Ah, the majesty of the night sky!
Throughout history, people have been inspired by looking upwards, leading to poetry ranging from “Teach Me Your Mood, O Patient Stars” to “Twinkle, Twinkle”.
The focus in astronomy has now shifted from the mystical to the scientific, but the night is no less beautiful to those with the right equipment. Luckily, today’s skygazer has a greater selection of top-quality telescopes than ever before, and at reasonable prices too.
So, if you’re thinking of taking up this pastime, why not read on and see what telescopes are available? You will most likely be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
Good: Easy to use, good vision, and a fair price – exactly what you’re looking for as a beginner. Perfect for introducing yourself or someone else to the world of space.
Not so good: The optical quality is about what you’d expect at this price, while you may find durability to be an issue.
Bottom Line: With 50mm to 102mm aperture, Meade Instruments offers a nice range of inexpensive telescopes with this Infiniti model. Any of the 6 options will make a fine starter telescope.
Good: With a good optical tube, three different eyepieces, and a steady tripod, this portable scope will be perfectly satisfactory for most users. Good value for money.
Not so good: Although images are clear and 90mm is on the high end for refractors, similarly-priced reflectors have higher aperture numbers.
Bottom Line: Compatible with smartphones and cameras, this well-made telescope offers good functionality and optical performance. Its easy set-up allows you to use it immediately, wherever you go.
Good: An apochromatic lens system and large apertures result in very high-definition images. Hardly any noticeable chromatic aberrations, which makes it perfect for photographers.
Not so good: Extremely expensive, even without a mount or most of the accessories you’ll require for photography.
Bottom Line: If you need this telescope, you probably know it. Most people will prefer to pay less.
Good: With a high focal ratio of almost f/14, this telescope offers good performance in a compact package. Costs less than many 90 mm reflectors.
Not so good: Difficult to use with a camera, while the lack of a tripod may cause some frustration.
Bottom Line: With great optical performance, this is certainly something to consider when looking for a mid-range beginner’s telescope.
Good: Very powerful for its size, this 150mm reflector telescope can be upgraded with a computer-assisted aiming module for over 14,000 celestial objects.
Not so good: Its main flaw is that taking photographs with it is quite difficult.
Bottom Line: The huge amount of viewing power make this a great choice for the demanding hobbyist.
Good: An easy-to-use automatic finder coupled with good optics makes this all the telescope many people will need.
Not so good: The computerized go-to drive, though convenient, pushes up the price significantly.
Bottom Line: A good scope for someone who doesn’t want to struggle with aiming. With good optics, it’s also great for taking pictures.
Good: Lightweight and portable, this refractor telescope can accompany you nearly anywhere.
Not so good: With only a 70 mm objective lens, image quality is necessarily not all that amazing.
Bottom Line: Not the best telescope as such, but a very good choice if you plan to take it on trips.
Good: Dobsonian construction makes an 8″ aperture possible at a very low price.
Not so good: This telescope’s size makes it difficult to store and very troublesome to transport for more than a few feet.
Bottom Line: If you believe that “aperture is king” and don’t want to spend too much, this is a very good option.
Good: A professional-quality telescope that features automatic guidance and top-notch optics.
Not so good: Way too expensive for almost all hobbyists, you’re more likely to buy this scope for a school or club than for yourself.
Bottom Line: Really everything you could dream of in a telescope, but owning one will probably remain a dream.
Good: Priced very competitively considering its 127 mm aperture.
Not so good: Very difficult to collimate before each use, while the stand could have been sturdier.
Bottom Line: Experienced users will find this to be good value, but it’s not the first reflector telescope you should buy.
Good: Despite being a full-fledged Dobsonian telescope, a collapsible design makes storage and transport easier.
Not so good: The tube’s open sides and the heavy base can be inconvenient.
Bottom Line: If you need the wide aperture of a Dobsonian design but also want something that will fit into a compact car, this is it.
Good: The equatorial mount and serviceable optics make this telescope worth considering for astrophotography.
Not so good: Though not bad value, many users will be able to find something equally suitable for them at a lower price.
Bottom Line: There are some good points in its favor, but whether this one is for you depends on your specific requirements.