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.
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.
Top starter telescopes reviews in 2017
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.
Gskyer Refractor AZ70400
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.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($168.99)
Celestron Travel Scope 70mm 21035-CGL
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.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($59.99)
Orion SpaceProbe 3 11043
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.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($109.99)
Celestron FirstScope 21024-CGL
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.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($39.54)
Orion SkyScanner 100mm 10012
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.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($109.94)