Best telescopes 2022: Top picks for viewing planets, galaxies, stars and more

This is it, all the best telescopes on the market in 2022. As well as being the best of the best, we’ve included telescopes to suit every level of astronomer and every budget, so everyone can get their hands on one of the best telescopes out there. 

A lot of retailers are pushing their Summer sales and although Amazon Prime Day is over, you can still get some top telescope deals. Deals aside though, if you’re interested in getting the very best stargazing experience you can, this is the guide for you as we’ve got the best models from top manufacturers, only being sold from reputable retailers.

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If you know what you like in a telescope and you know what make is best for you, you can always check out our brand-specific guides for Celestron, Skywatcher, Meade, and Orion deals. Like this page, we keep those updated year-round, so they’re always worth checking out. 

However, buying a telescopes can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re after one of the best telescopes on the market. Every telescope is different whether that’s because of the type of scope it is, the accessories they come with or for a host of different reasons and this is no different when it comes to the best telescopes you can buy. So it’s important to consider what it is you want from your stargazing experience before buying one of the best telescopes on the market.

If you’re wanting to view faint deep-sky objects like nebulas and galaxies then you’ll want a reflector telescope whereas a refractor telescope is better suited for views within our own galaxy such as the moon and other planets. You can also get a catadioptric telescope, which can work as a happy middle ground. It’s also worth noting that some models in this guide have computerized systems which make tracking targets easy, while others can capture images, which is excellent for astrophotography.

This guide is all about the best telescopes out there but it’s worth remembering the best binoculars can be a vital part of any astronomers inventory. They can also prove to be a cost-effective alternative, especially if you take advantage of the best binoculars deals available. However, for an in-depth look at the best telescopes on the market this year, read our round-up below. 

Beginner telescopes

(Image credit: Orion) (opens in new tab)

Orion GoScope 80 Tabletop

Pre-assembled for good, “out-of-the-box” views of the solar system

Specifications

Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: Dobsonian (desktop version)

Aperture: 3.15″ (80 mm)

Focal length: 13.78″ (350 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 160x

Lowest useful magnification: 12x

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm

Weight: 5.73 lbs. (2.6 kg) (desktop)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Compact and easy to use

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Sharp solar system views

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Assembled out of the box

Reasons to avoid

Lacks slow-motion controls

The Orion GoScope 80 features good quality optics and a good sized aperture for the price you pay, it’s also designed to make astronomy easier for beginners. Despite a narrow field of view, this telescope offers brilliant views of the moon and planets, as well as deep-sky targets. However, fine tuning and tracking can sometimes be a little bit of a hassle as it doesn’t feature slow motion controls, although you do get an EZ Finder 11 red dot finder.

This scope also comes with free lifetime tech support from Orion, Starry Night software (which helps you choose and pinpoint night sky targets) and two three-element 10 mm and 25 mm eyepieces. The supplied accessories offer magnifications of 35x and 17x.

For a beginner’s telescope, the sights were breathtaking and boast clarity and contrast. The surface of the moon and small views of Saturn are particular highlights — and no aggressive color fringing (although there is some) is evident around bright objects in the field of view. A pleasing find given that refractors are predisposed to chromatic aberration, which also supplied very good views of Jupiter and its largest moons: Ganymede, Europa, Callisto and Io.

The Orion SkyMax 90 employs a sturdy desktop mount, which swings along the axes of altitude and azimuth, so skywatchers will need to ensure that they use a sturdy table for steady observations of the night sky. We discovered that slewing is a very smooth process with this telescope, but should you need one, Orion also offers this telescope with a tripod.

A manual with full, clear and concise set-up instructions is included which will tell the user how to calibrate the EZ Finder II reflex red dot finder.  This is the perfect telescope for anyone new to skywatching as it comes fully assembled which also means you can start stargazing immediately. 

If the Orion GoScope 80 is out of stock you can try this great alternative instead: 

Today’s best Orion StarMax 90mm Telescope deals

(Image credit: Celestron) (opens in new tab)

Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ

A good pick for getting started in astrophotography

Specifications

Optical design: Reflector

Mount type: Alt-azimuth

Aperture: 4.49″ (114 mm)

Focal length: 39.37″ (1,000 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 269x

Lowest useful magnification: 16x

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm

Weight: 10.41 lbs. (4.72 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Simple to set up and align

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Good intro to astrophotography

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Suggests targets to observe

Reasons to avoid

Lacks computerized mount

While a great telescope for beginners, the Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114 can be enjoyed by intermediate skywatchers, too — especially for busy users who lack the time required for lengthy set-up procedures of other telescopes. Assembling this telescope takes less than 20 minutes!

Built into this reflector is Celestron’s StarSense technology, which provides an easy option for aligning the telescope and enables the onboard GoTo system to work out which direction the instrument is pointing. To use the tech, all the skywatcher needs to do is download the StarSense app and take a smartphone image through the eyepiece and the app works out which stars are in the telescope’s field of view to calculate the astronomer’s orientation. 

Moving to Jupiter (opens in new tab), we made use of the 10 mm eyepiece to view the gas giant. Views are clear, but you’ll need a selection of eyepieces and filters in order to pick out the coloration of the atmospheric bands. The planet’s largest moons are visible as clear, sharp points of light. Views of the moon, Venus (opens in new tab) and the Beehive Cluster (Messier 44) are also pleasing, with good clarity.

One of the good things about the Celestron StarSense series is that the app offers interesting information on each of the targets you can observe. It gives you a better understanding of what you’re looking at and we found that the StarSense Explorer LT 114 is built sturdily and operates smoothly when slewing from one target to another. The only real downside to this scope is that it’s manually-operated, so you don’t get the ease of tracking a computerized telescopes would offer. However, that does mean the price you pay is kept down. 

Of course, you get the usual high quality optics that we’ve come to expect with Celestron telescopes and the aperture is a good size too. All in all this is an excellent choice for a beginners telescope and the added bonus is that it’s reasonably priced.

(Image credit: Vaonis)

Vaonis Stellina Observation Station & Hybrid Telescope

The smart telescope that allows you to just get observing

Specifications

Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: Motorized GoTo alt-azimuth

Aperture: 3.15″ (80 mm)

Focal length: 15.7″ (400 mm)

Highest useful magnification: Up to 100x with digital zoom

Supplied eyepieces: N/A

Weight: 24.69 lbs. (11.2 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Extremely portable

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Great for astrophotography

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Very easy to use

Reasons to avoid

Expensive compared to rivals

Not as appealing to traditionalists

If you’re looking for a beginner telescope or you’re just starting out in the world of astronomy, it’s unlikely you’ll want to invest heavily from the get go. You will probably want something that’s quick and easy to set up and use too so you can spend more time viewing the night sky targets you want to see and the Vaonis Stellina excels at that.

This telescope is unlike anything else on the market: its smart design means that it doesn’t require the use of finderscopes and eyepieces. Instead, it makes use of a Sony CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) sensor and navigation via a smartphone to reveal views and images of the night sky. This telescope is a little more costly than competitor models but it does include a free download of Stellina app and the instruction manual. Its database is packed with 100 targets to explore, as well.

Given the wide-angle sights the Stellina offers, this telescope isn’t ideal for studying the planets, although views are fair. Instead, it excels in providing images of bright deep-sky targets and the surface of the moon. Star clusters, select nebulas and galaxies are within easy reach through the optical system and we are, in particular, blown away by views of the Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31) through this smart telescope. Decent clarity can be had, while 6.4MP images with a resolution of 3096 x 2080 are produced in JPEG and RAW format — the former being a great option to share on social media in Ultra HD.  

The Stellina is a better choice of telescope for those interested in astrophotography, or for group viewing as it can connect up to 10 smartphones. It has a built-in light pollution filter, offers precise tracking and adapts well to changes in weather conditions. There’s no hiding the fact this model is a little pricey but that’s expected of its sophisticated technology, sturdy build and reliability. 

If the Vaonis Stellina is out of stock, you can try this great alternative instead:

Best telescopes for enthusiasts

(Image credit: Celestron) (opens in new tab)

Celestron PowerSeeker 127 EQ

The best telescope for enthusiasts and beginners who want to upgrade

Specifications

Optical design: Reflector

Mount type: Equatorial

Aperture: 5″ (127 mm)

Focal length: 39.37″ (1,000 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 300x

Lowest useful magnification: 18x

Supplied eyepieces: 4 mm, 20 mm, 3x Barlow

Weight: 22 lbs. (9.98 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Excellent value package

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Decent optics, with collimation

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Very good overall build

Reasons to avoid

Accessories not best quality

Some may require additional eyepieces

This is a pretty great package from Celestron. The telescope comes with a 127mm aperture and is competitively priced, meaning you can view our solar system and deep-sky targets without having to break the bank.

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127 EQ comes with two eyepieces: a 20 mm and 4mm, which work with the optical system to produce magnifications of 50x and 250x.  There’s also a 3x Barlow lens for tripling the magnification on the eyepieces, though truth be told it really isn’t needed — the maximum magnification that the telescope is able to achieve is 300x, so using the Barlow with the 4 mm eyepiece, for example, causes images to become blurred. 

Budget telescopes and cheaper models are often a great option for people to try their hand at astronomy but don’t come with high-end optical quality. So you may have to bear the PowerSeeker 127 EQ’s limits in mind when looking for custom eyepieces and Barlow lenses. 

Skywatchers will need to be comfortable with using an equatorial mount, the slow-motion controls and have polar aligning knowhow before considering the PowerSeeker 127 EQ. Once they are, this reflector serves as a reliable instrument for observing — and more so if the observer collimates the mirrors regularly. Once this is achieved, the optical system offers impressive celestial sights.

This telescope is very cost-effective and because of its inexpensiveness, it’s hard to criticize it for its weaknesses. With that in mind, one thing that does stand out and that’s the aluminum tripod, which can feel a little shaky when operating the manual equatorial mount. Having said that, this is still a good choice of telescope. 

(Image credit: Celestron)

Celestron Astro Fi 130

A guide to the night sky, packed with technology at a low price

Today’s best Celestron Astro Fi 130mm Reflector Telescope deals

Reasons to buy

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Suitable for low budgets

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Great entry-level telescope

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Vixen dovetail for mount changes

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Portable

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Computer recommends targets

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Finds targets at touch of button

Reasons to avoid

Eyepieces limit observations

Focuser of low quality

Battery drains quickly

Useless without app

The Celestron Astro Fi 130 is a telescope we’ve reviewed and we like a lot. While it’s not necessarily a budget telescope, it is a lot more affordable than a few of the other telescopes on this page and considering what you get for your money, that’s worth taking note of. 

If you’re new to stargazing, or even if you just don’t have a lot of experience, this telescopes can give you an astronomy experience to marvel at. A 130mm aperture means that plenty of light is able to travel through the lens, making the night sky targets clearly visible. A focal length of 650mm too means you’ll get a wide field of view, you also get amazing views of stars and can track targets within our solar system with ease. 

This telescope is also built sturdily and is more lightweight than some other scopes you might consider for the same experience, so it scores well on ease-of-transport too. You also get a sturdy tripod, a red dot finder and eyepieces too which make this even better value for money. 

We can only think of two things that let you down a bit with this model and that’s the battery life that drains a little quicker than you might want, and the eyepieces aren’t the best. Despite being a help, you might want to consider an upgrade with the eyepieces for a better viewing experience. However, we would highly recommend this scope and you wouldn’t go wrong by choosing to buy one. 

(Image credit: Encalife/SVBONY)

Encalife SVBONY 501P 70

A good option for lunar and solar observations

Specifications

Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: Altazimuth Mount

Aperture: 2.75-inch (70mm)

Focal length: 400mm

Highest useful magnification: Not stated

Focal ratio: f/5.7

Supplied eyepieces: K 20 mm 1.25″ (20x)

Weight: 6.5lbs

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Useful focal length for sun and moon

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Lightweight and portable

Reasons to avoid

Optical quality could be better

Aluminum tripod not the sturdiest

Encalife have teamed up with telescope makers SVBONY to deliver a lightweight, portable refractor telescope that suits beginners as much as those who love to observe the moon and the sun. At 400mm it’s the perfect focal length for these kinds of observations, though solar viewers must use appropriate filtration to protect their eyes.

Light gathering through the telescope is reasonable using the 2.75-inch (70mm) aperture. A K20mm eyepiece that ships with the 501P provides a medium power view through the scope. It also ships with plenty of accessories as well, including a 45 degree 1.25-inch erect image diagonal, a 5×24 finderscope, aluminum tripod, and a bag to carry it all in. At just 6.5lbs it’s super lightweight which means travelling with it to dark sky locations is easy, though don’t expect to zoom in to too many star clusters due to the limited focal length.

(Image credit: Celestron) (opens in new tab)

Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25

Some of the best views we’ve seen in telescopes

Specifications

Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain

Mount type: Computerized alt-azimuth fork arm

Aperture: 9.25″ (235 mm)

Focal length: 92.52″ (2,350 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 555x

Lowest useful magnification: 34x

Supplied eyepieces: 13 mm, 40 mm

Weight: 62.60 lbs. (28.39 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Crisp views with no defects

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Easy to set up

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High-quality design

Reasons to avoid

Isn’t very portable

A little costly for hobbyists

The optical system of the Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 ranks as one of the best we’ve ever had the pleasure of observing the night sky through. With no interference or optical defects in the field of view, this high-quality instrument offers sights of a wide selection of astronomical targets with impressive clarity and contrast. 

You get a lot of value for money with this telescope and its setup. For example, the list of accessories you get include: an attachable camera, a red dot finderscope, an international AC adapter, hand control for a seamless AutoAlign process and 13mm and 40mm eyepieces.

The stand-out piece of equipment with the NexStar Evolution 9.25 is undoubtedly its single-fork arm. Observers can slew from one target to the next and continuously onwards at the touch of a button for up to 10 hours of continuous use, thanks to it’s rechargeable lithium-ion battery.  

Built into the mount is the telescope’s very own Wi-Fi network, allowing the instrument to connect and control via the Celestron SkyPortal app (downloadable for free on iOS and Android). Being motorized, the mount is capable of tracking objects as they move across the sky, making the NexStar Evolution 9.25 a must-try for astrophotography.

If you’re looking for a complete high-definition tour of the universe, then we fully recommend this GoTo to seasoned skywatchers with decent budgets. The only downside is that the NexStar Evolution 9.25 is tricky to transport due to its weight, meaning that skywatchers will take this into account before planning any trips beyond the backyard — a small trade-off given the telescope’s robust and high-quality design.

It looks like the Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 is out of stock in the U.S. Try this great alternative instead:

Today’s best CELESTRON NEXSTAR EVOLUTION 8 CATADIOPTRIC TELESCOPE deals

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Best Computerized or GoTo telescopes

(Image credit: Sky-Watcher) (opens in new tab)

Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ GoTo

An exquisite combination of great tech and clear optics

Specifications

Optical design: Maksutov-Cassegrain

Mount type: Motorized alt-azimuth

Aperture: 5″ (127 mm)

Focal length: 59.05″ (1500 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 150x

Lowest useful magnification: 60x

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm & Barlow

Weight: 39.7 lbs. (18 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Very user friendly 

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Simple altitude-azimuth mount

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Excellent clarity and contrast

Reasons to avoid

Tripod is a little shaky

Needs extra support in windy conditions

As an introduction to the world of GoTo skywatching, the Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ is a must-have for observers on a limited budget. The SynScan AZ hand controller offers information on over 40,000 astronomical objects, which includes the most complete catalogs (Messier, NGC, IC and SAO) of deep-sky and solar system targets, while the astronomer is supplied with everything they need for a successful night: reasonable quality star diagonal, 2x Barlow with a camera adaptor, 6×30 finderscope, stainless steel tripod and accessory tray.     

Assembling the instrument is easy and, given the weight of 39.7 lbs. (18 kilograms), the Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ is light enough to carry across the backyard without a great deal of effort. Skywatchers have the choice of powering the Servo Drive with 8 AA batteries or a 12V power supply — with batteries having a tendency to drain quickly in cold conditions, we recommend investing in the latter for uninterrupted observations with the SynScan technology. Alignment is a breeze, making use of two stars to set the instrument up, but beginners may need practice in getting this just right — we recommend becoming acquainted with the Skymax 127 during daylight hours while ensuring that you read the supplied manual from cover to cover.

In terms of optical prowess, we don’t have any complaints — especially given what’s offered in the telescope’s package. We can fit a waxing gibbous moon phase in the field of view and, after tweaking the focuser, the craters and lunar mare are brought into exquisite focus, contrast and clarity. A moon filter offered even better sights. Slewing over to the star-forming region, the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), is also picked out with ease with the 5-inch (127 mm) aperture — it appears as a dusty patch of light with the Trapezium Cluster’s member stars dazzling with brilliant clarity at the nebula’s heart.

A minor niggle is the shaky stainless steel tripod, so we recommend supporting the setup by hand while slewing and in windy conditions. 

(Image credit: Celestron)

A well made telescope with superb optics

Specifications

Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain

Mount type: Computerized alt-azimuth single fork arm

Aperture: 5.91″ (150 mm)

Focal length: 59″ (1500 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 354x

Lowest useful magnification: 21x

Supplied eyepieces: 25 mm

Weight: 30 lbs. (9.5 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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StarBright XLT multi-coated optics

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High-quality build

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Easy to set up and align

Reasons to avoid

Limited eyepieces

Drains batteries quickly — AC power cord required

Celestron’s range of NexStar telescopes has a well-deserved reputation for great optics, user-friendly assembly and a plethora of features, and the Celestron NexStar 6SE (opens in new tab) exemplifies all of these. 

The 5.91-inch (150 mm) aperture is a step up from the Meade StarNavigator NG 114  in terms of light-gathering prowess, while the more than 40,000 astronomical objects in the NexStar+ hand controller’s database mean you’ll never run out of new targets to seek. However, skywatchers should be mindful that extra eyepieces will need to be added to capture them and, even then, the aperture won’t show all targets listed in the database in great amounts detail. 

You can use ‘tour mode’ where the NextStar 6SE will carefully guide you through different night sky targets, either in a particular constellation or right across the sky. It’s a brilliant feature for people that cant decide what to observe, or just want to explore the night sky like they never have before. 

The SkyAlign technology is simple to use and gets you pointed in the right direction, fast. The motorized mount also has nine slewing speeds on top of its different tracking rates. All of this sounds brilliant, and it is, but there is a down side. The NexStar 6SE’s battery can drain very quickly, which isn’t ideal, so we recommend powering the setup with an external power source.

Imagers may initially be displeased with its slow f/10 focal ratio, limiting the NexStar 6SE to being a planetary or lunar imager at best, but there is the facility for more advanced users to switch out the secondary mirror for their camera, with the smaller light path increasing the focal ratio to an astrophotography-friendly f/2.

(Image credit: Sky-Watcher) (opens in new tab)

Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan Dobsonian

A good telescope to transport, although it is quite heavy

Specifications

Optical design: Parabolic Newtonian

Mount type: Dobsonian

Aperture: 12.01″ (305 mm)

Focal length: 59.01″ (1,500 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 600x

Lowest useful magnification: 43x

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm

Weight: 72 lbs. (32.66 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Good for faint targets

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Collapsible for easier transport 

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Built to last

Reasons to avoid

Heavy at over 32kg

Just about portable due to size and weight

The larger the aperture of your telescope, the more light it will gather, allowing you to resolve the finer details in astronomical objects, and see deeper into the universe. With a 12-inch (305 mm) objective, this collapsible Dobsonian from Sky-Watcher lives up to the tag of “light bucket”. 

Dobsonians are designed for their simplicity and, with its GoTo capability plus motorized rocker alt-azimuth mount navigated by a SynScan hand controller, getting great views of the night sky and calibrating the telescope has never been easier. 

Over 40,000 targets are offered in the database and, we have to say, that seeking out faint fuzzies was our first port of call with the Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan. The Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31) is an incredible sight, with some dust lanes visible and the bulge glowing brightly. Its satellite galaxies are also visible as points of light in the field view.   

With a focal ratio of f/4.9, this Dobsonian is fast enough for imagers to make use of all the photons that it will collect. With a little skill, you’ll be able to take some amazing images through this telescope. 

Although the Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan is heavy, its collapsible design makes it easier for you to fit in the trunk of your car whenever the need arises to seek out dark-sky parks or attend star parties. 

It has a hefty price tag, but given the aperture, imaging prowess and GoTo capability of the Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 SynScan, it’s a must-buy for hobbyists.

The Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 Synscan Dobsonian is currently low on stock, you can try these great alternatives as well:

Today’s best Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope deals

Best telescopes for observing planets

(Image credit: Amazon)

Orion Skyline 6″ Dobsonian Reflector Telescope

Powerful and clear views of the moon and planets

Specifications

Optical design: Reflector

Mount type: Alt-azimuth

Aperture: 152mm

Focal length: 1200mm

Highest magnification: 133x

Eyepieces supplied: 9mm and 25mm

Weight: 37.5lbs

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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High-quality optics

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Powerful and clear views

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Sturdy build

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Great choice for beginner and intermediate astronomers

Reasons to avoid

Cheaper alternatives available 

The Orion Skyline 6″ (opens in new tab) telescope is a great choice for both beginner and intermediate astronomers due to its easy-to-use nature as well as high-quality optics.

In terms of those optics, you get an objective lens of 152mm meaning plenty of light will pass through, making night sky targets more visible. The telescope also comes with multi-coated optics, so those night sky targets can be seen with absolute clarity. The focal length is also a huge plus, 1200mm means you can see the finer details of your targets like craters in the moon and other planets. 

Magnification also goes up to 133x which means it’s a powerful telescope, you won’t be missing out on the finer details of celestial objects. So if you’re wanting to view objects like the moon and planets, this level of magnification especially with the eyepieces supplied, is really helpful. 

It’s also well built and easy-to-use which is a huge plus for those without bags of astronomy experience. However, you can get alternatives for a lower price, even if they don’t quite match the Skyline 6″ for quality of specs. We also like the Orion AstroView 90 (opens in new tab) a lot, for which this is a suitable replacement, however it’s hard to find it in stock online. 

(Image credit: Celestron) (opens in new tab)

Celestron Omni XLT 102

A sturdy telescope that offers great views too

Specifications

Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: CG-4 equatorial

Aperture: 4.02″ (102 mm)

Focal length: 39.37″ (1000 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 283x

Lowest useful magnification: 15x

Supplied eyepieces: 25 mm

Weight: 33 lbs. (15 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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Very good quality optics

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Sturdy design

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Easy to accessorize 

Reasons to avoid

Average-quality focuser

Not ideal for absolute beginners

The Celestron Omni XLT 102 is aimed at intermediate-level skywatchers, particularly those who have mastered setting circles and know how to use the right ascension and declination coordinates on the supplied high-quality CG-4 German equatorial mount.

The Omni XLT 102 features high-quality optics, painted with Celestron’s StarBright XLT coating to maximize light transmission. The optical system also makes use of aspheric shaping technology to minimize spherical aberration, a visual defect where incoming light is focused at different points.  

As such, the Omni XLT 102, with its mix of aperture and f/10 focal ratio, is able to produce excellent views of the planets, from Jupiter’s atmospheric bands and moons, to Saturn’s rings and craters on the moon, showing great contrast between areas in shadow and those bathed in daylight. While there is a slight amount of color fringing, views through the optical system are outstanding.

The refractor comes with a 25 mm eyepiece, 1.25-inch star diagonal, heavy-duty stainless steel tripod, accessory tray, spirit level, Starry Night Special Edition (opens in new tab) software and a 6×30 finderscope.

The Celestron Omni XLT 102 is a great telescope but you can also check out these great alternatives as well: 

Today’s best Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ Telescope deals

Today’s best Celestron AstroFi 102 Telescope deals

(Image credit: Celestron) (opens in new tab)

Celestron NexStar 8SE

This is a heavy telescope with some great quality optics inside

Specifications

Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain

Mount type: Computerized alt-azimuth single fork arm

Aperture: 8″ (203.2 mm)

Focal length: 80″ (2,032 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 480x

Lowest useful magnification: 29x

Supplied eyepieces: 25 mm

Weight: 24 lbs. (10.88 kg)

Today’s Best Deals

Reasons to buy

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High-quality optics

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Good for visual and imaging

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Excellent build

Reasons to avoid

A little heavy for its size

Hard to find fault at this price point

When you pay big money for telescopes, you’re usually guaranteed to get exceptionally high-quality optics that provide incredible views of a variety of astronomical targets. 

Celestron’s NexStar 8SE certainly fits into this category, earning itself the title of the “world’s most beloved telescope”. Featuring a StarBright XLT (opens in new tab) optical coating, spectacular views of the planets and moon can be had and with excellent contrast and clarity: Jupiter and its moons along with Saturn and its rings are particularly breathtaking through the optical system. No chromatic aberration — or color fringing — can be seen around bright targets and, what’s more, very good views of the deep-sky objects are within reach of the eight-inch (203.2 mm) aperture.

With telescopes of this price and caliber, few eyepieces are included if any at all — it’s expected that the user will want to use their own, or purchase specific eyepieces to suit their needs. A 25mm, offering a magnification of 81x, is supplied with the NexStar 8SE. A carry case for the optical tube assembly (OTA), stainless steel tripod, StarPointer red dot finderscope and 1.25-inch star diagonal are also thrown into the price.

If you prefer your telescope to slew to targets at the touch of a button and can’t decide on what to observe during any given night, the Celestron NexStar 8SE offers a tour mode of the 40,000+ objects in its GoTo database. Alignment is also exceedingly simple thanks to the telescope’s revolutionary SkyAlign technology but be warned: the NexStar 8SE drains batteries quickly, so we recommend using an external power source for uninterrupted observations.

With its high-quality build, the NexStar 8SE is built to last. And for those who want to capture images of planetary targets and the rugged lunar surface, the f/10 focal ratio provides the perfect opportunity. 

Best astrophotography telescopes

(Image credit: Celestron ) (opens in new tab)

Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor

A good starter telescope for budding astrophotographers

Specifications

Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: Alt-azimuth

Aperture: 3.94″ (100 mm)

Focal length: 25.98″ (660 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 241x

Lowest useful magnification: 15x

Focal ratio: f/6.5

Supplied eyepieces: 10 mm, 25 mm

Weight: 20 lbs. (9.07 kg)

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Reasons to buy

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Excellent range of accessories

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Great intro to astrophotography

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Easy to assemble

Reasons to avoid

Slight false color in optics

Limited to short exposure photography

An excellent telescope for the beginner or those on a budget, the Celestron Inspire 100AZ is a great choice for those looking for a complete package that offers more in the way of accessories over most starter telescope bundles.

The Inspire 100AZ comes with a 90-degree erect image diagonal with a 1.25-inch fitting that makes the telescope suitable for terrestrial and celestial views, a pair of eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm), red LED flashlight, accessory tray, StarPointer Pro finderscope and a smartphone adapter for basic astrophotography. Given the refractor’s focal ratio, the Inspire 100AZ is limited to short exposure photography.

A degree of false color and blurring in the field of view was detected during our observations. The latter is easily resolved with a careful selection of eyepieces, so we recommend investing in further eyepieces to make the most of the Inspire 100AZ’s optical system and to ensure that it does translate to your photos. False color, on the other hand, is to be expected in telescopes at this price point but it did not ruin the experience.

We are particularly impressed with the overall build of this refractor — the StarPointer is a pleasant surprise since it’s able to pick out faint stars under moderate light pollution for an accurate experience in hopping from one target to another.

Related: Celestron Inspire 80AZ (opens in new tab): Full review

(Image credit: Encalife/SVBONY)

SVBONY SV503 80 ED OTA

A useful addition for anyone interested in deep-sky viewing or photography

Specifications

Optical design: Refractor

Mount type: UNC 1/4-20

Aperture: 3-inch (80mm)

Focal length: 560mm

Highest useful magnification: 160x

Focal ratio: f/7

Supplied eyepieces: N/A

Weight: 3.95kg

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Reasons to buy

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Good optical quality

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Useful for stargazers and photography

Reasons to avoid

A little more expensive than others

No apparent eyepieces

For those who fancy kicking things up a notch, the Encalife SVBONY 503 refractor takes you close in to deep-sky objects with its impressive 560mm focal length. A 3-inch (80mm) aperture drinks in the light and multiple accessories for this series of telescope means astrophotography is at your fingertips.

To aid deep-sky photography astronomers can use the SV193 reducer which increases the field of view and helps to flatten the image. The finder can be slipped on easily enough using the dovetail mount and a rack and pinion focuser makes it simple to get sharp views of the night sky. The 501P ships with a reducer and a guide scope as mentioned but lacks any eyepieces, relying on astronomers to use their own which is to be expected at this price range.

(Image credit: Sky-Watcher) (opens in new tab)

Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 PRO

For a bigger budget, this Maksutov offers excellent optics

Specifications

Optical design: Maksutov-Cassegrain

Mount type: Equatorial (EQ-5 Pro)

Aperture: 5.90″ (150 mm)

Focal length: 70.87″ (1,800 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 450x

Focal ratio: f/12

Supplied eyepieces: 28 mm

Weight: 13.23 lbs. (6 kg)

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Reasons to buy

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High-quality build

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Excellent optics

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Great for a wide selection of astrophotography

Reasons to avoid

Not all models come with a tripod

Comes with only one eyepiece

Sky-Watcher (opens in new tab)’s Skymax 150 is a great package for the price, with some models offering a high-quality equatorial mount for short-exposure astrophotography and long-exposure imaging. This well-constructed Maksutov-Cassegrain also comes with a single eyepiece with a focal length of 28 mm for a magnification of 64x.

Weighing in at 13.23 lbs. (6 kilograms), the Skymax 150 is suitable for most regular equatorial mounts — many makes and models will be able to take the load of both the telescope and extra accessories, including CCD or DSLR cameras, filter wheels and other such add-ons. For versatility in the type of mount you choose, a Vixen-style dovetail plate is supplied for a moderate price tag.

The Skymax 150’s optical prowess is outstanding, with no sign of optical distortion. The telescope is a great all-arounder, suitable for imaging everything from the planets to deep-sky galaxies and nebulas — and as you would expect for a telescope designed for giving great images. As an added bonus, the instrument is a breeze to use and accessorize.

The focuser is a dream to operate being lovely and smooth. The Skymax 150 keeps a good amount of fine focus once it’s been found — vital for those long imaging sessions.

(Image credit: Michael Covington) (opens in new tab)

Has a very wide aperture, so is great for photos

Specifications

Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain

Mount type: Motorized equatorial

Aperture: 8″ (203.2 mm)

Focal length: 80″ (2,032 mm)

Highest useful magnification: 480x

Lowest useful magnification: 29x

Supplied eyepieces: 40 mm

Weight: 61 lbs. (27.67 kg)

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Reasons to buy

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Great-sized aperture

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High-quality optics for flat field

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Seamless motorized mount

Reasons to avoid

A little heavier than most

Lens cap can be fiddly

Celestron’s EdgeHD technology turns Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes into high-quality astrographs with perfectly flat fields. The way that the Schmidt-Cassegrain optics focus light usually means that the focal plane  — where the light comes to focus — is curved, but if you are imaging, your CCD camera’s sensor is flat. A curved focal plane on a flat CCD sensor results in field curvature, where stars at the edge of the field become blurry. An undesirable effect for astrophotographers.  

In our Celestron Advanced VX 8 EdgeHD review, we found the EdgeHD optics negate this, creating a perfectly flat field right to the edge of the frame for pinpoint sharpness right across the image. We are impressed with the optical performance that the Celestron Advanced VX 8 EdgeHD delivers, with views being crisp and clear with no optical distortion or false color.

As an added bonus, the optical tube assembly comes packaged with Celestron’s Advanced VX mount, which is tailor-made for imagers, capable of photographing across the meridian without needing to do a meridian flip. The setup also performs periodic corrections to remove errors when tracking objects and also comes with an autoguider port. 

The Celestron Advanced VX9.25 EdgeHD can carry a load of 30 lbs. (13.6 kilograms) too, so the tube and all your imaging accessories are fully supported. Also included is the standard NexStar+ hand controller, a 40 mm eyepiece and access to Celestron’s SkyPortal app (opens in new tab) and Starry Night Special Edition software (opens in new tab).

It looks like the Celestron Advanced VX 8 EdgeHD is out of stock in the U.K. Try this great alternative instead:

Today’s best Celestron Advanced VX 8 Edge HD deals

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Telescope buying advice

Telescope Glossary

Aperture: Diameter of the primary mirror or lens, which allows a telescope to collect light.
Field of view: Area of sky visible through the eyepiece.
Focal length: A telescope’s tube length. Short focal lengths offer a wide field of view and a small image.
Focal ratio: Also known as the telescope’s speed. Small focal ratios provide lower magnifications, wide field of view and a brighter image.
Magnification: Relationship between the telescope’s optical system and the eyepiece. 

The aperture is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a telescope, then you should next consider the focal length. The main thing to remember here is that bigger isn’t always better. 

It really all comes down to the targets you are wanting to view. Shorter focal lengths, say of about 20 inches (500 mm), will provide a field of view for you to take in large areas of the Milky Way and showpieces such as the Pleiades (Messier 45) and Orion Nebula (Messier 42). Meanwhile, high-power objects such as the moon, planets or double stars need a telescope with a longer focal length of about 80 inches (2000 mm). 

If you can’t really decide, then there are plenty of compromises between aperture and focal length but you must be willing to make a few trade-offs in terms of the weight of your instrument, the field of view and its “power”. Read on for what you can expect from the three major kinds of telescope: the refractor, reflector and the catadioptric.

Refractor telescopes

(Image credit: Celestron)

As their name suggests, refractors bend (or refract) the light that they gather to give you a view of your astronomical target. As telescopes go, they have a fairly straightforward assembly and consist of a main objective lens at one end that focuses light through to the other. 

Intuitive to use, the refractor is often a popular choice of instrument for novice astronomers since they require little maintenance and are usually affixed to the simple alt-azimuth mount, which allows the skywatcher to slew from left to right and up and down in order to locate the desired target. Being easy to use means that these telescopes are also simple to manufacture, making them cheaper to buy with price points increasing with aperture size.

Refractors are particularly good at giving highly magnified and high contrast images and, because of this, are ideal instruments to use when looking at solar system targets such as the moon and the planets. The best refractors usually have an aperture of two inches (60 mm) or more and will provide reasonable views of astronomical objects. If you’re looking for a larger aperture, then a three- or four-inch (80 mm to 90 mm) will suit you best. 

The drawback of a refractor is that they can suffer from chromatic aberration, also known as color fringing. When a single lens doesn’t focus all of the colors emitted from a target object at the same point, bright objects such as the moon, Venus or Jupiter usually have a colored halo around them. To reduce this problem, many refractors are manufactured as achromatic or apochromatic (also known as Extra Dispersion (ED) telescopes).

The achromatic refractor is cheaper than the apochromatic refractor and, combined with its efficiency, is often the type of telescope that novice astronomers go for. Even if you decide to go for the more expensive achromat, you’re still likely to get a stubborn degree of purple fringing around some targets. 

Unless you’re a seasoned skywatcher and you can afford to go for the more expensive apochromat — which corrects for such an effect by using exotic glass for the lenses — this degree of color fringing will not ruin your observing experience to any great extent. If you do decide to go for the expensive option, then you will be stunned by the views you will get through these excellent telescopes. 

Be warned though: you might find that some apochromats come without a tripod, something that you’ll have to buy separately along with any accessories — so be sure to choose wisely.

Reflector telescopes

(Image credit: Orion)

There are two common types of reflector telescope — the Newtonian and the Dobsonian. However, the way these instruments operate is exactly the same — they both use mirrors to reflect light to create an image of the object you’re looking at. 

The Newtonian telescope is made up of a curved-light collecting mirror, which can be found at the tube’s base. The light that then hits this mirror is reflected back to the front of the tube, where a smaller flat mirror — orientated at 45° — brings light to the observer who can then see their chosen object.

The Newtonian can be found on alt-azimuth mounts, but you shouldn’t be too surprised to find this type of reflector is more popularly affixed to an equatorial mount, allowing the telescope to follow the rotation of the sky while being aligned with your hemisphere’s celestial pole. This reflector is a favorite in the amateur astronomy community due to its versatility by being able to observe a wide selection of astronomical targets and allow for astrophotography. With Newtonians, you can also buy a large aperture for less money — for instance, an eight-inch (203.2 mm) reflector would cost you less than a refractor with the same aperture, allowing you to get much more value for your money. 

On the downside, the Newtonian doesn’t come hassle-free, especially when it comes to maintenance. You might find yourself having to have optical mirrors realigned as well as the mirror’s surfaces repainted since they can eventually become tarnished. If you choose to go for a reflector of this sort, then you should always choose one which has mirrors with a protective coating — these will last longer.

Some beginners to the hobby of astronomy might find setting up and using an equatorial mount tricky and that’s where the Dobsonian comes in. These telescopes give the capabilities of a reflector without the complexities an equatorial mount will bring since it employs an alt-azimuth mount. Dobsonians are very simple to use and can be pulled into orientation when looking at astronomical objects with ease. If you’re not confident in navigating your telescope though, then GoTo or computerized Dobsonians and Newtonians are on the market — but at a higher cost. 

Whatever reflector you choose, these telescopes are excellent for low-magnification targets such as galaxies and many types of nebulas.  

Maksutov-Cassegrain and Schmidt-Cassegrain (catadioptric telescopes)

(Image credit: Meade Instruments)

To get the best of both reflectors and refractors, manufacturers came up with the Schmidt-Cassegrain and the Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes. These catadioptric telescopes generally tend to correct issues found in both refractors and reflectors.

The Maksutov-Cassegrain corrects the problem that the reflector experiences — an aberration effect called “coma”, which can make objects look distorted and appear like they have a tail. This effect is reduced or banished with the combined efforts of a mirror and a corrector lens. The Maksutov is ideal for beginners or for those who don’t have the time (or funds!) to complete any extensive maintenance on their instrument since the tube’s optics are sealed off. 

This catadioptric is very robust and is also the ideal family telescope. Packed into its short optical tube is a system that allows you to target higher magnification objects such as the planets, moon and double stars. You’ll be able to pick up a Maksutov for a very good price and, if you struggle to find objects and your way around the night sky, then both this type of catadioptric telescope and the Schmidt-Cassegrain can be found in abundance and equipped with a GoTo system.

What you get with a Schmidt-Cassegrain is very similar to the capabilities of the Maksutov. It will allow you to make general observations of planetary targets and stars. It is also possible to expand the telescope’s field of view with the help of corrector lenses, providing you with the opportunity to view a wide selection of astronomical targets.  

The catadioptric telescope is also suitable if you want to try your hand at astrophotography but combine this with their marked improvement on your standard telescope and you should expect to see a substantial rise in cost in comparison to standard reflectors and refractors. 

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Source: space.com

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