12 Best Telescopes of 2022 For All Budgets: US Edition

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Trying to find the best telescope in the US can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’re new to the field of astronomy. 

Where do you start? How much should you spend? Will it break easily? And what do any of the specifications mean? 

If you visit any of the online or brick & mortar telescope retailers in the US without doing proper research, you’ll be bombarded with so many choices that finding water on Mars would seem like an easier task than choosing your best telescope.

There are so many options, jargon, and so many accessories and extras, that most beginners have no idea where to start.

So to make your lives easier, we’ve researched and reviewed the 12 best telescopes available in the market today.

We’ve divided this article into two sections:

1. Best Telescopes For Beginners & Intermediates

These are budget, entry-level telescopes that cost less than $500. While some of the telescopes in this section are suitable for novices, kids, and beginners, there are some models that are best for more experienced, intermediate users.

2. Best Telescopes For Professionals & Advanced Users

This section has telescopes for those who have a little more money to spend and are looking for a good quality telescope with a large aperture. Most telescopes in this section cater to either the beginners looking for a long-term telescope or advanced users who want a more powerful telescope for crisp image quality or they want to dabble in deep-sky astrophotography.  

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

2. Best Telescopes For Professionals & Advanced Users

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Best Telescopes - Reviews

1. Celestron - PowerSeeker 127EQ

(Best For Beginners)

Specifications
  • Type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 127 mm(5″)
  • Focal length: 1000mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • Mount: German Equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 20mm, 4mm
  • Magnification: 50x, 250x
  • Weight: 22.0 lbs.(10.0 kg)

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ telescope is one of the most popular beginner’s telescopes in the United States, and with good reason.

The telescope packs a good aperture (5”), premium quality features, it’s built like a wall of bricks, and its price is in a range that makes it one of the best budget telescopes on our list.

So if you’re a beginner looking for a large aperture at a low price, then, 127EQ reflector is the telescope for you.

With its 5” primary mirror, you can easily use magnifications as high as 250x (without the images becoming blurry) and anything up to 200x is within easy reach of this telescope. 

The telescope has a focal ratio is f/8 which is very moderate but it is perfect for beginners. 

The telescope comes with two eyepieces (4mm and 20mm) and a 3x Barlow Lens.

The 4mm eyepiece is quite frankly a bit too strong for this scope, as it provides a whopping 250x magnification. 

The 20mm piece, on the other hand, comes with a more practical and useful 50x magnification power. 

The 3x Barlow lens threefold increases the magnification for each of your eyepieces.

Why We Recommend It 

The Celestron 127EQ is great for a family or beginner backyard astronomer who wants to get a taste of both the solar system and some deep space sights.

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, with the 5” aperture, it will also be able to catch some unique glimpses of brighter deep space galaxies and star clusters. 

This telescope is capable of giving you magnificent views of the moon’s mountain ranges and craters.

The 127EQ comes with a  German equatorial mount. This mount is designed to be aligned with the equator which then allows for easy tracking of objects during the night.

The package includes two eyepieces, a 3x Barlow lens, access to the Starry Night software, and a two-year warranty.

Pros
  • Budget telescope
  • Large aperture
  • The most bang for your buck
  • Designed for beginners and novices
  • Includes a solid mount and good accessories
Cons
  • Needs to be collimated
  • Wobbly mount

2. Sarblue Mak60

(Best For Kids)

Specifications
  • Type: Maksutov-Cassegrain
  • Aperture: 60mm(2.36″)
  • Focal length: 750mm
  • Eyepieces: 20mm
  • Magnification: 37.5x
  • Weight: 2.62 lbs. (1.18 kg)

The Sarblue Mak60 is a great bargain. You get a small in size but big in performance telescope that is easy to travel with.

Keep in mind that this is a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope that is designed to offer superb optical performance. 

The design corrects the known optical problems such as coma (found in reflector telescopes) while also correcting chromatic aberration (found in refractors). The result is high-contrast detailed views of both terrestrial and celestial targets.

This telescope has a 60mm aperture, f/12.5 focal ratio, and a focal length of 800mm.

This extremely portable telescope comes with a right-angle erecting prism, a solid metal tabletop tripod, an eyepiece, and a cellphone adapter/holder.

The 20mm Kellner eyepiece yields a magnification of 40x.

The eyepiece is good and fits the cell phone adapter snugly. The image, when you look through it directly, has a lot of crispness, color, and detail.

Also, because of the telescope’s Maksutov Cassegrain design, there is no image distortion or optical aberrations and the image produced is clear and crisp.

The tripod is sturdy and easy to use. You can also attach it to any tripod that uses standard photographic thread. 

Quite frankly, the Sarblue Mak60 Mak-Cass telescope can give any 70 or 80mm a run for their money. 

Why We Recommend It

The Sarblue 60mm is a compact budget telescope for children and beginners with a long focal length. It’s primarily optimized for the Moon, planets, and double stars, but will show you a few deep-sky objects too. 

The Maksutov-Cassegrain design of the telescope with a long focal length means you can achieve high enough magnifications for planetary viewing. 

Jupiter and Saturn appear as quite small discs through the 20mm eyepiece, though are still clearly identifiable. 

Jupiter’s Galilean moons can be seen easily as dots and you can see the Great Red Spot. Saturn’s rings and Cassini Division can be seen. 

Swapping in a 6mm Plossl eyepiece (125x magnification) provides much better views of Jupiter’s bands and of Saturn’s rings.

The right-angle erecting prism makes it a great terrestrial scope that you can use during the daytime to look at the landscapes, wildlife, birds, people or buildings, and architecture.

You can use the telescope’s smartphone adapter for taking photos of the Moon or terrestrial objects, and it fits most smaller 1.25” eyepieces, such as the included 20mm, if you take the eye guards off.

Pros
  • Amazing optical quality
  • Extremely portable
  • Clear and detailed images 
  • Affordable
  • Perfect for educational purposes
  • Can be used for smartphone astrophotography
Cons
  • Lightweight
  • Mount could be better
  • Small aperture

3. Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope

(Best Computerized Pick)

Specifications
  • Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Aperture: 150 mm (5.91)
  • Focal length: 1499 mm (59)
  • Focal ratio: f/10
  • Eyepiece focal length: 25 mm (60x)
  • Total kit weight: 21 lbs. (9.53 kg)
  • Mount type: Single-arm fork, alt-azimuth , GoTo

The Celestron NexStar 6SE is an all-arounder, suitable for both newcomers to astronomy and seasoned observers with a thorough understanding of the night sky.

The 6” primary aperture on this Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is an excellent size for capturing the wonders of our Solar system and many deep-sky objects. 

The telescope requires very little collimation which makes the Nexstar 6SE more user-friendly and less intimidating for first-time astronomers.

It comes with a 25mm Plössl eyepiece which provides a magnification of 60x.

The NexStar 6SE has amazing optical performance, especially for a telescope in this price range. 

At 1500mm focal length, the 6SE has a wide field of view and is, therefore, more flexible and comfortable for viewing. 

You can read a full detailed review of the Celestron NexStar 6SE here.

When using this telescope, there are no optical aberrations, coma, or color fringing to be found.

Image contrast is great for a compound scope (the secondary mirror in a compound and other reflectors decreases contrast), and the internal baffling to prevent reflections in the tube is also very effective. You end up with a bright, clear, and sharp image at the eyepiece.

The mount that comes with the NexStar 6SE is a unique single fork alt-az mount that’s a perfect complement to the optical tube. 

The mount has 2″ stainless steel tripod legs, 9 rotational speeds, and a payload capacity of 12 lbs. It’s also remarkably light in terms of its aperture-to-weight ratio, so it’s naturally portable and easier to carry.

Why We Recommend It

One of the most significant barriers to astronomy is learning how to navigate the night sky. 

Bundled in the 6SE Package is a Celestron NexStar go-to fork mount. 

The NexStar 6SE’s alignment technology eliminates the hassle of calibrating the instrument and, once completed, the GoTo system is extremely accurate at locating targets at the touch of a button. 

The go-to capability is a very handy feature once the initial learning curve of alignment is overcome. 

The hand controller contains over 40,000 celestial objects in its database and even has storage for user-input objects. 

The NexStar 6SE is a very capable observing instrument, providing bright and detailed views of both deep-sky and Solar System objects.

Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars (at opposition) can be seen in great detail, with gaps between Saturn’s rings, sharp cloud bands on Jupiter, and polar ice caps on Mars. The phases of both Mercury and Venus can also be seen.

Neptune and Uranus can be seen as small, colored points in the night sky.

Outside the Solar System, you can expect to see a lot of open star clusters like M35, M11, and M67.

You can also see small planetary nebulae, such as M57, Caldwell 39, or Caldwell 63.

Pros
  • No color fringing or coma
  • Excellent multi-coated optics
  • Limited astrophotography
  • Powerful telescope
  • Excellent mix of power, technology, and affordability
Cons
  • The mount drains away batteries quickly
  • Come with only 1 eyepiece

4. Zhumell Z130 Tabletop Reflector

(Best Under $200)

Specifications
  • Type: Newtonian Reflector
  • Aperture: 130mm (5.12″)
  • Focal length: 650mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth (Dobsonian)
  • Eyepiece: 20mm,10mm
  • Magnifications: 26x, 65x
  • Weight: 18.5lbs.

Zhumell Z130 is perfect in all areas. Its optics are as powerful as they can be, its build quality is excellent, the accessories that come with it are perfectly adequate, and to top it all, it’s extremely affordable. 

It is the kind of telescope that you just can’t go wrong with.

The Z130 has an aperture of 130mm, a focal length of 650mm, and a focal ratio of f/5.

The Zhumell Z130 is one of the best telescopes for the money as it features a parabolic primary mirror, a high-end feature not usually found in telescopes of this size. 

The parabolic mirror removes visual defects like spherical aberration, providing noticeably sharper views. 

The primary mirror and all other optical surfaces are coated with Zhumell’s high-reflectivity coatings. 

You can count on more than 90 percent light transmission, for brighter views of even dim objects like nebulae.

You’ll also get two fully multi-coated eyepieces: a 1.25” 25mm (26x) eyepiece for wide-field views and a 1.25” 10mm (65x) eyepiece for higher magnification.

Along with the eyepieces, you also get a red dot finderscope, a Dobsonian (altazimuth) mount with an accessory tray, and a screwdriver.

Why We Recommend It

Zhumell Z130 is an excellent telescope for beginners and a great grab-and-go addition to an intermediate astronomer’s telescope line.

It has a 5”(130mm) aperture which allows in a substantial amount of light. 

You can expect to see magnificent views of the moon and its craters, the rings of Saturn, the bands on Jupiter, and its four largest moons.

Mars, Mercury, and Venus can also be seen but without much detail.

On steady nights you can also see Uranus and Neptune as bluish discs in the sky.

When it comes to deep space objects, the Z130 can show you decent views of the brighter star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies with some detail.

The Z130’s mechanical design is simple and streamlined. Durable, sturdy construction means your Zhumell will stand up to years of use and travel. 

Thanks to its compact size and weight, you can confidently pack it along for camping trips, vacations, and more.

Pros
  • Great optics
  • Large aperture
  • Easy to setup & use
  • Highly portable
  • Affordable
  • Decent accessories
Cons
  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Short focal length means you will need more powerful eyepieces

5. Gskyer 70mm Telescope

(Best Budget Pick)

Specifications
  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 70mm (2.75″)
  • Focal length: 400mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.7
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth
  • Eyepiece: 25mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 16x, 40x
  • Weight: 5.3 lbs.(2.4 kg)

Right of the bat, I should warn you that this is a super cheap highly portable small telescope that is targeted at beginners and first-time buyers, so don’t expect it to produce crystal clear images.

That said, this 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Refracting Telescope is an excellent, low stakes telescope that can be used for viewing near-space objects at night, and wildlife and landscapes during the day. 

It is one of the best-selling telescopes in the US. It is functional, user-friendly, and makes backyard astronomy a hobby anyone can try for themselves.

The telescope has some decent optics and a slightly longer focal length than telescopes within the same budget. 

As a refracting telescope, it incorporates lenses made from glass and are fully coated with anti-reflective coatings.

The telescope comes with  25mm and 10mm eyepieces along with a 3x Barlow lens that triples the magnification of any eyepiece.

The Gskyer Instruments Infinity 70mm has an Altazimuth mount, making the job of tracking celestial objects much easier. Also, it stands upon an adjustable aluminum alloy tripod.

Why We Recommend It

The Gskyer 70 mm is lightweight, convenient to transport, and an easy-to-set-up travel telescope that is perfect for kids or a beginner looking to dip his/her feet in the field of astronomy.

With its focal specs and included accessories, you’ll be able to see the moon and planets with some features including craters, cloud bands, Jupiter’s moons, and Saturn’s rings.

Don’t expect to see deep space nebula and galaxies, and many of the faintest DSOs as the 70mm aperture isn’t large enough or optically suited for deep sky observing.

The Gskyer comes with several useful accessories which include 2 Kellner eyepieces, a 3x Barlow lens, a carry bag, tripod, zenith mirror, accessory tray, a Bluetooth remote, and a smartphone adapter so that you can take pictures through the telescope.

The zenith mirror or the erect image diagonal is useful for terrestrial use or using the telescope as a spotting scope to view the beautiful landscapes, beaches, and oceans of the USA, or boats, birds, and animals during the day.

Pros
  • Decent optics
  • Budget telescope
  • Lightweight and super portable
  • Easy to use
  • Comes with many decent accessories
  • Perfect for the complete novice or young astronomer
  • Can withstand a bit of knocking around
Cons
  • Plastic eyepieces
  • Shaky tripod
  • Tripod too short for tall people

6. Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian Telescope

(Best For Viewing Planets)

Specifications
  • Type: Newtonian Reflector
  • Aperture: 114mm (4.5”)
  • Focal length: 900mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/7.9
  • Mount: Dobsonian
  • Eyepiece: 25mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 36x, 91x
  • Weight: 22 lbs. (10kg)

The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian telescope is compact, lightweight, and has been designed with ease-of-use in mind. 

The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is has a larger aperture than similarly-priced refractors, offers simple alt-azimuth motion, and provides good seeing quality to view planets and distant DSOs.

The XT4.5 is a 114mm f/7.89 Newtonian reflector with a particularly long optical tube length of 900mm.

The long optical tube makes the planetary performance of this telescope exceptional for this price range. 

The long optical tube increases the ability to focus at high magnifications, therefore getting some detail from objects such as Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn is effortless. 

Also, it makes the collimation process much easier. 

The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is an entry-level Dobsonian perfectly suitable for beginners as well as intermediates.

It comes with high-quality Plössl 25mm and 10mm eyepieces. The 25mm eyepiece provides a wide-field, 36x image, which is ideal for deep space observations. The 10mm eyepiece provides a narrow, 90x image, ideal for planetary detail.

The mount has an altazimuth design. It only moves up, down, left, and right, and the motions are smooth. The base is solid enough to carry the optical tube, and the springs attached help with friction adjustment.

Why We Recommend It

The SkyQuest XT4.5 is an excellent telescope for viewing brighter deep-sky objects that scopes with a smaller aperture struggle with.

In addition to deep sky viewing, the XT4.5 also provides beautiful, detailed views of the moon, planets, and stars, including double stars and star clusters.

The XT4.5 is best suited for lunar and planetary views. It’ll show you details as small as a couple of miles on the Moon, and the phases of Mercury and Venus. 

You’ll be able to see Mars’ ice caps and some dark markings. Jupiter’s cloud belts, Great Red Spot, and 4 largest moons are easy to spot. Saturn’s rings, the gap within them, some faint cloud bands, and around half a dozen moons are also visible. 

Uranus and Neptune too can be seen as bluish dots in the sky. 

This scope weighs in just shy of 18 pounds when fully assembled, and it offers a convenient carrying handle, so it’s easy to travel anywhere with it.

Pros
  • Excellent optics
  • Produces crisp, clear images
  • Decent size aperture that captures a good amount of light
  • Good quality eyepieces
  • Easy to collimate
  • Sturdy mount
Cons
  • Narrow field of view
  • Low-quality finderscope
  • Not ergonomic

7. Celestron – StarSense Explorer LT 102AZ

(Best Smartphone Enabled)

Specifications
  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 102mm (4″)
  • Focal length: 650mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/6.5
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth
  • Eyepiece: 20mm,10mm
  • Magnifications: 26x, 66x
  • Weight: 14.2lbs.

The Celestron – StarSense Explorer LT 102AZ lets you take a guided tour of the Universe without investing in a computerized telescope.

All you have to do is download the StarSense Explorer app on your smartphone and pair it with this awesome budget telescope and within no time and you’ll be gazing at galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, and planets from the ‘Tonight’s Best’ list.

You don’t even need a cellphone signal for the app to work. So basically you can travel to the remotest part of the United States with this telescope and not worry if your phone, app, and telescope are going to work. Because they will definitely work!

Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ is an f/6.5 refractor with a 4” aperture that provides above-average performance with both deep space and Solar System objects.

This is one of the best telescopes for under $300 on our list and it comes with everything you need for a night of stargazing – two eyepieces — a 25 mm and 10 mm, which offer magnifications of 26x and 66x,  a StarPointer red-dot finderscope, star diagonal, tripod and a StarSense smartphone dock.

The telescope comes with a manual Alt-az mount with flexible rods to allow what are called slow motions, to provide finer control over the movement than simply pulling and pushing the instrument.

Why We Recommend It

With a large 102mm (4″) objective lens, this telescope has enough light-gathering ability to bring out impressive detail in celestial objects. 

You can expect sharp, bright views of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, its cloud bands, and Great Red Spot, the rings of Saturn, the trapezium in the Orion Nebula, and beautiful Pleiades Open Star Cluster. 

Celestron’s XLT optical coatings improve light transmission, enhancing the views even more. 

The telescope also includes a 90-degree erect image diagonal, so you can use it during the day to view birds, wildlife, landscapes, and more.

The telescope has a very good build quality, and it’s lightweight (just 14.2 lbs.) so it’s easy to carry around. 

The tripod is made of steel and for this price, this is a very good tripod, 

Within minutes of setting up the telescope, you’ll be navigating the sky with confidence. Simply place your phone in the unique StarSense dock and launch the StarSense Explorer app. 

After aligning your phone to the telescope’s optics, StarSense Explorer App (compatible with iPhone & Android) generates a list of celestial objects currently visible. Make your selection and arrows appear onscreen, guiding you to move the telescope and view the object that you requested.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Crisp and clear views
  • Excellent StarSense App
  • Very user friendly
  • Requires no maintenance
  • Lightweight & highly portable
Cons
  • Stiff mount
  • Not for astrophotography
  • Plastic made accessories

8. Celestron - NexStar 8SE Telescope

(Best 8-inch GoTo)

Specifications
  • Design type: Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Aperture: 203.2 mm (8 inches)
  • Focal Length (FL): 2032 mm (80 inches)
  • Focal Ratio (FR): f/10
  • Max useful magnification: 400x
  • Mount type: Alt-azimuth outfitted with Goto-motorised tracking
  • Weight: 48.9 pounds

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is aimed at beginners as well as advanced users that want a tool with great optical quality and a lot of light-gathering power.

It’s an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain with a focal length of 2,032mm, giving a focal ratio of f/10. All of this fits into a compact orange tube that weighs 11kg and is just 432mm long.

The optics in the NexStar 8SE are incredibly well made and provide brilliant image clarity and detail. 

They have Celestron’s own Starbright XLT coating for better light transmission, as a result of which, there are almost no noticeable optical aberrations.

The Nexstar 8SE also sports a high-quality mirror with a superb focal ratio. 

It also comes with Celestron’s patented E Lux 25 millimeter Plossl eyepiece to complement the astonishing quality of the optics. 

This top-notch GoTo telescope is mounted on a Computerized Altitude-Azimuth Single Fork Arm Mount, which is perfect for those who are looking for simplicity.

Read the complete review of the Celestron NexStar 8SE GoTo telescope here.

The GoTo mount also has a massive database of 40,000 celestial bodies and 200 user-defined programmable objects which will automatically find and then track whatever you want to see. That’s a huge plus for beginner and professional astronomers alike.

While the telescope can run on 8 AA batteries, you really need an external power supply as the mount tends to drain batteries quickly.  

Why We Recommend It

The massive database and computerized mount of the Celestron 8SE take away all the time-consuming effort of trying to locate an object by map reading and star-hopping. 

Instead, with the handheld controller operating the GoTo mount, you can go straight to the object you want to see and use your precious time viewing your favorite sky objects rather than trying to find them.

The telescope can be used for limited astrophotography as it comes with a built-in wedge to polar align the telescope. 

Adding an inexpensive camera adaptor will let you connect your mirrorless or DSLR camera and dabble in some short exposure astrophotography.

The whole telescope breaks down into separate lightweight pieces making it easy to travel with or take it to your favorite viewing spot.

This 8” GoTo telescope is powerful enough to show you all the 40,000 objects in its database, no matter how far or faint the nebulae, star clusters or any other DSOs are.

You can expect to see clear and crisp views of Jupiter’s cloud bands, its moons, and the Great Red Spot.

The Moon’s ridges, faults, valleys, mountains, flatlands, craters, and more.

You can clearly see Saturn’s rings and the division in them, its cloud belts, and its moons.

You can see Mercury and Venus’ phases and Mars’ ice caps.

Outside the Solar System, you can easily see thousands of galaxies and star clusters, as well as hundreds of nebulae.

Pros
  • Excellent powerful optics
  • Portable large aperture GoTo telescope
  • Fairly low maintenance 
  • Can show you great views of the planets and most DSOs
Cons
  • Comes with just one eyepiece
  • Narrow field of view
  • No external power supply

9. Sky-Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor

(Best For Astrophotography)

Specifications
  • Type: Apochromatic Refractor
  • Aperture: 100 mm(3.9″)
  • Focal length: 900mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/9
  • Mount: Vixen Style
  • Eyepiece: 20mm, 5mm
  • Magnification: 50x, 250x
  • Weight: 8.4 lbs.(3.8 kg)

The EvoStar 100mm f/9 Doublet APO Refractor is truly one of the best telescopes for viewing and photographing planets as it features a doublet apochromatic lens system with Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass with metallic high-transmission coatings (MHC) on all air-to-glass optical surfaces. 

This combination of glass, lenses, and coatings virtually eliminates chromatic aberrations for clear and bright high-contrast images with true color rendition.

This telescope is one of the best high-end telescopes with a 900mm focal length which offers a medium-to-wide field of view.

In addition to the telescope itself, you get 25 mm and 5 mm long eye relief eyepieces, a right-angle 8×50 finder and bracket, tube rings, a Vixen-compatible plate, a two-inch dielectric diagonal, and a fitted foam-lined aluminum case.

The telescope is lightweight and is perfect for any experienced astronomer as a grab-and-go astrophotography scope.

The Sky-Watcher PRO 100ED has enough premium high contrast/high-resolution optical performance to let you use it on an altazimuth or equatorial mount as the heart of your observing system.

Why We Recommend It

This is a medium-speed telescope, so it also delivers sharp contrasting lunar and planetary detail without any chromatic aberration on the edges while looking at the moon.

You can see Saturn’s Cassini division within its rings, Titan, and a handful of its other moons. The Pro 100ED will give you great views of Jupiter’s two cloud belts, the Great Red Spot, and its four bright moons. 

You can see Mars’ tiny white polar ice caps provided the viewing conditions are favorable.

Among double stars, the author favors Iota Cassiopeia, a tight triple star system with a large magnitude difference between its components. With the 5 mm eyepiece (180X) under the right conditions, all three components could be seen.

Although its 4” aperture is too small to gather enough light to show you faint deep sky objects, you can, however, easily see the brighter DSOs. 

You can get great views of the clusters M45, M37, M36, M38, NGC 457, the Andromeda and M33 galaxies, the Orion Nebula, and more.

One of the main reasons astronomers buy the EvoStar 100 ED is for its excellent quality astrophotography. 

The 100ED delivers crisp, clear images free of distortion.

This telescope offers nearly the best image quality at a significantly lower price point than the best options currently on the market.

Pros
  • Great for long exposure astrophotography
  • Crisp and clear details of the moon & planets
  • Lightweight
  • Extremely portable
  • No optical aberrations
  • Excellent included accessories
  • High-quality multi-coated optics
Cons
  • Doesn’t come with a mount
  • Some may find it pricey

10. Sky-Watcher Flextube 250P 10” Dobsonian

(Best For Deep Space Objects)

Specifications
  • Type: Newtonian Reflector
  • Aperture: 254mm (10”)
  • Focal length: 1200mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/4.7
  • Mount: Dobsonian
  • Eyepiece: 25mm, 10mm
  • Weight: 60 lbs.(27.2 kg)

Sky-Watcher 10″ Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope features an elegant truss tube design that was carefully engineered to combine ease of use, extreme portability, and excellent optical performance in an affordable package. 

This is a large aperture, one of the best Dobsonian telescopes that is totally worth every penny. 

It is essentially a Newtonian with a large 10″ aperture which is ideal for beginners who can invest a fair amount as well as professionals. 

The telescope comes with a great focal length of 1200mm and with a focal ratio of f/4.7. 

It comes with two super wide-angle Plossl eyepieces (25 mm and 10 mm). The wide-angle viewing, fast optics, and 10” aperture make for a great deep space searcher and stargazer. 

The base is like a typical Dobsonian, it is easy to assemble and use, is reliable and strong, and stands on the floor.

The mount construction is sturdy and rigid. Mount design, while simple, facilitates smooth motions about both axes.

The telescope comes with a right-angle 8×50 finder, 25mm and 10 mm Plossl eyepieces, 1.25 and 2-inch adapters for the focuser, dust covers for upper and lower tube assemblies, and various tools for assembly.

Why We Recommend It

A 10” Dobsonian is the best bang for your buck in general–so you’re on the right track if you’re considering one of these for visual observing.

With a 10-inch aperture, the Flextube 250P Dobsonian collects 1235 times more light than the human eye. 

This simple yet effective design is perfect for visual observation of faint objects, such as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. 

Although the Sky-Watcher 250P is not a lightweight telescope (33lbs.), transporting it proves to be about the same as transporting a traditional Dobsonian as its tube collapses down to save almost a foot of space.

This telescope can obviously show you the usual moon, Mars and Jupiter, and Saturn’s moons, Neptune and Uranus, but it really shines at producing great images of the faint DSOs even under light pollution.

With its large 10” aperture, the sky is your playground. Choose a distant nebula, galaxy, or star cluster and just point this instrument towards it and enjoy the breathtaking views.

You can also dabble in some short exposure planetary astrophotography with a wide-angle, high-quality eyepiece and a strong Barlow lens.

Pros
  • Large aperture, light bucket
  • Excellent for dim distant DSOs
  • Limited astrophotography
  • Great value for money considering its massive aperture
  • The collapsible tube makes it easy to store and transport
  • Suitable for beginners, intermediates, and advanced users
Cons
  • Heavy and bulky
  • Doesn’t come with a Barlow lens

11. Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT

(Best For Deep Space Astrophotography)

Specifications
  • Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Aperture: 280 mm (11”)
  • Focal length: 2800mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/10
  • Mount: GoTo: Alt-Azimuth
  • Eyepiece: 40mm
  • Magnification: 70x
  • Weight: 65 lbs.

The Celestron CPC 1100 XLT GPS is a high-end telescope that comes with a hefty price tag but it has GoTo, the NexStar+ hand control, a huge 11” aperture, and excellent quality from top to bottom.

The telescope was awarded the “Telescope of the Year” title in the year 2013.

The CPC 110- GPS (XLT) computerized telescope is a work of art featuring Schmidt-Cassegrain optics with premium Celestron StarBright XLT coatings for crisp, clear and bright images of celestial objects and deep space formations. 

The 280mm (11-inch) aperture, the 2800mm focal length, both lead to a focal ratio of f/10.

The telescope is equipped with Celestron’s proprietary SKyAlign technology. With this, users can quickly select three bright objects in the sky and let the telescope align itself. 

It also has an internal GPS that helps the telescope in easily locating itself in the world and showing you everything that’s available to look at in the night sky at your particular location.

The telescope is perfectly suitable for deep space astrophotography and it can show you the faintest of the galaxies and star clusters with the help of its massive 11” aperture.

This telescope is particularly designed for advanced users, or for those who are still developing their skills but are looking for a telescope that they can grow with.

Its mount provides reliable AZ movement, but it can also polar align and be used with a wedge for precise tracking needed for astrophotography.

The NexStar+ hand control is the chosen controller for the CPC telescope. It has a 40,000+ object database, adjustable backlighting, a USB port, and 9 slew speeds.

Why We Recommend It

Finding, focusing on, and identifying any celestial object is simple with the computerized technology built into the telescope. 

Its 11-inch aperture provides a stunning light gathering ability of 1600 times that of the unaided human eye.

You can see the moon and the planets such as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Neptune, and Uranus, but the CPC 1100 StarBright XLT’s strength lies in providing greater resolution at max power. It’s an excellent performer for deep sky and even faint DSO viewing.

This telescope even promises to show you decent views of the faraway planet Pluto.

You can expect to see the nebulas, clusters, double, triple, and quadruple stars with the help of this telescope.

The CPC 1100 is undoubtedly one of the best telescopes for deep sky astrophotography. 

As a slow telescope with a very long focal length, you’ll be able to achieve very high magnification suitable for lunar, planetary, and faint DSO observation and astrophotography.

Although it’s a huge telescope that weighs almost 65lbs., its fully ergonomic design is a delight and you don’t have to work out and grow muscles to operate the system.

Its shorter optical tube and adjustable length tripod are somewhat easy to transport by car but not so much by air.

Pros
  • Large aperture
  • Great for DSOs
  • Best for DSLR astrophotography
  • Easy to use
  • StarBright XLT coated optics
  • Solid stable mount
  • Suitable for all user levels
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Some may find it bulky

12. Sky-Watcher Classic 200 8” Dobsonian

(Best Under $1000)

Specifications
  • Type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 203mm (8″)
  • Focal length: 1200mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.9
  • Eyepiece: 25mm, 10mm
  • Magnification: 48x, 120x
  • Weight: 45 lbs.

The Sky-Watcher Classic 200 Dobsonian 8-inch Aperature Telescope is a large light bucket with fast f/5.9 optics which allows you to enjoy wide-field views of deep-sky objects that are not observable with most beginner telescopes. 

The telescope is large, sturdy, and does everything you expect a large Dobsonian to do.

The 8” Traditional Dobsonian is best suited to beginners looking for a first-time buy or even for intermediate or advanced users who want something a little more lightweight, compact, and more practical to use over larger Dobs.

The Dobsonian mount is strong and smooth to use and to promote stability, it has a patented tension control handle to keep the optical tube exactly where you want it – even if it’s not balanced. 

The telescope comes with two 25mm (48x) and 10mm (120x) Plossl eyepieces. Other accessories include – a 9×50 finderscope, a solid rocker-mount with Teflon bearings and tension clutch for altitude, and an accessory tray.

This telescope is not suitable for long exposure astrophotography partly due to the Alt-azimuth’s tracking limitations.

However, you can use it to take short-exposure photographs of the moon planets and the DSOs.

Why We Recommend It

With an eight-inch aperture, its light-gathering capabilities easily outrival telescopes of similar price and have almost double the aperture of refractors and other Dobsonians in the same range, allowing deep sky objects to be viewed with incredibly rich detail and contrast.  

You will be able to view nebulae with color-rich patterns, as well as the planets and galaxies. 

The image quality and light gathering ability is bolstered by mirrors which have been highly polished to be 94% reflective. This level of near-perfection is not present in every reflector telescope. 

You can see craters and mountain ranges on the moon, clearly see the Giant Red Spot and cloud bands on Jupiter, the Cassini and Saturn’s rings, and much more. 

Beyond the Solar System, you’ll be able to observe the entire set of 110 astronomical objects of the Messier Catalog and have a useful resolution for star clusters like the M2, M3, M4, and M5, and more. 

You can even see the dimmer star clusters like M10 and M12 as your skills improve and you get the hang of using this top-class Dobsonian telescope.

Pros
  • Large aperture
  • Best value Dobsonian
  • Affordable 
  • Fast setup time
  • Great views of the DSOs, planets, and the moon
Cons
  • Bulky and heavy
  • Not portable
  • Not for serious astrophotography

What To Look For In A Good Telescope

Whether you’re seriously considering buying your first telescope or just daydreaming about it, this guide will help you understand the most important features that you should look for in a telescope.

Types of Telescopes

Most telescopes fall into three broad categories: refractors, reflectors, and compound telescopes (also called catadioptric).

1. Refractor Telescopes

This is the oldest and most popular telescope design. At the front of the telescope, a lens known as an “aperture” directs light through the finder scope to a mirror and into the eyepiece.

Because this style of telescope doesn’t invert the image before it reaches the eye, users can view objects both in the sky and they can use a refractor during the day as a terrestrial telescope.

Generally speaking, refractors are great for views of the moon, planets, and bright deep-sky objects. 

Most importantly, they require very little maintenance.

2. Reflector Telescopes

Reflectors, or reflecting telescopes, use an internal primary and smaller, secondary mirror to focus the light into the eyepiece in order to create an image.

Reflectors can be much shorter in length while also allowing for wider apertures, although because of the open OTA they require more setup and maintenance to keep everything in alignment.

The large aperture reflectors such as Dobsonians are great for faint deep sky objects.

3. Compound Telescopes (Catadioptrics)

Compound telescopes, are simply a combination of the refractor and reflector and employ both mirrors and lenses that allow for even smaller and more portable telescopes (albeit at a higher cost).

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 the “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.

Which is the Best Telescope for me?

If you’re wondering: Which telescope type should I get? Here’s a small checklist that you can go through to decide which telescope will best suit your needs.

  • If you want a beginner telescope:  Refractor or Reflector
  • If you want a rugged telescope that requires little or no maintenance:  Refractor
  • If you want to also observe objects on land (e.g. wildlife):  Refractor or Compound
  • If you want to view faint, deep sky objects:  Reflector or Compound
  • If you want the best image quality:  Reflector or Compound
  • If you want the biggest bang for my buck (high value):  Reflector (Dobsonian)
  • If you want to do astrophotography:  Compound

Factors To Consider Before Buying a Telescope

1. 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).

2. Focal Length

Focal length is the distance from the “focal point” of your telescope to the lens or mirror. It’s not as important as aperture, but the longer the focal length the bigger objects will look. So keep an eye on this. The best telescope would the one that you can afford and has a large aperture and long focal length.

3. Magnification

Magnification is determined by your telescope’s focal length and your eyepiece. However, with very high magnification, objects may look dim and blurry. To solve this issue, magnification needs to increase along with the size of the aperture.

As the size of the telescope aperture gets bigger, the amount of light that can be collected and clearly viewed also increases, so dim and blurry objects become clear. Most users find a useful magnification is about 20x to 50x per inch of aperture.

4. Eyepieces

The eyepiece, an integral part of the optical system of a telescope, can completely change the view of the sky. 

Eyepiece measurements, which normally appear in millimeters or inches, range greatly in size. 

To ensure the eyepiece has an appropriate magnification for the telescope, compare the size of the eyepiece to the focal length of the telescope.

For instance, a 1200mm focal-length scope, used with a 25mm eyepiece, delivers 1200 / 25 = 48 power (or 48x magnification). 

Switch to an eyepiece with a shorter focal length for higher magnifications: a 10-mm eyepiece used on the same scope delivers 1200 / 10 = 120x. 

As you can see that it’s only the telescope’s focal length that matters here — the size of its main mirror or lens does not affect the magnification.

5. Ease of Use

Another important factor that you should consider when choosing the best telescope for yourself is how easy it is to use that particular telescope.

A telescope that’s too hard to set up is a telescope that won’t get used as much as a simpler no-tool-required-to-setup telescope.

You also have a choice between manual and computerized movement. A fully manual telescope might be less expensive, but it could prove to be frustrating for someone just starting out. 

Computerized telescopes (or GoTo telescopes) can help you easily find objects in the night sky with minimal setup, and will continue to serve you well as you grow into the hobby. Computerized movements, like some telescope mounts, require a power supply.

6. Size and Portability 

Before you buy a new telescope, consider where you want to use it and how you plan to transport it. 

Having a telescope that’s too small to properly see anything probably is a waste of money, but a telescope that’s too big to move easily is even more wasteful unless you can leave it all set up permanently at one place in your home. 

Many people find they set up a bulky telescope only once or twice, then leave it to gather dust because it’s too much effort to set up and haul around.

So always consider the weight and size of the telescope according to how you are planning to use it.

7. Price

You can spend as much as you want to on a telescope. In most cases, the more you spend, the better and bigger aperture telescope you can buy.

That said, I would strongly recommend not buying a telescope that costs less than $100, but I wouldn’t recommend spending too much on a telescope either unless you have explored the hobby a bit and know which direction you want to take your next step toward.

Best Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Telescope

  • Always start with easy-to-locate objects such as the moon and bright planets and use the computer control.
  • Use a low magnification eyepiece first to find objects quickly, then switch to more magnification if desired.
  • Use vibration pads or a piece of old carpet if the tripod is shaky.
  • Once aligned, don’t unnecessarily touch the telescope and use only your eyes.
  • Don’t ever look directly at the Sun through your telescope. You may permanently damage your eyes.
  • Use a moon filter to look at the moon. The result will be a much clearer image with a lot of contrast.
  • Always practice setting up your new telescope a few times during the day before your first night of stargazing.
  • Stay away from buildings, roads, and sidewalks as they release heat at night. Use your telescope in a clear area where there are no obstructions.
  • Wait until your eyes are fully adjusted to the dark before trying to look at the night sky.

Best Tips to Maintain Your Telescope

  • Telescopes should be kept dry to prevent moisture from affecting the quality of your viewing experience. So use a dew shield, shroud, or dew heaters.
  • Never touch the surface of a lens or mirror. The acids in skin oil can attack optical coatings over time.
  • Use a lens safer cleaner and soft wipe to do clean lenses and mirrors to avoid scratching them.
  • If moving the telescope from a warm room to a cold backyard, it’s best to let the telescope sit for a while so it reaches a temperature equilibrium with the surroundings.
  • Always store your telescope in a dry, dust-free, secure, and large enough place to get the telescope in and out easily. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Which telescope is best to see planets?

You don’t need a very big aperture to see planets as they are among the brightest objects in the sky. You will rather need a telescope with a long focal length and a high focal ratio to view planets with clarity. 

A telescope with a minimum focal ratio of f/8 is best suited for observing planets. The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope on our list is perfect for planetary observation.

2. What is the most powerful telescope for home use?

This will typically depend on what you want to see with your telescope and who will be using it. A good telescope that the whole family can use is typically a small, more affordable telescope with an aperture of at least 70 millimeters. These units usually have a straightforward model with an easily adjustable mount. Moreover, these telescopes are lightweight, portable, and generally can be used for terrestrial viewing also.

The Zhumell Z130 Tabletop Reflector is one such telescope that the whole family can enjoy at home.

3. How big of a telescope do I need to see Saturn?

Saturn is quite an easy target to view with the help of a telescope and most importantly you don’t need a very powerful telescope to view it.

Saturn can be seen clearly even with a small telescope with a 3” aperture at 50x magnification. This is enough to show you Rings of Saturn too, but if you want to see Saturn’s moons, you may need a slightly larger telescope with at least 5” aperture.

4. Which is the best telescope to view galaxies?

To view brighter galaxies and nebulae, you’ll need a telescope with at least a 6” aperture. The Celestron – NexStar 6SE Telescope on our list is an excellent computerized telescope that can show you great views of the galaxies and other deep sky objects.

5. How do you travel with a telescope? 

Most telescopes are very fragile as they have delicate glass components such as lenses and mirrors. Moreover, the elements in the OTA have to be perfectly aligned to produce decent images. So, it’s highly imperative to take very good care of the telescopes while traveling with them.

Before taking the telescope along with you make sure that you store it in a bag or case with the lens cover and appropriate padding around it. When traveling in the car, make sure that the box/bag doesn’t move around a lot. If you are planning to travel with your telescope by air, make sure that you take it as carry-on baggage in the cabin with you. Don’t ever transport your telescope with checked baggage.

6. What can you see with a 100mm telescope?

A 100mm or 4” telescope is an appropriate choice for beginners and intermediates. With a 100mm telescope, you can see the moon, Jupiter, Great Red Spot, four of the largest Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, the Cassini Division, Mars’s polar ice caps. A 100mm telescope can also show you decent views of the brighter galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae.

7. How much does a good telescope cost?

With telescopes, the more you are ready to pay, the better quality telescope you can expect to buy. For a decent size, a good telescope for a beginner can cost between $200-$300. You can expect to get a 4”- 6” telescope in this price range that can produce crisp clear images of the moon, planets, and brighter DSOs.

8. What’s the best telescope to see the moon?

Moon is one of the brighter objects in the sky so you don’t need a very powerful telescope to view it. A telescope with a 70mm aperture is good enough to show you great views of the moon. The Gskyer 70mm Telescope is a good beginner’s telescope that can resolve good images of the moon.

9. What’s the best telescope for astrophotography?

For a good telescope for astrophotography, you’ll need decent optics, an Equatorial mount that is capable of tracking the objects in the sky for a long time, and which is stable and sturdy enough to withstand the extra weight of a DSLR or a CCD camera. 

The Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT is an excellent telescope that can be used to take long exposure images of the moon, planets, and even the faint deep sky objects.

Conclusion

The best telescope is the one you feel comfortable with, both in function and price. It could be a computerized telescope, a simple refractor, or a reflector telescope. The best telescope for you should also be easy to operate and transport, and it shouldn’t require a ton of maintenance. What’s most important is that you enjoy using it.