With the best telescopes in 2023, you can put the entire night sky at your fingertips. See the contours and details of objects within our solar system, like the moon and planet, or get a close-up view of far-off galaxies and deep-space objects. It’s all out there for observing – you just need to have the right telescope for the job.
There’s a lot to cover when it comes to telescopes, so we’ll get right into it. The three main types of telescope you’ll be choosing between are as follows:
Refractor telescope - These use a glass objective lens as the key means of collecting light, which is then refracted down a long tube to produce a clear image. They tend to be smaller and more portable than other types, and once they’re set up, are very reliable and will rarely become misaligned. However, just like a photographic lens, they can suffer from chromatic aberration.
Reflector telescope - Reflector telescopes use a series of mirrors in place of a glass lens element to reflect light from the front to the eyepiece. The most common form is a Newtonian reflector, named for scientist Isaac Newton, which uses a dish-shaped primary mirror to collect light. Dobsonian telescopes, a low-cost design allowing for distant observing, are forms of Newtonian reflectors, and are popular with beginners as they provide a lot of viewing power for your money. However, reflector telescopes require regular collimation (mirror alignment) to stay at their best.
Catadioptric telescope - These use both glass lenses and mirrors to create a telescope design that’s extremely transportable, and is a great choice for terrestrial and near-planetary viewing.
Before we get into the list, let’s also quickly look at the key specs you’ll want to consider when buying a telescope.
Aperture - This is the most important aspect of any telescope. The term “aperture” here refers to the diameter of the scope’s key optical component, which as we’ve seen, will be either a lens or a mirror. The larger the diameter (expressed in millimetres), the more light the scope can gather, and the more you can see. Of course, telescopes with larger apertures will by necessity be bulkier, heavier and more expensive
Focal length - This refers to the distance between the main lens or mirror and the image it ultimately produces. A longer focal length narrows the field of view, but increases the magnification. A wide field of view is great for locating and viewing deep-sky objects, while high magnification is great for seeing
Focal ratio - Divide the focal length of a telescope by the aperture value and the result you get is known as the focal ratio. It’s expressed as an f-number – f4, f5, f6.5, etc – and is how you work out what your telescope is best suited for viewing. A telescope with a faster focal ratio, f4 to f5, are good for deep-space viewing as they provide a wide field of view, while slower focal ratios like f11 to f15 are useful for high-power, high-magnification viewing of closer sky objects like the moon.
There’s a lot to it, and don’t worry if you haven’t quite got your head around it – we’ve split our guide up into categories, with telescopes for different users and different use cases. Let’s get into it and start counting up the best telescopes you can buy.
You can also take a look at our astronomy and astrophotography calendar to see when this year's cosmic events should take place!
Best Telescope for Beginners
Sky-watching and stargazing are richly satisfying hobbies that provide hours of enjoyment – but like with any similar pursuit, there’s a learning curve. That’s why, if you’re completely new to astronomy, it could make sense to pick up one of the best telescopes for beginners. These scopes are specifically designed to help novices get acclimatised to the basics of viewing the night sky, with app integration and tutorials to help you identify celestial objects, track star patterns, and gain a general overall understanding of what you’re seeing.
Of course, a good beginner’s telescope shouldn’t just be easy to use – it should also offer a genuinely satisfying viewing experience so that you aren’t itching to replace it the moment you’ve mastered the basics. Thus, the telescopes we’ve picked for this category aren’t toys, but offer high enough quality that any novice astronomer will be satisfied with using them for years of happy stargazing.
Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor
Save £20, RRP £279
The Celestron Inspire 100AZ is the ultimate refractor telescope for the novice to intermediate astronomer, offers easier transport and storage, and is packed with features never seen before on entry level telescopes. Inspire features fully coated glass optics, a solid altazimuth mount with a unique asymmetrical design, a sturdy steel tripod with integrated fold-up accessory tray, an integrated smartphone adapter, built-in red LED flashlight, large projected reticule finderscope, erect image optics, and a focus micrometre for easily returning to the same focus point.
- Loads of included accessories
- Nice big aperture
- Great for celestial and terrestrial viewing
- You may want to upgrade the eyepiece
For our money, this is quite simply one of the best telescopes a beginner can buy right now. Well-priced and fully featured, the Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor couldn’t be easier to set up. Once you’ve opened the tripod, locked the accessory tray and attached the tube to the base via the quick-release mount, you’re ready to start gazing.
Download the SkyPortal app by Celestron and you’ll have a handy guide at your side to help you orient yourself in the night sky and start finding objects. What’s more, the Celestron Inspire 100AZ comes with a smartphone adapter in the box, so you’ve got everything you need for amateur astrophotography from the get-go. With a nicely large 100mm aperture, this telescope drinks in plenty of light, and if you’re hankering after a sharper image, you can always upgrade the eyepiece to extend the telescope’s lease of life.
Sky-Watcher Explorer-130 EQ2 Telescope
4.4/5 Customer Rating
The Sky-Watcher Explorer-130 EQ2 Telescope is ideal for serious beginners. It comes with a stable, aluminium tripod, and a solid EQ2 equatorial mount with slow motion controls for smooth and easy guidance around the night sky. Whether your interest is Deep-Sky, the Moon and Planets, or a combination of both, the Explorer range offers excellent all round Diffraction-Limited performance.
- Equatorial mount
- Good for near and far objects
- Auto-tracking can be installed
- The initial setup can be complex
- Quite a heavy rig
Ideally, the best telescope for beginners should not only be easy to use, but also offer room to grow and develop one’s skills. An excellent choice for just that is the Sky-Watcher Explorer-130 EQ2 Telescope. With a solid EQ2 equatorial mount, it can be easily and smoothly manoeuvered around the night sky for the optimal viewing experience, allowing you to get acclimated with the process of singling out objects in space.
With its solid stability and 360º slow-motion tracking gears on both the right ascension and declination axes, the Sky-Watcher Explorer-130 EQ2 Telescope is equally capable for more experience astronomers, meaning you won’t be desperate to upgrade it within a few months of getting it. There’s also the option to install a D.C. Motor Drive to the R.A. axis, enabling auto-tracking, so you can really grow into the scope and improve as an astronomer.
Best Telescope for Deep Space Viewing
Deep space viewing is one of the most exciting uses of a telescope. The chance to peek at far-off galaxies, nebulae and space phenomena – it’s intoxicating. If this is something that entices you, then it pays to make sure you’ve got a telescope that’s up to the challenge – one with a nice big aperture, and a wide field of view that allows you to really appreciate those deep-sky objects in all their majesty.
Deep space viewing requires a little computer magic too; you’re unlikely to have much luck just swinging your scope around and hoping for the best. Many of the newest scopes have app or software compatibility that makes it easier to find the views you’re looking for – some have built-in Wi-Fi or other computerised technology for seamless integration.
These are the telescopes we’ve picked as your best bet for uncovering the wonders of deep space.
Bresser Messier AR-102/460 Optical Tube
Perfect for both beginners and professionals, the Bresser Messier AR-102/460 Optical Tube is a high-quality aperture solar filter telescope for night and solar observations. You can see the brightest objects outside our solar system with this and view up to an astonishing distance of 1500 lightyears. Featuring an ED glass lens, this telescope is suitable for observing large open star clusters.
- Superb brightness and contrast
- Relatively transportable
- Included Stellarium software
- No Apochromatic glass
With a nice big 102mm aperture and a relatively short focal length of 460mm, the Bresser Messier AR-102/460 Optical Tube delivers a pleasingly wide field of view that’s ideal for deep-space observing. It’s rated to an impressive distance of 1,500 light years, and is constructed from aluminium, meaning that it’s sturdy and robust but still only weighs about 2.8kg. The glass element inside is an extra-low dispersion (ED) type, improving the clarity of the image produced.
The Bresser Messier AR-102/460 comes packaged with downloadable Stellarium software, allowing you to get set up and start tracking some deep space objects. There’s a T2 adapter included for mounting a camera, and the telescope can easily be mounted, thanks to its universal 44mm dovetail plate. While it’s great for deep-space observation, this really is something of a do-it-all telescope as well, and makes for a great all-in-one kit for novices and intermediate observers alike.
Celestron NexStar Evolution 925 Computerised Telescope
Celestron's signature telescopes reach a new level with NexStar Evolution 9.25, the first Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with integrated Wi-Fi. Leave your hand control behind and slew to all the best celestial objects with a tap of your smartphone or tablet. Connect your device to NexStar Evolution's built-in wireless network, and explore the universe with the Celestron mobile app for iOS and Android. Use the planetarium interface to view the night sky in real time or display a list of celestial objects currently visible based on your time and location. Our proprietary SkyAlign alignment procedure is built right into the Celestron mobile app, so you're ready to observe within minutes.
- Solid light-gathering power
- Great computerised tracking
- High-quality optics
- The whole assembly is quite bulky
- Native field of view a little narrow (adapters are available)
The Celestron NexStar Evolution 925 Computerised Telescope is a powerful scope that benefits from computerised technology to deliver the kind of viewing power needed to see the wonders of deep space.
Reaching new heights of sophisticated and optical prowess, the Celestron NexStar Evolution 925 Computerised Telescope is the first Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with integrated Wi-Fi. This connectivity makes it easy to hook up your phone or other smart device and actually find where deep-sky objects are located! Alignment technology is built into the app, meaning you can get the scope set up within moments. Tracking accuracy is extremely impressive, making this a potent choice for astrophotography of far-off phenomena such as the Orion Nebula.
Powerful and professional, the Celestron NexStar Evolution 925 Computerised Telescope is an astronomically capable tool for any serious stargazer. With a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can provide up to ten hours of continuous observing, this scope is the ideal tool for losing yourself in the wonders of deep space.
Best Telescope for Viewing Planets
Viewing the planets in our own solar system – our intergalactic backyard – can be one of the most fun uses of a telescope. It’s a fantastic way to get children involved in learning about astronomy, and the best part is, you don’t need a big and powerful telescope in order to do it. The deserts of Mars, the rings of Saturn, the great Red Spot of Jupiter – all of it can be within easy viewing reach if you have one of the best telescopes for viewing planets.
High magnification is a real advantage for viewing planets, allowing you to get up close and personal with all the details. Many planet-viewing telescopes will also have alignment technology or similar features that help the user find the planets they’re looking for – useful, as not all of our solar neighbours are as easy to spot as the distinctive red Mars. Here, we’ve picked out the best telescopes for spotting every planet in our solar system.
National Geographic 70mm GoTo Refractor Telescope
Observe various planetary features and lunar details with the National Geographic GoTo Refractor Telescope. Its 70mm aperture enables you to watch every celestial object with precision. The telescope includes an alt-azimuth mount with slow-motion controls for smooth movement while navigating the night sky. It also includes two Barlow lenses and two exchangeable Plossl eyepieces for magnification.
- Smooth telescope movement
- Constructed from carbon fibre
- Smartphone adapter included
- Aperture on the small side
While it’s something of an all-rounder, the National Geographic 70mm GoTo Refractor Telescope especially shines when used to view the planets of our solar system. Its 70mm aperture and f10 ratio gives it high magnification and a relatively narrow field of view – ideal for getting a closer look at the clouds of Venus or the red tundras of Mars.
The interchangeable Plossl eyepieces give the GoTo Refractor telescope 26.9x to 144x magnification options. As you might expect from something with the National Geographic name, its solid construction suits an outdoor lifestyle. The carbon fibre build means it’s not only tough, but also lightweight, making it easy to transport to different observing locations. This is especially handy if you’re spending your nights tramping up a hill to better see the planets from an elevated position.
An adapter is also included with the telescope, allowing you to connect your smartphone for dazzling planetary photography.
Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope
Free FireCel worth £30
Able to create its own wireless connection, the Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain is a fully-featured telescope that can be controlled with your smart phone or tablet using the free Celestron SkyPortal app. It features fully-coated glass optics to provide outstanding views of the moon and planets, and includes a StarPointer finderscope, 2 Kellner eyepieces, and a mirror star diagonal.
- Ultra-light catadioptric design
- Good for beginners
- Optimised for planetary observation
- Not built as tough as other scopes
- Image edges a little soft
With fully coated glass optics, the Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope is designed to provide a superlative view of objects in space. Like many other Celestron scopes, it’s compatible with SkyAlign technology, and this means you can plot out exactly where the planets are in the sky at any given time. You can even set yourself up a kind of ‘Sky Tour’, moving in sequence through all the objects that are in your slice of the heavens right now.
The Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope is, for our money, one of the best telescopes you can buy for viewing all our various neighbouring planets. It’s a scope with sophisticated optics and wireless connectivity, giving you all the tools you need for a superb night’s viewing of the planets in our solar system. Its image isn’t as pin-sharp as more expensive telescopes, but for beginners looking to observe the moon and planets, it’s an exemplary choice.
Best Telescope for Astrophotography
Astrophotography is one of the most thrilling disciplines in all of image making. Technically demanding, requiring patience and precision, it’s definitely one for those willing to commit time and energy to their hobby, but those who do so are rewarded with absolutely spectacular imagery.
Of course, even the biggest and most expensive telephoto lens isn’t going to be much good for photographing detailed images of objects in the night sky. For that, you need a telescope. Ideally one that’s compatible with a smartphone or telescope camera adapter, and one that can be mounted and set up to move in the precise way necessary to capture sharp astro images. The movement of the Earth means that a long exposure of the night sky will render it as little more than a blur unless the camera also moves to compensate.
If you’re serious about astrophotography, these are the telescopes we’d recommend.
Celestron NexStar 6SE Computerised Telescope
Portability and serious performance come together in the NexStar 6SE. Celestron's first new Schmidt-Cassegrain optical system in over a decade is now available in a high performance Altazimuth computerized telescope. The ultra-portable 6SE features a precision optical system with 1500mm focal length (f/10) and offers 44% more light gathering than a 5 Inch telescope. The NexStar 6SE has all the same features as Celestron's most advanced computerized GoTo telescopes, including our revolutionary SkyAlign alignment technology, a sky tour feature, a database of over 40,000 celestial objects and easy to use hand control. Plug the optional SkySync GPS Accessory into NexStar's Auxiliary port and download data from orbiting GPS satellites for truly quick and easy alignments. The universe may be full of mysteries, but using the NexStar 6SE isn't one of them!
- Exceptionally good optical quality
- Very reliable tracking
- Well-built and durable
- Quite heavy
A high-performance alt-azimuth computerized telescope, the Celestron NexStar 6SE Computerised Telescope blends convenient portability with impressive imaging power. All this makes it a terrific choice for photographers.
Use the SkyAlign technology to access the database of more than 40,000 celestial objects, so you always know what you’re looking for and where to look! The optical quality of the scope is fantastic, producing a clear and bright image, and the sturdy steel tripod with accessory tray allows you to make a secure setup for a night’s photography.
You’ll find yourself spoilt for things to photograph once you get the Celestron NexStar 6SE Computerised Telescope up and running, and its sophisticated integrated technology means you can find them quickly and easily.
Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Motorised Reflector Telescope
If you're looking for a dual-purpose telescope appropriate for both terrestrial and celestial viewing, then the Astromaster Series is for you. Each model is capable of giving correct views of land and sky. The Astromaster Series produce bright, clear images of the Moon and planets. It is easy to see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn with this fine instrument. This model includes a motor drive, for automatic tracking of celestial objects once located.
- Motor-driven mount
- High-quality coated optics
- Wide field of view
- Equatorial mount tricky for beginners
With its motor-driven equatorial mount, the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ Motorised Reflector Telescope is ideally equipped for capturing long exposures of the night sky. It’s popularly regarded as one of the better beginner scopes out there, but don’t let that fool you – with a wide field of view and all-coated glass optics, it excels at delivering crisp, clear images of celestial objects near and far.
An equatorial mount requires a little more know-how and patience to use than the alt-azimuth type found on the Celestron NexStar 6SE Computerised Telescope. Another thing to be aware of is that the Astromaster 130EQ is a Newtonian reflector telescope, and so will require collimating before use. Once you’ve crossed this rubicon, however, the Astromaster 130EQ is a thoroughly capable telescope, especially for astrophotography. Remember to download the SkyX software as well, as it will help you find and track the objects you want to photograph.
Best Bird-Watching Telescope
Telescopes aren’t just for viewing distant stars, planets and galaxies. With the best bird-watching telescopes, you can view avian subjects up much closer than you could hope to get in person, observing wild behaviours and patterns to your heart’s content.
Naturally, you don’t need the same kind of viewing power to see a murmuration of starlings as you do to see the Orion Nebula. It’s best instead to prioritise a lightweight build – bird-watching with a telescope is probably going to require a lot of position changing and tramping through fields, and you don’t want to be carrying too heavy a scope if that’s on the agenda.
Therefore, you want a spotting scope. These work in the same way as telescopes – and indeed, are often manufactured by the same companies – but are designed with shorter magnification ranges for terrestrial viewing, and smaller bodies for carrying around. These are the spotting scopes we’d recommend for bird-watching.
Hawke Nature Trek 20-60x80 Spotting Scope
Hawke Nature Trek spotting scopes are constructed to be lightweight and portable enough for fieldwork and travel but their optical systems produce extremely clear and sharp images and they also come with Digi-scope compatibility for camera work.
- Excellent image sharpness
- Nitrogen-purged for fog proofing
- Close-focus capability
- Hard to use at longest magnification setting
Thanks to its multi-coated optics, the Hawke Nature Trek 20-60x80 Spotting Scope delivers a crystal clear image at every step of its magnification range, which spans from 20x to 60x. Included in its optical path are BAK-4 porro prisms, which deliver intense colour and striking contrast, helping you see all the glorious details of birds’ plumages.
Hardily built, the Hawke Nature Trek scope will stand up to inclement weather with ease, so a little rain need not stop play. The internals have been nitrogen purged, which prevents the glass elements from fogging up due to condensation. The scope is also easy to use in all sorts of situations, with close-focusing distance that can render a subject sharp from distances as short as 3.5m. It’ll exhibit a fair amount of shake if you use it handheld at 60x magnification – though this is a common issue with spotting scopes.
Celestron LandScout 12-36x60 Angled Spotting Scope
The Celestron LandScout 126x60 mm Angled Spotting Scope is a versatile addition to Celestron’s catalogue of high-end optical gear, providing exceptional image quality and wide field of view. Packed within a robust and weather-resistant shell, this scope is purpose-built for rugged use. Well-suited to a range of applications, this scope features powerful zooming range and large objective lenses.
- Very affordable
- Generous eye relief
- Easy to use even with gloves
- Max 36x magnification
We’ve already encountered the Celestron name a fair few times in this guide, but Celestron scopes aren’t just for the stars. As the name implies, the Celestron LandScout 12-36x60 Angled Spotting Scope is made for those whose aspirations are firmly terrestrial, and it makes for a superb bird-watching companion. Its magnification range covers 12x to 36x – not as extensive as the Hawke scope, but still useful for birding.
This is an angled scope, meaning it’s designed to be used at a 45-degree angle to the user, as you can see from the position of the eyepiece. This helps improve comfort, especially if you’ll be using the scope for extended periods (as is sometimes the way when birds are feeling particularly shy). One thing we also particularly like about this scope is its generous eye relief, which helps prevent eye strain and further improves comfort over extended use.
Best Cheap Telescope
Telescopes can be very expensive things. Outfit something with high-end coated optics and the latest star-tracking computer technology, and yes, it’s going to run up quite a significant price tag. However, this doesn’t have to be your only option, and there’s no reason to shut yourself off from stargazing or astrophotography because you’re worried about the cost. There are some fantastic cheap telescopes out there, including models made by leading brands in the industry, helping you explore the night sky on a budget.
We’ve specifically picked telescopes for this section that cost less than £99, but don’t write them off as inferior. Made by leading brands Celestron and Sky-Watcher, these affordable telescopes are constructed with the same care and attention to quality as the bigger models. If you’re looking to try out astronomy without committing too much, or buying for a trouble, one of the telescopes in this section should fit the bill perfectly.
Celestron FirstScope - Signature Series
Free Moon Guide Book worth £8.99
Celestron has joined forces with master lunar imager Robert Reeves on this new addition to the beloved FirstScope family: the FirstScope Signature Series: Moon by Robert Reeves. This quality Dobsonian-style telescope features a spherical glass mirror with a generous 76 mm of aperture. The FirstScope's wide field-of-view provides bright, sharp views of the Moon's mountains and craters in crisp detail. You'll also enjoy using the FirstScope to pan the Milky Way, explore open star clusters, marvel at Saturn's rings, or view favorite deep-sky objects like the Orion Nebula.
- Exceptional value for money
- Solid base
- Wide field of view
- Can’t be collimated
While telescopes can be very costly when they’re sophisticated deep-space imaging machines, it’s also possible to get something simple and straightforward for a bargain price. Enter the Celestron FirstScope - Signature Series, a superb imaging scope that you can pick up for an absolute steal. It’s at its best for lunar imaging, and allows you to get superbly detailed images of the moon and its mountains and craters. Happily this isn’t its limit, and you can also use the little scope to spy on Saturn, Venus and the other denizens of our solar system.
With a wide field of view, you can sink yourself into exploring the deep sky, panning across the Milky Way with an eye out for deep-sky objects. The scope was made in conjunction with lunar imager Robert Reeves, and comes with a fair few helpful tips on how to get the best out of your new space-spotting tool.
Sky-Watcher Heritage-76 Mini Dobsonian Telescope
The Sky-Watcher Heritage 76 (3") f/300 Mini Dobsonian is a highly affordable and easy to use Dobsonian base telescope that is perfect for beginners. Thanks to its careful engineering including aluminized and over-coated mirrors Sky-Watcher Heritage 76 Mini Dobsonian Telescope combines ease of use, extreme portability and consistent great all-around astronomical viewing performance. optical tube gars enough light to allow simple study of galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae. telescope comes equipped, as standard, with a 5x magnification Finderscope, for easy location of night sky objects. Also two supplied eyepieces have been specially upgraded to higher quality Super Modified Achromats to increase your viewing pleasure. uncomplicated manually operated Dobsonian alt-azimuth mount makes it a convenient, highly portable, grab-and-go system.
- Rock-solid build
- Intuitive alt-azimuth mount
- Small and very portable
- Not the most powerful scope around
This is a special-edition telescope, designed and released to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first telescope. While you might expect it to be a little lacklustre given that fact, the Sky-Watcher Heritage-76 Mini Dobsonian Telescope is anything but that. Lift it out of the box and it’s immediately apparent what a well-built telescope this is. It’s rock-solid, complete with a manually operated Dobsonian alt-azimuth mount, and comes with everything you need to start stargazing.
The 76mm aperture is unremarkable compared to bigger telescopes, but is great for this price, and is more than enough for planetary and even some deep-space observing, which is amazing for a telescope as small as this. If you’re interested in getting kids into astronomy, this approachable but capable scope is one of the finest choices you can make. It’ll sit comfortably on a tabletop, and tuck discreetly out of the way when you’re not using it.
Best Amateur Telescope
While astronomy can be and is a serious pursuit, it’s important to remember that it should be a lot of fun as well. Seeing everything the night sky has to offer is an incredibly rewarding pursuit – something that can be enjoyed by anyone, even those who don’t know the first thing about optics, telescopes or astrophysics.
So, for this section we’ve compiled our picks of the best telescopes for amateurs. These are uncomplicated scopes for those who don’t necessarily need the sharpest optics or the most precise computer calculations, and want an easy way to do a little casual night-time observation. These are telescopes that don’t cost too much, and don’t require too serious a learning curve. Plenty of telescopes pitched at amateurs also have app integration to make it easier to find the things to spot in the sky – so make sure you bring your smartphone on your observations.
Sky-Watcher Mercury-707 (AZ) Achromatic Refractor Telescope
Sky-Watcher Mercury-707 (AZ) 70mm (2.75") f/700 Achromatic Refractor Telescope. The highly affordable Sky-Watcher Mercury series of refractor telescopes allow you to take your first steps into the fascinating world of astronomy. They are supplied with good levels of equipment for astronomical observations. Although similar externally to many other telescopes on the market, these telescopes are supplied with superior 1.25" eyepieces and accessories (not 0.96" or hybrid 1.25") and moreover, the eyepieces have been specially selected to give a much more useful and practical range of magnifications, to increase your viewing experience.
- Great views for the price
- Solid aluminium build
- Easy to set up and use
- No motorised mount
This quietly popular telescope has amassed quite a fanbase among the astronomy community. The Sky-Watcher Mercury-707 (AZ) Achromatic Refractor Telescope is not fancy, but it does a solid job for an inarguably reasonable price, with a 70mm objective lens that has been multi-coated for improved clarity. Both scope and mount are sturdily built, and generally feel a fair bit more premium than the price might suggest.
While it’s best suited for viewing the moon and planets in our solar system, if you have an exceptionally clear night you can definitely try your luck at seeing deep space objects with the Mercury-707. The supplied eyepieces provide a useful spread of magnification options, and the alt-azimuth mount is simple to operate. It’s just an all-around fun telescope to use, one that you can get to grips with from the moment you take it out of the box, and it’s hard to see amateur astronomers asking for much more than that.
Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130 App-Enabled Reflector Telescope
The Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130 App-Enabled Reflector Telescope allows you to explore the night sky, even if you have no previous telescope experience. It comes with the convenient StarSense Explorer app that does all the hard work for you - it is the first telescope to use a smartphone in such capacity. The app generates a list of objects currently visible in the sky for you to observe. The included manual altazimuth mount, featuring smooth, dual-axis slow-motion controls allow you to easily follow the on-screen arrows to your target so that you can spend more time exploring and less time worrying about complex controls. From planets, galaxies to deep sky objects - the night sky belongs to you.
- Large objective lens
- StarSense Explorer does the hard bit for you
- Great for planets and deep space
- No motorised mount
Whether you’re a total newbie or a seasoned stargazer, the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130 App-Enabled Reflector Telescope is a fantastic all-around sky-gazing tool.
At the heart of the scope is a 130mm Newtonian reflector, which boasts highly reflective coatings, as well as a primary and secondary mirror and immense light-gathering capability, making viewing celestial objects easier and more practical than ever before. The scope is easy to set up, and thanks to Celestron’s StarSense Explorer app, you can pair it with your phone to seek out and hone in on the objects that are currently viewable in your slice of the sky.
In dark skies, the Newtonian reflector is capable of generating images of the Andromeda Galaxy, Hercules Open Star Cluster and more, while you’ll also get enviably clear views of our closer solar cousins like Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and the rest.
Best Professional Telescope
Finally, we’re rounding out our telescopes guide with the best of the best. If money is no object, size is not a problem, and you want the absolute best scopes for viewing the night sky, we’ve rounded up the best professional telescopes you can buy. These telescopes are ideal for mounting on high-resolution DSLRs or astro-specific CCD cameras, and will capture absolutely dazzling images of deep-space phenomena. An ultra-wide field of view is par for the course, as is premium glass to correct for the slightest aberrations and deliver clean, rich images that are full of extraterrestrial detail.
If you’ve ever looked at high-end, professional astro images and wondered just how on earth the photographer achieved it – this is how. As mentioned, these telescopes aren’t cheap, but they are serious tools for when nothing but the best will do. Even if you aren’t in the market for something so high-end, you have to respect the craftsmanship of these scopes.
Celestron CGX 1100 Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph Equatorial Telescope
Setting new standards in astro-imaging, the Celestron CGX 1100 Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph Equatorial Telescope is any astronomer’s preferred choice. It features a wide-field f2.2 system for minimum exposure and can produce images within a fraction of time. This telescope has a rare-earth 4-element glass optic to deliver images without aberration or false colour.
- Images free from coma and aberrations
- High-end CGX Equatorial Mount
- Tough, precise tripod
- Big and hefty
With its f2.2 focus system, 620mm focal length and 279mm, the Celestron CGX 1100 Rowe-Ackermann Schmidt Astrograph Equatorial Telescope is quite simply a cut above the rest. It’s designed for high-end astrophotography, and as such has a mount for a DSLR or CCD camera that can take up to 25kg of weight when used with its mount. The internal optics are constructed from premium coated glass, minimising vignetting and virtually eliminating field curvature and coma aberrations.
The telescope uses a heavy-duty belt-drive system, reducing backlash and providing seamless movement for tracking objects across the sky. There’s a bubble level on the mount to help keep things nice and level. Also included with the mount is the CGX tripod, providing a sturdy steel base on which the telescope can rest and including a latitude scale for polar alignment adjustment.
Sky-Watcher Esprit-150ED Professional Super APO Triplet Refractor OTA
Sky-Watcher Esprit-150ED 150mm (6") f1050 Super APO Triplet Optical Tube Assembly. We are proud to introduce the new Sky-Watcher Professional Esprit 3-Element ED apochromatic refractor. These are instruments of the highest quality with optical performance rivalling or exceeding similar telescopes of even the most famous high-end telescope brands.The Esprit Super Apo Triplets are designed for the most demanding astro-imagers but are also fine telescopes for visual observations. The premium, superbly-corrected optical systems deliver high-contrast images full of detail with pin-point stars right up to the edge of the field and zero detectable colour fringing, even on the brightest of objects.
- Precision-corrected optics
- Solid aluminium construction
- Sharp right up to the image edge
- Big and heavy
There’s a reason it’s got “professional” in the name – the Sky-Watcher Esprit-150ED Professional Super APO Triplet Refractor OTA is an ultra-high-end, ultra-premium telescope for stargazers and astro imaging. With a three-element objective lens, this telescope delivers absolutely no detectable colour fringing even when focusing on bright objects, resulting in some of the clearest images you can get of the night sky.
Constructed from high-grade aluminium, the Sky-Watcher Esprit-150ED is a solid scope, consisting of high-precision components that move smoothly when adjustments are needed. There’s also a retractable dew shield to protect the telescope in the early hours of the morning. All this adds up to a pretty hefty device, weighing without accessories, but that is something of a necessity for a scope as fully featured as this. Professional astrophotographers will have everything they need here to make absolutely stunning imagery.
What is a telescope, and how does it work?
A telescope is an instrument that collects and focuses light to magnify distant objects. It works by using lenses or mirrors to gather and bend light, which then travels through the telescope's eyepiece and into the observer's eye.
What are the different types of telescopes?
There are three main types of telescopes: refracting telescopes, reflecting telescopes, and catadioptric telescopes. Refracting telescopes use lenses to focus light, reflecting telescopes use mirrors, and catadioptric telescopes use a combination of lenses and mirrors.
What is aperture, and why is it important?
Aperture refers to the diameter of the telescope's main lens or mirror. The larger the aperture, the more light the telescope can gather, which allows for brighter and sharper images. Aperture is an important factor to consider when choosing a telescope.
Can telescopes be used to view planets and deep-space objects?
Yes, telescopes can be used to view both planets and deep-space objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. The type of telescope and its magnification capabilities will determine what can be seen and how clearly.
Do I need a lot of experience to use a telescope?
No, you do not need a lot of experience to use a telescope. However, it is important to read the instructions and become familiar with the telescope's features before use. Practice and patience are key to successfully using a telescope.
Can I use a telescope for astrophotography?
Yes, telescopes can be used for astrophotography, but some telescopes are better suited for it than others. It is important to consider the telescope's aperture, focal length, and tracking capabilities when choosing a telescope for astrophotography.
Do I need to live in a dark sky location to use a telescope?
While living in a dark sky location can enhance your viewing experience, it is not necessary to use a telescope. Light pollution can affect the quality of the images, but with a high-quality telescope and proper filters, you can still view and appreciate celestial objects from a light-polluted area.
Take a look at our telescope category page here!
How did we decide?
Our in-house photography experts, store staff and partners all work collaboratively to pour over these guides. The cameras and equipment recommended in our guides are based on their personal opinion, empirical experience and of course, feedback from our customers.
We way up price, features, quality and the all-important 'je ne sais quoi' to make sure we recommend products that will delight and inspire.
If you would like more advice on any purchase our contact centre staff are here to help. Alternatively, you can reach us via email or social media.
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