Best Beginner Telescope for Under $200

In this video I explain why I recommend a refractor with an equatorial mount. The PowerSeeker is compared to the AstroMaster – both by Celestron.

Since making this video I discovered a scope that may be better than the ones in this video. It is not equatorial but does have slow motion controls. Check it out.

Meade Instruments Infinity 90mm AZ Refractor Telescope

The best way to decide which telescope to buy is to visit your local astronomy club. The people there will spend a good deal of time talking about what is best for you. You can look through their telescopes too.

Another good source of guidance is which is a very large astronomical community with people from all over the world. You can get your account for free. The account will allow you to post questions in the different forums. They have a Beginners Forum where you can ask your questions and get answers quickly. Be sure to tell them as much as you know about your situation. How much you are willing to pay, what you expect to see, how dark is it where you live, how willing are you to drive to a dark site, etc.

The people at Cloudy Nights will often direct you towards a Dobsonian telescope. This is a Newtonian style telescope (with a mirror in the base) that is mounted on a cradle mount. This type of telescope gives you the most bang-for-the-buck if you consider light gathering the most important thing. You can find these at Orion Telescopes (see link below).

In this video I recommend a refractor telescope instead. My reasoning is that people in the under $200 price range are not going to spend a lot of time using their telescope. They will look at the Moon and some planets but aren’t willing to drive an hour to a dark site to look at fuzzy blobs of light. They also don’t want to learn how to collimate their Newtonian telescope.

The people on Cloudy Nights (the ones who respond to your questions) are all possibly more dedicated than you might be. For this reason they want you to have more light gathering ability. This won’t be as much value for people who just want to look at the Moon and planets from a parking lot with street lights nearby. They also have already learned how to collimate their Newtonian telescopes (which involves buying a $100 laser) and will tell you it is easy (it is, once you learn how).

To get a feel for the advice you get there read some comments by someone looking for an under $200 scope for an 8 year old.

Your Cloudy Nights membership can get you a discount on things you buy from Astronomics (first link below).


PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope

AstroMaster 70EQ Telescope

All of the AstroMaster Telescopes

All of the Celestron Telescopes

Orion Telescopes

Meade Telescopes


Jerome Dechant says:

can the spotter thingy on the 70EQ be removed and replaced with one like is on the 80EQ? Seems to me, I’d tend towards the 70EQ over the 80EQ because of the better eye pieces and better tripod.

zofa300 says:

Hi Thanks for the video. Just wonder why don’t you recommend AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector instead of the AstroMaster 70?

Deathxturtle says:

Im looking for a telescope that can see nebulas and galaxies and also saturn what would be the best telescope?

Rick Wallace says:

Do you think it is worth spending $100 more to get the astromaster 90eq instead of the astromaster 70eq? I am looking to buy one of these as a quick grab and go scope to check out the moon, jupiter, maybe M42, etc.

Derek Goh says:

People are falling victim to propaganda again. This guy only told half of the story. If you want to see the rest, read on. This review is okay except for the B.S about the reflector design vs the refractor, and the thing about the equatorial mount. A reflector is better at deep sky than a refractor. That doesn’t make it that much worse than a refractor for planets. A reflector telescope has basically no chromatic aberration vs a refractor, and it’s much cheaper for the same aperture. Also, you shouldn’t be dissing altazimuth mounts so much. I prefer to use an altazimuth mount over an equatorial. They’re much easier to use and you don’t need to do any polar aligning. If you’re using a cheap lightweight aluminum equatorial mount (or actually any equatorial mount) and accidentally bump it even a little, your polar alignment gets completely fucked. Altazimuth mounts are much lighter and more stable, especially for beginner telescopes. Plus, it’s much cheaper to buy a good quality steel altazimuth mount than a good quality steel equatorial mount. Also, the equatorial mount has to be balanced in both axes, and hold twice as much weight as the telescope itself (the counterweights weigh as much as the telescope).The part that you said about locking the knobs for altitude and azimuth was pure sh*t. You tighten the knobs that control azimuth and altitude once, and you rarely touch them ever again (I haven’t had to adjust the lock knobs since 2013)!!! Manually tracking with an altazimuth mount is much easier and simpler than you than you make it sound. Since the azimuth axis runs on bearings, it can be turned very smoothly. You can simply turn the azimuth axis, and make small adjustments to the altitude. You don’t need to do any locking sh*t except for when you first get a telescope or use a different one on an altazimuth mount.

If you’re looking for a good beginner telescope, don’t get any telescope with a mostly aluminum or plastic tripod(or any Celestron Powerseeker, Tasco “Telescope”, or Bushnell “Telescope”), as these will break very quickly. Better alternatives include the Celestron Astromasters (beware of the 130 though, it has a spherical mirror and suffers from spherical aberration), Orion Starblast 4.5 and 6 TABLETOP kind (the equatorial mount ones are also aluminum and will break), and the Orion skyquest 4.5 and 6 dobsonians. They might be a little more expensive, but an extra $50 can mean the difference between a telescope that breaks in the first week, and one that lasts a whole lifetime.

Andrew Habib says:

I got the Celestron Asromaster 90EQ.

vegasfordguy says:

I think I got a pretty good deal, I just bought a used but in excellent condition Astromaster 70 for $15 dollars. I’m extremely happy with the magnification and clarity. I don’t know much about telescopes, but from what I can tell the 20mm eye piece gives a much nicer view. The 10mm will zoom in a bit more, but the quality goes down.

This was an excellent review and the info about the mounts was very helpful.

Subhankar Roy says:

Hi..What telescope would you recommend to me .to see stars,planets,solar system….I’m a beginner suggest me a telescope between 180-130 us dollars… as good as possible…..

mihaela ghica says:

so i guess the equatorial mount is not good for astrophotography right?

Rakesh Prasanna Kumar says:

I am planning to choose 5se 5 inch

RockNJeep says:

Wow. Wonderful and absolutely informative review. Been looking into getting a scope since Mars came around a little while back an reignited my amateur interest. Thanks!

Sam Slagowski says:

Sir you have given the best explanation for need of the equatorial mount I have found on the internet. Thank you very much for explaining everything in such detail.

RadicalTerminator says:

Excuse me but these `telescopes` looks like cheap nasty junk to me. Made of plastic parts as they are. The focusers on these scopes are just cheap `made in china` junk.

jack002tuber says:

Great vid. I hear lots of the low end scopes come with cheap eyepieces, you just have to upgrade them. I am looking for one to mount a DSLR to that won’t be more than about $300

Rakesh Prasanna Kumar says:

And sir I live in India and the telescope costs 1562$! So can u recommend me something available in India and tht is good fr planet view

Antonio Carluccio says:

Equatorial mount is not for a beginner. Period

tobit100 says:

I’m confused.  Do I always have to have to point the telescope North?  My viewing area is south.  Can someone help me.

Nikil Kumar says:

thnx for the review, but could u also please guide me in choosing a telescope between the 90 eq and the 70 eq, if i’m looking for a telescope that has the best value for the money?

Elias Gabriel says:

hi, what’s your nationality?

Robert LeBlanc says:

Thanks for the info.
How would you rate the AstroMaster 90EQ vs. the PowerSeeker 127EQ?

Mike Handscomb says:

Nice information for a beginner – many thanks.

Subhankar says:

tell me a telescope which has inbuilt camera so that I can click photos of planets

Bobby Trippps says:

hanks for the video!I got the 70AZ as a birthday present, but when I turn the focusing knob nothing happens. Isn’t the tube supposed to extend and distend to change the focus? Am I missing something very basic or could it be faulty?

Curt Jerker says:

I want to buy one with 80mm but I found another options
1. Used astromaster 90mm for $115 with only 20mm eyepiece..
2. Used Astormaater 70 mm for $82
3. New Celestron 22065 Astromaster 102AZ Telescope

what is your recommendations please help?

Jake Florence says:

reflectors are much better, more aperture for the price .

Frie Presse Free The Plane says:

Mars comes by every 24 Day / Night in your sky and not only each 2 years tsk tsk globe Astronomers are clue less
sincerly a Flat Earth Astronomer

Rakesh Prasanna Kumar says:

What’s the diff between 5se and 6se

Mira Ann says:

check my website for a detailed reviews of telescopes or buy them at a discount price !!!

toot toot fuck shit says:

I have a tele that can see Sirius in decent detail, and it only costs $200, and I live with light pollution. Wow, I have an OP telescope.

Franklin Bluth says:

Are there any telescopes that I can use to view planets like Neptune or Pluto?


Matthew Knight says:

I’ve been using a Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ which I’ve done videos on using it with the common planets as well as talking and showing the parts I got for my 80EQ my videos are a work in progress so if you happen to watch my videos try not to let YouTube’s video compressing and me being new to using the Telescope myself discourage you from buying one what you see in videos online are likely a bit different what you see from your own eyes due to the device used for recording and people not knowing the right settings to use to get the best colors. Just take in mind if planning to buy any Telescope your likely gonna need to upgrade the parts I would recommend watching a video I did on the parts I got for the 80EQ I will say that the stock parts are not that good and will likely make you feel like returning it but it’s a really good Telescope for the price I’m very pleased with what I see but just not with the stock parts and this goes for any of the Telescopes under $200

Rakesh Prasanna Kumar says:

can we use a celestron adapter fr 5se

Dark Entertainment says:

Want the 80EQ? You can pick it up here for cheap! ^^

Sander Smit says:

You forget to mention that an equatorial mount on a budget is a lot less stable than a AZ mount of the same price. With these large 70 or 80mm scopes the weight of the scope makes it wobbly. Therefor the best and most stable cheap mount is a Dobson mount, not EQ or AZ.

Curtis Reynolds says:

Love your videos. I’m actually looking for an inexpensive, low weight capacity, computer driven alt az mount for a small telescope. Any recommendations?

Mira Ann says:

check my website for a detailed reviews of telescopes or buy them at a discount price !!!

Kombiice says:

Why are these telescopes so long! And how to keep exposure with “zoom”

Richard DeForge says:

Thank you great video.

Rakesh Prasanna Kumar says:


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