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7 Best Telescopes Under $250; Reviews

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Are you looking for the best telescope under $250 and not sure where to start? Congratulations! You’ve landed on the right page. 

There’s a deluge of products, prices, and features that can make buying a telescope in this price range quite overwhelming.

You don’t want to sort through dozens of models to find the one that’s right for you. Instead of doing that, check out this list of the best telescopes under $250. 

Our reviews tell you the things you really need to know about each model, good and bad so that you can find one that meets your needs while avoiding problems.

Top Telescopes for Less Than $250

Comparison Table

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What can you see with a telescope under $250?

The telescopes that cost less than $250 typically have an aperture size ranging from 3 to 5 inches.

Since these telescopes are limited by their small aperture, they are mainly meant for viewing the moon, planets, and bright objects like double stars.

With the telescopes on this list, you’ll be able to see the phases of Venus and Mercury, lots of detail on the Moon, and perhaps the ice caps and a dark spot or two on Mars. 

You can also see Jupiter’s cloud belts, the Great Red Spot, and its moons. 

Saturn’s rings, a few of its moons, and some dull cloud bands can also be spotted, along with the Cassini Division in the rings on a crisp night.

Telescopes in this price range are not powerful enough to show you crisp views of the deep-sky objects.

However, you might be able to pick out the dust lanes in M82 and the Andromeda Galaxy, but everything else will remain a smudge.

You’ll be able to spot globulars as big fuzzy balls–with some hint of definition if you’re really lucky.

Open star clusters are perhaps the most impressive deep-sky targets with telescopes under $250, thanks to their high brightness and contrast.

Top Telescopes Under $250 - Reviews

1. Celestron - PowerSeeker 127EQ

  • Type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 127 mm(5)
  • Focal length: 1000mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/7.9
  • Mount: Equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 20mm, 4mm
  • Magnification: 50x, 250x
  • Weight: 21.38 lbs.(9.7 kg)

The 127EQ is one of the best reflector telescopes that cost under $250, it packs a good aperture and premium quality features, and it’s built to sustain some wear and tear over time.

The 127mm (5”) aperture is a good size that puts the Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ on the higher end in terms of light gathering ability, especially for the price.  

The focal ratio is f/8 which is very moderate and is perfect for beginners. 

It comes with a manual German equatorial mount which is definitely a solid choice if you’re looking to get smooth and accurate pointing, as a new telescope user will have the ability to swivel and move their telescope to spot star clusters in the night sky.

Why We Recommend It

What really makes this 5” affordable reflector so special is not only its sheer size but the clarity it is able to provide as well. Basically, the 127mm aperture allows you to spot distant stars, clusters, planets, satellites, and nebulas with pristine, vivid clarity. 

The Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ will be able to effectively see all of the favorite sights such as the moon, Jupiter, and its moons as well as Saturn and the rings of Saturn. 

In addition to all of that, at 5” in diameter, it will also be able to catch some unique glimpses of dim and distant sights beyond the solar system.

The telescope comes with two eyepieces (4mm, 20mm), a 3x Barlow lens, access to the Starry Night software, and a two-year warranty.

The Starry Night professional astronomy software suite can help beginners learn about the night sky, how objects move and where and when to see specific objects. 

You can even try your hand at astrophotography with this telescope. The Celestron 127EQ is a relatively slow scope with a focal ratio of f/7.9.

A simpler way of saying the same thing is that pictures taken through it will be less distorted than with a low-f scope, especially around the edges of the field of view. 

Another advantage is that a bigger f/number generally makes it easier to get an attached camera into focus.

  • Large aperture
  • Affordable
  • Limited astrophotography
  • Great for the moon, planets, and bright DSOs
  • Comes with a solid mount and accessories
  • Need to be regularly collimated

2. SOLOMARK 70mm Refractor Telescope

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 70 mm (2.75″)
  • Focal length: 700mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/10
  • Mount: Equatorial
  • Eyepiece: Plossl 20mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 70x, 35x
  • Weight: 17 lbs.(7.7 kg)

SOLOMARK 70700EQ Professional Astronomy Refractor Telescope has a 70mm aperture and a 700mm focal length. Plus, this telescope has 10mm and 20mm Plossl eyepieces, and their magnification is 70X and 35X.

Furthermore, they are brighter and have a wider field of view than conventional eyepieces. As a result, chromatic aberration and halo can be successfully reduced. This professional telescope also includes a full-size stainless steel adjustable tripod that can easily accommodate any height or angle.

This affordable high-quality telescope that costs less than 250 dollars also comes with a cell phone adapter, a fully multi-coated lens for safety, and an equatorial telescope mount.

Why We Recommend It

The build quality of this telescope is better than most telescopes in this range. The materials are high quality, it uses steel pieces in all the places that matter, and it feels sturdy.

The optics are at the high end of what you can expect for a 70mm telescope. 

A fully multi-coated optical glass lens with strong transmission coatings is used in the SOLOMARK Telescope 70EQ. As a result, this helps to produce spectacular photos.

But, other than just making incredible images, this telescope protects your eyes as well.

SOLOMARK Telescope 70EQ is a perfect professional telescope for astronomical and terrestrial use. 

With this refractor telescope, you can observe the moon, larger planets, and bright DSOs, and during the daytime can you can also enjoy natural scenes like birds, mountains, animals, etc. 

Moreover,  with its smartphone adapter, you can capture terrific images of night sky objects or nature and wildlife.

  • High-quality optics
  • Robust build
  • Included smartphone adapter
  • Can be used during the daytime
  • Plossl eyepieces
  • Provides high magnification
  • Some may find it heavy
  • Costly

3. Celestron – StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 80mm(3.1”)
  • Focal length: 900mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/11
  • Mount: Altazimuth Mount
  • Eyepiece: 25mm,10mm
  • Magnification: 36x, 90x
  • Barlow lens: 2x
  • Weight: 9.2 lbs. / 4.2 kg

You can travel the night sky with your smartphone using the Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ Smartphone Telescope.

The StarSense Explorer app determines your location in real-time and provides you with a menu of currently observable items to help you navigate.

Simply place your phone in the unique StarSense dock and launch the StarSense Explorer app. 

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 set your phone to the telescope’s optics. 

When you make your choice, arrows show onscreen to guide you as you move the telescope.

Dual-axis slow-motion controls on a manual alt-azimuth mount make it easy to follow arrows in-app to your target. Eyepiece viewing is ready when the app’s bullseye turns green.

Why We Recommend It

With an aperture of 3.51 inches (80 mm), this refractor is suitable for observations of the brighter members of the solar system, including the moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. 

The optical system is also capable of providing closer views of brighter deep-sky targets such as the Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31) and the Orion Nebula (Messier 42).

The Inspire 80AZ comes with a 90-degree erect image diagonal with a 1.25-inch fitting that makes the telescope suitable for terrestrial and celestial views, a pair of Kellner eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm), an accessory tray, and a StarPointer Pro finderscope. 

StarSense Explorer is ideal for beginners thanks to the app’s user-friendly interface and detailed tutorials. It’s like having your own personal tour guide of the night sky.

The sky view shown on your smartphone screen updates as you move the telescope, no cell signal is required for the telescope to do this.

Easy-to-use StarSense Explorer app creates a Tonight’s Best list, making it fast and easy to choose and look at a large selection of objects.

  • StarSense explorer app is outstanding
  • No color aberration
  • Perfect for beginners who want to learn about the night sky
  • Lightweight & portable
  • Super easy to use
  • Plastic mount
  • Syncing the app with the phone takes 10 minutes

4. Celestron Cometron 114AZ Reflector Telescope

  • Type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 114mm (4.49″)
  • Focal length: 450mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/4
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth
  • Eyepiece: 10mm, 20mm
  • Magnification: 45x, 23x
  • Weight: 8.4 lbs (3.81 kg)

The Celestron Cometron 114AZ telescope is compact, lightweight, and easy to mount, making it ideal for older children, beginners, and amateur astronomers on the go.

The simple Newtonian reflector optical design, altazimuth mount, and included red-dot finderscope make it easy to navigate the night sky. 

A steel tripod provides stability, and two high-quality Kellner eyepieces are included to get different magnifications on your chosen objects.

The optics of 114AZ are pretty good as Celestron uses an expensive parabolic primary mirror with this model.

It eliminates any possibility of spherical aberration, providing a clear and sharp image of the night sky in the process.

The telescope comes with an average mount that could be better. However, the tripod that comes with Cometron 114AZ is made of stainless steel. It is sturdy and feels well-made.

Why We Recommend It

This telescope’s optics aren’t very strong, but they’re more than sufficient for novices. With a decent eyepiece, this affordable 114mm apertured reflector can produce clear pictures of Jupiter’s four Galilean Moons and the Storm Clouds. 

With a good eyepiece, you’ll be able to see Saturn’s Rings, as well as Saturn’s largest moon Titan. 

In optimum atmospheric settings, you can also witness Venus’ phases. Mars will only appear as a red dot with this reflector telescope under $250.

The Cometron 114AZ really shines at producing clear images of the deep-sky objects. The short optical tube combined with the relatively wide aperture provides a wide-field view. It can show you good views of the brighter star clusters, nebulas, galaxies, and many double stars.

  • Great optics
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Good deep space performance
  • Great planetary details
  • Lightweight & portable
  • Lacks a sturdy mount
  • Tricky finderscope alignment

5. Gskyer 80mm Refractor Telescope

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 80mm (3.14″)
  • Focal length: 400mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/4
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth
  • Eyepiece: 25mm, 10mm, 5mm
  • Magnification: 16x, 40x, 80x
  • Barlow lens: 3x
  • Weight: 8.4 lbs (3.81 kg)

This is an entry-level 80 mm short focal length refractor telescope. The package includes the optical tube assembly (the telescope), a mount/tripod, three eyepieces, and a 3X Barlow lens. 

The Gskyer refractor telescope also comes with a smartphone adapter so you can take photos through the eyepiece.

The lens is fully coated with optics that will protect your eyes from harmful radiation. 

It features a strong magnification that brings distant astronomical objects like the moon, stars, and galaxies closer to your eyes. You can see sharp and detailed photos of heavenly objects with ease. 

The long focal length also lets you photograph large landscapes or observe birds in the sky or animals on the ground.

The images provided by the included eyepieces are quite good. However, as is typical of entry-level achromatic refractors, there is a fair amount of chromatic aberration around bright objects like the moon. 

Why We Recommend It

The package comes with a 48-degree correct-image diagonal that is optimized for daytime use, making the scope useful as a spotting scope for birding, boats on the water, or other daytime uses. 

The scope comes with three eyepieces, 25 mm, 16x, 10 mm, 40x, and 5 mm, 80x. They are of the standard 1.25” diameter. Any brand of 1.25” eyepiece will work in this scope.

The tripod/mount of the Gskyer 80 mm is solid, stable, easy to direct, and does a good job.

There is an accessory tray provided where you can put your eyepieces when you are using the telescope.

Gskyer includes a smartphone holder with a remote trigger that will let you take pictures through the eyepiece. This should work well for daytime use and will give you nice shots of the Moon. 

The telescope is equipped with a full-size adjustable tripod, so you can have your desired view from any position. The tripods can also be used by both kids and elders with its adjustable feature. 

  • Decent optics
  • Multiple eyepieces
  • Smartphone adapter included
  • Good mount
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Multilayer coated lens
  • Provides sharp and crisp views
  • Not for DSOs

6. Celestron - PowerSeeker 80EQ

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 80 mm (3.15″)
  • Focal length: 900mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/11
  • Mount: Equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 20mm, 4mm
  • Magnification: 45x, 225x
  • Weight: 16.38 lbs (7.4 kg)

The Celestron PowerSeeker 80 EQ is an 80mm, lightweight, versatile, and durable refractor which makes it one of the best telescopes under $250.

The 80EQ has an aperture of 80mm (3.15″), and a focal length of 900mm resulting in a focal ratio of f/11.

The focal ratio of f/11 means that the chromatic aberration refractors tend to suffer from will be minimized and the views will be narrower too, making a solid scope go planetary viewing.

The 80EQ comes with a fair few accessories within such as one 1.25″ Kellner eyepieces at 20mm and another Ramsden 4mm, a PowerSeeker 3x Barlow lens, erect image diagonal, a smartphone adapter, an EQ-1 German equatorial mount, and a tripod.

The Barlow lens is a 3x magnifier. This means, that when attached to the eyepieces, you will triple the magnification potential of each. 

The erect image diagonal makes it so that this telescope can be used as a terrestrial viewer as well as a sky viewer. 

Why We Recommend It 

This is a great telescope for beginners because it will be able to hone in and see things such as the details on the surface of the moon, the rings of Saturn, and the polar ice caps on Mars.

The focal ratio of f/11 makes it so this telescope is the best at focusing on brighter, detailed objects. That is why it is great at finding and imaging the planets, the moon, and other similar objects. 

The Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Refractor Telescope comes with fully coated glass on every piece of its scope which also acts to cut down on aberrations of image quality. 

The Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Refractor Telescope comes with a German equatorial mount and standard tripod base.

The German equatorial mount allows you to align the telescope with the equator which makes it easy to keep objects in the eyepiece for hours, even all night if you want to.

The mount is sturdy and responsive. The knobs are smooth and fluid to use.

  • Decent optics for the price
  • Many accessories provided
  • Decent mount
  • Minimal maintenance required
  • Not very powerful

7. Celestron - AstroMaster 114EQ

  • Type: Newtonian reflector
  • Aperture: 114mm (4.49″)
  • Focal length: 1000mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/9
  • Mount: Equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 20mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 50x, 100x
  • Weight: 17 lbs (7.71 kg)

The Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ reflector telescope costs less than 250 dollars and is a great beginner telescope for an adult or a teenager. 

 It features all-glass optical elements, smooth operating steel tripod mountings with manual motion controls, and coated optics for enhanced image brightness and clarity. 

It’s all anchored by a rugged, pre-assembled tripod with 1.25-inch steel tube legs, providing a rigid and stable platform. 

The optical quality, when calibrated properly, is very good for the price point. With a 114mm primary aperture and a focal ratio of f/8.6, this is a tremendous all-around reflector.

The optics on this telescope are not very powerful, but they will be able to do a lot, especially for someone just starting.

It does not have the steadiest of the mounts and the tripod too is a bit shaky. The biggest issue this telescope has is the need for frequent collimation. Collimation is the calibration of the mirrors in the telescope to make sure that they are in alignment. 

Why We Recommend It

The AstroMaster equatorial mount is easy to set up and requires no tools to do so. Unlike a simple alt-azimuth mount, an equatorial mount will allow your telescope to track objects as they move across the sky throughout the night.

The optics on this reflector are going to be great for looking at the moon, planets such as Jupiter and Saturn, as well as some deep space objects like Andromeda or nebulas far away. 

With the package, you’ll receive a fairly competent set of accessories from a 1.25” rack-and-pinion focuser, a StarPointer red-dot finderscope, and 2 1.25″ eyepieces at 20mm and 10mm along with SkyX First Light Edition planetarium software CD.

This telescope is certainly not perfect. It has a few issues that arise from its basic design.

For the money, though, this telescope offers a wide optical range and may be used for a variety of night sky views. 

It can also help you learn a lot. A newbie may surely learn a lot using this telescope, from collimation to good tripod setup and long observing session tracking.

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Versatile telescope
  • Has a decent amount of power and focus
  • Portable
  • Affordable
  • Mediocre accessories
  • Unstable tripod and mount
  • Requires frequent collimation

Choosing the Best Telescope Under $250; Buying Guide

Don’t let the pages and pages of telescopes turn you off or lure you into a bad purchase. Trust our knowledge and expertise to lead you to brands and bargains that will not disappoint.

As you compare the telescopes above – as well as any others you’re considering – keep in mind the following:

1. Telescope Types

There are three primary types of telescopes:

Refractor Telescopes – Refractors use a glass lens as their primary method of gathering and focusing light.  When you combine the lens with an eyepiece, you are able to magnify the image for better viewing. 

Reflector Telescopes –  Reflectors use mirrors instead of a lens to gather and focus light.  The light enters through a wide opening, and then a mirror redirects the light back towards the opening before it’s redirected to the eyepiece using another mirror.  

Catadioptric Telescopes – 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.

2. Aperture

The aperture is the diameter of the primary mirror in a reflector or the objective lens in a refractor.

The bigger the aperture, the more light the telescope lets in. More light means you can get more detail at the same magnification, and that you can increase the magnification without losing too much detail. 

It also means you’ll be able to see more distant objects. If you want to look at other planets in our solar system, such as Mars, Saturn, or Jupiter, you’ll probably want a telescope with at least a 100-millimeter lens.

3. Focal Length

Focal length is the distance between the lens/mirror and the point where the object is brought into focus. Essentially, this length communicates how much magnifying power your telescope has.

4. Mounts

You’ll have two types of mounts available to you in this price range. Alt-azimuth & equatorial.

Alt-Azimuth – Alt-azimuth mounts are very simple to understand and use. Azimuth is horizontal movement and allows the scope to be moved in the left-right direction.

This is the simplest and easiest-to-use mount for beginners 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. 

Equatorial – Equatorial mounts are like alt-az mounts, but they have an axis that is on a tilt. The tilt allows the scope to be polar aligned to the North celestial pole. 

The Dec (Declination) axle must have counterweights to support the tube. The Dec axis allows the scope to be moved North and South while the RA (Right Ascension) axis allows the scope to be moved East and West.

5. Eyepieces

An eyepiece uses the light gathered and focused to magnify objects and generate images. Most models include one, or two eyepieces with one optimized for wider field views and the other for higher magnification. 

The focal length of both the telescope and the eyepiece influences the level of magnification. To calculate eyepiece magnification, divide the telescope focal length by the eyepiece focal length.


Overall, these were some of the best telescopes under 250 dollars that are available right now. Each astronomer will have their own opinion, and these are just a few of my favorites. Feel free to explore the website and check out some of the other telescopes that I think are worth considering as well.

Ultimately, I am confident you’ll find something in this price range that will be a great fit – so, now it’s up to you to pick one and get started!

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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