Best Amateur Telescopes

Astronomy is a hobby that will delight curious minds of any age. Outer space is both mysterious and beautiful. Whether you’re interested in science, art, or philosophy, viewing the night sky will make you feel better connected to the universe. The right telescope will let you view stunning details in real time.

The best telescope will vary depending on your personal preferences. However, for beginners, it’s good to look for telescopes that are easy to use. Some are portable, while others are bulky enough that moving them is difficult. We’ve put together a list of our top choices for telescopes that suit beginners and amateurs.

Comparison Table: Best Amateur Telescopes

Product NameNumber of EyepiecesApertureFocal Length
#1. Celestron AstroMaster
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2114 mm1000 mm
#2. Orion Dobsonian

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1114 mm900 mm
#3. Orion SkyQuest

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28 inches2 inches
#4. Celestron NexStar

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18 inches25 mm
#5. Orion 8944

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18 inches60 mm

The Best Telescopes for Amateurs

#1. Celestron 31042 AstroMaster 114 Reflector

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This is one of the best telescopes to accommodate beginners and amateurs. Setup is quick, easy, and requires no tools, which makes it an ideal option if you’ve never put together a telescope. There’s a StarPointer that’s permanently mounted on the design. In addition, you have an equatorial mount featuring setting circles, so you can locate and track objects in the sky.

There are a lot of things to love about this telescope. The setup has easy-to-follow instructions, making it perfect for beginning astronomers. It’s also a lightweight and compact design that comes with two eyepieces. You get great visibility through the lenses.

There are also a few potential drawbacks. The red dot scope isn’t always as accurate as it should be. It might also be a little difficult to balance the telescope, especially if you haven’t used a telescope before. This model also isn’t computerized.

#2. Orion 27192 XT4.5 Dobsonian

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This telescope is a good offering from Orion. It’s another good choice for people who are just beginning their astronomy journey. The 114 mm aperture and 90 mm focal lengths allow you to see a good amount of the night sky.

Not only do you get the telescope, but you also receive a toolkit for beginning stargazers, along with a red LED light that makes visibility easier. There are a number of accessories that make it a perfect choice for a beginner on a budget.

This is one of the most affordable telescopes on the list. It also comes with a 2x lens that doubles your magnification, allowing you to see the night sky in greater detail. Assembly tends to be simple, and the overall telescope is lightweight.

The design is made with beginners and new astronomers in mind. Visibility is ideal. The one potential drawback is that you’ll occasionally need to stabilize it during your viewing sessions, which can quickly become a nuisance.

#3. Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8

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This telescope easily makes the list of best telescopes for beginners. It comes with a large aperture and an 8-inch diameter. The reflector optics allow you to view the planets and moon in extremely clear detail. Because the telescope lets in a lot of light, you can view faint nebulas, star clusters, and galaxies.

In addition to the telescope itself, you get a 25 millimeter eyepiece, access to Starry Night software, a collimation cap, and easy-finding technology that makes scanning the night skies simpler than ever.

The classic reflector design is priced affordably enough for the beginning astronomer. You also get an included base that helps the reflector tube stay balanced, allowing you to point the telescope and easily view the night sky. Within the telescope is a 2-inch focuser.

This option can be assembled easily, and the easy finder works well, providing smooth focus on objects in the night sky. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the telescope is large and heavy enough not to be portable.

#4. Celestron NexStar 8 SE

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This telescope comes with a whopping 8-inch aperture, a StarPointer finderscope, and high transmission coatings that improve performance and visibility. The finderscope makes it easier to locate objects and align the telescope. There’s also a quick-release mount for your fork arm. Using SkyAlign technology, you can align your telescope easily to view objects throughout the night sky.

The telescope has better optics than many competitors on the market. You can use the large aperture to view the moon, planets within our solar system, and objects much deeper in space. One thing that sets the model apart is how well it works in places with a lot of light pollution.

The model also weighs under 30 pounds, making it one of the most ideal options if you plan to travel with your telescope. Storage is also easier thanks to the light weight and compact size.

You get access to Nexstar GoTo tracking through your computer, along with a GoTo mount. The telescope also includes a 25 millimeter eyepiece.

The potential drawbacks mainly involve a lack of accessories. There isn’t an AC adapter included in the package, although you can purchase one fairly easily. It may also be difficult to update the software and align the telescope. In addition, this model isn’t compatible with iPhones and other Apple products.

#5. Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6

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This telescope is the highest rated for beginning and amateur astronomers because of its versatility. It can carry you through multiple phases of your astronomy hobby. Beginners will appreciate the easy controls, while the model is customizable enough to suit moderately skilled amateurs.

The telescope is equipped with simple navigation controls, and there’s no need to polar align, so it’s much simpler to use than many competing models. The six-inch diameter allows you to view the moon and planets, but it also allows enough light to view galaxies and star clusters. The telescope also includes a vibration-free base, which makes tracking motions smooth and simple.

You’ll find absolutely spectacular details with this telescope. It has some of the best optics on the market. The design is also aesthetically appealing enough to be a display when you aren’t using it. Considering the quality, it’s also much more affordable than many competitors. The 1200 mm size gives you higher magnification than the other options on the list.

However, this isn’t the best choice if you need a portable telescope, as the model is large and unwieldy. It may also be a little difficult to assemble if you haven’t put together a telescope before. Fine focusing may be somewhat difficult, although it tends to improve with practice.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a beginner in the world of astronomy, the Celestron AstroMaster is a good choice. The no-tool setup and permanent mount make it much easier to use than many other options on the market.

For beginners who want a telescope with all the accessories they need, the Dobsonian is a good choice. This telescope offers good visibility, although it may be a little more difficult to set up than the AstroMaster.

The SkyQuest XT8 is a good option if you’re looking for a classic design that lets you view the night sky in great detail. You also get access to software and easy-finding technology. However, this telescope is bulky and not particularly portable.

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