Best Telescope for Viewing Planets and Galaxies 2021; Reviews

Our comprehensive review of the best telescopes for viewing planets and galaxies will introduce you to some amazing telescopes that will enable you to scope out this stellar scenery and satisfy your cosmos curiosity.

One of the first things a new astronomer usually wants to look at through their new telescope is one of the planets or galaxies.

Each planet offers something unique and different to observe: the cloud bands on Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, or the surface detail on Mars are just a few of the more popular planetary features to enjoy with your telescope.

One of the best parts about planetary viewing or imaging is that since the objects are so bright, you can do it just about anywhere regardless of light pollution.

best Telescope for Viewing Planets and Galaxies

Combined with the fact that the planets are constantly changing, even from one night to the next, planetary astronomy is an easy way to enjoy the night sky whether you live in the middle of a bright city or countryside.

We have researched everything you need to know about buying a new telescope for viewing planets and galaxies

We have combed through the details and reviews for dozens of great models to find the best ones so you don’t have to.

We’ve also included a buying guide. If you want to learn more about telescopes before you buy, or just want to make sure you’re getting good value for your money, be sure to check it out.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Best Telescope for Viewing Planets and Galaxies

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

Best Beginner Telescope 

Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ telescope is a Newtonian reflector, which means it uses mirrors to gather the light of the skies, and reflects it for viewing. With mirrors being much less expensive to produce than glass lenses, reflector telescopes offer more value in terms of inches of aperture.

The PowerSeeker 127EQ comes with two eyepieces (4mm and 20mm) and a 3x Barlow lens.

The 5-inch mirror on the 127mm PowerSeeker model limits useful magnification to about 250x, which is achieved using the 4mm eyepiece.

The larger 20mm eyepiece provides a more useful 50x magnification. This grows to 150x when coupled with the 3x Barlow.

If you’re considering an additional eyepiece, something like a 15mm Plossi would be a good option. This provides you with 66x magnification, or 198 when coupled with the Barlow. 

The telescope is one of the best telescope for home use for beginners and it is ideal for near and deep-sky observation, Celestron’s PowerSeeker 127EQ 127mm f/8 Reflector Telescope features a respectable focal length and a large, parabolic mirror that produce detailed images of the Moon, clear views of the planets, and the ability to resolve bright distant objects such as nebulae and galaxies. 

The beauty of a Newtonian telescope is the longer focal lengths which can be offered in much shorter tube sizes—1000mm focal length in a tube which is only 20 inches (508mm) long .

The PowerSeeker 127EQ is highly portable and one of the best travel telescopes under $500. You could easily fit this telescope and tripod in the trunk of a car and still have room for your other equipment, or maybe a late night picnic.

Additionally, you receive a copy of Starry Night astronomy software with a database of over 10,000 celestial objects.

Considering the telescope’s low price, compromises had to be made, and one such compromise is the use of a spherical mirror rather than a parabolic mirror.

Optical aberrations tend to be more common with spherical mirrors. This telescope does, however, feature an erect image diagonal for the right way up images, which prevents some aberration.

This telescope comes with an Equatorial mount, designed for astronomy telescopes. Included are two manual slow-motion controls, these allow for smoother tracking of objects as they pass across the night sky.

The tripod is made of aluminum, although lightweight, it is robust, solid and also comes with a very handy accessory tray which lets you keep extra eyepieces and T-rings for a camera, close to hand.

Pros:

  • Solid build quality
  • Stable mount
  • Comes with a 3x Barlow lens

Cons:

  • Spherical mirror leads to some amount of aberrations
  • Occasional collimation of the mirrors required

Best GoTo Telescope 

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. 

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 some outdoor stargazing.

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 Budget Telescope 

Meade Instruments Infinity 80mm 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Best Dobsonian For Planets & Galaxies 

Orion SkyQuest XT6 Plus

  • Type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 150mm (6″)
  • Focal length: 1200mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • Mount: Dobsonian
  • Eyepiece: 25mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 48x, 120x
  • Weight: 20 lbs. (9kg)
  • Our Rating: 9.4/10

The Orion SkyQuest XT6 Plus Dobsonian Telescope has been one of the favorite Dobsonian telescopes for many beginner astronomy enthusiasts. It’s sleek, user-friendly with sharp, powerful optics and point-and-view simplicity.

The scope is manufactured by Orion Telescopes & Binoculars which is one of the best telescope brands in the world. They have been around since 1975 because of their quality products and great value. 

They have a great range of telescopes and accessories for telescopes that are suitable for all age ranges and experience levels. 

The beautiful, eye-catching Orion SkyQuest XT6 Plus 6” Dobsonian Telescope is a must have if you are looking for a good telescope to see planets and galaxies.

The Orion SkyQuest XT6 Plus is an upgraded version of XT6 Classic Dobsonian with performance-boosting design enhancements and additional accessories.

SkyQuest XT6 Plus has a redesigned Dobsonian base with a sleeker, more streamlined look. The scope features weight-saving cutouts in the side panels that help make the base easier to move to and from observing sites. 

best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies

A white trim band around the round base of the XT6 Plus base enhances visibility in the dark. 

An eyepiece rack is included that can hold up to three 1.25″ eyepieces, making it easy to store and swap between different oculars to vary the magnification of your observations.

The optical tube of the XT6 Plus, which sports an attractive “twilight blue” metallic finish, houses a 150mm parabolic (5.9″) mirror with enhanced-reflectivity (94%) aluminum coating for superior light transmission compared to standard mirrors. 

These impressive optics are not just perfect for a professional astronomer but it also makes it one of the best telescopes to see the moon for a beginner.

Its 1200mm focal length (f/8) provides this telescope with extraordinary magnifying power. 

With the help of its included 10mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece you can easily study the Moon’s cratered surface or Jupiter’s cloud bands at 120x.

Pros:

  • Affordable and budget friendly 6” telescope
  • Redesigned base with weight saving cutouts
  • Attractive “twilight blue” metallic finish
  • Easy, tool-free collimation adjustment
  • Highly visible white trim on base to work around in the dark

Cons:

  • Few main components are made of plastic
  • Not for astrophotography

Best Refractor Telescope 

Gskyer Telescope

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

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

If you live in the city and you aren’t able to see much of the sky due to light pollution, you’ll want a telescope like this that’s easy to carry with you.

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

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

It also comes with a smartphone adapter, which allows you to use the phone as a screen, or as a camera to take great pictures, that is what makes it one of the best telescope for smartphone astrophotography.

best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies

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

The Gskyer AZ90600 comes with an adjustable tripod.

This adjustable aluminium tripod offers the viewer many different viewing positions. The height of the aluminum tripod can be adjusted from about 31.5-inch to 49-inch.

If you’ve never owned a telescope before, This 90mm (3.5″) aperture gives bright, sharp images for both land and celestial objects. 

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Good for viewing planets, stars not so much

Best For Astroimaging 

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 telescope for astrophotography on our list.

best telescope for viewing planets & galaxies

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.

Pros:

  • Super optical construction
  • Very easy to operate with
  • Compact and portable design
  • Included needed additional accessories
  • Suitable for lunar/planetary astrophotography

Cons:

  • 8 AA batteries required but not included
  • Tripod can be more stable

Best Portable Telescope 

Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5

The Orion StarBlast 10015 is one of the best telescopes for viewing planets and galaxies for beginners who are eager to begin their astronomical careers, as well as for intermediate astronomers looking for a budget option.

You don’t have to spend time assembling the Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector, as the telescope arrives pre-built so that anyone can take it out of the box and begin using it right away. It’s a great compact and highly portable budget telescope for beginners and families.

The scope features a substantial 4.5″ aperture and f/4 focal ratio that provides bright, detailed views of solar system targets like the Moon and planets, as well as wide-field celestial objects like nebulas and star clusters. 

The telescope’s lens is made of a low thermal expansion borosilicate glass. This means that it is capable of focusing light with increased precision.

The StarBlast’s included red-dot finder is more than adequate, thanks to its extremely wide field of view.

The model only comes with a tabletop mount, so it really can only be used indoors or outdoors on a picnic table or similar piece of patio furniture.

Its table top design also makes it less than ideal for astrophotography. It has a wider footprint than some competing models, which makes it more steady and less prone to being knocked over.

On clear nights, you will be able to view not only the Moon and its craters, but also Jupiter, Saturn, and its beautiful rings. 

The scope’s Dobsonian mount means that beginners and new users can point easily. All in all, the Orion Starblast 4.5 will enchant even advanced users with its bright images of the galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters.

Pros:

  • Simple to use
  • Equipped with EZ Finder for easy aiming
  • Includes Starry Night astronomy software
  • Features a fast-focal ratio
  • Comes pre-assembled
  • Two eyepieces along with a dust cover in this telescope

Cons:

  • Cannot attach DSLRs
  • Collimation process takes a lot of time

Best Computerized Pick 

Celestron – NexStar 6SE

The NexStar 6SE offers consumers the proven quality of the Celestron brand in a compact, portable, and technologically advanced telescope. 

The scope’s 6-inch aperture, portable design, fully functional computer, and extensive database, among other features, make it easy to use, easy to transport, and easy to enjoy regardless of experience level. The NexStar 6SE is quite evidently the best celestron telescope under $1000 on our list.

The NexStar 6SE is a 6-inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope, which has an actual aperture of 150 mm and focal length of 1,500 mm, giving it a focal ratio of f/10. The OTA comes on a Vixen-style dovetail bar, which fits into the dovetail saddle on the mount.

The telescope also comes with a 1.25” prism diagonal, 25 mm Plossl eyepiece (providing 60x when used with the 6SE) and Celestron’s StarPointer, which is a zero-power red-dot-style finder.

The Celestron NexStar 6 SE is a solid and sturdy telescope. 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. 

best telescope for viewing planets & galaxies

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 your entire family can use without much supervision and guidance then look no further than the NexStar 6SE as it one of the best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies under $1000.

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 telescopes for adults 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.

Pros:

  • Easy to mount and to use
  • Good optics
  • It’s very sturdy and low maintenance
  • Motorized and automated GoTo mount
  • Portable, fits perfectly in the back of any normal car

Cons:

  • 8 AA batteries tend to drain out fairly quickly
  • User manual and instructions are not very clear

Best APO Telescope 

Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm 

Sky-Watcher’s ProED series provides fantastic value for the price. The ProED 80, in particular, is an excellent scope for the beginning astrophotographer, or as a grab n’ go visual instrument.

The ProED scopes all use a standard achromatic doublet design with FPL-53 and Schott glass in the lens elements.

The scope’s slow focal ratio of f/7.5 additionally helps with controlling chromatic aberration, and makes it easy to achieve high magnification without ultra-short focal length eyepieces.

Its two-speed Crayford-style focuser helps make fine-focusing fast and precise without backlash. The EvoStar comes with several accessories to help you get observing faster and easier. 

First, are two long eye relief eyepieces that produce 30x and 120x magnification, a 90° star diagonal for more comfortable viewing, and a large 8×50 erect-image finderscope to make finding your celestial objects faster and easier.

This Doublet APO Refractor Telescope comes with a 2” Crayford-style focuser which is one of the best focusers in telescopes as it is a Dual-speed one. A 1.25-inch adapter is also included along with it. 

With a petite footprint, the Sky-Watcher Evostar 80ED Pro is a light, compact instrument that fits into a small space while providing easy portability.

If you want to try your hand at astrophotography, then the Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope is the ideal optical tool for it. 

This powerful, yet affordable telescope delivers the kind of quality we would expect from a far more expensive telescope, for only a fraction of the price.

Due to the extra-low dispersion (ED) grade-A glass doublet, you will have an amazing color correction that will make your photos more reliable, taking them closer and closer to the reality.

The Sky-Watcher Pro Apochromatic Telescope has enough high contrast/high resolution optical performance to let you use it on an alt-azimuth or equatorial mount. 

It’s only 6.6 lbs., lightweight and doesn’t require a big and expensive mount, so it’s easy to afford and easy to take out and set up for observing on a moment’s notice. 

The Sky-Watcher ED-APO features a contrast-enhancing internal light baffles in the tube and focuser drawtube and a specially darkened tube interior providing dark sky backgrounds and high terrestrial contrast.

This apochromatic telescope comes with a dew shield which slows the formation of dew on the lens in cold weather to extend your undisturbed observing time.

Pros:

  • Best for professionals
  • Maximum magnification
  • Accurate in focus
  • 8×50 RA viewfinder
  • Two-inch dielectric diagonal

Cons:

  • Focuser slips with heavy eyepieces
  • Flimsy case

Best Reflector For Viewing Planets & Galaxies 

Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST 

The Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Newtonian Reflector is an excellent and one of the best telescopes to see the planets and Moon. 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.

best reflector telescope under 500

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 aluminium 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

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • Plastic focuser and mount parts
  • Somewhat confusing instructions

Best Telescope To See Saturn 

Celestron – 114LCM 

The Celestron 114LCM 114mm f/9 Computerized GoTo Reflector Telescope features a 114mm diameter parabolic primary mirror that is coated with highly-reflective aluminum to allow for detailed observation of the Moon and planets, with the ability to reach outside our solar system and view binary stars, clusters, galaxies, and nebulae.

The 114LCM consists of an optical tube with a 4.5-inch mirror and a focal length of 1000mm giving a focal ratio of f/9. It has a basic rack and pinion focuser that takes 1.25-inch eyepieces: 25mm and 9mm eyepieces are provided giving magnifications of 40x and 111x.

The Celestron 114LCM has over three and a half times the light gathering capacity of a typical 60mm starter scope. That means visibly brighter deep space images and the ability to see many more faint objects than a 60mm scope could ever hope to show. 

best telescope for viewing the moon

It has 90% more resolution than a 60mm scope as well, to let you see more sharper and detailed views of the Moon, planets, binary stars, and star clusters.

A built-in StarPointer red dot finder helps to aim the telescope, especially during the alignment phase.

The tube is attached to the motorized base via a Vixen-style mounting bar that connects to the aluminum tripod using a bolt on the underside.

The Celestron 114 LCM is one of the best telescopes for viewing planets and galaxies and it comes with a standard StarPointer red dot finder and an extremely short orange anodized aluminum Vixen style dovetail.

The NexStar+ LCM hand controller lets you control, align and operate the telescope. It has a database of 4,000 targets including Solar System, Messier, NGC and Caldwell objects, along with double stars, variable stars and more.

The telescope features a single fork arm altazimuth design with pre-installed enclosed dual DC servo motor drives. 

A compartment in the drive base accepts eight user-supplied AA batteries for powering the telescope. An optional AC adapter and rechargeable battery pack are available to conserve battery life. 

The preassembled tripod has aluminum legs to damp vibrations quickly. The center leg brace holds a convenient no-tool quick-release accessory tray to keep your eyepieces and accessories.

Pros:

  • Beginner friendly GoTo telescope
  • Decent optics
  • Free download of astronomy software programs for an interactive sky simulation
  • Multiple accessories

Cons:

  • Weak battery life
  • Calibration can take some time

Buying Guide: Telescope For Viewing Planets and Galaxies

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

The decision to purchase a telescope is huge, and if you choose the right product, it can completely change your life and how you view life on Earth. 

The ability to see deep into the cosmos has a profound effect on most people, and fortunately, it’s much easier to do than you might think.

For a breathtaking planetary viewing experience every time, it is important to make sure you’re purchasing a quality product – not something you’ll find at most department-stores. 

The best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies  has two essentials: high-quality optics and a steady, smoothly working mount. You may also want the telescope to be nice and large, but don’t forget portability and convenience.

Features To Consider When Choosing A Good Telescope To View Planets

Aperture

Aperture is the diameter, usually measured in millimeters, of the objective (primary) lens or mirror of the telescope. Essentially, the larger the aperture, the brighter images will appear, and the deeper into space you will be able to see.

Focal length

Focal length is the measurement, again in millimeters, from the objective to the eyepiece. This length directly affects the magnification potential of the telescope when paired with an eyepiece.

The distance can be a literal linear measurement from the primary lens to the eyepiece, as with a refractor; or a theoretical distance based on how the light is bounced from primary to secondary mirrors and then into the eyepieces.

This theoretical distance, used with reflectors and catadioptrics, will create a focal length that is longer than the actual optical tube—making the OTA more portable while significantly boosting the magnification potential beyond a similarly-sized refractor.

Focal ratio

Focal Ratio is a term that will be familiar to photographers, but it is important to certain astronomers, as well. This term is defined as the ratio between the focal length of the scope and the aperture.

Mounts

The Mount is what the OTA is attached to and is responsible for the how the user aligns, moves, and tracks celestial objects. 

There are three principal types: Alt-Azimuth (AZ or Alt-Az), German Equatorial (EQ), and Motorized. Motorized mounts can be of either Alt-Az or EQ, but are usually set aside to differentiate them from

Eyepieces

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

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

Most telescopes come supplied with one or two eyepieces. Ideally, you’d like to have a set that spans a range of magnifications.

You can expect to spend anywhere from $40 to $250 on a good eyepiece.

A Barlow lens is also worth considering: it multiplies each eyepiece’s power by two or three times, effectively doubling your eyepiece collection.

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.

Types Of Telescopes

1. Refractor Telescope

When most people think of a telescope, the refractor type is what’s going to pop into their minds. This kind of telescope uses a lens to focus light on a single mirror, which is angled to direct the light through an eyepiece into your eye.

The simplicity and reliability of the design makes it easy to use and requires little maintenance. These are excellent for observing objects, planets, the Moon and the galaxies.

Since the optical system is basically a straight line, there are no obstructions from secondary mirrors as there are in Newtonians or catadioptrics.

2. Reflector Telescope

Reflector telescopes feature a clear piece of glass or plastic at the front of the tube. These don’t warp the light, so they aren’t lenses, but instead a protective shell to keep dust out.

A mirror sits at the back of the tube. It’s curved to focus light on a second mirror, which directs light through the eyepiece and to your eye.

Reflector telescopes are easily identified by the fact that the eyepiece is found near the telescope’s front. These tend to be the least expensive, and you can get larger apertures for a lower price than with other models. The one downside to reflector telescopes is that they must be calibrated regularly in a process called “collimation.”

3. Compound Telescope (Catadioptrics)

Compound telescopes use an initial lens to focus light onto a mirror at the back of the telescope. The mirror focuses light onto a smaller mirror mounted on the back of the lens, which directs light through a tube that runs through the center of the first mirror and out the back of the telescope.

Compound telescopes are very lightweight relative to other types, and they don’t require collimation like reflector telescopes do.

Our Verdict

Our top pick – Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ is the best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies with sharp powerful optics and point-and-view simplicity.

Celestron’s PowerSeeker 127EQ 127mm f/8 Reflector Telescope features a respectable focal length and a large, parabolic mirror that produce detailed images of the Moon, clear views of the planets, and the ability to resolve bright distant objects such as nebulae and galaxies.

Meade Instruments 209004 Infinity 80mm AZ Refractor Telescope edged out other models to rank among the top of our best telescope to see planets list.

Designed for beginners, the Infinity 80mm Alt-Azimuth Refractor Telescope from Meade is intended to introduce viewers to astronomy by giving them a complete set up for viewing the Moon, planets, galaxies, meteor showers, and brighter deep-sky objects..

Our third pick is the Celestron – NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope. It is one of the best telescopes to see Saturn rings and it comes with a fully computerized hand control. The computerized hand control of this SLT telescope gives you the ability to automatically slew to any of its 4,000+ objects, including over 600 galaxies, 300 clusters, and dozens of planets and galaxies.