Best Telescope For Beginners 2021; Reviews

Here in this “Best Telescope For Beginners” article we’ve rounded up 13 of the best telescopes of various types, specifications, and budget perfectly suited to be used by someone who is just starting out on this beautiful 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.

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Getting the right start in astronomy is important for building a long term love of it. We’re looking at the best telescope for beginners because the first model you choose can mean the difference between a lifelong obsession or a fleeting interest in stargazing.

These are great times for anyone to cultivate the hobby of astronomy and stargazing. That’s because there’s more choice, more accessories to make an amateur astronomer’s stargazing hobby more practical and fun. 

Stargazing helps in broadening our views. Whether you want to get a good look in the night sky or actually want to be more involved in the introduction of astronomy, a beginner’s telescope can help you point out the best stars in the night sky. 

From the moon to the planets to the millions and billions of stars out there, you can begin to familiarize yourself with the sky above you with the best telescope for beginners.

best telescope for beginners
Who is this article for?

The starter telescopes that are featured and information provided in this article is mainly for beginners or if you are someone looking for a telescope that can be used by your entire family with minimum supervision and the least amount of set-up time. 

We have carefully chosen the telescopes that will help you get familiarized with the night sky with utmost ease.

You can use any one of these scopes to look at the moon, the planets of our solar system, or venture on to the “deep sky” to examine star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. 

During our research we found telescopes that had the appropriate range to start a new astronomer out and then keep them involved. 

Since we were majorly focussing on the needs of a beginner during our research, we have limited our testing pool to telescopes that were about $600 or less.

Once you extend your budget, telescopes become more specialized, and when you reach that stage you likely already know what specific features you’d like to spend more on.

Best Telescope For Beginners

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

Best For Planets

Celestron – AstroMaster 90AZ 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Finderscope could be better 

Best 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 dobsonian telescope for a beginner 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 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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Short eyepiece height
  • Plastic focuser
Related

Best Budget Telescope 

Celestron 21024 FirstScope

The Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope offers excellent potential as a first telescope for beginner astronomers eager to learn more about reflector style scopes and their optical capabilities. 

Although priced towards the lower end, the Celestron 21024 easily stands up against other competitors. Aesthetically pleasing, this particular model features a chic and modern look. The compact design, lightweight frame, and portability make the Celestron 21024 easy to grab on the way out.

The telescope has a tabletop design with a lightweight base. The base has three rubber feet for rock-solid stability on any surface. And the mount is a Dobsonian design, which makes it very easy to use. It is an altazimuth mount, meaning it can be moved in four directions, up-down and left-right. 

The Celestron FirstScope 76mm f/4 Signature Series Moon Alt-Az Reflector Telescope is designed as an ideal entry-level optic for observing the Moon and planets, comet-watching, and enjoying meteor showers. 

best telescope for beginners

This tabletop telescope features a Newtonian reflector optical design, and comes with two fully multi-coated 1.25″ diameter eyepieces (20mm and 4mm ) that yield 15x and 75x magnifications. 

The Newtonian reflector is one of the best value telescope for beginners as it possesses a fast focal ratio to provide a wide field of view that’s ideal for not just viewing the planets and the lunar surface, but also allows the observer to view diffuse, wide-angle targets such as star clusters. 

You’ll notice that the telescope’s base is short, meaning that you’ll need to place it on a table in order to use it comfortably: a hindrance for some observers, however, if you have children who have been pestering you for a telescope, the FirstScope is the perfect solution, especially given its small build and ease of use.

Pros:

  • It is very lightweight, and easy to carry around.
  • The mount and base are very stable.
  • Excellent build quality and finish, better than some higher priced models.
  • The design is so good; it could even be a decorative showpiece.
  • Requires no assembly, can be used straight away.
  • Inexpensive.

Cons:

  • Does not come with any instructions.
  • Magnification capabilities are rather limited.

Best Portable Pick

Orion 10034 GoScope II

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

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

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

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

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

best telescope for beginners on a budget

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

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

Is is most certainly one of the best telescope for beginners if you are interested in observing the moon from your backyard.

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Best Computerised Telescope 

Celestron – NexStar 5SE

Celestron’s NexStar 5SE is popularly bought and recommended as the best GoTo computerized telescope for beginners.

The Celestron NexStar 5 SE is a top Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with an aperture of 5 inches that provides accurate images of the celestial bodies, with the touch of a button

NexStar’s technology includes a database of almost 40,000 celestial bodies to see and learn about. With this NexStar telescope, you will go from amateur to pro in no time.

With the help of a DSLR and a computer, you can even take the time exposure video remotely

As an amateur if you want to show off your budding talents to your friends and family then this is the best telescope for you. 

You can easily shoot beautiful time exposure video of solar or lunar eclipse and enjoy it with your friends and family

Setting it up is easy as you will not need any tools to set it up, and you can do it in a couple of minutes.

After entering the Date, Time and GPS location (you can get in your mobile app) you just have to point the telescope to the three brightest stars in the sky, rest is taken care by StarAlign technology built in the telescope. 

best computerised telescope for beginners

The design of the Celestron NexStar 5 SE is also very practical, with its fork arm design and sturdy steel tripod

The 5SE comes with a single 25mm 1.25” Plossl eyepiece which provides 50x magnification.

The scope is designed with amateurs in mind as it is small, light, and easy to transport from place to place and easy to set up in order to provide an excellent stargazing experience. 

You can even dismantle it into its separate components and take it with you on your expeditions.

Due to its erect image lens technology, it is both good for celestial viewing as well as equatorial viewing such as bird watching, enjoying the view of nature, mountains etc.

Pros:

  • Perfect for amateur astronomers since the automatic GoTo mount with a database of over 40,000 celestial objects 
  • Highly portable – fits easily in the back of a normal car
  • Can be used with a camera
  • 2-year limited warranty

Cons:

  • Short battery life
  • Too light for deep space photography

Best Refractor Telescope 

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, a 3x Barlow lens and a smartphone adapter which makes it one of the best beginner telescope for smartphone photography.

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.

best telescope for beginners reflector or refractor

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.

Pros:

  • Easy to setup and use
  • Very portable
  • Perfect for beginners and family
  • Decent optics
  • Comes with its own backpack
  • Robust design

Cons:

  • Instruction manual is a bit vague
  • Difficult to collimate

Best Home Telescope

Celestron – PowerSeeker 70EQ

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

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

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

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

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

best reflector telescope for beginners

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 telescope for iphone photography as it comes with a camera attachment that allows the user to take photographs of the objects being viewed.

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Best GoTo Pick

Celestron – NexStar 130SLT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Best Beginners Telescope For Astrophotography

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.

Pros:

  • Very good optics
  • Decently priced telescope
  • Suitable for beginners as well as advanced users
  • Clear crisp mirrors

Cons:

  • Focuser is of limited usability
  • No filters included

Best Beginner Telescope For Deep Space

Orion StarBlast II 4.5 

The StarBlast II 4.5 EQ is one of the best reflector telescope for beginners which the whole family can also enjoy, thanks to its great optics, convenient portability, and easy-to-use operation.

Views of everything from the Moon and planets to distant objects like star clusters and galaxies appear bright and clear through this amazing telescope.

It works amazingly well with the included Expanse telescope eyepieces which yield a very wide 66° apparent field of view that allows you to see distant deep space objects as well as moon and planets.

The included 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece provides 18x power magnification, while the 10mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece bumps up the power to 45x magnification. The 25mm is a great eyepiece to begin observing sessions with, since it provides a large window of night sky for you to view. 

The telescope’s combination of short 450mm focal length and sizable 4.5″ aperture means the StarBlast II 4.5 EQ will provide brighter views at any magnification compared to longer focal length telescopes, which makes it easier for everyone, and especially beginners, to locate interesting sights in the night sky.

The StarBlast II sits inside two felt-lined tube rings that bolt onto the EQ-1 mount’s top plate – larger/more expensive equatorials use a Vixen dovetail and saddle which is slightly more convenient, but the simple system used with the StarBlast II works just fine.

Setting up and using the EQ-1 is pretty easy – just level the tripod, put the mount/scope together, balance the scope on both axes, and roughly line up the mount’s polar axis with Polaris. 

Thanks to this design, it’s easy for anyone in the family to manually track a celestial object using slow-motion control cables. You can even add an optional electronic motor drive (sold separately) to the EQ-1 equatorial mount so it can track objects automatically once you’ve centered the object in the telescope eyepiece.

Pros:

  • Wide field of view
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with high-quality accessories
  • Suitable for astrophotography
  • Great for beginners and families with children
  • Sturdy equatorial mount

Cons:

  • No finder scope
  • Not suitable for use in daylight

Best Telescope For iPhone

Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope DX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is one of the best travel telescopes for beginners and has an excellent value as a portable telescope or a beginner’s telescope.

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Wobbly tripod
  • Finderscope and focuser are made of plastic

Best High End

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 high end telescopes for beginners 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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Bright power light
  • Doesn’t come with a power cord

Best Cassegrain Telescope 

Celestron – NexStar 4SE

Celestron’s NexStar 4SE 125mm f/13 Maksutov-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope is a powerful, versatile, and user-friendly catadioptric-style scope that can be used for observing everything from the Moon and planets to bright deep-sky objects like stars, galaxies, and nebulae.

The 4SE also has an integrated “flip mirror” at the back, which means that there is a built-in star diagonal which can be retracted to allow light directly out of the back of the telescope and into a camera adapter, usually for a DSLR or mirrorless camera. 

Celestron’s NexStar 4SE’s big selling point for this model is the GoTo computer.

You can select from a database of 40,000 night sky objects. When you’ve picked a target, the motorized mount will slew the telescope around to point at the object you’ve chosen. 

Once in your eyepiece, the motor will track it as it moves across the sky so you don’t lose sight of it.

Theoretically, this is a great solution for the more casual backyard astronomer who is more interested in spending time outside seeing objects than finding them.

The 4SE’s 102mm aperture isn’t huge, but the portability of this rig far outweighs any size limitation. And Celestron’s nicely coated optics make the most of every photon fetched.

If you want to get your feet wet with astrophotography, the 4SE has a camera control option. It helps you take a series of long duration exposures with your DSLR camera. 

Just don’t try to hang a very heavy camera body on this little telescope; an oddly weighted mount won’t track well enough for sharp images.

Because it is a compound telescope, you are going to get picture-perfect images and a wide field of view. Of course, the StarBright XLT coating on the Celestron 4 SE helps, as does the inclusion of a 25 millimeter Plossl eyepiece that delivers 53 times magnification, as well as a 12.5 millimeter eyepiece that can be added to give you 100 times magnification. 

As a result, this one of the best telescope under 500 dollars will be powerful enough to capture impressive details of many objects in our solar system, including the Moon, Jupiter, Mars and other planets. 

Deep-sky objects, however, will appear less impressive than with a bigger aperture telescope.

The 4SE is so small and light, and the tripod folds so easily, you can quickly jump into almost any vehicle and drive to find dark skies. 

And someday, if you grow into a larger telescope, you’ll probably want to keep this one as a “grab-and-go” scope. It’s great for chasing solar eclipses in faraway locations where you can’t lug a lot of luggage.

Pros:

  • Very sharp optics
  • Quality mount with acceptable gearing
  • Acceptable aperture
  • Very stable
  • Good included low-power eyepiece
  • No collimation required

Cons:

  • Small aperture for the price

How To Buy The Best Telescope For Beginners

To help you decide which telescope is the best buy for a beginner, this buying guide can help you pick one out based on features and anything else important you will want to pay attention to.

best telescope for beginners

Things To Consider While Choosing A Good Telescope For Beginners

If you’ve never done anything like this before, you’ll want to know the best way to observe the night sky—and that’s through a beginner telescope. The specificity of the fact that these products are made for beginners can make a huge difference in the short and long run because they are more tailored for those who are now learning and want a firsthand, first experience of the night sky.

Types of Telescopes

The telescopes, for all their varied shapes and sizes, types of telescopes can be divided into three classes: refractors, reflectors, and catadioptrics.

Refractor Telescope

The refractor telescope uses a lens to gather and focus light. The first telescopes built were refractors. The glass lens is at the front of the telescope and light is bent (refracted) as it passes through the lens.

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

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

Since the tube is closed off from the outside, air currents and effects due to changing temperatures are eliminated. This means that the images are steadier and sharper than those from a reflector telescope of the same size.

All refractors suffer from an effect called chromatic aberration (“color deviation or distortion”) that produces a rainbow of colors around the image. Because of the wave nature of light, the longer wavelength light (redder colors) is bent less than the shorter wavelength light (bluer colors) as it passes through the lens.

Reflector Telescope

The second type of telescope, the reflector telescope, uses a mirror to gather and focus light. Its most common form is the Newtonian reflector, with a specially curved concave primary mirror in the bottom end of the telescope.

Near the top a small, diagonal secondary mirror directs the light from the primary to the side of the tube, where it’s met by a conveniently placed eyepiece.

If you want the most aperture for your money, the reflector is the scope for you.

When well made and maintained, a reflector can provide sharp, contrasty images of all manner of celestial objects at a small fraction of the cost of an equal-aperture refractor.

Compound Telescope

The third type of telescopes are the catadioptric or compound telescope. These were invented with the desire to combine the best characteristics of refractors and reflectors: they employ both lenses and mirrors to form an image.

The greatest appeal of these instruments is that, in their commonly encountered forms (the Schmidt-Cassegrain and Maksutov-Cassegrain), they are very compact.

Their tubes are just two to three times as long as wide, an arrangement allowed by “optical folding” of the light. The smaller tube can use a lighter and thus more manageable mounting. The upshot is that you can obtain a large-aperture, long-focus telescope that’s very transportable.

Aperture

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

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

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

Focal Ratio

Focal ratio is the focal length divided by the objective diameter. A long focal ratio implies higher magnification and narrower field of view with a given eyepiece, which is great for observing the moon and planets and double stars.

For such objects, a focal ratio of f/10 or more is ideal. But if you want to see wide views of star clusters, galaxies, and the Milky Way through your best telescope for home use then a lower focal ratio is better. You get less magnification, but you see more of the sky. Wide field telescopes have a focal ratio of f/7 or less.

Focal Length

The focal length of a telescope has a direct influence on the amount of magnification. Basically, what this means is that the longer the scope’s focal length, the higher its magnification.

Do not assume that the tube length of the scope is its focal length. Complex scopes, despite having short tubes, usually deliver a sharp and clear image. This means that longer focal length is achievable through the proper combination of lenses and mirrors.

Magnification

Also, when you think of a telescope, the term for “magnification” might run through your mind. That’s because you’ll want to have the object on point as magnified as possible—and the ability to do so.

To take a look at the magnification of telescopes, we will have to focus on two different terms—focal length and the light point. Both of these play large determining factors on the overall magnification of the lens.

Contrary to popular belief, however, magnification doesn’t always necessarily mean a clearer image. You might be able to magnify an object and make it a lot larger than it normally is in your lens, however, the quality might not be the best.

The eyepiece of the telescope also plays a major role in magnification. The focal length of the telescope and the eyepiece are the two components that determine this final number.

Eyepieces

thebigbangoptics eyepieces

Eyepieces are fundamental components of a telescope and each telescope comes with at least one eyepiece. The eyepiece of a home telescope defines the magnification power and field of view of that telescope.

The magnification power of eyepieces differs from one eyepiece to another based on their focal lengths as well as their field of view.

An eyepiece is rated by millimeters, with smaller numbers indicating higher magnification. A 25-millimeter eyepiece is common and appropriate for most stargazers.

Finderscope

A good finderscope is essential for any telescope. It brightens and magnifies the view, allowing you to find things beyond the naked-eye limit.

When properly aligned, a finderscope also allows you to point a telescope more precisely than do peep sights or reflex finders. This is especially important whenever you’re aiming at a blank point in the sky where your charts tell you an interesting, faint object ought to be.

Accessories

A telescope is not a solitary object, and it needs many accessories to reach its full potential and unleash its A-game.

Mount & Base Support

First of all, mount and base support are the two most essential things required for the safe-keeping and proper functioning of a telescope.

Base support connects the actual telescope to the ground and creates a steady base. A mount is also an accessory that is vital to keep the telescope at its place for a peaceful trip on the outlook of space.

Tripod Stand

It is also crucial to determine the place where you plan on setting the telescope for good and choose the base support according to that spot, such as a window or floor. A tripod stand is the second most vital accessory that accompanies a telescope.

It is required to give length to the telescope so you can bring up the device to an appropriate height for a comfortable posture.

Apart from your comfort, a tripod stand also helps in keeping this delicate device steady on its grounds, so you don’t lose hundreds of dollars due to a slight nudge or a powerful breeze.

Carrying Bag

We discussed how important is portability when it comes to telescopes. It is one thing when a telescope can be converted into a compact device that can easily accompany you on your quest to view the Universe that exists beyond the limits of the naked eye.

A carrying bag specifically designed to hold up the telescope and all of its accessories safely is a lot of relief and a safe way to manage your device neatly.

Extra Eyepieces

Other accessories like an extra eyepiece or extra magnification lenses are also present, but they are not as essential as the ones mentioned above. But if you do manage to find a good deal where such accessories are also included in the package, then you can enjoy the majestic view with your special buddy simultaneously. As they say, the more, the merrier!

Weight

Depending on the sort of person you are, this factor may or may not be important to you. If you are intending to use your scope at a specific place and not to ever travel with it, then the weight may not really be a point of focus for you. And besides, half the delight of having a telescope is in showing it off. For that, you may decide to travel with the scope.

How To Clean & Maintain Your Telescope

Take care of your telescope, and your equipment will serve you well for years. Dust or moisture can build up on the lens or mirror depending on what type of telescope you have. The traditional method for cleaning the lens or mirror is to brush lightly with a camel-hair brush. You can find such brushes in camera shops; their soft bristles will do the least damage in scraping the optical unit. Alternatively you can use a can of pressurized air to spray the glass surface to remove any excess dust particles. If your optical unit is in need of a deep cleaning, you can apply an optical-cleaning solution to remove debris. To minimize the need to clean your telescope, put all lens covers back on once you have finished using it.

That said, the best beginner telescope for you is the one that you use the most out in the field. Dirt will inevitably accumulate in small amounts on your telescope lens and mirrors. You can have quite a bit of dust and crud build up with very little noticeable effect on your viewing experience.

In addition, don’t leave your telescope out and exposed to the elements for any length of time. Avoid inclement weather, and don’t leave it in the heat of your car. We suggest storing your telescope in a safe place inside where it is least susceptible to moisture, dust buildup, and bumps from a child or pet.

Conclusion

As an astronomy newbie, you’ll find it much easier to choose a great beginner telescope if you’re clear about what to look for. 

Remember, the more detail you want to see, the bigger the aperture you need.

Generally you want to maximize the size of your first telescope within your budget. However, you need to also think about build quality, especially the mount, and how much you are likely to use it – there’s no point getting a huge scope if it’s only going to come outside a few times per year.

We highly recommend Celestron – NexStar 5SE Telescope as the best computerized telescope for a beginner. The NexStar SE telescopes combine the classic heritage of Celestron’s original orange tubes with state-of-the-art features including a fully-computerized operating system, flash upgradeable hand control, superior coatings, SkyAlign telescope alignment software and much more!

Also, if you are looking for a best telescope for beginners to see planets then we think

 should be your choice. 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.