Traditionally, astronomy is a night time hobby when one can escape the city lights and gaze at the starry night skies. However, not all stargazing is restricted to the night sky. A very popular telescopic target is the Sun, the star that’s closest to us and the brightest object in the sky. The sun offers plenty of activity and daily changes compared to any other celestial object in the sky and is often a source of curiosity for astronomers.
There is only one way in which you can safely view the sun and that is through special solar filters that can help to block the unsafe light from the sun. Looking at the sun without a filter for even a very short time can damage the eyes permanently. However, with a proper solar telescope, observing the sun can be a very fulfilling hobby. And, in this guide, we will discuss how to choose the best solar telescope that will allow you to view the best features of the sun safely.
Best Solar Telescopes
Here are our solar telescope reviews.
1. Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8 Reflector Telescope
If you’re looking for the best solar telescope, nothing can beat the Orion 8974 SkyQuest. This telescope is a deluxe upgrade of the Classic Dobsonian XT8 telescope; however, the Orion 8974 SkyQuest features a re-engineered base that is not only very attractive to look at but also has weight-reducing cutouts that make the telescope more portable.
- The large, 2-inch dual-speed Crayford focuser of the Orion 8974 SkyQuest offers precise and smooth focus adjustments that are free of flexure and backlash.
- The telescope features a large, 2-inch 28 mm Deepview eyepiece that allows you to get 42.8x views and the 1.25-inch 10 mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece offers powerful 120x magnification.
- The Safety Film Solar Filter eliminates the sun’s harmful light and ensures that you can observe sunspots across the sun safely and enjoy solar astronomy in the day.
- The secondary mirror is equipped with knurled thumb screws that allow easy adjustments.
2. Meade Instruments 227002 EclipseView 60mm Refracting Telescope
The EclipseView 60 mm telescope from Meade Instruments is very portable and excellent for viewing on the move. The biggest plus of the telescope is that it can be used for both day and night viewing. Now you can view the planets, moon and the sun with a single telescope. Equipped with a removable white-light filter, the EclipseView 60 mm is available at a super-low price, which makes it an excellent buy.
- The 60 mm telescope provides bright images and is perfect for viewing celestial, as well as land objects.
- The telescope has an alt-azimuth mount that features a slow-motion control rod that allows you to track celestial objects when they move across the sky.
- The telescope features 2 eyepieces that allows you to view a range of objects and the 2x Barlow lens increases the magnification of each eyepiece.
3. Meade Instruments 227001 EclipseView 114mm Reflecting Telescope
Ideal for both daytime and night-time use, the EclipseView 114mm from Meade Instruments 227001 is an excellent solar telescope. The tabletop Dobsonian telescope can be set up very easily and quickly for an excellent sun gazing experience. Lightweight and compact, the EclipseView 114mm is extremely portable and it’s inexpensive price makes this telescope a value for money buy.
- The telescope is equipped with a solar filter that blocks both UV and IR and makes it ideal for viewing sunspots, etc. safely.
- The telescope has a Parabolic Newtonian Reflector and a large 114 mm aperture that makes it perfect for viewing the sun, nebulae and planets.
- The telescope features 2 eyepieces of 9 mm and 26 mm for high and low magnifications.
- The telescope has a 360-degree swivel mount and its simple “point and look” design makes it extremely easy to use.
4. Celestron EclipSmart Refracting Telescope
Next, on our list of best solar telescopes is the EclipSmart Refracting Telescope from Celestron. The ISO-certified telescope is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a telescope that does not cost the earth. The telescope features a 20 mm eyepiece with 18x magnification, which allows you to view eclipses and sunspots up close. The telescope is compact and portable and great to take along on family outings and field trips.
- The telescope features the Solar Safe full-aperture glass filter that is ISO compliant and ensures the safest viewing of solar events.
- The solar safe finder of the telescope lets you align the telescope to the sun very easily without viewing it directly.
- The telescope’s generous FOV allows you to locate the sun easily and view the entire solar disk.
- The telescope features a photo-style altazimuth mount and tripod that lets you adjust the telescope and offers greater stability.
5. Meade Instruments Cornado PST Personal Solar Telescope
The Cornado PST Personal Solar Telescope is one of the world’s best solar telescopes to view the sun. The telescope allows you to view the dynamic prominences, filaments and other details of the sun in amazing clarity. Now, with the Cornado PST Personal Solar Telescope, even amateur astronomers can enjoy studying the solar disk without the need to buy a high-end solar telescope.
- The H-alpha telescope has a 40 mm diameter for greater surface detail.
- The telescope is equipped with a non-removable, safe solar filtering optics that offers safe solar viewing.
- The telescope features an 18 mm black Plossl eyepiece.
Solar Telescope Buyer’s Guide
Here’s everything you need to know about the best solar telescopes.
What Is a Solar Telescope?
The best solar telescopes are typically small devices with around 40 mm to 60 mm diameter apertures. The best solar telescopes are equipped with special in-built interference filters that allow you to aim at the sun directly and view it safely. However, with a plethora of options available on the market, it may be difficult to choose the best solar telescope and so, in this buyer’s guide, we have discussed some of the things to consider when buying a solar telescope.
Difference between White Light Filter and Hydrogen-Alpha Filter
- White light solar filters typically attach to the front of the telescope and are removable. They are either made of glass or a special reflective film. White light solar filters transmit the entire spectrum of visible light and depending on the material used in the filter, the sun may appear yellow, white, orange, bluish or greenish tone. White light solar filters show the photosphere of the sun i.e. the sun’s surface and you can see the sunspots and the grainy surface of the photosphere.
- Hydrogen-alpha (H-alpha) solar filters work in a different manner. They use a dichroic blocking filter and a Fabry-Perot etalon filter to filter the light of the sun to a wavelength of 1 angstrom or less. The sun appears to be a bright red and you can also see the chromosphere or the lower atmosphere of the sun, where phenomena such as solar prominences, plages, spicules and filaments occur. You can also view sunspots and granulation. The sun has plenty of dynamic, ever-changing features when viewed through an H-alpha filter.
Since the sun is already very bright, you do not need the extra light-collecting area that is provided by a larger telescope in order to see the sun better. The aperture only serves to increase the resolution. However, air turbulence or atmospheric seeing is quite bad during the day and the area around the sun is the worst. Solar telescopes more than 4-6 inches have to remove the effects of bad seeing by resorting to expensive measures. So, most solar telescopes are usually under 5 inches in aperture and are typically refractor scopes in order to provide the highest resolution and contrast.
Viewing the sun with the best solar telescope can change all that you think you know about it. The best solar telescope can change the featureless and extremely bright star that you just can’t look at to a dynamic object that you won’t ever want to stop viewing.
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