Telescopes for amateurs – Buying guide & Comparison
If you’re short on time and you just want to find the best amateur telescope, this short paragraph should help you get exactly the model you need. According to our research the Orion SkyQuest XT8 is the best because it comes with a large 8 inch aperture that can gather enough light for you to see faint star clusters and nebulas, along with the moon and planets in sharp detail. It comes with a Dobsonian style base so beginners have plenty of stability. This also helps to keep it balanced for easier use. Best of all this model comes at an affordable price. If the Orion SkyQuest XT8 is not available your second option should be the Gskyer Power Seeker.
Even a beginner can successfully sight in on planets, stars and even distant nebulas if they have the right telescope. Models designed for amateurs are easier to use, and you don’t even have to sacrifice quality in order to find a basic telescope that the whole family can enjoy. If you are interested in watching the heavens and are new to astronomy, the tips in this buying guide can make it easier for you to choose the best telescope for amateurs.
According to the best telescopes reviews for beginners one of the first aspects to consider is the size. It is important to remember that size and power don’t always go together when you are talking about telescopes.
It is possible to find a portable telescope that is powerful enough to allow you to glimpse distant galaxies. If you only plan on using the telescope in one place than size probably won’t be a primary concern, and you can simply concentrate on one that comes with quality optics and a stable mount. Beginners that plan on taking their telescope with them will probably want to invest in a compact model, and as long as the aperture is wide enough you can still see the details in distant sights.
Aperture and magnification
One of the most important aspects to consider on a telescope is the aperture, and wider is always better. Sometimes referred to as the “objective”, the aperture is responsible for the amount of light the lens can gather. The wider the aperture the more light is can allow in, and this ensures that your views of the night sky are sharp and bright. Larger apertures also make it easier to see faint objects since they can gather more light.
The aperture is also responsible for magnification, though this can also be controlled by switching out the eye pieces as needed. Wider apertures provide for greater magnification, and this can dramatically improve how clearly a distant object appears. These are often considered the best telescope for star gazng. The main drawback to choosing a telescope with a smaller aperture is that even though the eye pieces can provide the magnification you need, they can’t gather enough light to ensures images are clearly defined. This leaves images looking dim, faint and blurry.
Types of mounts
The mount on a telescope is almost as important as the aperture when it comes to its performance. A poor quality mount won’t swivel smoothly nor will it be able to provide a stable base. Not only can this make it difficult to use, it can also damage the telescope if it tips over. Equatorial mounts are designed to be easy to use, especially if it is motorized.
Altazimuth mounts are typically lighter in weight, and they can be harder for amateurs to use. Another downside to these mounts is that they often can’t be motorized. There are also Dobsonian mounts, which are easy to set up and relatively inexpensive. In some cases the right mount for you will depend on personal preference, along with where the telescope will be used.
Top amateur telescope reviews in 2018
It is possible to find a powerful telescope that is easy for a beginner to use, as long as you know what you are looking for. While we can’t choose the right model for you we can help you make an informed decision, which is why we have the best amateur telescope showcased below.
Orion SkyQuest XT8
Not only is the SkyQuest XT8 a great telescope for amateurs, it also makes a good backup for more experienced astronomers.
While it doesn’t come in a compact size, it is still relatively easy to transport to the backyard or nearby field so you can easily track celestial objects in the night sky. It comes with a stable Dobsonian base so you can set the telescope up almost anywhere. Beginners will also appreciate how it keeps the reflector tube balanced so all they have to do is “point and view”.
Thanks to the large 8 inch diameter reflector lens you can easily see details on the Moon and nearby planets. It can also gather enough light to make distant nebulas and galaxies appear bright and clear.
You can also change the magnification by switching out the eyepieces, and it comes with several so you can get started. Thanks to the Starry Night software you will always be able to identify the various celestial objects. All of this and the SkyQuest XT8 comes at an affordable price.
The unit is easy to assemble. The manufacturer has packed all the pieces together with the Allen wrenches and screwdriver head.
The telescope has an excellent view. The large aperture and decent lenses are mainly responsible for the great stargazing experience you can get.
You can move it around. It’s a bit bulky, but you can pick it up by the handle or move the two pieces separately. If you feel like going camping with it, you should.
It holds its position very well. You can adjust its position easily and then be sure that it doesn’t leave its position.
You can collimate the telescope by hand. You’ll receive a collimation cap in the package, and you can use it to do the job.
The plastic mount isn’t the greatest choice for the viewfinder because it flexes easily and is sensitive to the lightest touch.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($399.99)
Gskyer Power Seeker
This refractor telescope comes with a 90mm aperture so faint objects in the night sky will appear bright and clear. This also helps to ensure distant celestial bodies are still sharp and clear, even under high magnification.
To prevent any blurring of the details, this telescope comes with three eyepieces so you can use it for a variety of viewing applications. Its versatility is one of the reasons this telescope is a consumer favorite.
Even though this telescope is not designed to portable, it is still lightweight enough that you can easily use it in the backyard or at astronomy club. The 1.25 inch tripod is constructed from sturdy stainless steel, and you will appreciate how easy it is to adjust.
This not only ensures you can place it in a stable position, but it also allows you to find the right angle for viewing different targets.
Best of all this tripod can also be used with most SLR cameras. When its versatility is combined with the limited lifetime warranty, you can rest assured that this telescope is a good value for your money.
The telescope is easy to assemble. Thanks to the careful packaging that is well organized, you’ll find the parts in the right order and have little need for the instructions.
You’re going to enjoy the excellent tripod. Made of stainless steel, the piece can be adjusted in a stable position and facilitate the search for your desired target.
It has slow motion controls that are simple to use. That is helpful if you want to follow the orbits and trajectories without leaps and bounces.
You can adjust your magnification as you see fit. Thanks to the low, medium and high magnification eyepieces you can watch celestial objects near or far.
A good choice if you need a solid piece of equipment. With only a few plastic pieces, this unit is the robust telescope you can use for a long time.
Some screws were scraped off, and that caused difficulties for some customers, but no big issues were signaled for this product.
Buy from Amazon.com
This telescope from Orion is perfect for beginner and experienced stargazers who are always on the go. Its compact size allows for easy portability, along with its lightweight construction.
Even the aluminum tripod was constructed with weight in mind. To add to its convenience this telescope comes with a unique specially designed backpack. This makes it even easier to carry with the rest of your gear.
Whether you are watching the night sky or enjoying scenic views, distant objects will appear bright and clear. This refractor telescope comes with a 70mm aperture which is ideal for viewing the surface of the Moon or distant galaxies. There are also two eyepieces so you can clearly see the object you are viewing.
What really makes this telescope a great choice for amateurs is the Orion Moon Map, which clearly identifies the features on the surface.
It’s a refractor telescope that you can use on-the-go. The small sized scope and light aluminum tripod fit in a backpack designed especially for them.
It comes with a moon map. Although there are apps that you can use, having this tool in the pack is of great help.
This telescope is a great starter kit for younger members of the family. They could use the simple features and a good view of the moon and planets to get them passionate about astronomy.
It can serve a dual purpose. As it is a refracting telescope, you can use it during nighttime to watch the constellations and during daytime to watch the birds, ships or targets.
Deep space objects are hard to identify using this telescope because of the small aperture.
The tripod is not very stable. Several owners noted that it is cheaply made and hard to keep balanced.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($84.98)
Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ
One of the first aspects you’ll notice is the affordable price, along with its durable construction.
You don’t have to worry that you are sacrificing quality for savings with the PowerSeeker by Celestron.
It also comes with a German equatorial mount which ensures a smooth performance and easy tracking.
The 80mm aperture ensures that plenty of light is gathered so distant celestial bodies appear bright and clear.
This can also help faint objects to be more visible, especially when it is combined with the magnification eyepieces.
To make it a little easier for beginners to use, this telescope also comes with a finder scope.
This scope has a great quality of optics. You would normally expect good, sharp details from a refractor telescope, but this one has just as good clarity and detail for deep space objects.
The mount is lightweight aluminum made. You can carry it with you and move it from one place to another without any effort.
The image is sharp, and the focus is easy to attain. Most telescopes that have been built for observing the moon and planets have a lesser quality image.
It uses an equatorial mount. Although not everyone is used to one, it comes in handy every time, and it’s the preferred mount for astronomical use.
It uses plastic for the fine adjustment knobs, and that has an impact on how easily you can center your vision.
Most dissatisfied customers complained about the build of the tripod and mount as well as the materials used.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($125.06)
Gskyer Instruments Infinity
Even though this refractor telescope comes with an altazimuth mount, it is still easy for beginners to use.
The “slow motion” control allows you to smooth guide the telescope across the horizon, and this is always an advantage when you are tracking moving celestial objects. The telescope is also backed by a limited lifetime warranty for added peace of mind.
Thanks to the 70mm aperture distant objects will appear bright and clear. When this is combined with the 3 varying magnification eyepieces even faint objects will be sharp and defined. For added power, you also have the benefit of the 3x Barlow lens.
Easy for beginners to operate and powerful enough for advanced users, this affordable telescope might be just what you need.
This is an ergonomic telescope. It has been designed in such a way that you can just fold it up when you’re done using it. Made up to be fully modular, it’s much easier to manage.
It is a lightweight piece, so it won’t be difficult to carry it with you whenever you need to make your observations at a different location.
It’s easy to assemble as it includes good instructions. That’s a relief as customers often have problems because the manufacturer didn’t provide an instructions manual.
The Gskyer Instruments Infinity is an excellent beginners telescope and most users recommend it for those who want to start stargazing. Considering that, it’s also a nice gift at a decent price.
Its images don’t have the brightness and focus that more expensive tools deliver, but most clients are satisfied with it.
A couple of customers didn’t appreciate it as the package contained partially assembled parts and fewer pieces.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.99)
Delivering superb celestial and terrestrial viewing to novice and young astronomers and peripatetic individuals, the Gskyer® Instruments Infinity Travel telescope kit offers an exceptional combination of smooth quality optics and an altazimuth mount for genuine value for money. The 70mm refractor scope lets you discover not just the great cosmos but the fantastic outdoors.
This perfect amateur astronomer instrument delivers sharp and vivid images both for land and sky objects. The telescope has a focal length of 400mm and focal ratio of f/5.7. Enjoy a variety of fantastic spectacles using the rack-and-pinion focuser and low (25mm) and high (10mm) magnification eyepieces that provide 16x and 40x power, respectively, to suit any viewing situation.
The 3x Barlow lens doubles the magnifying power of each eyepiece so you can ultimately see more details. The optics comes with multilayer glass green coating for improved image brightness while protecting your eyes. The telescope set up is easy to carry out, with detailed instructions outlining the whole process.
The altazimuth mount has slow motion control for intuitive tracking while the adjustable aluminum alloy tripod delivers sufficient support for the scope configuration for more precise tracking of celestial and terrestrial objects day or night. The 5×24 finder scope enables easy locating of objects.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.99)