10 Best Telescope 2018 – Top Rated Telescope Reviews For Beginner and Astrophotography

To turn every night sky into a spectacle, you need the right telescope. There is nothing like one perfect telescope for everyone but you need an aperture and magnification that allows you to see what you love watching clearly from your location. If you live close to bright city lights the city lights may force you to spend on a higher aperture telescope to gather enough light in the lit night sky. However, you can still make a great astronomy introduction for the whole family on a simple 70mm telescope if you choose right. This is a guide on what your best telescope choice will have from the optics down to the price.

Top 5 Best Telescope: Editor’s Choice 

Telescope Image
Telescope Model
Editor's Rating
Celestron Powerseeker
Celestron Travel Scope
Orion SkyQuest Telescope
Celestron Nexstar telescope
Orion Reflector Telescope

The market has many telescopes for different purposes and this is a guide on buying the best telescope for planet viewing, astrophotography and terrestrial object watching for both beginners and advanced users. The best telescope for has to meet your budget, objects of interest and skills you have of using a telescope. You have to consider convenience factors of portability, mounting and viewing. Most great features will come with a higher price of the telescope and this guide has the top choices for all budget and object viewing ranges.

Best Telescope 2018 Review:

1. Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ Reflector Telescope

This is probably the market`s most famous beginner telescope. It is a 127 mm aperture telescope suitable night sky viewing assistant that can be used by the whole family. It is compactly designed for easy mounting and portability with 2 eyepieces, a 20mm and a 4mm for viewing both distant and close terrestrial bodies as well as sky objects. It comes with 3x Barlow lens that combines well with the 1000mm focal to give you up to 450x magnification.

This telescope comes with a steel German mount tripod that is adjustable and very stable to make object tracking easier. The object tracking and focusing are made easier with the Celestron sky software that has a database of thousands of celestial bodies you can track and view all year round.

Highlighted Features

  • 3X Barlow lens increases image clarity significantly allowing you to enjoy the view of faint objects.
  • The German equatorial mount aligns to the Northstar with the 20-inch optical tube which makes the telescope easy to operate in slow motion even for small children.
  • The Aluminum tripod is extra strengthened to hold the telescope steadily for easy adjustment and object tracking.
  • Powerseeker is a complete set for both the optical tube and mounting accessories that can be mounted unaided by anyone including children.
  • It comes with erect image optics for terrestrial image clarity.
  • The whole setup is standardly priced suited for a pocket-friendly family sky watching introduction.

2. The Celestron 70MM Refractor Travel Scope

This is a 70mm refractor telescope on the go that allows you to watch your favorite celestial objects in the sky including some deep sky bodies like the Orion Nebula wherever you go. It has a closed optical tube that prevents any destructors from getting to your optics for a long service with little maintenance. It comes with a backpack for storing the telescope accessories.

You can use it to observe both earth and sky bodies on the 2 eyepieces (20mm and 10mm) that produce high-quality images with it`s 45° erect image and finder scope. This telescope is very easy to operate on the aluminum coated adjustable height tripod and the ALT-AZ mount for a 360-degree tracking. Celestron still attaches the sky X software as well as the Starry night software at purchase for learning about the objects in the sky and locating them.

Highlighted Features

  • The Pan ALT-AZ handle makes sky pointing easier and accurate for a stable sky navigation.
  • The whole telescope weighs a mere 3.3 pounds making carrying and mounting an easy task.
  • The erect image diagonal allows you to use the tube for object spotting during the day.
  • A stable aluminum coated tripod and that is adjustable for children or adults to use at their convenience.
  • Easy setup with a travel backpack for safekeeping and portability compared to large refractor telescopes.
  • It allows you to watch the sky from any place you go.

3. The Orion XT8 SkyQuest Dobsonian Telescope

This telescope is pricier than your standard Celestron beginner telescopes but it allows you to see the finest details on the planets and a great view of the Nebula and other deep space bodies. This is the best telescope to buy if you want to induce real love for astronomy in your child. The 8-inch diameter aperture gathers enough light to give a closeup detailed view of some of the faintest objects in the sky.

The Dobsonian base also holds the telescope in perfect balance for easy pointing and viewing. It comes with a 1.25-inch and 2-inch eyepiece and a Crayford focuser for a point and view performance. The whole set up of powerful optics is stable and durable to give you value for the money.

Highlighted Features

  • The 8-inch aperture and a 25mm eyepiece give a very detailed close-up view, you can get a fine view of the rings on Saturn.
  • A stable base and strong optical tube casing give this telescope a lifetime service for family fun and memories.
  • The EZ Finder II reflex sight with the Dobsonian design mount allows you to mount, point and view objects with ease as compared to the Equatorial mount design.
  • The Dobsonian base allows children to navigate with the telescope easily as compared to tripod bases. They are also more stable for easy focusing.
  • The Orion collimation cap helps you make accurate adjustments on both the primary and secondary mirror when collimating.

4. The Celestron Nexstar 127mm Computerized compound telescope

Whether you want to watch birds or the planets and nebulas, this scope will enable you to get close up images. It is a computerized reflector, refractor with a powerful 127mm aperture that gives you a 1500mm focal length which can bring a close-up view of any star you pinpoint. It is compact making it easy to carry around and mount. You will need 8AA batteries or an AC adapter to power the servo motors.

The Nexstar finder makes navigating your objects quite simple, you can use the hand control or use a hands-free control using the remote control. You will use Skyalign to locate the objects you need to watch which has a database of almost any heavenly body you will think of watching at night.

The mount comes with steel tripods with quick release arms and tubes for easy mounting and unmounting. You also get an extra port for loading GPS and other accessories. The telescope is designed for use by the whole family with the adjustable tripod that allows everyone to have a look at the stars. It comes with an accessory tray for arranging your gear and 2 eyepieces, a 25mm, and 9mm for magnification of your desired object without blurring.

Highlighted Features

  • A remote control is available for a stable navigation compared to the hand control.
  • The Skyalign combination with GPS allows you to click any planet or star in the catalog and get information on visibility.
  • The 2 eyepieces with a 1500mm magnification help bring very clear images of star clusters, deep sky bodies, and planets.
  • The telescope is designed for both terrestrial and celestial body watching with an equally strong magnification.
  • The set up is a compact preassembled design that allows you to carry the telescope anywhere you go with the 8AA batteries allowing you to view the stars off the electric grid.

5. Orion XT4.5″ Classic Dobsonian Reflector Telescope

This is one of the best telescopes for beginners. The eyepiece is only 3ft above the ground and you may have to stoop or sit really low to view the sky but it is the best telescope for children. The small size doesn`t bring any blurred images, it is a powerful fully coated lens telescope that brings clear shot views of your favorite planets and even some of the faintest clusters in the sky.

With the SKY app from Orion, your navigation and object choice is very simple. The Dobsonian base is stable and easy to set up even by amateurs. This telescope uses a plastic focuser but it offers a great close up view. It is cheaper than other beginner XT telescopes from Orion but still offers a great astronomy introduction to the whole family.

Highlighted Features

  • The eyepiece stands at 3ft which is a good height for children to navigate and view the stars.
  • The compact preassembled optical tube is light and easy to set up.
  • Dobsonian bases are stable with a handy navigation knob for a simple pointing and stable tracking.
  • It has a 25mm and 10mm eyepiece that give you a 900mm zoom allowing you to see more images than a standard reflector telescope.
  • It can be used for earth object and bird viewing. For night sky viewing comes with the starry night app to teach your child about the bodies to look out for in the sky.

6. The Celestron 70AZ Powerseeker Refractor Telescope

Celestron uses Alt-AZ mount on refractor telescopes that allows you to watch birds and other terrestrial objects easily as compared to other brands. This setup comes disassembled but it has a manual that will help you set it up in less than one hour. It is designed for beginners and intermediate users with an accessory tray for your field use.

It comes with 3x Barlow lens that magnifies your objects further at the eyepiece. The package comes with a full set of eyepieces with erect image optics. You can upgrade to a 6mm and 25mm if you want but the package is ready for viewing the sky on arrival and the best telescope for the money if buying for a child.

Highlighted Features

  • The AZ mount Is easier to navigate for both earth and sky objects as compared to the equatorial mount.
  • The 3x Barlow lens will increase magnification at the eyepiece hundreds of times for a clear close up look at faint objects.
  • The 5-power crosshair finder scope gives an easy point and view performance if you combine it with the sky software database of thousands of objects.
  • Powerscope 70AZ uses fully coated glass optics which give clear images with over 450x magnification on the Barlow lens.
  • The setup`s 4mm eyepiece gives a detailed view of deep-sky nebulas and star clusters making a night sky view way more fun.

7. The Celestron Firstscope Reflector Telescope

If you are seeking a simple beginner telescope, this is one of the best telescopes for your home use. It is so compact and simple to navigate on the table top Dobsonian base you can even view the rings on Saturn from your window. It has names of Galileo and other astronomers around it to teach your child, you should be ready to answer a few questions about them if you have an inquisitive young one.

The scope finder is manual But you can always use The Sky app from Celestron for available sky bodies in your area before embarking on the space search. It gives a perfect view of the moon with the 20mm and 4mm eyepieces but you can upgrade to a 6mm and 25mm for a lower magnification. Otherwise, the powerful optics make it the best telescope for the money when getting your introduction to astronomy and an astronomy lab addition.

Highlighted Features

  • 76mm of the primary mirror with the 20mm eyepiece combine well when viewing earth objects.
  • The whole telescope has a pocket-friendly price with powerful optics which offers value for your money.
  • The tabletop base with the manual optical scope finder offers an easy search and navigation interface friendly for both children and adults.
  • A compact optical tube with 76mm primary mirror that weighs only 4.5 pounds, you can set up really quickly and travel around with it.
  • It is decorated with names of scientists inspiring the passion of children and it makes a perfect addition to office or workroom deco.

8. The SVBONY 70mm Educational science Refractor telescope

This is a metal alloy cased 70mm reflector telescope mounted on a 3-section adjustable tripod that can be used by children as young as 3 years old. The biggest attraction is the 90-degree prism with Barlow lens that you can use to maximize your magnification. Your normal sky view is still enabled on the 90-degree diagonal prism with the 1.5x erecting eyepiece.

This telescope can gather a lot of light boosted by the fully multi-coated lens. It is suitable for terrestrial watching as well with the erect image optics that come with the telescope. It comes with a 6mm and 20mm eyepieces which combine well with the powerful optics to give a clear image. You will get the colored view of Saturn`s rings and the moons of Jupiter with an eye-friendly close-up view. It is more durable and powerful than any regular reflector telescope.

Highlighted Features

  • The metal casing is more durable and easier to maintain as compared to regular plastic optic glass casings.
  • You can use the erect image optics and the 90-degree prism to adjust and view terrestrial objects clearly.
  • The 5*24 Finderscope is designed for a simple manual navigation on both eyepieces.
  • 3X Barlow lens and erect image optics are part of the package making it cheaper to improve your magnification for both earth and sky objects.
  • The retractable 3 section tripod will accommodate the height of any child allowing you to introduce children as young as 3 to astronomy.

9. The AW 70mm Astronomical Refractor Telescope

It mounts on a tripod like most refractors but it comes set with a 25mm eyepiece for a better wide view as compared to the regular 2omm from other brands. It takes a short time to set up as it is a preassembled telescope. This is one of the cheapest 70mm refractor telescopes you will find in the market.

It still boosts to a 400mm focal point but with the 3x Barlow lens, you can get you 450x magnification easily. This is the best budget-friendly home telescope for beginners. The 45-degree diagonal aiming platform with a Finderscope makes pointing pretty easy.

Highlighted Features

  • A very pocket-friendly price for the same 400*70 magnification makes it one of the best budget refractor telescopes.
  • It comes set with 6mm*66 and 25mm*16 which offer a better celestial object magnification than any beginner reflector telescope.
  • It is light (3.1 lbs.) and preassembled which makes it easy to set up and transport as compared to other refractor telescopes which tend to be generally bulky.
  • It comes with 3x Barlow lens and it is designed to fit on the metallic tripod but the whole telescope will fit on a regular camera tripod.
  • It comes with a detailed installation and focusing manual to help amateurs in set up and operation.

10. The Celestron Astromaster LT 76AZ compound Telescope

This is probably your best telescope for astrophotography if you are a beginner or an intermediate user. It is one of the Celestron bestsellers, more pricey than primary refractor and reflector scopes but it offers the clearest images you will need for both terrestrial and astronomical view. Its Finderscope is permanently mounted with the Celestron ALT-AZ pan handle control that makes tracking objects very easy.

It comes with lithium batteries for your off-grid planet viewing. It is 15 pounds but this is to be expected for the powerful optics offered. It is preassembled and comes with a preassembled adjustable tripod stand that makes mounting and navigation easier compared to rigid bases. The glass mirrors are both aluminum and SiO2 coated to gather and transfer more light through the tube to the eyepiece. You also get an accessory tray for arranging your gear when out in the field.

Highlighted Features

  • Stable rugged preassembled 1.25- inch legged tripod that comes pre-assembled for easy setup and mounting.
  • It has Erect image optics that support the 76mm primary mirror to give an accurate terrestrial image view.
  • The AZ control with the stable mounting panel make navigation and following celestial objects easier.
  • The powerful Newtonian reflector mirrors make deep space images of nebulas and star clusters clearer.
  • All coated glass optics with the sky software`s 10000 object database makes tracking and astrophotography easy for beginners on this telescope.

Buying Guide: Things To Consider When Select Telescope

The best telescope for the whole family is supposed to be a one-time investment that can suit the intended astronomer at their level of skill. Although You will be advised to go for the highest aperture, your budget and user specifications may not necessarily agree. That is why this guide put together the ultimate bestsellers that can fit all user needs. Before you pay for a telescope, these are the factors you have to consider.

1. The Aperture and mirror coating

The higher the aperture the more your telescope is likely to cost but it will gather more light as well. The minimum aperture should be 70mm (about 3 inches) to give you a large enough magnification of the closest objects in the sky such as the moon. Celestron and Orion telescopes will have fill coated mirrors to gather more pure light which is great for magnification and your eyes as well.

The aperture of your telescope will be stated at the focuser in inches or mm. However, all the telescopes in this guide have the minimum magnification that will allow you to view all standard astronomical view objects at this minimum aperture. At 70mm most of the refractor telescopes in the guide will still show you some faint deep space objects.

2. The Finder

Many beginner astronomers assume the finder but it is a very important part of the telescope. You can be able to point and follow some close objects like the moon by placing your head against the telescope. However, faint objects may be hard to point with the naked eye even with the best eyesight. The finder also integrates well with your computerized control especially for astrophotography making operating easier.

3. The Mount stability

The Choice of the mount is a very important factor because you need to support the telescope and still navigate around the objects with ease. Some models will be delivered without a stand and you may have to buy one. All the telescopes in this guide come with either an equatorial, Dobsonian or Alt-Az base from the respective manufacturers. Here is a look at what each base means for you.

(i). Tripods

These are the most common stands, especially for refractor telescopes. Your usual camera tripod is good for taking shots but may not give a clear view as your telescope will be shaky. It may actually pose a risk to the optic tube. The best tripod stands should be adjustable and have strong rings and attachment panels that will give a strong grip on the telescope. An Alt-Az allows a four directional movement for your telescope which is very good for viewing the moon and planets. The equatorial mounts align with the NorthStar to track sky objects easily on a computerized telescope.

(ii). Dobsonian stands

These are the best stands for small reflector telescopes. You are able to move the scope on the axis and track stars from a low stable point that gives you more control of the focuser.

4. Eyepiece size

Some original eyepieces are low-quality glass pieces that you really have to strain to see. You also need to test with the Barlow lens to ensure your magnified object is visible. Most eyepieces will be ok for standard use but if the images are blurred, you can upgrade your eyepiece. You should always start your view on the low magnification eyepiece which will be 25mm or 20mm. The 4mm or 6mm is suited for faint distant objects and this should be your second eyepiece after you point perfectly.

5. Ease Of assembly and portability

You may be forced to choose between easy installation and quality for some models although this guide has preassembled scope models that will get you set in no time. Refractors are generally bulky but the installation time is worth it as they offer a clear night sky view. Getting a preassembled base and optical tube is always preferable.

Assembly is a simple task if you have a manual. A scope on the go is always great for camping and transportation but the best home telescope should be at least compound and allow everyone to view. This is the reason why you may have to spare more time to set up a good telescope. It is always preferable to set up during the day and test on a distant telephone pole then keep the stand and tube compact for the night.

Types of Telescopes

Telescopes are designed to gather light and they direct it to the eyepiece by refraction or reflection. The modern designs that combine both functions mainly the Maksutov-Cassegrain and Schmidt-Cassegrain combine both functions with a higher magnification that make astrophotography easier due to higher magnification.

Refractor telescopes

They have closed optical tubes with a lens at the top of the tube making maintenance easy. They gather more light as the aperture increases. Some of them have as many as 4 lenses which make their focal points go higher than the usual 4 times. They are more powerful but generally bulky. They will be suited for a tripod mount for sky viewing but with erect image optics, you can still use them for terrestrial viewing. The lens will either be apochromat which are expensive but offers a better image quality than the popular achromats.

Compound telescopes

These are the most powerful telescopes that offer a great introduction to astrophotography. They combine both refractor and reflector benefits by using a lens to gather light and mirrors to direct it to the eyepiece which makes images clearer. Some are bulky but the setups in this guide are preassembled for easy mounting and use.

How to Use a Telescope

The manual will have directions for assembling and your first view. Always read the set-up manual for specifics on your exact eyepiece and finder setup. The whole process will have these steps.

1. Mounting and focusing

Ensure vertical and horizontal stability by tightening the counterweight screw then the axis screw. Mount your optic tube to one side of the clamp and adjust the counterweight by loosening the screw on the clamp until the scope is balanced then tighten it. Adjust the telescope forward and backward for a refractor telescope on the axis until the rings fit perfectly in the axis and there are no sudden movements then tighten it.

2. Watching the test object

Once you have your stability, you need to get your first look. It is always advisable to try it out on a distant electric pole or a hilltop object. This way you get to test your erect image optics and the 2x or 3x Barlow lens. If you have a computerized telescope, this step should be easy. Attach the 20mmor 25mm eyepiece for your first view. You should only use the high magnification eyepiece if you need a view of very faint images but not as your first eyepiece when testing. You should know that high magnification acts like a superzoom, images get blurred. Always start with objects less than 500m away.

3. Getting a clear image

Adjust the eyepiece towards the image you see after removing your eyepiece cap. You should remove the diagonal and place the erect image focus for your upright image. Don’t worry, images in space will b upside down but you will hardly notice as there is no up and down in space. Test all your accessories on the primary object to familiarize yourself with the scope for easier use at night. Rotate the scope on the axis on all sides to see the stability of the scope. You can try out slow-moving objects as well to imitate the moon and planets. The remote control will make your first tracking harder as you don’t have software support but it gets easier once you link the database to the actual objects in the sky at night.

How to Clean a Telescope Mirror

The reflector telescope needs more maintenance as it takes in more dust but a simple blow may do the task. However, grease and fingerprints are more stubborn and they may need opening and cleaning thoroughly under a strong light beam. Don’t use a red light when cleaning, a clean and clear surface, Smears and fingerprints will isopropyl alcohol, don’t use soap or a greasy home cleaner as it will do more harm than good. If you have retractable dew shield, fully retract the lens for fill access when cleaning. However, a non-retractable tube can still be opened using a simple rotate action. You have to mark the exact location of the primary and secondary mirror if any to avoid interfering with your telescope`s functionality.

1. Use the bowing bulb with the lens facing downwards to remove as much dust from the lens as possible. You should put enough pressure to remove all the loose particles as the pollen and some pieces may dissolve in moisture and turn into stubborn stains.

2. If there are grease and fingerprint stains, soak your Len cleaning tissue with two to three drops of alcohol press it gently against the lens wiping from the center outwards. Remove any excess fluid on the lens with a second tissue to maintain the quality of the coating.

3. Use the fiber cloth to remove any pieces of tissue and dissolved grease from the mirror surface. Check the mirror against your light to ensure there are no more stains left. If any, soak with the tissue and wipe again and again until you get your sparkle.

4. You should wipe the cap before replacing it to ensure no dust particles are brought back to the mirror.

Frequently Ask Question About Telescope

a. Which is the best telescope to see planets?

The refractor telescope is the best recommendation for a beginner and an intermediate planet viewing astronomer. The lens has a higher magnification and the Alt-Az mount and Equatorial mount are easier to use when navigating the sky. The compound Cassegrain’s telescopes are a perfect choice for dual purpose viewing as they have both refractor and reflector mirrors with higher magnification although they are bulkier and more expensive. As a beginner, you may still enjoy viewing some planets on a reflector telescope but at a lower magnification.

b. How much does it cost for a really good telescope?

Reflector telescope may cost less than $50 for some models making starting astronomy on a budget cheaper. However, you need at least $300 to get a powerful telescope with great accessories that magnify deep space objects and still allow you to watch terrestrial bodies. The telescopes in this guide are however suited for different levels of user skills and they will offer you value for your money from $39 to your highest budget.

c. Which telescope is the best for beginners?

Reflector telescope is always the best choice for beginners who have little knowledge of space bodies. They are generally compact and light with most of them using a Dobsonian base which is stable and allows comfortable use by small children. However, No telescope is perfect forever, you can introduce astronomy using a cheap reflector then upgrade to larger refractors and compound telescope which give a stunning experience as the aperture goes up. The increase in aperture is however associated with a quick price increase for refractors and compound telescopes.

d. Which is better, refractor or reflector telescope?

This is a very popular question that cannot be narrowed down to the telescope. The best telescope for children and other amateur astronomers will depend on their knowledge of the sky and terrestrial objects and the level of detail they are ready to witness. However, refractor telescopes are better for astronomical viewing but with an erect image optic, they will work well on earth objects. Reflector telescopes, on the other hand, are easy to carry around and suitable for lower sky objects such as the moon and some planets.

Final Verdict

Choice of a telescope for a first time or upgrade purchase is a hard task. If you are not sure what to buy, you should know what you want to watch. This guide has put together the best telescopes that will turn every watch into a space trip. If you are buying your first telescope, a software support is always a welcome addition and the starry night app can be installed on an Android or iOS device for learning as you watch. The season of purchase will also affect the first impression from your telescope. Always buy a new telescope with the help of your space guide and ensure there is a clear sky before you mount the telescope. Never mount or use the telescope in rainwater or use it to view the sun.

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