Best Intermediate Telescope 2021; Reviews

Here in this “Best Intermediate Telescope” article we’ve rounded up 12 of the best telescopes of various types, specifications, and budget perfectly suited to be used by someone looking to level up. Below, you’ll find in-depth reviews of each, as well as an elaborate buying guide to help you pick out the one that suits you the most.

If you are a beginner in astronomy and want to transition from a basic scope to an intermediate telescope then we assure you, you have landed on the right page.

Since there are so many options available in the market today, we did a survey among fellow astronomy enthusiasts, and consulted 2 experts and came up with 12 popular categories of intermediate telescopes.

We then took a look at the entire popular telescope market, we combed through the details and customer reviews for dozens of scopes and chose the best intermediate telescope in each of the 11 shortlisted categories.

We’ve also included an Intermediate telescope buying guide. If you want to learn more about telescopes before you buy, or just want to make sure you’re getting good value for your money, be sure to check it out.

best intermediate telescope
Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:
Who is this article for?

The information provided in this article is mainly for intermediate astronomers or if you are someone looking to transition from a basic telescope to a bit more advanced instrument, either for yourself or for your whole family. 

We have carefully chosen the intermediate telescopes that are not too advanced and they are neither toy like beginner telescopes.

Using one of these scopes, you can study the moon, the planets of our solar system, and then venture on to the “deep space objects” to examine star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. 

We have also included best intermediate telescopes for astrophotography, APO telescopes, refractor, reflector and GoTos.

During our research we found telescopes that were of the appropriate range for an astronomer who wants to upgrade from their first beginner telescope to a bit more advanced intermediate telescope.

Best Intermediate Telescope 2021

With so many models with so many features available today, it can be a tedious task to find the best intermediate telescope.  We have analyzed the main features ( aperture, focal length, ratio, portability, affordability etc.) that make a good telescope for intermediates that you can use to enjoy the night sky and fulfill your love for astronomy.

Best For Beginners

Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ telescope is a Newtonian reflector, which means it uses mirrors to gather the light of the skies, and reflects it for viewing. With mirrors being much less expensive to produce than glass lenses, reflector telescopes offer more value in terms of inches of aperture.

The PowerSeeker 127EQ comes with two eyepieces (4mm and 20mm) and a 3x Barlow lens.

The 5-inch mirror on the 127mm PowerSeeker model limits useful magnification to about 250x, which is achieved using the 4mm eyepiece.

The larger 20mm eyepiece provides a more useful 50x magnification. This grows to 150x when coupled with the 3x Barlow.

If you’re considering an additional eyepiece, something like a 15mm Plossi would be a good option. This provides you with 66x magnification, or 198 when coupled with the Barlow. 

The telescope is ideal for near and deep-sky observation, Celestron’s PowerSeeker 127EQ 127mm f/8 Reflector Telescope features a respectable focal length and a large, parabolic mirror that produce detailed images of the Moon, clear views of the planets, and the ability to resolve bright distant objects such as nebulae and galaxies. 

The beauty of a Newtonian telescope is the longer focal lengths which can be offered in much shorter tube sizes—1000mm focal length in a tube which is only 20 inches (508mm) long . 

The PowerSeeker 127EQ is highly portable and one of the best intermediate telescope for adults & teenagers alike. You could easily fit this telescope and tripod in the trunk of a car and still have room for your other equipment, or maybe a late night picnic.

Additionally, you receive a copy of Starry Night astronomy software with a database of over 10,000 celestial objects.

Considering the telescope’s low price, compromises had to be made, and one such compromise is the use of a spherical mirror rather than a parabolic mirror. 

Optical aberrations tend to be more common with spherical mirrors. This telescope does, however, feature an erect image diagonal for the right way up images, which prevents some aberration.

This telescope comes with an Equatorial mount, designed for astronomy telescopes. Included are two manual slow-motion controls, these allow for smoother tracking of objects as they pass across the night sky. 

The tripod is made of aluminum, although lightweight, it is robust, solid and also comes with a very handy accessory tray which lets you keep extra eyepieces and T-rings for a camera, close to hand.

Pros:

  • Solid build quality
  • Stable mount
  • Comes with a 3x Barlow lens

Cons:

  • Spherical mirror leads to some amount of aberrations
  • Occasional collimation of the mirrors required

Best Intermediate Telescope for The Money

Celestron – NexStar 6SE 

The NexStar 6SE offers consumers the proven quality of the Celestron brand in a compact, portable, and technologically advanced telescope. 

The scope’s 6-inch aperture, portable design, fully functional computer, and extensive database, among other features, make it easy to use, easy to transport, and easy to enjoy regardless of experience level. The NexStar 6SE is quite evidently the best celestron telescope under $1000 on our list.

The NexStar 6SE is a 6-inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope, which has an actual aperture of 150 mm and focal length of 1,500 mm, giving it a focal ratio of f/10. The OTA comes on a Vixen-style dovetail bar, which fits into the dovetail saddle on the mount.

The telescope also comes with a 1.25” prism diagonal, 25 mm Plossl eyepiece (providing 60x when used with the 6SE) and Celestron’s StarPointer, which is a zero-power red-dot-style finder.

The Celestron NexStar 6 SE is a solid and sturdy telescope, perfect for home use and astrophotogaphy.

The Celestron NexStar 6 SE is easy to align with Celestron’s SkyAlign Go-To Alignment system

On average it takes a new telescope user approximately 5 minutes to do a full sky alignment with the NexStar 6 SE. 

Once aligned, the telescope is incredibly easy to operate. The hand controller on the NexStar 6SE allows you to move the telescope at your discretion. If you are looking for a telescope that can help you transition from beginner to a bit advanced astronomer without much guidance then look no further than the NexStar 6SE as it one of the best rated intermediate telescope that money can buy.

The NexStar 6SE’s hand controller offers a tour of the night sky and easily allows you to locate planets, galaxies or any of the 40,000 celestial objects in its database.

To power the 6SE you have two options, 8x AA batteries or 12v DC power supply. The 8x AA batteries would last you about 3 hours (included alignment of finderscope and general terrestrial viewing and the 40 minute observation session). 

You can download all the available upgrades from Celestron’s website. In this way, you can keep your telescope up to date, and you can even control your telescope via computer.

The 6SE makes a good choice for consumers living in areas with light-pollution who are looking for clarity and accuracy in their viewing experience. 

It is also one of the best telescopes for beginners under $1000 who are willing to invest a fair sum of money into the hobby in order to learn more about the star gazing experience. Also, the 6SE is a good choice even for more experienced star gazers who wish to have a more portable scope for easier transport and for viewing deep space objects.

Pros:

  • Easy to mount and to use
  • Good optics
  • It’s very sturdy and low maintenance
  • Motorised and automated GoTo mount
  • Portable, fits perfectly in the back of any normal car

Cons:

  • 8 AA batteries tend to drain out fairly quickly
  • User manual and instructions are not very clear
Related

Best Intermediate Refractor 

Orion 9005 AstroView 120ST

  • Aperture: 120mm (4.72″)
  • Focal length: 600mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Mount: Equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 25mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 24x, 60x
  • Weight: 36.3 lbs.(16.5 kg)
  • Our Rating: 9/10

The Orion 9005 AstroView 120ST Refractor Telescope is one of the best intermediate refractor telescopes on our list. Such scopes have one primary purpose – to show a wide view angle at the cost of reduced magnification. 

With a wide field of view, you can look at more stars and star clusters, rather than just zooming in on individual objects.

The telescope has a wide aperture of 120mm, which can capture maximum light to even show the distant stars with improved clarity. 

The short tube scope has a focal length of 600mm, which is shorter than many beginner scopes. But the view from this short focal length is 66% wider than what you would get with a regular, 900mm focal length scope. 

The maximum useful magnification with the 120ST would be around 240x.

The refractor telescope’s optical tube measures just 26″ long including the dew shield, which makes it highly portable. 

Not limited to visual use, the fast f/5 optical system makes the AstroView 120ST one of the best refractor telescopes under $1000 to use for wide-field astrophotography in addition to simply stargazing.

Best Intermediate Refractor Telescope

With the included 25mm Plossl, the AstroView 120ST refractor covers a wide 2.1° swath of sky – enough to display the entire Double Cluster of Perseus, Pleiades Cluster, or North America Nebula.

The AstroView 120mm ST rests on the Orion AstroView Equatorial (EQ) mount, which allows for easy manual tracking of celestial objects as they appear to migrate across the night sky. 

The AstroView is the best equatorial refractor telescope that we have reviewed for this article for you. The included Polar-Axis Scope allows you to achieve polar alignment of the EQ mount easily and quickly.

Manual slow-motion controls lets you center celestial objects and track them with very little effort. 

The included aluminum tripod features adjustable legs and an accessory tray.

The Orion 9005 AstroView 120ST Refractor Telescope comes with a wide array of amazing accessories

Included are the Orion AstroView Equatorial Mount, adjustable tripod, 6×30 Finder Scope, internal polar alignment scope, 1.25” 10mm and 25 mm Sirius Plossl Eyepieces, 1.25”-2” adapter, 90⁰ Star Diagonal, 2” Rack-and-Pinion Focuser, Starry Night Special Edition Software, and more.

Pros:

  • Perfect for professional astronomers
  • Wide field of view gives good view of distant stars
  • Color aberrations are kept low
  • Sturdy, adjustable tripod
  • Maximum magnification
  • Included slow motion controls

Cons:

  • Not a beginner friendly telescope
  • Does not include a carrying case 

Best For Astrophotography

Celestron – NexStar 127SLT

The Celestron NexStar 127SLT is one of the best GoTo telescope for intermediates and beginners alike, designed for anyone looking for a reliable telescope with which to enjoy the nighttime sky. 

The telescope features a 127mm aperture and Celestron’s SkyAlign technology, this telescope offers consumers good views. In addition, the telescope’s single fork arm and simple design make it easy to set up and use.

The scope’s focal length is 1500mm, and it has a focal ratio of f/12. As far as eyepieces are concerned, each Celestron NexStar 127 SLT telescope comes with a 25mm eyepiece and a 9mm eyepiece, having a maximum magnification of 167x with the default 9 mm eyepiece.

The Celestron NexStar 127 SLT telescope stands on top of a motorized Altazimuth mount, which can be controlled via the provided digital hand controller.

Alternatively, the mount can be hooked to a computer for increased precision. 

With preassembled, adjustable stainless steel tripods, and quick release fork arms and tubes, the NexStar 127 SLT telescope can be set up in a matter of minutes with no tools required.

The 127 SLT with its large aperture is great for viewing the surface of the moon, phases of Venus, rings of Saturn or Jupiter and its four largest moons, and other deep-space objects.

The Celestron NexStar 127SLT is also the best computerized telescope for astrophotography under $500 on our list.

best intermediate telescope

The Celestron NexStar GoTo mounts are powered by eight AA user-supplied batteries, or an optional AC adapter, making them perfect as a travel telescope.

With Celestron’s SkyAlign Technology, aligning your telescope is fast and easy. Simply input the date, time and location (the CPC models have built-in GPS that does this for you) and then align the telescope to three bright stars of your choosing. 

You do not need to know the names of the stars, you can even pick the moon or bright planets. The NexStar computer system will automatically figure out which stars were chosen and then align the telescope. 

The 127SLT’s diagonal is a prism, and a nice one at that – unlike the cheap diagonals supplied with many entry-level scopes which are cheap mirrors that aren’t very flat, which tend to offer dim and fuzzier images.

Pros:

  • Super optical construction
  • Very easy to operate with
  • Compact and portable design
  • Included needed additional accessories
  • Suitable for lunar/planetary astrophotography

Cons:

  • 8 AA batteries required but not included
  • Tripod can be more stable

Best Reflector 

Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST 

The Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Newtonian Reflector is an excellent and one of the best intermediate reflector telescopes for deep space viewing. It is well-suited for both beginners as well as intermediate stargazers.

The SpaceProbe 130ST is a 130mm f/5 Newtonian reflector telescope.

This 5.1″ aperture reflector telescope gathers an ample amount of light for great views of the planets and Moon, as well as brighter galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters

The telescope also comes with tools to help you assemble the product, and two eyepieces: 10mm for 65x, and a 25mm for 26x magnification, respectively.

The quick set-up and ease of use makes the SpaceProbe 130ST EQ a very versatile telescope which the whole family can enjoy.

This Orion space probe telescope also boasts a short 24″ long optical tube design which enhances its portability, while the 130mm optical diameter, and the 650mm focal length are in perfect balance with the f/5.0 focal ratio.

In addition, it possesses design features, such as a parabolic mirror and a specially designed holder for the secondary mirror, that focus the light captured by the aperture and use it to sharpen the images produced by the scope, even with its shorter tube.

best intermediate telescope

The included aluminium tripod is very sturdy, and also includes an accessory tray that can be very useful when you are outdoors in the dark and need a place to organize your accessories neatly.

The equatorial mount is perfectly built and allows manual slow-motion tracking of celestial objects as they move across the sky. 

The mount can also be upgraded at a later time to a motorized option that tracks objects automatically, so that’s a nice option to have and definitely a plus if you are using the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST for astrophotography.

Just like many other similar products, the Orion 09007 also comes with Orion’s Starry Night software, which is very useful for beginners, and has the added benefit of alerting the user of upcoming celestial events.

Short 24″ long optical tube design for easy portability and fast f/5 focal ratio for pleasing wide-field performance makes the SpaceProbe 130ST EQ a very versatile telescope the whole family can enjoy

Pros:

  • Nice set of accessories
  • Can be upgraded to have motorized tracking
  • Comes with an Equatorial mount and a versatile tripod
  • Easy to assemble and transport

Cons:

  • Plastic focuser and mount parts
  • Somewhat confusing instructions

Best For Deep Space Objects

Sky-Watcher Classic 250

The Sky-Watcher Classic 250P Dobsonian is a large aperture telescope that is well suited for observation of deep space objects. The Sky-Watcher Classic Dobsonian Telescope 254mm/1200mm (10″) has a “paraboloidal” primary mirror to eliminate spherical aberration and a four-arm, secondary- mirror bracket with fine supports (0.5mm thick), to reduce diffraction spikes and light loss.

Like all Dobsonian reflectors, this big Sky-Watcher traditional Dob features 10” aperture that makes it one of the best intermediate telescope for deep space objects. 

It is a “light bucket” that can show you faint deep space objects that are simply invisible in smaller scopes.

Its visual limiting magnitude of 14.5 makes this 10″ Sky-Watcher a natural for observing faint nebulas, galaxies, and star clusters, particularly from a dark sky site. 

Light-polluted city or suburban sites may require adding a light pollution filter to get the most from this scope’s superb deep space capabilities.

The telescope is pretty much indestructible. Since the rocker box mount sits firmly on the ground, there is no tripod to trip over and cause the whole telescope to come crashing to the ground. 

best intermediate telescope

The closed tube assembly does a good job of protecting the mirror, whether it’s in use or being stored. There are no wires, cords, or delicate features of the telescope to worry about.

The 10″ Sky-Watcher Dobsonian is easy to get to your favorite observing site, too, whether that be your own back yard or a dark sky site miles out of town.

It is no doubt one of the best intermediate dobsonians available in the marketplace today. 

The Sky-Watcher breaks down into two components – a 48″ long 30 pound optical tube and a 26 pound wooden rocker box altazimuth base. It weighs only 56 pounds fully assembled. And assembling the 10″ Sky-Watcher Dob takes just a moment, with no tools needed.

The 10-inch Sky-Watcher Dobsonian comes with all the accessories you’ll need to start your astronomical adventures.

Focusing is done via a 2-inch Crayford-style focuser. You can use either 2-inch or 1.25-inch eyepieces in this focuser, since a 1.25-inch adapter is included in the package. 

You also get two 1.25-inch Plossl eyepieces – a 10 mm (higher power) and a 25 mm (medium power). 

A full-sized 9 x 50 finderscope and bracket allow you to find objects quickly once you have aligned the finder with the telescope.

Pros:

  • Affordable telescope with a great quality-price ratio
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Very good optical and mechanical performance
  • Fully accessorized
  • Perfect for someone transitioning from a beginner to an intermediate level

Cons:

  • Not suitable for astrophotography

Best With Wi-Fi

Orion StarSeeker IV

  • Type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 130mm (5″)
  • Focal length: 650mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Mount: Alt-azimuth
  • Eyepiece: 23mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 28x, 65x
  • Weight: 21.5 lbs.(9.75 kg)
  • Our Rating: 9/10

The StarSeeker IV 130mm GoTo Reflector Telescope features a reflector optical tube with moderate, 650mm focal length and f/5.0 focal ratio, the versatile StarSeeker IV 130mm Reflector collects light with its 5.1″ aperture, parabolic reflecting optics for bright, wide-field views. 

It is one of the best intermediate portable telescope as the entire telescope setup weighs just 21.5 lbs for easy portability and will fit in the back seat  of an average car.

The Orion StarSeeker IV Maksutov-Cassegrain is a complete altaz Go-To system. It consists of a 6-inch telescope and a single-arm computerised Go-To mount with a SynScan V4 handset, mounted on a sturdy stainless steel tripod.

Two 62º apparent field of view eyepieces are included (23mm and 10mm), giving magnifications of 28x and 65x.

A star diagonal, a 2- to 1.25-inch adaptor and an EZ Finder II reflex sight complete the setup.

Assembly is very easy and straightforward, with the single arm mount attaching to the tripod head via three bolts and the spreader plate/eyepiece holder strengthening the tripod.

The telescope attaches to the arm via a built-in Vixen-style bar. Power is provided by eight AA batteries or via a 12V port at the base of the arm.

best intermediate telescope

The StarSeeker IV mount is Wi-Fi enabled, which allows you to control it wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet instead of the cabled hand controller.

You can download the SynScan Pro app to your iOS or Android device to enjoy wireless GoTo control.

The app sets up a local Wi-Fi network between your phone and the mount, so no internet connection is needed in the field. 

The StarSeeker IV 130mm GoTo Reflector lets you explore the skies with push button ease thanks to its GoTo hand controller. With a vast database of over 42,000 celestial objects including stars, double stars, galaxies, nebulas, star clusters, and more.

It is a great telescope for learning about the moon for your family. With the help of included MoonMap 260, you can learn all you need to know about the surface of the moon. With the help of the Moon filter, you can see stunning details on the surface of the moon.

Since the StarSeeker IV 130mm Reflector can locate and track celestial objects with its motorized GoTo system, it is also great for astrophotography as you can use it along with a camera or smartphone to take impressive pictures of the night sky

Pros:

  • Computerized System
  • Comes with an educational kit
  • Amazing specs
  • EZ Finder technology

Cons:

  • Resets when it is powered down

Best GoTo Telescope

Celestron – NexStar 130SLT

The NexStar 130SLT is a unique reflector telescope from Celestron. The reflector technology uses mirrors to obtain the maximum amount of light possible and therefore to produce images of remarkable clarity, even when located deep in space.

It’s a 130mm f/5 Reflector Telescope which is a complete platform for making observations of the Moon, planets, and bright deep-space objects such as binary stars, star clusters, galaxies and nebulae.

With a focal length of 650mm, this model is an f/5 scope. F/5 scopes are fairly fast, meaning that you have a wide field of view, which is useful for short exposure astrophotography of big portions of the sky.

The Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope removes the issue of struggling to find a planet or star using a paper star map. 

It is no doubt one of the best computerized intermediate telescope.  With the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope comes a handheld computer that features SkyAlign technology incorporated right into the telescope, automatically finding and pointing the telescope to the planet or star that you would like to see by way of a few button presses.

This is an ideal telescope if you plan to travel or do  stargazing from home or your backyard along with your family

This telescope comes with a pre-assembled, adjustable stainless-steel tripod, quick release fork arm, NexStar+ computerized hand control, 130mm Newtonian Reflector optical tube, and lots of amazing accessories.

The Celestron NexStar 130SLT is designed to maximize celestial views. The scope does so by using its reflector method to bring about clear views of details such as the Hercules globular cluster, stars, or the Great Orion Nebula. These views are made possible by the telescope’s ability to use mirrors to collect and distribute the light that creates the detailed views of far away objects. 

The computerized hand control of this SLT telescope gives you the ability to automatically slew to any of its 40,000+ objects, including over 600 galaxies, 300 clusters, stars and planets.

For astrophotography since The NexStar SLT telescopes use Alt-Az mounts, you will be limited to short exposure photographs.

With the high aperture of the NexStar 130 SLT, Deep Sky Observation with medium-length exposure times are certainly possible. 

For example, you will be able to get some great shots of the Moon (closeups and wide shots), while also being able to photograph some nebulae and other deep sky formations and objects. The reason for this is that Newtonians like NexStar 130 SLT have a fairly wide field of view.

Pros:

  • Wide field of view
  • Handheld computer makes it easy to find celestial bodies
  • Weighs only 18 pounds for simple transport
  • Deep views of the sky

Cons:

  • The motor uses up batteries fairly quickly
  • The date and time must be set after each use

Best Portable Telescope

Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope 

The Orion StarBlast 6 is a 6-inch (actually 150mm) Newtonian reflector telescope on a simple altitude-azimuth mount. With a focal length of 750mm, the focal ratio is a fairly fast f/5.

As equipped, it comes with two of the standard Orion Sirius Plössl eyepieces (25mm and 10mm, providing 30x and 75x respectively) and a red dot sight.

This best intermediate portable 6″ f/5.0 reflector telescope comes with Orion’s exclusive IntelliScope computerized object location system, allowing night sky newbies to pinpoint hundreds, even thousands of astronomical objects with push button ease. 

The StarBlast 6i is the most compact and portable intermediate computerized 6″ reflector telescope on the market. Even beginners can quickly locate any of 14,000+ celestial objects with the easy-to-use handheld locator.

The mount itself is a common simple altitude-azimuth mount. Though it’s often described as a “table-top Dobsonian,” it is not.

This mount is closer to a single-arm fork design. Regardless of what you call it, it is very easy to use and fairly sturdy and stable. Users generally will want a table or stool to set it up on, but it otherwise provides a good platform for the scope.

The small, lightweight form allows the telescope to be used on a sturdy table, the hood of a car, the landing of an outdoor stairway, or any other suitable flat surface. Robust construction including non-stick PTFE bearings and adjustable altitude tension on the base ensures smooth maneuvering of the StarBlast 6i.

Best Intermediate Portable Telescope

To locate objects in the sky, all you have to do is manually move the telescope as you are directed to by the arrows on the locator’s display, which features a black light. 

This frees up time normally spent looking over star maps, planisphere wheels or using astronomy software when figuring out what to look at, while also saving you power and energy compared to more costly motorized systems.

The included EZ Finder II reflex sight provides a simple way to line up objects in the telescope’s field of view. 

The included 25mm Sirius Plossl will yield 30x power magnification with the StarBlast 6i reflector, while the stronger 10mm telescope eyepiece will boost your views up to 75x power for closer looks. An included eyepiece rack will hold your oculars securely within reach right on the StarBlast 6i base, for easy switching between magnifications during family observing sessions. Integrated carry handles on the base allow for convenient lifting or transport of the reflector telescope.

There are illuminated menu buttons on the included IntelliScope controller that let you select objects by type, such as galaxy, cluster, nebula or planet, or you can choose to look them up by catalog number.

If you aren’t sure what to look for in the night sky, let the Tour mode do it for you by selecting one of 12 tours to see the best available viewing objects during any given month. 

Pros:

  • Surprisingly good optics
  • Perfect intermediate Grab-and-Go telescope
  • Easy to use and transport
  • Produces extremely bright images
  • Comes loaded with 12 sky tours

Cons:

  • Not suitable for astrophotography

Best Intermediate Astronomy Telescope

Orion 9825 Apex 127mm

  • Type: Maksutov-Cassegrain
  • Aperture: 127mm (5″)
  • Focal length: 1540mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/12.1
  • Mount: Push To: Dobsonian
  • Eyepiece: 25mm
  • Magnification: 61x
  • Weight: 8.6 lbs.(3.9 kg)
  • Our Rating: 9.4/10

The Orion Apex 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope boasts big 127mm (5″)-diameter optics but in a telescope tube that’s a fraction of the length (just 14.5″ long) and weight (8.6 lbs.) of a Newtonian reflector or refractor telescope of similar aperture and focal length.

Being a Maksutov-Cassegrain, the Apex 127 seldom needs collimation – though the rear cell has screws if you ever must do so. The optical quality of the Apex, like most Maksutovs, is superb. It is great for lunar, planetary, and double star viewing.

The Apex 127 focuses with the same moving-mirror system most catadioptrics use, and comes with a Maksutov-thread visual back, though you can buy an adapter to use Schmidt-Cassegrain threaded accessories. 

The 1.25” visual back included has built-in T-threads to attach your DSLR camera, which makes it one of the best intermediate telescope for astrophotography too.

It gulps in 55% more light through its multi-coated, 5″ meniscus lens than that of a 4″ telescope, putting it in the big leagues for astronomical observation and advanced nature study. 

Its long 1540mm (f/12.1) focal length provides 62x magnification with the included 25mm Sirius Plossl telescope eyepiece (1.25″), and lets you push the power up to 250x with optional eyepieces. 

You can enjoy bright views of star clusters and nebulae at low power, stunning lunar and planetary detail with this higher powered telescope.

The telescope’s excellent quality is evident not only in the optics of the Apex 127 mm Maksutov-Cassegrain, but also in the black-anodized aluminum front and rear castings, the smooth-turning focus knob, and the extruded aluminum tube, with a classy, metallic-burgundy finish. The included 6×26 achromatic, correct-image finder scope features a quick-release aluminum bracket with a dovetail base and two-screw X-Y alignment. For great daytime views with proper left/right and up/down orientation, the included 25 mm Sirius Plossl telescope eyepiece slips into a 45-degree correct-image prism diagonal, which is also included.

It comes with a Starry Night astronomy software and a fully padded, nylon/polyester telescope carrying case for easy transportability, it also includes a one-year limited warranty.

Pros:

  • Collects good amount of light
  • Great for day-time as well as night sky viewing
  • A perfect grab-and-go option
  • Good for lunar & planetary astrophotography
  • Comes with a travel case

Cons:

  • Does not include a mount

Best APO Telescope

Sky-Watcher Evostar 80mm

Sky-Watcher’s ProED series provides fantastic value for the price. The ProED 80, in particular, is one of the best intermediate apo telescope for the astrophotography, or as a grab n’ go visual instrument.

The ProED scopes all use a standard achromatic doublet design with FPL-53 and Schott glass in the lens elements.

The scope’s slow focal ratio of f/7.5 additionally helps with controlling chromatic aberration, and makes it easy to achieve high magnification without ultra-short focal length eyepieces.

Its two-speed Crayford-style focuser helps make fine-focusing fast and precise without backlash. The EvoStar comes with several accessories to help you get observing faster and easier. 

First, are two long eye relief eyepieces that produce 30x and 120x magnification, a 90° star diagonal for more comfortable viewing, and a large 8×50 erect-image finderscope to make finding your celestial objects faster and easier.

This Doublet APO Refractor Telescope comes with a 2” Crayford-style focuser which is one of the best focusers in telescopes as it is a Dual-speed one. A 1.25-inch adapter is also included along with it. 

With a petite footprint, the Sky-Watcher Evostar 80ED Pro is a light, compact instrument that fits into a small space while providing easy portability.

If you want to try your hand at astrophotography, then the Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope is the ideal optical tool for it. 

This powerful, yet affordable telescope delivers the kind of quality we would expect from a far more expensive telescope, for only a fraction of the price.

Due to the extra-low dispersion (ED) grade-A glass doublet, you will have an amazing color correction that will make your photos more reliable, taking them closer and closer to the reality.

The Sky-Watcher Pro Apochromatic Telescope has enough high contrast/high resolution optical performance to let you use it on an alt-azimuth or equatorial mount. 

It’s only 6.6 lbs., lightweight and doesn’t require a big and expensive mount, so it’s easy to afford and easy to take out and set up for observing on a moment’s notice. 

The Sky-Watcher ED-APO features a contrast-enhancing internal light baffles in the tube and focuser drawtube and a specially darkened tube interior providing dark sky backgrounds and high terrestrial contrast.

This apochromatic telescope comes with a dew shield which slows the formation of dew on the lens in cold weather to extend your undisturbed observing time.

Pros:

  • Best for professionals
  • Maximum magnification
  • Accurate in focus
  • 8×50 RA viewfinder
  • Two-inch dielectric diagonal

Cons:

  • Focuser slips with heavy eyepieces
  • Flimsy case

Best For Viewing Planets & Galaxies

Sky-Watcher Flextube 250 SynScan

The SkyWatcher’s 10” mirror delves deep into the universe, allowing you to see thousands of deep space objects from Saturn, Jupiter, & Mars to galaxies, nebulae and star clusters millions of light years away.

This collapsible telescope features a patented truss tube system that enables the front corrector plate/eyepiece assembly to be moved back and locked against the main rear tube to reduce the size for storage and transportation.

The included SynScan computerized hand control is the brain behind the Sky-Watcher GoTo Dobsonian. 

It allows you to point your telescope at a specific object, or even tour the night sky at the touch of a button!

The Sky-Watcher is one of the best intermediate GoTo dobsonian on the marketplace today. With an internal database of more than 42,000 celestial objects, this easy-to-use hand control can locate any object you see in the night sky with push-button ease. 

You can even let your Sky-Watcher GoTo Dobsonian take you on a tour of all the best objects based on your time and location. 

To get started, all you have to do is – perform a simple alignment procedure.

SkyWatcher S11810 GoTo Collapsible Dobsonian is one of the best telescope for deep space observation.

This Dobsonian was carefully engineered to combine ease of use, extreme portability and consistent performance in an affordable package. 

No doubt, there are other truss tube designs, but the Sky-Watcher Collapsible Dobsonian does not need to be disassembled between uses. 

It transports as two compact pieces that can be assembled, collimated easily and ready to use in just seconds.

Pros:

  • Collapsible truss tube design for maximum portability
  • 2” Crayford focuser with 1.25” adapter that can be used with either size telescope eyepieces
  • Comes with with 42,000 object database and simple alignment procedure

Cons:

  • A little on the heavier side

Best Intermediate Telescope Buying Guide 2020

Buying a telescope for home use is an important step towards a new level of appreciation for the night sky, and the wonders found within it.

The decision to level up and purchase an intermediate telescope is huge, and if you choose the right product, it can completely change your life and how you view life on Earth.

The ability to see deep into the cosmos has a profound effect on most people, and fortunately, it’s much easier to do than you might think.

For a breathtaking planetary viewing experience every time, it is important to make sure you’re purchasing a quality product – not something you’ll find at most department-stores.

The telescope you want has two essentials: high-quality optics and a steady, smoothly working mount. You may also want the telescope to be nice and large, but don’t forget portability and convenience.

Features To Consider When Choosing A Good Intermediate Telescope

Aperture

The most important aspect of any telescope is its aperture, the diameter of its main optical component, which can be either a lens or a mirror.

The aperture of a telescope is the diameter of the light collecting region, assuming that the light collecting region has a circular geometry . For an optical instrument, the aperture is the diameter of the objective lens (refracting telescope) or the primary mirror (reflecting telescope). The larger the aperture, the more light the telescope can gather, and the fainter the limiting magnitude of the instrument. The field of view of the telescope decreases as the aperture increases, but the resolving power increases.

Focal Ratio

The focal ratio (f/5.9 for example) is the ratio between the aperture and the focal length. Multiply the aperture by the f ratio to find the focal length.

Focal Length

Focal length is the distance between a telescope’s primary optics and the image it creates. A longer focal length is more suited for observing planets, while a shorter focal length is better for wide field views of space.

Magnification

To get an image suitable for observing with our eyes, a telescope uses a second lens, or collection of lenses, called an eyepiece at the focal plane. The eyepiece magnifies the image from the objective.

The eyepiece also has a focal length. The magnification of a telescope and eyepiece is very simple to calculate. If the focal length of the objective is “F” and the focal length of the eyepiece is “f”, then the magnification of the telescope/eyepiece combination is F/f. For example, if a telescope has an objective lens with focal length of 1200 mm (about 48”) and it has an eyepiece of focal length 25 mm (about 1”), then it will have a magnification of 1200/25=48x.

Eyepieces

The eyepiece determines the magnification of the view through your telescope. Divide the focal length of your telescope by the focal length of the eyepiece to find the magnification. Eyepieces come in focal lengths ranging from 2mm to 56mm.

The highest useful magnification for a telescope is about twice the aperture size in mm. For example a telescope with a 150mm aperture is limited to a 300x magnification before the view will become too blurry. But this also depends on your atmospheric conditions while observing and on the quality of your optics.

Eyepieces come in 2 sizes: 1.25 inches and 2 inches. A 2″ eyepiece requires a 2″ focuser but a 1.25″ eyepiece is more versatile. It’s usually the higher end eyepieces that come in the 2″ size and they tend to be heavier and more expensive.

Types Of Mounts

The mount is a very important part of the telescope. Some types of telescopes are better suited for a particular type of mount. There are 4 main types.

Alt-Azimuth Mounts:

Alt-azimuth mounts are the simplest type of mount, and they are similar to a camera tripod. They allow you to move the telescope up and down and side to side. But it can be difficult to track the stars and make precise adjustments. For this reason they are mainly suited for smaller, low-power telescopes.

Equatorial Mounts:

Equatorial mounts allow a telescope to track the sky as Earth rotates. They do this with motor drives but do not necessarily require a computer system to track, although some equatorial mounts are computerized for finding objects.

Most equatorial mounts are German equatorial mounts, which use counterweights to balance the telescope. This type of mount is versatile and breaks down into smaller pieces, making even large telescopes portable.

Dobsonian Mounts:

The dobsonian is a variation of the alt-az mount, designed for reflectors. Instead of using tripod legs, it uses a heavy base that is often made of wood. This is a stable design that doesn’t cost a lot and allows for more precise movements.

Fork Mounts:

A fork mount is designed for shorter tube telescopes (usually the compound type). They are motorized and do not require a counterweight since the telescope is balanced at it’s center of mass. But they are often heavier than other types of mounts.

Types Of Telescopes

There are 3 main types of telescopes:

Refractor Telescopes:

This is the classic design that most people picture when they think of a telescope. Light enters through a lens at the top of the telescope before bouncing off a diagonal mirror at the bottom to the eyepiece. Smaller aperture refractors can be found for a low price, but larger aperture designs quickly become very expensive.

Reflector Telescopes:

A reflector telescope contains a large concave mirror at the bottom of a tube which bounces light toward a secondary mirror at the top and then to the eyepiece. Larger reflectors may use an open truss design instead of a tube to save weight. A reflector is one of the most cost-effective designs that allows you to get the most aperture for your money. This is especially true if used with a dobsonian base.

Compound Telescopes:

A compound (or catadioptric) telescope is made with a combination of mirrors and lenses. It is the most complex type, but this usually results in a more compact and lightweight design compared to the others.

Conclusion

Our top pick for the best intermediate telescope for beginners is the Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ. Designed for near and deep-sky observation with a fast focal ratio for astrophotography/imaging, Celestron’s AstroMaster 130EQ 130mm f/5 Reflector Telescope features a 650mm focal length and an oversized parabolic mirror that produce detailed images of the Moon, clear views of the planets, and the ability to resolve distant objects such as nebulae and galaxies.

Our next best intermediate telescope for the money is the Celestron – NexStar 6SE Telescope. Its 6-inch aperture with excellent light-gathering ability provides impressive views of the Moon and planets, along with deep sky objects like the Orion Nebula, while retaining a compact form factor.

Also, the fully automated GoTo mount with a database of 40,000+ celestial objects automatically locates and tracks objects for you.

The Celestron – NexStar 127SLT is our pick for the best intermediate telescope for astrophotography.

Designed as an entry- to mid-level astronomical observation platform, the Celestron NexStar 127SLT 127mm f/12 Maksutov-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope gives users the ability to make detailed observations of the Moon, with the ability to easily see planets and reach outside the solar system to resolve distant objects like galaxies, nebulae, and binary or variable stars.