The best affordable, beginner telescopes

Full list of affordable, beginner telescope recommendations can be found here: http://eyesonthesky.com/Blog/tabid/80/EntryId/242/The-best-affordable-beginner-telescope-options.aspx

First, I would strongly encourage you to learn about telescope types, accessories like eyepieces and barlow lenses, plus how to calculate magnification, understanding telescopic and apparent field of view, and the types plus how to align a finderscope. So that equatorial mounts are not confusing, you can also learn how to align and how to use an equatorial mount will help make those kinds of mounts more easily understood as well. You’ll be better informed in about an hour, and (almost) all are closed-captioned so you can read what’s said while watching them (for instance, if you’re at work… not that anyone does that ever, LOL). ALL OF THAT CAN BE FOUND HERE: http://eyesonthesky.com/Blog/tabid/80/EntryId/179/The-Ultimate-Beginners-Guide-to-Telescopes-and-Amateur-Astronomy.aspx

Reflector

300mm focal length Dobsonian-type reflectors – three versions:

A, Orion Funscope – will need a table/tripod, and very soon require a 2.5x or 3x barlow lens, review here.

B. Skywatcher Heritage 76 is a similar version available in Europe.

C. Celestron has TWO versions of their similarly-made Firstscope, one of which does not include finderscope and is not recommended; the other is the COSMOS Firstscope that DOES come with a red dot finder and two 3-element eyepieces that are better than the 2-element ones included with the lesser Firstscope.

Astronomers Without Borders OnesSky telescope (Skywatcher Heritage 130P is identical scope) – Gary Seronik of Sky and Telescope says “I can’t imagine a beginner not being thrilled with the views it provides. It gets my vote for the best bang-for-the-buck beginner’s scope currently available.” Still needs a barlow and a table/tripod on which to place it. Also the focuser is helical, not the typical rack and pinion type. May require some work to avoid stray light entering focuser/eyepiece. Overall good value.

Orion Starblast 4.5 – Needs barlow lens and table/tripod. Adequate included optics, but will require eventual upgrades of either barlow lens and/or shorter focal length eyepieces. Coma around edges is apparent, but does provide wide field views.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Orion XT4.5 Dobsonian – Another good option for a first telescope, but not motor driven. Optics will produce good images with little to no coma, and are marginally diffraction limited. Includes usefully sized (and not stopped down!) 6×26 correct image finderscope and TWO good quality Plossl-type eyepieces. Excellent value, though small and requires a crate or box to be at adequate height for most teens and adults even with a chair.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Orion XT6 or XT8 – Many people will say that the best 6″ f/8 telescope is an 8″ f/6. But don’t neglect the weight, size, and less collimation required for a 6″ scope. An f/8 is more forgiving of poor collimation. But an 8″ scope has more light gathering capability. Both of these are good options. Both will need eventual add on’s and updates, but are good telescopes right out of the box.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Apertura 8 – Another worthwhile option for a Dobsonian telescope; some people prefer these due to the focuser / eyepiece options and believe they are better than Orion’s offerings.

TO SUM UP

Keep in mind that ALL of these telescopes will likely need either some additional accessories, perhaps a bit of work on a tripod, or some other improvements. Remember, retailers are trying to hit prices points so you’ll even CONSIDER them. If they cut a corner, you may need to rebuild that corner, sooner or later. But these are all acceptable options for a telescope you can buy, right now, without having to ask if they are a “good” telescope.

TL;DR – Buy an 6″ f/8 Dobsonian telescope. If you have other questions or don’t have that kind of budget, go back to the beginning and read the whole post.

See what’s up in the night sky every week with “Eyes on the Sky” videos, astronomy made easy.

Comments

Lucinda Holland says:

New and subscribed. Always been a skywatcher.

Jenham's Astro says:

Some good advise in this video. For those looking to view the planets on a budget then you can do a lot worse than a small Maksutov like a Celestron C90, on a solid alt-az mount. Just put a better finderscope on it and away you go.

Mritunjay says:

Like his outro so much ..eyes up light downs whats up !

Mala DS says:

Please suggest me a telescope from this catologue is star tracker good?www.tejraj.com/products.html

paulkazjack says:

How about sky watcher 150 startravel? Great for wide field views-double cluster!

Utkarsh Jain says:

Should I make a Newtonian telescope of my own or buy a telescope ?
My budget is 150 dollars.

Franklin Sellers says:

Good advice and well timed.

ActionSpace Gaming says:

I think I will buy a 8 inch dob should I buy it or you suggest anything else
Btw love your videos

Samuel A says:

I have to agree with you for those who want to do visual astronomy. I however quickly outgrew visual and went to Astrophotography and wish I had gone a completely different route. Cest la vie.

Donald Collins says:

Great video I was originally looking into get orion starblast 4.5 for its mobility but may consider a dobsonian if I can get in more deep space objects for the money! Happy Thanksgiving!

Xsauce says:

What about the skywatcher heritage 130p ?

Pavle Pavlovic says:

Great commercial , F8 easier and more forgiving then F6 , that is as lame of an explanation as it gets , its not even true , F8 gets less field of view but more of it in focus , compared to F6. So , focus or field , waht do you want , its all real simple , take a toilet paper tube and cut out F4 to F15 scopes form it , look and you will learn all of it , F10 is what is best all around scope , as big aperture as you can get . But these days scope is not expensive these ppl are talking nonsense , i got mine for 150$ , its freaking F4 so it cant get everything in focus , still look at the moon on me channel , aint that fine moon , so that is 150$ , the eyepiece in it is paid 70$ but , now i know where to get it for 20$ , i was stupid , as you guys are now , and this guy is just ripping the money out of you pockets .

Munky332 says:

What about for terrestrial views? I was looking at the 90mm Orion Starmax, which is a Maksutov, and I was going to pair it with a image erecting prism. my primary needs are long distance viewing 600-1000 yards for target shooting, as well as long distance viewing of hills and other objects. Secondary would be astronomy with my son, but is also a consideration. Most terrestrial viewing would be during bright daylight hours.

Also, how does the F/stop and Focal length effect image? does it work similar to a camera? Does it effect your focus depth of field? if so, personally I prefer longer F/stops in a camera due to the larger depth of field effect. I do understand focal length as it applies to the sizing of eye pieces, but is there any other factors that could apply hear?

Any recommendations for “budget” terrestrial eye pieces? image erecting prism? I’d like to keep the budget for each eye piece around 30-50$ each, and start with only a few of them. I was thinking Orion and/or Meade? Plossl vs Kelner for terrestrial?

Fred J Pearce says:

Very useful info.

P Siddarth says:

Best channel for astronomy

Nikos T says:

I bought a 10 inch for my first. The only problem I find with dobsonians other than the weight is the accuracy of the mount ( box).

PuzzleSolver says:

Awesome! Glad you made a video about this! My Telestar broke 🙁

Somborn says:

Please do more equipment videos! You helped me alot! Thank you so much!

KingofUSA85 says:

I took your recommendation and bought the Orion 6 inch Dobsonian. I am glad I did because Telescopes are WAY bigger in real life than they look in videos/pictures even with a guy standing next to it for comparison. The 6 inch was the size I thought the 8 Inch would be! The 6 inch seems like a good middle ground between portability and power.

Bill Ducas says:

I bought the Orion XT8 Plus as my first telescope, and the Orion 100mm Starseeker tabletop reflector. I wish I would have bought the XT6 instead. The 8 inch is too big for me. But I listened to the “Experts” on line and got the 8 inch. I use my Orion 100mm reflector all the time, and rarely the 8 inch DOB. I picked them both up at the Orion store, and thought I could handle the 8 inch DOB. Live and learn. I will be getting the Orion 127mm MAK. The XT8 Plus may be for sale soon.

VEGITO505 says:

Miss ur videos glad to see more . Awesome tips

Beth Tyler says:

I’ve got a Celestron Comotron 76mm firstscope and just love it. It’s easy and provides better views than I’ve had from binoculars. Adding a moon filter to it makes viewing the moon a pleasure.
Best of all it fits in the box of my motorcycle so I can take it out to a dark zone 🙂

Yaniv Rozenbloom says:

Great, Thanks for your video.

GH51505150 says:

Thanks for the videos. Could you do a video on what a good Astro photography camera would be? I want to start taking pictures in my telescope…

3RiversPrecision says:

Any recommendations for a shorter 10 year old. Something Decent, but something that if they get bored in 3 months it didnt’ break the bank, I read your recommendations on your page. With that said it seems like what I looked at they are all within $75.00 The Orion Go Scope 80mm, XT4.5, XT6, Fun Scope/starblast Astro 4.5 reflector. I Like the small foot print of some of them, The funscope 76mm being the cheapest I thought about this route and if they don’t use it then no harm, and if they really like it, I didn’t shell out a bunch of wasted money. Any advice Thanks for your time.

Akion says:

My wife bought me a couple of years ago a 114/900 mm Newtonian (Skywatcher Luna) on an EQ2 mount with Barium eyepieces of 25mm and 10mm focal lenght and 2x Barlow lenses. The price for the deluxe version (it has a better finderscope than the basic 6×24 one) is around 270 USD or 235 EUR, plus you can ask for better E-Plössl eyepieces for 25 more bucks instead of the basic Barium ones, so the very best package is around 300 USD. Motor drive with cluth is an additional, optional purchase for another 90 USD. Prices my wary in your region, we have very high 27% VAT.

My best captures with the basic Barium oculars (I already asked Santa for better eyepieces this Christmas :D) and 2x Barlow were Mars with a visible polar cap and details on the surface, and finding M57 (Ring Nebula) during a full Moon!

As a beginner I’d highly recommend this instrument, especially if you consider to later expand it with more decent eyepieces, color filters etc. A good basic to build upwards.

KingofUSA85 says:

Will the Orion 6mm and 9mm you recommended or other widefield expanse eyepieces work in a 3′ F/5 refractor? I’ve heard that widefield expansive eyepieces don’t work very well in fast telescopes and that I should stick with Plossls for Fast telescopes. The problem is that my 9.7mm plossl has terriblly uncomfortable eyerelief even if I use a Barlow with it and my eyelashes brush against the 15mm one. What would you recommend?

David Hunter says:

Thank you for making this guide, but I think I need something simpler, that just focuses on one or two beginner’s telescopes, for under $1000.00 each (maybe a kit in a case with the accessories etc.), that I can move in my jeep to dark sky places and set up on uneven ground, a video that starts with the basic mechanics of telescope theory, like explaining what F6 or F8 means – in a graphical jargon free, cartoon type way. Something for a total newbie, that wants a telescope to look at the sun, the moon and planets, then the other one for galaxies, star groups, that kind of thing. I did learn from you not to buy cheap telescopes, so thanks for that.

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