Do you want to buy your first telescope but don’t know where to begin? How can you tell which telescope is best for a beginner?
Newcomers to astronomy are confronted with a seemingly overwhelming assortment of different types of telescopes, brands, and price ranges.
It can be challenging to navigate through the jargon of practical astronomy and figure out which is most suited to your viewing needs if you’re a newbie.
When buying your first telescope, there’s one basic thing to keep in mind: make sure you choose an instrument you’ll actually use.
If your first telescope is too huge and unwieldy, or requires a lot of tinkering, you’ll be put off, it’ll be difficult to move, and it’ll end up in the garden shed or garage, never to be used again.
However, how do you know where to begin? Join your local astronomy group, go to a star party, or look for an astronomy kit retailer near you. Speak with the experts, and you could even get a chance to sample before you buy.
Take a look at our selection of the best telescopes for beginners in astronomy. You can also read our instructions on how to choose your first telescope and how to spend your first night with a telescope for more information.
Read our guide to the best telescopes for astrophotography if you’re interested in learning how to image the night sky.
Read our guide to the best telescope mounts available if you’re looking for a mount to go with your new telescope.
15 telescopes for astronomy beginners
Because of their modest weight and ease of setup, tabletop telescopes are an excellent choice for novices. They’re ready to use as soon as they’re placed on a table or other stable surface.
The Sky-Watcher Skymax-127 Virtuoso GTi is a small telescope with a Wi-Fi-controllable Go-To mount, allowing you to observe certain targets with a single button press.
Its long focal length makes it suitable for studying the Moon, planets, double stars, and some brighter deep-sky objects, thanks to its long focal length.
The Sky-Watcher StarQuest 130P Newtonian is a small scope, making it a good choice for novices. It also only weighs 8kg and is simple to put together. This makes it an excellent choice for newbies, but it also means it’s less likely to be put in storage and go unused by more experienced astronomers.
Although the 130P Newtonian is not an imaging telescope, we were able to attach a smartphone adaptor to the 25mm eyepiece and obtain an image of the Moon with our iPhone.
The StarQuest 130P is simple to operate and well-built. As a result, it’s an excellent choice for novice astronomers, but it might also be used as a grab-and-go scope for more experienced observers.
The MAK80 is small and versatile, with applications ranging from birdwatching to professional astronomy.
The tube is only 270mm long, and the focal length of the telescope is 800mm, giving an f/10 focal ratio.
It’s ideal for seeing the planets, the Moon, and double stars because of this.
The MAK80 comes with a soft carry case, an 8x 21mm finderscope, and two 20mm and 10mm eyepieces with magnifications of 40x and 80x, respectively.
A phase-coated 90 roof prism star diagonal is also included, as well as a smartphone holder, in case you want to picture what you’re seeing and share it on social media.
The StarSense Explorer phone dock, which includes a smartphone holder and a mirror, transforms this basic manual telescope into one that can locate objects using a touchscreen phone and the StarSense app. This is a solid, dependable refractor that is a fantastic value for those just getting started in amateur astronomy.
Once the clouds clear, this compact, lightweight scope is easy to store and pull out at a moment’s notice. During your observation sessions, you could even set it up on a strong outdoor table. The scope also provides excellent views of a variety of cosmic wonders, particularly the planets. For a budding young astronomer, this would be an excellent first telescope.
A finderscope, diagonal, eyepiece, and mount with slow-motion controls are included with this scope. Because the mount and tripod are pre-assembled, it’s quite simple to set up. All you have to do now is mount the telescope, add the diagonal, and eyepiece, and you’re ready to go. It provides razor-sharp views of stars and galaxies and, at only 6.2kg, may be easily moved around your viewing area or taken on dark-sky vacations.
This 3-inch telescope has an altaz mount that is simple to use and allows you to observe a wide range of astronomical objects. It’s a breeze to set up the entire bundle. The provided red dot finder makes identifying brilliant celestial objects simple, while an aluminum dew shield cuts down on unwanted light and keeps moisture at bay. The emphasis is on lightweight materials, making it an ideal “grab and go” instrument to inspire newcomers to leave light pollution behind and head to a dark-sky location.
The Inspire family of refractors from Celestron is designed with beginners in mind, but the 100mm version is our favorite. It has a decent aperture, a 660mm focal length, and a lot of features. The scope would appeal to younger astronomers because it is inexpensive and well-designed. A tripod, two eyepieces, a diagonal, and a red light LED flashlight are included. One of its features is a smartphone adaptor, which is great for individuals interested in learning about astrophotography or sharing their findings on social media.
Tabletop telescopes are an easy choice for a beginner’s scopes list, and the Lightbridge Mini 130 can get you watching in minutes. There’s no need for a tripod, mount, or polar alignment; simply place it on a stable garden table or even a rolling cart for transporting it in and out of storage. This scope also includes two eyepieces that provide a wide field of view for enjoyable observations of a variety of targets.
In amateur astronomy, there’s a saying that the best telescope is the one you’ll use. The Evostar-90 AZ is easy to put together and lift, with a combined weight of 6.25kg. The AZ Pronto mount and tripod system is simple to operate: locking clamps may be loosened to manually move it, and slow-motion controls help you fine-tune onto targets. The tripod has a height range of 78.5-150cm and is strong, preventing excessive vibration.
The Newtonian reflector has long been a popular choice for amateur astronomers because it provides the largest aperture for the money of any optical design. The SkyHawk 1145P from Sky-Watcher is a reasonably priced reflecting telescope with a parabolic primary mirror.
The 114LCM from Celestron combines respectable optics with a computerized mount to give newcomers a tantalizing taste of what the universe has to offer. It’s simple to put together because there are only three basic sections: tube, base, and tripod. This scope piques your interest, which is exactly what a beginner’s telescope should do.
Sky-Heritage Watcher’s telescopes are lightweight and simple to put up, and can be placed on a tabletop for immediate night sky viewing. Without the inconveniences of a more intricate setup like an equatorial mount, you may be stargazing in minutes.
The Heritage 150P Flextube is lightweight at 7.5kg, making it ideal for catching gaps in the clouds or whisking away to a dark-sky location. It’s simply transportable and set up in a dark-sky place when it’s collapsed.
In just 15 minutes, the Star Discovery P150i Wi-Fi may be set up and ready to observe the night sky. Its mount accepts 8 AA batteries or a 12V power tank inserted into the power connector, and it comes with two eyepieces, one with a focal length of 25mm and the other with a focal length of 10mm. These provide beautiful views of deep-sky objects as well as the Moon.
Because the mount is controlled by an app that operates over an internal Wi-Fi network, there is no hand controller included. Once connected, you’ll be able to slew to a variety of heavenly objects in an instant.
The Starbase 80 is an excellent grab-and-go achromatic telescope for beginners. It has good optics and is mounted on a portable, easy-to-use altaz mount.
The mount and tripod are in one piece, so all you have to do now is connect the tube and rings, then add the slow-motion controls and altitude clamp.
We were able to discover spectacular deep-sky sights including the Orion Nebula and the Pleaides, as well as the Andromeda Galaxy’s fuzzy center bulge and several luminous double stars.
We pointed the Starbase 80 at the Moon and found it to be clear in both the 14mm and 6mm eyepieces that came with it.
This is a fantastic beginner’s scope and mount set that will provide you hours of enjoyment.
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