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.
Our Top Choice
This entry-level refractor can ensure that you get all the benefits of a 70mm aperture which will allow you to look at the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter, as well as other celestial objects. The altazimuth mount enables you to orient the device in accordance with what you feel like seeing. The adjustable height of the tripod is another benefit.
There have been consumers who have noted that the manual provided by the manufacturer could have been a bit more comprehensive.
Whether you want this product for celestial or terrestrial viewing, it’s likely it will meet and even exceed most of your requirements.
The 70mm aperture of the 21061 AstroMaster is an advantage in itself as it will allow you to visualize both planets and various other deep-sky objects such as clusters and nebulas. With its easy-to-use design, you can safely maneuver the telescope so that you orient it as you desire. The optical components are made out of glass.
The price point may end up being an inconvenience for utter beginners who aren’t yet prepared to make an investment in an entry-level unit.
Since it’s a great choice for both terrestrial and celestial viewing, this unit might be worthy of your attention.
Also To Consider
As a more budget-friendly choice, the PowerSeeker 70EQ needs a bit of mulling over. It fits the bill quite nicely, as pointed out by most of the consumers who were kind enough to review it. The EQ mount and the high-quality optics, as well as the fact that the unit boasts a Barlow lens, are all notable benefits.
You may have to tighten the screws from time to time, which might bother you if you don’t like fiddling with components.
In short, this model is a reasonably priced alternative that gets the job done precisely how it’s supposed to as it offers plenty of value.
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.
9 Best Telescopes for Beginners (Reviews) in 2020
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.
- 1. Orion 09881 Observer 70mm Altazimuth Refractor Telescope
- 2. Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope
- 3. Celestron 21037 PowerSeeker 70EQ Refractor Telescope
- 4. Meade Instruments Infinity 102AZ Refractor Telescope
- 5. Celestron 21048 PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope
- 6. Celestron 22051 LCM 80 Computerised Refractor Telescope
- 7. Celestron 22050 LCM 60 Computerised Refractor Telescope
- 8. Celestron AstroMaster 102 AZ Telescope – Blue/Black
- 9. Celestron 21043 PowerSeeker 60EQ Refractor Telescope
- Frequently asked questions
1. Orion 09881 Observer 70mm Altazimuth Refractor Telescope
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.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
2. Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope
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 ($149.95)
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 ($129.95)
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.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
5. Celestron 21048 PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope
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 ($147.11)
6. Celestron 22051 LCM 80 Computerised Refractor Telescope
The Celestron 80LCM is a high-quality refractor telescope that’s suited to both beginners as well as stargazing enthusiasts. With an aperture of 80 mm or 3.15 inches, this telescope will provide you with plenty of details as well enough brightness to study craters on the Moon or other distant planets or star clusters.
With a focal length of 900 mm or 35 inches, this telescope can provide you with a standard magnification of 36x with the 25-mm eyepiece and 100 x with the 9-mm eyepiece. Thanks to the computerized mount which features the NexStar computer technology, you gain access to a database containing information about 4,000 celestial objects, which can also be extended by 10,000 more with the bonus Astronomy software.
Celestron 80LCM is lightweight and also comes with a sturdy aluminum tripod which is light, meaning that it’s easy to carry around with you anywhere you go.
It can locate thousands of celestial objects automatically by using the internal database that includes stars, galaxies, planets, nebulae and more.
The compact construction makes it perfect for beginners and it will transform the product into a perfect companion for camping trips or impromptu backyard observing sessions.
The 80mm refractor boasts fully coated glass optics which can deliver crisp, detailed and bright views of even the most distant celestial bodies.
Its versatile design allows it to be used for daytime viewing of terrestrial subjects as well, such as wildlife and landscapes.
You can’t go wrong purchasing a Celestron product. The brand offers free tech support and how-to-videos to make stargazing a hassle-free experience for beginners.
We found comments saying that the red dot finderscope that comes included with the telescope is not of good quality and that it does not line up with the unit unless shimmed.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($300.35)
When it comes to choosing the best telescope from Celestron to suit a beginner, the 60LCM is one of the top favorites. This is a 60 mm (2.36 inch) computerized refractor that will help you learn the ropes of sky watching. The computerized mount is easy to use, can be easily removed with a quick-release clamp and it offers extensive info on 4,000 celestial objects.
You can also start learning constellations and galaxies thanks to the StarPointer finderscope which will help you align and locate with high accuracy objects in the night sky. You also get to benefit from the SkyAlign feature which uses 3 bright celestial objects to provide you with easy and fast alignment.
The Celestron 60LCM also comes with flash-upgradeable software and the ability to download info on tens of thousands of celestial objects such as star clusters, nebulae, and distant galaxies as well as planets closer to Earth.
It includes all the accessories you need to get started with astronomy, including the free Starry Night astronomy software that will teach beginners all the basics.
There is no need to spend countless hours trying to find the perfect spot to observe since the unit comes with an internal database that will help you locate thousands of celestial bodies.
The computerized telescope is lightweight and portable so that you can take it with you anywhere you go and the low price makes it perfect for new astronomers.
The telescope can be adjusted for height so that children and their parents alike may use it comfortably.
The wider view will let you observe objects as they move across the sky without losing track of them.
The main issue with this option is its small size which will limit how clear distant celestial objects can appear to the eye.
As is the case with all computerized telescopes, the battery does not offer long-lasting power.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($210)
The Celestron Astro Master 102AZ is an entry-level telescope that’s great for both celestial and terrestrial observation. It boasts a 102mm or 4-inch aperture and a 660mm or 26-inch focal length, providing useful magnification of up to 66 x with the 10-mm eyepiece. With this kind of magnification, even beginners can observe distant planets and star systems without having to pay a load of money on professional equipment.
The Celestron Astro Master 102AZ is a refractor telescope that’s designed to be installed in a few minutes, offering easy-to-use controls which are ideal for a novice. The steel tripod comes with 1.25-inch tubes which will ensure greater stability for the telescope, allowing you to obtain crisp views of distant objects without annoying movement.
With a compact body and foldable tripod, the 102AZ is easy to carry around so that you won’t miss the opportunity to admire a bright and clear sky even when you’re traveling.
Taking a telescope with you on camping trips or in the backyard has never been easier and this product is built with portability in mind and it is the perfect companion for stargazing parties.
You can use it to observe anything from the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn to deep sky objects such as the Orion Nebula and the distant Andromeda galaxy.
During the day, the telescope won’t be left unused since you can still take it out and it will deliver crisp images of wildlife and landscapes.
The intuitive alt-azimuth mount and pan handles make locating celestial bodies feel very easy.
It is possible to purchase additional lenses and eyepieces so that you can upgrade the performance of this telescope in time without having to buy a new one.
While the quality of the instrument and the optics have garnered high praise, the same cannot be said about the mount which feels a bit cheap.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.95)
9. Celestron 21043 PowerSeeker 60EQ Refractor Telescope
The Celestron 60mm Equatorial PowerSeeker is yet another great telescope for beginners.
With intuitive controls for smooth tracking and an easy setup, you can start observing the night sky in just a few minutes.
You can easily make room in a backpack or in your car to take it with you on both daily trips and longer journeys – thanks to its lightweight body and an aluminum tripod.
With a 60-mm (2.36 in) aperture, the Celestron 60mm Equatorial PowerSeeker can provide you with bright and highly-detailed images of both close objects such as the Moon as well as further-away constellations and nebulae.
When it comes to magnification, this model is quite potent, thanks to the long focal length of the lens (900 mm or 35 inches) and the two eyepieces of 20 mm and 4 mm, with magnification powers of 45 x and 225 x respectively.
Despite being one of the most affordable choices on our list, the all-glass optics can still deliver great views of the Moon and they can even take you beyond our Solar System.
The manual equatorial mount provides sturdy operation and thanks to the large slow-motion control knobs it can track objects smoothly as they drift across the sky.
The all-glass optical components with high-transmission coatings can enhance image brightness and clarity so that distant objects look clearer and sharper.
You get access to the Starry Night astronomy software which will provide new astronomers with a wealth of information about how to best use their new Celestron telescope.
You can take the unit with you wherever you go thanks to the compact and portable construction.
If you wish to explore as much of the night sky as possible, there are telescopes that can deliver better images at a slightly higher price point.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($73.36)
Frequently asked questions
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.