Outdoors Gear The 6 Best Beginner Telescopes of 2021 Take your affinity for stargazing to a whole new level By Justine Harrington Justine Harrington Twitter University of Arkansas Justine Harrington is a TripSavvy writer based in Austin, Texas, where she covers topics spanning travel, food & drink, lifestyle, culture, social advocacy, and the outdoors. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Updated on 09/30/21 Share Pin Email Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. The Rundown Best for Kids: Elenco Mobile 20/30/40x Telescope at tequipment.net "Suitable for ages 8 and up, the Elenco Telescope is relatively robust, with a sturdy ABS body, and assembly is quick and easy." Best Budget: occer 400mm Telescope at Amazon "Shoppers on a budget will delight in the affordable price and robust features of this occer telescope." Most Portable: Gskyer 70mm Astronomical Refractor Telescope at Amazon "Amateur astronomers on the go will appreciate the portability of the Gskyer telescope." Best for Astrophotography: Sky-Watcher Virtuoso at Amazon "This telescope boasts automatic shutter release functionality for DSLR cameras, camcorders, and smartphones. " Best Wi-Fi Integration: Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope at Amazon "Unlike with most beginner telescopes, you can control the Astro via the Wi-Fi functionality." Best Accessories: Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope at Amazon "The Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ comes with everything but the kitchen sink." Telescopes offer amateur stargazers the chance to see the night sky in a whole new way. If you want to get up close and personal with the wonders of our solar system, a telescope is one of the best investments you can make—though you’ll need to do your research to figure out which model best fits your needs. Telescopes come in a dizzying array of sizes and styles with varying lenses, magnification power, and other features, so it’s important to know what you want to use your telescope for before selecting the best one. For instance, do you want a telescope for the backyard or on a stargazing road trip? Do you want to look at planets or deep-space objects? What’s your budget? Do you want to do astrophotography? All of these considerations and more will help you narrow down your search. For the backyard astronomer in your life, these are the best beginner telescopes on the market. Best for Kids: Elenco Mobile 20/30/40x Telescope Courtesy of Best Buy Buy on Tequipment.net What We Like Includes tripod Sturdy Easy assembly Affordable What We Don't Like Shorter than other options For the budding young astronomer, you can’t go wrong with the Elenco Mobile Telescope, which comes outfitted with a 20x/30x/40x eyepiece, a 30-millimeter objective lens, and a diagonal mirror so kids can discover all their favorite objects in the solar system—even fairly distant objects. Crucially, the 10-inch tripod allows for stable, wobble-free placement, and the portable, lightweight design makes it easy for your child to take this telescope on the go. Suitable for ages 8 and up, the Elenco Telescope is relatively robust, with a sturdy ABS body, and assembly is quick and easy. Aperture: 30 millimeters | Type: Not listed | Movement: Manual | Weight: 1.05 pounds Best Budget: occer 400mm Telescope Buy on Amazon What We Like Easy assembly Suitable for various heights Includes a universal phone adapter What We Don't Like Reviewers note tripod is hard to adjust Shoppers on a budget will delight in the occer 400mm Telescope, which comes at an affordable price point but is still chock-full of must-have features like a 400-millimeter focal length and 70-millimeter aperture allowing for crystal-clear viewing so you can see faint objects and small details with ease. It’s easy to set up—no tools necessary—and equipped with an adjustable tripod stand, so it’s suitable for people of varying heights. And in an ultra-modern touch, this telescope has a universal phone adapter, which connects your smartphone so you can capture images and video through the eyepiece. Aperture: 70 millimeters | Type: Refractor | Movement : Manual | Weight: 5.11 pounds Most Portable: Gskyer 70mm Astronomical Refractor Telescope Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart What We Like Lightweight Includes a travel bag Comes with multiple eye pieces What We Don't Like Pricier than other options Amateur astronomers on the go will appreciate the portability of the Gskyer Telescope—it weighs just over 7 pounds, and the body, accessories, and tripod all fit neatly in the provided travel bag. Plus, assembly only takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Aside from being one of the most portable models available, the Gsyker has a focal length of 400 millimeters and an aperture length of 70 millimeters and comes with two replaceable eyepieces, a 3x Barlow lens, and a 5x24 finderscope with a mounting bracket. In short, it’s supplied with everything that beginners need to get started on their celestial-viewing journey. Aperture: 70 millimeters | Type: Refractor | Movement: Manual | Weight: 4.94 pounds Best for Astrophotography: Sky-Watcher Virtuoso Buy on Amazon Buy on Adorama.com What We Like Has an automatic shutter option Comes with multiple eye pieces Has a multi-function motorized alt-azimuth mount What We Don't Like Pricier than other options For those who want to snap high-quality pictures of the night sky, look no further than the Sky-Watcher Virtuoso, which boasts automatic shutter release functionality for DSLR cameras, camcorders, and smartphones. With excellent, crisp optics, well-placed buttons, and a multi-function, motorized alt-azimuth mount, the Sky-Watcher offers a great introduction to astrophotography. It also comes with 10-millimeter and 20-millimeter, 1.25-inch eyepieces. Aperture: 90 millimeters | Type: Compound | Movement: Computerized | Weight: 17 pounds The 10 Best Trail Cameras of 2021 Best Wi-Fi Integration: Celestron Astro Fi 102mm Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope Buy on Amazon Buy on Adorama.com Buy on Telescope.com What We Like Controlled by app Comes with multiple eye pieces Includes a tripod What We Don't Like Pricier than other options Kickstart your stargazing hobby with the hi-tech Celestron Astro Fi 102. Unlike with many other beginner telescopes, you can control the Astro Fi 102 via the integrated Wi-Fi functionality using the (free) Celestron SkyPortal app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Thanks to the 102-millimeter Maksutov Cassegrain optical design, you’ll be able to see the planets and moon with stunning clarity. This telescope also comes with two eyepieces, a star diagonal, a finderscope, and an integrated smartphone adapter. Plus, the adjustable-height tripod is decked out with an accessory tray for your convenience. Aperture: 102 millimeters | Type: Compound | Movement: Computerized | Weight: 16 pounds Best Accessories: Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope Buy on Amazon Buy on B&H Photo Video What We Like Comes with multiple eye pieces Lightweight Easy to point What We Don't Like Reviewers note the tripod is wobbly The Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ comes with everything but the kitchen sink—two eyepieces (a 20-millimeter one and a 4-millimeter one), a finderscope, an erect image diagonal, and even a 3x Barlow lens to triple the power of each of these. This compact, fully portable telescope is surprisingly powerful considering it’s designed for beginners, with an awesome capacity to collect light, so you’ll be able to see all the dimmest, far-away objects in the sky. It’s also easy to use, with a manual German Equatorial mount with a slow-motion altitude rod that allows for smooth, accurate pointing. Aperture: 80 millimeters | Type: Refractor | Movement: Manual | Weight: 19 pounds The 9 Best Car Phone Chargers of 2021 What to Look for in a Beginner Telescope Size Sure, a heavy-duty telescope may have a bigger capacity to collect light, which allows you to see those extremely dim, far-off objects in the night sky but with greater light-collecting area comes greater size—meaning, the telescopes that are more powerful are generally much heavier and bigger. If you’re solely using your telescope in the backyard, this is likely fine, but if you want to bring your telescope with you on stargazing adventures, a more portable (and generally less powerful) model might be best. Aperture The aperture refers to the diameter of the primary lens (or mirror), which determines the telescope’s light-gathering ability (how bright the image is) and its resolving power (how detailed the image looks). Larger apertures obviously gather more light, and this means that you’ll be able to see dimmer objects or smaller features with much more clarity. Features Having a good, adjustable, and sturdy mount for your telescope is crucial. If your mount wobbles at all, it’ll be super-difficult to see distant objects. Your telescope should also come with at least one eyepiece, though most (especially higher-dollar ones) come with two or three. A 25-millimeter eyepiece is perfectly fine for true beginners. Price Even if you’re shopping on a budget and can’t afford to drop $500 on an amateur telescope, that doesn’t mean you should go for the lowest-price model. The lowest-tier telescopes usually aren’t worth the money at all since they typically provide such a low-quality viewing experience. Remember that when you’re searching for the perfect telescope, the old saying “You get what you pay for” has never been truer. Why Trust TripSavvy? Justine Harrington spent hours researching the best telescopes for this article, sifting through dozens of products and talking to amateur astronomy nerds to curate the best easy-to-set-up, easy-to-use entry-level models for people who want to take their stargazing habit to the next level. The 9 Best Telescopes of 2021 Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit Continue to 5 of 6 below.