From budding astronomers to wildlife admirers, telescopes have the power to bring the faraway up close. Whether you want to view the night sky with high definition clarity, take a look at the moons around Jupiter, or you love to spot birds, deer, and other types of wildlife while taking a walk through nature, a telescope is an excellent gift for yourself and anyone who has an eye for the outdoors.
The best telescopes work whether you’re by a window indoors or outside in the fields and forests. You want to look for one that is lightweight enough to carry (many can be easily attached to a convenient carry strap) but also strong enough to not tip over in the wind. Telescopes also have different strengths when it comes to their lenses, so you want to make sure the lens you choose can support what you’re hoping to see. Like a good pair of eyeglasses, clarity, focus and distance factor into picking out a solid telescope.
If you’re new to using a telescope, the learning curve can seem intimidating. Not only are you learning the ins and outs of the telescope, but you’re also using a new tripod. That’s why we’ve chosen telescopes from companies that go above and beyond to help their customers. You could say they’re out of this world.
Depending on whether you plan on taking your telescope with you on your next adventure or keep it set up at home for quick and easy access, the right telescope for you may depend mainly on weight. Find out which telescope will bring the sky closer than ever before by checking out our top picks below.
1. Celestron PowerSeeker
The PowerSeeker uses a manual German equatorial mount for smooth tracking of faraway objects. The telescope comes with a 4mm and 20mm eyepiece and a Barlow lens that can triple the power of each eyepiece. The PowerSeeker is a great entry point for adults who are purchasing their first telescope.
Pros: Smooth tracking, two eyepieces included, easy to use for beginners.
Cons: The PowerSeeker weighs 21.38 pounds, making it one of the most cumbersome options on our list.
2. Celestron AstroMaster
The AstroMaster comes with a portable and lightweight tripod, as well as two eyepieces and a red dot finder scope. Panning is smooth thanks to the Alt-AZ control, which gives users the ability to accurately point at objects. The AstroMaster includes 10mm and 20mm eyepieces and is strong enough to reach Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons. Users also have the option to purchase upgraded eyepieces for better vision.
Pros: Lightweight model, smooth panning, option to upgrade.
Cons: Requires eight AA batteries.
3. ToyerBee Telescope
For an affordable introduction into the world of telescopes, we recommend the beginner model from ToyerBee. Designed for older kids or anyone who is new to telescopes, the ToyerBee model comes with several common accessories that will help users understand how to get the most out of their telescope as they advance to more sophisticated models. The ToyerBee comes with a 3X Barlow lens as well as an H20mm and an H6mm eyepiece that will help users see a magnification of 15X to 150X. Using a 70mm aperture and 300mm focal length, the ToyerBee is suitable for wilderness viewing and some stars and planets. We also like that it includes a smartphone adapter and wireless remote for taking images through the lens finder.
Pros: Affordable, easy to use for kids and beginners, includes a smartphone adapter for taking pictures.
Cons: The tripod included with the ToyerBee is small and unsteady and users will likely outgrow the telescope’s capabilities after a few uses.
4. OrionSpaceProbe Equatorial Reflector Telescope
See galaxies far, far away with the Orion SpaceProbe Equatorial Reflector Telescope. The powerful telescope has a 5.1-inch aperture reflector that takes in a large amount of light, providing users with a clear view of the night sky. Users will be able to see the moon, star clusters, brighter galaxies and nebulas with the Orion. A stable tripod is included and has an adjustable turning radius that is ideal for slow and smooth tracking. The tripod also includes an accessories tray where users can rest their personal items while using the telescope. A 6×30 finderscope and two 1.25 inch Sirius Plossl eyepieces are included and assembly is easy. We also like that the Orion comes with the Starry Night astronomy software.
Pros: Ideal for stargazing, stable and adjustable tripod, includes high-end accessories.
Cons: The Orion has a short 24-inch optical tube for easy portability, but at 27 pounds it may be too heavy for some users to transport long distances.
5. Celestron NexStar 4SE Telescope
Stop searching and start enjoying your stargazing right away with the Celestron NexStar 4SE Telescope. The fully automated telescope features intuitive tech that enables users to choose from the 40,000 codes available in the NexStar database. Users dial the code into the handheld remote and wait for a few seconds as the NexStar repositions itself so that users get a perfectly centered view of their target. The NexStar comes with a comprehensive guide for using their coding system and the Starry Night software. The NexStar includes an adjustable and lightweight tripod and the unit breaks down into several pieces for easy portability. Using the 4-inch aperture and focal length, users can see the rings of Saturn, craters on the moon, moons of Jupiter and brighter nebulae. We also like that the NexStar includes an attachment for DSLR cameras, enabling users to take stunning photos of the night sky.
Pros: Fully automated telescope, stable and lightweight tripod, can work with DSLR cameras.
Cons: The NexStar comes with a big price tag.
6. Meade Instruments AZ Refractor Telescope
The Meade Instruments AZ Refractor Telescope comes with a 70mm aperture and two eyepieces measuring 26mm and 9mm, both of which double in magnification thanks to the Barlow lens included in the set. The telescope sits on top of a tripod that features a slow-motion control rod that makes it easy to smoothly track objects during the day and night. At only seven pounds, the Meade Instruments AZ Refractor Telescope is the lightest telescope on our list.
Pros: Comes with tripod, lightweight for easy carrying, includes Barlow lens.
Cons: Tripod is rather wobbly and difficult to assemble.
7. Gskyer Telescope
The Gskyer Telescope is a great beginner model that will help kids and those who are new to telescopes develop a passion for the night sky. The powerful lens has a 400mm focal length and 70mm aperture, as well as a fully coated optics glass lens that protects the users’ eyes and delivers crisp and clear images. The images can be saved by using the smartphone mount and wireless remote, which enables users to take stunning pictures. The Gskyer includes two eyepieces and one 3X Barlow lens to increase the magnification of the eyepieces. A finder scope on top of a mounting bracket includes cross-hair lines so that users can accurately pinpoint their subjects. We also like that the Gskyer includes a carrying bag for safe storage and portability.
Pros: Fully coated optics glass, a powerful finder scope and a smartphone mount.
Cons: The height and instability of the tripod can make it uncomfortable for an adult to use.