Starter telescopes – Buying guide & Comparison
If you’re looking for the best beginner’s telescope the but have no idea where to start, then you’re in the right place. We’ve studied and compared numerous products on the market so that we can recommend an optical instrument that is easy to understand and use, comes with a low price tag, and offers quality imagery of your favorite celestial objects. We recommend that you go with the Gskyer Refractor AZ70400, a compact telescope with a 70mm aperture and a 400mm focal length that is perfect for a starting astronomer. Its glass elements feature optical coatings for improved quality, while the stable aluminum tripod will ensure stability and accuracy to track and view the deep sky. In the unfortunate case that this model is out of stock, then you should also consider the Celestron Travel Scope 70mm 21035-CGL.
Our Top Choice
Made of high-quality metals and glass, this telescope offers a great experience to amateur astronomers. With a 400mm optical tube made of heavy-duty aluminum alloy, the device is stable, while the 70mm lens employs a superior-quality optical glass that protects the viewer’s eye from exposure to damaging rays.
The instructions delivered with this telescope are not extremely clear on how to best use it, so you might need to also do some online research in order to enjoy everything it has to offer.
Ensuring stability and accuracy for tracking stars and planets, this telescope is a very good alternative if you are just getting started in this field as a hobby.
Designed with the needs of a traveling astronomer in mind, this telescope is lightweight and portable, but also made from high-quality materials. The 70mm aperture makes this model an ideal one for various observations, while the multi-coated glass uses the latest light-transmission technology for improved visuals.
If you want to use the mount for other devices or telescopes as well, you should make sure that they fit, since this was an issue for some of the users who have purchased this model.
With flexibility, ease of use, and performance among the benefits this telescope brings to the user, it’s surely a model that you should consider.
An ideal choice for children wishing to learn more about constellations and the solar system, the Orion SpaceProbe 3 11043 is made of lightweight materials, making it extremely easy to set up or carry around. The 3-inch 70mm aperture and 700mm focal length ensure quality views of the Moon, as well as of larger planets.
Keep in mind that this model is specially designed for children and beginners. If you want a more complex model with more functionalities, then other alternatives available on the market might be right.
Equipped with the EZ Finder II reflex sight which helps the users get started without too much fuss, this model is one that can go to the top of your favorites list.
If you’re planning to get your very first telescope, there are a few basic things you need to know about these instruments before you go looking for one of the models up for sale. You need to understand focal ratio, magnification, as well as the importance of usability and portability. Here are some essentials that should help you make the right purchase.
Aperture, focal length and focal ratio
When it comes to finding the best starter telescope, you need to know which features are the most important to you. The aperture of a telescope is actually its main mirror or lens, and its diameter is measured in millimeters. The wider the aperture, the more light the telescope can gather and the brighter the images are. The focal length is the distance from the light point of entry to the focal plane where the image forms.
Divide the focal length by the aperture, and you obtain the focal ratio. The lower the number, the wider is the field of view; with a higher the focal ratio you get a narrower field of view but at a higher magnification. For a starter, a telescope with a decent aperture and a low focal ratio is perfect, since you get to observe more of the night sky and learn the most popular objects.
Magnification and how much you actually need
The magnification of your telescope is dictated by its focal length and eyepieces. Some of the best amateur telescope models usually come with two eyepieces, so you get two magnification powers. For a telescope with a 400mm focal length, you get a 20x magnification with a 20mm eyepiece and 40x magnification with a 10mm one.
Depending on your preferences and budget, you could aim for a higher power, or you could start out with low power and observe the closest planets in our solar system first, and only after learning them considering getting higher magnification.
Don’t forget about usability and portability
You shouldn’t forget that a good telescope for beginners needs to be easy to use. You shouldn’t want a model with too many features and controls unless you can cope with a steep learning curve. It is better to have a model that is simple to set up so that you can align the telescope fast and start admiring celestial objects as soon as possible.
If you don’t want to be stuck in your back garden for your astronomy observations, you also want an optical device that is lightweight. Portability is extremely important when starting out, since it will allow you to take your telescope with you and increase viewing opportunities, leading to faster learning and improvement. The good news is that most entry-level telescopes weigh only a few pounds so that you can effortlessly take them with you anywhere you go.
9 Best Starter Telescopes (Reviews) in 2020
Because finding the perfect telescope for a beginner is never an easy task, we have reviewed some of the top products on the market to bring you a list of the most appreciated optical instruments on the market. Find out all you need to know from our starter telescope reviews so that you can make the right purchase.
- 1. Gskyer AZ70400 Telescope Travel Scope
- 2. Celestron 21035 Travel Scope 70 Telescope
- 3. Orion SpaceProbe II Altazimuth Reflector Telescope Kit
- 4. Celestron Firstscope
- 5. Orion 10012 SkyScanner TableTop Reflector Telescope
- 6. Celestron 21063 AstroMaster 90AZ Refractor Telescope
- 7. Orion Observer AZ Refractor & Starter Kit
- 8. Levenhuk LabZZ MT2 Educational Kit for Kids Microscope and Telescope
- 9. Orion 10013 GoScope TableTop Refractor Telescope
If you’re looking for a reliable telescope at an affordable price, then this model is just what you need. Built from quality metals and glass, this telescope is bound to offer amazing stargazing experiences to amateur astronomers.
The 400mm optical tube is made of heavy-duty aluminum alloy which gives it extra resistance against the elements and structural stability. The 70mm lens employs superior-quality optical glass to ensure accuracy and high-quality visuals. The lens also benefits from a green optical coating which is meant to protect the viewer’s eyes from prolonged exposure to harmful rays.
The barrel of the Gskyer Refractor is made using the latest German technologies which include environmentally-friendly paint. The sturdy aluminum tripod is sure to provide your telescope with increased stability and allow you to accurately track stars and planets.
With this model, you also get two eyepieces as well as a protective bag to make transport safe and easy. This model comes with 10mm and a 25mm eyepiece for convenient magnification.
Because the item comes fitted with an optical lens that has a high light transmittance ratio, this model can supply its users with clear images and visual effects.
The main lens barrel that this choice includes is made of metal. Hence, the unit is likely to pass the test of time.
Plus, this unit includes a support that is firm and made of a thickened aluminum alloy that makes the device stable and durable. Additionally, the height of the model can be adjusted to fit your needs.
This option is said to have a simple design and to be effortless to operate. As a result, it is regarded as an excellent telescope for a beginner.
There have been owners that claimed that they had received models that had missing pieces. Not many similar reports have been made.
Some have argued that the instructions provided by the seller are challenging to follow, which can be problematic when the unit is used by a novice that needs help operating it.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($59.99)
This Celestron Travel Scope has been designed with the needs of the traveling astronomer in mind. Lightweight and portable, this telescope is made from high-quality materials so that it can withstand the elements while you enjoy viewing your favorite stars when being out in the field.
With a 70mm aperture, this telescope is perfect for planetary as well as terrestrial observations. The glass is multi-coated using the latest technologies in order to improve light transmission and eliminate unwanted optical defects such as chromatic aberrations. The reliable aluminum tripod will ensure a stable platform for all your cosmic observations.
You get to benefit from quality imagery thanks to the 10mm and 20mm eyepieces which can offer up to 20x magnification.
This telescope also comes with TheSkyX astronomy database which contains information on 10,000 celestial objects as well as printable sky maps and several dozen high-resolution images.
This 70mm reflector model has fully coated glass optics and a lightweight frame that makes it the perfect gift for somebody that likes traveling.
When shipped, this unit comes supplied with a custom backpack where you can store the telescope and the accessories in between uses.
Using this telescope is not particularly difficult as it is easy to set it up. No special tools are required when doing so.
This option comes provided with a 20 mm and a 10 mm eyepiece, as well as with a 5×24 finderscope and a 45° erect image diagonal.
One user claimed that this device is way too large to be carried around during a haul across the country. Not many agreed with him.
The tripod that the item features is considered somewhat shaky and not sufficiently stable. Many of its current owners are happy with their purchase and recommend it.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($66.9)
3. Orion SpaceProbe II Altazimuth Reflector Telescope Kit
The Orion SpaceProbe is an ideal telescope for kids wishing to learn more about the solar system and star constellations.
Made from lightweight materials, this telescope is extremely easy to set up and to carry around so that your children will be able to use it anytime, anywhere for educational and entertainment purposes.
Thanks to a 3-inch 70mm aperture, a 700-mm focal length, and a focal ratio of f.9.2, this telescope can offer quality views of the Moon as well as larger planets such as Saturn and Jupiter. With the altazimuth mount, this telescope is stable and easy to use to ensure accurate tracking and quality observations of countless celestial bodies and formations.
This model is equipped with the EZ Finder II reflex sight which is easy to align so that you can get started with minimum fuss. The package also includes two 1.25-inch eyepieces for extra flexibility and enhanced quality viewing as well as the Starry Night astronomy software.
This item is marketed as the perfect beginner telescope for kids. The choice has a beautiful design, and it comes with options that are easy to operate, even by novices.
Because of its altazimuth mount and the tripod that it includes, this alternative can provide one with a smooth action and the needed stability.
This model has a 76mm aperture. As a result, it can supply its buyers with clear images of the moon, of the rings of Saturn and even of the satellites that orbit around Jupiter.
Given that this device features the EZ Finder II reflex sight, finding celestial objects with it will be very easy.
Some buyers had troubles when it came to utilizing the EZ Finder II. However, this might have something to do with the fact that they were beginners.
One previous owner was dissatisfied that he received a model that had missing parts.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
With a compact design and simple controls, this Celestron entry-level telescope is perfect for someone wishing to learn the ropes of astronomy. The FirstScope is easy to install and use, regardless if it’s in your own backyard or during a road trip.
With a 300mm focal length, a wide 76-millimeter and a focal ratio of 3.95, this Dobsonian telescope will ensure bright and clear images of the Moon’s craters or the rings of Saturn while also allowing you to admire nebulae and galaxies.
Thanks to the included 4mm and 20mm eyepieces you enjoy 15x and 75x magnification to view your favorite celestial objects in detail.
This telescope is light and portable so that you can take it with you anywhere to practice your and navigating skills under the night sky. You can move the reflector tube into the desired direction and navigate the night sky effortlessly.
This Dobsonian style model has a 76mm reflector optical tube, and it is said to be effortless to use. Because of this, many recommend it as a first telescope.
Because it has a lightweight table-top design, this unit can be conveniently stored in between uses, and it is not complicated to transport it from one place to another.
The choice has a stylish design, and it is prone to catch the attention of all those interested in astronomy.
According to the manufacturer, this product is easy to use, even by those that have not tried utilizing a device of this kind before.
There have been users that pointed out that they were delivered devices that had missing pieces. Not a lot of owners had this problem.
One buyer was not happy with the fact that the images provided by this telescope were fuzzy and distorted. Most are satisfied with it.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($49.95)
While compact and easy-to-use, the SkyScanner 10012 is definitely not a toy. Intended for people just starting out in astronomy, this reflector telescope features a 100-mm aperture which is wide enough to offer detailed views of lunar surfaces with its craters or distant planets and star clusters.
Combined with the 400-mm focal length, you get a f/4.0 focal ratio for a low-power wide field of view of the night sky. Using the 20mm and 10mm eyepieces will offer you a magnification of 20x and 40x respectively so that you get to enjoy distant objects in high detail.
Thanks to the 1.25-inch rack-and-pinion focuser you can easily focus on the preferred celestial body and obtain sharp and crisp images every time.
Aiming is also a breeze with the telescope’s EZ Finder II red-dot sight. You also get to enjoy for information about stars and planets with the Starry Night Special Edition software.
This item is marketed as the ideal beginner telescope because it has 100mm parabolic primary mirror and lenses that are not made of plastic.
When used correctly, this device can help you observe the Moon, details on Jupiter, as well as other celestial bodies.
This model has a tabletop design, and it is known for being small enough so that one can easily store it in between uses.
When shipped, the option includes two 1.25-inch eyepieces as well as the EZ Finder II aiming device and the Starry Night astronomy software.
One previous owner claimed that the model has a low magnification power. However, this assertion is not supported by other buyers.
It has been remarked that the two eyepieces included in the deal have a fuzzy area in their center. As a result, the provided images are not entirely clear. This might be an isolated case.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.97)
6. Celestron 21063 AstroMaster 90AZ Refractor Telescope
Designed with quick and easy tool-less setup, the Celestron 21063 AstroMaster offers dual purpose functionality, as it can be used both for terrestrial and celestial observations. This model offers tool-free setup thanks to its quick-release dovetail adjustment, so it can be up-and-going in less time.
The permanently mounted red-dot StarPointer finderscope adds point-and-look functionality to the scope by keeping the sky right side up to ensure easy viewing of correctly-oriented images. This adjustable red dot feature enables day or night viewing thanks to its adequately distinct brightness. To ensure accurate and smooth object seeking and pointing, this model comes with pan-handle alt-az control with clutch.
The rugged tripod with 1.25-inch steel tube legs ships to you pre-assembled so you can optimize a rigid and stable platform that supports the instrument for enjoyable viewing.
Get crisp and clear images with the fully coated glass optics of this scope. The deluxe accessory tray provides convenient storage plus easy access to accessories during your viewing adventures.
This is perfect for people who love both astronomy and terrestrial pursuits such as golf, hunting, or birdwatching because it is a dual-purpose instrument that serves as a telescope and spotting scope.
The fully-illustrated quick setup guide makes the telescope superbly easy to put together to deliver out-of-the-box functionality.
The device comes with all the components needed for a successful viewing experience and they include a high-power and a low-power eyepiece, a helpful astronomy software for use with your PC, and an erect image eyepiece.
The sharp optics deliver an erect image for comfortable, distortion-free viewing.
The scope is geared with a top-quality optical system that lets you enjoy great views every night so you can have great visuals of the constellations, nebulae, the Moon, and the planets.
The supplied star pointer may not be that easy to use for people who have no experience with this kind of device.
The manual altazimuth mount is not able to do smooth tracking of moving celestial objects in the sky.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($181.3)
Easily the best telescope bundle for children, the Orion Observer AZ Refractor & Starter kit lets you enjoy countless nights with the family under the night sky for some incredible astronomy adventures.
Let your kids enjoy breathtaking views of Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, moon craters, brilliant nebulae and amazing star groups. The 60mm Observer telescope comes with two fully coated 1 ¼-inch Kellner eyepieces, an Orion EZ Finder II aiming device, 1 ¼-inch focuser plus a solid aluminum tripod with accessory tray for support. The free digital download insert for the Starry Night SE astronomy software is an added bonus you will definitely appreciate.
The Observer 60 is an authentic refracting telescope with real glass optics. It is not a toy with plastic lenses, so it can deliver vivid views of the Moon and more on any cloudless night. This instrument will surely pique your child’s interest in astronomy.
Perfect for beginner backyard astronomers, the kit includes an astronomy book that offers a fantastic introduction to the wonders of the night sky. The Orion Moon Map 260 offers a remarkable means of familiarizing your kids with the impressive features and craters on the moon. The star chart wheel, known as the Orion Star Target planisphere, lets you see what is up in the sky at night any day of the year.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Let your kids discover the wide array of wonders in the night sky with the Levenhuk LabZZ MT2. This amazing telescope and microscope kit is designed to enable your children to explore what science and astronomy have to offer. The refracting telescope and biological microscope allow celestial and organism observation right at home.
Both of the observation instruments are equipped with premium quality optics and reliable design to enable convenient use. The included guide offers user-friendly and easy-to-read information that your kids can optimize. Designed for kids 6 years and older, the kit will help your child know about the wonderful world of astronomy and biology in an up-close-and-personal way.
The refractor telescope is fitted with lenses that gather and focus light. It has a 50mm objective lens that allows both celestial and terrestrial observation. The scope comes with two eyepieces. Use the H12.5mm eyepiece, which has 50x power, to observe large celestial objects such as the planets and the moon. The 18mm erecting eyepiece enables you to achieve direct images of objects you focus on, not just mirrored or inverted views, making it ideal for observing objects on land.
Use the erecting eyepiece as a pocket microscope with 14x magnification for on-the-go observing. The altazimuth mount of the telescope enables movement of the tube up and down and side to side. The microscope comes with three eyepieces that deliver 75x, 300x and 900x powers.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($44.95)
Easily the most travel-friendly telescope kit on the market, the Orion 10034 GoScope II Travel Moon Kit needs little storage room for problem-free portability. Enjoy impressive night sky observations and daytime terrestrial views on the go with this innovative grab-and-go package equipped with a versatile 70mm-aperture refractor scope.
The custom backpack and compact design enable portable stargazing without sacrificing quality. The achromatic lens system delivers vivid details of distant celestial objects. All the included accessories plus the entire refractor telescope fit nicely into the rugged special backpack carrying case. Lightweight at just 3.5 pounds, the kit is always a delight to take along on family trips. Use it to do nature study, daytime birdwatching and panoramic long-distance observations, in addition to enjoying visual spectacles in the sky once the sun sets in the horizon, for some casual moon watching and stargazing.
The lightweight aluminum tripod provides enough sturdy support to the 400mm focal length scope assembly while stargazing. The 5×24 finder scope enables hassle-free aiming while the two 1.25-inch 10mm and 25mm eyepieces provide 40-power and 16-power magnifications. The included Orion Moon Map 260 is a genuine bonus as it outlines the lunar features you’re bound to see.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($69.99)