Best Solar Telescope Reviews 2021; To View The Sun & Eclipse
Here in this “Best Solar Telescope” article we’ve rounded up 6 of the best telescopes of various types, specifications, and budget perfectly suited to be used to view, observe & photograph the Sun & solar eclipse. 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.
Most people know that looking directly at the sun is a no-go. But, many people are not aware that you need a special telescope to view the sun.
Observing our Sun is fascinating. It changes constantly, allowing for new views every time you pull out the telescope. As long as it is done safely, solar observation is a great way to extend your astronomy hobby into the daylight hours, too.
You can outfit your solar telescope with two kinds of solar filters: white light or hydrogen-alpha. Accessories with white light filters transmit the entire visible spectrum of light but restrict it to a level that makes observing safe. H-alpha filters, on the other hand, transmit only the H-alpha line of light from the visible spectrum. H-alpha filters tend to produce more clear, detailed images and are a favorite among astrophotographers.
A WORD OF CAUTION
The Sun in a telescope is an awesome sight, a dynamic, living body, changing unpredictably from day to day.
The Sun is also the only celestial object hazardous to the observer. Without proper protection, even a glimpse of it through a telescope or binoculars can burn the eye’s retina and leave a permanent blind spot.
We can’t stress this enough: NEVER attempt to observe the Sun without proper protection for your eyes and telescope. Viewing direct, unfiltered sunlight (even for an instant) causes permanent, irreversible eye damage including blindness.
Table Of Contents
- 1 COMPARISON TABLE
- 2 Best Solar Telescope
- 3 Best Value Solar Telescope
- 4 Best For Solar Photography
- 5 Best For Safe Viewing
- 6 Best Portable Pick
- 7 Best For Solar Eclipse
- 8 Best For Solar Eclipse Photography
- 9 Best Telescope To View The Sun - Buying Guide
- 10 Features To Consider When Choosing A Good Solar Telescope
- 11 How To Photograph The Sun Using A Telescope
- 12 Tips For Successful Solar Imaging
- 13 Conclusion
|TopTop Top Top Top||Sky-Watcher Virtuoso||Best For Solar Photography||Type: Mak-Cass, Aperture: 90mm (3.54″), Focal length: 1250mm, Focal Ratio: f/13.9||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Meade Instruments Cornado PST Personal Solar Telescope||Best For Safe Viewing||Type: Refractor, Aperture: 40mm (1.57″), Focal length: 400mm, Focal Ratio: f/10||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Lunt Solar Telescope||Best Portable||Type: Achromatic Refractor, Aperture: 50mm (1.96″), Focal length: 350mm, Focal Ratio: f/7.0||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Meade Instruments 0.5PST Coronado||Best For Solar Eclipse||Type: Refractor, Aperture: 40mm (1.57″), Focal length: 400mm, Focal Ratio: f/10||See on Amazon|
How To View The Sun With A Telescope
If you want to observe the Sun through a telescope, there are many options. Because binoculars and telescopes concentrate the Sun’s blazing light, it’s even more crucial to use safe filters. Make sure to avoid any filter that is placed at the eyepiece end of the scope.
The concentrated sunlight will probably destroy such a filter, followed shortly thereafter by your vision.
The easiest and least expensive option is to use a sheet of solar-filter material specially made for telescope use.
Make sure to place the filter material at the front end of your telescope, and to cover the entire opening. If you plan to use a large telescope, no problem — simply create a mask with a 3- or 4-inch-wide hole and cover the hole with your filter material.
Many companies sell safe solar filters — often made of metal-coated glass or Mylar — that go on the front end of scopes, where they block more than 99% of sunlight before it ever enters the telescope tube.
Make sure your filter is securely attached to the front of the scope, so there is zero possibility that it will come off while viewing. And to avoid damaging your finderscope, either remove it or place a cap or solar filter at its front end.
Using A Solar Finderscope
No matter which telescope you choose, you will need a solar finderscope to center the Sun in the eyepiece. These are usually included with an H-alpha scope or sold separately for white light observing. Unlike traditional finderscopes, you do not view through a solar finder. Instead, a pinhole on the front of the finder projects the solar disk onto a panel on the back. Line up the pinhole projection with the white dot on the back of the finder, and you’re ready to observe.
Best Solar Telescope
With so many models with so many features available today, it can be a tedious task to find the best solar telescope for solar imaging and also to photograph an eclipse. We have analyzed the main features ( aperture, focal length, ratio, portability, affordability etc.) that make a good solar telescope to bring you this list of top models.
Best Value Solar Telescope
Meade Instruments EclipseView
- Type: Achromatic Refractor
- Aperture: 60mm (2.4”)
- Focal length: 800mm
- Focal Ratio: f/13.3
- Mount: Alt-Azimuth
- Eyepiece: 26mm, 9mm
- 2x Barlow lens
- Magnification: 31x, 89x
- Weight: 6 lbs.(2.72 kg)
- Our Rating: 8/10
Тhе Меаdе ЕсlірѕеVіеw іѕ а budgеt tеlеѕсоре mаіnlу fоr kіdѕ but mаdе wіth grоwn-uр quаlіtу. Аdultѕ wіll аррrесіаtе thе vеrѕаtіlіtу оf thе tеlеѕсоре аѕ іt саn bе uѕеd fоr wаtсhіng ѕоlаr есlірѕеѕ, оbѕеrvіng thе mооn аnd рlаnеtѕ, аnd fоr tеrrеѕtrіаl vіеwіng.
Іt’ѕ super lightweight, ѕо іt wіll bе а brееzе tо tаkе аlоng tо саmріng trірѕ, dау trірѕ, оr еvеn nіght trірѕ. Неаd оut tо а dаrk lосаtіоn tо рuѕh thе lіmіtѕ tо ѕее mоrе іn thе nіght ѕkу оn аnу gіvеn nіght.
The EclipseView 60mm Telescope is one of the best cheap solar telescope as it comes complete with everything you need to view the wonders of the sky, day and night! Perfectly safe for solar viewing.
This classic refracting telescope comes with a removable white-light solar filter and is a safe and fun way to view the Sun.
Even better, you can use this scope to view the wonders of the night sky, including the Moon, planets and more, by simply removing the solar filter and changing the viewfinder.
To find subjects fast, and to make star-hopping navigation faster, Meade includes a wide-field red-dot finder; and for safe centering of the Sun in the field of view, they also provide a Sun-Finder finderscope.
The OTA is attached to a manual alt-azimuth mount equipped with a slow-motion rod to increase tracking precision and reduce vibrations.
Supporting the mount and OTA is an adjustable height tripod with an accessory try to hold the two included eyepieces, plus optional gear like Barlows and filters.
The achromatic lens configuration corrects chromatic and spherical aberration to produce images with accurate color rendition without distortion across the entire field of view.
Nоt оnlу cаn thе tеlеѕсоре bе uѕеd fоr vіеwіng vаrіоuѕ tуреѕ оf ѕоlаr есlірѕеѕ, іt’ѕ аlѕо а gооd tеlеѕсоре fоr wаtсhіng lunаr есlірѕеѕ, оbѕеrvіng thе mооn аnd рlаnеtѕ, аnd еvеn fоr uѕіng іt аѕ а ѕроttіng ѕсоре fоr wаtсhіng lаnd-bаѕеd tаrgеtѕ.
Тhе ЕсlірѕеVіеw 60 соmеѕ wіth а 90-degree еrесt іmаgе рrіѕm thаt соrrесtѕ thе іmаgе fоr uрrіght аnd lеft-rіght соrrесt оrіеntаtіоn. Тhіѕ mау bе а hеlрful fеаturе fоr kіdѕ аnd bеgіnnеrѕ. Тhе 90-degree angle аlѕо рrоvіdеѕ соmfоrt fоr nіght tіmе vіеwіng ѕіnсе уоu dоn’t hаvе tо mоvе уоur nесk іntо an awkward роѕіtіоn јuѕt tо ѕее thrоugh thе еуеріесе.
- Great for viewing solar eclipse
- Perfect for children
- Light weight
- Great optics
- Poor accessories
Best For Solar Photography
As versatile as it is portable, the Sky-Watcher Virtuoso 90mm f/13.9 Maksutov-Cassegrain Multi-Purpose Motorized Mount is more than an astronomical observing platform—it can be used for conventional nighttime celestial viewing, daytime solar viewing using the included filter, or as a terrestrial spotting scope.
Swap the optical tube assembly (OTA) for its camera or smartphone mounts and start wide-field astrophotography or time-lapse and panoramic photo techniques with its automatic shutter release functions.
Virtuoso features Sky-Watcher’s patented Freedom Find dual-encoder technology that allows the scope to be manually moved on either axis without losing alignment or positional information, providing incredible freedom and convenience.
With the addition of the optional Sky-Watcher SynScan hand controller, the Virtuoso has access to a database of over 42,900 celestial objects that can be automatically located and tracked throughout the night sky.
The Sky-Watcher Virtuoso has battery-operated DC servo motors for computerized altitude and azimuth control. It is powered by eight user-supplied AA alkaline batteries. An optional AC adapter is available for backyard use.
Even when automatically tracking objects across the sky at the sidereal tracking rate, dual-axis encoders let you manually move the included Maksutov telescope to different objects, without losing your latitude alignment or positional information.
You can move the scope either manually or using the controller’s back-lit buttons to slew at 12° per second.
As soon as you center on a new object, the Virtuoso automatically starts tracking it. A built-in latitude scale allows you to align the mount based on your position in either hemisphere and store that latitude position using the mount’s internal memory.
- Removable solar filter allows OTA to be used for nighttime or daytime observation
- Best for solar astrophotography
- Perfect solar telescope to be used with DSLR, camcorder or a smartphone
- Great optics for the price
- Poor tracker
Best For Safe Viewing
Meade Instruments Cornado PST
Everyone is told when they’re kids never to look directly at the sun. It can blind you. It hurts. Despite that, the sun is always overhead and it is a constant source of intrigue in people. People have worshipped the sun, studied the sun and sneaked peeks of the sun since the beginning of history.
Now, you can safely observe the sun, in all of its ancient glory, with the Coronado Personal Solar Telescope by Meade Instruments.
This innovative telescope takes the traditional deep space telescope idea and turns it on its head. Instead of viewing the most distant stars, you will be viewing the closest star.
The PST is a highly portable 40mm dedicated h-alpha telescope that features highly specialized and innovative internal optics with a 1.0-angstrom bandpass. The internal, non-removable nature of the Coronado PST Solar Telescope’s optics make it a great choice for home and educational use.
Unlike a white light solar filter, the Coronado PST solar telescope will show you images of the Sun in H-alpha. Watch as spectacular solar prominences dance on the edge of the Sun and investigate snake-like filaments and sunspots on the Sun’s surface.
The Sun is changing all the time, and it is amazing to literally watch as solar flares erupt, grow, shrink, or even detach and float into space.
The Coronado PST h-alpha telescope comes with a 40mm f/10 Ha optical system and an internal 30mm etalon primary blocking filter.
A patented tuning system allows for fine adjustment of the bandpass for the best detail, and a built-in focuser allows you to achieve the sharpest image.
- Amazing scope that gives great views of the surface of the Sun
- Internal, non-removable optics takes the guesswork out of safety
- Highly designed hydrogen-alpha bandpass shows great details
- Off-center Sol ranger
Best Portable Pick
Lunt Solar Telescope 50mm
The LS50THa from Lunt Solar Systems is a 50 mm, unobstructed, pressure-tuned, dedicated Hydrogen-alpha telescope with a bandpass of < 0.75 Angstrom.
This package is fully upgradeable at any time without ever having to go back to the factory. As the Sun becomes increasingly more active, you will appreciate that the instrument can grow right along with it.
The Lunt LS50THa Solar Telescope, complete with a Pressure Tuner, provides the basic essentials perfect for a first time introduction to solar observing, while also including the newest technology for fine tuning, allowing basic research of the Sun’s disk and some surface details.
The Lunt LS50THa Solar Telescope, complete with a Pressure Tuner, provides the basic essentials perfect for a first time introduction to solar observing.
It is undoubtedly one of te best Lunt solar telescopes.
Also it includes the newest technology for fine tuning, allowing basic research of the Sun’s disk and some surface details.
As mentioned above, the measured Bandpass comes in at <0.75 Angstroms @ 656nm as equipped (single stacked), which can be lowered to <0.5 Angstroms by double stacking with the addition of an optional Lunt Solar compact, front mounted, double stack filter LS50C.
Double stacking produces greater detail and gives 3-D like appearance to the Sun’s surface features Attachment to a (user supplied) mount is facilitated by an Integrated Clamshell with a 1/4-20 tapped Base.
Lunt currently offers 4 blocking filter apertures for use with Lunt Solar Etalon systems. The Blocking Filter houses additional filters which are required for the safety and performance of the solar package. Lunt Solar blocking filters contain a unique filter system.
Lunt can only guarantee safety or performance when one of their blocking filters is paired with a Lunt H-alpha filter or telescope. So be cautious while observing the Sun.
- Powerful solar telescope for amateurs
- B400 Solar Blocking Filter
- Easy set up and ready-to-view
- Aluminum case for transporting
- Exceptional solar views
Best For Solar Eclipse
Meade Instruments 0.5PST Coronado
This version of the Coronado PST has an extra etalon on the front, reducing its bandpass from 1 angstrom to 0.5 angstroms. You can take off the extra etalon to revert it to a normal PST if need be.
This 40mm diameter highly portable dedicated solar telescope features a superior 0.5 Angstrom bandpass for increased surface detail. Study of the solar disk is now within the reach of the amateur astronomer.
The PST will show you the dynamic, ever changing prominences at the edge of the Sun as well as filaments and other surface details in amazing detail, all in the brilliant and distinctive red color of hydrogen-alpha light.
The double stack model, as suggested by its name, uses a double stacked 0.5 angstrom bandpass h-alpha solar filter as an integrated component of its optics. The PST shows prominence and solar surface details with a stunning level of clarity and sharpness, and features a built in solar viewfinder as well as a 40mm external tunable Etalon, a 20mm Kellner eyepiece, an integrated focuser, and bandpass fine adjustment controls.
The filter is thermally stable, so there is no drifting off the H-Alpha line as the filter heats up during use. The 5mm clear aperture of the blocking filter portion of the H-alpha system (built into the diagonal housing) is ideally matched to the focal length of the telescope to give full disk views of the Sun.
The scope’s achromatic doublet objective lens is fully multicoated. A thread-in metal lens cover protects the objective lens of the PST.
The scope uses proprietary internal optical focusing. The scope and focuser are a completely integrated unit, with no external moving or extending parts (focuser draw tube, etc.) to gather dust or grit during windy daytime observing sessions.
- Best for great views of the surface of the Sun
- Internal, non-removable optics are great for eyes safety
- Perfectly designed hydrogen-alpha bandpass shows great details
Best For Solar Eclipse Photography
Lunt Solar Systems 60mm
- Type: Refractor
- Aperture: 60mm (2.36″)
- Focal length: 500mm
- Focal Ratio: f/8.3
- Mount: Integrated clamshell style
- Eyepiece: 20mm
- Magnification: 20x
- Weight: 8.8 lbs.(4 kg)
- Our Rating: 8/10
The LS60MT is one of the smallest and most portable solar telescopes available in the market today. The LS60MT is a versatile refractor with FPL51 ED Doublet Lens that comes in several different designs with the standard configuration consisting of a Hydrogen Alpha Module and 60 mm of aperture providing the basis for a genuine “grab and go” solar scope that offers clear, unimpeded views of the Sun unequaled by anything else in the industry.
With the implementation of Lunt’s Doppler true tuning pressure system, the complexities of the solar surface are brought forth in spectacular detail.
All it takes is a simple, incremental adjustment of the system’s internal pressure to change the observer’s view of the Sun. Applicable for both daytime and nighttime use, the LS60MT works in conjunction with some of the most useful accessories.
The scope itself is very solid. The tube is pearl white powder coated. The lens cap is metal and screws onto the objective cell. The scope has a diameter of 60 mm, focal length of 500 mm f8.3. The scope has a 10:1 reduction Crayford style focuser that is smooth and a pleasure to use.
The B600 blocking filter accepts 1.25 inch eyepieces and has a 2 inch draw tube that goes to the focuser. The scope has clamshell-mounting rings included. The band pass on the etalon is <0.75 Angstroms @ 656nm. This allows views of not only prominences but also of details on the disk itself.
True Doppler Tuning (Pressure Tuning) allows for a shift into and away from the user, adding a 3D like component to the viewing experience. While it has minimal effect on prominences due to them being at the edge of the disk, it does have an effect on filaments and active regions on the surface.
While looking at a filament at the center of the Sun the user has the ability to Doppler shift from the base of the filament to the tip, following the filament through its structure, allowing for enhanced visual and imaging capability for the observer as well as a research tool for the avid hobbyist.
The pressure tuning system provides an order of magnitude more precision to the tuning of the desired features.
- Safe and time tested solar telescope design
- New pressure tuning technology enhances the images to new levels of depth and detail
- Includes a focuser and a hard case
- Heavier than similar models on the market
Best Telescope To View The Sun - Buying Guide
Typically the first choice is desired Aperture of the System and/or the desired Budget Range. At this first step you can browse the various OTA’s (Optical Tube Assemblies) gather information on their specifications and view the range of price.
Features To Consider When Choosing A Good Solar Telescope
Visual Only or Visual and Imaging
The Solar Telescope creates a cone of light that is focused onto an “image plane” at the back end of the Telescope. The size and distance from the objective of this image plane is defined by the focal length of the system and the apparent size of the object (Sun).
When using the Telescope in Visual mode with an eyepiece the slide tube and/or focuser is generally racked out such that the eyepiece can be brought to focus onto the image plane. Various eyepieces have various back focus requirements but most remain within a fairly standard length.
This generally places the Blocking Filter at the smallest portion of the light cone allowing the user to use a smaller aperture Blocking Filter.
However, if the Telescope is to be used in Imaging mode the slide tube and/or focuser will need to be racked in to bring the image plane onto the CCD surface. Generally speaking this can be as much as 50m for larger systems.
This requirement for “in focus” effectively moves the aperture of the Blocking Filter up to a larger diameter of the light cone.
Using a small (Visual Only) aperture Blocking Filter in Imaging mode would effectively cut off the edges of the image. It also results in a vignetting of the image on the CCD.
White Light or Narrow Band?
Right out of the gate, you need to decide: White light or Narrow-band (Targeted) viewing? Suffice it to say that White Light viewing is probably the most popular and easiest to do. Essentially, it entails using a filter that screens out more than 99.99% of the visible light from the sun (and all harmful IR and UV radiation) so it’s safe to view.
This differs from Narrow-band viewing, which filters all light except a very narrow wavelength of the spectrum to reveal extraordinary details that White light filters can’t resolve.
Hydrogen -Alpha & Calcium K
Hydrogen-Alpha is one of the two most often observed bandwidths of light that the sun emits. The other one being Calcium-K. There are many ways to study the sun: white-light filters, Calcium-K filters, and the already mentioned Hydrogen-Alpha filters.
There are advantages and disadvantages to double-stacking, or adding another filter to your solar eclipse telescope, like a white filter. The great thing about it is you can actually remove it if you need to go back to the single stack and simple viewing again.
A dedicated H-Alpha solar eclipse telescope comes with everything a telescope needs to allow you to study the sun all day long. It also comes with pressure tuning technology which shows a nice even illumination.
If you’re worried about prominences, you can remove the double stack easily by loosening the set screws that are provided with each purchase.
There are separate features with each type of filter. The white-light filters will generally be used for viewing spots with very little surface granulation.
The same thing goes for calcium K. However, H-Alpha provides you with the movement of the sun, the desired surface granulation. You can actually see the prominences coming off the side of the sun, making it an amazing observing experience.
How To Photograph The Sun Using A Telescope
- When photographing the Sun you will need to use a special solar filter
- A large size lens or telescope can give good details and a tracking mount is helpful
- The best time to photograph the Sun is early morning, before the atmosphere becomes heated and unstable.
Afocal imaging, in which you snap an image of the Sun through the eyepiece of a properly filtered telescope, offers a solution and you can get a reasonably good solar image with this approach with a smartphone, small camera, or even a DSLR.
To do afocal imaging, you adjust the focuser of your telescope to achieve a good visual solar image in your eyepiece, then simply hold your camera up to the eyepiece, adjust the camera focus to get a sharp image in the viewfinder or on the screen, and take the picture.
You can hold the camera by hand, but to get the best results, invest in a mechanical holder that secures the smartphone or camera to the focuser of the telescope to keep the camera in place and stationary as the image is taken.
Heavier point and shoot cameras or DSLRs with a lens can be placed on a camera tripod and moved close to the telescope eyepiece of the telescope. If possible, use a timer or remote shutter release to take the image with the camera or phone without having to touch it.
As with any sort of imaging through a telescope, a solid mount helps with getting a sharp image. Because camera shutter times are fairly fast for solar afocal imaging, a tracking mount is not critical.
Tips For Successful Solar Imaging
The techniques used to image the Sun are similar to those used to capture images of the Moon and planets. The exception is that the intensity of the light from the Sun must be reduced.
There are different filter systems to do this and it’s important to only use certified ones.
The best camera for imaging the filtered Sun, especially if you intend to use a bit of magnification, is a mono high frame-rate camera like a webcam or a dedicated planetary camera.
Colour devices work for white-light captures, but they may be lacking when using speciality filters as their in-built colour filters can reduce the sensor’s sensitivity.
Solar imaging falls into two categories: white light and narrowband:
White-light imaging reduces the amount of sunlight to safe levels, cutting out harmful, invisible wavelengths. With a white-light filter on the front of your telescope, the Sun’s light is dimmed to safe levels for imaging. The white-light filter allows you to capture the Sun’s visible surface (photosphere).
Narrowband imaging is completely different. It calls for filters that are typically many times more expensive than a basic white-light filter. The reason for this expense is down to the very fine optical tolerances that need to be met in order for the filters to work. These higher tolerances mean higher costs.
The main narrowband filter types used for solar imaging concentrate on the hydrogen-alpha light, which has a wavelength of 656.3nm, plus Calcium K light with a 393.4nm wavelength.
Less common filters include those that work with the sodium-D 589.6nm wavelength.
Our first pick for the best value solar telescope is the Meade Instruments EclipseView.The Eclipse View 60mm telescope comes complete with everything you need to view the wonders of the sky, day and night! With a removable white-light solar filter, This refracting telescope is a safe and fun way to view the sun, moon, planets and more.
Our next pick for best telescope for solar imaging is the Sky-Watcher Virtuoso as it has the Automatic shutter release functionality for Canon Rebel EOS DSLR cameras, Solar filter and solar finder included for safe viewing of the Sun Dual Axis Encoders allow you to move the mount by hand without losing alignment Mount Motorized alt-altazimuth.