Every day novice astronomers pick up telescopes as a means to see the stars far beyond the range of the naked eye.
And as you might’ve found, not only is the universe continually expanding, but so is the range of telescopes to choose from!
The best beginner telescopes will let you check out far-flung stars, planets, and countless other phenomena.
However, telescope optics can feel downright overwhelming as a newbie. To help you find a satisfying starter scope, we’ve outlined some of the best telescopes for your buck in 2020.
Purchasing a telescope is a major decision and finding the best option for your needs and level of interest can lead to a wonderful and engaging lifelong hobby.
We need to give a caveat at this point: generally, ultra-cheap telescopes aren’t worth buying, and we strongly recommend budgeting at least $150-$200—even for a beginner! You might also consider binoculars for stargazing to help the price down.
That said, we know saving more isn’t always on the table, so we did include some of super-cheap (but still usable) models in this list. They won’t impress, but they will let you see much more than the naked eye, for only slightly more money!
- Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST (Best Beginner Reflector Scope)
- Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker (Runner-Up Reflector)
- Celestron ExploraScope 114AZ Reflector (Best Under $300)
- AW 70mm Refractor (Best For Kids)
- SVBONY 70mm Refractor (Best For Travel)
- Celestron 21023 Cometron FirstScope (Best Cheap Telescope For Planets)
- Celestron 31036 AstroMaster LT 76AZ (Best For Beginning Astrophotographers)
- Celestron 21024 FirstScope (Best Under $100)
Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector
A reflector telescope boasting a 5.1-inch aperture, the Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST delivers images of galaxies and stars in high quality.
Pros: If galaxies, nebulas, and clusters are what you’re looking for, the Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST increases their brightness and makes it easier to see them. It’s compact, small, and equipped with a f/5 focal ratio, which makes it a telescope that the entire family can have fun with.
Cons: However, the only issue with the product is the higher price, as it is considerably higher than most novice telescopes.
Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker
Featuring a 127mm aperture, the Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker is the go-to telescope for beginner astronomers. It’s a complete package with 1000mm focal length, a 3x Barlow lens, an accessory tray, and an aluminum tripod.
Pros: The simple design makes it accessible for anyone looking to see what astronomy is all about. That’s right, between the value, features, and power, the Celestron 127EQ can be utilized by the entire family. In addition to this, this telescope comes with astronomy software and capable of working with a wide range of accessories.
Cons: A bit on the pricey side for newer stargazers, but the perks are well worth it.
Celestron ExploraScope 114AZ Reflector
If you’re looking for a Newtonian reflector telescope with a modern look and a brand new mount, the ExploraScope 114AZ is your answer. This telescope has a slow motion rod for smooth, accurate control when stargazing. This StarPointer scope allow novice astronomers to navigate what they’re looking for with the use of a red dot.
Pros: A great perk that comes with the Celestron ExploraScope 114AZ can operate in the day as well as it can in the evening. Being great for observing planets, stars, and the moon, this telescope offers all the bells and whistles that make stargazing easy for amateurs to get started.
Cons: Not a typical Newtonian design, so it’s unusually difficult to collimate properly.
AW 70mm Refractor
Coming with two eyepieces, the AW 70mm telescope uses refractive optics for ease of maintenance. Its tripod can be raised to 50 inches (max) and the tripod itself is aluminum.
The AW 70mm refractor telescope is a small, lightweight design and compact enough to be stored and transported at a moment’s notice. Created with a 70mm aperture, this telescope has been a popular selection for children looking to see what stargazing is all about.
Pros: A great perk that comes with this telescope is that it makes finding tiny objects considerably easier with its 5×24 scope. And let’s be frank: it’s an extremely inexpensive model, so it won’t be the end of the world if it takes some knocks from the youngest little astronomers!
Cons: Being so lightweight, the telescope may not feel sturdy.
SVBONY 70mm Refractor
Being a top pick for young individuals who are looking to explore the universe, the SVBONY 70mm is a wonderful telescope for children. It offers quite a bit of viewing opportunity with its 70mm aperture.
The SVBONY can be utilized to observe planets, stars, and the moon. It comes with additional eyepieces, which allows increased magnification (up to 150x with its Barlow lens). This telescope has three options for eyepieces and many entry-level astronomers utilize it. It also comes with assembly instructions, an optical tube, and an aluminum tripod so one can start stargazing immediately.
Pros: Another great perk about this telescope is that it is a refractor telescope, which can observe objects on our planet.
Cons: Might be too many features for a novice to take advantage of.
Celestron 21023 Cometron FirstScope
Being a popular item for novices looking to observe comets, star clusters, and galaxies, the Celestron 21023 Cometron FirstScope offers a wide field for viewing. Between being easy to use, having a design that’s portable, and being lightweight, early astronomers find this as their first choice.
What’s great about the Celestron 21023 is that one can set it up without tools and it comes not one, but two eyepieces. Another great perk that comes with this telescope is the finder scope, which has been a hit for novice astronomers.
Pros: Being known as the upgraded version of the FirstScope, the Celestron 21023 can be transported anywhere as it only weighs four pounds.
Cons: Once again, the only negative that comes with this telescope is that it isn’t very sturdy.
Celestron 31036 AstroMaster LT 76AZ
This entry level scope is perfect if you’re looking to take it out of the box and get right to work. Requiring no tools for setting up, this convenient scope has a pan handle and a dovetail attachment that keeps snapping photos easy.
Pros: It has a StarPointer and accurate pointing. It also has a sturdy foundation for one to work with.
Cons: This nearly flawless scope may have cons, but we haven’t found any yet.
– The Best Catadioptric Scope – The Orion 9825 Apex 127mm
This low cost Maksutov-Cassegrain combination manages to have a compact build. It can operate in the daytime and has high magnification views.
Pros: Incredibly versatile.
Cons: Pretty pricey for a novice astronomer.
Celestron 21024 FirstScope
Folks, we really don’t recommend dirt-cheap telescopes. But if you’re on the tightest of budgets, and saving up isn’t a realistic opportunity, then the Celestron 21024 FirstScope telescope might be your best bet.
A decent choice for novice astronomers, it has a 76mm reflector design. The optical tube has a lightweight, portable design for little to no difficulty while stargazing.
Pros: Inspired by Galileo’s designs, the Celestron 21024 offers two eyepieces. It’s basically a Newtonian reflector telescope, which makes it terrific for beginners. A major perk that comes with this telescope is that it offers a 76mm primary mirror, which is a rare find at such a low cost.
Cons: Sadly, the low cost keeps the telescope as bare bones as it can be. However, if it is being used as a decoration, it will look incredible no matter where is placed.