Whether you’re new to stargazing or simply looking to replace an old telescope, this roundup of the best telescopes will prove handy. We recommend that you hold off buying a new telescope until you’ve read this through. Not only do we cover what to look for in a telescope, but we also recommend some of the best telescopes on the market right now.
What to Look For in a Telescope
Telescopes come in different shapes, sizes, and prices. The best telescope for your needs could depend on your interests (what you want to view), the type of telescope (refractor, reflector, or compound), and of course the price. Here are five other key criteria to consider when shopping for telescopes.
- Aperture Size: This is by far the most important feature to look out for in a telescope. A telescope’s aperture, a.k.a its objective, is the size of its lens or mirrors. Usually, the bigger, the better. However, note that the bigger the aperture, the bulkier the telescope.
- F-ratio: The f-ratio is the focal length of the telescope divided by its aperture. It tells you what the scope is best suited for. Smaller f-ratios produce lower magnification, wider field of view, brighter images, and vice versa.
- Mount: A telescope’s mount is one of its most underrated components. The mount allows the telescope to achieve balance and to point in different directions, and at different angles. The right mount ensures steady and clear images, unlike wobbly stands.
- Ease of Setup and Use: For most newbie stargazers, one of the key things to consider about telescopes is the ease of setup and ease of use. Telescopes should be easy to install and use. The best telescopes share this trait.
- Portability and Price: Stargazing is an outdoor activity, meaning that telescopes get moved around a lot. The best telescopes are usually lightweight and portable. As for price, it’s such a huge factor which is why we’ve included both budget and premium options.
Best Monocular: Pankoo Monocular
- ✓ Lightweight, compact, and handy
- ✓ Easy to set up and use
- ✓ Large aperture for enhanced view
- ✓ Phone adapter for astrophotography
- ✗ Easy to steal and conceal
- ✗ Beginner focused, not suitable for advanced users
- ✗ Magnification not quite as advertised
As the name implies, the Pankoo Monocular is a monocular telescope. Monocular telescopes like Pankoo are compact refracting telescopes. The Pankoo Monocular has a 60-millimeter aperture, measures 4.9 x 4.9 x 2.5 inches, and weighs in at 0.86 pounds. It has a velvet bag, dust cover, ZEESHY straps, and a user manual to get you started.
Designed for single-hand use, the 40 x 60 Pankoo Monocular is easy to use. Easily adjust the eye cup and focus wheel to explore its dual focus (419 feet/1,000 yards) feature. It also comes with a three-section tripod, a premium BAK4 prism, and a phone adapter. It is suitable for climbing, hiking, driving, racing, traveling, watching wildlife, bird watching, sightseeing, hunting, etc.
Specially adapted for one-hand use, the Pankoo Monocular is handy and walks the talk.
Best for Kids and Adults: ToyerBee Telescope
- ✓ Kid and adult-friendly
- ✓ Large aperture and focal length
- ✓ Impressive magnification
- ✓ Supports wide-field observation and deep space exploration
- ✗ F-ratio less than five
- ✗ Tripod is rather flimsy
- ✗ Takes some doing to master
Whereas only a handful of earthlings may ever achieve space travel, a good telescope can bring the universe to you. The ToyerBee Telescope is one of the best telescopes for kids and adults that lets you behold the beauty of celestial bodies. This manual focus refractor telescope has a 70-millimeter aperture, a 300-millimeter focal length, and a 4.28 f-ratio.
The ToyerBee Telescope measures 11 x 5.5 x 46 inches, is beginner-friendly and is easy to set up and use. It features a 3x Barlow lens and two eyepieces offering 15x to 150x magnification which makes it suitable for wide-field observation and deep space exploration. It also has a tripod, wireless remote, and a phone adapter for astrophotography.
Best for Kids and Adults
The ToyerBee Telescope is beginner-friendly and great for wide-field observation and deep space exploration.
Best Budget (Kids and Adults): Celestron PowerSeeker 50AZ Telescope
- ✓ Budget-friendly and does the job
- ✓ Name brand telescope
- ✓ Wide aperture and superb f-ratio
- ✓ Quality build
- ✗ The Barlow lens could be better
- ✗ Tripod isn’t the most sturdy
If you’re interested in stargazing and space exploration on a budget, then you should definitely get the Celestron PowerSeeker 50AZ Telescope. Celestron makes some of the best telescopes on the market and the Celestron PowerSeeker is one of its best budget telescopes. It has a 50 millimeters aperture, 600-millimeter focal length, and an f/12 f-ratio.
The Celestron PowerSeeker is a manual focus refractor telescope that measures 33 x 5 x 8 inches and weighs just 3.6 pounds. It has a manual yoke mount with a slow-motion altitude rod for accurate pointing. It also features three Galilean eyepieces and a 1.5x image erecting eyepiece, a star diagonal, a 5 x 24 finderscope, and a 3x Barlow lens.
Best Premium: Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD
- ✓ Large 130 millimeter aperture
- ✓ Good f-ratio of five and large magnification
- ✓ German Equatorial tracking mount
- ✓ Sturdy stainless steel tripod
- ✗ Somewhat weighty
- ✗ Takes some getting used to
- ✗ The supplied eyepieces leave much to be desired
If price is not a factor for you and you want something more premium with more telescopic power, it should be the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD. It’s among the best premium telescopes available and is another Celestron product. However, unlike the PowerSeeker 50AZ, the 37-pound AstroMaster 130EQ-MD is a reflector or Newtonian telescope.
It features an amazing 130-millimeter aperture, 650-millimeter focal length, and an f-ratio of five. It has two eyepieces, a StarPointer red dot finderscope, and 345x light-gathering power, enough to show Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons in great detail. It also comes with a German Equatorial tracking mount with slow-motion controls, and a sturdy stainless steel tripod.
Best Computerized: Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope
- ✓ Fully automated computerized telescope
- ✓ Large 150-millimeter aperture
- ✓ Up to 60x magnification
- ✓ GoTo Mount with SkyAlign technology
- ✗ Pretty pricey
- ✗ May require additional lenses and accessories for best results
- ✗ Requires some practice to gain mastery
Whereas most other scopes use manual or motorized tracking, the Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope is a computerized telescope. Computerized scopes are easy to set up and provide enhanced tracking accuracy, among others. This allows you to more easily, quickly, and precisely locate extra-terrestrial bodies.
One of the best computerized telescopes, the Celestron NexStar 6SE features a 150-millimeter aperture, 1,500-millimeter focal length, and an f-ratio of 10, double that of the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD. It can magnify objects up to 60x, has a fully automated GoTo Mount, and utilizes SkyAlign technology to guide you as you sojourn through the vast cosmos.
Best for Travel: GSkyer Telescope
- ✓ Great for travel and camping
- ✓ Highly rated
- ✓ Altazimuth mount
- ✓ 5 x 24 finderscope
- ✗ Mere 70-millimeter aperture and 5.7 f-ratio
- ✗ Lenses can do better
Finding a hilly spot on a clear night sky away from city lights and tall buildings is almost impossible in the city, thus requiring some form of travel. Whether you’re going nearby or camping far away, the GSkyer Telescope is one of the best travel telescopes to go with. It’s lightweight and compact enough to fit into your car trunk as you go stargazing.
The GSkyer Telescope has a 70-millimeter aperture, a 400-millimeter focal length, and a 5.7 f-ratio. It uses two replaceable eyepieces and one 3x Barlow lens, as well as a 5 x 24 finderscope with mounting bracket and cross-hair lines. It has a wireless remote, phone adapter, Altazimuth Mount, and supports astrophotography. It comes with a carry bag which is handy when traveling.
Best for Travel
Going for the weekend or going camping? Explore the universe with the compact and portable GSkyer Telescope.