Best Refractor Telescope 2021; Reviews

Here in this “Best Refractor Telescope” article we’ve rounded up 15 of the best telescopes of various types, specifications, and budget. Below, you’ll find in-depth reviews of each, as well as an elaborate guide on what you should look for in a good refractor telescope.

Since there are so many options available in the market today, we did a survey among fellow astronomy enthusiasts, and consulted 3 experts and came up with 15 popular categories of refractor 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 refractor telescope in each of the 15 shortlisted categories.

best refractor telescope

We have tried our best to include a refractor telescope for everyone and for all-level users, from beginner to professional, from 70mm scope to 120mm to a tabletop model. 

In our review we have also included some amazing APO refractor telescopes or If you love to photograph the night sky there are some exceptionally good models for astrophotography too.

In researching these telescopes and ranking them based on their quality and usability, we took a look at many specific features, the most important of these include the aperture ratio focal length ratio, mount type, number and quality of the eyepieces, quality of the finderscope, price and portability.

COMPARISON TABLE

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Best Refractor Telescope 2021

With so many models with so many features available today, it can be a tedious task to find the best telescope that suits you.  We have analyzed the features ( aperture, focal length, ratio, portability etc.) that make the best refractor telescope to help you pick out the one that is best for you.

Best For Beginners 

Celestron – AstroMaster 90AZ 

The Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ altazimuth refractor is a perfect choice for a beginner who is looking to buy their first telescope to venture into astronomy and enjoy the night sky.

This  reasonably priced 90 mm aperture refractor optical system is a good way to begin your journey into the night sky, as well as exploring nature during the day. 

It provides you with detailed high-contrast views of the Moon and planets in the heavens, as well as sharp views of birds and animals across a lake or across the way.

For the astronomy enthusiast whose interests are the brighter solar system and deep space objects, the AstroMaster 90AZ has a lot to offer.

Its 3.5″ aperture has a light grasp 165 times that of the sharpest eye for nighttime use. Its large aperture and diffraction-free images make it surprisingly good for much deep space observing.

This version of the AstroMaster comes with two eyepieces (Sirius Plossl 20 mm,10 mm) that yield low and medium magnifications, and a 90° diagonal that sports an integrated erecting prism to correct images and allow the scope to be used as a conventional spotting scope for terrestrial use.

When used for astronomical viewing, the AstroMaster 90AZ yields breathtaking views of the Moon, Saturn with its ring structure, Jupiter and its belts and moons, nebulae, and star clusters.  

The telescope features all-glass optical elements as well as smooth-operating steel tripod mountings featuring manual motion controls. 

Additionally, the optics are coated for enhanced image brightness and clarity.

Upon its purchase, you can also download Celestron’s Starry Night Software and learn about the night sky, celestial objects, and plan your next stargazing session.

Pros:

  • Great optics
  • Great images of the moon and planets as well as terrestrial images
  • Perfect for beginners as their first telescope
  • Stable tripod

Cons:

  • Finderscope could be better

Best For Astrophotography

Sky-Watcher ProED 100mm

The Sky-Watcher ProED 100mm f/9 Doublet APO Refractor features a doublet apochromatic lens system with Extra-low Dispersion glass and Sky-Watcher’s proprietary photon anti-rejection Metallic High-Transmission Coatings on all air-to-glass optical surfaces

This combination of glass, lenses, and coatings virtually eliminates chromatic aberrations for clear and bright high-contrast images with true color rendition. 

This is a versatile optical tube assembly that is well suited for wide-field astronomical observation of prominent nebulae, star clusters and galaxies, or can be used as an astrograph for sky photography, a terrestrial spotting scope or telephoto lens.

The scope features an ED Schott glass, which is rare in many professional telescopes.

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. 

Best Refractor Telescope Under $1000

The Sky-Watcher ProED is one of the best apo refractor telescopes in the market and it comes with several accessories to help you get observing faster and easier. First, are 2 long eye relief eyepieces that produce 30x and 120x magnification and a 90° star diagonal for more comfortable viewing. 

A large 8×50 erect-image finderscope to make finding your celestial objects faster and easier. The finderscope is fully-multicoated to ensure maximum brightness and contrast.

Additionally, Sky-Watcher provides a foam-lined aluminum carrying case to safely store and transport the OTA.

The Sky-Watcher ED-APO design assures virtual elimination of secondary, residual false color normally present in two-element achromatic lens designs using Crown and Flint glass

With ED APO Sky-Watcher refractor telescope, you’ll experience breathtaking high contrast views that have no equal to planetary and deep-space objects against pitch black skies.

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
  • 9×50 RA viewfinder
  • Two-inch dielectric diagonal

Cons:

  • Focuser slips with heavy eyepieces
  • Flimsy case
Related

Best Under $300 

Orion 9024

The Orion AstroView has exceptionally good optics. This is one of the best equatorial refractor telescopes with a 90mm aperture and 910mm focal length

Views of the planets and Moon through the f/10 AstroView 90 telescope are nothing short of spectacular. When aimed at the Moon, the AstroView 90 yields tack-sharp views of the rocky lunar surface with craters and mountainous regions visible in crisp, high-contrast detail. 

On a clear evening, you can expect to see Jupiter’s cloud banding and all four of its major Galilean moons

Depending on the time of year, the Orion AstroView 90mm EQ Refractor can also provide your whole family with exquisite views of Saturn and its stunning rings, also its largest largest moon known as Titan.

The two eyepieces included are a 25mm and a 10mm one which offer a magnification power of 36x and 91x respectively. The eyepieces are of good quality and the package also contains a 90º mirror star diagonal which means you will see the images with the correct side up.

Best Refractor Telescope

Following a simple alignment procedure, you can use a 6×30 finder scope to accurately aim the AstroView 90mm refractor at objects in the sky like the Moon, bright planets, nebulae and star clusters.

The AstroView 90mm Equatorial Refractor comes with the Orion EQ-2 equatorial mount, which allows for easy manual tracking of celestial objects as they appear to move across the night sky. 

All you have to do is occasionally adjust the equatorial mount’s R.A. (Right Ascension) slow-motion cable to keep any object centered in the telescope eyepiece. 

The included aluminum tripod is lightweight and features adjustable legs and a tripod accessory tray for a hassle-free viewing session.

The entire AstroView 90 telescope, fully assembled, weighs only 24 pounds, and being a refractor it doesn’t need collimation, so you can pick it up and easily move it around in one piece or keep it fully assembled and ready to use at a moment’s notice.

Pros:

  • Great optics
  • Spectacular views of the moon and planets
  • Quality components
  • Equatorial mount that makes it easy to track object as they transit on the night sky

Cons:

  • Slight wobble at focus

Best Apochromatic Refractor 

Orion 9534

The Orion 9534 ED80T CF is a versatile triplet apochromatic refractor telescope with ED (extra-low dispersion) glass to ensure remarkable aberration-free resolution. This 80mm aperture triplet objective features FPL-53 extra-low dispersion glass that provides tack-sharp resolution as the views and captured images come through true to color.

The carbon fiber Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) is lightweight yet strong to give you an incredible device for years of use. Its reduced weight and size combined with its wide-field apochromatic optics makes this telescope suitable for sky photography.

The Orion 9534 is one of the best APO refractor telescopes as it significantly reduces chromatic aberration or false color, due to the use of the ED (Extra-low Dispersion) optical glass and the use of the three optical elements.

The 9534 apo refractor is a versatile power performer telescope well-suited for multiple applications. 

With a focal length of 480mm (f/6.0), its stunning optics yield rich visual views of the solar system and wide-field deep-sky objects alike. 

The triplet objective makes it an excellent choice for astrophotography use when used with an imaging-capable equatorial mount and CCD or DSLR camera. 

The small size and light weight of the refractor telescope makes it perfectly portable for carrying it along with you to dark-sky locations for either visual or photographic quests. 

Best Refractor Telescope

The telescope features a retractable dew shield which makes it even more compact for convenient storage and transport. The refractor telescope measures 18.25″ long when the dew shield is fully extended and 14.3” when the shield is completely retracted.

The Orion 9534 has a dovetail mounting base that attaches directly to any Orion EQ mount equipped with a narrow (Vixen-style) dovetail saddle without the need for additional mounting accessories. 

Although we highly recommend a stable motorized equatorial (EQ) mount for astrophotography, the telescope can be easily mounted on a variety of lightweight, sturdy tripods.

The Orion 80mm ED F/6 CF Triplet APO Refractor Telescope comes with remarkable features and top-notch accessories. 

The 2” Crayford-style telescope focuser enables dual-speed focus adjustment which is perfect for dialing in minute details of the chosen subjects, terrestrial or celestial. 

The smaller fine focus knob adjusts focus at a rate of 11:1 compared to the coarse focus knob, giving you the ability to home-in on just the right focal point for sharp performance and crystal-clear observations and astrophotos. The included 2″ to 1.25″ eyepiece adapter enables hassle-free use of higher magnification 1.25″ telescope eyepieces or 1.25″ imaging cameras and other accessories.

Pros:

  • Compact and well built telescope
  • Perfect for astrophotography
  • Amazing optics
  • Lightweight carbon fibre OTA

Cons:

  • Included finderscope is not so good for a professional

Best Portable Pick

Orion 10034 GoScope II

The Orion 10034 GoScope II 70mm Refractor Travel Telescope Moon Kit is a specifically designed telescope for advanced moon viewings from one of the best telescope brands in the world.

The affordable Orion GoScope II 70mm Refractor Travel Telescope features a 70mm achromatic lens system for sharp images of distant subjects.

This provides high quality, crisp and sharp images of distant objects. The resulting images are far better than other telescopes in this price range. 

This 400mm focal length telescope (f/5.7) is perfect for daytime birding use as well as viewing wildlife, scenery and nighttime observing of the Moon and bright planets with the entire family.

The telescope includes 5×24 finder scope and two 1.25″ telescope eyepieces (25mm and 10mm) for 16x and 40x magnification.

It also comes with the Orion MoonMap 260 which helps you and your family learn more about the Moon and it’s surface.

Its light weight of just 3.5 lbs. makes it easy for kids and beginners to take the telescope anywhere.

The telescope and its aluminum tripod can be easily stored and carried to your favorite observing location in it’s included backpack.

The Orion 10034 GoScope Refractor Travel Telescope is one of the best budget refractor telescopes in regards to value for money, and is a great tool for travelling and outdoors activities. It’s light, easy to use and doesn’t require extensive knowledge of either telescopes or astronomy.

You will find a lot of uses for the respectable optics of the Orion GoScope II 70mm Refractor Travel Telescope, and a lot of times and places to use them, day or night. 

Pros:

  • Lightweight aluminum tripod for beginners and families on the go
  • Rugged and robust, hence will last you a long time
  • Good value for money
  • Decent optics for the price

Cons:

  • Does Not come with instruction manual
  • Not suitable for professional use

Best Refractor Telescope Under $1000 

Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm 

Sky-Watcher’s ProED series provides fantastic value for the price. The ProED 80, in particular, is an excellent scope for the beginning astrophotographer, 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 70mm Refractor Telescope 

Celestron – PowerSeeker 70EQ

The 70EQ Power Seeker is a refractor telescope with a 70mm aperture and a focal length of 700mm. Its low price combined with excellent optics, easy assembly, clear instructions, included eyepieces and other features that make it easy to use even for beginners, make it an excellent choice for anyone wanting to learn more about the nighttime sky.

At f/10, there is some chromatic aberration but nothing significant enough to ruin high-power views with this telescope. The optical quality of the Powerseeker 70 is quite good.

The scope’s focuser is a 1.25” rack-and-pinion made mostly of plastic. The focuser even includes a tension adjustment knob, should you find the focuser to be too loose or too tight.

Since Celestron 21037 PowerSeeker 70EQ telescope is a family-friendly scope, it is very easy to set up and use as it needs no extra tools. The instructions manual clearly describes every setup step, giving clear information on each of the telescope’s parts and uses.

With an aperture of 70 mm (2.76“) and a focal length of 700 mm (28”), the Celestron Power Seeker telescope allows stargazers to see the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and other celestial wonders with ease.

The 3x Barlow lens manages to triple the magnifying power of all eyepieces, while the 1.25″ Erect Image Diagonal makes the telescope ideal for both astronomical and terrestrial use.

The telescope includes fully coated optics, meaning that at least one lens in the telescope has been coated with multiple layers of substances designed to capture and focus the light that goes through the lens.

The equatorial mount supplied with the 70EQ is actually a good match for it. The motions are reasonably smooth, the mount’s extruded aluminum legs are quite steady with such a lightweight tube. Furthermore, the whole setup is pretty light at about 14 pounds.

The 70EQ PowerSeeker is the best budget refractor telescope for astrophotography as it comes with a camera attachment that allows the user to take photographs of the objects being viewed.

Pros:

  • Family-friendly, easy to setup and use
  • Coated glass, decent optical components 
  • EQ mount with slow motion controls
  • Budget option refractor telescope for astrophotography
  • High and low power eyepieces
  • Ideal for both terrestrial and celestial viewing

Cons:

  • Not suitable for professional use
  • Most components are built with plastic

Best 80mm Pick 

Meade Instruments 209004

The Meade Instruments Infinity 80mm Altazimuth Refractor Telescope is a great telescope for budding astronomers and other enthusiasts just getting started in the world of astronomy. It accurately captures both terrestrial and celestial bodies in clear detail.

Many beginners and professionals alike have agreed that it is one of the best telescopes for viewing the moon.

The Meade Instruments Infinity 80mm Telescope comes as a complete set with a tripod, altazimuth mount, eyepieces and other accessories. You can use the telescope to view the moon, stars, planets, meteor showers and other celestial objects.

The Infinity telescope has a 80mm aperture and focal length of 400mm (f/5). The Alt-azimuth mount includes slow-motion control cables that allow for easy and quick viewing across different directions. 

With the included accessories such as a Red-Dot Viewfinder, 2x Barlow Lens, and 3 eyepieces that provide varying levels of magnification – this will give you versatility with short and long range distances, the Infinity 80mm comes complete with everything you need to view the planets, stars and galaxies. 

The Infinity 80 is again primarily a telescope for low magnifications and wide fields of view. With this scope you can see hundreds and hundreds of open star clusters making it one of the best budget telescope to see galaxies

It features a stainless steel tripod that you can adjust to meet your viewing needs. The durable SS tripod offers a stable platform when you are watching the sky.

Also included in the shipped product package is an astronomy DVD containing more than 10,000 different celestial objects which the user can use to observe and identify major celestial objects.

The telescope comes with 3 eyepieces that provide low, medium and high powered magnification for viewing a wide range of stars and planets.

Pros:

  • Good for astrophotography
  • Decent optics for a beginner telescope
  • Comes with 3 eyepieces
  • Includes a software for Windows integration
  • Displays more than 10,000 celestial objects including planets, stars, galaxies

Cons:

  • Setup time is a bit long
  • Software is compatible only with Windows

Best For iPhone Astrophotography 

Gskyer Telescope

Gskyer is a German company and is one of the best telescope brands in the world, known to produce high-quality telescopes. 

This is a great starter telescope for the explorer who intends to take their telescope with them on their journeys. Hiking, camping, and even moonlit fishing trips will be more fun when you have this telescope along with you.

The Gskyer AZ90600 is one of the best refractor telescopes for the money. If you live in the city and you aren’t able to see much of the sky due to light pollution, you’ll want a telescope like this that’s easy to carry with you.

The 90 millimeter aperture is perfect for viewing most of the things you’d want to view, and all of the glass optics are coated to automatically adjust the brightness of the stars to a level safe and comfortable for observation.

Though this is a beginner telescope, you can use it to observe the moon, stars, meteors, and planets. The telescope offers great clarity, allowing you to see the surface of the moon, the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter. 

It also comes with a smartphone adapter, which allows you to use the phone as a screen, or as a camera to take great pictures. 

Plus, this model is extremely easy to assemble and doesn’t require any calibration. If you’re a telescope beginner, you won’t have to worry about any tricky steps or complicated tests. 

The Gskyer AZ90600 comes with an adjustable tripod. This adjustable aluminium tripod offers the viewer many different viewing positions. The height of the aluminum tripod can be adjusted from about 31.5-inch to 49-inch.This is one of the best intermediate refractor telescopes, it’s 90mm (3.5″) aperture gives bright, sharp images for both land and celestial objects. 

Whether you’re viewing the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, surface details on the Moon, or terrestrial objects, the Infinity 90 Refractor allows the amateur astronomer to explore the solar system and beyond.

Pros:

  • Large aperture
  • 3 eyepieces
  • Smartphone adapter
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Adjustable tripod
  • Perfect travel telescope

Cons:

  • Good for viewing planets, stars not so much

Best 4 inch Refractor 

Celestron – AstroMaster 102AZ 

The Celestron – AstroMaster 102AZ Refractor Telescope is perfect for observers who want clear views of the Moon, planets, star clusters, galaxies and more. 

This 102mm refractor telescope is extremely portable, meaning you can bring it with you on camping trips, hikes, and stargazing parties.

The instrument is of a perfect size if you are looking for a good entry-level telescope which is relatively lightweight and portable, but still has plenty of optical power for viewing deep sky objects. 

The AstroMaster 102AZ is a refractor telescope that is well-constructed, resistant to shocks and bumps, sturdy and requires little maintenance.

This telescope is one of the best 4” refractor telescopes that you can buy. 

It comes with two eyepieces; 20mm and 10mm eyepiece. This gives you adjustability as you can watch near and distant objects. A Red Dot Finderscope is also offered to allow you to track objects with great ease.

As a 4” refractor telescope, it is an ideal for deep sky astronomy. It provides clear images of the Ring of Saturn, Moons of Jupiter and thousands of craters of our Earth’s moon.

The altazimuth mount and the easy-to-use pan handle control gives you the freedom to follow the target of your choosing without losing any of the accuracy and clarity of the image you are inspecting through the telescope.

Celestron Star Diagonal is a 1.25″ 90° Erect Image Diagonal. Using this diagonal, you can enjoy daytime viewing as well. The diagonal will flip the image that the refractor inverts, making the sights right-side-up.

The model comes along with a lot of amazing accessories. For instance, the steel tripod is not only sturdy, but it is also adjustable to provide you with excellent viewing conditions. There is also an accessory tray that you can use to keep eyepieces etc. during a viewing session.

The scope includes a ‘Starry Night’ computer software which allows you to connect the telescope to a computer and track and plan your observations. As an added bonus you can access valuable information on 10,000 celestial objects.

Pros:

  • Dual-purpose telescope suited for terrestrial views as well as astronomical use
  • Fast and simple setup
  • Rugged tripod with steel tube legs
  • Astronomy software allows you to see up to 10,000 objects
  • Erect image optics

Cons:

  • Not for professional use
  • Not good for astrophotography

Best 120mm Pick 

Orion 9005

  • 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 wide field 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.

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 Tabletop Refractor Telescope 

Orion 10013 GoScope

The Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop Refractor Telescope,  is a rare telescope model that has the advantage of being both incredibly portable, as well as extremely easy for a beginner to use.

This ultra-compact, entry-level refractor with a tabletop mount makes a great, high-quality first telescope for children and beginners. 

Although it may look like the best refractor telescope for children, it’s not just for newbies – the GoScope 80mm TableTop Refractor’s convenient small size makes it a true “grab-and-go” telescope, perfect for on the move experienced stargazers. 

The telescope comes complete with 10 mm and 20 mm eyepieces, and can magnify objects in the night sky by up to 165 times their size. An EZ finder is included that allows novice astronomers to locate objects in the night sky, and follow their movements with ease.

The entire telescope weighs just 5.65 lbs. assembled (including eyepiece and reflex sight) so it’s easy for anyone in the family to take it out to the backyard table or an observing site.

The Orion GoScope 80mm Tabletop Refractor has an 80-mm aperture that captures a large amount of light to give you the benefit of very bright images. The brightness gives the telescope the ability to target distant objects in the deep sky, so that you can see things like the Orion Nebula that smaller telescopes would likely miss.

Being light (around 9 pounds), compact and easy to move around, the Orion 10013 GoScope 80mm TableTop Refractor Telescope will definitely become your best pal in trips or while camping with the family. If you want any extra height, you can place it on a regular tripod as the Go Scope has a special insert on the bottom.

The optical tube assembly of the GoScope 80mm Refractor Telescope is attached to its sturdy table-top swivel base with a quick-release dovetail saddle which features adjustable altitude tension. This allows you to set the up/down tension of the mount according to your preference, for smooth motion.

The GoScope refractor telescope tube can easily be removed from the base and mounted on an optional photo tripod, utilizing threaded holes on the optical tube mounting block. 

Alternatively, the GoScope’s swivel base itself can also be mounted on a camera tripod to raise the telescope if you cannot find a convenient flat surface nearby.

Pros:

  • Surprisingly good optics
  • Great for beginners and children
  • Easy to use and transport
  • Can be easily attached to a mount
  • Produces extremely bright images

Cons:

  • Not good for astrophotography
  • Not for professionals

Best Travel Refractor Telescope 

Orion 10149 StarBlast 62mm 

The highly portable Orion StarBlast APO refractor telescope can be used for almost any type of observing. 

During the day, you can insert the included 45° correct-image diagonal into the telescope to make it a perfect deck telescope for scanning the scenic horizon or wildlife. It’s great for catching sharp, detailed views of birds too. 

At night, the advanced 4-element, high resolution, fully multi coated optical design of the StarBlast 62 refractor will let you enjoy great views of the Moon and brighter planets like Jupiter and Saturn. 

Its substantial f/8.4 focal ratio provides sharp views of our planet’s celestial neighbors in the night sky.

The telescope features a 2.5-inch, four-element crown and flint glass objective, a focal length of 520mm, along with an extendable dew shield.

The StarBlast 62 comes with two Long Perng “Sterling” Plossl eyepieces, with 20mm and 4mm focal lengths providing 26x and 130x respectively

The metal lens cap is flock-lined and fits snugly, while plastic dust caps are provided for the drawtube, diagonal and all eyepieces.

Also included are a Crayford focuser, a Vixen-style dovetail mounting block and a high quality aluminum foam-lined case that does a great job protecting the scope and any accessories

The metal lens cap is flock-lined and fits snugly, while plastic dust caps are provided for the drawtube, diagonal and all eyepieces.

Its compact size and a total weight of 3.1 lbs.makes it one of the best grab and go telescopes for the money.

This 2.5-inch refractor telescope is ideally suited to bright objects such as the Moon, the planets, galaxies and nearby star clusters, but under good and dark conditions it’s also possible to see some fainter deep-sky targets.

The Orion StarBlast uses a long-focus achromatic (non-ED) objective lens in conjunction with a focal reducer/field flattener. The result is that the StarBlast 62 has very little chromatic aberration and basically no field curvature, making it extremely sharp at both low and high magnifications as well as being suitable for astrophotography. 

This high end instrument is also one of the best refractor telescopes for astrophotography as its four-element lens design delivers exceptional contrast and resolution, within a smart-looking tube only 30 centimetres (12-inches) in length (with dew cap retracted).

To facilitate imaging, the package is rounded off with a T-threaded extension tube.

This can be screwed onto a T-ring adaptor to suit a DSLR camera, or into a dedicated astronomy camera.

The focuser is designed to fit standard 1.25-inch eyepieces and accessories, but also has a 42mm external thread, which means a number of other accessories can be attached.

Pros:

  • Wide field of view
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with high-quality accessories
  • Suitable for astrophotography
  • Perfect for beginners and families with children
  • Comes with a high end foam-lined travel case

Cons:

  • No finderscope
  • Doesn’t come with a tripod

Best Small Refractor Telescope 

Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope DX

The Celestron 21035 70mm Scope is an excellent, easy-to-use, portable scope that comes with its own backpack and a variety of features. 

The Travel Scope is a great choice for both beginners who are looking to start off their astronomical careers and for intermediate astronomers looking to refine their skills.

The scope comes with a 45 degree correct image diagonal, one 20mm and one 10mm eyepiece, a finder scope, a tripod, a lens cleaning cloth and an excellent instruction manual.

The 2.76 inch aperture is well-suited for the purpose of this portable telescope and provides bright and crisp views given its size. 

The included eyepieces work very well in providing clear, crisp views of smaller objects. You’ll find it easy to get good looks at the details of the moon and you can even see the crevasses of the moons of Jupiter. 

It even provides you the magnification you need to spot the terrestrial objects you’re looking for in the night sky.

The telescope also comes with Sky X software, which allows you to learn the basics of astronomy and how to use your new telescope. Sky X is a great addition to any telescope and is an excellent tool to help beginners.

If you are looking for a small refractor telescope with decent optics then the Celestron 70mm is a great option.

It is one of the best low cost refractor telescopes and has an excellent value as a portable telescope or a beginner’s telescope.

We highly recommend it for all beginner astronomers and especially for those who are always on the move with their telescopes. 

The best features of Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope are its price and portability. Given the number of components, the price is extremely small. This is an excellent, easy-to-use, portable telescope.

Pros:

  • Compact size makes the telescope highly portable
  • Good value for money
  • Decent optics
  • Comes  with its own backpack
  • Good value for money

Cons:

  • Wobbly tripod
  • Finderscope and focuser are made of plastic

Best For The Moon 

Orion 10282 STARBLAST 

This is a 90mm Refractor telescope which is surprisingly capable and highly portable.  It is a quality 90mm achromatic refractor telescope outfitted with a full-length stainless steel tripod and two-way pan head as well as some great accessories — all of which fit neatly into a rugged carry case with both shoulder and hand straps for convenient transport and storage.

The StarBlast 90mm Altazimuth Travel Refractor Telescope features an antireflection coated 90mm achromatic lens system with a 500mm focal length (f/5.6) for vivid images of distant subjects. 

The 1.25″ rack-and-pinion focuser ensures your observing target will snap into sharp focus effortlessly. 

best refractor telescope

The integrated, rotatable 45-degree correct-image diagonal allows daytime views of terrestrial subjects in their proper orientation, unlike refractors that come with a “star diagonal,” which show a mirror-reversed image and are better suited for astronomical observation only. 

The 5×20 correct-image finder scope provides matching views in a wider field, to make spotting your targets a snap. 

And for stargazing, this telescope will reveal outstanding views of the Moon’s surface, Saturn’s rings, and scores of deep-sky nebulae and star clusters.

The super sturdy, extendable tripod is made of stainless steel and has a center brace for added rigidity. 

A convenient accessory tray fastens onto the center brace with a simple twist-lock mechanism. The two-axis pan head provides easy, smooth control of the telescope via the pan handle.

Pros:

  • Highly portable
  • Affordable
  • Includes a Moon map
  • Great optics
  • Comes with a carry bag

Cons:

  • Not for DSOs

What Is A Refractor Telescope?

Refracting telescopes use lenses to bend the light to a specific focal point such that the object will be magnified to the viewer, It is the simplest type of telescope and the most recognizable, Its design is very simple, It is essentially a tube with a lens at each end.

The basic refracting telescope has two lenses, The first lens is called the objective lens which is a convex lens that bends the incoming light rays to a focal point within the telescope, The second lens is called the eyepiece which takes the light from the focal point and spreads it out across the retina of your eye, It makes the object seem much closer than it really is.

Advantages Of A Refractor Telescope

Refractor telescopes are the oldest type of telescopes and have numerous advantages:

Because of their simple design, they are generally easy to use and more reliable as their optics are permanently fixed and aligned.

They are superior revolving power per inch of aperture and superior performance in inferior conditions and they have image steadier.

There are no reflections or interruption of the light path, there is near permanent optical alignment, minimum maintenance, and long focal ratios can mean the use of longer focus, simpler and eyepieces.

Refractor telescopes are rugged after the initial alignment their optical system is more resistant to misalignment than the reflector telescopes.

The glass surface inside the tube is sealed from the atmosphere, so, It rarely needs cleaning.

Since the tube is closed off from the outside, The air currents and effects due to changing temperatures are eliminated,

This means that the images are steadier and sharper than those from a reflector telescope of the same size.

How Does A Refractor Telescope Work?

The refracting telescopes are very simple, It uses a lens to gather and focus the light, where the light enters through a main objective lens at one end, then the lens refracts (bends) the light to a point of focus at the other end.

So, this is then magnified to form an image by the eyepiece which is inserted in the other end of the telescope, The eyepiece can be moved back and forth to adjust the sharpness of the focus.

 

Buying Guide: Refractor Telescope

Telescopes are an incredible door to the heavens, for anybody intrigued by space and astronomy.

The best refractor telescopes which can be used in your backyard or personal observatory are those which use high-quality refractors for lunar and planetary observations – of course, you may also just want a telescope to take high quality images of nature at a distance during the day. No matter the use, refractor lenses are valued on their crisp, high-contrast images which take a high level of magnification.

These are the main features we assessed when comparing different models to come up with our list of best refractor models. Taking them into consideration will ease the burden of choice.

thebigbangoptics

Features To Consider When Choosing A Good 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.

A scope’s aperture determines both its light-gathering ability (how bright the image appears) and its resolving power (how sharp the image appears). When learning how to choose a telescope, knowing all you can about the aperture is crucial to your ability to see the night sky.

This simply means – the bigger the aperture the better. With a 6-inch telescope you can discern craters on the Moon as small as about a mile across — half the size of those visible in a 3-inch scope (under the same conditions using the same magnification).

Magnification

Any telescope can provide almost an infinite amount of magnifications – this is because you can switch out a telescope’s eyepieces and therefore you always have new options – however two major features will limit your potential to magnify and object further: the telescope’s aperture and atmospheric conditions.

For your given aperture length, the higher you magnify typically the darker your image will be – and therefore harder to see its details.

The best magnification setting is actually 50 times your telescope’s aperture in inches. For instance, a high-quality 4-inch scope at 100mm shouldn’t be pushed beyond 200x magnification, otherwise what you see through it would not be of good quality.

Eyepieces

Eyepieces determine the magnification and field of view of a telescope. Different eyepieces are used to view different objects.

Some objects, such as nebulae and star clusters, appear quite large and are best viewed at low magnifications (which give a wider field of view), whereas planets appear very small and are normally viewed with high-magnification eyepieces.

One of the most common misconceptions in amateur astronomy is that magnification is the most important aspect of a telescope.

In reality, the diameter (aperture) of a telescope determines its power and different eyepieces are used to get the best view of a given object. Often the best view is at a low magnification.

There are two standard sizes of telescope eyepieces. The sizes are determined by the diameter of the eyepiece barrel that fits into the telescope. The two standard sizes are 1.25″ and 2″.

Mounts

The best telescope in the world is useless unless it’s on a solid, stable, smoothly-working mount, one that permits it to be directed to the desired part of the sky and to follow a celestial object smoothly and precisely as the Earth turns beneath it.

Investing in a good mount will give you years of use even after you have upgraded your telescope.

Altazimuth and Equatorial are the two most common types of mounts.

An alt-az mount operates like a tripod’s pan-and-tilt head, moving the scope up-down (in altitude) and left-right (in azimuth). Equatorial mounts also possess two axes, but they’re tilted so that one can be aligned with the rotational axis of the Earth.

If you’re intending to use a small telescope for casual sky viewing or daytime use (say, birdwatching), you’ll find the alt-az mount preferable. Well engineered mounts of this type will have finely threaded slow-motion controls that enable the scope to be moved smoothly by tiny amounts, especially important when you’re using high powers.

An equatorial mount should be used for a telescope intended for astronomy, and for which astrophotography is a future prospect, the equatorial mount here automatically counteracts Earth’s rotation.

It’s far easier to track a celestial object with a scope mounted this way, since you need only concern yourself with turning the scope about one axis — not two simultaneously, as in the alt-az. When an equatorial mount is properly set up, turning the slow-motion control of its polar axis is all that’s required to keep an object in view.

Warranty

As always, if you’re sinking a lot of money into a purchase make sure you get the warranty which covers replacements and repairs for (at the least) a year from the date of purchase. This will give you time to test out the product and return it to the buyer if there are any unlikely manufacturing or shipping damages or errors.

Our Verdict

We highly recommend Sky-Watcher ProED 100mm Doublet APO if you are looking to take pictures of night sky and memorialize your experience.

It is one of the best astrophotography models available in the market today. The scope features a doublet apochromatic lens system with Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass and Sky-Watcher’s proprietary photon anti-rejection Metallic High-Transmission Coatings (MHC) on all optical surfaces.

The Celestron – AstroMaster 90AZ is our top pick for beginners who are looking to buy their first telescope. It is a 90mm refractor telescope with fully coated glass optics and a lightweight frame.

It comes with a 20mm and 10mm eyepiece, an erect image diagonal, and a Starpointer finderscope along with a Alt azimuth mount.

The Orion 9534 ED80T CF Triplet Apochromatic is our top pick for the best apochromatic refractor model. This APO Refractor telescope significantly reduces chromatic aberration or false color, due to the use of the ED (Extra-low Dispersion) optical glass and the use of the three optical elements.

This 80mm aperture triplet objective apochromatic refractor telescope is very popular amongst astronomers because of the crisp views it gives during observation.