Best Telescope For Viewing Planets and Galaxies [Buyers Guide]

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If you want to observe the night sky, and partake in Astronomy, then you’re going to need a great Telescope.

You are going to want to purchase one that comes well equipped with the best spec, comes highly regarded and that you can get at a reasonable price.

The problem is, picking the right scope is quite a challenge with all the different brands, models and spec that they each provide. There is also a lot of other factors like intention of use, experience level and budget.

This buying guide will help you identify the Best Telescope For Viewing Planets and Galaxies, for you.

By the end you will be equipped with all the knowledge that you need to make an informed decision and get the best scope to see the sky.

If you wanted to get a quick overview of the telescopes covered in this guide:

 

If you are looking for a new telescope, these are the questions that you probably will want to ask:

  • What type of telescopes do I need for the best clarity of the night sky?
  • What features should I be looking for?
  • Whats a good price for a telescope?
  • Where can I use each telescope?
  • Do I require any experience to use a telescope?

These are the very questions new astronomers face, and that we aim to cover in this article today.

What Makes a Great Telescope; The Things To Look For

When it comes to buying a Telescope for home use, there are several things that you will want to consider before you go ahead and invest.

As understanding Telescope Spec can be quite technical, I have broken down some of the elements that dictate the power, strength and efficiency of telescopes below.

Its important to note that when it comes to buying or using a telescope, there are several terms that you may be unfamiliar with. Do not worry – you will not need to learn all of these below and you will not need to take them into consideration when using your Scope. However, the below will help you to better understand your telescope and how it works.

Generally expressed, focal length is the distance (given in millimeters) between the telescope’s primary lens or mirror and the point where the light rays come together in focus.

Focal Length

The Focal Length is the distance from the center of the telescope lens and the point where light comes together in focus.

Typically, telescopes are comprised of two parts. These are

  1. Optical tube – this consists of the objective lens (known as “Refractor” Telescopes) or
  2. Main concave mirror (known as “Reflector” Telescopes).

In other words, imagine that the focal length dictates the strength of the telescope. How much you can see and how far you can magnify.

Basically, the higher the focal length of the telescope, the larger objects in the sky will appear to you.

Aperture Size

The aperture size is one of the other crucial factors that you should look out for. This is because it is essential for how much you will ultimately be able to see.

This is the diameter of the Telescope.

Now if you have ever wondered why Telescopes range in size. This is why. The size of a Telescope and its resolving power are closely tied together.

So, the more resolving power a telescope has, the more it can show details more finely.

In a nutshell, the higher your Telescopes resolving power, the clearer it will be able to show objects in the sky.

This is why you see those gigantic telescopes used by professional astronomers. As they are so large, these huge telescopes can gather more light, and see proportionately far more finer objects, more clearly, in the sky.

If you live in an area where there is pollution, or where there is light clouding quite often, then the Aperture size is going to be something you really need to consider.

Focal Ratio

The Focal Ratio of a telescope dictates the image quality that it can provide.

It is a ratio that is calculated by dividing the diameter of the telescope by the focal length.

The best way to understand what the Focal Ratio does is considering the following scenarios:

If you have two telescopes with an identical focal length, but one of them had a higher focal ratio, the one with the higher focal ratio will have a larger diameter.

Similarly, say you have two telescopes with the same aperture size, but one has a larger focal length, the one with the larger focal length will be a much longer telescope.

In both of the examples above, this is likely to be problematic. Especially if you are looking to take your Telescope out with you on trips (you would want it to be transportable!)

The Mount

The mount provides the foundations for your Telescope. It is the stand that forms the base and that holds all of the other parts up.

As it is responsible for bearing the weight of expensive equipment, it is a critical component to a telescope.

This is one area where I recommend that you invest and get the best you can. As it forms the base of the Telescope, its secondary purpose is to stabilize the telescope – the sturdier it is, the better it will hold its ground against any wind.

There are typically two types of mounts available:

1. Equatorial (Enables you to follow moving objects in the sky)

2. Alt- Azimuth (Fixed Tripod)

Equatorial Mounts have become quite advanced in recent years; some even enable you to aim the Telescope at astronomical objects automatically! This is done via a computer with stored data on the various astronomical objects – intelligence that helps the telescope lock onto the objects when identified.

Ultimately it depends on your preferences and what type of Stargazer you want to be.

Nonetheless, investing in a good, solid and stable mount is highly recommended.

Best Telescope For Viewing Planets and Galaxies

As you are probably aware of, there are a lot different types, models and brands of telescope available to buy. Each comes with its own features and specs.

Below, we list the best telescopes for beginners in 2019 with a high-level overview of each scope.

Celestron NexStar 6SE (Editors Choice)


Celestron NexStar

 
Specifications

Aperture: 150mm (6 Inches)

Focal Length: 1500mm

Magnification: 300x

Motorized: No

Mount Type: Computerized Alt-Azimuth

Weight: 30 Pounds

Batteries Required? Yes – 8 AA

Summary:

The Celestron NexStar 6SE telescope is regarded as one of, if not, the best telescopes from one of the most respected manufacturers for Astronomy Equipment.

If you are just starting out in astronomy, or even if you are looking to upgrade your current scope, you should definitely consider it. 

The main feature of the NexStar 6SE is that it comes with a professional computerized mount and monitoring software.

You are not just getting a high-quality scope here – you also get printable sky maps, 75 enhanced photographs, and a 10,000-object database. This is an ideal and excellent way to improve your knowledge and understanding of space and the universe, particularly if you are a beginner.

This telescope is great for on the go, its very easy to set up and work with, and in terms of performance, its one of the best available on the market.

Whether you decide to set it up in your home, or take with you on the go, this would be a great option.

Pros

Pros
  • 6-inch Aperture means improved light-gathering ability for detailed views of the Moon, Planets and Deep Sky Objects
  • Completely automated GoTo mount and database of 40,000+ celestial objects. This telescope automatically locates and tracks objects for you.
  • SkyAlign technology aligns your telescope quickly and effortlessly making it excellent for beginners who do not know the positions of objects in the sky.
  • Designed with a single arm fork and a sturdy steel tripod; so if you decide to take this scope outside, it will be able to resist pretty strong winds.
  • Telescope can be disassembled into separate components making it easily transportable and easier and quicker to assemble. (roughly 2-5 minutes)
  • Optical Coatings and Star diagonal included.
  • Components like the Finderscope provide you with a range of advanced functionality that professional astronomers use, but at a fraction of the price that these professional scopes typically cost.

Cons

Cons
  • The scope requires quite a high energy supply and thus a few batters (8x AA).

Orion 10016 Starblast 6 Astro Reflector

Orion Starblast 6 Astro Reflector

Specifications

Aperture: 150mm (6 Inches)

Focal Length: 750mm

Magnification: 300x

Motorized: No 

Mount Type: Alt-Altazimuth

Equatorial Weight: 23.5 Pounds

Summary:

Turning to a Reflector Telescope, the Orion Starblast is another widely used and recommended scopes by budding and more experienced astronomers. Being a reflector telescope, you will use it through a simple ‘point and view’ process. As such, it’s very easy to use.

With this kind of telescope you’re really looking for high quality spec. Thankfully this Orion comes with  6” aperture reflector optics meaning you get enhanced detail when viewing the planets and the rest of the universe. You can expect to see galaxies, collections of stars and even nebulas with this scope.

Having a tabletop design, it’s a very versatile scope that is easy to transport around your house depending on what window you want to look out of. As its smaller in size, it only weights 23.5 lbs which is about a third of the weight of most telescopes.

Being shorter in length and not having a mount means that it a lot more sturdy. Plus, setting it up is even more straight forward.

You also get quite a lot of extras with this scope, including 2 eyepieces (25m + 10mm), a rack to store your eyepieces and a device help you aim.

Pros

Pros
  • 6-inch Aperture means improved light-gathering ability for detailed views of the Moon, Planets and Deep Sky Objects
  • User Friendly – Simple point-and-view Telescope, pre-assembled in the box.
  • Compact Tabletop Design; weighs only 23 lbs – excellent for moving around the house.
  • Includes 25mm and 10mm Sirius Plossl 1.25″ telescope eyepieces, EZ Finder II aiming device and an eyepiece rack
  • Starry Night software teaches you how to use the scope and get the best views possible.

Cons

Cons
  • A 2mm Hex (Allen) key is required to rotate and tilt the secondary mirror, however, this is not included in the box.
  • A careful and constant collimation is necessary if you want sharp images.

Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT Computerized

Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope

Specifications

Aperture: 254mm (10 Inches)

Focal Length: 650mm

Magnification: 307x/19x

Motorized: Yes

Mount Type: Alt-Altazimuth

Equatorial Weight: 31.6 Pounds

Computerized hand control: (4,000+ object database – 600 galaxies, 300 clusters, Dozens of Stars)

Summary:

The next telescope on this list also comes from Celestron; it is a slightly cheaper and more affordable scope to the one above but this doesn’t mean that it is any less impressive.

Having an Alt-Altazimuth mount and with the inclusion of the StarPointer Finderscope, enables the telescope to automatically locate, and point to objects in the sky. All you need to do is enter the current date and time, and your exact location and the scope does the rest! This is therefore excellent if you are a beginner because the scope can start to teach you where and how to look into the night sky.

There is also a handy component called SkyAlign which enables you to align on at least 3 celestial objects in the sky.

This is considered the go-to for new astronomers; due to the power of the scope and the teaching element that it can provide.

Regarding price, it’s very respectable and slightly cheaper than others on this list. This being, because it is meant as an entry-level scope.

As it is made by Celestron, set up only takes a few minutes as their innovative designs enable you to assemble the scope quickly after unboxing.

Pros

Pros
  • Fully computerized Go-To Telescope.
  • Hand control has a 4,000+ object database. This includes more than 600 galaxies, 300 star clusters and several binary stars
  • SkyAlign technology aligns your telescope quickly and effortlessly making it excellent for beginners who do not know the positions of objects in the sky.
  • Compact and Portable
  • Sky Tour Functionality enables you to observe the best objects visible based on your exact time and location.

Cons

Cons
  • Takes some time and practice to master the SkyAlign functionality.
  • It is not possible to store your location data. So if you want to use this telescope at home and use the StarPointer functionality, you will need to enter your location each and every use.

Orion 10014 SkyQuest Xt4.5 Classic Dobsonion

Orion 10014 SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Specifications

Aperture: 114mm (10 Inches)

Focal Length: 900mm

Magnification: 228x

Motorized: No

Mount Type: Dubsonion

Equatorial Weight: 17.6 Pounds

Summary:

The second Orion Telescope to make the list; similarly, it is a Reflector Telescope. This is therefore a suitable and useful scope for easy ‘point and view’ stargazing, and is a great option regardless of your experience level.

It’s very well constructed and designed, being very portable and easy to use.

The reflector tube on the Orion SkyQuest is a large 4.5″ diameter light-gathering mirror that is held within a steel tube.

If you are wondering what this means; it is that this mirror is able to pull an extra 260% more starlight than a 60mm lens.

If you want to study the moon, then this is an ideal telescope.

This is because it provides a far reaching focal length added to the fact the f/8 focal ratio gives you more crisp views.  You’ll be pleased to learn that you can see Jupiter’s Stripes, nearby moons and Saturns rings clearly with this telescope.

Beyond this, the SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonion is brilliant for locating and viewing stars in the milky way and nebulas.

Pros

Pros
  • Simple point-and-view Telescope, making it easy to use
  • Entry-level price with additional accessories including 2x Barlow Lenses.
  • MoonMap, Telescope Observer’s Guide Book and Star Target Planisphere provide you with objects to observe and things to look out for,
  • RedBeam Mini LED light emits a red light to help you see in dark-conditions.

Cons

Cons
  • Not pre-assembled and takes up to an hour to set up from the box
  • Aperture is only 4.5″ so gathers less light than the Celestron Models above

Meade Instruments Infinity 102 MM AZ Refractor

Meade Instruments Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope

Specifications

Aperture: 102mm (4Inches)

Focal Length: 600mm

Magnification: 228x

Motorized: No

Mount Type: Alt-Altazimuth

Equatorial Weight: 5.5 Pounds

Summary:

If you are in the market for an entry-level telescope, then the Meade Infinity 102 mm AZ Refractor Telescope should be worthy of your consideration.

It provides steller performance and looks fantastic too. The Alt-Altazimuth mount provides you with slow motion control so that you can track objects in the night sky easily and effectively.

You get three eyepieces with this scope (6.3mm, 9mm, 26mm) and the Barlow Lens ensures you can view a wide range of objects that include the moon and the planets.

The Stainless Steel Tripod comes with a handy little accessory tray, and being only 5.5 pounds in weight makes it another brilliant and transportable scope.

Pros

Pros
  • Three Magnification Eyepieces included: Low (26mm), Medium (9mm), and High (6.3mm) provides you with the ability to observe in a variety of viewing situations. 2x Barlow Lens are included to double the magnifying power of each eyepiece
  • Red dot Viewfinder assists you when observing objects, by helping you align and point your scope.  
  • Includes AutoStar Astronomical Software (10,000 objects) and Instructional DVD
  • Right-side up image means you can use it for daytime observing
  • Refractor means you don’t have mirrors to align (collimate); it’s ready to go out of the box

Cons

Cons
  • This telescope operates via right, left, up and down controls. This makes it more difficult to use, compared to an EQ mount that turns with the earths rotation.
  • Plastic is used widely across the telescope, making it more fragile and likely to break.
  • Difficult to view overhead as the Mount and Optical Tube can interfere with one another.

Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ Reflector Telescope

Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope

Specifications

Aperture: 127mm (5 Inches)

Focal Length: 1000mm

Magnification: 250x

Motorized: No

Mount Type: Equatorial

Equatorial Weight: 17 Pounds

Summary:

The Celestron PowerSeeker is brilliant telescope to view the planets and galaxies – doubling up as a scope for terrestrial and astronomical use.

Requiring no tools to set up, it also comes with an accessory tray to store and protect all the valuable accessories it comes with.

Some of these include the 3x Barlow Lens which enable you to triple the magnifying power of each of the 3 eyepieces included.

This telescope provides an ability to track objects very smoothly and finely, and the fully coated glass optical components provide extreme levels of clarity and brightness regardless of what you decide to view.

The PowerSeeker range is there to provide the optimal balance value, features, quality and power, and that is exactly what you get with this scope.

Pros

Pros
  • Equatorial Mount means extra stability and ability to leverage slow-motion control. This helps track objects more closely and seamlessly
  • Fully coated glass optical components with high transmission coatings for enhanced image brightness and clarity.
  • You get 3x Barlow lens, which is very generous and useful. These are ideal for extra magnification into the night sky.
  • Erect Image Optics ensures you view Images the right way up – great for land and sky viewing.
  • 2 Year Warranty Included in Purchase.
  • The Sky Planetarium software included that has 10,000 objects.

Cons

Cons
  • As its a Newtonian Reflector telescope, the main mirror is likely to be exposed to air and dust.
  • Finderscope is not quite up to standard; takes time to line it up with the Telescope (thankfully the Finderscope can be replaced as it detaches) 
  • Not as stable as other telescopes as the tripod is made of plastic opposed to steel.
  • Not ideal to travel with; difficult and somewhat time consuming to collimate.

Celestron 21035 70MM Travel Scope

Celestron 21035 70MM Travel Scope

Specifications

Aperture: 70mm (2.75 Inches)

Focal Length: 400mm

Magnification: 165x

Motorized: No

Mount Type: Alt-Azimuth

Equatorial Weight: 3 Pounds

Summary:

This is the budget transportable telescope, but it may be just what you are looking for. Compared to other scopes on the list, the power is a lot more limited with only a 70mm aperture, 400mm focal length and 165x magnification.

Nonetheless, this scope provides more than enough power for seeing terrestrial and astronomical objects, so is suitable if you are part-time stargazer and are not looking for the best spec.

While its relatively cheap, it is still built with some very high-quality materials to help you get the best views.

The Travel Scope is a really handle, portable scope that was intended for use on the go. As such, you get a neat bag to store and carry it in and it weighs only 3 lbs.

Pros

Pros
  • Designed to be used on the go; lightweight frame that weighs only 3 lbs. You can quickly and easily carry it to the next spot.
  • Fully Coated Glass Optics, Alt-Az Pan Handle Control and Adjustable Height Tripod make this easy to use and accurate,
  • You get a nice backpack to store and protect the scope in.
  • Very affordable, and additional accessories included: two eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm), 45° erect image diagonal, and 5×24 finderscope

Cons

Cons
  • Power and functionality far inferior to other telescopes on the list; meaning you cannot see as far or as clearly as the other models.
  • Better used as a guide scope rather than use in its own right.

How to Decide On the Perfect Scope For You

All telescopes are routinely rated and compared against the following criteria:

Magnification Power

Generally, magnification is factor that solar telescopes are heavily reliant on.

Magnification power is essentially the ability to focus on a specific part of the sky. In other words, the more magnification the telescope states to have, the more it can focus. It is all dependent on the Focal Length of the telescope.

What you will routinely find is that most telescopes are built to work with the smallest amount of magnification possible, so that you can see a larger part of the sky.

The distance you can see and the level of clarity are not actually reliant on the magnification power of the telescope. Instead, this is down to the light collecting ability and the resolution.

Quality

A telescope is only effective as the components that it includes. For example, it needs to have high-quality components to use the light that it captures.

Light-Collecting Ability

Objects in Space and the Universe that are hardest to see are usually: furthest away and do not produce a lot of light.

Therefore, the more your telescope can acquire light, the better it will be able to produce clarity and vision to these objects.

This is why you want to look for telescopes with large mirrors and lenses.

Resolution

Resolution regards how clearly you see an object. Telescopes with the best resolution equally provides the best sights, and work with the light to separate objects more easily.

What you will find, is that with telescopes that have low resolution, objects appear blurred as it cannot use the light very effectively.

Aperture is the most significant thing to look for in a telescope.

It is recommended that you do not go below 4″ in aperture if you want to see the planets, galaxies and stars.

Final Words and Verdict

Each and every telescopes included in this list can show all of the planets like Jupiter (and its various moons), Saturn and its multiple rings, Mars and not forgetting Venus.

The more expensive telescopes in the list, particularly the Celestron Scopes, will enable you to see further and planets like Uranus and Neptune.

If by now you are yet to make a decision, here are the last couple of the things that will help you make your choice.

With telescopes, the bigger the better. This is purely down to the fact that they can collect more light. And more light means more visibility and focus. This is especially true for dim objects that do not give off much, if any, light.

When making a decision, you should always factor in any additional purchases.

Accessories like eyepieces are necessary, but most of the time their price is n not factored in to the overall telescope cost.

Eyepieces tend to come together, and you usually purchase them in a set. When it comes to choosing eyepieces, always opt for those with the highest magnification.

Additionally, some telescopes are designed with a computer controlled mount. These will ensure that the telescope is grounded each time you move to focus on a new planet, or star.

Another final thing to consider is the purpose. What are you going to be using your telescope for? Will it be for stargazing or photography?

If your answer is stargazing, a solid and stable alt-azimuth mount will be best because you can spend your time viewing space and not have to constantly readjust.

Alternatively, if you are looking to take pictures (known as Astrophotography) then you are going to require a mount that has a clock drive to follow the earths rotation.  

This will enable you to track objects in space for longer, as the telescope will realign your focus by following the Earth’s rotation.

Ultimately, bigger is better, but this may not be preferable for you depending on when and where you want to use your new scope. Ask yourself, do you want to take it outside with you? If so, you’re going to need to choose a scope that is easy to assemble and easily transportable.

In conclusion, we have provided you with an overview, summary and review of the best telescopes currently available in 2019.

Our premium and recommended choice is the Celestron NexStar 6 SE

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