Best Starter Telescope: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

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Pictures of the universe are stunning, but the most beautiful images captured by NASA are invisible to the naked eye. Although the night sky dotted with tiny stars has its charm, we simply can’t see the full glory of celestial phenomena without some help.

In that regard, telescopes are a vital instrument in space observation. They can bring celestial objects millions of miles away closer to us. Today, even starter telescopes can provide beginners and hobbyists with a smooth introduction to the vast field of astronomy.

If you’re wondering about the best starter telescope on the market to get you started on your stargazing journey, have a look at the 11 options below.


Comparison Chart

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Sky Watcher Classic 200 Dobsonian 8-inch Aperature Telescope – Solid-Tube – Simple, Traditional Design – Easy to Use, Perfect for Beginners, White (S11610)
Sky-Watcher Heritage 130mm Tabletop Dobsonian 5-inch Aperture Telescope – Innovative Collapsible Design – Easy to Use, Perfect for Beginners, Black/White (S11705)
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Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor Smartphone Adapter Built-In Refracting Telescope, Blue (22403)
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Celestron Astro Fi 130 Wireless Reflecting Telescope, Black (22203)
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Celestron – NexStar 5SE Telescope – Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users – Fully-Automated GoTo Mount – SkyAlign Technology – 40,000+ Celestial Objects – 5-Inch Primary Mirror
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Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope
Gskyer Telescope, Telescopes for Adults, 600x90mm AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope,Telescope for Kids,Telescopes for Adults Astronomy, German Technology Scope
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Orion StarBlast II 4.5 EQ Reflector Telescope Kit
Orion 10022 StarMax 90mm TableTop Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

Sky-Watcher Classic 200P Dobsonian

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This traditional Dobsonian reflector telescope will also give you an awesome view of the planets and the deep sky.

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The Sky-Watcher Classic 200P has powerful specs. It features a near 8-inch aperture that will let you peek at nebulae and galaxies far beyond our Solar System. However, with sturdy and relatively heavy construction, it’s best suited to those who plan on using it in one place.

The Good

Reflector telescopes allow for large aperture sizes, and the Sky-Watcher Classic 200P Dobsonian takes full advantage of this. With a 7.87-inch aperture (200 millimeters), this instrument can collect enough light to pick up even fainter night-sky objects. This impressive aperture comes with a reasonable price tag, making this telescope a favorable deal for those who want a powerful manual instrument. With a 47.24-inch (1,200 millimeters) focal length, you’ll also have a lot of leeway in tweaking the magnification. The telescope comes with two eyepieces: 10 and 25 millimeters, respectively. The highest useful magnification it offers is an astounding 400x. In addition, the Dobsonian mount makes this telescope beginner-friendly and easy to adjust.

The Bad

Such a large aperture necessarily comes with a hefty weight. This telescope is one of the less easily portable models with its 58.64-pound (26.6 kg) setup. If you order this telescope online, don’t be surprised to see it delivered in two separate boxes. Nevertheless, this Sky-Watcher is easy to assemble despite its size. Another potential drawback to keep in mind is that this reflector telescope will likely require frequent collimation.


  • Powerful aperture and magnification allow for deep-sky observations
  • Great specs for the price
  • Easy to use


  • Weight can be inconvenient for travel
  • Needs frequent collimation

Sky-Watcher Heritage 130 Tabletop Dobsonian

Sky-Watcher’s uncomplicated tabletop Newtonian telescope can provide a great introduction to astronomy for kids and adults alike.

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With a reasonable price tag, this 5-inch Dobsonian combines quality with practicality. Its lightweight construction makes it a capable companion on the go, and it won’t get in the way when not in use, thanks to its collapsible design.

The Good

The Heritage 130 is a great mid-range reflector telescope. Its 5-inch (130-millimeter) aperture is by no means negligible – it will deliver a crisp image of the moon, the planets, and more. While the aperture is wide enough to provide a fantastic view, it doesn’t make the instrument bulky or difficult to transport. This telescope weighs only 7.5 pounds (3.4 kilograms), so even a child can operate it easily. What makes this telescope truly user-friendly, though, is a collapsible design that retains collimation – you won’t have to readjust your scope every time you move it. In addition, the Heritage 130 comes with 10- and 25-millimeter eyepieces.

Portability comes with certain sacrifices. The focal length of this tabletop is only 650 millimeters, which is considerably lower than other models of comparable prices. The focal length combined with the eyepieces mentioned above will only yield 25x and 65x magnifications, respectively. In addition, remember that this is a tabletop model. This means that it will require stable support, which might not be an issue in your home, but certainly needs some preparation when heading outside.


  • No need to assemble
  • Easy to transport thanks to a lightweight and collapsible design
  • Ideal for kids


  • Needs a surface to support it
  • No accessories for smartphones or cameras

Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor

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Celestron is a leading telescope manufacturer offering an incredible selection of starter models. This refractor-type telescope is a notable contender.

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Celestron’s 100-millimeter alt-azimuth-mounted refractor telescope performs well for its price range, with a sturdy tripod to facilitate a clear view of nearby planets. Unfortunately, refractor telescopes are often impractical due to their elongated body. However, the Inspire 100 AZ is a short refractor telescope that won’t require a lot of maneuvering. With a 100-millimeter (3.93-inch) objective lens diameter, this model has the largest aperture in the Inspire line. With this lens, you’ll be able to observe the moon, planets, and even some of the more visible deep-sky objects.

The Good

The Inspire 100AZ is a user-friendly instrument. It can be a great introduction to astronomy, even for kids. It comes with two eyepieces – of 10 and 20 millimeters, respectively – but you’ll also find a couple of other accessories in the box that make this telescope truly versatile. For instance, you’ll get an erect image diagonal for wildlife watching when you get tired of looking up. An integrated smartphone holder will even allow you to snap photos of the moon. The alt-azimuth mount of this telescope is exceedingly smooth and accurate. In addition, its height is adjustable, so you can set it up comfortably anywhere.

The Bad

The 100-millimeter aperture and the 660-millimeter focal length of this telescope still have some limitations. While you’ll be able to see planets, the image can’t be compared to that of more powerful telescopes. Sometimes, you can also expect false color and blurriness, although swapping your eyepiece might fix some of these issues.


  • Easy to set up and handle
  • Comes with useful accessories
  • Allows for photography
  • Great for terrestrial observation


  • Specs leave a lot to be desired
  • False image color sometimes

Celestron Astro Fi 130mm Newtonian Telescope

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Those looking for a range of high-tech features should consider Celestron’s computerized Newtonian telescope. With this model, you can remove the frustration from the star-searching equation.

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Celestron’s 130-millimeter Astro Fi is a reflector-type telescope set on a computerized alt-azimuth mount that makes finding the celestial objects of interest a breeze. Weighing 18 pounds (8.2 kilograms), it’s not too heavy to carry around but definitely sits securely on an adjustable tripod.

The Good

The 130-millimeter (5.19-inch) aperture is a good width to get you started with sky observation. The telescope is controlled by an app and automatically focuses on the object you want to observe, streamlining your experience. Fortunately, using an app with your telescope doesn’t require network reception, so you’ll be able to take your sky-watching adventures into nature with no problem. The Astro Fi 130mm offers up to 307x magnification – even if it’s not worth getting up that close.

The Bad

App integration can be a drawback as much as an advantage. The last thing you want is for technical issues to interrupt your nightly observations. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi doesn’t always work flawlessly. In addition, the device is battery-powered, and the batteries can drain pretty quickly. You’ll either need to carry backup batteries or invest in an adapter. Finally, the initial setup and calibration of the telescope may take some time, and it can be discouraging if all you want to do is star watch right away.


  • Computerized mount
  • Adjustable height
  • Great aperture


  • Complicated setup
  • Potential Wi-Fi issues

Astronomers Without Borders OneSky Reflector Telescope

Partnering with a nonprofit organization, Celestron created an accessible option for anyone interested in astronomy.

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If you don’t need fancy computerized mounts, a great budget option is the OneSky Reflector Telescope by Astronomers Without Borders. Not only is the OneSky among the best budget options out there, but purchasing this telescope also contributes to the development of astronomical scientific education programs worldwide.

The Good

This telescope has a solid 5-inch (130-millimeter) aperture that offers the perfect introduction to stargazing. It will let you see awe-inspiring sights like Saturn’s rings and even a glimpse of the Andromeda galaxy. Like most similar models, the OneSky comes with a 10 and a 25-millimeter eyepiece. In addition, this telescope is easily portable, weighing 14 pounds (6.35 kilograms), and boasts a collapsible design. The initial setup of the instrument won’t take you more than 10 minutes either, so it’s a user-friendly choice.

The Bad

As with most reflector-type telescopes, the OneSky will also require manual collimation at times. You’ll likely have to complete this step as soon as you take your instrument out of the box. Additionally, the sturdy Dobsonian mount is easy to adjust, but it’s a tabletop design, which can be inconvenient when you take your telescope outside. However, this is nothing a little forward planning can’t resolve.


  • Easy setup, use, and transport
  • Affordable for its specs
  • You support STEM education programs with your purchase


  • Manual collimation necessary
  • Tabletop configuration requires some forethought when used outside

Celestron NexStar 5SE Computerized Telescope

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The first compound telescope on our list that combines the reflector and refractor features is Celestron’s impressive NexStar 5SE. This telescope proves that computerization doesn’t have to mean tech issues down the line.

Product Highlight

Exploring the sky has never been easier than with Celestron’s NexStar 5SE. This Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope takes stargazing to the next level by cutting down the learning curve with a reliable computerized system. As a result, it’s suitable for both dedicated beginners and intermediate astronomers looking for a powerful instrument.

The Good

The NexStar 5SE is fully computerized: all you need to do is select the celestial object you want to observe from an extensive catalog, and your telescope will find it for you – with great accuracy. Besides locating them, the NexStar 5SE can also track them automatically. This is convenient not only for sky observation but for astrophotography, too. Furthermore, with a simple adapter, this instrument can accommodate DSLR cameras, letting you capture breathtaking sights. Although the computerized system may look intimidating initially, the setup process is surprisingly simple.

As for its specs, The NexStar 5SE has a 5-inch aperture suitable for both solar system and deep-sky observation. It will provide incredibly clear images of the planets, including Jupiter’s rings and fantastic close-ups of the moon. You can even look for the Orion Nebula, the Hercules Globular Cluster, and other stunning sights. Combined with a 1,250-millimeter focal length, you’ll have great flexibility.

The Bad

Understandably, such sophisticated technology comes at a higher price. Although the NexStar SE is still within the starter range, it’s undeniably at the more expensive end of the spectrum. The out-of-the-box setup of this telescope might also require a bit of effort. However, programming your telescope won’t be complicated once you get the hang of it. Moreover, while the computerized system is incredibly convenient, some may enjoy the process of mapping the sky manually. If you prefer the traditional way of doing things, you’ll save a lot of money with a manual model.


  • Fully automated mount
  • Great for astrophotography
  • Comes with a range of accessories
  • Compact and easy to transport


  • More expensive than manual counterparts
  • Has a learning curve

Orion StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope

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With this powerful tabletop reflector telescope, objects well beyond our solar system will be brought well within range. Capable specs don’t have to mean a complicated setup either.

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The StarBlast 6 Astro has an impressive 5.9-inch (150-millimeter) aperture, one of the largest on this list. The substantial aperture of this model lets you check out open star clusters and nebulas in deep space. Needless to say, views of nearby objects will be stunning, too – this telescope can pick up details of the moon and the planets in the solar system with great clarity.

The Good

Fortunately, achieving the breathtaking views mentioned above won’t be difficult, as setting up the StarBlast 6 Astro doesn’t require special expertise. The base comes pre-assembled, so you’ll be done in no time and can begin your stargazing adventure almost immediately.

Besides the 25mm and 10mm eyepieces that often accompany similar telescopes, the StarBlast 6 Astro also comes with an EZ Finder II aiming device, an eyepiece rack, and handy software to ease you into your new hobby. In addition, Orion sells great accessory packages with additional filters and lenses you might need in various viewing conditions.

The Bad

Understandably, with a greater aperture comes a greater weight. Carrying around the StarBlast 6 might feel like a workout. Nevertheless, it’s just a tad heavier than 5-inch models. At 23.5 pounds (10.6 kilograms), it’s still well within the portable range. But keep in mind that this is a tabletop model. You’ll need a surface that can comfortably hold the weight of your telescope.


  • Easy to assemble
  • Capable specs
  • Flexibility thanks to numerous accessories


  • A bit heavy
  • Inconvenient to carry around

Gskyer 600x90mm AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope

While reflector telescopes may offer stronger specs for beginners, refractors shouldn’t be disregarded. This Gskyer model will excite anyone with its range of accessories.

Product Highlight

Gskyer’s 600x90mm model is an excellent starter refractor for those looking for a telescope with a classic look. Best for watching the moon in its full glory, it’s an affordable choice with an adjustable tripod.

The Good

The Gskyer 600x90mm is a solid starter that won’t break the bank. The 90-millimeter aperture comes just a tad short of Celestron’s Inspire 100AZ. However, this model has three eyepieces instead of two (at 25, 10, and 5 millimeters, respectively) and a set of other accessories, including a 3x Barlow lens that will boost the magnifying power of the instrument.

The Bad

When it comes to telescopes, you get what you pay for. Being one of the most affordable scopes on this list, don’t expect flawless performance from this starter telescope. You’ll need considerable magnification to peek at the planets, which naturally results in a blurrier image. The tripod’s handle can make the user experience frustrating as well.


  • Fair price
  • Great range of accessories
  • Excellent view of the moon


  • Limited viewing capacity
  • Inadequate controls

Orion StarBlast II 4.5 EQ Reflector Telescope

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The first equatorial-mounted telescope on our list is Orion’s mid-range StarBlast II 4.5. It’s an excellent general-purpose telescope for those not yet sure which celestial objects intrigue them the most.

Product Highlight

Orion’s StarBlast II boasts a 4.5-inch aperture and is a great middle-ground model if you’re not sure you’re ready to invest in a more serious instrument. You can find this telescope at a price that’s more than worth it for its specs. However, it has a few drawbacks that make it less user-friendly than some competitors.

The Good

The 4.5-inch aperture will allow you to make out planet details, including Jupiter and its moons. It can even provide insight into deep-sky objects outside of our solar system. In addition, the telescope has some handy accessories, including a 2x Barlow lens and a smartphone adapter for astrophotography.

The Bad

The StarBlast II 4.5 has an equatorial mount, a more complex system than the alt-azimuth setup on most of the other telescopes on this list. If you haven’t tried an EQ mount before, it will take some time to get used to. But there are a lot of resources on the internet to help you with the setup. That said, the tripod still leaves a lot to be desired. It’s challenging to handle and not as portable due to its counterweights.


  • Clear views
  • Smartphone adapter
  • Reasonable price for what’s included


  • Mount takes some getting used to
  • Difficult to carry around

Orion StarMax 90mm TableTop Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

This small but powerful instrument takes versatility to the next level with a unique mount.

Product Highlight

Perhaps the most compact telescope on this list, Orion’s 90-millimeter StarMax, can be your next best friend. This tabletop model weighs just 6.5 pounds (around 3 kilograms) when assembled, so storing and transporting it won’t be a problem. A lot of power is packed into this instrument with a 90-millimeter (3.5-inch) aperture and a 1,250-millimeter focal length.

The Good

Small and lightweight, you’ll never feel awkward carrying around this compound telescope. But what makes it versatile is that the special tabletop mount allows tripod attachment. So you won’t have to drag out a cart or a table to view the sky comfortably. All you need is a field tripod for maximum adjustability. The aperture size is enough to observe details of the moon, and the considerable focal length will provide a truly up-close experience. You can even catch a glimpse of delights like Saturn’s rings. Moreover, the shiny burgundy of the telescope’s body also gives it a sophisticated look.

The Bad

Although the telescope performs well for its specs, it’s not an instrument to view the deep sky. You’ll need excellent conditions without light pollution to see nebulae and galaxies. In addition, the considerable focal length gives this scope a relatively limited field of vision. This shouldn’t be a problem if what you want to observe is the details, but it can still be a bit frustrating.


  • It can be attached to a tripod
  • Compact size
  • Amazing details


  • Focusing may take some practice
  • Limited field of vision
  • Can’t reach deep space

Meade Polaris 90mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope

Meade Instruments is another leading telescope manufacturer that offers a range of professional, high-end products. Among its starter models, this 90mm refractor provides an excellent introduction to astronomy.

Product Highlight

This 18-pound (8-kg) model sits on a sturdy equatorial mount. Much like the previously mentioned Orion telescope, it has a 90-millimeter (3.5-inch) aperture. However, its 1,000-millimeter focal length produces excellent views with a narrow and wide field of vision.

The Good

As mentioned, the 90mm Polaris comes with an equatorial mount. The mount is equipped with special slow-motion cables that facilitate the controls. This makes tracking celestial objects easy. You’ll find three eyepieces in the packaging, alongside a 2x Barlow lens and a red-dot viewfinder. Similar to other manufacturers, Meade offers complimentary educational software for free as well.

The Bad

As you know, a 3.5-inch aperture is most suitable for lunar and planetary observation. So while you won’t be able to gaze at galaxies with this telescope, you can enjoy views of nearby objects in our Solar System. Unfortunately, the telescope is also a little heavy for its aperture and doesn’t support a smartphone or camera adapter.


  • Smooth controls
  • High-quality tripod
  • Provides both narrow and wide field of vision


  • Only lunar and planetary observation
  • Complimentary software is Windows only

Things to Consider When Buying a Starter Telescope


One of the first things to consider before choosing the best starter telescope is the types available. Telescopes can be either refractor, reflector, or catadioptric (or compound) telescopes.

Refractor telescopes are the most commonplace. They utilize lenses to create an image and tend to have a longer body, making them a bit impractical. However, they are typically lightweight and easy to set up. Refractor telescopes yield a sharp image, especially of planets and the moon, and are low-maintenance. But this comes with several disadvantages. Refractor telescopes are simple instruments with limited features. They are not ideal for high magnification since it can lead to distortion.

Reflector (or Newtonian) telescopes use mirrors to deliver images from millions of miles away. They can be affordable for their capabilities and are a good introduction for beginners. Despite the more affordable price tag, these telescopes can still produce high-quality images. Reflector telescopes have much larger apertures than refractor types, making them more ideal for deep-sky observation. Consequently, these telescopes can be bulky and require considerably more maintenance. You’ll need to clean dirt and debris from your reflector telescope and collimate it regularly. They are also more susceptible to thermal air currents.

Some telescopes combine these two types into one powerful instrument. For example, Catadioptric (or compound) telescopes, such as Maksutov-Cassegrain and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, use both a lens and mirrors for the widest field of range and best image quality possible. Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes have a practical construction. They’re highly portable and allow for comfortable viewing, but they come at higher prices than reflector telescopes of similar apertures. On the other hand, Maksutov telescopes can be rather heavy and expensive.


The next thing to consider when choosing a telescope is its type of mount. There are two significant types of telescope mounts.

Altitude-azimuth mounts (or alt-azimuth mounts) allow vertical and horizontal movement, much like tripods. They can also be computer-controlled, which makes finding the celestial body you want a breeze. Alt-azimuth mounts are easier to use and more beginner-friendly but are less suitable for some activities, like astrophotography. Look for “AZ” in a telescope’s model name to see if it’s alt-azimuth-mounted. Dobsonian mounts, which many of today’s starter Newtonian telescopes use, vary from alt-azimuth mounts. However, they are especially user-friendly thanks to their sturdiness and smooth movement on both axes.

Equatorial mounts need to be aligned with the Earth’s axis, so they’re more complicated to set up. However, they make tracking celestial objects more streamlined, especially if computerized. This is key for those interested in astrophotography. The letter “EQ ” refers to a telescope with an equatorial mount.

Portability and Ease of Setup

Is there a great sky-watching spot in your backyard? If so, the portability of your starter telescope will be less of an issue. However, it’s worth considering if you’re planning outdoor stargazing adventures.

A large, heavy instrument may yield a sharper image than a grab-and-go, but will you want to go outside with such a telescope? Besides the technical specs, check how much the instrument weighs and how easy it is to assemble and disassemble. Those new to the hobby may be discouraged by the setup time for an instrument of this size.

For that reason, think about how you’ll be using your telescope. For example, a large reflector or compound telescope may be impractical if you set it up in a small room or balcony. On the other hand, tabletop models are more portable but need to be set up on a surface unless you want to crouch or lie on the ground.


The aperture is one, if not the most critical factor of a telescope. It determines how much light your telescope receives and how clearly you will see dark objects located far away. It also plays a vital role in the sharpness of the image.

The apertures of starter telescopes range from a few millimeters to 10 inches. So it would be logical to assume that a bigger aperture will necessarily mean a better vision – and you wouldn’t be wrong. But a larger aperture has several drawbacks, too, so going bigger is not always the best course of action.

A superior aperture may yield a crisp image, but the instrument may be bulky and unwieldy. Anything above 14 inches will make you think twice about taking your telescope for a midnight walk. In addition, the wider the aperture, the more susceptible the instrument is to heat currents.

As a rule of thumb, beginners can look for telescopes with apertures ranging between 2.8-5 inches. This range will let you experience that wow factor without being intimidating. The lower end will give you a great view of the moon. With a 4-5-inch telescope, you can confidently observe the objects of our Solar System. Planets located farther out, like Neptune and Uranus, may be difficult to see even with this aperture.

Those who want to look beyond our solar system and into the deep sky might want to go for a slightly larger aperture. For instance, if you want to observe open clusters, a 5-inch telescope is the minimum. Nebulae are best observed with 5-8-inch aperture instruments, although fainter nebulae might require even larger scopes. Galaxies are pretty challenging to make out due to their distance, but an 8- to 11-inch aperture telescope should give you a good view of their grandeur.

Magnifying Power

The magnifying power of a telescope is crucial, but this feature isn’t necessarily constant in all models. In addition, swapping your telescope’s eyepiece can also give you a range of magnifications. But before you start playing with the various combinations, the limitations of a telescope’s magnification should be mentioned.

A telescope’s magnifying power may be displayed on the packaging. But this number can be misleading. Learning to do the calculations yourself will help you make a better-informed decision. For example, take the aperture of a telescope in inches and multiply it by 50. The number you get is the maximum magnification your instrument can produce.

However, the circumstances will rarely be so ideal as to push the instrument to this limit. A lower magnification, like four times the aperture (in inches), will produce a wide field of view. Staying below 40 times the aperture will help maintain a clear image.

Focal Length and Eyepieces

The aperture isn’t the only factor determining the image quality you’ll see. The focal length plays an important role as well. It’s the distance from the telescope’s main optical component to the image it creates, typically between 400 and 3,000 millimeters. Starter scopes usually have a focal length of 600-1,500 millimeters. But what do you do with this number?

The focal length of the instrument influences its magnifying power. Both telescopes and eyepieces have a focal length, and you’ll need to do some math to determine the magnification of a particular combination. Simply divide the telescope’s focal length by that of the eyepiece. The number you get is the magnifying power of your setup. But how do you know if this number is within your telescope’s capacity? You already calculated the magnifying power of the instrument by multiplying the scope’s aperture in inches by 50 earlier.

Nevertheless, remember that higher magnification is not always better. It may enlarge the image, but it won’t necessarily make it clearer. Sometimes, sticking to a lower magnification gives you a better view – and a wider field of vision as well. Note that you can swap your telescope’s eyepiece to get a lower or higher magnification.


Space observation isn’t the cheapest hobby out there. Prospective astronomers should consider how invested they are in this activity and how much they can afford to spend on a new instrument. The price range of starter telescopes is quite wide, so there is something for most budgets, but the capabilities and extra features included in the price should be considered.

The cheapest models worth considering start at around $200. Anything below will most likely provide a frustrating experience. Choosing within the $300-$500 range will give you a solid instrument for a fair price with no serious compromises. For the crème de la crème, like the powerful Sky-Watcher Classic 200P or the computerized Celestron NexStar 5SE, you’ll likely pay upwards of $700.

Being more expensive doesn’t always mean that the telescope in question will be a better fit for you. As the price creeps beyond the starter range, the instrument becomes more specialized. While this is great for those with a particular area of interest, sticking with a more versatile model makes more sense if you’re still only dabbling in astronomy and are yet to find your niche. The more expensive telescopes are also typically larger and less portable.


Finally, prospective astronomers should consider the features they find indispensable in their first telescope. Today, telescopes with computerized mounts are available in the starter category, so you can decide whether the advanced features are worth a few hundred bucks.

Computerized telescopes essentially do the hard lifting for you. They can find and track the celestial object you want to observe. On the other hand, manual telescopes allow you to learn it all yourself. Therefore, which setup fits you better depends on your goal. For example, do you want to learn about astronomy and map the sky yourself, or do you want to get there faster? Are you interested in astrophotography that requires smooth tracking?

While computerized systems are designed to facilitate telescope use, they certainly have a learning curve, so they may not be for those who want to get started as soon as the instrument is out of the box. In addition, computerized telescopes are obviously more expensive, so you might be able to get a more substantial manual model for the price of a computerized telescope.


Can I Observe the Sun With a Regular Telescope?

You must never look directly into the sun with your telescope. If you wish to do so, you’ll need to get a special solar filter for your telescope that is certified to be safe. Not all filters will fit all telescopes. Look for a commercial filter covering the entire front of your telescope. Besides using a solar filter, you might need to cover other parts of the telescope to prevent sunlight from directly hitting the mirror inside.

Can I Do Astrophotography With Starter Telescopes?

It depends on your subject. You’ll be able to take pictures of the moon through most telescopes. Many of the above-reviewed telescopes also have mounts for your smartphone to make this easier. However, like fainter objects in deep space, most other subjects require long exposure shots. You need special computerized mounts that track the subjects with the rotation of the Earth to take photos of such celestial objects.

The Best Starter Telescope: The Final Verdict

If you’ve never looked at the night sky through a telescope before, all of these starter models will fill you with awe. But if you want to look beyond the moon and delve deeper into this hobby, some models will provide a better experience than others.

The best starter telescopes for someone on a budget are the OneSky Reflector Telescope by Astronomers Without Borders or the similar Sky-Watcher Heritage 130 Tabletop Dobsonian. These models have competent specs for their price and are exceedingly user-friendly, so they won’t discourage total beginners. They are even suitable for children.

Alternatively, tech-savvy prospective astronomers with a larger budget won’t find anything better than Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope. The reliable software of this computerized telescope makes sky observation easier than ever. If you want to ensure the best experience, paying extra for these features is well worth it.

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