope includes:
The telescope’s aperture captures and focuses an ample amount of light so that you can achieve incredible results without interference from other light sources.
The precise equatorial mount for the telescope is ideal and it gives you two setting circles with the essential slow-motion controls. You do have to Pole align the telescope, but once that has been done, you can begin your star gazing extravaganza.
The magnification on this telescope ranges between 26x to 65x, however, if you go to the maximum setting (260x), you will have distortion and you will lose clarity and focus.
When looking at what people had to say about the Orion SpaceProbe Equatorial Reflector Telescope, they had great things to say. Customers who purchased this telescope like that the telescope is easy to set up and adjust, which allows them to start their star gazing experience almost immediately.
Several people were surprised by how clearly they were able to view celestial wonders like the Andromeda Galaxy, the Moons of Jupiter, Rings of Saturn, and Orion Nebula, among other wonders.
Though there were plenty of positive reviews, there were some people who were less than pleased with this telescope. Of these critical reviews, people were disappointed in the instructions. They wished there were illustrations that they could follow, because the instructions weren’t clear on how to set it up.
Customers also felt that while the telescope had a higher power than 65mm, it wouldn’t collimate. As a result, the resolution and sharpness of the views were very blurred and distorted, even at 80x magnification.
The Meade Instruments Infinity Refractor Telescope was designed to be provide the novice astronomer, as it comes with everyone you would need to see the night sky, such as a steel tripod and accessory tray where you can store all of your astronomy maps and other tools. Notable features of the Meade Instruments Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope include:
It includes a mount where you can attach a camera so you can take photos of the night sky, or even things off in the distance while viewing in the daytime. There’s a 1.25 inch rack and pinion focuser, a 90 degree image prism, and a red dot finder.
This telescope also comes with three eyes piece specifications that go from 23x magnification, 66.5x magnification, and 95x magnification. You’ll also receive 2 Barlow lenses that will help you see the night sky clearly, with the help of a map you printed out from the software that is also included with the telescope.
When looking at what people had to say about the Meade Instruments Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope, they had great things to say. Customers appreciated that the telescope was able to be used as soon as you took it out of the box, making it very user friendly!
Customers also liked that it had a large 90mm refractor scope, calling it one of the largest scopes in the price range. People also liked that there were fine tuning knobs on the alt-azimuth, which allowed them the ability to see the craters in the moon nice and clear.
There were some people who weren’t as impressed with this telescope and they left critical reviews. These people complained that no matter what they tried, they could see anything through the telescope. They even tried watching the instructional DVD but to no avail.
People also commented that their telescope arrived with the wrong lenses. When they contacted the seller, they were able to receive a full refund and even credit, as the second one they tried shipping had the wrong lenses as well.
The Celestron PowerSeeker 70 EQ Telescope is a device that is a good choice for the budding astronomer. The telescope has been designed to give novices a great overall experience. It’s easy to set up, the directions are easy to follow, and the optics on the telescope are top notch. Notable features of the Celestron PowerSeeker Telescope include:
The image optics have been situated so that they are displayed in an upright position, which allows for terrestrial and astronomical viewing.
The telescope comes with full optics that are coated in a compound that prevents the light from dispersing. This means that you’ll be able to get a clearer, sharper view of whatever you’re looking at. The telescope includes a 3x Barlow lens, and 20 mm and 4mm eye.
Along with the optics, you’ll find that this telescope is very user friendly, as it includes easy to follow instructions and you needn’t use any tools to put the unit together.
When looking at what people had to say about the Celestron PowerSeeker Telescope, they had great things to say. Many customers raved about how clearly they were able to view the celestial bodies.
The optics allowed for sharper images while taking photographs. Customers also liked that this was a good starting point to astronomy and felt the unit was decently priced, for what you get.
Of the critical complaints, people weren’t happy with the tripod. Some said that the tripod was too wobbly and they needed to weigh it down with weighted bags. They also commented that knobs were difficult to manage because either they were too tight or too loose to turn.
A few customers also commented that the mount for the camera wasn’t large enough and it needed to be modified to hold their camera securely in place.
The Gskyer Instruments Telescope was created to give the budding astronomer an astounding solar viewing experience. This can be attributed to the telescope’s 70mm aperture, 400mm focal length, and the f/5 focal ratio. Notable features of the Gskyer Travel Refractor Telescope include:
These specs ensures that you’ll be able to see things clearly through the focuser, but you can use one of the three eyepieces to increase the magnification.
The altazimuth mount screw tripod is made from an aluminum alloy material, making it as lightweight and durable. The tripod also features a vibration pad that will significantly reduce the amount of wobbling when you’re making adjustments so you can capture that perfect image.
Along with the vibration pad, there telescope includes a carrying case that will allow you to keep everything together, but also be able to carry it all comfortably from one place to another.
When looking at what people had to say about the Gskyer Travel Refractor Telescope, they had great things to say. Customers like that the tripod for the telescope feels quite sturdy and they appreciate that it includes an accessory tray where you can store your other lenses.
People felt that the instructions for the telescope were easy to follow and they felt that it was a good telescope for grandchildren to learn on. Folks appreciated the overall quality of the telescope, citing it to be a decent option at the given price point.
At the other end of the spectrum, there were people who were disappointed in it. These people said that the telescope wasn’t able to focus, no matter how hard they tried to fine tune the power.
They did mention that they were able to focus only when the telescope was on the lowest power. Others said that the telescope felt like it was cheaply made - one likened it to a plastic toy.
The Celestron 70mm Travel Scope is going to be the best telescope to buy if you tend to travel around, searching for the best night sky for star gazing. This portable telescope is good for beginners and intermediates alike, as it is easy to use and comes pre-assembled. Notable features of the Celestron 70mm Travel Scope include:
The telescope is made from metal, making it a sturdy device that will hold up well to travel. The finder and focuser is made from plastic, which will require some care so that they stay in good repair.
The telescope can provide you with clear, wide views of the sky. The eye pieces work wonderfully to give you a crisp, clear view of small objects that may be off in the distance, even during the day. This includes the finer details on the surface of the moon. Why, you’re even able to see the small divots on Jupiter’s moons!
When looking at what people had to say about the Celestron 70mm Travel Scope, they had great things to say. Customers who purchased this telescope appreciated the price point of the telescope, especially since it was easy to set up, simple to use, and it was able to give them a clear view of the stars.
People said they have purchased the telescope for their grandchildren and they absolutely love being able to look at the stars.
At the other end of the spectrum, people didn’t feel like this was a good telescope for experienced users. One person said that they had a hard time seeing anything out of it, which was quite disappointing.
Others said that while the tripod is adjustable, they were disappointed with the quality of the tension screws and how easily they stripped. One person said the tripod was “trash” and they just threw it away.
Looking for the best telescope for beginners doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a telescope that isn’t made well or one that isn’t going to provide you with clear images. As you can see, there are numerous great telescopes that are pretty spectacular.
However, if you are looking for the best telescope for the money, we believe the Orion SpaceProbe Equatorial Reflector Telescope to be the better option. It’s true that it is in the most expensive category, we think that because you can have the telescope up to 260x magnification is worth it.
Leave us a comment below and tell us what you celestial wonders you are hoping to see with your new telescope! We’d love to hear!
Best Telescopes For Kids
Are you telescope shopping for a child? There be sure to check out our special buying guide that discusses how to choose the best telescope for a kid.