Hobbyist telescopes – Buying guide & Comparison
If you are looking for the best hobbyist telescope money can get you but you lack the time to read a lot of specialized reviews, this paragraph should get you cued up. After doing the research for you by reading a handful of product reviews and after taking into account aspects such as price to value ratios and overall brand quality, we have reached the conclusion that the Gskyer 60mm AZ Refractor is the model for you. We came to this decision due to the fact that this unit comes fitted with a handful of useful features such as a 60mm aperture and 350mm focal length. Moreover, the device is easy to maneuver and is said to be quite intuitive, reason why hobbyists will surely appreciate it. If the Gskyer 60mm AZ Refractor is out of stock, check out the Gskyer AZ70400.
Knowing just how tricky finding the best amateur telescope can be, we have decided to lend you a helping hand. Therefore, we have composed a list of must-have features that you should not settle without whenever you are shopping in this line of products. So, read ahead and make your pick accordingly!
The deciding factor that should be considered by all those looking for a quality hobbits telescope is the aperture. Also known as the main lens of the device, the aperture of a telescope is the part of the device that allows for a specific magnification ratio. In other words, a product that has a large aperture can show the user faint objects that models with smaller apertures cannot.
However, buying the telescope with the largest aperture is not the best bet. In fact, models with very large apertures are usually used to study comets and other very faint objects. Nonetheless, if you only want to purchase a product that can be used from time to time by somebody that considers astronomy hobby, a unit with a smaller aperture will suffice.
Type of mount
As all hobbyist telescope reviews are prone to point out, another crucial aspect that should not go unnoticed when in the market for a telescope is the mount. To keep things as simple as possible, one should know that there are three types of mounts that one can choose from altazimuth, Dobsonian and equatorial.
The basic mount that you are likely to stumble upon is the altazimuth. This mount is particularly fitting for not that complex terrestrial viewings and should be seen as a reliable option. Yet, a more advanced type of mount is the Dobsonian. This mount is usually used for telescopes with larger apertures.
Last but not the least, the equatorial mount is the most complex type of mount and is usually recommended for those that intend to use the telescope for astrophotography.
What type of telescope do you need?
Similarly, when considering the myriad of models up for sale, one should also decide what type of telescope he/she needs. As you probably already know, there are three models that one can choose between.
The refractor telescope is easy to use and usually has a simple, intuitive design. This type of telescope is intended to be used in order to observe objects that have a clear shape. They are quite practical due to the fact that they do not require maintenance.
The reflector telescope, on the other hand, is better fitted for observing fainter objects that require more precision. The quality of the image is high. However, a reflector telescope requires its user to do a little bit of maintenance. Still, this model does not work on earth objects.
Lastly, the compound telescope or the catadioptric model is more advanced, and it can do what both the reflector and the refractor telescope usually do. This model can be used to observe earth objects as well as faint ones and comes equipped with a protective tube that keeps the optics away from any type of dirt. Thus, regularly cleaning it is not necessary.
Tips and tricks
If you are a beginner in the field of astronomy and telescopes, we recommend that before you place any orders, you take your time and think about the before mentioned features. Then, once you know what type of telescope you need, we advise that you set a budget and only then proceed and select a model.
Moreover, keep in mind that some models come equipped with what manufacturers call a computer control function. By activating it, the device is automatically pointed to objects that you might not have known how to locate by yourself. This feature comes in handy if you are a novice and you don’t know much about the stars.
Top hobbyist telescopes reviews in 2018
Because we want to make this selection process effortless for you, we have put together a list of products that are worthy of your time and money. While making this list, we took into account a series of aspects such as product quality and specialized reviews. So, don’t waste any more time; read ahead and select the model you like best.
Gskyer 60mm AZ Refractor
If you are interested in an affordable, well-equipped model, the Gskyer Telescope, 60mm AZ Refractor Telescope is the product for you.
This refractive telescope is ideal for all the beginners that want to purchase a model that is easy to use and take care of.
This unit comes fitted with a 60mm aperture and 350mm focal length, as well as with a f/5.8 focal ratio. What is more, the high magnification eyepiece ensures that you’ll be able to see in detail a lot of faint objects otherwise difficult to spot.
What is more, the unit is made from an aluminum alloy construction that makes it lightweight and easy to transport whenever this is needed.
As a plus, the product has all glass optical components coated with a high transmission substance. Consequently, the user will be able to enjoy bright, clear images.
The model comes supplied with a rack-and-pinion focuser as well as with two feasible magnification pieces that you are likely to enjoy using.
As the seller points out, by using the eyepieces, you can be sure that you will be able to have a good view of the sky and of your surroundings in any viewing situation.
All the optical components that this item includes have been coated with a unique substance that enhances their light transmission capacity.
Because of its aluminum alloy construction, this option is sturdy and light in weight. Hence, you can take it with you when traveling.
Some have argued that this model is kind of expensive given the features that it includes.
It has been said that this device lacks a special type of software that would help the user locate various celestial objects easily. However, most of its owners do not regard this as a major drawback of the item.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.99)
Another model that is worth your consideration is the Gskyer AZ70400. Although a bit pricier than similar models, this product is well regarded by current users.
As its manufacturer puts it, the product is able to depict crystal clear images and to create a stirring visual effect.
The lens of the device was constructed using an aluminum alloy and a superior type of glass called ZF4. Even more so, the glass is plated with a multi-layer green film that is said not to damage the vision.
Also, because the lens barrel was made using the latest German technology, the product is considered quite durable and of high quality.
Additionally, in case you feel the need to change the height of the product you can easily do so by adjusting it to the level you feel fit.
This device is a bestseller in this line of products. The item was constructed using high-quality optics that allow for an increased light transmission so that the user is provided with bright and clear images.
The lenses of the model have been covered in a special green film, and they are said to improve the quality of the images.
The base of the item is made of thick aluminum. As a result, it is sturdy and likely to last for a long time.
Technically-speaking, this product has a 70mm aperture and a 400mm focal length.
There have been owners that were unhappy that they were shipped models that had missing pieces. Still, not many cases of this kind have been reported.
It has been claimed that the model comes provided with terrible instructions that are difficult to follow. This is a particularly important issue for those who have never used devices of this kind before.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Celestron 114LCM Computerized
If you want to end up with the best model available and you are not afraid to spend some extra dollars in order to do so, we recommend that you check out the Celestron 114LCM Computerized Telescope.
This high-quality 14mm (4.5″) refractor model is particularly fitted for hobbyists and beginners because it comes equipped with a database that can automatically and accurately locate over 4,000 celestial objects.
In order to align the telescope and use it with the SkyAlign system, one simply has to find the moon and press the “Solar System Align” function on the menu; the rest is done by the device. The unit operates on batteries that are also included in the price.
Moreover, the product includes a fully adjustable tripod that is lightweight, and that can easily be carried around. A convenient accessory tray is also supplied.
This model is fully computerized, and it can automatically locate thousands of celestial bodies by using a software called NexStar+.
For easy handling, it is recommended that its users utilize the SkyAlign function that the item incorporates. This way, he/she will be ready to observe the selected object instantly.
If you have no idea what object to analyze, you can always use the Sky Tour button integrated into the design of the product and let the product make this decision for you.
This option is ideal for beginners as it comes supplied with all the features and accessories that one might need in order to use a device of this kind.
Some have argued that this product is only suitable for beginners. Therefore, experienced users should explore the other available choices.
One user was dissatisfied with this product because he considered it difficult to use. Yet, this might have something to do with the client’s level of experience.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ
Another model that should be on your mind is the Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor. This product is very easy to set up, in fact, the person assembling it does not need any type of tool to do so. In fact, the tripod, the mount, and the optical tube fit together effortlessly. According to its manufacturer, this product is ideal for both terrestrial and astronomical use.
The features that recommend it are its coated glass optics that make it durable and the fact that it has a permanently mounted StarPointer finder scope. Also, the product comes shipped with a sturdy tripod with 1.25″ diameter legs that are already assembled.
Moreover, if you don’t know how to view objects using the telescope, you should know that this equatorial model makes tracking and centering objects very easy. To do so, just look through the finder scope and center the red dot over the object you want to look at.
This refractor telescope is easy to use, and it has a no-tool setup design that many recommend.
Plus, the permanently mounted StarPointer that the device includes is regarded as very practical, especially by users that lack the necessary experience to locate various objects on their own.
The optical tube incorporated into the design of the model measures 36 inches. Because this alternative is so small in size, it can be carried easily from one place to another.
As the seller indicates, this telescope is suitable for both terrestrial and astronomical use. So, it can suit a person that is searching for a versatile model.
One previous user claimed that the mount of the model does not work properly, which is why this item is difficult to use.
Another buyer pointed out that this device is hard to focus. Also, the same owner remarked that the tripod that is included in the price is not stable. Hence, utilizing this telescope can be a little challenging.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($79.95)
Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ
Last but not least, the Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope is another affordable, practical alternative. With an aperture of 80mm and a focal length of 900mm, this device is both practical and durable.
Also, because it was designed to be used by first-time users, this unit is easy to set up and quite uncomplicated. Additionally, because this model has a German equatorial mount, it can erect both terrestrial and astronomical images.
Nonetheless, the product has glass optical components that have been covered with high transmission coatings in order to enhance image brightness. Besides, the 3x Barlow lens that the product includes can actually triple the magnifying power of each eyepiece.
As previous buyers claim, this model is worth the money, and it does its job as it claims. Furthermore, the unit is powerful enough for one to catch a close glimpse of Jupiter and Saturn, as well as of Mars and Venus while using it.
This choice has an 80mm aperture and a focal length of 900mm. As a plus, the focal ratio of the item is of 11.
Plus, this model comes supplied with a 3x Barlow lens as well as with a 5x24mm finder scope that most beginner users have appreciated.
Because of the German equatorial mount that this product includes, this item is regarded as sturdy and reliable.
This device comes provided with an aluminum tripod and an accessory tray that can prove practical.
The main drawback that most users remarked is that this device is difficult to collimate. However, once you do it, the views that the model delivers are worth it.
Seasoned owners advise in favor of investing in some better eyepieces. This way, you will be able to appreciate the capabilities of the device entirely. Still, most users are happy with the eyepieces included in the deal.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($125.06)
Designed with quick and easy tool-free assembly and setup, the Celestron PowerSeeker 70EQ 21037 offers a fun and exciting means of exploring the night sky. Boasting erect image optics, this model enables you to view faraway objects easily in their proper orientation instead of upside down. This feature makes this scope suitable for both celestial and terrestrial observations.
You can enjoy smooth tracking of objects as they move across the sky thanks to the instrument’s slow motion controls. This way, you enjoy a more exciting night sky viewing experience suitable for teaching young astronomers about stellar movement or behavior.
Equipped with fully coated glass optical components, this model uses high-transmission coatings to deliver enhanced image clarity and brilliance. The magnifying capacity of every eyepiece is tripled thanks to the 3X Barlow lens.
The accessory tray provides easy access and storage of optical accessories to effectively avoid misplacing your scope essentials.
This telescope is shipped to the buyer virtually ready for use. It comes with a tool-free setup and only needs minor assembly for immediate deployment after it is unpacked.
The erect image optics in this instrument makes it easy to view terrestrial and celestial objects at the upright orientation so you can enjoy comfortable visuals.
The scope features slow-motion controls that facilitate its hassle-free use while allowing the smooth tracking of celestial targets as they are in motion across the expanse of the sky.
Enjoy superior image clarity and brightness thanks to the fully-coated glass optical components that gather plenty of light for exceptionally vivid details due to the high-transmission coatings.
The magnification power of the eyepieces gets amplified by the supplied 3X Barlow lens, which triples the capacity of the optical components.
Not all customers consider the smaller eyepiece to be a critical component in the package but it could serve a purpose for beginner astronomers.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($92.99)
The Orion 10034 GoScope II is an exceptional grab-and-go day and night refractor telescope best suited for lunar and planetary observations. Kids and families will love the lightweight aluminum altazimuth mount that provides steady support for the device.
The 70mm telescope comes with a rugged, specially designed backpack for ease of storage and transport. Its 400mm focal length is ideal for daytime birdwatching, wildlife and scenery viewing as well as casual planetary and lunar viewing. This model comes with a 5×24 finderscope that simplifies aiming and light gathering to deliver bright and clear images that are a delight to behold.
The 45° correct-image diagonal conveniently provides bright, properly oriented daytime views of objects as well as nighttime views of the planets and the moon.
The supplied Orion Moon Map 260 provides an interesting learning experience about the Moon, showcasing the fantastic lunar features that can be viewed using the scope.
This refractor telescope can be used for day or night observations of terrestrial and celestial objects, respectively, to give up-close views of distant targets.
The telescope comes with a host of add-ons to enhance and increase its functionality and the extras include the specially-designed, rugged backpack to hold everything well, the tripod, a 5×24 finderscope, two 1.25-inch eyepieces, and the Orion Moon Map 260.
The lightweight aluminum tripod provides support to the scope during use and also serves as a steady platform to hold the instrument in place.
The finderscope enables you to aim the scope in the direction of the celestial object you want to view to eliminate the tedious and error-prone guesswork.
The telescope comes with a portable, easily packed design that facilitates problem-free storage and transport.
One customer says the tripod is a bit short for taller people to use and can be tricky to setup for complete stability.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($84.98)
Meade Instruments Infinity 209005
Shipped to you complete with all you need for night sky viewing, the Meade Instruments Infinity 209005 is a 90mm refracting telescope geared for novice astronomers.
This scope features a manual alt-azimuth mount that is height adjustable and has an altitude lock plus slow-motion controls to support the precise tracking of viewed celestial objects as they move across the sky.
This model ships with three eyepieces that deliver the exact magnification you need. Choose from 23x, 66.5x and 95x magnifications. The 2x Barlow lens enhances the magnifying capacity of every included eyepiece for double the light gathering power to make images brighter and more detailed, ensuring a wider range of viewing potentials.
The supplied 90-degree erect image diagonal enables more comfortable use of the scope, which is most essential when you aim the device toward the zenith. Images are corrected both vertically and horizontally by the prism of the diagonal to enable use of the telescope for terrestrial observations as well.
Ideal for the observer who views both astronomical and terrestrial objects, this refractor telescope offers a large-enough aperture of 3.5 inches to gather as much light as possible from targets to deliver crisp and clear images.
The telescope has an aluminum altazimuth mount equipped with slow-motion controls for the convenient tracking of heavenly bodies across the sky as they move from end to end. It is an adjustable component so you can fix it to the correct point on both the vertical and horizontal axes.
You get not one, not two, but three 1.25-inch modified achromat (MA) eyepieces measuring 6.3, 9, and 26 millimeters for a variety of magnification options.
The 90mm aperture of the scope enables the instrument to deliver sharp and bright images when viewing objects on land and in the sky.
Helping you discover more, this telescope provides right side up images thanks to the erect image prism that allows for the comfortable viewing of images.
The manual altazimuth mount has a certain learning curve that might make it more difficult to operate in the two axes, unlike EQ mounts that adjust according to the rotation of the Earth.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($179.95)
Packaged as a deluxe accessory kit, this telescope kit comes with everything you need to get started on a spectacular journey through astronomy. The optical tube assembly includes the essential elements including a 40mm Plossl eyepiece and 13mm Plossl eyepiece so you can switch between those elements according to the magnification.
The accessory kit also includes the StarPointer Red Dot Finderscope and 1 ¼-inch Star Diagonal for effortless finding of celestial objects. The fork mount and tripod provide sturdy support that is more than what you can expect from a standard camera mount. The accessory tray holds your extra eyepieces and other small items you may need to keep handy during observation sessions. The AC adapter also comes with USA/EU, UK and AU plugs for universal use.
The telescope can be wirelessly controlled using your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet by utilizing the free Celestron mobile app with SkyAlign technology and planetarium interface. The portable and compact 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain optical tube comes with StarBright XLT optical coatings and Fastar compatibility for superb viewing results. The computerized GoTo mount is outfitted with performance-driven motors and worm gears for better tracking accuracy and minimal gear backlash. Get up to 10 hours of non-stop observing thanks to the rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1549)