Beginner’s telescopes – Buying guide & Comparison
If you’re short on time and you just want to find the best telescope for beginners, this short paragraph should help you get exactly the model you need. According to our research the Orion 09881 Observer is the best because it is designed to be easy to use, while still being capable of providing you with stunning views of the night sky. The wide aperture lens ensures plenty of light is gathered so even distant planets and nebulas are bright and clear. It also comes with an altazimuth mount so even beginners can enjoy smooth panning and easily track moving objects across the sky. If the Orion 09881 Observer is unavailable, your second option should be the Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ.
Choosing a telescope for beginners can be overwhelming. There are new terms to learn, and several makes and models to choose from. It can leave you feeling frustrated and ready to make do with a pair of binoculars instead of a top rated telescope. To help beginners make an informed decision we have created this easy to read buying guide. In it budding astronomers will find the information they need to easily make the right purchasing decision.
Aperture and magnification
When you are trying to decide which telescope for beginners is best it is important to pay attention to the size of the aperture. All you have to remember is that bigger is always better. This does mean that you will have to forego the cheap department store models, but it will be worth it when you are enjoying a clear bright view of the sky. The aperture is responsible for gathering light, and its size will also determine magnification.
You can easily change the magnification of a telescope simply by switching out the eye pieces. Higher magnifications require more light, and this is why the size of the aperture is considered one of the most important aspects on a telescope. Most experts recommend choosing a beginner’s telescope that comes with a 70mm aperture or larger.
According to the best beginner telescope reviews a longer focal length is not always better. If you want to view the Moon, planets and double stars a telescope that comes with a longer focal length will work better with the magnification that you need. It is also more comfortable for eyeglass wearers to use, but it will add significant weight to the telescope. This may affect its portability, along with forcing you to spend extra on a sturdier mount.
Telescopes with a smaller focal length will allow you to see larger patches of the sky, making it ideal for budding astronomers that want to take in the expanse of the Milky Way. The Pleiades also looks best through a shorter focal length, but the reduced size will make it difficult to clearly focus on single planets. Most experienced astronomers recommend choosing a telescope with a medium length, typically around 6 inches, when you are just starting out.
The mount is almost as important as the telescope’s optics, especially if you are a beginning. The top 5 telescopes for beginners come with equatorial mounts since these are the easiest to use. Best of all most come with electric motors so aligning and tracking is incredibly easy. If you are planning on using high magnification, an equatorial mount will probably be the best choice for you.
Some top rated beginners telescopes come with altazimuth mounts. While these do require two hands to align and track objects across the sky, some experienced astronomers prefer to have this extra level of control. Since altazimuth mounts aren’t motorized they are lightweight and extremely affordable. They can also be more dependable and are less prone to breakage.
Top beginner telescope reviews in 2017
Once you know what to look for choosing a telescope can be relatively easy. 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 telescope for beginners showcased below.
Orion 09881 Observer
The Orion Observer is a great telescope for any astronomer just starting out. It is designed to be easy to operate, while still providing exceptional views of the night sky.
Bird watchers and nature lovers will also enjoy using this telescope since it is also capable of producing stunning terrestrial views with the addition of a correct-image diagonal.
Thanks to the 70mm aperture you can enjoy bright clear views at almost any magnification. It also comes with two interchangeable eyepieces so you can get started right out of the box.
The finder scope makes it easy to locate your target, and this is something that even experienced astronomers can appreciate. This telescope comes with an altazimuth mount so you can enjoy smooth panning and tracking across the sky.
This also helps to reduce the overall weight of the telescope, making it a little easier to carry. You will also appreciate the adjustable tripod that helps to ensure your comfort during long viewing sessions.
As it has been especially designed for beginners, this model enables you to utilize it with ease. It’s an excellent entry-level refractor that comes with an aperture of 70mm, which makes it the perfect choice for watching a variety of celestial objects ranging from the Moon to Jupiter and Saturn.
The model comes with an altazimuth mount that allows you to orient the telescope depending on what you’re interested in seeing, without having to put in a lot of effort into this.
Since the tripod that is provided in the package boasts an adjustable height, you will be able to comfortably customize it depending on your viewing settings.
This convenient beginner telescope can also be used for a variety of other purposes, including looking at wildlife and birdwatching.
Some buyers argue that the instructions should have been more straightforward for them to make the most out of this unit.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($139.99)
Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ
One of the main advantages of the AstroMaster is how easy it is to set up. It only takes a few minutes, and there aren’t any tools required.
This makes it a breeze to set up at home, astronomy club or out in a field. It also comes with a sturdy tripod that can be adjusted for height as needed.
The 70mm aperture ensures that your views of the sky are bright and clear. Its larger size allows for higher magnification so even distant planets and nebulas are clearly defined.
It even comes with erect image optics so you can enjoy stunning terrestrial views. The star pointer makes it easy to locate objects in the sky, and since it is permanently mounted there is one less accessory for you to keep track off.
The AstroMaster also comes with an altazimuth mount for smooth panning and tracking.
Since it’s designed with the needs of rookies in mind, the AstroMaster 70AZ has been created to tackle their requirements. As such, it boasts an easy-to-use design that allows owners to set it up without using any additional tools.
Whether you prefer celestial or terrestrial observation, you’ll be able to make the most out of this model as you can utilize it for both of these purposes.
The tripod of this model is pre-assembled, which means that you won’t waste a lot of time assembling everything, whether you plan to take a peek at the stars at home or in the middle of a field.
The coated glass optics that this unit has been outfitted with can allow you to rest assured that the images you’ll be seeing will always be on par.
It’s not one of the most affordable options available for sale nowadays as some models might be more budget-friendly.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($144.75)
Celestron PowerSeeker 70EQ
Even though this telescope is geared for beginners, experienced astronomers are often surprised by its impressive optics.
The PowerSeeker by Celestron comes with a 70mm aperture so even distant planets, nebulas and galaxies are crystal clear. Since it also comes with a mid range focal length you can easily focus on planets and enjoy a wide view of the Milky Way.
Beginners will appreciate the 5×24 finder scope that makes it a little easier to focus in on a star or planet. The German equatorial mount ensures accurate alignments and smooth tracking, even if it is your first time using a telescope.
Thanks to the included correct image diagonal you can also use this telescope for terrestrial viewing. Designed to be easy to operate while still providing you with a powerful performance, this telescope might be the perfect choice for you.
With a focal length of 700mm and an aperture of 70mm, this Celestron model can allow you to take a peek at a wide range of celestial objects.
Unlike many of its competitors, this particular device comes with a Barlow lens.
The EQ mount is part of the deal with this product, which on the one hand increases the overall value offered and on the other, enables you to perform slow-motion controls.
The optics in this choice are all high-quality, which is why you will be able to glance at a crisp and clear image.
The product is compatible with the complimentary SkyPortal app for both Android and iOS devices.
Some owners have reported that they cannot use this telescope to look at Saturn or Jupiter, for instance, as they look as tiny dots.
The screws don’t appear to be really tightened, so you might have to take care of this issue all by yourself.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($109)
This telescope proves that you can get impressive views of the night sky with one designed for beginners. The Infinity comes with a large 4 inch (102mm) aperture that ensures even distant planets and galaxies are bright and clearly defined.
The 600mm focal length is perfect for all viewing situations, and to add to its versatility the Infinity comes with three eyepieces.
You also have the advantage of the Barlow lens which doubles the magnification of each eyepiece. With this telescope there is very little you won’t be able to see in the sky.
Beginners will appreciate the “red dot” finder scope that makes locating stars and planets a breeze.
It also comes with an altazimuth mount for smooth tracking and panning. If you are ever in doubt about a star or planet’s name, you can simply refer to the included astronomical software.
This product is available in a wide array of refractors, so you can comfortably choose the one you prefer. Some of the popular choices are the 70mm AZ refractor, but the 102mm AZ one is just as good, especially if you want more aperture and a superior focal length.
The model boasts a 2x Barlow lens that can double the power of magnification of every of the three pieces provided in the package.
To enable ease of use, the manufacturing brand has added a red dot viewfinder to the design of this telescope.
Both an instructional DVD and astronomical software are part of the deal, which means that this particular choice is a good alternative for complete beginners who have no prior experience with using a telescope.
The accessory tray that comes along with the main unit appears to be close to useless, based on the feedback it has gathered in this sense.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($203.15)
Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ
Priced to fit most budgets and designed to be easy to use, there is very little not to like about this Celestron telescope. It is also capable of providing you with stunning views of the night sky.
Beginning astronomers will love being able to clearly see objects in the sky. The large 80mm aperture ensures that celestial bodies are bright and clear at almost any magnification.
It’s long 900mm focal length is perfect for viewing large parts of the Milky Way, and it also makes the telescope a little more comfortable for eyeglass wearers to use.
Thanks to the Barlow lens you can enjoy twice the magnification, which means even distant nebulas and star clusters will be clearly visible.
Since it comes with an equatorial mount you can enjoy smooth and easy alignment and tracking.
The PowerSeeker 80EQ is one of the top rated choices out there if you’re looking for a model that’s been primarily designed for aspiring astronomers. As with other Celestron models, you will not require any extra tools in order to set up this particular telescope.
The slow-motion controls that this unit has been outfitted with enable you to benefit from smooth tracking.
When it comes to the quality of the components in this model, you’ll be glad to know that all the optics have been coated in glass. What this means is that this unit is capable of lasting for a decent amount of time and will provide you crisp and clear images of your chosen celestial objects.
The 3x Barlow lens triples the eyepiece magnification power, so it’s another benefit you will be getting if you choose this unit.
Because it is somewhat basic when compared to other choices, the PowerSeeker 80EQ is recommended for users younger than 13.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($134)
Frequently asked questions
What beginner’s telescope should I consider?
It all boils down to your requirements and expectations. While some rookies are interested in delving into the enigmas of the universe, others are simply focused on seeing some more detail of the moon and other planets nearby. Therefore, you have to ask yourself whether or not you’d much rather prefer investing in a unit that’s well worth its weight in gold and can be tailored to your needs or would, instead, opt for one that’s solely intended for beginners like you.
How beginner’s telescopes are made
There are many manufacturers in the field, and there’s no doubt that most of those that we recommend here, on Optics and Lab, are quite trustworthy and worth taking into account. However, over time, we have noticed that some brands put in a lot more effort into designing top-notch products than others.
If you want to play it safe, which would be a good idea if you don’t have the budget to invest in a high-quality catadioptric alternative, for instance, we suggest checking out some of the ratings that your chosen models have received. Glass optics are to be preferred when compared to plastic ones, and that’s because just like those used in microscopes they can be used in various situations. They can put up with a lot of abuse and a wide range of temperatures.
Which beginner’s telescope is worth investing in?
The short answer to this question is that it comes down to the type of telescope you want to spend your cents on. First off, you have to decide between reflectors, refractors, and catadioptric models, and that’s because usually, you can look at different things with their help.
What is it, exactly, you want to take a peek at? If you want to look at the moon and some planets in our galaxy, you might do with a somewhat basic alternative. If on the other hand, you want to explore galaxies, nebulas, and a broad range of other cosmic phenomena, you’re better off with a Schmidt-Cassegrain alternative.
How to choose a telescope for beginners
Although we have tackled this matter in our buying guide, it doesn’t hurt to address it once more. There are two major things to consider when selecting a new telescope for first-time users and they are the aperture and the focal range. Most 70mm telescopes are great for looking at the moon and galaxies from a distance, but they won’t satisfy you if you’re all for seeing Saturn’s rings and Jupiter, as well.
How to set up a telescope for beginners
The matter of portability needs to be addressed before anything, especially if you what you have in mind is going to a field nearby with the kids or friends and having a peek at what’s happening in the sky. Portable options are available for sale these days, but if you have a bit of trouble when it comes to determining which model speaks to your needs the best, you have to check out some reviews.
Usually, there’s a mount and a basic piece you’ll have to use to set up the whole ensemble. Of course, the mounting system depends on the model that you will be choosing. Do you prefer a telescope that comes with a GPS? If you get a computerized model, you might just as well install it and enjoy the views. You won’t even have to set up your location and adjust the device according to it.
What telescope to buy for beginners?
Once more, this is an important question you need to mull over before making your final choice. As professional telescopes are anything but reasonably priced, we recommend assessing your needs and requirements before anything. If what you’re searching for is a telescope for kids, you simply have to make sure that it is, above all, easy to utilize.
If on the other hand, you’re focused on the quality of the image, you might be in need of a more versatile choice. In most cases, catadioptric alternatives are those you should consider, on this account, although many of them present the drawback of being anything but portable. Therefore, you just have to choose whether you’d much rather look at a high-quality image or would focus on usability. It’s your choice, after all, so be sure to make the right one.