The features of a good beginner telescope make it easier for a novice to become familiar with the hobby and all the majesty of the night sky, and they mean that ideal telescope kits are not nearly as expensive as you might worry. Many of the major brands such as Celestron and Meade telescopes make affordable telescopes for beginners of all ages that balance the right price point with ease of use, versatility, and durability.
Start by asking yourself how much room you need to grow as an astronomer. If you are very confident that you’ll continue the hobby, consider a model with more power and flexibility. If you aren’t sure, focus on entry-level functionality and telescope kits that cost less.
A has good beginner’s telescope a few other characteristics. A large aperture is ideal, and you don’t want the strongest magnification. Being more “zoomed in” makes it more difficult to find the objects you want to see in the sky, and beginning astronomers appreciate seeing things like galaxies, as opposed to craters on distant planets’ satellites. Weight is usually an issue, because you want to be able to move the telescope around; this also makes durability valuable.
Many beginner telescopes in the mid range have on-board computers that facilitate aiming, and many can collaborate with a smart phone. This is a great feature because it means you can get started star gazing without learning to read a star chart and understand seasonal shifts in the position of celestial bodies.
You also have to decide if you prefer a refractor, which has the typical long, skinny body and requires no maintenance, a reflector, which has a short, stout body, uses mirrors to focus the light, and typically costs less, or a hybrid.
All that being said, here are a few great beginner options.
This scope – there are actually a few different options under the same model type – costs under $100 and is great for children who want to look up into the night sky and see the moon and some other stars. With a simple telescope kit that offers interchangeable eyepieces, special filters, and a CD-ROM to help explain astronomy.
Celestron LCM 60
This affordable model boasts easy setup, a lightweight mount with computerized controls, and the ability to use NexRemote telescope control software to help you find objects in the sky. It is powerful enough to see thousands of celestial bodies and satiate the interests of a budding astronomer. Telescoping lets ensure the eyepiece can be comfortably placed for children and adults. And the eyepiece itself is easily upgradable so you can get more zoom when you’re ready for a bit more power.
Meade ETX 80
The most expensive on the list, this reflector model costs just over $300, but is one of the most versatile computerized telescopes on the market, effective for stargazing and viewing terrestrial objects. Ultra-portable, equipped with powerful optics and electronics for an exhilarating experience, and capable of seeing over 30,000 celestial bodies, this is either a great step-up telescope or a more flexible starter for astronomers who know they will need room to grow.
Getting started with astronomy is exciting for anyone who has stared up at the night sky and dreamed. And you only need an introductory telescope kit to get started learning about and loving stargazing.