The best telescopes | Our telescope gift guide

The best telescopes | Our telescope gift guide

 

Searching for the best telescopes> Whether you want to view the objects of deep space or snap images of star clusters, the best telescopes are the way to do it!

Choosing the right one for you, however, can be a thorny question. It depends a lot on what you plan to use the telescope for, as well as considerations like how much space you have, how far you plan to carry it, and your level of confidence with using a telescope. Some have all the latest connected bells and whistles and can be augmented with your smartphone, while others are much simpler and more straightforward. Then there’s also the question of budgets, with telescopes available at all different price points.

To make all this a little easier, we’ve divided our guide up into categories to help you find the kind of telescope you’re looking for.

 

The best telescope – this is our pick for the best overall telescope, balancing power, convenience and price.

Best telescope for deep-space viewing – if you truly want to push into the final frontier, this is the telescope we’d recommend for seeing the wonders of deep space.

Best telescope for a child – easy-to-use and inexpensive, this is the telescope to choose for a little budding astronomer.

Best telescope for astrophotography – if you’re looking to capture images of what you see, this is the best telescope for taking astro images.

Best cheap telescope – on a tight budget? Here we pick the best telescope available at a bargain price.

Best bird-watching telescope – it’s not all about objects in space! We pick out the best telescope that doubles-up as a quality birding scope.

Best telescope for viewing planets – here’s the telescope we’d choose for getting unforgettable views of the neighbouring planets in our solar system.

Best amateur telescope – here we pick the best amateur telescope for users who aren’t too confident and need to learn the basics.

 

And now, let’s get started counting off the best telescopes you can buy!

 

What is the best telescope?

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

Why is this the best telescope? 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, and that’s why it’s our pick for best telescope.

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.

Find out more about the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130 App-Enabled Reflector Telescope

 

What is the best telescope for deep space viewing?

2. Celestron NexStar Evolution 925 Computerised Telescope

Why is this the best telescope for deep-space viewing? 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. The narrower field of view of the Schmidt-Cassegrain design is what makes it so potent for finding and focusing on deep-sky objects, while the Wi-Fi connectivity makes it easy to hook up your phone or other smart device and actually find where these objects are located!

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.

Find out more about the Celestron NexStar Evolution 925 Computerised Telescope

What is the best telescope for a child?

3. Meade LightBridge Mini 82 Dobsonian Telescope

Why is this the best telescope for a child? The Meade LightBridge Mini 82 Dobsonian Telescope ticks all the boxes you’d be looking for in a telescope for a child. It’s inexpensive, it’s easy to use, it can be perched on a tabletop and above all, it’s fun! Able to be taken out of the box and set up within seconds, the Meade LightBridge Mini 82 Dobsonian Telescope has a 360-degree swivel mount and comes with multiple eyepieces for low and high magnifications.

Whether you’re camping out in the back garden or propped up against the kitchen window, the Meade LightBridge Mini 82 Dobsonian Telescope provides a fun and accessible way to get little ones involved in stargazing. It’s portable too, so you can grab it and take it to different positions to get a different look at the sky. Go forth and explore – it’s what the Meade LightBridge Mini 82 Dobsonian Telescope is made for!

Find out more about the Meade LightBridge Mini 82 Dobsonian Telescope

What is the best telescope to buy for astrophotography?

4. Celestron NexStar 6SE Computerised Telescope

Why is this the best telescope for astrophotography? A high-performance Altazimuth computerized telescope, this scope blends convenient portability with impressive imaging power. All this makes it a terrific choice for photographers and those who might want to move from place to place to capture different aspects of the night sky.

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 photography 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. It’s worth shopping for camera adapters to get everything you need, which you can do here.

Find out more about the Celestron NexStar 6SE Computerised Telescope

What is the best cheap telescope?

5. Celestron FirstScope - Signature Series

Why is this the best cheap telescope? 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.

Find out more about the Celestron FirstScope - Signature Series

What is the best telescope for viewing planets?

6. Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

Why is this the best telescope for viewing planets? 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.

Want to get a closer look at Saturn’s rings, or Jupiter’s red spot? The Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope is, for our money, your best bet. 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.

Find out more about the Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

Which is the best telescope for beginners?

7. Sky-Watcher Explorer-130 EQ2 Telescope

Why is this the best telescope for beginners? Ideally, the best telescope for beginners should not only be easy to use, but also offer room to grow and develop one’s skills. A telescope that does just that is the Sky-Watcher Explorer-130 EQ2 Telescope. With a solid EQ2 equatorial mount, the Sky-Watcher Explorer-130 EQ2 Telescope 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 itching to replace it once you’ve got the hang of the basics. 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.

Find out more about the Sky-Watcher Explorer-130 EQ2 Telescope

 

Jon Stapley

Jon Stapley is a writer, journalist and photographer based in London.

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