It is not unusual for the aspiring astronomer to peer deeply into the heavens and wonder how all that stuff got up there. While not necessarily answering that cosmic question, these telescopes for beginners can at least help define what that stuff is. From refractor to reflector to Dobsonian, we consider the best ways for the uninitiated to get a closer look.
10. Celestron FirstScope
The Celestron FirstScope is a very affordable way to dip one’s toe into the outer reaches of the solar system and beyond. It is a Newtonian reflector with a 76mm aperture, which takes in lots of light for its compact package, and is ideal for the new astronomer.
- comes with two eyepieces
- tracking is a breeze
- a little wobbly
9. Orion 09881 Observer 70mm
The Orion 09881 Observer 70mm is a fine entry-level choice for the budget-conscious budding astronomer. Its altazimuth mount keeps its movement stable and its high-integrity refractive optics deliver sharp and well-defined images.
- employs a red dot spotting scope
- lightweight and portable
- for astronomers over 12 years old
8. Celestron 21062 AstroMaster 70 EQ
The Celestron 21062 AstroMaster 70 EQ is a refractor design, which is useful for viewing objects on the ground and bodies in space. With a 70mm lens, impressive lunar detail can be observed along with the moons of Jupiter and rings of Saturn.
- equatorial mounts for smooth moves
- comes with star map atlas
- has no spotting scope
7. Orion 10014 SkyQuest
The Orion 10014 SkyQuest is a Dobsonian reflector which gathers a whopping 260% more light than a 60mm refractor, providing a wider range with greater detail. The correct image viewfinder makes it easier to track celestial objects.
- base more stable than tripods
- threaded eyepieces accept filters
- astronomy software included
6. Celestron PowerSeeker 70EQ
The Celestron PowerSeeker 70EQ is a refractor design that will get you up close terrestrially or celestially. The tripod is heavy for stable placement, and the equatorial mount has precise indicators for navigation as well as dual slow-motion cables for steady tracking.
- 2 eyepieces — 35x and 175x
- fully coated optics
- some assembly is required
5. Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro
The Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro is ideal for the burgeoning astronomer, with a high-quality design and excellent performance. Utilizing precision optics, it produces crisp and stable images by employing a rack-and-pinion focuser.
- ready for use out of the box
- handle in the base for grab-and-go
- comes with 2 eyepieces
4. 70mm Travel Scope
For the wandering stargazer, the Celestron 70mm Travel Scope is compact and light, making setup a breeze. This refractor does double duty as a spotting scope and, with the 20mm eyepiece, furnishes sharp and detailed imagery.
- comes with backpack carrying case
- 10mm and 20mm eyepieces included
- affordably priced
3. Orion 8945 SkyQuest
The new enthusiast with money to spend will appreciate the Orion 8945 SkyQuest, a Dobsonian reflector. The super-stable base keeps the optical tube balanced for precision and the 8-inch mirror helps bring distant realms close with amazing clarity.
- separates for transport or storage
- coated mirrors for reflectivity
- crayford focuser smooth and accurate
2. Meade Lightbridge 114mm
The Meade Lightbridge 114mm is a parabolic tabletop Newtonian reflector that is light and easy to use. It comes with 2 eyepieces for low and high magnification, and the Dobsonian swivel mount allows for 360 degrees of unobstructed stargazing.
- red dot viewfinder for aiming
- planetarium reference dvd
- visually appealing design
1. Celestron NexStar 130 SLT
The Celestron NexStar 130 SLT is controllable with a smartphone or tablet and uses sky-alignment technology to track thousands of preset targets. A Newtonian reflector, it produces particularly bright images using mirrors instead of lenses.