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 and 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. Different telescopes also have different strengths when it comes to their lenses, so you want to make sure the lenses you choose can actually support what you’re hoping to see. Like a good pair of eyeglasses, clarity, focus and distance are all factors 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 three telescopes from companies that go above and beyond to help their customers. You could say they’re out of this world.
We included two options from Celestron, which boasts the title of the world’s number one telescope brand. Both Celestron telescopes on our list include a two-year warranty, a free download of the company’s “Starry Night Basic Edition” astronomy software, which includes an interactive sky simulation, and unlimited access to Celestron’s US-based technical support team.
Like the Celestrons, the Meade Instruments telescope on our list also comes with Astronomical Software and an instructional DVD that covers everything you need to know about using your new telescope.
The three telescopes we’ve included come in a variety of weights and magnification powers. 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 three 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.
Pros: The PowerSeeker is a great entry point for adults who are purchasing their first telescope.
Cons: The PowerSeeker weighs 21.38 pounds, by far the most cumbersome option 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.
Pros: Upgraded eyepieces are available to buy separately.
Cons: Not powerful enough to see much else in the solar system outside of the moon.
3. Meade Instruments AZ Refractor Telescope
The Meade Instruments AZ Refractor Telescope comes with a 70mm aperture and two eyepieces measuring 26mm and 9mm, with both doubled in magnification thanks to the barlow lens included in the set.
Pros: 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 7 pounds, the Meade Instruments AZ Refractor Telescope is the lightest telescope on our list.
Cons: Tripod is rather wobbly and difficult to assemble.