Budget telescopes – Buying guide & Comparison
If you’re short on time and you just want to find the best telescope for the money, this short paragraph should help you get exactly the model you need. According to our research the Orion Starblast is the best because it arrives pre-assembled so you can use it right out of the box. The 4.5 inch aperture ensures distant objects are bright and clear, even when been viewed under high magnification. The sturdy tabletop base provides plenty of stability, and when this is combined with the altazimuth mount you can enjoy smooth manual tracking. If the Orion Starblast isn’t available, your second option should be the Orion AstroView.
It is possible to find a powerful telescope at an affordable price, if you know what to look for. With so many makes and models to choose from trying to find the best telescope for the price can be overwhelming. To help you make an informed decision and save you some time, we have included the following tips in our buying guide.
The best telescopes reviews agree that the optics are the most important aspect to consider, starting with the size of the aperture. One easy tip to remember is that bigger is always better, since the diameter of the objective lens will determine how bright and clear distant objects appear. The aperture will also affect magnification, which is important if you want to view stars and planets other than the Moon.
You also want to consider the focal length of the telescope since this will also determine magnification. A longer focal length is ideal for higher magnification, and it is also more comfortable for eyeglass wearers to use. While there are several advantages to choosing a telescope with a long focal length, it might not be the best choose for low magnification viewing. A good compromise is to choose a model that comes with a mid range focal length.
The best telescope money can buy typically comes with an equatorial or altazimuth mount, and each has it own advantages. Equatorial mounts are a little higher in price, but they do provide for accurate alignment and smooth tracking. This can be especially true if the equatorial mount is motorized. Then all you have to do is press a button the the motor does the rest.
Altazimuth mounts are almost always manual, though there are a few that are motorized. These typically come at a higher price and they might not always make them worth the extra money. Altazimuth mounts are a little more difficult to use since you have to move the telescope in two directions at the same time. Some experienced astronomers do appreciate this added level of control, it is also hard to beat their typically low price.
Whether you’re looking for the best refractor telescope for the money or have decided on a reflector model, it is important to consider the accessories. Most telescopes come with interchangeable eyepieces so magnification isn’t a problem, especially if there is a Barlow lens. This lens can double or triple the magnification of the eyepiece, limiting the number of lenses you need to keep in your collection.
Models that come with finder scopes make it a little easier to locate celestial objects, especially if it is combined with astronomical software. Some telescopes come with expandable databases, while others will display accurate sky charts so you can easily identify the objects that appear in the night sky. If your budget allows you might want to choose a “GoTo” telescope. These computerized models do come with their disadvantages, but they can make it easy to quickly locate near and distant celestial objects.
Top rated telescope reviews in 2018
It is possible to find a top rated telescope at the right price, if you know what to look for. While we can’t choose the right model for you we can help you make an informed decision, which is why we have the best telescope for the money showcased below.
Beginners and intermediate astronomers will appreciate how easy this compact telescope is to use. Its compact and lightweight construction also make it easily portable so you can use it at home or take it with you when you travel.
The 4.5 inch aperture is large enough to provide you with bright clear views, and since it comes with a fast f/4 focal length distant and close up stars and planets are always crisp and well defined.
You’ll love that it comes pre-assembled so you really can use it right out of the box. The sturdy base provides plenty of stability and ensures smooth tracking when it is combined with the manual altazimuth mount. It comes with two eyepieces to help you get started, and you can easily add more as needed.
Thanks to the finderscope and Starry Night software locating and identifying celestial bodies is a breeze.
This scope features a relatively large 4.5-inch aperture that is engineered to work well with the speedy f/4 focal ratio to provide detailed and brilliant views of the objects in the solar system including the planets and the Moon as well as the wide-field objects such as star clusters and nebulae.
This telescope is not simply a toy thanks to the premium-quality optics that work fluidly with the two Explorer II 1.25-inch Kellner eyepieces to deliver crisp and clear images for great viewing.
This is a compact and sleek telescope that is easy to take along with you whether you are deep into the science of astronomy as an intermediate stargazer or have just started on your journey as a beginner astronomer.
Because the telescope ships pre-assembled, you won’t need to worry about figuring out how to put everything together to get the instrument to work as designed.
The altazimuth mount offers a smooth tracking capability so you can manually move the scope to follow the movement of celestial objects from one end of the sky to the other.
The tension adjustment knob for fixing the vertical height is quite difficult to get used to because it refuses to get fully tightened and the scope tends to slide down or not move smoothly.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
It’s hard to believe that this powerful telescope comes at such an affordable price. The 90mm aperture allows for plenty of light so distant planets, stars and galaxies appear bright and clear, and the 910mm focal length ensures that celestial objects never appear blurry.
The long focal length also has the advantage of being easy for eyeglass wearers to use.
Not only does the AstroView come with two eyepieces, but there is also one that will correct the image for stunning terrestrial views. The sturdy tripod can be easily adjusted for height, and you will love how easy the equatorial mount makes it to align and smooth track objects across the sky.
Thanks to the finder scope locating celestial bodies is a breeze, and identifying them is easy with the Starry Night software.
This is a powerful refractor telescope that can provide crisp and clear views of the Moon and the planets without burning a large hole in the pocket.
The multi-coated 90mm objective lens is supplemented with a 910mm focal length to ensure exceptionally clear images for enjoyable viewing.
The enameled aluminum tube houses the essential optical components so they are shielded from impact and the elements without weighing the unit down.
The two included Sirius Plossl 1.25-inch eyepieces are complemented with the 6×30 finder scope and the 90-degree mirror diagonal to collect light to facilitate easy nighttime viewing while the drag-free 1.25-inch rack-and-pinion focuser and Starry Night astronomy software deliver great deep-sky viewing experience.
The equatorial mount may wobble during the focusing process because of the extra pressure exerted by your hands when you are making adjustments. However, when placed on a stable and solid surface, the stability is greatly increased.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($249.99)
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
You will love how quick and easy this telescope is to set up, especially since it doesn’t require the use of tools. It also comes at a price that will fit almost any budget, while still being incredibly powerful.
This refractor telescope comes with a 70mm aperture that is wide enough to allow for bright clear views of distant planets and other celestial bodies. The 900mm focal length provides you with sharp crisp high magnification viewing, and this also makes it easy for eyeglass wearers to use.
Thanks to the permanently located StarFinder even beginners can accurately align the telescope at a bright star or planet. Simply center the red dot on the target object and track it as it seems to move across the night sky.
When this is combined with the altazimuth mount you can enjoy precise alignments and smooth tracking. What really makes this telescope a good value for your money is the erect image optic that allows you to also use it for terrestrial viewing.
It is easy to get your children started on the science of astronomy with this telescope, which is easy to use even for those who hardly have any experience using this kind of instrument.
The innovative equatorial mount enables you to track celestial objects in motion across the night sky by keeping them centered every time.
The telescope actually plays dual roles as it is also a distant-range spotting scope for use in hunting, golf, or birdwatching.
When you purchase this telescope, you enjoy access to downloadable material such as the SkyPortal app for iOS and Android devices, and this enables the identification of celestial objects that you view
The telescope offers clear and vivid images of celestial objects being observed so you can study details better and more thoroughly.
There is no case included with the device so the scope might be difficult to transport to a prime observation spot and to store.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($85.66)
Orion GoScope II
If you’re looking for a telescope that you can easily take with you, the GoScope II by Orion might be the best choice for you. Not only does it come with a rugged tripod that you can set up almost anywhere, but there is also a convenient backpack style case for easy carrying.
Take this telescope with you on your next camping or hiking trip for truly amazing views of the night sky.
Thanks to the 70mm aperture distant celestial objects appear bright and clear. The 400mm focal length makes this a versatile telescope that can also be used for daytime viewing.
The two eyepieces allow for high and low magnification views, and you won’t have any problem locating celestial objects due to the 5×24 finder scope. It also comes with the Orion Moon Map so you can easily identify various features on the Moon.
Shipped with a variety of critical components, this device gives you expanded functionality. You get an exclusively-designed, tough backpack to hold everything well. In addition, you also receive a tripod to hold the scope steady during use, a 5×24 finderscope for an easy search of your favorite celestial objects, two 1.25-inch eyepieces for good magnification, and the Orion Moon Map 260 for information on celestial objects.
For close-up views of targets, this telescope can be used for day or night observation of land and sky objects.
The aluminum tripod is lightweight yet provides enough support during use because of how it serves as a steady platform that holds the device in place while staying lightweight.
This telescope comes with a portable, easy-to-pack design to eliminate problems on storage and transport.
You can easily aim the telescope in the exact direction of the object you are observing in the deep sky to prevent issues that may arise due to mere guesswork.
One buyer has observed that the included tripod is a bit short for people who are taller than average, making it quite difficult to set up.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($79.99)
Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ
There is very little not to like about the AstroMaster by Celestron, including its budget friendly price.
Thanks to the dovetail attachment there are not any tools required for assembly, and this also makes setup a breeze. You will also appreciate the versatility of this telescope since it can be used for celestial and terrestrial viewing.
Thanks to the 130mm aperture distant planets and stars will appear bright and clear, and the short focal length allows for low and high magnification views.
Since it comes with the permanently mounted StarPointer even beginners can accurately align the telescope, and tracking objects is easy since all you have to do is keep the red dot centered. For even more precise alignment and smooth tracking and scanning, the telescope comes with a German equatorial mount.
To enable quick and easy deployment, this telescope comes with an easy tool-less setup so you can get on with your celestial observation in very little time.
The telescope features a permanently-integrated StarPointer that facilitates the secure and easy alignment of the device so you can do a thorough observation of the night sky.
The included erect image optics enable the use of the telescope for both land and sky observations, ensuring that images can be observed at a comfortable orientation for viewing.
The German equatorial mount lets you track celestial objects moving across the deep sky for smooth observation in motion from one side of the sky to the other or vertically for impressive tracking in transit.
The dovetail attachment releases easily for trouble-free mounting of the telescope on the included tripod for stability and support during viewing.
One customer decided to apply some silicon grease to the RA adjustment to make the declination level run with less drag.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($197.99)