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Best Telescope For Viewing Planets and Galaxies [Buyers Guide]

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

It needs to provide the power, while equally being easy enough to use. This way, you’ll spend more time observing planets and galaxies, and less time on the setup!

The problem is, picking the right telescope is quite a challenge. Besides, there are several different brands and models. All of which come with different specifications. 

There is also a lot of other factors like the intention of use, experience level, and budget.

Then there is the jargon!

So, to help make life easier, this buyer’s guide will help you to find the right scope, for you. 

Best Telescope For Viewing Planets and Galaxies

Editors Choice
Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000 Plus Celestial Objects - 6-Inch Primary Mirror
Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
Celestron - NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope - Compact and Portable - Newtonian Reflector Optical Design - SkyAlign Technology - Computerized Hand Control - 130mm Aperture
Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope for Adults - High Powered Beginner Astronomy Telescope for Moon, Planets & Deep-sky Objects
Product
Celestron NexStar 6SE
Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT Computerized
Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope
Aperture
150mm (6")
150mm (6")
254mm (10")
203mm (8")
Focal Length
1500mm
750mm
650mm
1200mm
Magnification
60x
75x
30x/19x
48x
Mount Type
Equatorial
Alt-Altazimuth
Alt-Altazimuth
Dobsonian
Weight
40 lbs
23.5 lbs
31.6 lbs
29.2 lbs
Editors Choice
Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000 Plus Celestial Objects - 6-Inch Primary Mirror
Product
Celestron NexStar 6SE
Aperture
150mm (6")
Focal Length
1500mm
Magnification
60x
Mount Type
Equatorial
Weight
40 lbs
Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
Product
Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
Aperture
150mm (6")
Focal Length
750mm
Magnification
75x
Mount Type
Alt-Altazimuth
Weight
23.5 lbs
Celestron - NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope - Compact and Portable - Newtonian Reflector Optical Design - SkyAlign Technology - Computerized Hand Control - 130mm Aperture
Product
Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT Computerized
Aperture
254mm (10")
Focal Length
650mm
Magnification
30x/19x
Mount Type
Alt-Altazimuth
Weight
31.6 lbs
Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope for Adults - High Powered Beginner Astronomy Telescope for Moon, Planets & Deep-sky Objects
Product
Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope
Aperture
203mm (8")
Focal Length
1200mm
Magnification
48x
Mount Type
Dobsonian
Weight
29.2 lbs

Telescope Details And Reviews

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

Celestron NexStar 6SE (Editors Choice)

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, it’s 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 it with you on the go, this would be a great option.

Pros

  • 6-inch Aperture means the 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.
  • The 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

  • The scope requires quite a high energy supply and thus goes through quite a few batteries (requires 8x AA).
Sale
Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000 Plus Celestial Objects - 6-Inch Primary Mirror
  • NEXSTAR 6SE COMPUTERIZED TELESCOPE: Celestron’s iconic orange tube telescope combines legendary 8" Schmidt-Cassegrian optics with updated technology and the latest features for an amazing stargazing experience for beginners and experienced observers..Resolution (Rayleigh) : 0.93 arc seconds. Resolution (Dawes) : 0.77 arc seconds.
  • 6-INCH APERTURE SCHMIDT-CASSEGRAIN TELESCOPE: Large, 6-inch primary mirror packs enough light-gathering ability to deliver impressive views of the Moon and planets, along with deep-sky objects like the Orion Nebula, while retaining a compact form.
  • FULLY-AUTOMATED GOTO MOUNT: With a database of 40,000+ celestial objects, NexStar SE's GoTo mount locates and tracks objects for you. It's the perfect telescope for astronomy beginners. NexStar SE is also compatible with StarSense and SkyPortal WiFi.
  • EASY TO SET UP & USE: Assembling the telescope takes just a few minutes.Once you're set up, built-in SkyAlign technology helps you align the telescope fast. When you're done observing, the telescope breaks down into small components for easy storage.
  • UNBEATABLE WARRANTY & SUPPORT: Buy with confidence from Celestron, a leading telescope brand in California since 1960. Your purchase includes a 2-Year US Warranty and unlimited support from our team of US-based experts.

Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope

Specifications

Aperture: 150mm (6 Inches)

Focal Length: 750mm

Magnification: 75x

Motorized: No 

Mount Type: Alt-Altazimuth

Equatorial Weight: 23.5 Pounds

Summary:

Turning to a Reflector Telescope, the Orion 6i IntelliScope 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 it’s smaller in size, it only weighs 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 is a lot more sturdy. Plus, setting it up is even more straightforward.

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 that helps you aim.

Pros

  • 6-inch Aperture means the 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

  • 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.
Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
  • Clever tabletop reflector telescope can lead beginners and experienced amateurs to more than 14,000 celestial objects with its easy to use push-to IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator
  • Substantial 6" aperture optics reveal sharp views of the Moon and bright planets like Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn
  • 750mm focal length (f/5.0) optics provide contrast-rich views of brighter deep sky objects like nebulas, galaxies, and sparkling star clusters
  • Compact design gives the Orion StarBlast 6i great grab-and-go portability - weighs just 23.5 lbs. Age Range-13 years
  • Includes IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator, 25mm and 10mm Sirius Plossl 1.25" telescope eyepieces, EZ Finder II aiming device, eyepiece rack, Starry Night software, and more!

Celestron Nexstar 130 SLT Computerized

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

  • 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

  • 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.
Celestron - NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope - Compact and Portable - Newtonian Reflector Optical Design - SkyAlign Technology - Computerized Hand Control - 130mm Aperture
  • Compact and portable: This telescope for adults and kids to be used together is ideal for weekend camping trips or excursions to dark sky sites; Its compact form factor makes it easy to transport and assemble just about anywhere
  • Flash upgradeable hand control software and motor control units for downloading product updates over the Internet
  • SkyAlign allows you to align on any three bright celestial objects, making for a fast and easy alignment process
  • COMPACT AND PORTABLE: This telescope for adults and kids to be used together is ideal for weekend camping trips or excursions to dark sky sites; Its compact form factor makes it easy to transport and assemble just about anywhere

Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Specifications

Aperture: 203mm (8 Inches)

Focal Length: 900mm

Magnification: 48x

Motorized: No

Mount Type: Dobsonian 

Equatorial Weight: 29.2 Pounds

Summary:

The second Orion Telescope to make the list, and rightly so. 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 8″ 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 Saturn rings clearly with this telescope.

Beyond this, the SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian is brilliant for locating and viewing stars in the milky way and nebulas.

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

  • Not pre-assembled and takes up to an hour to set up from the box.
Orion 10014 SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope
  • Compact and lightweight - a perfect Dobsonian reflector telescope for traveling or easy trips to the backyard at home
  • 4.5" aperture and 900mm focal length provide clear views of lunar craters and plains on the Moon, planets, bright nebulas and galaxies
  • Sturdy and portable Dobsonian base and handy navigation knob allow for effortless maneuvering of the reflector optical tube. Focal ratio - f/7.9. Resolving power - 1.02arc*sec
  • Collects a whopping 260% more light than a typical beginner-level 60mm refractor telescope - which means hundreds more objects will be visible through the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian
  • Includes two eyepieces (25mm and 10mm focal length Sirius Plossl), 6x30 finder scope, 1.25" rack and pinion focuser, collimation cap, eyepiece rack, Starry Night astronomy software, and more!

Telescope Buyers 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?
  • What’s 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.

It’s 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, the 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 telescope’s 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 by 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.

How To Decide On The Perfect Telescope For You

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

Magnification Power

Generally, magnification is the 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 provide 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 they 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 telescope 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 into 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 an amount that has a clock drive to follow the rotation of the earth.  

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 the recommended choice is the Celestron NexStar 6 SE