Best Telescopes Under $500

6 Best Telescopes Under $500 (Reviews Updated 2020)

Sure, telescopes come in different shapes and sizes with a range of different features, but not all of them burn holes as big as Jupiter in your pocket. Whether you want a telescope to watch the birds or gaze at the stars, you can get a great telescope for well under $500; telescopes in the $300-500 range are not only great for beginners but can also occupy places of pride in a more experienced astronomer’s collection.

However, it can be hard to find the right telescope within this budget if you don’t know what you’re looking for, beginner or not. Well, that’s why we’re here — here’s a review of our top telescopes under $500, as well as a guide on how to pick one out! If the fear of high prices has deterred you from getting yourself a good telescope, be deterred no more!

Read on to get yourself a telescope that gives you the best possible value for your bucks.

Best Telescopes Under $500

Here are the reviews of our top telescopes under $500:

1. Celestron 70mm Portable Refractor Travel Scope

Best Overall

Celestron 70mm Travel Scope

The Celestron Portable Refractor Travel Scope is another telescope that’s great for beginners as well as more serious astronomers. The telescope features superior optics thanks to a combination of fully-coated glass optics and a 70 mm objective lens. As with all Celestron products, it comes with a great deal on warranty, really efficient customer support and an extremely great deal on price!

Some of its features include:

  • A lightweight frame and 2 high-quality eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm for low and high magnification, respectively) for both daytime and nighttime observation
  • Comes with a travel backpack and full-height tripod, as well as free downloadable astronomy software programs
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty
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2. CelestronAstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope

Editor’s Choice

Celestron Astromaster 70az Telescope

This powerful refractor telescope has a durable, sturdy yet lightweight frame, is user friendly and super quick to set up (no tools required). The telescope features fully-coated glass optics with two eyepieces, a red-dot finderscope and a tripod with adjustable height. With its powerful erect image fully-coated glass optics and 70 mm objective lens, both nighttime and daytime viewing/observation is a piece of cake.

Some of its features include:

  • A lightweight frame with a panning handle, with Alt-Az control for accurate, quick pointing
  • 2-year warranty and efficient customer support
  • Includes 2 eyepieces (20 mm and 10mm), a travel tripod, Starry Night Basic Edition software and an erect image star diagonal
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3. TELMU Refracting Telescope

Best Value

Telmu Telescope, 70mm Aperture 400mm Az Mount Astronomical Refracting Telescope

The TELMU Refracting Telescope is not just about clear views and great images; it’s also super simple to assemble (no tools required) and use, making it a great option for novices. You can even take pictures and videos and share them in real-time with your friends and family, involving them in your journey, thanks to the phone holder that comes with the telescope. Additionally, the 5×24 finderscope with a cross-line, erect-image diagonal with a mounting bracket makes it super-easy to locate objects easily.

Some of its features include:

  • 400 mm focal length and 70 mm aperture for clear, bright images
  • Includes 2 replaceable 1.25-inch Keller eyepieces (K6 mm for 16x zoom and K25 for 67x zoom)
  • Adjustable from 17.7 to 35.4 inches; the tripod can be kept steady with a castor wheel
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4. Gskyer 70mm Refractor Telescope

Gskyer Telescope, Travel Scope, 70mm Aperture 400mm Az Mount Astronomical Refractor Telescope For Kids Beginners

With a 70 mm aperture and a focal length of 400 mm (f/5.7), the Gskyer Refractor Telescope is powerful, portable and efficiently fulfills the purpose it was designed for. Forget being under $500; this telescope is well under $100 and is one of the best budgets picks in the market. The telescope comes with an adjustable aluminum alloy tripod for easy viewing and a carry bag for easy portability.

Some of its features include:

  • Fully coated optics glass lens with high transmission coatings for clear, bright images
  • 2 replaceable eyepieces (25 mm for 16x and 10mm for 40x magnification) and 3x Barlow lens to triple the magnifying power of each eyepiece
  • Enabled for wireless control — comes with a smartphone adapter and a wireless camera remote
  • Also includes a 5×24 finderscope with cross-hair lines to easily locate objects and a mounting bracket
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5. Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope

Orion 09007 Spaceprobe 130st Equatorial Reflector Telescope

The Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope has a list of great features as long as its name! The telescope features a 5.1-inch aperture to gather a substantial amount of light for good views of space bodies and f/5 focal ratio that lets you enjoy a wide-field performance. Additionally, the telescope comes fully assembled, with a 24-inch optical tube and weighs just 27 pounds, making it easy and convenient to carry around.

Some of its features include:

  • Comes with two 1.25-inch Sirius Plossl eyepieces (25mm and 10mm)
  • Includes a 6×30 finderscope and an 8-inch counterweight bar
  • Comes with a sturdy EQ-2 equatorial telescope mount, an adjustable tripod that facilitates manual slow-motion tracking of objects, a 1.25-inch rack and pinion focuser, collimation cap, tripod accessory tray, and Starry Night astronomy software
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6. Celestron Nexstar 8SE Telescope

Celestron Nexstar 8se Telescope

This computerized telescope is just as great for beginners as it is for advanced users, featuring a fully-automated GoTo mount with a database of over 40,000 celestial bodies and the capacity to automatically locate and track these bodies for you. Along with its iconic orange tube design, the telescope also features an 8-inch primary mirror in its Schmidt-Cassegrain design to ensure sufficient light is gathered for detailed, clear views. It’s also super easy to assemble and break down, enabled by a single fork-arm design.

Some of its features include:

  • Comes with free downloadable astronomy software programs that provide interactive sky simulation
  • 2-year warranty and superb customer service
  • Enabled with SkyAlign technology that aligns your telescope in seconds
  • Comes with a sturdy steel tripod for adjustable viewing
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Under $500 Telescope Buyer’s Guide

Just because you want an inexpensive telescope, doesn’t mean you compromise on quality and features. Here’s a list of important things to keep in mind when looking for a telescope:

Different Types of Telescopes

The first thing to know is that there are different types of telescopes under $500, namely:

  • Reflectors: These telescopes use mirrors at the back to reflect images. Though they require more maintenance than their refractor counterparts, due to the need to constantly manually realign the optics, they are the much cheaper option.
  • Refractors: Refractor telescopes have lenses at the front of the telescope and the bigger the lens, the more expensive the telescope. However, they are pretty low maintenance.
  • Compound: Compound telescopes use a combination of lenses and mirrors to let you view images. If you’re looking for a telescope that’s portable, these are your best bet, as they’re generally smaller and lightweight in nature.

Features to Keep in Mind

Some of the features to keep in mind are:

  • Aperture Size: This refers to the diameter of the mirror or primary lens in the telescope; the larger this diameter, the more the light and therefore, better views of faraway objects.
  • Finder: The finder helps you easily locate and track objects without any magnification; it attaches to the telescope’s exterior and sometimes, comes equipped with red-dot technology (a red dot is projected into the sky so that you can see where your telescope is pointed with your naked eye).
  • Focal Length: This is the distance between the primary lens/mirror and the point of focus of the object. The focal length is an indicator of how much your telescope can magnify objects. Remember, though, that magnifying objects to more than twice the aperture size will result in hazy images.

Apart from these, also consider a sturdy mount, so that your telescope is held in place come wind or rain, and you can focus easily, as well as a steady tripod; consider getting a tripod that’s adjustable for better viewing angles and versatility.

Hopefully, that cleared the air around the best telescopes under $500 and how to pick one out that’s efficient. Pick one of these and get started on your celestial journey now!

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