Looking for best telescope for beginners (easy to use) for the money or a comprehensive guide to buying a telescope for kids? Shopping for a telescope can be overwhelming! We have reviews, comparisons, and recommendations on the best telescope for kids and beginners’ telescope (and even input about telescope or binoculars for stargazing).
Astronomy and planets for kids is one of the coolest STEM learning subjects and one of the best ways to create excitement is to introduce telescopes for kids.
But, choosing the best telescope can be intimidating.
TEACH YOUR KIDS NOT TO AIM YOUR TELESCOPE AT THE SUN OR NEAR THE SUN!
How do I choose my first telescope?
When you chose your first telescope, you’ll want to pay attention to:
- Age / Learning Level
- Budget / Price
- High Quality for Price
- Refractor vs Reflector Telescope
- Magnification For Your Needs
- High-Resolution Image Capability
- Uncomplicated Assembly / Setup
- Beginner-Friendly Instructions
- What Accessories Are Included?
So, what is the best telescope to buy for a child or a beginner?
ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TELESCOPES FOR KIDS & BEGINNERS
✅What are the best telescopes for astronomy beginners? [Updated 2020]
What are the best telescopes for viewing planets and stars?
The best telescope for home use will depend on your needs and use of the telescope.
Here is a range of the best telescopes for home for viewing planets and stargazing as a beginner user. We’ll cover some frequently asked questions and also give you recommendations for highest rated telescopes.
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Which is best telescope for beginners?
What is the best telescope for viewing planets? Here’s a list of some of the best telescopes for beginners:
- Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope – Portable Refractor Telescope
- Gskyer Telescope, Travel Scope, 70mm
- MESIXI Astronomical Telescope + Monocular Travel Scope 70mm
- Aomekie Telescope for Astronomy Beginners
- ESSLNB Telescopes for Astronomy Beginners
- Meade Instruments Infinity 80mm Refractor Telescope
Telescope for Kids vs Telescope for Beginners
Before we go any further in our telescope reviews, let’s talk about if you really want the best telescope for kids to play with or a telescope for beginners who are interested in astronomy or stargazing / viewing planets and stars.
A telescope for young child to play around with is going to be much different than a telescope for beginners.
If you want a telescope for kids to play with, then you can get a childrens’ toy telescope like this one.
However, you won’t be able to do serious stargazing with these types. This will be more of a toy to get your kid used to what telescopes look like and how they work.
There are also kids’ telescopes that are a step above this. They may be a little less expensive than beginner telescopes, but again, some of these may be more like toys than longterm tools you can use to look at planets.
(Be sure to also read the parent reviews for these kids’ telescopes!)
Here are some introductory telescopes for kids that you can check out:
- SVBONY SV502 Telescope for Kids 50mm
- Telescope for Kids and Lunar Beginners, 90x
- GIENRUI Kids Telescope Educational Science Toy Telescope for Kids
Let’s a closer look at some reviews of telescopes.
TYPES OF TELESCOPES
Reflector Telescope vs Refractor Telescope
There are two main types of telescopes for beginners:
- Reflector Telescope
- Refractor Telescope
Most telescopes are either reflector or refractor.
A reflector telescope uses a mirror or series of mirrors that bends inwards to bounce and reflect light back to you to provide the image.
A refractor telescope uses a glass lens that bends outwards to provide the image the back to you, just like a binocular works.
According to AstronomyToday.com:
Each telescope has its own advantage, for instance the refractor is better for observing the planets and the moon and the reflector for deep-sky objects (e.g. galaxies)
Best Telescope for Beginners: Should I buy a refractor telescope or a reflector telescope?
Again, this will depend on your needs, the child’s age, and your goals like what you plan on viewing.
About Reflector Telescopes
- “Bulkier” than refractor telescopes.
- You can get a bigger reflector telescope for less money (than a larger refractor telescope), so you get more “bang for your buck.”
- Reflectors telescopes serve the image upside down (reflected on the mirrors), which generally isn’t an issue when looking into space at night. However, if you’re using a telescope for daytime use, you’ll need an erecting eyepiece.
- If you get a manually adjusting reflector telescope, there is a learning curve on how to adjust and align the mirrors properly.
About Refractor Telescopes
- Look like the stereotypical telescope that you think of when someone says the word.
- Smaller and more lightweight than reflector telescope.
- Eye pieces may be uncomfortable, so you may need a prism adaptor that bends the light through 90 degrees.
- More expensive the larger they get.
- Require very little maintenance; sealed on both ends so they don’t get dirt inside them.
- Can create something called “chromatic aberration,” where a rainbow appears around the image.
- Images appear right side up, so they’re also good for daytime use without extra lenses.
If you’re looking for a telescope with less maintenance that can easily transfer between day and night use, then look into refractor telescopes.
If you want a bigger (higher powered) for cheaper, then look into reflector telescopes.
Compare Best Types of Beginner and Kids’ Telescopes
Telescope Reviews: Refractor vs Reflector
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Best Beginner Telescope Review: Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope – Portable Refractor Telescope
Let’s just take a minute and talk specifically Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope – Portable Refractor Telescope because it is common choice for best beginner telescope and one that a lot of people search out.
(It’s #1 on our Best Telescopes list above.)
Celestron 70mm Travel Scope Portable Refractor Telescope Review:
- 4+-star rated
- Affordable pricing (low-medium range for this level of telescope)
- Powerful close-up viewing
- 70mm aperture objective lens that provides enhanced, brighter views
- Quick and easy setup
If you are looking for a telescope that will last and grow with your child, the Celestron 70mm Travel Scope Portable Refractor is a great option.
✅It goes in my best telescope 2020 to grow with beginners and kids category.
Best Beginner Telescope Review: Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope
The Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope is a good choice for a reflector beginner telescope and is actually listed for entry-level up to intermediary. So, it’s a good telescope to grow with your learning.
Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope Review:
- 4.5+ star rated
- Detailed views of solar system (moon, planets)
- Provides views of wide-field celestial objects (star clusters, nebulas)
- Mid-level pricing for beginner telescope
- Pre-assembled for easy setup
What do I look for in a kids’ telescope?
Understanding Telescope Parts and Tips for Buying Your First Telescope
If you’re new to the whole best telescope for beginners or kids search, all of the information out there can be overwhelming.
One of the best starting points is to understand the types and different parts of telescopes.
Once you understand the differences and can describe parts of a telescopes, it will help you better choose the best telescope to meet the needs of your child or for learning at home.
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What is a Reflector Telescope?
A reflector telescope uses a mirrors to reflect light for an image. A refractor telescope uses a glass lens to provide the image.
What is Aperture?
According to COSMOS – The SAO Encyclopedia of Astronomy:
The aperture of a telescope is the diameter of the light collecting region, assuming that the light collecting region has a circular geometry . For an optical instrument, the aperture is the diameter of the objective lens (refracting telescope) or the primary mirror (reflecting telescope).
What is a good aperture for telescope?
A good aperture is 70mm (or more).
The larger the aperture, the more light that goes into the telescope. This makes the image brighter and also sharper, which allows you to see more detail.
For a home beginner telescope, a 70mm aperture should be sufficient.
What is a good telescope magnification?
Telescope magnification is listed as the number and then an “x” by it like 25x.
This means that it will magnify the image at 25 times.
It starts to get tricky because there are calculations that go into magnification that uses aperture.
So, if there is 50x per inch of aperture with a 10-inch telescope, you would multiply 50 x 10 = 500 and know that you will see a 500x magnification of the planets (or whatever).
Honestly, this is probably way more than you need to know for a beginner telescope, but some people like to know these details so I included them here.
How much magnification do you need to see planets?
Again, the detail that you will be able to see depends on aperture and magnification. However, if you look for something that magnifies at 25x and up, you should be able to see some detail.
(Aperture Diameter divided by the focal length = magnifying power of a telescope.)
What is the best focal length for a telescope?
According to Astronomy for Beginners:
A shorter focal length telescope will be more suited to wide field views of the stars. A good all round first telescope should have a focal length of around 1000mm to 1200mm. All refracting telescopes use a glass lens as their primary focusing unit.
What is the F number of a telescope?
The “f” number of a telescope is the focal ratio, which is the speed of the optics. It is also sometimes called f-stop or f-number.
You may see it displayed in the description as something like “f/5.71.”
The wider the aperture, the lower the f number.
According to Astronomics.com:
Fast f/4 to f/5 focal ratios are generally best for lower power wide field observing and deep space photography. Slow f/11 to f/15 focal ratios are usually better suited to higher power lunar, planetary, and binary star observing and high power photography.
Popular Telescope Brands
There are many, many brands of telescopes to choose from made by different manufacturers.
Some of the best (and most popular) telescope brands to compare are:
Of course, this isn’t a complete list of telescope brands, but it’s enough to get you started to compare telescopes before you buy!
Is buying a telescope worth it?
Is it worth it to buy a best telescope for beginners (or kids)?
It depends on what your goals are.
If you want to do ongoing stargazing or spend a great deal of time viewing planets and stars as part of your learning, then a quality, beginner-level telescope is a great investment.
However, if you just want to do some occasional stargazing, daytime use (like birdwatching, etc.), or aren’t sure how interested your kids will be in a telescope, you may want to invest in binoculars instead and see how that goes.
Telescope or Binoculars for Stargazing?
Now that we’ve gone through all the information about telescopes, I want you to consider if you really need a telescope or if binoculars will do and meet your needs.
The biggest difference in telescopes and binoculars is that, obviously, binoculars are more portable.
(However, there are portable telescopes now, so keep that in mind.)
Binoculars might be a better choice if:
- You want something your kids can use while hiking or in nature.
- You aren’t even sure if your kids are interested in a telescope.
- You want a more affordable option to a telescope.