Best Amateur Telescope

7 Best Amateur Telescopes (Reviews Updated 2020)

As a backyard astronomer, finding the best amateur telescope goes a long way in improving your celestial game! These instruments efficiently gather light and bring the stars much closer to you, at least in terms of the ease of viewing and what with interstellar objects making an appearance in our solar system to the discovery of exoplanets earning astronomers Nobel Prizes, now is as good a time as any to pursue astronomy!

While it may be simpler to just buy a toy store telescope since you’ve just started out on your journey of reaching the stars, they’re nowhere close to the efficiency of a real amateur telescope. You may have stayed away from the actual versions fearing the budget and been overwhelmed by the many types of amateur telescopes out there, but don’t worry! There are several amateur telescopes out there that are built to help out beginners and suit every need and budget (some for less than $50!) and we’re here to help you pick out a telescope for you.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on picking out the right telescope as well as our reviews of what we believe are the best amateur telescopes in the market!

Best Amateur Telescopes

Here are our amateur telescopes reviews:

1. Celestron 70 mm Portable Refractor Travel Scope

Celestron 70mm Travel Scope

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Celestron features on our list again; in addition to quality products, they also offer unbeatable warranty deals and customer support! Coming to the telescope, the Celestron 70 mm Portable Refractor Travel Scope features superior optics — it comes with a 70 mm objective lens for brighter views and fully-coated glass optics. Additionally, it’s super light and portable, with a quality that’s hard to beat!

Some of its features include:

  • Comes with 2 high-quality eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm) for low and high-power viewing during daylight and after dark
  • Includes free downloadable astronomy software programs as well as a bonus bag and tripod
  • A lightweight frame and quick, easy set-up
Check Price on Amazon


2. Gskyer Refractor Telescope with 70 mm Aperture

Gskyer Telescope, Travel Scope

The Gskyer Refractor Telescope comes equipped with high-quality optics, a pretty impressive range of magnification and even wireless control! Its high transmission coatings perform the dual duties of providing stunning, clear images as well as protecting your eyes while viewing the stars. To further sweeten the deal, the company provides lifetime maintenance for your telescope!

Some of its features include:

  • 400mm (f/5.7) focal length and a 70-mm aperture, with fully-coated optics
  • 2 replaceable eyepieces (25 mm for 16x magnification and 10 mm for 40x) and a 3x Barlow lens that increases the magnifying power of each eyepiece
  • 5×24 finderscope with cross-hair lines to locate objects easily and a mounting bracket
  • Comes with a smartphone adapter, a wireless camera remote and adjustable tripod
Check Price on Amazon


3. Meade Instruments 209001 Infinity Refractor Telescope

Meade Instruments 209001 Infinity 50mm Az Refractor Telescope,blue

With a price well below $50, you wouldn’t guess that the Meade Instruments 209001 Infinity Refractor Telescope comes with an impressive range of features that belies its price! One of the best “value for money” telescopes out there, this telescope comes with a 50 mm-aperture, 3 magnification eyepieces and a mount that allows you to point the telescope easily. To further encourage your journey into the world of astronomy, the telescope even comes with an instructional DVD and astronomical software.

Some of its features include:

  • A focal length of 600 mm with a focal ratio of f/12
  • A rack-and-pinion focuser with an altazimuth mount for easy pointing
  • 20 mm, 12 mm and 4 mm magnification eyepieces for low, medium and high magnification, respectively, as well as a 2x Barlow lens that doubles the magnification on each eyepiece
  • A 5×24 optical viewfinder for easy location of celestial bodies
Check Price on Amazon


4. Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope

Celestron Nexstar 5se Telescope

There’s no doubt that Celestron is one of the most popular telescope brands out there and the Celestron NexStar 5Se Telescope is no exception to the efficiency and quality of the company’s products. This catadioptric bestseller comes with impressive aperture size and though it’s meant for beginners, it comes equipped with the efficiency that could satisfy a more serious astronomer as well. This telescope is a great option for spotting celestial bodies in polluted skies (it eliminates the need for star-hopping by directly pointing at the star with its computer-controlled systems).

Some of its features include:

  • 5-inch aperture in this Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope for efficient light-gathering
  • A fully automated GoTo mount with a database of over 40,000 celestial objects
  • A single-fork arm design and sturdy tripod that make the telescope easy to assemble and break down
Check Price on Amazon


5. 70 mm Astronomy Refractor Telescope with Adjustable Tripod

Telescope For Kids Beginners Adults, 70mm Astronomy Refractor

A great gift option for kids as well as adults taking their baby steps into the world of astronomy, this refractor telescope from Ecoopro features a 70-mm aperture and 360-mm focal length. It’s super-simple to set up (no tools required) and is just as efficient at daytime activities such as viewing wildlife and scenery as it is at casual nighttime observations of the heavens. Engineered to provide crisp images, the brightness and clarity of images this telescope provides are also commendable.

Some of its features include:

  • Fully-coated optical glass with high transmission coatings
  • Two 1.25-inch eyepieces (K25 mm and K10 mm) which provide magnification from 51x to 128x
  • 5×24 finderscope to locate objects quickly and an adjustable tripod to comfortably view from a range of positions
Check Price on Amazon


6. MaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope

Maxusee 70mm Refractor Telescope With Tripod & Finder Scope

The MaxUSee Refractor Telescope is a great pick for all the Raj Koothrapallis in the making; this portable telescope comes with impressive magnification prowess, twice the standard number of eyepieces and good aperture size for bright, clear images and all at a great price! The MaxUSee telescope also comes with an impressive number of accessories, more than most other competitors’ offerings in the same range. With a quick, no-tool set-up and an efficiency that can more than satisfy beginners and satisfy more serious astronomers, it isn’t hard to see why this telescope is such a hit!

Some of its features include:

  • 16x-200x magnification with a 70 mm objective lens for bright and clear images
  • 5×24 finderscope for easy location of celestial bodies
  • Comes with 4 eyepieces of 1.25 inches each — the H6 mm, H12.5 mm, H2 0mm and K25 mm, for high, middle, and low magnification, respectively
  • Comes with a durable table-top tripod, 3x Barlow lens, 1.5x erecting eyepiece and moon mirror
Check Price on Amazon


7. Orion 10022 StarMax Tabletop Telescope

Orion 10022 Starmax 90mm Tabletop Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope

This 90 mm tabletop Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is one of your best bets for powerful views, efficient light gathering and basically, overall efficiency! Faraway planets such as Saturn and Jupiter will seem much closer and clearer and with superb portability, you can view these planets from just about anywhere, whether it’s a camping trip or your backyard. If you’re not happy using it as a tabletop telescope, you can even attach it to a field tripod for better functionality.

Some of its features include:

  • A weight of just 6.5 pounds, allowing for easy transportation
  • 90 mm-aperture to easily gather light and view galaxies, globular clusters and nebulae
  • Includes 2 eyepieces (25 mm and 10 mm), as well as EZ Finder 2 reflex sight to easily point the telescope and a 90-degree diagonal mirror for comfortable viewing
Check Price on Amazon


Amateur Telescope Buyer’s Guide

There are a few things to keep in mind while picking out an amateur telescope for you, but the most important factor to consider is the amateur telescope’s aperture.

Amateur telescopes function by gathering light and focusing it at the desired point. The eyepieces that come with them magnify this point so that you can have a more detailed view. The more the light, the better the detailed view, and the bigger the aperture, the more the light! What this also means is that there is no specific budget that you should set aside as a beginner; paying more to get a telescope with a bigger aperture will get you better views, and better views are a good thing for all astronomers, beginners and advanced.

As mentioned, there are different types ofamateur telescopes and it can be hard picking out one. Here’s a lowdown of the main types of amateur telescopes so that you can make a better decision!

The Dobsonian

Dobsonians come with the best apertures, and for that, are known as “light buckets”! They’re also the most cost-effective for these aperture sizes, as other telescopes will cost you more for the aperture size or come with a smaller aperture for the same price. Dobsonians work around this by including the price of mounts, lens quality, tracking and the like in the manufacturing costs.

Refractor Telescopes

Refractor telescopes don’t contain a mirror; instead, they use a glass lens to focus the light that enters the telescope tube. Some users view this as a pro, as this eliminates the need to collimate and results in fewer optical distortions (such as chromatic aberration), making them a great option for astrophotography. However, they’re quite expensive (due to “apochromatic” lenses) and out of the budgets of most amateurs.

Another con of these telescopes is the “cost vs. size” battle; the cost increases with the size. This is why most refractor telescopes are for beginners. They’re great at the entry-level and the highest level, but at the mid-level, you face the risk of smaller aperture and inferior glass quality.

Newtonian Reflector Telescope

This telescope has a mirror at one end of the tube, opposite the end that collects the light. The mirror reflects this collected light to a second mirror which focuses the light towards the eyepiece mounted on the tube’s side. Similar to refractor telescopes, larger apertures are more expensive. With Newtonian reflectors, though, it’s a case of “jack of all trades, master of none”, though they’re pretty great for observation and astrophotography.

As a beginner, it won’t matter that these telescopes are “jacks”; the versatility and efficiency at observation are sufficient for beginners.

Catadioptric Telescopes

Also known as compound telescopes and “cats”, these guys are a combination of lenses and mirrors, creating a focal length as long or longer than other types of telescopes in tubes much shorter. These telescopes have great magnification and light-gathering capabilities and are smaller, lighter and therefore, easily portable. However, they’re the most expensive of the lot. They’re also easier to motorize and thus, a great choice for astrophotography.

Well, that’s hopefully enough to get you started on your astronomical journey. Hopefully, picking out a telescope won’t be as overwhelming as before and there are now fewer things standing between you and the stars! May the force and the photons be with you!

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