Best kit for viewing the night sky

 

Bring the stars to your garden with the best powerful telescopes and binoculars available right now

 

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Night sky

Image by Felix Mittermeier 

 

For an exciting night in, there’s nothing quite like stargazing. The night skies above your head are full of unexplored wonders, and whether you’re working from a garden, a balcony or a bedroom window, it’s never been easier to get a closer look into the universe.

With many fascinating astronomical events happening throughout the year, you can easily put together a busy calendar of things to look out for with your new telescope or binoculars. And if you want to try your hand at astrophotography, many cameras can be rigged up to telescopes, allowing you to capture what you see and hold onto the memories.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to our favourite telescopes and binoculars on the market right now. From simple and affordable models to professional-grade computerised scopes, we’ve made sure to include telescopes to suit the needs and budget of every aspiring astronomer.

So without further ado, we’ll get onto the kit. Let’s see what’s out there...

 

 

Telescopes

 

When it comes to stargazing, you can’t beat a specialised telescope! Here are our picks of the best telescopes available right now, with models to suit all budgets...

 

 

1. Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Motorised Reflector Telescope

 

Celestron’s Astromaster 130EQ Motorised Reflector Telescope is one of the most popular telescopes around, and it’s easy to see why! It’s quick and easy to set up, with no tools required, and its powerful optics are capable of producing crystal-clear images of the moon and many of the planets that share our solar system.

Its stable, pre-assembled tripod boasts 1.25-inch steel tube legs for a secure foundational base, and the optics inside the telescope have been coated to ensure extra clarity in the image. Handily, the telescope comes with astronomy software called “The SkyX – First Light Edition”, which provides several handy tools to help you get acquainted with the night sky and the treasures that await you there.

Easy to use, beautifully made and available for a great price to boot, the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope is one of the finest tools out there for viewing the night sky.

 

Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Motorised Reflector Telescope

£219.00 View

 

 

2. Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130 App-Enabled Reflector Telescope

 

As the name implies, the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130 App-Enabled Reflector Telescope can be used in conjunction with the StarSense Explorer app. It’s the first telescope of its kind – though we wouldn’t be surprised if plenty more follow, from Celestron and other manufacturers!

The app generates a list of objects in the night sky for you to view, giving you some direction in a way that’s especially useful for those who are new to astronomy and astrophotography. You can then use the manual altazimuth mount and its smooth, dual-axis slow-motion controls to follow the on-screen arrows to reach your target. Couldn’t be simpler!

Inside, the telescope boasts a 130mm Newtonian reflector with highly reflective coatings, which you can use in relatively dark skies to view such astronomical phenomena as the Andromeda Galaxy and Hercules Open Star Cluster, as well as our closer neighbours in the solar system like Jupiter, Saturn and the rest.

 

Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130 App-Enabled Reflector Telescope

£379.00 View

 

 

3. Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerised Telescope

 

Use computer control for a telescope that’s more accurate than ever! The Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerised Telescope can use SkyAlign technology to quickly and efficiently orient itself – simply point it at three stars in the sky, and the software will do the hard part.

Sturdily mounted on a steel tripod, the NexStar 4SE Computerised Telescope also features a built-in wedge that makes it an excellent tool for astrophotography. Its quick-release fork arm mount, optical tube and accessory tray make it easy to set up, with no tools required, and its internal battery compartment means you don’t have to worry about inadvertently wrapping a cord around it.

Classically styled with the distinctive orange of older telescopes, the Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerised Telescope blends old-school cool with state-of-the-art features and functionality. Its optics are pin-sharp for superb viewing, and all in all it’s a fantastically sophisticated telescope.

 

Celestron NexStar 4SE Computerised Telescope

£479.00 View

 

 

4. Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ App-Enabled Reflector Telescope

 

Another app-enabled scope for smartphone stargazing, the Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ App-Enabled Reflector Telescope allows you to use your device to analyse the star patterns over your head, and track them in real time. It’s more affordable than the DX 130 at #2 on our list, making it a sensible choice if you’d like to make use of an app-enabled scope but have one eye on your costs.

The LT 114AZ is simple to use but also powerful, equipped with coated optics and a 114mm Newtonian reflector. It’s also pleasingly lightweight at just 4.7kg, so taking it on the go is a matter of relative ease and simplicity. Wherever your stargazing takes you in the future, the 114AZ is a terrific choice of companion.

 

Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ App-Enabled Reflector Telescope

£199.00 View

 

 

5. Celestron Astromaster 114EQ Reflector Telescope

 

Another fantastic telescope for those with smaller budgets, the Celestron Astromaster 114EQ Reflector Telescope produces images of terrific brightness and clarity. Its optics have all been coated for superior light transmission, and its quick-release dovetail attachment makes it easy to set up, without the need for any tools.

The 114EQ uses a German Equatorial mount with Setting circles, making it easier to track night-sky objects, and its steel tripod is a rugged and hardy model that’ll keep the telescope stable at all times.

 

Celestron Astromaster 114EQ Reflector Telescope

Free PowerTank worth £35

£159.00 View

 

 

6. Celestron Astromaster 76EQ Reflector Telescope

 

Bright, reliable and sturdy, with a permanently mounted StarPointer, the Celestron Astromaster 76EQ Reflector Telescope is another tool that’s available for a fantastic price. It’s compact and portable, easy to set up, and delivers superb optical performance.

Like many Celestron telescopes, the Astromaster 76EQ Reflector Telescope is as capable for shooting terrestrial subjects as it is for celestial ones, so you can use it for applications beyond night-sky viewing.

 

Celestron Astromaster 76EQ Reflector Telescope

£109.00 View

 

 

7. Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor

 

This refractor telescope is a great tool for the night-sky enthusiast who’s a little bit new to all this. It also has a clever DIY feature for taking astro images on your smartphone – simply place the phone in the integrated smartphone adapter on the lens cap, fix it in place with the included screws and bungee cords, and before you know it, you have a sophisticated solution for snapping high-powered telescope image on your phone!

While it’s got plenty for the entry-level user, the Inspire 100AZ is also sophisticated enough for intermediate users to get plenty of use out of it as well, with powerful optics that render a sharp, clear, crisp image. The accessory tray also has a useful red LED light built in, allowing you to quickly locate things in the dark.

 

Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor

Save £20, RRP £279

£199.00 View

 

 

8. Meade LightBridge Mini 82 Dobsonian Telescope

 

This tabletop Dobsonian telescope is portable enough to keep out of the way in the house, or grab and take with you on adventures, camping trips and more. It sets up in seconds, weighs just 1.81kg, and features two eyepieces for low and high magnification. It also looks great as a tabletop ornament, making it a stylish addition to any home.

Navigating the sky with the LightBridge Mini 82 is a matter of ease, thanks to the 360° swivel mount and straightforward point-and-look design, with a red-dot viewfinder for helping with aiming. Amazing clarity meets a portable design and impressive magnification power – this is a fantastic tool for any budding astronomer, available for an amazing price.

 

Meade LightBridge Mini 82 Dobsonian Telescope

Ideal Starter Gift

£49.00 View

 

 

Binoculars

 

Don’t count out binoculars! Though they may not offer the sheer magnification power of dedicated stargazing telescopes, these portable devices can be a great way to give yourself a good view of the night sky. Here are a couple of our favourites…

 

9. Hawke Frontier ED X 10x42 Binoculars - Grey

 

These binoculars from Hawke deliver 10x magnification power and deliver an image with impressively vivid colour retention. With fantastic light transmission, the binoculars produce a reproduction so vivid it’s almost as though you’ve really been transported.

The binoculars have been nitrogen-purged, making them waterproof and fog-proof, and they weigh a slender 705g, making them easy to use for long periods and to carry on an outdoor excursion.

 

 

 

10. Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 Binoculars - Black

 

These luxury binoculars from Zeiss represent the pinnacle of performance. Ergonomically designed for comfort over long periods, they’re perfectly balanced for longer viewing periods, with a centre of gravity that sits near the rear, closer to the eye. They offer an incredibly wide field of view, perfect for taking in the sheer expanse of the white sky, and light transmission is at an impressive 92%, resulting in a truly impressive image.

As you’d expect from Zeiss, optical quality is paramount, with multiple fluoride lens elements made of high-quality Schott glass, and a seven-element eyepiece. Image definition is truly fantastic, making these class-leading binoculars a terrific buy for viewing the skies.

 

Zeiss Victory SF 8x42 Binoculars - Black

£2,099.00 View

 

 

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Behind the image: Chris Grimmer, Veil Nebula