Top Rated Telescopes – Ratings & Comparison in 2017
There are fewer pleasures in life that can be compared with the bliss of stargazing during a warm summer night, right next to your significant other, in the comfort of your own backyard. If you are thinking about purchasing a telescope for this purpose, you have come to the right place. After reading plenty of reviews coming from customers, we have come to the conclusion that the best telescope available on the market today is the Sky-Watcher ProED because it is equipped with a 120mm APO Refractor with ED Schott glass, makes the stars look brighter thanks to the amazing contrast and provides amazing subtle stars details. If the Sky-Watcher ProED refracting telescope is not available for immediate buying, we do suggest keeping in mind the second best option available on the market within in a decent price range, the Orion 10134 SkyQuest XT8g.
From the time Dutch lens grinder Hans Lippershey constructed the first optical telescope in 1608, and the time Galileo Galilei built the first astronomical telescope just a year after, mankind has been treated to the full spectacle that the universe has to offer. Galileo himself discovered four of Jupiter’s moons, sunspots, lunar mountains and the bright starry Milky Way after finetuning his first instrument. Telescopes have improved in image quality while increasing in size since then. Today, large, complex telescope systems are designed with the aid of computers. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) remains the largest and most widely known orbiting optical telescope in existence.
Telescopes have been made to provide functionality in various fields of operation, which include infrared, ultraviolet, millimeter and radio waves, gamma rays and x-rays. While an optical telescope uses mirrors and lenses to enlarge faraway indistinct objects and improve their brightness, radio telescopes enable noise identification using radio wavelengths in space. X-ray telescopes help researchers acquire information on various heavenly bodies. Black holes, pulsars and other phenomena are verified using gamma ray telescopes. Even schoolkids use reflecting telescopes featured in the best telescope reviews to study distant objects in the universe such as nebulae, dying stars and faraway galaxies. Because of the vast array of telescopes on the market, the average consumer would find it challenging to find the best one for their needs. This site is designed to help you find the perfect telescope for you so you are welcome to make the most of it.
How to choose the best telescope
Making sense of all the types of telescopes on the market today is never easy. It is much less of a task to just look at the awesome images on the web or in astronomy books instead of mistakenly assuming that the best telescopes in 2017 can deliver the same spectacular sights to you. This is not far from the truth, as most of those extremely impressive views were taken using cameras employing long time exposures plus large observatory instruments, giving all the stunning details and colors. That being said, what elements are in the best telescope kits that help them provide users with an awesome view of the night sky just the same?
Choosing a suitable type for your needs
Before the 20th century, most large telescopes were of the refracting type because of the easy availability of techniques for polishing lenses. It was not until the latter part of the 19th century that techniques for coating large mirrors were developed, which paved the way for the manufacture of large reflecting telescopes. A refracting telescope employs lenses and these make the instrument prone to issues on chromatic and other aberrations that can reduce the quality of images.
However, the best refracting telescope is geared with multiple lens systems similar to what a camera lens unit has. What distinguishes a refracting telescope from other types is the absence of a central ‘stop’ as well as any other diffracting element to the light entering the telescope.
A refracting telescope also boasts stable transmission and alignment characteristics over extended periods of time. That being said, a refracting telescope tends to have low overall transmission because of the reflection at the surface of all the instrument’s optical elements. The largest refractor ever constructed features a diameter of just 40 inches or 102 centimeters. Large diameter lenses are prone to distortion due to their substantial weight, and this can also result to a poor image quality. Refracting telescopes should have lenses that have perfectly polished sides and made of material with highly uniform optical quality all over the entire volume.
Large telescopes of today are reflecting types, and this gives the instruments a number of advantages over the refracting varieties. For one, the reflecting material, typically aluminum, ensures no chromatic aberration, and this is likely due to the material’s deposition on a polished surface. Another advantage is the capacity of the entire system to be kept relatively short simply through folding of the path of light, which is a distinctive characteristic of the best cassegrain telescope and the Newtonian variety. Still another advantage of reflecting telescopes is their ability to handle being made large, as there is just a single optical surface that has to be polished to high tolerance, with the mirror substrate optical quality not as essential. The mirror can also have back support to reduce bending.
Using a combination of mirrors and lenses to maintain the advantages of both elements, a catadioptric telescope is best exemplified by the Schmidt telescope or camera, which is often used to obtain a wide field of view when making large area searches. A special type of reflecting telescope, a catadioptric telescope features a corrector plate or correcting lens at the top, which forms the image. Although catadioptric len systems are considered very weak, they have been featured in the Schmidt-Cassegrain design where light goes through the corrector and reflects off the primary, off a curved secondary, and then finally passing through a hole in the main mirror before reaching the eyepiece.
Offers the perfect aperture for your needs
The diameter of a telescope’s main optical component is referred to as its aperture. The main optical component of any telescope can either be a mirror or a lens. The light-collecting ability of the instrument along with its resolving power is determined by its aperture. In other words, the best telescope for the money should provide superior light gathering ability to ensure adequately bright images, along with high resolving power to ensure sharp and vivid images. When exploring how to use a telescope, it is vital that you evaluate the instrument’s aperture thoroughly so you can have an optical view of the night sky.
Go for the biggest aperture you can get on your budget, as the bigger this element is, the better. A 6-inch telescope can help you distinguish moon craters as small as a mile across, roughly half the size of what a mere 3-inch instrument can provide using the same magnification and under the same conditions. The 6-inch mirror will also be able to collect four times as much light as the 3-inch mirror, thanks to the larger instrument’s more substantial surface area, making the galaxy look four times brighter.
Offers ease of use-even for a beginner
Do not go out and buy the most expensive telescope you can find without first investing some time learning about the sky using your own eyes. It’s not enough that you know how telescopes work. You should also know what is in the sky and what to look for there. When you do start setting the instrument up, spend as much time as you can familiarizing yourself with its use and operation. Know that every lever and knob on the telescope has a specific function. Everything should have been assembled with great care prior to use.
Have your first telescope session during the day. Practice aiming and focusing the instrument on terrestrial objects during the daytime, as the objects in the sky will not drift out of view because of the earth’s rotation. However, never look straight at the sun in any way and at anytime using the telescope. Observing the sun is only safely done by projecting its image onto a white screen or card. The dark glass that is supposed to be used as a filter when viewing the sun has no use. The heat and light of the sun is greatly magnified when they reach your eyepiece, heating the filter hard enough to cause sudden cracking, which can cause partial or total blindness.
Bear in mind that the most pleasing views can be obtained using much lower power so observers opt for low powers when viewing indistinct objects such as nebulae and galaxies. Bright things such as the planets and moon can be viewed optimally using medium-high powers. Excess magnification renders images blurry much in the same way as over-enlargement of a photograph will show you pixels on the chip or grain in the film. The maximum useful magnification to aim for is 50 times the instrument’s aperture in inches or twice of the aperture in millimeters while factoring in perfect optics and an unusually steady night air. Do not push a top quality 4-inch telescope beyond 200x . More importantly, do not be misled by advertising hype such as ‘a scope that delivers 350 power’.
Types of telescopes
The market is overflowing with many types of telescopes for various purposes. This can make the search for the perfect instrument a genuinely complicated process. We have decided to feature only the most common types that are featured either as the best telescope for beginners or for those who simply wish to enjoy what the heavens have to offer during a clear night. Below are listed the types of telescopes we have also reviewed. Feel free to read about them here and make your choice thereafter. Hopefully, the information in the following paragraphs can help make you a more educated shopper.
Best refracting telescope
Plenty of today’s amateur telescopes as well as the earliest telescopes way back in time were refracting types. This kind of instrument employs lenses to gather more light compared to using the naked eye. Refracting telescopes gather and focus the light so distant, indistinct objects look magnified, clearer and brighter. Most models have two lenses. The smaller lens, called the eyepiece, is utilized for viewing, while the larger lens is referred to as the objective lens.
Refracting telescopes tend to provide frequency dependence for refraction, which can create a problem with this kind of instrument. This issue restricts the amount of refraction at each surface of the lens to the wavelength, so focusing of different wavelengths is carried out at slightly variable points. This problem is referred to as chromatic aberration. It can cause objects such as stars to look like they’re surrounded by rainbow-hued, fuzzy halos. The best refracting telescope corrects the issue by having a specialized lens positioned behind the primary objective lens to offset chromatic aberration so wavelengths get focused at the same point.
The Sky-Watcher ProED is equipped with a doublet apochromatic lens system supplemented with extra-low dispersion (ED) glass along with the brand’s exclusive photon anti-rejection Metallic High-transmission Coatings (MHC) on all of the telescope’s air-to-glass optical surfaces.
This innovative combination of lenses, glass and coatings reduces chromatic aberrations so you can enjoy images that are bright, clear and of high contrast along with genuine color rendition. The versatile optical tube assembly (OTA) is perfect for astronomical observation of wide fields including galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. The OTA also proves to be extremely useful when used as an astrograph when doing sky photography, and also serves well as a telephoto lens or a terrestrial spotting scope.
The telescope’s large 120mm aperture improves contrast and resolution while also increasing image brightness compared to smaller 100mm or 80mm models. Clamped over the OTA is a mounting cradle-ring that also enables you to make adjustments on the position and orientation of the telescope based on the mount used to ensure balance and viewing comfort.
The cradle-ring also helps prevent interference with other equipment. The telescope comes with a Vixen-style dovetail plate that enables use with an equatorial mount with Vixen-type saddle or any alt-az mount. The instrument also comes with a two-speed Crayford-style focuser that enables quick and precise fine-focusing while eliminating the backlash.
The unique blend of lenses, glass, and coatings reduces the chromatic aberrations so you can benefit from high-quality and bright images with the perfect contrasts and genuine color rendition. This telescope can be easily used in almost all lighting conditions.
The 120mm aperture is larger than what you will find in other telescopes within the same price range and will help improve the contrast and the resolution of the picture you are getting.
It comes with a two-speed Crayford-style focuser to ensure a quick and precise focusing of the image you are getting.
Thanks to the lightweight design, this telescope can be easily carried around, and you can benefit from it in your future field trips or the privacy of your own backyard.
Some of the customers say the product is outdated and overpriced for the quality of the images it provides. It is a good beginner’s scope, but if you have established a budget, there are other products better than this one sold for a similar price.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1549)
Best reflecting telescope
Employing a mirror to collect and focus light, a reflecting telescope has a parabolic-shaped mirror that focuses light rays to a single point. This is to overcome the issue on light rays from all celestial objects being so far away that the light rays end up reaching the Earth as parallel rays.
The parabolic shape of a reflecting telescope mirror enables the light rays to converge at a common point instead of being scattered. Chromatic aberration is not an issue with reflector telescopes thanks to how all wavelengths are reflected on the mirror the same way. There is also support from the back side for the objective mirror so the telescope can be made quite big.
Refractors of the same size cost more than reflectors and because light is reflected off the objective instead of passing through it, a reflector telescope objective lens only needs to be perfect on a single side. That being said, reflector scopes have a tendency for the optics to slip out of alignment. In addition, since the tube is basically open to the outside, the scope’s optics will require more frequent cleaning. Furthermore, since a secondary mirror is employed to redirect light to a more convenient viewing spot, the element and its supports can bring about diffraction effects including bright objects looking like they have spikes. Nevertheless, there are two widely known reflector telescopes in existence: the Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory and the Keck Telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory.
Designed to be an Innovative GoTo Dobsonian reflector telescope, the Orion 10134 SkyQuest XT8g is equipped with a fully motorized object location plus automated tracking so you can watch over 42,000 celestial objects in the night sky.
This awesome instrument boasts 8-inch aperture reflector optics to enable viewing of the moon and the planets along with distant objects including galaxies, bright star clusters and nebulae. Pre-installed into this telescope are All GoTo motors, encoders and gears to ensure effortless assembly and set up on the Dobsonian base boards. To optimize motorized operation, you will need a separately-purchased 12-volt power supply.
The high-torque servo motors on the telescope are supplemented with two pairs of high-resolution encoders to enable easy adjustment and positioning of the instrument to focus on your desired celestial object. This means you won’t have to nudge the tube of the telescope continuously just to ensure that the faraway object does not drift out of your field of view.
This model tracks the motion of the celestial object automatically so it is centered in the eyepiece during viewing. The instrument also features closed-loop electronics so it can be manually moved or not be turned out of focus with an accidental bump.
It was designed to become one of the best reflector telescopes, equipped with a fully motorized object location. Thanks to the integrated automatic tracking system, you can watch over 42,000 celestial objects in the sky easily, without searching them for too long.
The 8-inch aperture reflector is specifically designed to help you clearly see the moon and the surrounding planets, as well as other distant objects such as galaxies.
All the GoTo motors, gears, and encoders on this telescope come pre-installed so that the assembling is made easy and quick, without requiring professional help.
The product is lightweight and portable, and the optical tube can be separated from the base to ensure easy transportation on a regular basis.
For full motorized operations, you will have to buy an additional 12V power supply.
Some of the customers who purchased the product claimed the overall quality is inferior to what they have expected based on the price they paid.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($999.99)
Best cassegrain telescope
A Cassegrain telescope is a type of reflector scope that employs a combination of a primary concave mirror and a secondary convex one. This optical telescope has the focal point at a convenient location behind the primary mirror. The secondary convex mirror then adds a telephoto effect to elongate the focal length in an otherwise mechanically short system.
Symmetrical Cassegrain telescopes have both mirrors aligned along the optical axis, with the primary mirror usually having a hole at the center that allows the light to pass through to the eyepiece, a camera or a light detector. Asymmetrical Cassegrains have tilted mirror/s that prevent the primary mirror from being blocked or obscured and also eliminates the need for the primary mirror to have a hole. The classic Cassegrain system employs a parabolic reflector as its primary mirror, with the secondary mirror being hyperbolic in shape. Modern versions usually feature improved performance thanks to a hyperbolic primary, or both the primary and secondary mirrors made elliptical or spherical for hassle-free manufacture.
Cassegrain systems are also employed in catadioptric telescope systems including the Schmidt-Cassegrain, Maksutov-Cassegrain, Argunov-Cassegrain and Klevtsov-Cassegrain. The Cassegrain reflector derives its name from a published reflecting telescope design attributed to Laurent Cassegrain.
Boasting the largest aperture among the models in the CPC Deluxe series, the Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT offers nearly 90 percent more light-collecting power compared to the 8-inch version, and 40 percent more light-gathering capacity than the 9.25-inch model.
The scope works on a compound or catadioptric light path by utilizing a combination of lenses and mirrors that ensure a large 11-inch high-resolution aperture along with an f/10 focal ratio and a focal length of 2800mm for aberration-free, pinpoint images even when the widest field eyepiece is used. The innovative combination also enables the construction of a shorter tube length and easier portability.
The advanced EdgeHD optics are geared to produce an extremely flat focal plane made precise enough to match the stringent tolerances of commercial CCD detectors so the stars you view can be kept in tight focus up to the edge of the chip. Image shifting is virtually eliminated thanks to how the primary mirror is held in place by mirror tension locks.
Cooling vents enable hot air to escape behind the primary mirror. You also enjoy fast and simple f/2 CCD imaging thanks to the scope’s FASTAR compatibility. This telescope delivers an optical path comprising a spherical primary mirror, a zero power corrector plate and a set of field flattening lenses so the resulting image plane is thrice flatter compared to what a standard SCT telescope can provide.
It is the best telescope out of the CPC Deluxe Series released by Celestron manufacturer.
The product promises to deliver up to 90% more brightness and light-collecting power by comparison with its previous 8-inch version, as well as up to 40% more light gathering than a 9.25-inch model.
The focal length of 280mm aims to deliver aberration-free, colorful and vivid pinpoint images even when you are using the largest eyepiece provided by the product.
The product features a fully computerized dual fork arm and an overall ergonomic design. Despite the fact that it looks big and heavy, this StarBright XLT can easily be transported from one location to another.
As with other similar Celestron products from the Deluxe Series, the XLT telescope is mainly intended for professional use. It features plenty of tech capabilities and comes with numerous accessories which require time and dedication to be correctly used.
Price could prove prohibitive too.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($2599)
Best brass telescope
Centuries ago, mariners took to sea wielding handsome-looking brass telescopes. Now, the average consumer can enjoy the view of the skies using this kind of instrument. Most brass telescopes are of the refractor variety.
A brass telescope is an optical scope that utilizes a lens as the objective to form images of distant objects and bring them closer to your eye. Refractor telescope designs were earlier used in astronomical telescopes and spyglasses. Today, they are employed in long focus camera lenses. Brass telescopes make excellent decorative pieces for the home, office or your own space.
They often carry vintage styles that are beautiful to behold. Although they are especially constructed to enable observation of terrestrial objects, brass telescopes can also be employed for casual, non-professional observation of celestial objects. A brass telescope is a highly attractive piece of equipment that can enhance your living or work space, giving it a classic or vintage feel while going perfectly with the decor.
Easily serving as a lovely decorative showpiece for your living and work space or your own private sanctuary, the Celestron 21034 Ambassador carries a vintage style that is always delightful to behold. This impressive product comes with a classic altazimuth mount, a stable yet simple mounting system that needs no heavy off-center concentrations of weight or axis counterweights to ensure vibration-free use as well as to prevent mount flexure issues.
The system only works on one horizontal and two vertical bearings and provides the best intuitive mount for beginner use. Offering better portability compared to many equatorial mounting systems, the altazimuth mounting configuration is easy to set up and often enables the use of simple mirror-support systems.
The Ambassador telescope comes with a lovely mahogany wood tripod. Mahogany is a very strong type of wood perfect for applications like this one that require horizontal as well as vertical rigidity. The mahogany tripod is designed to withstand common wood problems including pitting, splitting and chipping while being able to age well and retain its visual appeal through the years.
Therefore, the telescope is sure to look better years down the road. The instrument also ships with a brass tripod accessory tray that accommodates extra eyepieces and other viewing tools so you can keep them handy at all times.
The outstanding design of this telescope will certainly conquer even the most pragmatic minds. It can prove to become a masterpiece in any household thanks to the gold and wood tones it features.
It comes with a stable and simple mounting system that doesn’t require professional help. As a result, the product is easy to setup and enjoy even if you are an astrology newbie. And, speaking of, this is a great item for all beginner astrologists.
It is equipped with a luxurious mahogany wood tripod and features a gold-finish design that won’t chip or corrode over the years.
This is mainly a decoration piece that will look good in your living room and will certainly impress your guests. If you are looking for true astrological capabilities, we suggest opting for alternative products.
And, since we are talking about a mainly decorative item, the price is quite high too.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($679.99)
Best handheld telescope
When you’re on the golf course or the hiking or hunting trail, it pays to have the best handheld telescope with you to see things up close and give you a good range of view. The handheld telescope should be geared to provide a bright and clear view of distant objects.
A focusing knob allows you to make adjustments to the resolution so you can achieve fantastic focusing results. You will want the operation to be quite convenient since there are more important things to worry about such as how to hit the ball the best way or ensuring that your target animal does not detect your presence. You want a wider field of vision too so you know not only about what you are looking at but also what is beyond the object, helping you shoot or hit better. Good quality handheld telescopes offer a non-slip grip so you can hold on to them in any weather. They should be equipped to accommodate a lanyard for easy hanging on the neck.
This waterproof choice makes it possible for you to take a peek at birds and anything else without really making an effort. It is a compact and portable alternative that’s easy to carry and store in a handbag or backpack. The model comes with fully coated optics, which means that you will be able to benefit from superior brightness and light transmission.
Since the unit is outfitted with a 52mm objective lens, it is more than capable of capturing enough light for you to visualize your targets clearly. While the monocular is primarily intended for nighttime observation, it can be utilized conveniently both during the day. It is not a night vision device, however.
The package contains a number of accessories, as well as the user manual that you will require in order to learn how to make the most of this handheld telescope. A neck strap, a lens cloth, as well as a carrying bag are part of this deal.
Since the Archeer 313 is waterproof, it will withstand both a bit of abuse and the unpleasant effects of the elements.
Given that it comes with fully coated optics and an objective lens of 52mm, it’s capable of gathering enough light for you to visualize your targets properly and clearly.
The 16x magnification power will enable you to have a look at anything from a broad array of bird species to bigger hunting game.
The variety of extras provided in the package is another benefit you ought to consider since this product also comes with a carry bag, a neck strap, as well as a lens cloth.
Some owners report that focusing this monocular telescope takes a bit of time getting used to.
Various consumers note that the quality of the optics could have been better, but since this is an affordable choice, they have no complaints in this sense.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($39.98)
Impressively designed to be used as an optical telescope for astronomical observation, the BTOOP 10×42 Monocular Outdoor provides a clear and bright range of view. Use it for hiking, armoring, birdwatching, camping, hiking, hunting, surveillance, sightseeing, races, golf and other outdoor activities.
The unit offers 10x magnification for viewing distant objects plus 40x magnification to bring faraway objects closer for a detailed view. This telescope boasts a BAK4 prism type, which is better than the standard BK7 type thanks to the higher refractive index and brighter detailed images that BAK4 provides. The telescope is also equipped with fully multicoated lenses, which have all air-to-glass surfaces treated to multiple layers of antireflection coatings for better image brightness and improved transmittance as well as reduced glint from the lenses.
The twist-up eyecup proves to be invaluable for setting the distance for eye relief that is needed for specific viewing conditions. Lightweight at just 0.64 pound, this telescope comes with special horns goggles that effectively prevent the intrusion of light so you can observe faraway objects better. The 22mm eyepiece delivers a wider field of vision. The focusing knob enables you to adjust the resolution so you can achieve precise focusing while ensuring convenient operation. The magnesium alloy frame mirror is supplemented with three-dimensional design lines to ensure a lovely appearance along with a non-slip grip for easier handling.
This item provides a clear and bright range of view, specifically designed to be used as an astronomy observer.
It is suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, surveillance, bird watching, sightseeing, camping, and others.
It provides a magnification rate of 10x when viewing distant objects and can zoom in up to 40x to bring far away objects for a closer, more detailed view.
The item has a higher refractive index and provides brighter, better looking and more detailed images than other telescopes.
The lightweight design makes it perfect for daily activities as well as for being carried in your regular backpack.
We are mainly talking about a multi-purpose telescope and not one specifically designed for stargazing and watching the nearby galaxies and planets. If you are thinking about a telescope that does that and even more, we encourage you to look for alternative products.
Buy from Amazon.com
Best portable telescope
Travelers and city dwellers will want a portable telescope that enables on-the-go skywatching even in an urban setting. Observing the night sky will be easier using a compact, lightweight portable telescope. This type of instrument is handy enough to keep with you anywhere you go. You can use it when you’re out on a safari adventure or just camped out with friends in a studio apartment.
A portable telescope does not carry issues on setup and assembly that a larger instrument typically comes with. You won’t need plenty of space to set it up. A portable telescope is small enough to keep in a closet while still offering a spectacular view of the night sky and the city skyline in your urban landscape. Who knows what wonders in the sky you can discover even under light-polluted skies! If you love to travel or just have very limited living space, a portable telescope offers grab-and-go functionality that you can truly appreciate.
This fantastic product delivers sharp daytime terrestrial views and enables you to observe the night sky on the road. It won’t eat up a lot of space in your car even when mounted on the Orion Go Scope II 70mm Refractor Travel Telescope Moon Kit. Designed to easily fit into its own backpack, this tool is constructed using high-quality components including its 70mm achromatic lens system that ensures sharp images of faraway objects.
The custom-designed backpack carry case accommodates the entire refractor telescope setup along with all the accessories shipped in the package. The telescope itself is superbly lightweight at just 3.5 pounds, making it easy to handle even by small children’s hands. This is the ideal observation instrument for nature study, daytime birdwatching, and panoramic long-distance viewing. Just take it with you every time you want to enjoy visual spectacles beyond our planet’s horizon when the sun sets, giving you exceptional moon, planet and star gazing at nighttime.
The unit ships with a 5×24 finder scope that enables effortless aiming, along with two 1.25-inch telescope eyepieces for 16-power and 40-power views. Learn about the cool lunar features you see using the supplied Orion Moon Map 260, a real bonus.
This is the ideal telescope if you are always on the go and portability is the key aspect you are looking for in such a device. The microscope’s small dimensions as well as easiness in packing and assembling means you can easily mount it wherever you want to ensure the best stargazing experience.
Even when fully mounted, the GoScope II will not occupy too much space in your car and will only weight 3.5 pounds.
The product is ideal for a wide range of outdoor activities, including birdwatching, hunting, or stargazing. The sun, the moon, and other far-away objects near the horizon line will become fascinating once you will see them close-by with this amazing device.
It provides two eyepieces, of 16x and 40x power views.
It is mainly intended for amateurs and even for small children. Although it is a full-sized device, its tech capacities are limited and won’t provide you over-the-top features if you want to see the planets.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($79.99)
Best computerized telescope
Computer controlled robot scopes or computerized telescopes are fast becoming the rage these days. This type of telescope features mounts that are controlled either remotely by an external PC or by a built-in computer. This enables you to aim the instrument to any object already contained in the database of the computer. Computerized telescopes are considered Go To models that may look like the answer to beginner astronomers who want to know as much as they can about elusive objects including asteroids, star clusters and distant galaxies.
This may be true to some point, but bear in mind that this type of instrument will require the user to enter the viewing site’s coordinates or geographical location as well as the date and time at every start of an observation session so the onboard computer will be able to calculate the positions of celestial objects.
There may also be a need to adjust the level of the instrument’s tube, to point it north (south if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere), and then begin an alignment process using two bright stars, the names of which you’ll have to know, so you can properly synchronize the coordinate system of the telescope with the sky. Familiarize yourself with all that and a computerized telescope should work really well for you.
Combining excellent Schmidt-Cassegrain optics and a cutting-edge computerized mount, the Celestron CPC 800 XLT boasts a user-friendly design and GPS technology that will take your breath away with spectacular views of the night sky.
Truly a solid all-around performer, this instrument will be a delight to use for the seasoned observer as well as the novice astronomer. The onboard innovative SkyAlign system is unbelievable, working like magic by just requiring you to point the telescope at three bright planets or stars that you won’t even need to remember the names of or use a star chart for. The instrument tells you the star names, and even provides options for daytime use.
You can depend on high-quality construction from the heavy-duty CPC tripod and the superbly solid drive base, which are the same components you can find in a larger CPC 1100 model. When you accidentally bump the telescope fork, there is little to no vibration, which serves as your assurance of trouble-free focusing even at high magnification.
You can also optimize precise tracking to view planets at focal lengths of f/30 and f/40. You can get excellent views of the planets, with awesome details including cloud bands, moons and spots with remarkable resolution.
The product is recognized for its user-friendly interface and the useful GPS technology that will help you easily go through a wide array of options whenever watching the stars, the moon, the sun, the surrounding planets or galaxies.
Made from high-quality materials, this telescope offers a sturdy base and an overall thick design that will last you plenty of years from now on.
Featuring the SkyAlign system, the telescope will tell you the name of all the surrounding stars and will easily help you find the one you are interested in.
Thanks to the solid drive base and the heavy-duty tripod you will get trouble-free focusing even when using the high magnification eyepieces.
As with other Celestron computerized telescopes, you will have to separately buy a 12V power supply to ensure all of this item’s features.
If you are planning on seeing Pluto with this telescope, it will be a bit complicated but not necessarily impossible, depending on the weather and time of the year.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1699)
Best solar telescope
Learning about our nearest star, the sun, is made easier using the best solar telescope on the market. When the stars disappear as the summer skies brighten, there can be very little to see in the night sky. This means you’ll have to step into the world of solar viewing or solar astronomy just to appease your hunger for the science during the summer months.
For this purpose, you need observatory quality, narrowband solar telescopes to see up close, live views of solar flares, sunspots, filaments, prominences and other magnetic and fiery phenomena near the surface of the sun. You can easily get blown away by the awesome views of our nearest star using this state-of-the-art telescope. You may even get to see an image of the sun in 3 various wavelengths of light. You can open up a whole new world of astronomy with a high-quality solar telescope with large enough optics that deliver the best possible diffraction limit.
Designed for solar viewing, the Coronado Meade Instruments Personal is an affordable observation instrument that lets you see solar phenomena, sun spots, filaments, flares and prominences near the surface of our nearest star, the sun.
We may take for granted that the sun is always there up in the sky but to be able to observe what goes on beyond just a yellow light-giving sphere is a delight in itself. If you’re a budding solar astronomer, you’ll want to maximize the 40-mm hydrogen-alpha optical system of this incredible telescope to observe the sun. Highly portable, this telescope comes equipped with completely internal, non-removable and student-safe filtering optics for solar viewing applications plus a 1.0-angstrom hydrogen-alpha bandpass to obtain fantastic surface detail.
Get a great view of the ever-changing dynamic prominences at the edge of our nearest star along with the filaments plus other surface details in vivid, breathtaking images, delivered in the distinctive and bright red color of hydrogen-alpha light. Bringing the observation of the sun within reach of the novice astronomer, this telescope comes with the same quality and technology built into every telescope in the SolarMax series. The dedicated Ha optical system is supplemented by a 30mm internal etalon primary blocking filter with bandpass fine adjustment controls, focuser and built-in solar viewfinder.
This product is specifically designed for in-depth solar use.
It is an affordable observation instrument that comes with good features and enables you to see the surface of the sun clearly in the tiniest details.
One of the greatest features of this device is its portability and lightweight design. Intended for personal use mainly, this telescope manages to easily fit in your backpack so that you can take it with you anytime you want to observe the spots, flares or filaments of the sun.
The 1.0-angstrom hydrogen-alpha bandpass enables you to see amazing surface details of the sun for a full astronomy experience.
The price of this product may seem a bit high since we are talking about a full solar telescope, unable to focus on any other celestial objects than the sun. If you are only looking for a device to watch the sun, this could be your first choice, but if you are thinking about purchasing a multi-level telescope, you should orient towards other products.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($479)
Best telescope kits
When you’re researching about how a telescope is built, you are likely to stumble upon useful information including who invented the telescope, the different types of telescopes available and how much does a telescope cost. With that much information, you may be lucky enough to find the best telescope kits on the market, which would give you insight on how the instrument works and that would ultimately make you proud of having assembled your own observation instrument.
It can be a challenge to find the parts to build the perfect telescope for you but with a good quality telescope kit, you will eliminate all the guesswork because everything comes packaged neatly, with all the parts ready to be assembled. You won’t have to source all the materials yourself, which can take time and lots of effort, not to mention more reading than you might be willing to do. The best telescope kit comprises all the essential elements you need to get started on amateur astronomy, including an optical tube assembly, eyepieces, finderscope, mount, tripod and accessory tray, plus an AC adapter.
This telescope kit comes with everything you need to get started on amateur astronomy. The Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 in the kit is a Schmidt-Cassegrain instrument that can be used for viewing anything from the planets and the moon to more distant objects such as nebulae and galaxies.
The telescope employs Celestron’s performance-driven exclusive StarBright XLT multi-coating system, which boasts increased light transmission throughout the entire optical path using anti-reflection multicoated lenses, 4-element rare glass and highly-reflective multi coated mirrors. The focal ratio is a slow f/10 but thanks to the precision tracking system of the scope, you can optimize a competitive astro imaging and astrophotography platform to view the planets and the moon.
The Evolution scope provides two ways to control it. You can use the 4-line 18-character NexStar computer controller, a wired piece of hardware boasting a database of over 40,000 celestial objects along with a number of astronomical catalogs such as the Caldwell and Messier. You can also opt to use the free navigation app for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. The eyepiece and filter kit comes with superior-grade 1.25-inch Plossl eyepieces that ensure outstanding resolution, maximum edge sharpness, better clarity and brilliant color, with each multicoated eyepiece designed to minimize reflections while ensuring fantastic light gathering capability.
This is a good telescope kit for all newbies and children passionate about astronomy.
It can be used for a wide range of purposes, from seeing the sun and the moon to stargazing or seeing the close planets, nebulae, and even close-by galaxies.
One of the best features of this telescope is that you can control it wirelessly using your smart devices that run either on Android or iOS. The free mobile app also allows you to enjoy the SkyAlign technology to watch one of the more than 42,000 already mapped celestial objects.
The item is compact and lightweight and comes with a handful of useful accessories, from two different eyepieces to a fork mount, a tripod, a red dot finderscope, and others.
Some clients claimed they received faulty items so be careful when ordering, especially since the money-back guarantee policy only stands for 30 days.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1599)
Best telescope brands
A widely recognized optics industry leader for decades, Celestron strives to carry on the legacy of Tom Johnson, the company founder, to continuously develop groundbreaking products using state-of-the-art technologies. Tom Johnson founded Valor Electronics in the late 1950s, and this mother company gave birth to an Astro-Optical Division as a result of Tom’s hobby that eventually led to his driving passion. That department is now called Celestron. In 1970, the founder unveiled the landmark product known as the Celestron 8, which boasted a standout orange tube and high-end optics that enabled thousands of student astronomers to perform celestial object observations. Celestron continues to be a market leader today, creating endless new products such as sport optics, telescopes and microscopes.
Founded in 1972, Meade Instruments started as a one-man, mail-order supply business for small refracting telescopes. Eventually, the small supply business branched out to include orthoscopic and Kellner eyepieces, rack-and-pinion focuser lines, filters, viewfinders, camera adapters and accessories, such as those for telescopes. Recognized for its revolutionary technologies in telescopic design, the company has introduced numerous improvements over the years, which have made amateur astronomy more exciting and enjoyable than ever. A consistently trusted company, Meade has managed to accumulate a list of firsts that remain unrivaled on the amateur astronomy market. Facing forward in the 21st century, the firm aims to introduce more firsts to cement its place as the undisputed leader on the market.
Orion Optics UK was established in 1984 by Barry Pemberton. Mr. Pemberton founded the business in his own garage, where he used grinding, figuring and polishing machines to construct telescopes. The early success of the business prompted transfer to a new location in 1987, and resulted in the production of the firm’s first 150mm Schmidt-Newtonian telescope. Currently, the company has been exporting optical components, telescopes, mounts, and accessories throughout the globe. It is now a major player in the manufacture of top rating industry-grade optics used in different telescope lines of the company. Consumers can expect nothing less than world class telescopes and optics produced by the best optical technicians in the business and through substantial investment in cutting-edge technology.
Providing everything the novice astronomer needs to enjoy exceptional celestial images in the comfort of their home, Tasco exists by the principle that the more you see of space, the deeper the mystery. The company offers powerful telescope lines that transport you to distant galaxies, to the most spectacular depths of the universe and to other worlds. The Spacestation line features cosmically inspired revolutionary telescope design with variable LED electronic Red Dot Finderscope for quick celestial object finding. The Novice and Specialty line of telescopes offers an affordable solution to every child’s dream of embarking on space travel and starting on an amateur astronomy journey. The Digital Microscope is a USB-equipped instrument for viewing the minutest details of different organisms on a PC monitor. The Luminova series telescopes carry a smart design complemented with slow motion controls and quality optics.
The acknowledged industry leader in high-performance sports optics, Bushnell aims to continuously provide top quality, highly reliable and affordable sports optics products on the market. It offers pioneering innovations that genuinely unite generations, helping those who yearn to reach the stars to really get there. The company’s advanced line of telescopes makes it easier than ever for aspiring astronomers to unlock the secrets of the universe. The user-friendly and fully interactive NorthStar® telescope offers push-button simplicity of control to locate the Andromeda and Zeta Reticuli plus a multitude of other celestial wonders in between. The computer-driven mount makes it easy to view any one of 20,000 celestial objects in the night sky, with the Real Voice Output™ functionality explaining what you see in an actual human voice.
From Center-Balanced Equatorial Mounts to AZ Mount Pro & MiniTower II/Pro Mounts, solar scopes, non-computerized telescopes to the state-of-the-art 9000 series SmartStar Telescopes, iOptron offers avid astronomy enthusiasts a genuine opportunity to experience the universe and its wonders up close. Providing observation solutions that delight and excite, iOptron specializes in the development, engineering and manufacture of advanced astronomical telescopes, mounts and accessories along with cutting-edge optical instrument options suitable for a wide variety of applications. The company markets its products globally, all while using plenty of hard work that simply stems from a great idea. iOptron takes pride in being able to deliver products right to your doorstep without compromising on quality and craftsmanship.
A recognized manufacturer of premium quality telescopes and mounts, the Vixen Co., Ltd was founded in Japan in 1949. It has successfully established itself as a leader in the industry in its home country, producing a wide range of telescopes, mounts, spotting scopes and binoculars.Each product that rolls out of the Vixen assembly line is guaranteed to have undergone full inspection according to the company’s high standard of quality. Vixen is the first to think up the Go-To Mount for astronomical telescopes. Majority of Vixen telescopes are interchangeable to allow shared use of components across various models. In its relentless pursuit of technical advancements, Vixen aims to make your astronomy journey more enjoyable.
Sky-Watcher is a company that specializes in the manufacture of telescopes and astronomical equipment such as mounts and eyepieces. The commercial distribution company was first established in 1999, and since then it has cemented itself in the eyes of the customers as one of the most beloved company for amateur astronomers.
Since 2008, Sky-watcher has been in cooperation with Schott AG which is a German manufacturer that is well-known for their high-quality industrial glass. The care that company puts in providing the customers with the best quality optics available is what makes their products so well-received by critics and customers alike.
Sky-Watcher’s product lineup includes eleven model series of telescopes that range from affordable, compact and portable options to high-quality telescopes. With the customers always in mind, the product line-up seeks to satisfy the needs of every potential buyer.
The company motto “For people curious enough to look up and wonder” is quite suggestive of Sky-Watcher’s purpose as a company. The Sky-Watcher products are designed to stir the innate feeling we as human beings have; to wonder and question our nature and our world. The company seeks to promote this feeling and the desire for change and advancement in science that observing the universe can ignite.