Are you one of the many amateur astronomers that look up at the sky in amazement, wondering if we’re truly alone in the universe, or what’s out there and grabbed a telescope? With more than 100 billion stars, just in our Milky Way galaxy, you want the best telescope possible to see every possible detail. Keep reading this guide to help you choose the best telescope to buy based on your budget.
When looking to buy the best telescope, you expect a high-quality lens and powerful magnification. This allows you to have a clear view of planets. Although, the best telescopes will provide a clear view of stars too.
However, astronomy is well-known for being complex, and that extends into the telescope market as well. If you’re not familiar with using them, there is a high risk of purchasing a low-quality telescope instead.
The following list highlights what I consider to be the best telescopes in 2019.
1. Celestron 21023 FirstScope
This is a common choice for those just starting out. Due to its range of view being broad many use this telescope for observing star clusters, comets, and galaxies. Several of the features is that it is lightweight, easy to handle, great for those just getting into astronomy, and it’s designed to be portable.
It is easy to set-up, and no tools are necessary. It also has two of the Kellner eyepieces included. An accessory that is good for those new to astronomy and the finder scope is included. Featuring the Dobsonian style and made with a telescope consisting of 76mm aperture.
This is the new FirstScope and this Celestron 21023 only weighs 4 lbs., making it easy to transport and can be used nearly everywhere. Not being very sturdy is the only negative thing about it.Buy "Celestron 21023 FirstScope" on Amazon
2. 70mm Refractor Telescope by Svbony
Again, a popular one for those just getting into astronomy is the 70mm refractor by SVBONY. Although this one works well for the kids, it has a fair view with 70mm aperture, including a 2.4” aperture that qualifies it as a miniature telescope boasting 300mm focal length.
This telescope allows for viewing stars, planets, and moon and it includes additional eyepieces for increased magnification. Its highest lens (Barlow) delivers 150 x magnifications. All eyepieces were designed to be comfortable.
This telescope works well for astronomers who are only at the entry-level. It also includes 3 different eyepieces. When purchasing this telescope, it will come with a tripod, instructions for assembling, and an optical tube. It’s everything needed to start observing right away.
After setting up the tripod, you can connect the tube and get started by pointing it facing the sky. You will also be able to observe different objects on Earth with this telescope for it is a refractor telescope.Buy "70mm Refractor Telescope by Svbony" on Amazon
3. AW 70mm Astronomical Refractor Telescope
There is a refractor optics system used on an AW 70mm telescope and it includes two additional eyepieces to make viewing easier. One of the features it has is a tripod that has been designed to give a better balance. You can raise the tripod up as much as 50”. This telescope was designed to be small, lightweight, and compact, making it easier for storing and transporting. It is the common choice for those who are just getting into astronomy as it has also been designed with a 70mm aperture.
Another thing that makes this telescope sell is due to it having a 5×24 finder scope as it lets items be much easier to find. AW 70mm Telescope comes with its manual, aiming platform, tripod, finder scope, optics tube, and eyepiece. It allows those new to astronomy the chance to test this hobby out to find out if they might have an interest, and the cost is affordable.Buy "AW 70mm Astronomical Refractor Telescope" on Amazon
4. Celestron Explorascope 114AZ
This telescope is also popular; it is the ExploraScope 114AZ, another product of Celestron. It’s the Newtonian reflector scope and has been newly designed to consist of a newer kind of mount and a totally new look. It now has a feature that allows for a smoother, precise control due to a newer slow-motion rod which the pointing accuracy significantly. This telescope also includes the StarPointer that will benefit the navigation of the sky at night for those who are just getting started.
One that works well at night is the Celestron ExploraScope 114AZ; however, it works during the daylight hours to perform terrestrial observing. It has been engineered with the beginner in mind and works great to observe the stars, planets, and the moon.
There is a red dot finder that makes it simple to locate and see objects and it gives precise pointing due to the altitude rod. This telescope includes all the necessary things that would be needed by someone who has just begun to get into astronomy.Buy "Celestron Explorascope 114AZ" on Amazon
5. Celestron 127EQ Powerseeker
Another telescope that is the best option for those who are just starting to show interest in astronomy is the Celestron 127EQ Powerseeker, featuring 127mm aperture. To get a closer look, the 1,000mm focal length can increase with a 3x Barlow lens. Coming with a tripod, it is a full package. This telescope opens itself up to all the wonders in the solar system, as well as being a top pick for those just getting started.
With a simple design that is friendly for everyone. It has a combination of potent power, value, and features. Now a boring night no longer has to be boring, as the entire family will be able to enjoy beginning astronomy with the Celestron 127EQ. The complete package includes SkyX Astronomy Software. It has an optical lens that are covered with a coat of high transmission gear. The Powerseeker has the ability to be compatible with various accessories the same as other telescopes by Celestron. It comes with everything that is needed for those who are just getting started.Buy "Celestron 127EQ Powerseeker" on Amazon
6. Orion 09007 Spaceprobe 130ST
With this reflector telescope, there is a 5.1” aperture, delivering images that are of high quality of the distant galaxies and stars. Located inside of the optics tube is a large mirror which gathers light, and the light is sent to the eyepiece. Distant star clusters, galaxies, and nebulas are increased and brightened by the large aperture. With a 24” optical tube that is small enough to be compact. It has a very short tube that makes it easier for transporting including a broader field of performance and it has an f/5 ratio.
Another one that the entire family can enjoy together or individually is the Orion 09007 Spaceprobe 130ST. It includes everything that would be needed for those who are just starting out with astronomy. The smallest details are easy to be seen with a pair of 1.25” Sirius Plossl eyepieces, and these eyepieces are very comfortable unlike some others, and they are also easy on the eyes. Of course, the cost is much higher than most other entry-level telescopes.Buy "Orion 09007 Spaceprobe 130ST" on Amazon
7. Celestron 21024 Telescope
This telescope is good for anyone on a small budget wanting an affordable product. This product should take into consideration the 21024 FirstScope by Celestron. This is yet another telescope that would work well for those just starting out and it includes a 76mm reflector aperture. Viewing has been made easier and it comes with an optical tube that can be moved around and a few of its features include being designed to be portable and lightweight.
If you are purchasing the complete package it includes two eyepieces, inspired by the great Galileo. The simple-ness of the Newtonian reflector scope makes it a good one for those just starting out.
You can observe the night sky while the optical tube rests on a tabletop stand that rotates. It includes a 76mm primary mirror that would cost much more on other telescopes, and that gives it a big advantage, although this one does not give as many features as one that is more expensive. It is a stylish telescope, so whether it’s used for viewing or as a centerpiece as it is very inexpensive.Buy "Celestron 21024 Telescope" on Amazon
8. Celestron Astromaster LT 76AZ
AstroMaster LT 76AZ is another good example of the telescopes made by Celestron. It’s an entry-level product that was designed to be simple. It does not need any tool for setting-up. It features a StarPointer for convenience, which has been permanently attached to the optical tube. Other features include a convenient panhandle that makes it possible for fast and accurately pointing, and positioning has been designed so that it is easy from a quick release of the dovetail attachment.
This telescope comes with a tripod that is pre-assembled and it has steel tube legs for a sturdy foundation to observe from. One of the selling points of it is due to how easy it is to transport as it is very easy and quick to use. It is considered to be portable. If you were to work at it they could probably find something negative about it, however, for what it cost it makes a terrific telescope for someone who has just started astronomy.Buy "Celestron Astromaster LT 76AZ" on Amazon
9. Celestron Nexstar 8SE Telescope
This telescope is also popular, it is the NexStar 8 SE by Celestron and was design for the consumers who have plenty of money and want to spend it. Celestron did not leave anything out of the design on this one, as the features are endless it seems. This telescope works for all three users: beginners, intermediate, and those who are more advanced in astronomy. It is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a feature of an 8” aperture, with a StarPointer finderscope connected to its optical tube.
This telescope includes the SkyAlign feature which makes aligning the scope up to three different bright objects easier. Plus, included with the complete package is 40,000 different objects in its database, and it lets the user define as many as 200 of their very own objects. The optical system is what makes this telescope sell while allowing distant images of object to come in bright and clear. The only negative thing about this telescope is its short battery life, regardless of the cost; this telescope does not work well for astrophotography.Buy "Celestron Nexstar 8SE Telescope" on Amazon
10. Meade 102mm AZ Telescope
This one falls into the mid-range, with a 102mm AZ, and has a 4” aperture. It was designed as a mid-range product. It can also deliver an image of high quality. This telescope consists of 600mm of focal length and an f/5.9 focal ratio. The complete package comes with all three eyepieces and gives various magnification levels.
By adding the 2x Barlow lens the magnificent is doubled, for any eyepiece. This telescope also includes an instructional DVD and the software for it. Although this telescope may not be the best telescope money can purchase, it is suitable for those who have just started getting at the entry-level of astronomy.Buy "Meade 102mm AZ Telescope" on Amazon
Various Telescope Types
There is a variety of different telescopes. It is necessary to know the differences in telescopes in order to locate the right one. To find a high-quality telescope you should realize that there are three main types.
This type uses a mechanism to help it to refract which has a shape to it that is recognized by most people. There is a large lens at the front of this one that collects light which beams towards a mirror that faces the back of the scope.
This type has a mirror located at the end of the tube. The reason for this mirror is for the gathering of light, this light is then sent to a different mirror prior to it hitting the eyepiece. This type operates in a different manner than its refractor counterparts and offers higher quality. This type is suggested if viewing faint objects.
This is the third main type which is also referred to as the Catadioptric telescope. This type consists of two mirrors, one in front and one in the back. The combination of both gives a better quality of images.
Choosing The Best Telescope
There are three types to pick from; however, there are not many consumers that know how to go about picking out their telescope to fit their needs. If you are someone that has just started with an astronomy hobby the best thing to do is to get a telescope that is either a reflector or a refractor. If you are someone who does not want to be bothered with any maintenance the best way to go is with the refractor.
If it is Earth objects and/or bird watching the best pick would be the refractor and compound telescopes, but if it is faint objects that are in the sky, it is the reflector and compound telescopes that should be picked. However, if it is astrophotography that it will be used for then the best pick is going to be the compound scope, but anyone who is only out to get the most for their money, they should go with a reflector scope.
Basics of the Telescope
It should be fun to an extent locating the right scope for your needs, getting the most for the cost, and being knowledgeable about the basics. The best component will be the aperture, this represents what the diameter of the mirror or lens is on the scope. It lets you know how much they are going to be able to view with it, and it is a factor that outranks all other features.
Nearly always, it is better to have more apertures. The more apertures, the more light in the eyepiece, and the more there is, the better the image if they are faint objects. Should you have a budget it is always the best choice to go with the largest aperture that your money will buy, for there will be a large difference in the quality of the images.
A telescopes focal length
The overall focal length is among the more basic features, representing the total distance between the scope and a focal point. This is not as important as the aperture is, but it has its significance in being considered. The larger the focal length, the larger the image is going to appear. Remember; always choose products with the larger focal length, as well as the most apertures. Should it come down to choosing only one of these, always go with the most apertures.
Any telescope has the ability to magnify objects in the sky at night; it is the level of magnification, which is determined by its focal length, as well as the eyepiece. A lot of people say the more magnification there is the better the view, and many of the cheaper telescopes will put emphasis on a scope’s magnification. Furthermore, if it is not possible to get a clear image, it will not matter how much magnification there is.
Not that long-ago telescopes were all required to be manually operated, lacking a way that they could be set automatically for any specific object. However, with today’s technology, various telescopes exist, even electronic telescopes.
Furthermore, a computer can even be used with the scope today and set it up so it will automatically locate a certain object. Of course, the average user will not be needing all of these features, on the other hand, for those who are interested in astrophotography or those that are wanting to follow a specific object, an electronic scope might be worth taking into consideration.
What to know When Purchasing a Telescope
Making the decision on whether or not to buy a telescope is a big deal and also stressful. However, if you get lucky and get the correct type, it can be a life-changer.
Being able to view way out in the cosmos can have a profound effect on some people, and it is a lot simpler than you might think. Looking at planets through animated work on a computer, or on a piece of paper as in a book is one thing, but actually seeing them through an eyepiece that is of high quality is a different story altogether. After experiencing this it is possible that you will not want to stop even for sleep.
Operations of a Telescope
Prior to searching for products to buy, you need to understand how they work. All telescopes have to gather the light correctly. Different types gather light differently.
Looking into the night sky with the eye alone will let you see a big white sphere, but not any of the finer details. However, through the light they collect, a telescope is enabled to let you see those small details.
It was best said by Galileo, who in describing telescopes stated, “It is a tool that lets you see what is normally invisible.”
Why Larger is Generally Better
The more light collected, the better it usually is! Just like it would be better to use a 6” mirror to collect light than to use a 2” mirror. Having a lot of apertures is best since the larger ones will collect the most light. Having lots of light, the more quality an image is going to have, and easier it will be to see faint images.
Are there any additional items to purchase?
Those who are just getting into the astronomy craze usually ask whether or not they should purchase any additional items once they have bought their first telescope. The answer to this is no! Luckily, telescopes today are sold as complete packages and there is nothing additional to have to purchase.
After getting a new scope, and get it set-up with the components included, that only leaves pointing it towards the sky and focusing. Although, some places do sell higher-end optics and other products that come without a mount, tripod, or accessories.
Should you be purchasing a refractor telescope, it may be in your best interest to also purchase a Star Diagonal, as it helps in bending the light away from target objects and the objects are easier to see.
Different Kinds of Telescopes
If you are planning on purchasing a telescope keep in mind that there are three main types, with the last merely being a combination of the first two types.
All telescopes, regardless of the type, will consist of mirrors and/or lenses, whereas, the compound scopes use both.
Reflector telescopes collect and focus the light towards the eyepiece with the help of mirrors. The most common of these is the Newtonian reflector.
Refractor telescopes let you look up into the sky through the help of lenses. Many refractor telescopes have two lenses, however, there are several which consists of up to four.
Compound or Catadioptric scopes are the ones that use a combination of both, lenses and mirrors. Two popular designs of these are the Schmidt-Cassegrain and Maksutov-Cassegrain.
The Difference in Telescope Sizes
With all the different sizes there are today, it is difficult to know which one you need. When someone is referring to the size of a telescope, they are referring to the number of apertures in it.
For instance, all telescopes having a 4” aperture can be considered a small scope. Whereas, the medium telescopes are going to have an aperture that falls between 4” to 10”, which are good products for those who have recently shown interest in astronomy. One of the best affordable size mediums on the market today would be the Schmidt-Cassegrain.
Currently, more and more people are showing interest in astronomy, and the larger scopes have become the most popular, which is any scope that has at least a 10” aperture.
What to Know About Eyepieces?
Some people will buy a telescope, use it, and then realize that they totally overlooked a necessary and an important part of the equipment called the eyepieces. There are some eyepieces that are very small pieces of glass and difficult to even see through, these would be the worst ones to get.
Low-quality eyepieces will have you squinting, ruining your eyes and still the chance of ever actually getting to see the object you’re looking at is slim. But if better products are used, they are going to be much more comfortable.
Finding the Proper Mount
There are some who do not realize they had overlooked the mount until they tried using it the first time, which is the foundation that supports it. These days, they usually come in a complete package and include a mount; however, depending on the one you got it may be a good idea to get a better one. In fact, there are some go out and purchase only an optics tube and try to use a camera tripod to mount it on. This is not a good idea, as this is not going to be sturdy enough.
A good mount is going to allow you to move the scope in different directions and after it’s been locked onto a target object will stay in place. Those who have the money to spend can get a motorized mount. Of course, even a motorized one is more than likely going to be computer controlled and it will allow you to program it for a certain object in the sky.
Choosing the Best Finder
As mentioned earlier, some people will purchase their telescope and totally forget about the accessories. Anyone who is just starting out in astronomy needs to have a finder, as it helps with pointing out certain objects in the sky. Aiming towards the moon and stars may not take any more than the nudge of the chin; however, for those small faint items, you will need to use a finder.
Having a finder is beneficial. There are three of them to choose from. The first and the easiest is the peep sight, which is a good one for those just starting out. For the second type, there is the reflect sight, which projects a very small (red) laser into the sky. Then there is the third one, referred to as the miniature telescope, and with its help, you will be able to locate even those faint objects out there.
Correct Care for a New Telescope
You should see a telescope as a long-term investment, and because of that, the type of care that it receives can determine how long it lasts. A large part of care for a telescope is ensuring that the optics are clean and because you plan to be searching the stars, you should not overlook the correct process for cleaning the optics.
If the optics are not clean, you will not have a clear view of any type of faint objects within the night sky.
It will only take a few specks of dust for you to lose fine details in an object. Whenever there is a collection of dust on a mirror or lens, it will start to cause the light to distort and this is what will make it harder to see any stars or planets. You can avoid this if you take the time on preventative maintenance.
A lens cap should always be on a telescope that is not in use. This is what will help to protect the optics from getting dusty. If the telescope is not equipped with a lens cap, you can create a homemade cap to protect it.
Another tip is to point your telescope towards the floor. This particular position is what will prevent any dust from being able to settle onto the optics. If your model has extra eyepieces, then be sure to store them within a plastic bag. Ensure that you never touch the mirror or lens of the telescope.
Mirror or Lens Cleaning
How you choose to clean your lens is very important, just as important as the lens itself. Camel hairbrushes are perfect for dusting your lens and you are able to locate these within a store that has various camera types for sell.
If at any point in time something is spilled on the lens, then you are in luck as there are many solutions that can clean it, especially the ones that are made from pure methanol.
However, if the telescope is a reflector model and the mirror is needing to be cleaned, then please be confident in your ability to take it apart and then put it back together again.
Any beginning astronomer will need to have realistic expectations. A lot of people who have been fascinated with star clusters and galaxies in distant areas of space do not realize these have been taken using the Hubble space telescope.
It will be impossible for a person to have similar quality images using an average telescope. Telescopes that have cost millions to build and are considered to be the best on earth still are not as good as the Hubble in providing as much detail of distant stars.
However, most consumer telescopes are able to provide plenty, but you will need to have realistic expectations. You also need to have an understanding that what you will be viewing will not look like whatever may be online or in a magazine.
A small, yet frequently overlooked factor which can improve or destroy a viewing experience. With telescope use, it is best to avoid being around larger objects and buildings as they release heat at nighttime, causing it to become more challenging to view distant planets or stars.
Heat is produced by air currents that rise off larger objects. This causes the telescope to become less effective at viewing objects at a long distance. Therefore, large open areas are the best locations for using a telescope.
Trying to view through a glass window is also a common, but major mistake. This is because the window, like with heat off buildings, can make it a challenge to view objects. If there’s a large temperature change outdoors compared to inside, it increases the difficulty.
In situations where a window is your only viewing option, the window will become part of the lens. When starting out, it is common for beginners to think viewing their telescope at an angle provides the best image. However, for the best viewing potential, view directly against the window.
Adjusting Your Eyes
You should always allow your eyes time to adjust to the darkness before expecting the best viewing experience. It can take the human eyes up to 30 minutes to fully become adapted to darkness. Although, reversing this only takes seconds of the bright light of being in darkness over 30 minutes.
The majority of advanced astronomers use the right light as it is easier for the eyes once adapted with being in the darkness. A variety of flashlights come with red light abilities, but there are also various types of lens’ that can be purchased for lighting that’s already owned.
Practicing Averted Vision
Practicing averted vision to view distance objects is another tip that is great for beginners. This involves viewing things out the corer of the eye.
Practicing this technique can increase the possibility of viewing small or faint objects which could be invisible otherwise.
Begin Using Lowest Eyepiece
Although more modern telescopes often come with multiple eyepieces, there are many more types that can be purchased for your telescope. The lowest piece means the lowest power, but it is generally marked as the largest number.
When viewing using an eyepiece with lower power, it can provide a bight and sharper image, and they usually provide the highest quality viewing experience. After becoming more used to the eyepieces, try experimenting with various strengths.
There is an endless amount of wonders in the universe, but most of the objects are so far away it requires the use of a telescope. Many cannot be seen by the naked eye. A high-quality telescope allows you to view the smaller objects and details throughout the universe that most will never see in a lifetime.
Furthermore, modern telescopes are also designed using high-grade optics, even within the lower-end telescopes, having the ability to view and discover objects throughout the universe is always fun.