Looking and choosing a beginner telescope is not as easy as it sounds. There are so many beginner telescopes to choose from, and so few that are really as good as they sound.
There are many types of telescopes, and many are not suited to the beginner astronomer for technical or financial reasons. We advise is to avoid spending too much money or buying anything you can’t easily understand. If you get frustrated by the telescope itself, or just decide you don’t like the hobby you will have wasted both your time and a lot of money. This brief guide aims to help the beginner find a decent telescope at a reasonable price.
If you’re just starting out with this fun hobby you’re likely not going to want to spend thousands of dollars, but at the same time you don’t want to get a low quality clunker either. Fortunately there are many options to choose from that are both affordable and reliable for entry-level star telescopes.
Top 5 Telescopes For Beginners Our Picks
After looking over many factors, We’ve narrowed these down to the top five best. One key thing about each of the following telescopes is that they will be an excellent choice to get into the hobby, but they will also be useful for years to come even if you upgrade to a higher end option down the road. Here are some beginner telescopes that really fit the bill.
Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope
This fun telescope uses the power of mirrors rather than lenses to zoom in on those far away objects in the sky.
This is a great way to get a powerful telescope without having to pay thousands of dollars. One of the drawbacks of this type is that they can get out of alignment over time.
This scope has an innovative eyepiece which allows you to fine tune and adjust it yourself, eliminating the need to have it professionally aligned. The NexStar 130 uses “SkyAlign” to allow you to find and view thousands of objects without star charts or other tools.
Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope
This highly rated model is one of the best telescopes for beginners because of the fact that it has a large (130mm) primary mirror which allows for a wider field of vision and greater brightness.
This is ideal for those just starting out in astronomy as it makes it much simpler to get a good look at objects in the sky. It is also simple to set up and align making start-up a breeze.
Meade ETX-80 AT-TC-BB Astro Telescope Kit + Astronomy Bundle
This 80mm refracting Meade will allow you to quickly get up and looking to the sky with its easy to use aluminum tripod.
The telescope folds down and fits into an included nylon backpack which makes taking this great tool easy to take with you everywhere you go.
It weighs less than 20 pounds which is ideal for people taking it camping or on road trips. This model will automatically level itself off and align itself properly when looking at objects in the sky which helps beginners get a perfect view of anything they are interested in.
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Celestron 80LCM Computerized Telescope
This might be the ideal telescope for you as it has an 80mm refractor which is a powerful option for an entry level scope.
The motorized base will automatically find objects in the sky from its large database, and you can mount your laptop to the telescope to make it even easier to find anything you’re looking for.
This also comes with “The Sky X” planetarium software which will make it easier to find things and help you learn about what you’re looking at as well.
iOptron 9402 Astroboy 60mm Computerized Telescope
This made our ‘best telescopes’ list for a variety of reasons, but above all it is because it is very simple to use and very affordable. Coming in at around $160 it is the least expensive on the list, but it still comes with some very desirable features.
You can attach it to your computer and have it automatically find any of over 4000 heavenly objects ranging from planets to distant galaxies. You can also enter over 250 user-defined objects so you can track your favorite things.
The 5 Best Beginner Telescope For Money
For the first-time buyer, choosing a telescope means an endless array of styles and price ranges that can sometimes be confusing. Fortunately the choice of design is far less important than a few key elements:
To decide what the best telescope for beginners is, you need to consider a couple of things, the most important of which is budget. How much you want to spend on a beginner’s telescope has the biggest effect on your choice, so I’ve split my recommendations into four categories, – Under $50, $50 to $150, $150 to $300, and Over $300.
Beginners will also want an easy to use telescope, one that is quick to set up, one that requires little or no maintenance, and possibly a telescope that can be up-graded without having to buy a new one, so I’ve considered all these factors when making my recommendations.
At the under $50
you have to realize that you get what you pay for, and many, if not most telescopes in this price range are really not worth buying, you will get a cheaply made product, with poor lenses and mirrors, that will just end up frustrating you, and putting you off astronomy for life.
But, there is one telescope that I can recommend, and that is the Celestron Powerseeker 50 Refractor telescope. Made by the leading manufacturer of home use telescopes, this is a classic looking item, that anyone completely new to astronomy will immediately know how to use.
You line up the telescope using that attached viewfinder, focus on what you want to look at, and look down the eyepiece; it’s as simple at use as that.
Celestron are well known for only making quality products, as they have a reputation to keep, and they know that if you start out with one of their telescopes, you are likely to stay with the brand as you up grade to bigger, more expensive ones.
Between $50 and $150
you are starting to get a much wider choice, and you can now look at proper telescopes that will show you the bands of clouds on Jupiter, or the rings of Saturn, as well as some of the brighter galaxies and nebulae.
My personal favourite in this range is another Celestron telescope, the 127EQ Powerseeker, which is a fantastic looking Reflector telescope, where light enters an open aperture, is bounced off a mirror on the closed end, and then reflected into the eyepiece.
Many reflector telescopes need a certain amount of setting up, but the 127EQ Powerseeker is very easy, with no tools required, and you should be viewing stars and planets within minutes.
Again, it’s very good quality for the price, and can be upgraded with different eyepieces, and lenses as required. Celestron supply a very good accessories kit just for this purpose.
At $150 to $300, I’ve picked two choices
The best telescope in this price range is the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian, which looks like a huge telescope, but for a Dobsonian, is actually quite small. Just make sure you have somewhere to store it, and be aware that it weighs 22lbs, and is quite bulky.
Dobsonian telescopes are very powerful for the prices, as they have long tubes, and a long tube gives you a long focal length, which is a key factor in increased magnification.
While this type of telescope is not complicated, it will still take a few minutes to set up correctly, and the XT4.5 comes with a great range of accessories, which are easily upgraded when you want.
If the size puts you off, then the Orion Starmax 90mm Tabletop telescope is very small, but still very powerful It’s a Maksutov Cassegrain design, which bounces light around twice, to give a long focal length in a short tube.
This is another high quality item, which will last you years, but must be placed in a sturdy table to avoid any shaking. I would always recommend getting a tripod for this telescope, just to make it steady, and raise the height of the eyepiece for comfortable viewing.
For a each of use, you may want to get one of the excellent computer controlled telescopes, which allow you to enter the co-ordinates, or even the name of an object, and the computer does the rest
The easiest one I have seen for this is the Celestron Nexstar 5 SE, which is a powerful device, yet easy to operate, with quality construction, and a wide range of extra accessories that you can buy to make this a telescope that will last a lifetime.
This is the mid level telescope in a range that have the same basic features, just varying power, and cost.
A small, simple, but quality telescope is all a beginner needs. You can carry it around, set it up anywhere, and see enough neat things in the sky to find out if you really like star gazing and to allow you to do it until you can afford the “big boy scopes.” Just don’t buy anything less than 80mm in lens width or you won’t have much to see.
No matter which you choose you will see the lunar landscape like you never thought possible, details on planets, bright galaxies and nebulas—as well as stunning star clusters.
Before you buy,you should consider is one that has interchangeable eyepieces, a good finderscope, a smooth working focuser, a steady, rugged mount and quality optics. Wether you select any of the above models or find a different one on your own, we wish you the best of luck! Happy star gazing!