Best Starter Telescope 2021; Reviews
Here in this “Best Starter Telescope” article we’ve rounded up 11 of the best beginner telescopes of various types, specifications, and budget perfectly suited to be used by someone looking to start their astronomical journey. 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’ve ever tried to take up astronomy but given up out of frustration, or gotten overwhelmed before you’ve even started, you’re not alone. As with many hobbies, getting off on the right start is all-important, and can make the difference between fleeting interest or a potential lifelong passion.
The question of which is the ‘best starter telescope’ is asked a lot. The answer to that question really depends on what is important to you, because the best telescope for a beginner is one that they will use and enjoy.
There are many factors, most of which can only be answered by you, to pick the best beginner telescope price, portability, what you can see with your new telescope, and features such as computerized and GoTo functionality are the common attributes for the beginner to consider.
Starter telescopes are typically easy to use and maintain, will show you the moon and planets, and feature good optical and mechanical quality.
We have combed through the details and reviews for dozens of great models to find the best ones so you don’t have to.
We’ve also included a 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.
Table Of Contents
- 1 COMPARISON TABLE
- 2 Best Starter Telescope 2021
- 3 Best for Astronomy
- 4 Best for Children
- 5 Best for Stargazing
- 6 Best Table Top Telescope
- 7 Best Starter Dobsonian Telescope
- 8 Best for Home
- 9 Best to See Planets
- 10 Best Budget Pick
- 11 Best Refractor
- 12 Best for Adults
- 13 Best for Astrophotography
- 14 Best Starter Telescope Buying Guide
- 15 Features To Consider When Choosing A Good Starter Telescope
- 16 Conclusion
|TopTop Top Top Top Top||Celestron - AstroMaster 90AZ||Best For Astronomy||Aperture: 90mm (3.54″), Focal length: 1000 mm, Focal Ratio: f/11||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||MaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope||Best For Children||Type:Refractor, Aperture: 70mm (2.75“), Focal length: 400mm, Focal Ratio: f/5.7||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Celestron - NexStar 127SLT||Best For Stargazing||Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain, Aperture: 127mm (5″), Focal length: 1500mm, Focal Ratio: f/12||See on Amazon|
|Top||Orion 10012 SkyScanner||Best Tabletop Reflector||Type: Reflector, Aperture: 100mm (3.94”), Focal length: 400mm||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Orion 10014 SkyQuest XT4.5||Best Dobsonian||Type: Newtonian Reflector, Aperture: 114mm (4.5”), Focal length: 900mm, Focal Ratio: f/7.9||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Meade Instruments – Infinity 80mm||Best For Home||Type: Refractor, Aperture: 80mm (3.15″), Focal length: 400mm, Focal Ratio: f/5||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Celestron - PowerSeeker 70EQ||Best For Planets||Aperture: 70mm (2.8″), Focal length: 700mm, Focal Ratio: f/10||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Emarth Telescope, 70mm/360mm||Best Budget Pick||Type: Newtonian Reflector, Aperture: 70mm (2.75″), Focal length: 360mm, Focal Ratio: f/5.1||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Gskyer Telescope, 70mm||Best Reflector||Type: Refractor, Aperture: 70mm (2.75″), Focal length: 400mm, Focal Ratio: f/5.7||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Celestron - PowerSeeker 127EQ||Best For Adults||Type: Reflector, Aperture: 127 mm(5″), Focal length: 1000mm, Focal Ratio: f/8||See on Amazon|
|Top Top Top Top||Celestron - NexStar 6SE||Best For Astrophotography||Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain, Aperture: 150mm (5.9″), Focal length: 1500mm, Focal Ratio: f/10||See on Amazon|
Best Starter Telescope 2021
With so many models with so many features available today, it can be a tedious task to find the best starter telescope. We have analyzed the main features ( aperture, focal length, ratio, portability, affordability etc.) that make a good telescope for beginners that you can use to enjoy the night sky and fulfill your love for astronomy.
Best for Astronomy
Celestron – AstroMaster 90AZ
The Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ altazimuth refractor is a perfect choice as a starter telescope 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.
- Great optics
- Great images of the moon and planets as well as terrestrial images
- Perfect for beginners as their first telescope
- Stable tripod
- Finderscope could be better
Best for Children
MaxUSee Travel Scope
This refractor telescope comes with a 70mm aperture which is typical for most travel models. Users love this product as it is super easy to set up, that’s why it is so ideal for kids and beginners.
It also features full-size binoculars which provide you with a 10X magnification and 50mm objective lens so that you get a broad view of terrestrial objects around you. They are fashioned with multi-coated optics, and this makes events like sightseeing and bird watching an unforgettable moment.
The MaxUSee Travel Scope is undoubtedly one of the best starter refractor telescope for kids.
The package also includes a backpack suitable for storing and carrying the accessories This model’s focal.length is 400mm which makes the focal ratio f/5.7.
Besides, it features two eyepieces of 9mm and 20mm in size, that boast 44X and 20X magnification accordingly. Not only this, it includes a smartphone adapter, this enables you to capture the images and also record it as a video.
A tripod stand has been added to allow for it to stand well on any type of platform. It is made of aluminum, and this is responsible for the weight it possesses. You don’t have to worry about stability with this type of stand as it was designed to fit any kind of surface, mountain inclusive.
MaxUSee Travel Scope is excellent for astronomical observation. You get to watch your favorite planets and other bodies like asteroids and comets.
The experience is superb and it will definitely be worth your while. It is an ideal telescope for the family and perfect for travel.
- Many handy accessories included
- Improved transmission developed with crisp and clear images
- High-quality construction
- Uncomplicated to line up with measuring system stand and mount
- Does not provide much magnification
Best for Stargazing
Celestron – NexStar 127SLT
The Celestron NexStar 127SLT is an entry-level GoTo telescope 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 starter telescope for astrophotography under $500 on our list.
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.
- Super optical construction
- Very easy to operate with
- Compact and portable design
- Included needed additional accessories
- Suitable for lunar/planetary astrophotography
- 8 AA batteries required but not included
- Tripod can be more stable
Best Table Top Telescope
Orion 10012 SkyScanner
The Orion SkyScanner is an affordable entry-level telescope which is perfect for amateurs and great for home astronomy as well.
The telescope’s ease of use and set-up makes it one of the best for the entire family where it can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
With the Skyscanner 100mm reflector telescope you can see the Moon in full detail, with craters and surface textures and shades; Jupiter, with its clouds and moons, in bright and clear images, especially if you live in a low light-polluted area.
You can also see Saturn with all its rings and its moon Titan, Mars, in good colours, depending on the time of year you look at it, the Pleiades star clusters and the Orion Nebula and Andromeda Nebula.
You will receive two eyepieces (20x and 40x magnification) with your purchase, to add some variety in the magnification power of your device.
The Orion SkyScanner features a very useful Orion EZ Finder II reflex sight that is capable of helping you bring forward the area you want to explore with great ease.
Since it is a compact version of a telescope, it is one of the best starter telescopes for amateurs, beginners or kids.
Its small size and light weight not only makes it one of the best starter telescope for amateurs make it extremely portable. Moreover, consumers have reported that the scope can be set up within about 10 minutes of being removed from the box.
The telescope possesses a 100mm aperture, which is larger than apertures on other beginner telescopes and which is especially large considering the compact nature of the SkyScanner.
Along with the telescope, you get caps for the optical tube and focuser. The tube cap has an inner cap which can be removed for low power lunar viewing.
You also get free StarryNight Basic planetarium software, a DVD with programs giving a tour of the solar system, and an instruction booklet.
Although the Orion SkyScanner is a tabletop telescope, If there isn’t a table nearby, you can easily attach its wooden altazimuth base to a field tripod.
- Strong entry-level scope
- Better value than super-low-cost telescopes
- 100mm aperture offers significantly more light than many entry-level telescopes
- Smooth focusing mechanism allows for greater image sharpness and control
- Comes with a variety of accessories
- Better for wide-angle viewing at low power
- Tabletop mount offers good stability, but astrophotographers may want a tripod for greater stability
Best Starter Dobsonian Telescope
Orion 10014 SkyQuest XT4.5
The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian telescope has been designed with ease-of-use in mind. It’s a true “Dobsonian” telescope, having all the great features and value that make the Dobsonian reflector design so popular.
The SkyQuest XT4.5 collects a whopping 260% more light than a typical 60mm-aperture beginner telescope – which simply means hundreds more objects will be visible through this classic dobsonian.
With it’s 4.5″ aperture and 900mm focal length you can have the clear views of lunar craters and plains on the Moon, planets, bright nebulas and galaxies.
You can even see Jupiter’s cloud band, Saturn’s rings.
The XT4.5 is easily the best starter dobsonian telescope as it is compact and lightweight compared to its competitors.
The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 comes with some amazing accessories. You get a 6×26 Orion achromatic correct-image finder scope and a “navigation knob” for easy slewing of the telescope.
You also get two fully coated Orion 1.25″ Sirius Plossl eyepieces: a 25mm for low-power views at 36x, and a 10mm for getting in close at 91x.
The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is one of the best starter telescope for beginners, it’s not a toy. It’s a quality astronomical instrument capable of delivering high-resolution images of astronomical objects.
The SkyQuest XT4.5 comes with a wooden Dobsonian base. The base also has some Nylon bearing pads, which prevent the scope from moving from position, allowing you to have a vibrations free viewing.
- Affordable telescope with a great quality-price ratio
- Very good optical and mechanical performance
- Fully accessorized
- Perfect for amateurs with its simple and stable configuration
- Short eyepiece height
- Plastic focuser
Best for Home
Meade Instruments Infinity 80mm
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 starter 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 starter 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.
- 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
- Setup time is a bit long
- Software is compatible only with Windows
Best to See Planets
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 starter telescope for astrophotography as it comes with a camera attachment that allows the user to take photographs of the objects being viewed.
- 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
- Not suitable for professional use
- Most components are built with plastic
Best Budget Pick
The Emarth travel telescope is one of the best starter telescopes for the kids.
It’s equipped with a lens that has 360mm focal length and 70mm aperture. It comes with coated glass to make moon watching the best experience for the user.
It’s super easy to use and can be an excellent educational and fun gift for your child. If your child enjoys watching and exploring stars, then he or she will surely enjoy it’s 5×24 finder scope.
This model is very easy to assemble, and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to set up.
It also comes with two eyepieces, a 10mm and a 25mm, which are slightly better than most eyepieces included at this price point.
It uses a BAK-4 prism for better viewing and it comes along with a solar system map.
The Travel Scope provides clean, crisp views. Developed with the traveler in mind,this travel scope features a compact and portable design perfect for the on-the-go stargazer.
- Compact and lightweight, easy to carry
- Comes with its own carry case
- Easy to setup and use
- Perfect for kids
- Small tripod
Gskyer Telescope, 70mm
The Gskyer’s AZ70400 Telescope is a 70mm aperture and 400mm short focal length refractor telescope mounted on a camera type tripod. It includes a 45 degree diagonal, a carry case, finder scope, two eyepieces, and a 3x Barlow lens.
The overall assembly of the telescope is straightforward and perfect for anyone with little to no prior knowledge.
The included 3x Barlow lens, 25mm, and 10mm eyepiece all offer varying levels of magnification. The maximum magnification is x120 and provides clear images of the moon, planets, and some star arrangements.
The telescope comes with an altazimuth mount screw tripod made of aluminum alloy for support and stability while viewing distant objects.
In addition, the telescope comes with a rack and pinion mechanism to assist the focuser in bringing distant objects closer for easy and detailed viewing. The slow motion lever enables you to track celestial objects in motion quite easily.
Setting up the scope typically takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Regardless of previous astronomical equipment experience, the step-by-step guide makes putting the telescope together quick and easy.
Because of its rugged design, this type of telescope provides reliable performance in the most demanding conditions so images are kept steady, with no interferences or reflections on the path of light.
- Easy to setup and use
- Very portable
- Perfect for beginners and family
- Decent optics
- Comes with its own backpack
- Robust design
- Instruction manual is a bit vague
- Difficult to collimate
Best for Adults
Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ
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 starter telescopes for adults. 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.
- Solid build quality
- Stable mount
- Comes with a 3x Barlow lens
- Spherical mirror leads to some amount of aberrations
- Occasional collimation of the mirrors required
Best for Astrophotography
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 starter telescope 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 computerized 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 starter telescopes 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.
- 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
- 8 AA batteries tend to drain out fairly quickly
- User manual and instructions are not very clear
Best Starter Telescope Buying Guide
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.
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 Starter Telescope
Types of Telescopes
It’s crucial to look at the kind of telescope you want to buy. There are three main types, reflector, catadioptric, and refractor.
The reflector makes use of mirrors while catadioptric uses mirrors and lenses, and refractor utilize lenses as their optical material.
Reflector telescopes – The reflector uses glossy surfaced mirrors to gather light, after which it then cast a reflection of the image. The light collected at the rear mirror is transmitted into the eyepiece.
Refractor telescopes – The refractors utilize various lenses to gather the light which it then reflected to the eyepiece. Refractors are able to transmit 90% of the light rallied in them. They are long-lasting and easy to maintain.
Catadioptric – Catadioptrics transmit 64 to 75% of the light it has collected. It combines all features of reflectors and refractors, and this is because it uses both lenses and mirrors to gather light.
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)
When you divide your telescope’s aperture size by its focal length, you get the focal ratio of the telescope. The focal length is calculated from the main lens or mirror. A telescope with an aperture size of 3.5 inches and a focal length of 35 inches has a focal ratio of f/10.
It is not necessary that a high focal ratio obtains a high-quality image. However, with constant aperture, high focal length can mean it has a longer scope. This also means that the surface area of the telescope has increased.
It is the distance between a telescope’s primary optics and its focal point. It works with the focal length of your eyepiece to produce your desired magnification. In many cases you will get the telescope’s focal ratio instead. This is just the ratio between the focal length of the telescope and its aperture.
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 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″.
Types Of 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.
Our pick for the Best Starter Telescope for Astronomy is the Celestron – AstroMaster 90AZ. Designed as a capable and portable starter-scope, the Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ 90mm f/11.1 Refractor Telescope is a complete observational platform for making detailed observations of the Moon, planets, or comet-hunting.
Our pick for the Best Starter Telescope for Astrophotography is the Celestron – NexStar 6SE Telescope. The NexStar 6SE Computerized Telescope features Celestron’s iconic “orange tube” design and updated technology with the latest features for amazing stargazing for beginners and experienced observers. Celestron’s signature telescope combines advanced features and excellent optics in one easy-to-use system, the NexStar 6SE. It’s the perfect choice for your first serious telescope, offering striking views at an economical price.
Orion 10014 SkyQuest XT4.5 is our pick for the best starter dobsonian telescope. Compact and lightweight – a perfect Dobsonian reflector telescope for traveling or easy trips to the backyard at home.
4.5″ aperture and 900mm focal length provide clear views of lunar craters and plains on the Moon, planets, bright nebulas and galaxies.