Best Telescopes of 22 ‘ 16 Models Reviewed for New or Upgrading Stargazers

Whether you’re a new stargazer or have been an avid astronomer for years, there will come a point when you need to decide what telescope is the best one for you.

For those who are looking for their very first telescope or upgrading for a telescope with more features, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gathered the best telescopes on the market so you don’t have to worry or be overwhelmed by the vast choice on the market.

From selecting the best on the market to explaining the basics and why they’re important, we’ve done all the research so you don’t have to.  

We have split the telescopes up according to price so you can choose a telescope based on your price point: Tighter budget telescopes that are up to $250, amateur telescopes that are up to $500, intermediate telescopes up to $1500 and professional telescopes that are more than $1500.

We will delve into this more later on in the article, but it’s important to get a telescope that suits your needs and level as buying a telescope that is beyond your skill set is going to cause problems as professional telescopes are designed for those who know what they’re doing.

How do I know which telescope is best for me?

Figuring out which telescope is the best for you is half the battle. Consider various aspects before deciding on which one is going to be the best model for you.

In this article, we’ve collected the top telescopes on the market followed by a Buyers Guide that tells you everything you need to know when conducting your own research.

We’ll then complete the guide with a conclusion where we round everything up and give you those tips and tricks in a bite sized segment so you’ll be able to remember everything easily. 

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what to look out for when it comes to researching telescopes as well as the best on the market at differing price points and levels.

So whether you’re an avid astronomer or have never looked through a telescope before, this guide takes you through everything you need to know. You’ll be an expert before you know it and will be able to make a fully informed decision that you can be confident about.

Tighter budget telescopes up to $250

For those who are on a strict budget, there are plenty of quality models that you can choose from.

Naturally, these telescopes don’t have the features that more expensive models have but these choices are a great segway into astronomy for those who may not be at a point where they can fully invest in their new hobby.

OUR TOP PICK

The SOLOMARK Telescope for Adults is an ideal choice for adults and children thanks to its ease of use and assembly.

It has fully multi-coated optics class lens with built in high transmission coatings that not only give highly detailed images but also protects your eyes from any harm. 

With 70mm aperture and 700mm focal length produces beautiful images allowing you to look at a great field of view meaning that you will have a perfect view of details as well as a general scope of the sky.

The Plossl eyepieces assist in reducing chromatic aberration and halo for comfortability. The equatorial mount type comes with two motion control cables meaning that you can adjust the telescope according to your preferences.

With 4.6 stars from over 400 reviews, this telescope is fantastic as it is quick and easy to set up thanks to its no-tool set up.

This means that you don’t have to be wasting any time messing around with little bits and bobs trying to set the telescope up and can immediately use it once it arrives. 

Equipped with a phone adapter and tripod, you have everything you need to have an enjoyable and positive experience.

The phone adapter allows you to connect your phone to capture some incredible images and the tripod is made from sturdy materials, ensuring that your telescope will be completely secure.

EDITORS CHOICE

The Gskyer Telescope with 70mm Aperture is a fantastic choice for those on a budget because of its quality optics.

With a 400mm focal length and 70mm aperture, Gskyer has designed this telescope as a great introduction to astronomy and stargazing for those who want to explore but don’t have the largest budget.

With fully coated optics glass lenses, you can observe for long periods of time and not worry about your eyes thanks to the coatings that provide optical protection. This is the perfect telescope to explore the stars and moon.

It comes with two replaceable eyepieces and one 3X Barlow lens meaning that you can look at specific details on the surface of the moon should you wish.

The 5x24 finder scope with mounting bracket and cross-hair lines means that you can locate objects easily.

With 4.4 stars from over 15,500 reviews, this telescope comes with a wireless remote and a smartphone adapter for extra convenience, meaning that you can connect your phone to the telescope and capture the images you find and share them online.

The wireless remote is hugely convenient as it means you’re not going to be tangled among lots of wires.

The adjustable tripod means that you can adjust the height to your preference which makes this perfect for adults and children alike and the alloy material is sturdy and reliable.

This telescope also comes with lifetime maintenance and the customer service team will always respond within 24 hours should you need any technical assistance.

BEST VALUE

Celestron’s 70mm Travel Scope with Portable Refractor Telescope boasts superior optics thanks to its 70mm objective lens and lightweight frame.

It comes with a custom backpack to carry all of the equipment meaning that this is a fantastic option for those who wish to travel a lot with their telescope.

Celestron is a brand renowned for its high quality telescopes and this is evident in this model which comes with two powerful eyepieces for up close viewing.

This means that you have an option to either look at a larger view of the night sky or particular details.

The large 70mm objective lens provides enhanced, brighter views and still maintains its lightweight feel. It’s also incredibly easy and quick to set up.

With 4.3 stars from over 7,600 reviews, this telescope comes with a bonus, tripod and software so you can have a full experience with your telescope.

The tripod is made from sturdy materials and is easy to collapse and travel around with and the software allows you to easily find objects in the sky without spending time trying to figure it out yourself.

This telescope also comes with a two year warranty as well as unlimited access to Celestron’s technical support and customer service should you face any difficulties when using your telescope. 

Amateur Telescopes up to $500

For the amateur astronomer, it may seem confusing finding the perfect first telescope that is going to give you the best introduction to astronomy.

These telescopes are a fantastic starting point giving you the best quality images of the night sky as you learn the basic techniques that comes with stargazing.

RUNNER UP

Orion’s SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope is a great beginner telescope thanks to the 5.1” aperture reflector that gathers a lot of light, giving a great view of the stars, moons and planets.

You can also view brighter galaxies, nebulae and star clusters which is great for the keen stargazer.

Equipped with a short 24” long optical tube design means that the telescope is easy to travel with and the fast f/5 focal ratio for a huge field of view.

This is a telescope designed to be used by all ages as you can adjust the focus and height to suit the user’s preference. 

With 4.6 stars from over 800 reviews, this telescope comes with a sturdy telescope mount and adjustable tripod which allows for manual slow-motion tracking of objects as they appear in the sky.

This is particularly ideal for stargazing and looking at the moon. The lightweight design means that the telescope is only 27lbs for easy portability.

The telescopes come with two eyepieces, a finder scope, a rack and pinion focuser, tripod accessory trap, collimation cap and astronomy software so you have everything you need to have a fully positive experience when observing. 

RUNNER UP

Gskyer’s Refractor Telescope boasts high quality optics thanks to its 600mm focal length and 90mm aperture.

The fully coated optics glass lens has high transmission coatings which creates beautiful images that also provides protection to your eyes.

This means you can observe for long periods of time without feeling any strain. The telescope comes with three replaceable eyepieces and one 3X Barlow lens which makes for stargazing with high magnification.

The adjustable tripod is made from aluminum meaning that it is sturdy and the height can be adjusted according to your preference.

With 4.5 stars from over 1,600 reviews, this telescope is incredibly easy to operate and with no tools required to set it up, you don’t have to worry about wasting a lot of time trying to figure out how to assemble the product.

As well as all of the necessary equipment needed to have a great time, this model also comes with a one year warranty as well as unlimited customer service should you run into any problems at all.

Thanks to the convenience and easiness of the telescope, it is perfect for beginners who haven’t used telescopes before.

RUNNER UP

Meade Instruments’ Polaris 127mm Aperture Telescope comes with a 127mm aperture and a 1000mm focal length which helps to create stunning images.

The focal ratio is f/7 meaning that it can follow faster objects in the sky easily and help to capture some incredible details.

The large, stable equatorial mount comes with slow motion controls which makes tracking objects smooth and simple.

The magnification eyepieces give you the option of low, medium and high resolution meaning that you have a variety of options for your viewing situations.

The 2X Barlow lens doubles the magnification meaning you can see clear details of the stars in the night sky.

With 4.5 stars from over 400 reviews, this telescope is the perfect model for those who want to search for specific objects in the sky.

The red dot viewfinder helps you point your scope at the objects in the sky and the accessory tray stores your other accessories while you’re observing meaning that you don’t have to worry about your equipment getting damaged when it is not being used.

The telescope also comes with astronomical software as well as an instructional DVD so you can learn how to use your telescope easily. 

RUNNER UP

Celestron’s NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope is a computerized star locator telescope which has a database of more than 40,000 stars, galaxies and nebulae among other objects.

This is the perfect choice for those who want to find as many objects in the sky as possible. This telescope helps to locate the object you want to find and pinpoints the scope towards it, tracking it for you.

It is compatible with 2 inch eyepieces meaning that you can look for objects in the sky with high magnification.

This model is compact and portable and can be used by adults and children alike thanks to its ease of use. 

A great telescope to travel around with, this model has a Newtonian reflector optical design which means that it absorbs a lot of light, allowing the user to see the Solar System and beyond.

Whatever you are wanting to view, this telescope is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the stars, moon and planets. 

With 4.4 stars from over 900 reviews, this Celestron model has a fast set up with skyalign which allows you to start observing within minutes of taking it out of the bag.

You will also receive a starry night software meaning that you will be able to connect your telescope with wifi and capture the amazing images you can find.

With a two year warranty and unlimited access to Celestron’s customer service and technical support, you can be assured that you will have years and years of use out of this telescope with no problems. 

Intermediate telescopes up to $1500

For those who are ready to upgrade from their first telescope and want a new instrument that has more features and can see further into space, an intermediate telescope is what you want to look for.

These will be pricier than the telescopes you’re used to but their features more than make up for this.

RUNNER UP

Celestron’s NexStar 4SE Telescope is a computerized telescope that boasts the latest technology and features which is perfect as a telescope upgrade for the intermediate astronomer.

With its 4 inch aperture, this telescope is great for adults and children to use thanks to its light gathering ability which gives you access to the objects in the Solar System and beyond while retaining a compact form factor.

The fully automated go to mount features a database of more than 40,000 objects, this is a great telescope for those who want to expand their discoveries when observing as it can locate and track objects for you with ease.  

With 4.5 stars from over 300 reviews, the Celestron Nexstar 4SE Telescope comes with bonus free starry night software meaning that you can explore an interactive sky simulation and capture some amazing images.

The two year warranty applies to this telescope as is expected of Celestron as well as the unlimited access to their technical support and customer service should you face any issues.

You can be assured that your experience with the NexStar 4SE is going to be positive and you’ll have years of use.

RUNNER UP

Sky Watcher’s AZ-EQ5 Fully Computerized Telescope is one of the best computerized telescopes on the market right now.

Operating in AZ, EQ and Dual-OTA modes, you can search for objects in the sky depending on your own preferences. 

The motorized go to equatorial telescope mount is capable of accurately tracking objects in equatorial and azimuth modes for easiness and convenience.

The belt-drive stepper motors provide an extremely quiet slewing with the best precision and accuracy.

Boasting a beefy all metal construction, this telescope is perfect for the majority of optical tubes thanks to its 30 pound payload capacity meaning that you can add magnification to the telescope with ease. 

With 4.5 stars from over 90 reviews, the AZ-EQ5 comes with a SynScan hand controller that gives you access to a database that contains more than 42,000 objects which is already an immediate upgrade from beginner telescopes.

You’ll be spending endless hours exploring all of the objects in the sky and trying to capture those mesmerizing images.

The SNAP port allows for fully automated, remote controlled DSLR camera operation meaning you can keep the images that you capture and log them for personal use.

Thanks to the easy and innovative design, this is a telescope that can be used by all ages and abilities but it is because of the huge number of objects available that makes it more suitable for intermediate use. 

RUNNER UP

Celestron’s NexStar 127SLT Computerized Telescope is the second Celestron intermediate telescope on our list and for good reason.

The NexStar 127SLT is a computerized telescope that contains a database of more than 40,000 objects.

The telescope assists in locating and tracking the specific object you want to find within seconds meaning that you don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to find it yourself manually.

The NexStar 127SLT is compact and portable making it a perfect telescope to take on trips and it is great for family use thanks to its ease of use.

The Maksutov-cassegrain optical design gathers a lot of light meaning that you can view objects in the Solar System and beyond thanks to the extreme magnification.

With 4.4 stars from over 600 reviews, the NexStar 127SLT has a fast setup with skyalign meaning that you will be ready to observe in minutes.

The telescope is able to figure out where the objects in the sky are no matter where it is thanks to the advanced technology.

The bonus free starry night software means that you also have access to the interactive sky simulation that is the most popular of its kind among astronomers.

With 2 year free warranty and unlimited access to the technical support team, you can be assured that you will be able to get a lot of years and usage out of your telescope without worrying about potential damage.

RUNNER UP

Sky Watcher’s EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor Telescope is the last recommendation for intermediate users.

With expertly matched glass, the EvoStar 100 features a matched doublet objective which includes a synthetic fluorite element which helps to provide color correction, making it perfect for visual and photographic use.

Thanks to the Metallic high transmission coatings, you can assure that your eyes are completely protected for long periods of time as well as allowing the objects you see to be completely color corrected with minimal aberrations.

This telescope is a fantastic model for the intermediate user but can also be used professionally thanks to the versatile refractors which can be used as your primary optical tube as you improve your skill set.

With 4.3 stars from 100 reviews, the EvoStar 100 has a 10:1 dual speed focuser which means that finding focus is extremely easy and you won’t be spending a lot of time trying to get a clear image of the objects in the sky regardless of the eyepiece or camera.

Equipped with a foam-lined aluminum hard case for easy portability, a right angle correct image finderscope, a dielectric diagonal, two LET eyepieces, an adapter, mounting rings and a V-style Dovetail, you can be assured that you have everything in order to have endless positive experiences as you explore the night sky.

Professional telescopes that are over $1500

Lastly, this section covers the professional models for those who are ready for a telescope that has a whole selection of features that allows them to see whatever they want and capture some fantastic images.

RUNNER UP

Celestron’s NexStar 8SE Telescope is the best professional telescope on the market thanks to its array of fantastic features that boast the most advanced technology.

As expected of the Celestron brand, the NexStar 8SE Telescope is a computerized telescope that has an 8 inch aperture in this Schmidt-Cassegrain design that can be used by adults and children thanks to the protective coating in the lens that protects the eyes for longer periods of use.

The aperture has a large light gathering ability so you can clearly see objects in the sky while retaining a compact form factor.

It is compatible with starsense technology and boasts a wifi fully automated go to mount. With a database containing more than 40,000 objects, you’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding what to look for in the sky. 

With 4.5 stars from over 600 reviews, this telescope is easy to assemble and break down. The single fork arm design and steel tripod assemble and disassemble in separate components for easy portability as well as guaranteeing its safety thanks to the sturdy materials.

The SkyAlign technology means that your telescope can locate where it is and what objects can be found in the sky within minutes no matter where you are.

As with other Celestron products, the NexStar 8SE comes with the bonus free starry night software so you can explore the night sky wherever you are as well as the two year free warranty so you can have long term use with peace of mind. 

RUNNER UP

Sky Watcher’s EQ6-R Telescope is a great alternative for those who want a different brand to Celestron.

The precise and accurate go to means that the telescope can locate and track objects in the sky within minutes for both visual observing and astrophotography. 

The belt driven motors have a quiet slewing with extreme precision whilst also eliminating Periodic Error meaning that you have access to endless objects in the sky.

The 44 pound payload means that you can add the majority of optical tubes to the telescope depending on how intense you want the magnification to be.

The only optical tubes that cannot fit are the heaviest ones that exceed 44 pounds. The all metal body means that the telescope is extremely sturdy and durable for many years of use and can be transported with ease and minimal damage. 

With 4.5 stars from over 90 reviews, the EQ6 Telescope has a built in polar finderscope provides quick and easy polar alignment for your convenience and with over 42,000 objects in its database, you’ll have endless experiences without repeating the same object unless you want to.

This is the perfect telescope for astronomers who are wanting to find new and exciting objects they have never encountered before.

The built in handle makes it easy to transport as well as simple to set up meaning that you don’t have to spend lots of time on your trips trying to set up the telescope.

With automatic DSLR exposures, you can keep the images that you find in the sky for your personal collection. 

RUNNER UP

Celestron’s CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain 2800mm Telescope is the last Celestron model on our list.

Boasting a Schmidt-Cassegrain design with an 11 inch aperture, the CPC 1100 StarBright contains optical coatings to protect your eyes for longer periods of time whilst also producing defined images.

With a tripod that can be adjusted according to your preferences for comfortability, this telescope is guaranteed to give you endless enjoyable experiences that are hugely convenient thanks to its limited manual nature.

The fully computerized dual form arm has an altazimuth mount with an internal database of over 40,000 objects so you won’t be stuck to find new stars in the sky.

Gone are the days of struggling to find objects, this telescope comes with a finderscope that can help you accurately find objects with ease. 

With 4.4 stars from over 90 reviews, this telescope comes with a heavy duty tripod that can be attached easily for extra convenience.

The sturdiness of the telescope assures that the telescope will remain in position no matter where you are thanks to its durability and reliability.

The ergonomic design means that you can comfortably lift and move the telescope without worrying about causing any damage.

This is a model that is all about creating a convenient and hands free experience so you can enjoy your time observing the night sky rather than worrying about the condition of the telescope itself.

RUNNER UP


Sky Watcher’s EvoStar 120 APO Doublet Refractor Telescope rounds up our professional telescope list and is a brilliant place to conclude the best on the market.

Like other Sky Watcher models, the EvoStar 120 has expertly matched glass thanks to the synthetic fluorite element which provides excellent color correction which is ideal for visual and photographic use.

The ideal choice for those who want to capture photographs of their findings, the metallic high transmission coatings provide images that have accurate coloring with minimal aberrations.

The difference between a beginner telescope and this model is huge and you’ll notice the differences immediately.

Once you purchase this telescope, you’ll never need another telescope ever again. The EvoStar refractors are versatile meaning you can use it as your primary optical tube. 

With 4.3 stars from 100 reviews, the EvoStar 120 is made from the most advanced technology on the market.

The 10:1 dual speed focuser means that you’ll be able to find objects with ease no matter what eyepiece or camera you’re using.

This telescope also comes with everything you need to have endless enjoyable experiences for years to come. 

With a completely protective foam-lined aluminum hard case, you can travel with your equipment without worrying about any potential damage.

With an array of accessories including the finderscope, eyepieces and an adapter, you’ll have everything you need without having to splash out on extra accessories.

Best Telescopes of 22 ' 16 Models Reviewed for New or Upgrading Stargazers Buying Guide

Which telescope should I go for?

You’ve read through the reviews and may be wondering which one is the best one for you. With so much choice and different kinds of telescopes on the market, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

However, in the next few sections, we’ll be delving into the various important factors to look out for that will help you to decide.

What level are you at?

If you’re unsure which level you’re at when doing your research, considering what you want to get out of the telescope and the features that each one has.

You may find that the features on the professional and advanced telescopes are a bit too complex for you so going for a simpler model is probably best.

It’s important to note that if you are a beginner not to go for a professional model. There is a reason why they are reserved for more advanced astronomers.

You’ll be overwhelmed by the features and the design of these telescopes are for people who have used telescopes many times before. When comparing the beginner model designs and the professional designs, you’ll clearly see the difference in their appearances and the features that they have differ greatly. 

If you’re a beginner astronomer, it’s important to get an appropriate telescope where you can easily learn the basic techniques. If you buy a professional telescope immediately then you’ll find it more difficult to get those techniques perfected because you won’t know how to look for objects.

Beginner telescopes tend to be manual, meaning that you’ll have to use the telescope yourself which is ideal whereas professional telescopes tend to be computerized but they are more complex to use.

Using a computerized telescope if you’re a beginner may seem easy but it’s important that you know how to handle a manual telescope because then you’ll have a better understanding of how telescopes work and how to work one. 

Telescope aperture

Arguably, the most important part of a telescope is its aperture as this will determine the clarity of the images you see. Most telescopes work by gathering light and then reflecting that light so you can clearly see distinguished objects in the sky.

The more light a telescope can gather, the better and clearer the objects in the sky will appear. So how do you know if a telescope is going to gather all that light you need?

The aperture size is hugely important when it comes to researching the telescope. The larger the aperture, the more light it will absorb and the clarity of the objects will be enhanced, meaning that you’ll have endless positive experiences.

You’ll be astonished at what you will find even if your telescope has a smaller aperture. The human eye can’t absorb as much light due to its aperture size being too small so a lot of the objects in the sky are pretty much invisible.

You may have noticed that the majority of telescopes come with some eyepieces which assist in magnifying the image. The higher the number, the stronger the magnification.

Not only does this allow you to see objects up close but you can also explore Deep Space and objects outside of the Solar System.

If your telescope has a large aperture, then using strong eyepieces with high magnification is going to be distinct. For those wanting to explore stars that are really far away then this is something you must consider. 

With beginner telescopes, they tend to have smaller apertures because it’s important to get used to the closer objects. A beginner purchasing a professional telescope will be overwhelmed by the huge amount of objects in the sky and will likely be confused at what they are seeing.

As telescopes on the market are not going to produce images that boards such as NASA capture, it’s important to realise that the images you capture are not going to look like how you may expect them to.

So what are the different types of telescope?

So what kind of telescope should you go for? There are four main types of telescope that have various signature features that are ideal for particular applications.

They are: Dobsonian, Refractors, Reflectors and Compound (also known as Catadioptrics).

So whether you want a nice and simple model that is easy to use or are wanting a complex design to enhance your skill set and findings, you’ll know which kind of telescope you should look for.

When looking at the various telescopes online, they will usually say what kind of telescope they are so don’t worry about trying to remember everything by heart. You can simply come back to this guide when you find out what kind of telescope you want to brush up on your knowledge. 

Dobsonian Telescopes

The first model to explore are the Dobsonian models. These telescopes are great for those who want a simple model that can absorb a lot of light. You will recognise a Dobsonian telescope by its unique structure which is known as a “light bucket”.

With no bells and whistles, beginner models tend to follow the Dobsonian design because they have a strong viewing power and allow you to view images with clarity. They tend to be great for money as well because of how easy they are to use. 

The reason why Dobsonian models are great for those on a budget is because other kinds of telescopes are more expensive because their additional features cost more money such as the mounts and lens quality.

With Dobsonian models, you will have to rely on eyepieces to have a high quality image as they are simple in their design. As stated before, however, most telescopes come with eyepieces so this shouldn’t be an issue. 

As explained, Dobsonian are the best model for beginners, however, if you’re more of an advanced astronomer then the quality of the equipment and additional features begins to play a more important role.

For those who want to solely focus on closer objects within the Solar System then it may be a wise choice to go for a telescope that has a smaller aperture but really advanced equipment and features so you can see those objects with the highest detail. That is where the other three telescopes come in.

Refractor Telescopes

The unique aspect of refractor telescopes is that they do not have a mirror. The way they collect the light is through a glass lens which then brings a refraction rather than a mirror reflection.

The light absorbs through the telescope tube. The lens is fixed and this is advantageous for some astronomers because the refraction means that you are not viewing a reversed or distorted reflection as can happen with mirrors.

Higher end refractors are a fantastic choice for astrophotographers who want to capture brilliant and accurate images. Because Refractor telescopes boast high quality lenses with intricate resolution, they do tend to be on the higher end of the price point spectrum.

The price point is where Refractor telescopes can catch people out. As explained earlier in this article, the larger the lens, the more expensive the telescope tends to be.

There are beginner Refractor telescopes that are smaller and more affordable but they will not have as strong magnification and clarity whereas the higher end telescopes will boast the best features that Refractors have to offer. 

Mid-level telescopes are the worst level for Refractor telescopes because you will find that it has a lot of shortcomings as it won’t have the features you would expect of an upgrade from a beginner telescope.

It’s best to have a Refractor at beginner level and professional level because you’ll notice the difference between the two and get the most out of them. Mid-level Refractor telescopes usually have a small aperture like the beginner Refractor models but then the glass quality will also be inferior to professional telescopes. 

Reflector Telescopes

Reflector Telescopes - also known as Newtonian Reflectors (named after its inventor Isaac Newton) - works by absorbing a large amount of light through a long tube and hitting a mirror placed at its end. This mirror is known as the primary mirror which then reflects the light to another mirror that faces the eyepiece on the side of the tube.

Reflector Telescopes boast an entire range of unique features that make it a favorite among astronomers. They can be used for almost any kind of observation whether it is simple stargazing, planetary exploration or venturing into Deep Space.

Astrophotographers favor Reflector telescopes as well because of how well they collect the light and create strong and stunning images.

The versatility of the Reflector models is actually their downfall as well. Although they can adapt to any kind of observation, they’re not particularly flawless in any aspect, usually providing a good job across the board without being outstanding.

This makes them ideal for beginners who may not want a Dobsonian model as you can practice a variety of observational techniques and build up your skill set. 

With beginners, it’s more important to focus on learning those basic techniques and getting used to using telescopes as a whole so it’s not really an issue whether the telescope does an outstanding job. This mainly affects those who know what to expect and want that upgraded imagery with a stronger clarity and magnification. 

You’ll find Reflector models at various price points as they are among the most accessible price points as well as the higher end of the market. Reflector models sold at high price points tend to be motorized and computerized with in-built tracking systems and a database that contains thousands of objects.

It cannot be reiterated enough, however, that to use high end computerized telescopes, you should be at an advanced level of astronomy because you’ll get the most out of it. 

As you can expect, the higher end Reflector models have larger apertures and provide higher quality images. The mirrors are also coated which means that your eyes are fully protected as well as preventing any potential distortions and defected images.

If you know that you want to eventually have a Reflector telescope for professional use further on in your astronomy then it’s worth using a manual Reflector beginner model as your first telescope because you'd be used to the kind of observations to expect by the time you’re ready to upgrade. 

Compound (Catadioptric) Telescopes

Catadioptric Telescopes are also known as Compound thanks to their short tubes but their formal name is the Maksutov-Cassegrain model (you’ll probably see the latter name used in descriptions on websites).

Catadioptric telescopes have a short tube in which both lenses and mirrors collect the light and create an extended focal length thanks to the corrector plate lens used in the design. The tube contains multiple mirrors which then provide various reflections and means that the light will allow you to see further into space. 

The main advantages of a Catadioptric Telescope are its compact design which makes it an ideal choice for those who plan to travel a lot to go observing.

Easy to transport and store, you are guaranteed to have a great time using a Catadioptric model because of how intricately designed it is. A lot of professional telescopes tend to follow the Maksutov-Cassegrain design, especially computerized telescopes, because of how well it gathers the light and allows you to see objects distinctly and clarified.

The downside to Catadioptric telescopes is that they are among the most expensive kinds of telescopes you can find on the market. Costing more than Dobsonians and Reflectors, only Refractors tend to be more expensive.

This is because Catadioptric and Refractors contain various mirrors in their designs that allow them to absorb plenty of light, giving the most detailed images you can find. They can be trickier to navigate because of how the design works but once you have used a Catadioptric telescope, you’ll remain loyal to it throughout your astronomy career.

If you’re at a professional stage and wanting to purchase a Catadioptric telescope then getting a computerized model is definitely the way to go. Celestron and Sky Watcher are brands that specialize in creating quality instruments for astronomers at any level, however, their computerized model is where they shine.

Made with altazimuth mounts, this means you can easily use their models anywhere with no concern of damage. Computerized telescopes are fantastic for astrophotographers as they produce the most detailed images with plenty of distinguished color because of the multiple mirrors in the tube. 

If you’re wanting to explore stars in Deep Space and beyond the Solar System then Catadioptric telescopes are the right choice for you. With computerized telescopes, you simply enter what you would like to view and the telescope will locate it for you.

Even if you are observing from a highly populated place with lots of unnatural light, Catadioptric telescopes are able to view objects in the night sky whatever the light pollution or weather condition. 

Conclusion

Hopefully by now, you’ll know everything you need to know about researching and purchasing a telescope.

As telescopes can be costly, it’s important to think about it in as much depth as you can before making your final decision. Knowing what you want to use the telescope for specifically is the first step. 

So whether you are simply stargazing or want to also look at planets, nebulae and Messier objects, you will be able to get an idea of what kind of telescope you want to purchase. With lots of different kinds of telescopes and brands on the market, it’s so easy to assume they are all the same but this is not the case.

Always consider what comes with the telescope and what level telescope it is. As expected, beginner telescopes allow you to see closer objects in detail so you can practice your techniques and learn more about astronomy and using telescopes in general. 

Using telescopes is not as easy as simply looking through the lens and pointing it at the sky. You must learn about the various properties of the telescope and what their functions are so you’ll know how it works.

Telescopes tend to come with a variety of accessories such as eyepieces as well as you will be able to see how it works when you add or take away certain eyepieces when it affects the magnification.

You’ll be astounded by your findings when you start to learn how to use the telescope properly. Being able to view specific details of the objects in the sky such as the moon is always a great starting point because you’ll be able to compare it with what you can see with the naked eye.

As reiterated earlier, always be honest when thinking about what level you are at and don’t purchase a telescope that exceeds your skill set. By purchasing a telescope that is suitable for you, you’re going to be able to develop your skills with an instrument that is easier to handle and perfect.

Although beginners will have to upgrade their telescope eventually which is an additional financial investment, it is important not to purchase a telescope that is too advanced. Not only will you find difficulty in using the telescope, you will also struggle to navigate the sky and will be unsure what you are actually looking at.

This will then likely detract you from progressing your astronomy career and your telescope will end up collecting dust in the attic. No one wants this unhappy ending so always be honest with yourself and purchase an appropriate telescope that is going to help you get those techniques and skills under control.

You’ll feel more rewarded as you learn more about astronomy and progressing to an upgraded telescope will provide even more exciting and endless possibilities.

Lastly, learning about the different kinds of telescopes is an important part of astronomy as it expands your knowledge of how the various telescopes work and how they capture the images in the sky as well as allowing you to decide what model is going to fulfill your needs.

Dobsonian telescopes are fantastic for beginners because they are simple and the easiest kind of telescope to use whereas the more advanced astronomer should probably consider a Catadioptric model that is trickier to master but has stronger images thanks to the large amount of light they collect. 

You may have noticed when researching telescopes by the user level that they will be populated by a specific kind of telescope that seems to suit that particular level the best.

For example, Dobsonian telescopes are commonly found in the beginner level of astronomy, Reflectors are found in intermediate levels and Catadioptric are usually found among the professional models. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that certain models can’t move into other levels as there may be some that have been adapted to suit a particular level that they’re usually not associated with. 

The most important factor, however, is to have fun when doing your research and pick the telescope that is going to give you the best experiences over many years of use.

So what are you waiting for? Find your telescope and explore those endless possibilities in the night sky!

Andy Morgan