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7 Best Telescopes Under $400; Reviews

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Looking for the best telescopes under $400? This article has got you covered. In this article, I will review a range of quality telescopes, all of which will give you the stargazing experience you want, without draining the bank account.

The best thing about the budget of 400 dollars for a telescope is that this price range filters out a lot of the junk scopes that come with questionable spec and feature pairings, spherical mirrors on fast Newtonians, and single element lenses.

All that should have been left behind in the lower price ranges.

This price range is considered the high-end of the entry-level market. You can expect a little more of everything from quality parts and components to better visibility on objects

So, here are a few of the best telescopes you can find out there that cost less than $400.

Best Telescope Under $400

Comparison Table

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Top Telescopes for Under $400 - Reviews

1. Celestron - AstroMaster 130EQ

  • Type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 130 mm(5.1″)
  • Focal length: 650mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Mount: Equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 20mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 33x, 65x
  • Weight: 28.0 lbs.(12.7 kg)

The Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ’s large 5.11” primary aperture and f/5 focal ratio are perfect for deep space viewing. The size and design of this scope give it 345x more light-gathering ability over the naked human eye.

The AstroMaster 130EQ package includes the optical tube assembly (OTA), a CG-3 equatorial mount, and two eyepieces – 20mm and 10mm – which work with the optical system to provide magnifications and 33x and 65x, red-dot finderscope and a sturdy stainless steel tripod. 

This mount is made of solid steel, so it’s built to stand up to years of regular use. It provides simple controls that even a complete beginner will be able to pick up quickly. 

It also comes with a copy of the Starry Night software, which offers an impressive database of over 10,000 objects. This software is a useful supplement for learning more about the objects in the sky.

Why We Recommend It

The 5.11-inch aperture of this scope is a decent size for a telescope that costs under $400, giving the user sufficient light grasp and resolving power at their disposal to get good views of the popular targets – the Moon’s craters, Jupiter’s atmospheric belts, Saturn’s rings, the bright wisps of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Pleiades, the Orion Nebula, and the Great Hercules Cluster.

Getting started with the AstroMaster 130mm couldn’t be easier. Setting up the telescope is a breeze, and you’ll be ready to observe in just a few minutes once everything is out of the box.

The scope is relatively lightweight, especially when the OTA is separate from the mount. Newtonians are easy to transport in general, and that’s true of this scope, too.

Although this telescope is not meant for professional astrophotography, you can still use it to shoot short-exposure images of the Moon, bright planets, and more luminous deep-sky targets using a CCD style camera or your smartphone.

  • Large aperture
  • Equatorial mount
  • Lightweight & portable
  • Easy to set up & use
  • Decent optics
  • Mediocre accessories
  • Regular maintenance required

2. Celestron - AstroMaster 102AZ

  • Aperture: 102mm (4″)
  • Focal length: 660mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/6.5
  • Mount: Alt-az
  • Eyepiece: 20mm, 10mm
  • 2x Barlow lens
  • Magnification: 33x, 66x
  • Weight: 14.1 lbs. (6.4kg)

The Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ offers a generous 660mm focal length and an Altazimuth mount.

Included in the box is a pair of eyepieces – 10mm, providing for 66x magnification, plus 20mm for 33x magnification – as well as a red dot finder scope for pinpointing subjects more accurately. 

Thanks to the AstroMaster’s erect image optics, you get a dual-purpose telescope that is perfect for viewing terrestrial landscapes and wildlife, in addition to observing the heavens.

The instrument is the ideal size if you are looking for an entry-level telescope that is relatively lightweight and portable but still has sufficient power for viewing deep-sky objects. 

The AstroMaster 102AZ is a refractor that is well-constructed; resistant to shocks and bumps and requires little maintenance apart from using and storing it correctly.


The Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ package also includes the Starry Night computer software. It allows you to connect the telescope to a computer and conveniently track and plan your observations. 

As an added bonus you can access valuable information on 10 000 celestial objects.

Why We Recommend It

Thanks to the long optical tube, AstroMaster 102AZ is able to provide incredibly detailed Solar System visuals. Jupiter’s cloud storms, The Great Red Spot, and 4 Galilean Moons are easily noticeable. The Rings of Saturn are distinguishable from the planet, and Titan is visible with a good eyepiece. 

The AstroMaster 102AZ really shines at producing crisp views of the Moon.

Moreover, you can catch a glimpse of most, bright deep space objects such as the Pleiades Star Cluster, Orion Nebula, and Andromeda Galaxy.

The included 90° diagonal sports an integrated erecting prism to correct images and allow the scope to be used as a conventional spotting scope for terrestrial use.

An adjustable-height stainless steel tripod supports the mount and optical tube and comes with a center tray that conveniently holds accessories while improving stability and reducing vibrations.

  • Can also be used as a terrestrial scope
  • Great high quality coated optics
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Fast and simple setup
  • Decent deep-sky performance
  • Mount could be better
  • Not for astrophotography

3. SOLOMARK 130EQ Reflector Telescope

  • Telescope type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 130mm (5.11″)
  • Focal length: 650mm (25.6″)
  • Focal ratio: f/5
  • Weight: 15.1 Kg (33.4 lb)
  • Maximum magnification: 260x
  • Included eyepieces:10mm, 20mm
  • Accessories:1.5x Barlow lens, moon filter, phone adapter

The Solomark Polaris 130EQ is an affordable telescope with excellent optics.

If you are a first-time buyer wishing to get into astronomy, this telescope will teach you a lot and you will appreciate it.

It takes some time to set up the telescope, but it’s not difficult.

In terms of features, this telescope boasts great power, a huge aperture, a long focal length, and a sturdy structure.

The tripod is constructed with aluminum, which, while not as luxurious as stainless steel, is adequate and keeps the assembled telescope from becoming too heavy.

We’d also recommend this telescope to anyone wishing to upgrade from a 70mm or 80mm refractor.

This isn’t a travel telescope, either. While it is lighter than other telescopes of similar size, it is still intended for use from a window, patio, or from backyard.

Why We Recommend It

Carbon fiber is used to build the optical tube, which makes it lighter and lends it a gorgeous and attractive black finish.

The SOLOMARK 130EQ costs less than 400 dollars and has excellent optics. The lenses are of excellent quality, and the light transmission results in images that are brilliant and vibrant.

You can see Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, the Cassini division in Saturn’s rings, the ice caps and albedo markings of Mars, and even the tiniest lunar craters (as small as a few miles across) are visible with the 130EQ.

Because of its large aperture, it can also show you a lot of deep-sky objects such as bright galaxies, like Andromeda, M82, M64, M51, and M101.

For accessories, it comes with two Kellner eyepieces, a 10mm and a 20mm, as well as a generic 1.5x Barlow lens. 

  • Large aperture
  • Decent for deep-sky observations
  • Great lunar and planetary detail
  • Great build quality and decent optics
  • Not meant for kids
  • Limited accessories

4. Celestron Inspire 100AZ

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 100mm(3.9″)
  • Focal length: 660mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/6.6
  • Mount: Manual; Alt-Azimuth
  • Eyepiece: 20mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 33x, 66x
  • Weight: 20 lbs.

The Celestron Inspire 100AZ offers a complete observing package with a good-sized aperture, a focal length of 660mm, and plenty of features at a reasonable cost of less than $400.

The 100mm-wide alloy optical tube is finished in a light metallic blue gloss paint with black plastic fittings and an orange, Vixen-style dovetail bar. 

It also includes 20mm and 10mm Kellner eyepieces, as well as a 90° erect image diagonal, making it suitable for terrestrial observations. A helpful red light LED torch, accessory tray/leg spreader, and a dual-purpose dust cap are also included in the package.

The achromatic doublet lens is fully coated. It’s only a thin coating, but it’s evenly applied with no bad spots.

Why We Recommend It 

The telescope provides great visuals of the moon and large planets and the images can also be captured with a smartphone thanks to its built-in smartphone adapter. 

Planets and their brightest features can be seen clearly thanks to its 100 mm aperture. It has enough light-gathering ability and focal ratio to see distant objects such as nebula, galaxies, and star clusters.

The mount is a free-form altazimuth mount that moves very smoothly and has functional settings that allow you to cruise around the night sky with fluid ease or hone in a specific spot with the same amount of precision.

Moreover, the telescope can be assembled in minutes without tools. Everything unfolds and hooks together without having to deal with small screws or specific tools.

This telescope also features fully coated glass optics which decreases potential anomalies in the viewing and increases image quality. 

  • Large aperture
  • Can be used as a terrestrial telescope
  • Comes with a built-in smartphone adapter
  • Doesn’t require regular maintenance
  • Plastic mount
  • Some chromatic aberration

5. Zhumell Z130 Reflector Telescope

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 130mm (5”)
  • Focal length: 660mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Mount: Tabletop, Bodsonian
  • Eyepiece: Plossl 25mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 26x, 65x
  • Weight: 21 lbs. (9.5kg)

The Zhumell Z130 Portable Reflector Telescope features a 130mm parabolic primary mirror.

With the Z130, Zhumell has combined its superior quality and value with the portability of a tabletop Dobsonian. 

The Zhumell Z130 costs less than 400 dollars and it is best suited for both brand new stargazers and for those who want to add a grab-and-go telescope to their collection.

This Zhumell Z130 Portable Dobsonian Reflector package comes with a red dot finderscope and two fully multi-coated eyepieces, a 25 mm eyepiece for wide-field views with 26x magnification, and a 10 mm eyepiece with 65x magnification for closer views.

The Z130 tabletop Dobsonian mount is made of wood and melamine with two carrying handle cutouts. The optical tube is mounted to the base with tube rings and a Vixen-style dovetail. 

Why We Recommend It

The telescope is quite easy to use and handle. It’s a reasonably compact device and weighing in at around 11kg makes it a fairly lightweight system to carry around too so, taking it on a camping trip or to a slightly steep hill shouldn’t be too hard a task to do.

Zhumell Z130 Portable has a tabletop altazimuth Dobsonian mount design. The simplicity of the design is great for a beginner.

It has a 5”(130mm) aperture which allows in a substantial amount of light. Deep space objects such as galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters are clearly visible. 

The Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn will also be clear and detailed thanks to its wide aperture.

It’s so easy to use that it will take 30 seconds for you to find the object and focus, which makes this telescope something you can use every night at any moment.

  • Easy to use
  • Great optics
  • Robust build
  • Easy to travel with
  • Simple design
  • Needs a steady flat surface to be used
  • Requires collimation

6. Celestron – StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 114mm (4.49″)
  • Focal length: 1000mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/9
  • Mount: Alt-azimuth
  • Eyepiece: Plossl 25mm, 10mm
  • Barlow lens: 2x
  • Magnification: 40x, 100x
  • Weight: 10.4 lbs (4.71 kg)

The Celestron – StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ is perfect for novices and beginners as it allows your smartphone to be used interactively with your telescope to make it much easier to find planets, galaxies, and other objects to look at. This helps remove much of the frustration that can occur when starting with astronomy.

Explorer LT’s simple altazimuth mount makes it easy to move the telescope to find your target. A slow-motion altitude adjustment knob helps you fine-tune the telescope’s pointing position and follow targets as they appear to drift across the night sky. 

Finding objects has never been easier, faster, or more accurate than with StarSense Explorer app that comes with this telescope. 

To use the StarSense Explorer app, simply place your phone on the StarSense dock. StarSense Explorer generates a list of celestial objects currently visible when you position your phone to the telescope’s optics (a 10-minute procedure). When you make your choice, arrows show onscreen to guide you as you move the telescope.

Why We Recommend It

This telescope has a huge 114mm (4.5″) objective lens that can gather enough light to bring out detail in celestial objects. Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, cloud bands, and Great Red Spot will be visible, as will Saturn’s rings, the trapezium in the Orion Nebula, and the lovely Pleiades Open Star Cluster.

The package includes 25mm and 10mm eyepieces, 2x Barlow Lens, StarSense smartphone dock, a red dot finderscope (in case you want to use the telescope without your phone), and a full-height tripod.

The StarSense Explorer LT 114 mm Reflector Telescope is priced at under $400 and it is a great scope for those just getting their feet wet in the world of astronomy. 

Placing your StarSense Explore app-enabled smartphone in the specially designed dock, it will analyze the night sky and calculate celestial object positions in real-time.

  • The StarSense Explorer app is excellent
  • Removes all the frustration of finding an object in the night sky
  • Decent optics
  • Smooth mount
  • Great educational tool
  • Vulnerable to light pollution
  • Takes some time to sync with the smartphone

7. Gskyer 90mm Refractor Telescope

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 90mm(3.5”)
  • Focal length: 600mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/6.7
  • Mount: Altazimuth Mount
  • Eyepiece: 25mm,10mm,5mm
  • Magnification: 24x, 60x, 120x
  • Weight: 18 lbs. / 8.2 kg

The Gskyer refractor telescope has a 90mm aperture that 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.

Gskyer 600×90 is an easy-to-use, reasonably powerful telescope that is a really good beginner’s choice. It requires no maintenance, and the learning curve is minimal.

The optics are good, the build quality is ok, and it comes with all the accessories you need to get started like 3 eyepieces, one Barlow lens, and a smartphone adapter.

The tripod that comes with the telescope is very sturdy, and easily adjustable if you’re looking for something that can be used by both kids and adults easily.

Why We Recommend It

Even though the build materials are solid, the tube is not too heavy. The shorter focal length also keeps it compact, making it a good choice to take camping or to take back and forth between the house and the backyard. It is also relatively easy to assemble and disassemble for an adult.

The optics of this telescope are quite good. The lenses are properly coated, and the optical power is enough to view some major details such as the Rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, and Mars as a red dot.

  • Good for beginners
  • Great value for money
  • Decent build quality
  • Great for the moon and the planets
  • Comes with a smartphone adapter
  • Mount could be better
  • Mediocre accessories

What to Look for in a Telescope for Under $400

Even though you’re looking for a telescope that won’t break your budget, you still want to get the best one you can for the money you have to spend. Below you will find a list of things that are important to know before you begin shopping for a telescope

1. Types of Telescopes

There are mainly three types of telescope: Refractors, Reflectors & Compound telescopes.

Reflector telescopes use a mirror. This mirror is placed at the back of your telescope, and it reflects your images. 

These tend to be less expensive than the other types of telescopes, however, they do require more maintenance. 

Refractor telescopes work via a lens that is situated at the front of the telescope. Refractor telescopes are easier to maintain than reflector telescopes, however, the cost of the telescope can be quite pricey depending on the size of the lens.

The larger the lends, the better the quality, and thus, the pricier the telescope. 

Compound telescopes use mirrors and lenses to gather the light for your images. They are usually smaller in size and pretty lightweight, so they are easily transportable.

2. Aperture

Aperture refers to the diameter of a telescope’s main lens or mirror. The quality of a telescope is defined by its aperture’s light-gathering ability, focal length, and its eyepiece’s magnification power.

The aperture of a telescope also determines the maximum limit of your telescope’s magnification. The larger the aperture, the higher magnification it can accommodate.

3. Focal length

The focal length is the distance between the point where the object is brought into focus and the primary lens or mirror. The focal length tells you how much magnification your telescope is capable of. 

4. Focal Ratio

One thing you may hear quite a bit, especially when looking at the best telescopes for under $400, is the focal ratio. It’s not as complicated as it looks, it just calculates the speed of the aperture. This number tends to be made up of a division of the focal length by the aperture.

5. Mounts

A sturdy and stable mount provides support for your telescope, allows smooth mobility, and dampens vibrations to keep it steady for objects to stay in view. It also helps locate and track celestial objects. 

Alt-azimuth and equatorial are the two most common types of mounts.

The Alt-az mount moves along two axes w/ vertical and horizontal motions. This is the simplest and easiest-to-use mount for beginner telescopes because it works the way you would expect, similar to a camera tripod.  To use it, you simply point it where you want to look and tighten it down.

An Equatorial mount features two axes, with one aligning to the sky for smooth tracking of objects, an important requirement in astrophotography. The setting circles allow you to locate known objects using coordinates. 

If you’ll be viewing one object for an extended period of time, this type of mount is the one you’ll need. 

This is due to the fact that you’ll only really need to adjust one axis for the duration, and that axis is actually based on the rotation of the Earth.

6. Finderscope

A finderscope attaches to the outside of your telescope to help you find what you are looking for without any magnification. Some have red dot technology that will project a red dot into the sky, so you can see where your telescope is pointed with the naked eye.

7. Eyepieces

An eyepiece is the part of the telescope that you look through. There are many different types and sizes of eyepieces.

If you’re just getting started, we recommend purchasing a telescope with a few different eyepiece possibilities. 

These, combined with a Barlow lens, will give you a good opportunity to be creative and explore all of your possibilities.

8. Stable Tripod

Tripods for telescopes also need to be particularly sturdy. You will want to ensure that the tripod you opt for can be adjusted to suit your height. 

Also, if you plan on traveling with your telescope, you will need to ensure that the tripod can be folded down and comes with a case. 


That concludes our discussion on the “Best Telescopes Under $400”. I hope this article has been of value to you and has provided you with everything you need to make an informed purchase.

With a decent budget of $400, you’re starting to get in range of some excellent telescopes that will give you years of wonderful viewing experiences.  

If you’re looking to maximize power, Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ pick is a solid choice as it gives you a huge aperture in a practical, versatile, affordable overall design.  But, be sure to check out the other options as well, for a variety of other needs and priorities.

Written by:
Picture of Chandrashekhara Rao
Chandrashekhara Rao

I grew up in a rural community with a dark sky, and that is where I learned to appreciate planets and stars at an early age. I have been fascinated with all things astronomical since I was a kid and started with a cheap-and-cheerful 60mm refractor on a wobbly tripod.

More about me...

We are a team of active amateur astronomers, here to help you with all your astronomy and science related needs – this is anything, from reviewing the latest telescopes to be released to talking about gravity and neurons. The Big Bang Optics was started because of our love for astronomy and to help others like us find the best telescope and accessories.


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