Best Telescope For Astrophotography 2021; Reviews
Here in this “Best Telescope For Astrophotography” article we’ve rounded up 13 of the best telescopes of various types, specifications, and budget perfectly suited to be used by someone looking to photograph planets, stars, nebulae and other deep sky objects (DSOs). 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.
Astrophotography is one of the most popular aspects of modern astronomy. It is also one of the most time-consuming. Each photograph requires hours of data capture, and even more hours of data processing. However, with our expert help, you can hit the ground running with the right gear for the kind of astrophotography you want to do.
Telescopes are a crucial piece of any astrophotographer’s arsenal. They work in tandem with your camera and provide you with the power to get up close and personal with the cosmos. Of course, not all telescopes are made the same. Your final images will rely, in large part, on the capabilities of your telescope.
When choosing the best telescope for astrophotography, we are spoiled for choice nowadays. There are telescopes of almost every shape and size to choose from, ranging from budget telescopes for the beginner to highly advanced large telescopes for the experienced astronomer.
In this guide, we’re going to help you find the best telescopes to photograph the celestial bodies. We’ll go over some key features that you need to consider.
The buying guide at the end will help you know which features to look at when you are out there buying the perfect astrophotography telescope.
|TopTop Top Top Top||Celestron - 80mm Travel Scope||Best For Beginners||Type: Refractor, Aperture: 80mm (3.15″), Focal length: 400mm, Focal Ratio: f/5||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST||Best Intermediate Pick||Type: Reflector, Aperture: 130 mm(5.1″), Focal length: 650mm, Focal Ratio: f/5||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Celestron - NexStar 6SE||Best Computerized||Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain, Aperture: 150mm (5.9″), Focal length: 1500mm, Focal Ratio: f/10||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Meade Instruments 1010-60-03 LX200-ACF||Best For DSO Photography||Type: Schmidt Cassegrain, Aperture: 254mm (10″), Focal length: 2500mm, Focal Ratio: f/10||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Celestron CPC 800 XLT||Best For DSLR||Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain, Aperture: 203.2mm (8″), Focal length: 2032mm, Focal Ratio: f/10||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Celestron - AstroMaster 130EQ||Best For Home||Type: Reflector, Aperture: 130 mm(5.1″), Focal length: 650mm, Focal Ratio: f/5||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Telescope 70mm Aperture 500mm||Best For Photographing Moon||Type: Refractor, Aperture: 70mm (2.75″), Focal length: 500mm||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Celestron - NexStar Evolution 8||Best For Professionals||Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain, Aperture: 203.2mm (8″), Focal length: 2032mm, Focal Ratio: f/10||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Celestron - NexStar 127SLT||Best For Planets||Type: Maksutov-Cassegrain, Aperture: 127mm (5″), Focal length: 1500mm, Focal Ratio: f/12||Buy on Amazon|
|Top Top Top||Sky-Watcher EvoStar 80 APO Doublet Refractor||Best For Cloudy Nights||Type: Apochromatic Refractor, Aperture: 80 mm(3.2″), Focal length: 600mm, Focal Ratio: f/7.5||Buy on Amazon|
|Orion 9534 ED80T CF Triplet||Best For Wide Field Astrophotography||Aperture: 80mm (3.15″), Focal length: 480mm, Focal Ratio: f/6||Buy on Amazon|
Which Astrophotography Telescope is Best For You?
It’s easy to say the best telescope is the one that’s expensive and has the best quality. But in reality, not all of us can afford a $3,000 piece of equipment.
Astrophotography doesn’t have to be a rich man’s hobby. Think of this list as a guide to help you decide which one fits your budget and your current needs. You’d be surprised that some of the more affordable options in this article can compete with the more expensive ones. You may have to struggle with other issues on some of them, such as lack of tracking. But as long as the lens produces beautiful results, then that’s all you need.
You can also always start with the cheapest options on the list. Learn the basics first before you invest in anything else. Then take your time to save money for a better telescope. By the time you become familiar with astrophotography, you’ll know how to use even the most complicated equipment.
So remember to do some research on what you want to start photographing. That will determine precisely what you need.
Best Telescope For Astrophotography
With so many models with so many features available today, it can be a tedious task to find the best telescope to photograph planets and DSOs. We have analyzed the main features ( aperture, focal length, ratio, portability, affordability etc.) that make a good telescope for astrophotography that you can use to enjoy the night sky and fulfill your love for astronomy.
Best For Beginners
Celestron – 80mm Travel Scope
The Celestron Travel Scope 80mm f/5 AZ Refractor Telescope Kit is designed for portability and ease-of-use for both astronomical and terrestrial use. Its refractor-style optical tube has a respectable aperture that gathers the amount of light required to ensure views of the moon and planets remain bright and clear.
Included with this model of the Travel Scope is a universal smartphone digiscoping adapter that lets you capture photos and videos through the eyepieces for easy editing, enjoyment, and sharing.
This is no doubt one of the best telescope for iphone astrophotography as it comes with a smartphone adapter.
Setting up the Travel Scope 80 is a breeze. You’ll be observing in no time. The telescope and its accessories can be assembled in just a few minutes, straight out of the box.
Adjustable tripod legs allow telescope height to be extended for taller observers, or retracted for placement on raised surfaces like a picnic table. Includes a tray to help you keep track of your eyepieces and other small accessories while observing.
Weighing at just 6 lbs (2.7kg) the entire set is very portable and you can take it with you anywhere and expect great optics and views. The backpack fits perfectly and gets full marks. The altazimuth mount ensures an easy and smooth movement which is important not only when tracking objects but also when you keep following them.
Celestron Starry Night Software is the premier astronomy software package on the market, providing resources and knowledge to view the solar system and beyond. Download it and learn about the night sky, celestial objects, and how to plan your next observing session.
With its manual Alt-Az mount, you can navigate the night sky with smooth precision using pan handle Alt-Az control with clutch. You can adjust the clutch in an up/down or left/right manner to track any object in the eyepiece.
- 80mm aperture is ideal for lunar and planetary viewing as well as terrestrial use
- Fast f/5 focal ratio ensures views remain bright
- Photo-style tripod
- Lightweight and durable aluminum legs
- Finderscope could be better.
Best For Intermediates
Orion 09007 SpaceProbe
The Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Newtonian Reflector is an excellent and one of the best telescopes for astrophotography of planets, nebulae and other deep sky objects. It is well-suited for both beginners as well as intermediate stargazers.
The SpaceProbe 130ST is a 130mm f/5 Newtonian reflector telescope.
This 5.1″ aperture reflector telescope gathers an ample amount of light for great views of the planets and Moon, as well as brighter galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters
The telescope also comes with tools to help you assemble the product, and two eyepieces: 10mm for 65x, and a 25mm for 26x magnification, respectively.
The quick set-up and ease of use makes the SpaceProbe 130ST EQ a very versatile telescope which the whole family can enjoy.
This Orion space probe telescope also boasts a short 24″ long optical tube design which enhances its portability, while the 130mm optical diameter, and the 650mm focal length are in perfect balance with the f/5.0 focal ratio.
In addition, it possesses design features, such as a parabolic mirror and a specially designed holder for the secondary mirror, that focus the light captured by the aperture and use it to sharpen the images produced by the scope, even with its shorter tube.
The included aluminum tripod is very sturdy, and also includes an accessory tray that can be very useful when you are outdoors in the dark and need a place to organize your accessories neatly.
The equatorial mount is perfectly built and allows manual slow-motion tracking of celestial objects as they move across the sky.
The mount can also be upgraded at a later time to a motorized option that tracks objects automatically, so that’s a nice option to have and definitely a plus if you are using the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST for astrophotography.
Just like many other similar products, the Orion 09007 also comes with Orion’s Starry Night software, which is very useful for beginners, and has the added benefit of alerting the user of upcoming celestial events.
Short 24″ long optical tube design for easy portability and fast f/5 focal ratio for pleasing wide-field performance makes the SpaceProbe 130ST EQ a very versatile telescope the whole family can enjoy
- Nice set of accessories
- Can be upgraded to have motorized tracking
- Comes with an Equatorial mount and a versatile tripod
- Easy to assemble and transport
- Plastic focuser and mount parts
- Somewhat confusing instructions
Best Computerized Telescope
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 goto telescope for astrophotographyon 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 intermediate telescope for astrophotography 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 For Deep Sky Astrophotography
Meade Instruments 8-Inch LX200-ACF
The Meade LX200-ACF is a godsend for those astronomers who are looking for affordable Advanced Coma-Free (ACF) optics.
Traditionally, Ritchey-Chretien (RC) optics were required to deliver a coma-free, flat field of view in astronomical telescopes. Because the mirrors in these telescopes have always been very expensive to make, few amateur astronomers could enjoy them.
The Meade LX200-ACF delivers coma-free experience by combining a hyperbolic secondary mirror with a corrector-lens and spherical-primary-mirror combination that performs as one hyperbolic element.
A low-expansion borosilicate primary mirror further reduces distortion due to temperature fluctuation, and the ‘Schott Borofloat’ glass corrector plate aligns the light waves to correct spherical and chromatic aberrations.
This ACF design produces a coma-free, flat field of view that rivals traditional RC telescopes, at a fraction of the cost.
The LX200 design places the telescope’s tube between two robust forks fixed to a base that houses the telescope’s brain – a sophisticated AutoStar II computer.
Using various positional sensors the scope is able to work out when and where it is in the world using an auto-alignment procedure.
The Meade LX200 is outfitted with a built-in 16-channel GPS receiver and a time chip, so the mount can automatically determine the current date and time and its location within minutes of being turned on.
The information is sent to the AutoStar II controller, which uses an electromagnetic sensor to determine True North and can automatically align the scope with minimal user interface.
During long observation or exposure imaging sessions, the controller continuously checks its orientation and tracking and adjusts it as needed, sending the data to the Smart Mount and Smart Drive systems, which learn the tracking errors and adjust for the future.
The telescope features Zero Image-Shift Microfocuser that allows precise, vibration-free image focus during visual, CCD, and astrophotography applications.
It also allows you to achieve focus without causing a viewed object to move out of position in the eyepiece.
The microfocuser comes equipped with a handbox which requires 8 AAA batteries (user-supplied).
To help you effortlessly rotate your scope and support it for your gazing pleasure, the Meade 8″ LX-200-ACF comes with a heavyweight class mount with double forks.
With its built in world class functionality, this mount allows your coma free telescope to swerve at user selected speeds as fast as 1 to 8 degrees per second at increments of 0.1 degrees per second, or as finely as .01x to 1x sidereal in 1 1/100th increments.
- Excellent advanced coma-free optics
- Excellent image focused to the edge of field
- Very sturdy
- Easy to use
- Can be a bit heavy for some users
Best For DSLR
Celestron CPC 800 XLT
The Celestron CPC 800 comes with its own SkyAlign feature by the NexStar Computer Control Technology. Simply follow the directions in the screen and wait for a few minutes while the system aligns to the chosen star or celestial body.
This computerized telescope from Celestron comes with a solid build so you know it will last for years. The drive base and CPC tripod are constructed from sturdy materials which ensures plenty of stability no matter where you decide to set the telescope up.
The Celestron CPC 800 is state of the art fork-mounted Schmidt-Cassegrain scope. It includes the premium StarBright XLT coatings.
It features an internal GS receiver, which downloads the date and time automatically from orbiting satellites, pinpointing its exact position on earth.
The telescope has an 8 inch aperture. An 8 inch aperture guarantees that you will be able to view thousands of stars, planets and other deep space objects while the telescope is still portable enough for easy set-up and use.
Its SkyAlign technology allows you to align on any three bright celestial objects, making for a fast and easy alignment process and with a 9×50 optical finderscope it helps you look for your desired celestial objects.
It comes with a 1.25″ star diagonal along with a 40mm Plössl eyepiece that yields 51x magnification. The motorized dual-tine fork mount has dual-axis servo motors that provide precision movements and an integrated 16-channel GPS receiver that sends information to the hand controller and requires limited input from the user.
The included stainless steel tripod helps reduce vibrations to ensure clear resolution during observation or imaging sessions.
The Celestron 800 XLT is one of the best computerized telescopes for astrophotography and deep space objects because of its extraordinary optics and heavy-duty mount.
Additionally, it comes with sturdy handles that allow you to comfortably lift and move the telescope from one location to another.
The large levers and knobs are easy to hold and use.
It also comes with a star diagonal that provides a more comfortable viewing position when observing deep space objects.
The Goto feature works well once all objects are aligned, also the hand control is easy to use while the button layout is also easy to master.
It’s convenient to be able to choose a variety of objects with the touch of a button. This means that even if you aren’t an expert on star names and constellations, you can still get to viewing right away. Also, needless to say, that the view from the scope is outstanding.
- Easy to setup and use
- Amazing optics produce great quality images
- Perfect for astrophotography and viewing deep space objects
- The GoTo system is remarkable
- Tripod and mount are both extremely steady
- Light gathering capacity 843x greater than the human eye
- Bright power light
- Doesn’t come with a power cord
Best Telescope For Advanced Astroimaging
Celestron – Advanced VX 8”
- Type: Aplanatic Schmidt
- Aperture: 203.2mm (8″)
- Focal length: 2032mm
- Focal Ratio: f/10
- Mount: Computerized – GoTo
- Eyepiece: 40mm
- Magnification: 51x
- Weight: 59 lb (26.7 kg)
- Our Rating: 9.6/10
The Celestron Advanced Series VX 8 inch EdgeHD telescope delivers amazingly flat field views of the night sky. The new Advanced VX Mount improves overall telescope performance making it a robust astro imaging platform. You will be amazed at how fast you obtain imaging results.
This package combines the groundbreaking Advanced VX mount with Celestron’s best optics, the EdgeHD optical system. This setup offers the astrophotographer maximum versatility – allowing up to 3 different f-stop configurations.
Users can attach a camera to the rear of the telescope and shoot at f/10, or attach Celestron’s optional 8″ focal reducer (sold separately, coming soon) and shoot at f/7.
Additionally, Celestron EdgeHD telescopes are Fastar/Hyperstar compatible, giving astrophotographers the option to shoot at ultra-fast f/2. No matter which configuration you choose, EdgeHD technology gives you pinpoint stars all the way to the edge of the CCD sensor.
The Celestron’s optics and systems require an extraordinary amount of power, the equivalent of a car battery. Celestron, therefore, offers a bundle that includes a 12-volt power supply. A 12-volt equivalent and an adapter will be needed if you plan to substitute your own.
A 2-year warranty is included on the telescope in the case of any unfortunate accidents.
With an 8″ optical tube and Celestron’s portable and fully featured Advanced VX mount, the Celestron Advanced 8″ EdgeHD telescope setup can be easily transported and assembled by one person. You’ll also have plenty of load capacity to attach your camera and other accessories.
This setup is simple enough for a beginner to use, but can also provide years of enjoyment for sophisticated astrophotographers.
Celestron’s Advanced VX mount was specifically designed to provide optimum imaging performance for smaller telescopes. Now your smaller telescope can take advantage of All-Star Polar Alignment and autoguider support.
You’ll be able to track through long exposures using permanently programmable periodic error correction. Capture astrophotos across the meridian without doing a meridian flip, so you can seamlessly image the best part of night sky.
Advanced VX features significantly larger base castings than Celestron’s previous design, improving stability under heavier loads. Improved motors offer more torque and can handle slight load imbalances with ease.
- Corrector optic component in the focuser tube enables a very flat field that is superior to the performance of other “Coma Free” telescopes
- The HyperStar attachment provides a wide-aperture f-2, wide-field scope while also enabling expremem narrow field (f-10), ideal for deep space photography
- The secondary mirror holds its settings perfectly even with multiple removals and replacements
- Great for general viewing, it being a Schmidtt-Cassegrain you will get images that are both inverted and reversed.
- The rail on which the scope is mounted will only consistently work with Celestron branded mounts.
Best For Home
Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ
The telescope is fitted with a 1.25 rack-and-pinion focuser and two eyepieces to get new users started – a 10mm that yields 65x power and a 20mm for a 32.5x magnification.
The 20mm eyepiece integrates an erecting system to correct images horizontally and vertically to allow easy terrestrial use.
The AstroMaster 130EQ also features an unmagnified red-dot finder to help set-up, align and navigate easier.
Celestron’s AstroMaster 130EQ 130mm f/5 Reflector Telescope features a 650mm focal length and an oversized parabolic mirror that produce detailed images of the Moon, clear views of the planets, and the ability to resolve distant objects such as nebulae and galaxies.
The 130EQ comes on a lightweight German equatorial mount that works well enough for the 130 mm f/5 OTA, and it should work okay with a DSLR camera piggybacked on top.
Since it can get quite hard to keep the object in the view because of the Earth’s rotation, there is an upgrade for this mount to help you with that.
It is a simple clock motor which you turn on after you get the object in the view and it will track the object keeping it in the middle of the eyepiece. It’s much easier to stargaze like this rather than twisting the knobs while looking through the eyepiece. The motor is not included but it can be bought separately.
The Celestron’s AstroMaster 130EQ is one of the best entry level telescopes for astrophotography as not only is it great for planetary viewing, with the moons of Jupiter and rings of Saturn being star attractions, but being a reflector telescope with a wide aperture, it could be one of the cheapest telescopes on offer that can decently display and photograph deep space objects.
At just 17 lbs total weight and thanks to its compact design, the Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ is very portable. You can take it literally everywhere with you, unlike heavier and bulkier telescopes for professional use.
- Very good optics
- Decently priced telescope
- Suitable for beginners as well as advanced users
- Clear crisp mirrors
- Focuser is of limited usability
- No filters included
Best For iPhone Photography
The Stilnend 70mm telescope is an amazing telescope for a budding astronomer who wants to take pictures of his/her celestial finds with an iphone or an android smartphone
This scope comes with two replaceable eyepieces along with a 3X Barlow lens. So, it makes sure that you get the best image quality and see the planets as well as stars in great detail.
Moreover, the telescope also provides you with a 5×24 finder scope which also has special cross-hairline markings.
Therefore, it allows you to easily find and locate different astronomical objects with the utmost precision.
The telescope comes bundled with a phone adapter which is easy to mount on the telescope and begin your astrophotography journey.
Most importantly, Stilnend ensures complete satisfaction. If you ever face any problem you can easily call them to get the issue resolved within 24 hours.
The telescope is a perfect Christmas or birthday gift for kids or beginner astronomers. It helps them build interest in astronomy and science, exploring the unknown, enjoying nature and away from screens. The kids’ astronomical journey may as well start with this amazing beginners telescope.
This is a perfect travel telescope and it also allows for many different viewing positions with an adjustable aluminum alloy tripod and a carry ba. The telescope and tripod can fit inside the bag for easy traveling to your favorite viewing spot and take great images with your cell phone.
- Perfect grab-and-go telescope
- Great smartphone astrophotography telescope
- Easy to setup and use
- Good optics for price
- Tripod is a bit shaky
Best For Professionals
Celestron NexStar Evolution 8
The Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 Computerised Cassegrain telescope is a large Schmidt Cassegrain.
It has a large 203.2mm (8″ aperture) and 2032mm focal length.
With these specifications, this telescope is capable of reaching high magnifications (480x) suitable for viewing planets and deep sky objects.
The Nexstar Evolution 8 EdgeHD Telescope from Celestron features integral Starsense auto alignment, WiFi and internal Lithium ion battery.
This high end telescope has a variety of premium features:
8” EdgeHD optics that provide a flat field with pinpoint start all the way to the edge of field, resulting in superb visual and astro-imaging performance
Rechargeable lithium-ion battery for a power source that can provide up to 10 hours of continuous observing
Built-in WiFi that connects directly to your smartphone or tablet — no handset required
StarSense auto align technology provides a hands-free automatic experience, aligning your telescope within two minutes of startup
The telescope features a NexStar evolution mount with a variety of features, including manual release clutches, precision worm gears, eyepiece tray lighting, a USB charge port and more
The NexStar Evolution 8-inch EdgeHD with StarSense is the best computerized telescope for astrophotography during cloudy nights and it also produces high quality images even when confronted with light pollution.
It gives you the best of two worlds with the coming together of EdgeHD optics and StarSense AutoAlign.
This innovative telescope allows you to control your telescope wirelessly via Celestron’s SkyPortal app to your smartphone or tablet.
The 8-inch NexStar Evolution HD is one of the best telescopes for deep space astrophotography on our list.
It is the only fork-mounted telescope in its price range that offers brass worm gears, along with improved motors.
You can capture images of deep-sky objects like the Orion Nebula by simply attaching your DSLR camera.
The EdgeHD optical system is designed to virtually eliminate spherical and chromatic aberrations so views through it are flat and distortion-free across the entire field of view, with accurate color rendition.
Using Celestron’s proprietary StarBright XLT multi-coating system, light transmission is increased throughout the entire optical path with anti-reflection multi-coated lenses, highly reflective multi-coated mirrors, and four-element rare-earth glass.
- Easy to set up, use and super accurate
- For its size the scope and mount are light and portable
- Easy alignment process with clear instruction manual
- Produces amazing images even in cloudy nights and light pollution
- On rare occasion the telescope loses wireless connection with your device
Best For Planets
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 beginner telescope for astrophotography.
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 for Cloudy Nights
Sky Watcher EvoStar APO
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.
- Best for professionals
- Maximum magnification
- Accurate in focus
- 8×50 RA viewfinder
- Two-inch dielectric diagonal
- Focuser slips with heavy eyepieces
- Flimsy case
Best Newtonian Telescope
- Type: Newtonian Reflector
- Aperture: 203mm (8″)
- Focal length: 800mm
- Focal Ratio: f/3.9
- Weight: 17.5 lbs.(7.93 kg)
- Our Rating: 9.4/10
The Orion 8 Inch f/3.9 Imaging Newtonian is, as its name suggests, an 8 inch (203mm) Newtonian telescope that has been optimized for deep space astrophotography.
With a focal length of only 800mm, it allows the camera to capture a lot of photons fast. It is equipped with a 2-inch dual-speed focuser, an enlarged secondary mirror, nine internal baffles, and comes with a cooling fan and battery pack as well as extension adapters and a 50mm straight-through finder scope.
Layout of the product is perfect, and it is easy to find all settings without getting lost, even if you don’t use the manual.
And there are a lot more features to use with this model than others, so that’s a big compliment.
It is one of the best telescope for deep space observation and photography, but what makes this model different is how easy it is to stay on point, even on nights that aren’t that clear.
You’ll get true astrophotography performance form this model rather than having it as a tacked on feature of a lesser scope.
The internals are just as impressive, featuring 9 baffle rings, an extended tube length for the front of the focuser, and a combination of a flat black interior so that your image contrast is always at maximum levels.
With the amount of light that this telescope gathers on its own, you can expect to get some of the best imaging features ever for a product of this size.
Both its primary and secondary mirrors have enhanced reflectivity (94%) aluminum coatings with a protective silicon dioxide (quartz) overcoat.
Three easy-grip, push collimation hand knobs on the primary cell make collimation adjustments easy. Once aligned, three locking thumb screws secure the 8″ parabolic mirror.
The reflector telescope’s low-profile Crayford-style focuser has a full 69mm of backfocus, making it ideal for use with multiple imaging accessories.
The smooth-adjusting focuser is held rigidly in place without any possibility of flexure thanks to a sturdy internal steel reinforcing plate.
For imaging use, you’ll need a solid mount. Something with a payload capacity of 40 lbs. or better is recommended.
While this is well within the weight range for the mount, any experienced astrophotographer will recommend you keep the payload at or less than half of the mount’s rated weight. Unless you have a mount with a higher limit, you will most likely be over the recommended imaging weight.
Also, as with any fast Newtonian reflector telescope, an optional coma corrector is recommended to eliminate inherent coma for optimized imaging performance. The 8″ Newtonian Astrograph will astound you when used with a coma-corrector.
It will produce a significant amount of depth and resolution seen in astrophotos with round stars all the way out of the edges of the substantial field of view.
- Excellent at deep space astrophotography
- Great price,amazing results
- Extended tube length and the multiple internal baffle rings gives you the best image contrast without any distortion
- Primary and secondary mirrors provide you with up to 94% reflectivity
- Does not come with a mount
Best For Wide Field Astrophotography
Orion 9534 Triplet Apochromatic
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 for astrophotography 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.
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.
- Compact and well built telescope
- Perfect for astrophotography
- Amazing optics
- Lightweight carbon fibre OTA
- Included finderscope is not so good for a professional
There are certain accessories that may not come with the telescope you are looking to purchase. Often, this is the reason for fluctuations in price between models with similar specifications. As a rule of thumb, you will need:
- Diagonal is an angled mirror or prism that allows perpendicular viewing.
- Finder scope with brackets helps you find the objects in the sky you want to photograph.
- Tube rings and a dovetail bar are adjustable rings for the finder. A dovetail bar is for attaching extra equipment.
- Carrying case to protect the telescope during travel and storage.
- Field flattener/reducer counters the field-angle dependence of a system’s focal length.
Many of the telescopes that we feature in this article already have most of the accessories we mentioned. However, you may still need to buy a field flattener as they don’t usually come with the kit.
The Advantages of Wide Field
When it comes to astrophotography, having a wide field of view is very important. Moreover, with a telescope of long focal length, small errors are less noticeable than if you were using a telescope with a long focal length.
For many of the refractors listed on this page, a field flattener/reducer (or focal corrector) is recommended to get the most out of the optics. Depending on the size of your camera sensor, you may need a field flattener to achieve a flat field across the entire image.
If you’re using a focal reducer, you can expect to get an even wider image with your DSLR camera or dedicated astronomy camera.
How To Attach A Camera To A Telescope
There are a few different methods to attach your camera to a telescope. But for the sake of demonstration, we will be using the prime focus method.
Step 1: First, you’ll need a T-Ring for your camera. It’s an adapter with a large hole in the middle. It attaches to your lens mount just like a regular lens.
Step 2: The next piece you’ll need is a prime focus adapter. It’s a tube that allows you to attach your camera into the telescope.
Just like T-Rings, prime focus adapters come in different sizes. But this time, the option you need to get will depend on the telescope you have.
Most telescopes either have 1.25 or 2-inch eyepieces. You need to make sure that the adapter you get will fit the telescope.
Now that you have both the T-ring and the prime focus adapter, it’s time to set up your astrophotography equipment!
Step 3: First, screw on your prime focus adapter to your T-Ring.
Step 4: Now attach the adapter and T-Ring combination to your camera. Most T-Rings have a small dot similar to the ones you see on lenses. All you have to do is align it with the other dot on your camera and twist it.
Step 5: The next step is to remove the eyepiece from your telescope. You don’t need to use a screwdriver since your telescope most likely has thumb screws that you can unthread with your fingers.
Once you remove the eyepiece, you can slip the prime focus adapter into the tube. Make sure everything fits snuggle together. If you see any space, you’ll need to get a bigger attachment.
Step 6: After you slip the prime focus adapter into the telescope, tighten the screws, and that’s it!
Best Telescope For Astrophotography - Buying Guide
There are three main items necessary for good astrophotography: 1) A good, solid motor-driven tracking mount (preferably German Equatorial, but not necessary), 2) a telescope, and 3) a camera. There are also a handful of astrophotography accessories that will make imaging easier but are not necessarily.
Features To Consider When Choosing A Good Telescope For Astrophotography
Types of Telescopes
The best type of telescope for astrophotography will vary greatly depending on the type of imaging you want to do. If you want to image the planets and have fine resolution on the moon, you will want a telescope with a large aperture and long focal length. If you prefer widefield images and deep-sky imaging, a fast (lower f/ratio) telescope would be more preferable.
An apochromatic refractor uses an objective lens of extra-low dispersion glass, as it reduces crisp images without chromatic aberration. Many consider an “apo” to be the ultimate telescope for photography and planetary observing.
These telescopes are also compact, lightweight, and portable. They have excellent color correction, adjust to temperatures fast, and are easy to focus.
We recommend this type of telescope if you are an entry-level astrophotographer.
The “primary” or main light gathering component of the telescope is a concave parabolic mirror. A secondary flat mirror may also be used to change or divert the light path so that the image can be viewed at a more convenient location.
Most reflectors are an open tube design with the primary mirror at the bottom end of the tube. Light comes in the open top end of the tube, hits the primary and is reflected to a secondary flat mirror at the top of the tube suspended by a thin vane “spider”, and is directed out of the side of the tube for viewing or photography.
Finally, we have a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. This option is like a hybrid between a refractor and a reflector telescope. It consists of a spherical mirror and a glass lens. Corrector plates work to fix bending and refraction issues.
Like Newtonian telescopes, Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes aren’t great for beginners. They can be used for taking images of planetary bodies, you have to worry about chromatic aberration and image shift.
Mount For Astrophotography
This is arguably the most important part of your entire setup. Astrophotography is near-impossible without a good mount. Always err on the side of over-mounting your telescope, rather than under-mounting.
You can always grow into your mount but trying to take long exposures of faint objects on a mount that doesn’t adequately hold your telescope is an exercise in futility.
A German Equatorial mount is preferred, as it will eliminate field rotation as it tracks your object through the night sky, though an Altitude-Azimuth (Alt-Az) style mount works just fine for planetary, lunar, and solar photography.
The aperture is the size of opening in the telescope through which the lens or mirror gathers light. It is the most important attribute of a telescope because light gathering is what telescopes are all about. In astrophotography, the larger the aperture, the more photons can be collected.
The down side to aperture is that as the size of the aperture goes up, so does the cost and complexity of making the optical system, as well as the weight and size. Bigger apertures also usually mean more focal length, and this makes mounting them, carrying them around and using them more difficult, especially for astrophotography.
The focal ratio is the relationship between the aperture and focal length. The focal ratio is defined as the focal length divided by the aperture. For example, a refractor with a focal length of 800mm and an aperture of 100mm has a focal ratio of 800/100 = 8 or f/8.
The focal ratio gives the relative “speed” of the optical system. This is important for recording extended objects such as nebulae and galaxies. A faster focal ratio will record an image faster (with a shorter exposure).
The focal length of a telescope is the distance from the objective lens or mirror at which the light comes to focus. The longer the focal length, the larger the image is that forms at the focal plane, and the higher the magnification of the telescope.
Increased magnification with longer focal lengths is a good thing for small objects like planets and double stars, but undesirable things also get magnified, like poor atmospheric seeing, and imperfections in the telescopes drive and wobble in the mounting.
Magnification of a telescope is actually a relationship between two independent optical systems: the telescope itself and the eyepiece you are using. To determine power, divide the focal length of the telescope (in mm) by the focal length of the eyepiece (in mm).
By exchanging an eyepiece of one focal length for another, you can increase or decrease the power of the telescope.
The eyepiece determines the magnification of the view through your telescope. Divide the focal length of your telescope by the focal length of the eyepiece to find the magnification. Eyepieces come in focal lengths ranging from 2mm to 56mm.
The highest useful magnification for a telescope is about twice the aperture size in mm. For example a telescope with a 150mm aperture is limited to a 300x magnification before the view will become too blurry. But this also depends on your atmospheric conditions while observing and on the quality of your optics.
Eyepieces come in 2 sizes: 1.25 inches and 2 inches. A 2″ eyepiece requires a 2″ focuser but a 1.25″ eyepiece is more versatile. It’s usually the higher end eyepieces that come in the 2″ size and they tend to be heavier and more expensive.
You are going to carry your telescope and other equipment out with you. If the telescope is heavy and cumbersome, it will slow you down and cause unnecessary pain for you. Buy telescopes that are lightweight, compact, and portable. If the telescope comes with carrying bags, that is an added plus.
Astrophotography is quite an expensive hobby. But we hope that it doesn’t stop you from exploring this fantastic genre. You’ll learn a lot from it, not just from a scientific perspective, but also from a creative point of view.
Our top pick for the best telescope for smartphone astrophotography is the Celestron – 80mm Travel Scope. The Travel Scope 80 is a refractor telescope perfect for terrestrial and celestial viewing and iphone photography on the go. The Travel Scope can view the planets, moon, star clusters and brighter deep sky objects like the Orion Nebula and Andromeda Galaxy at night.
Our pick for the best best telescope for professional astrophotography is the Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 EdgeHD. Celestron has coupled their finest optics with their finest technology to create an exceptionally flexible and portable telescope system. Now you can experience innovative EdgeHD optics and StarSense AutoAlign on the highly esteemed Evolution Alt-Az mount and control it all through your preferred smartphone or tablet with the SkyPortal app and the integrated WiFi of the Evolution mount.
Our next pick for deep sky astrophotography (DSO) is the Meade Instruments 8-Inch LX200-ACF. Meade’s LX200-ACF brings Advanced Coma-Free (ACF) optics within reach of aspiring astronomers everywhere. Nearly every observatory reflector in the world uses an aplanatic (coma-free) optical system like the Ritchey-Chretien (RC), including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Now you can own similar optics to what the professionals use.