Top powerful telescopes reviewed & buying guide
If you’re short on time and you just want to find the best powerful telescope, this short paragraph should help you get exactly the model you need. According to our research, the Celestron CPC 1100 is the best because it boasts an ergonomic design that allows you to easily move it to different vantage points. The wide aperture allows for plenty of light so even distant galaxies are crisp and clear. It also comes with a computerized dual fork arm altazimuth mount for easy alignment and smooth tracking. If the Celestron CPC 1100 is not available, the Orion SkyQuest XT8 PLUS should be your second option.
So you want to find a telescope powerful enough to see the planets, but you’re not sure what to look for. In this buying guide, you will find helpful tips and informative reviews that will make it easier for you to make the right decision.
The best powerful telescope reviews all agree that one of the first aspects to consider is your budget. You can find telescopes at all price points and deciding on a set spending limit will help narrow down your options. You do want to be careful and not sacrifice quality in an effort to save some money. Chances are in the long run it will end up costing you more.
Deciding on the size of the aperture and included features will help you lower the cost, without foregoing quality. When you are looking for a powerful telescope to see distant planets and galaxies, it is worth it to pay a little more to ensure that it comes with everything you need.
If you’re looking for the most powerful telescope for home use, you will want to pay careful attention to the optics. If the telescope doesn’t come with quality optics, you won’t be able to see distant or even close celestial objects.
You will want the telescope to come with the widest aperture you can afford. This will ensure that plenty of light is gathered to ensure crisp, clear views. The focal length should also be considered, and this will depend on what you want to see. If you want wider views, a telescope with a shorter focal length will be the best choice. To clearly see distant planets a longer focal length will be ideal.
The telescope should also come with eyepieces so you can use it right out of the box. Eyepieces are available with varying magnification, and most astronomers recommend starting your collection. Some top rated models also come with a Barlow lens which can provide 2 to 3x magnification without having to stop and change out the eyepiece.
There is one simple reason why the type of mount on the telescope should be considered. It will determine how easy it is to align the telescope and track objects across the sky. Equatorial mounts are considered the easier to use, and they are the ones most commonly computerized. This allows you to control the telescope’s alignment with just the press of a button, but this does come at a higher price.
You can also find powerful telescopes with altazimuth mounts, though these might not be ideal for beginners. They do require two hands for alignment, and it can be a little tricky tracking objects if you’re not used to this type of mount. Some altazimuth mounts are motorized for easy use, but this is rare, and the higher price doesn’t fit all budgets. If you’re just starting out or are on a budget, most experts recommend choosing a telescope with a manual equatorial mount.
Our 2018 list: Find the right telescope for your needs
Finding the strongest telescope you can buy doesn’t have to be confusing if you know what to look for. While we can’t pick the right model for you, we can help you make an informed decision, which is why we have the best powerful telescope showcased below.
Celestron CPC 1100
One of the first aspects you’ll notice about the CPC 1100 is its ergonomic design. This ensures that it is comfortable to use, and move as needed. While this is one of the most powerful refractor telescopes on the market, it does come at a price that might not fit all budgets. If you do want to enjoy crisp, clear views of distant galaxies, planets, and even nebulas, it might be worth its higher price.
Thanks to the Schmidt-Cassegrain lens you can enjoy sharp contrasts and bright views of distant celestial objects. The 280mm wide aperture ensures that there is plenty of light gathered, and with a 2800mm focal length clear views of distant objects won’t be a problem. It also comes with two eyepieces so you can use it right out of the box.
What makes this refractor telescope worth its price is the fully computerized altazimuth mount. When it is combined with the GPS alignment accurately aiming the telescope is a breeze. This also allows for smooth tracking which is always an advantage.
Engineered with the largest aperture of the entire CPC GPS line, this Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope comes with the greatest capacity to collect light so images appear brighter and with more detail compared to telescopes with smaller apertures.
This model leverages its vast database of countless Abell and NGC galaxies while providing amazing detail in your favorite deep-sky objects so you can study them thoroughly.
The sophisticated software includes the Hibernate function, which allows the scope to maintain its star alignment from one night to the next without requiring re-alignment, which makes it a good instrument to have at a permanent observatory facility.
This device can be a tool for anyone who loves astrophotography or who just needs a good-quality, top-of-the-line, fork-mounted astronomical observation instrument.
Featuring the CPC Series’ internal GPS receiver, this telescope downloads the date and time automatically from orbiting satellites so it can obtain its exact location on the planet to eliminate the need for the manual entry of those components along with the latitude and longitude, for easy orientation.
This is a huge and heavy tool that can be difficult to move around if you use a different observation post every time.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($2999)
Orion SkyQuest XT8 PLUS
If you’re looking for a powerful telescope that can help you explore the night sky in exquisite detail, the Orion SkyQuest XT8 PLUS is more than up to the task. This state of the art telescope is loaded with the latest features and upgraded accessories so that you get the best experience the moment you look through the eyepiece.
Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced stargazer, this product will more than satisfy your needs. It offers great performance and a lot of settings that can be calibrated, but at the same time, it is also easy for beginners and kids to jump right in without having to worry that they’ll have to do a lot of tweaking, not unless they want to.
Even when making adjustments, the Orion SkyQuest XT8 PLUS ensures that you won’t have to use clunky and difficult to use tools. Everything can be done by hand using thumbscrew adjustments, making customizing your experience an easy task. Since you won’t have to use specialized tools, it also means that you’ll be able to play with the settings without having to worry that you’ll break something.
As a plus, you get a ton of accessories that can improve your experience tremendously. You get a 2″ 28mm DeepView eyepiece, 1.25″ 10mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece, Shorty 2x Barlow, eyepiece rack, EZ Finder II reflex sight, Safety Film Solar Filter and much more.
It is extremely easy to use for both beginners and experienced users. In fact, the Orion SkyQuest XT8 PLUS can be a good starting point for kids to get their first taste of astronomy without you having to trade ease of use for performance.
You get a ton of accessories included with this option, and they can really help in customizing your viewing experience for the better.
The 2 inch dual-speed Crayford focuser with 11:11 line focus makes the adjustments be buttery smooth, and it also improves the accuracy of this device.
With a lot of extras available to purchase you can extend the life of your product, meaning that the performance of this model can be preserved for many years.
Some customers were unsatisfied with the magnification that this model offers. While the details that they got were stunning to look at, the device could have used a more powerful magnification.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Orion 9024 AstroView
Orion designed this refractor telescope to be powerful and affordable. It is priced to fit most astronomers’ budgets, while still being able to provide stunning views of distant objects in the night sky. Best of all it is also easy to use making it a great choice for beginners and experienced stargazers.
Thanks to the 90mm aperture distant celestial bodies are bright and clear. This is further enhanced by the 910mm focal length. Not only will this give you crisp views of distant objects, but also clear images from the moon and nearby planets.
Best of all it comes with two eyepieces, so you don’t have to wait to get started.
The adjustable tripod ensures a comfortable viewing height, and it is also a breeze to set up. You’ll appreciate how easy it is to align the telescope and track objects with the equatorial mount. To ensure that you always know what you are viewing the AstroView also comes with “Starry Night” astronomy software.
This powerful, high-quality refractor telescope comes with a 90mm aperture along with a 910mm focal length to enable you to enjoy crisp views of the Moon, the planets, and deep-sky objects.
The 90-degree mirror diagonal enables a comfortable nighttime viewing performance supplemented by the 6×30 finder scope, two Sirius Plossl 1.25-inch eyepieces, and smooth-adjusting 1.25-inch rack-and-pinion focuser.
This model offers versatile use for spectacular daytime terrestrial viewing when used with a separately purchased correct-image diagonal for upright images.
You only need to turn one slow motion knob to keep celestial objects within the field of view once you have pointed the polar axis at Polaris, the North Star.
The EQ-2M Electronic Telescope Drive comes with a battery-operated motor for the automated tracking of celestial objects moving across the night sky.
Care needs to be taken when focusing the telescope as the equatorial mount has a tendency to wobble with the movement of your hands.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
There is very little not to like about this refractor telescope from Carson. It’s sleek red design gives it an attractive and stylish appeal that belies its affordable price. The RP-400 is also backed by a one-year warranty so you can rest assured you made a smart purchasing decision.
With its 90mm aperture and 1000mm focal length, distant celestial bodies are bright and clearly defined. You also have the advantage of the 90-degree corner lens and two eyepieces, so you are ready to go right out of the box. Best of all it comes with a 6x30mm finderscope so accurately aiming the telescope is a breeze.
Thanks to its equatorial mount aligning this telescope is quick and easy. This also allows for smooth tracking of slow moving objects. Since it comes with an adjustable tripod, you can use this telescope almost anywhere, and it only takes a few seconds to set up.
Ideal for the intermediate astronomer, this telescope boasts a 50x to 100x magnification and an aperture of 90mm along with a focal length of 1000mm to give you bright and detailed views of the celestial objects, star clusters, the planets, the Moon, and many others.
The 6×30 finder scope aids in aiming the main scope to pinpoint your target of choice so you are able to see more of the sky.
This device offers value for money as it ships with 20mm and 10mm Plossl eyepieces, a 90-degree corner lens, and an adjustable aluminum tripod so you can enjoy out-of-the-box functionality.
This telescope is outfitted with superior, fully coated optics that deliver a clear and detailed view of objects for a thorough observation.
The high-quality, heavy-duty aluminum tripod with an equatorial mount provides support to prevent the effects of shaking and movement during use.
This is a huge and heavy instrument that may be too much for younger astronomers to handle by themselves but it makes a great scope to grow with.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($255.99)
Thanks to its German technology this reflector telescope is powerful enough to view distant celestial objects or stunning terrestrial views.
Its compact size allows for easy portability, and its rugged build ensures that it will last for years.
The 130mm aperture and 650mm focal length make this a versatile telescope that can be used in a variety of viewing applications. Distant objects will appear bright and clear, along with those closer to you. It also comes with three magnification eyepieces and a Barlow lens.
You will appreciate the equatorial mount when you are aligning the telescope. This also allows for smooth tracking, which is always an advantage. So you can set the AstroMaster up almost anywhere it also comes with a sturdy aluminum tripod.
With its large 130mm aperture, this telescope is able to collect as much light as possible from distant objects so you can view celestial objects with greater detail and brightness.
The rack-and-pinion focuser enables you to fine-tune the details so you can view faraway objects in the night sky for the evaluation of their various features and distinguishing marks.
The German equatorial mount works well with the stainless steel tripod to provide support for the scope so you wouldn’t need to hold it in your hand and you just point it at your target objects.
This model comes with low, medium, and high magnification eyepieces to enable you to enjoy customized viewing.
The 3x Barlow lens multiplies the magnifying power of each eyepiece so you can see clearly and with greater detail for a comprehensive study and comparison of deep-sky objects.
The scope does not come with in-depth instructions so those who are unfamiliar with the use of telescopes may be unable to optimize the many features of this product.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($399.99)
Orion 10013 GoScope
Don’t let the compact size of this refractor telescope fool you, it is still powerful enough to bring distant celestial objects into sharp view. It comes with a “tabletop” mount that provides a sturdy base, while also allowing for smooth tracking and easy aligning. Best of all this powerful telescope comes at a price that will fit almost any budget.
As advertised, Orion designed this telescope to be easy for beginners to use. Not only is alignment a breeze, but so is locating specific objects in the sky. The “EZ Finder II” makes it easy to accurately aim the telescope. All you have to do is follow the red dot sight to see planets, galaxies, and stars.
The 80mm aperture ensures that the objects are crisp and bright. The GoScope also comes with two eyepieces, so there is nothing extra to buy. Best of all this telescope can even be mounted on a tripod so you really can use it almost anywhere.
Offering a huge performance to enable you to enjoy the vista of the night sky in a splendid kaleidoscope of brilliance and detail, this telescope boasts a huge 80mm aperture plus quality refractor optics.
The compact and portable tabletop base enables you to position the scope on your desk by the window for wobble-free observation every time.
The EZ Finder II red-dot sight simplifies accurate aiming of this scope for the easy viewing of celestial bodies via the supplied 10mm and 20mm 1.25-inch eyepieces.
The small and compact size makes this device a genuine grab-and-go instrument for astronomy newbies as well as seasoned hobbyists who also prefer going from one viewing location to another.
You’ll appreciate how the scope gathers more than 30 percent more light compared to a 70mm device and more than 70 percent compared to a 60mm refractor.
The scope doesn’t have an erect-image eyepiece so images are inverted when viewed on the objective, which is not really a big deal for many.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($149.99)