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Top Pick for
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Telescope under $250
Choosing the right telescope can significantly enhance your stargazing experience. There are 3 main types: refractors, reflectors and compound telescopes.
Refractor telescopes are great for viewing planets and the moon's craters, while reflector types excel at observing deep-sky objects like galaxies. Compound telescopes offer versatility, combining features of the other 2 types. Your choice should depend on the celestial objects you're most interested in.
Apart from the type, consider the aperture, focal length and magnification of a telescope. Aperture refers to the diameter of the lens or mirror that gathers light and larger apertures provide better views. Higher focal lengths offer more detailed views and higher magnification levels mean closer views.
Don't forget to invest in accessories like eyepieces, filters and a star chart. Eyepieces come in different sizes and improve the viewing experience with wider fields of view or better detail. Filters enhance specific features of celestial objects and a star chart guides you in finding desired objects.
The team at Finder has evaluated numerous telescopes from Sky-Watcher, Orion, Celestron and more to help you find the best one for your needs. We considered factors like price, features and user reviews to narrow down the top picks.
The Celestron NexStar 5SE Computerised Telescope is our top choice for the best overall telescope. Boasting an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars from numerous satisfied customers. The NexStar 5SE is noted for its user-friendly set-up and performance that keeps users engaged, making the exploration of the cosmos accessible and enjoyable.
This computerised instrument features an automated Go-To mount and a database housing data for over 40,000 celestial bodies, revolutionising how users navigate the night sky.
Despite its notable features and high praise, the NexStar 5SE does come with a couple of drawbacks. Its premium features are reflected in its price, which may be prohibitive for some astronomy enthusiasts on a budget. Additionally, there have been instances of customers expressing dissatisfaction with the technical support provided by Celestron.
Nonetheless, the NexStar 5SE remains a high-performing, reliable choice for those seeking to delve deeper into the universe from their backyard.
The Skywatcher Heritage 90 Virtuoso Tracking Telescope is a fantastic entry point for those new to stargazing. It has a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
This telescope features a formidable 90mm aperture Maksutov-Cassegrain design that gathers ample light for extraordinary views of brighter celestial objects. It benefits from a lightweight, portable design, ideal for those eager to explore different locations. The accompanying tabletop base ensures a stable viewing experience on any sturdy surface.
However, beginners might find the initial set-up and calibration challenging, albeit this is a common con for most high-quality telescopes. And while the telescope's portability is a significant advantage, it might not be suitable for more extreme outdoor conditions, requiring additional care in such scenarios.
The OYS 70mm Telescope is our pick for children interested in astronomy. With an impressive rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon, its ease of set-up, user-friendly features and portability make it an ideal starter kit for young, aspiring astronomers.
Providing a magnification range from 20X to 44X, this telescope is ideally suited for observing the moon, planets and other celestial objects nearby in our solar system. The inclusion of a phone adapter is a wonderful addition, allowing kids to capture their exciting discoveries and share them with family.
However, while this telescope excels in numerous aspects, it does fall short in a few areas. Specifically, the OYS 70mm Telescope does not support deep-space viewing, limiting the range of astronomical exploration. Additionally, while advantageous for portability, the telescope's lightweight design may cause stability issues during windy conditions.
With a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon, our team recommends the Sky-Watcher Quattro 200P as the best choice for astrophotography.
The telescope's fast f/4 optics offers unparalleled detail in considerably less exposure time, allowing users to capture the cosmos in all its grandeur. It also features a 2-inch dual-speed Crayford-style focuser, ensuring the sharpness and clarity of your celestial captures.
There is also an oversized secondary mirror that further enhances its performance, providing complete illumination for both APS-C and full-frame DSLRs without vignetting. The multiple knife-edge baffles also minimise stray light, improving your viewing or imaging experience.
But before purchasing the Quattro 200P, you need to consider a few possible cons. For instance, the maximum focal length is capped at 800, which could limit the reach for some deep-space objects. The 8x50 straight-through finderscope may take some getting used to for beginners.
We also selected the Celestron NexStar 5SE Computerized Telescope for viewing planets and galaxies. Rated at an impressive 4.5 stars on Amazon, this orange tube marvel leverages a 5-inch aperture to deliver stunning, light-capturing capabilities.
This telescope delivers spectacular views of the moon, planets and deep-sky objects like the Orion Nebula while maintaining a compact and relatively portable form factor. There is also a fully automated GoTo mount, which boasts a database of over 40,000 celestial objects that can automatically locate and track for you.
SkyAlign technology further adds to the telescope's ease of use, allowing even those unfamiliar with the night sky to align the telescope on any 3 bright objects in mere minutes.
However, it does have a few cons. For one, the unique single fork arm design may require some getting used to for those accustomed to conventional scopes. While the sturdy steel tripod is designed for easy transport and quick assembly, the components can be a bit heavy for extended periods.
If you're shopping for a telescope in this price range, the Meade Infinity we recommended for beginners higher up this page is well worth a look. But so too is the Celestron Travel Scope, which boasts an average score of 4.3 out of 5 stars from over 6,000 Amazon customer ratings and is our pick as the best telescope under $250.
This refractor telescope is available in 70mm and 80mm varieties. It comes with a backpack for easy transporting. It features fully coated glass optics to ensure clear images, while set-up is quick and easy without any tools required. A pair of eyepieces (20mm and 10mm) are included and the Celestron Travel Scope also comes with astronomy software with a 10,000-object database.
27% off Celestron Travel Scope (21035)
57% off Celestron Travel Scope (21035)
10% off Celestron Travel Scope (21035)
We started our search for the best telescopes by finding the highest-rated products on Amazon. We then compared those telescopes against others in the same category, considering factors like ease of use, key features, price and review comments. We also cross-referenced with expert reviews before deciding on our final top picks.
We considered telescopes from the following brands:
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