Choosing a telescope for your kid can be a challenge, but with the right information, you can make an informed decision. With so many options, brands and varieties, it can become quite overwhelming. I know full well, because I’ve been there!
This guide will help you to identify what you need to consider, and then the best and recommended options which take all of these factors into account.
By the end of this guide you will be in a position to commit to a telescope and get your child a gift that they will never forget.
- 1 How To Choose A Telescope For Kids
- 2 What to Look For In The Telescope
- 3 The Best Telescopes For Children
- 4 Best for Kids Under 6:
- 5 Final Words
How To Choose A Telescope For Kids
Being naturally curious and fascinated by space, a telescope is the ideal equipment for a child’s inquisitive mind. However, if it is not the right telescope to begin with you will find that stargazing soon loses its appeal.
The following are factors that you need to consider when choosing a telescope:
Easy to Set Up/ Use
The ideal telescope for your child will be one that is as easy to set up and use as possible. It should have a low learning curve, and be intuitive for a young mind.
This way, the kid can learn to use the telescope independently and this will give them a lot more enjoyment than any dependence on yourself of your partner.
A lot of telescopes are actually very specialized and complicated pieces of equipment. Therefore, a lot of the telescopes available on the market are not suitable or even ideal for a young child.
If your kid is unable to use, understand, or observe the night sky with their new telescope then it will end up being a negative experience and thus a neglected gift that is not used.
Telescopes that were designed for kids in mind are easy to set up, come with minimal parts, and enable your child to work with and use them with minimal steps. This is key to getting your child interested in the solar system and space and prevent frustration and boredom along the way.
Ultimately, one of the biggest mistakes many people make is not taking a child’s increased impatience into account. Generally the longer and more difficult it is to use and set up, the higher the chances that your child will revert back to TV or their iPad!
What Comes Included? (Any Accessories)
If you are purchasing a telescope as a gift, you’ll also want to consider what comes included in the box (or on the order). Not only for your wallet (because it will cost you later down the line) but also for the purposes of enjoyment.
Star Charts, Planetarium Software or a Planisphere are great for beginners, particularly children. These resources will help your child identify and thus observe new things in the sky which is essential for keeping them engaged.
Beyond this you want to ensure that the Telescope comes with other accessories to improve the specification of the scope. Component parts like Eyepieces, Barlow Lenses and Finderscopes are all fantastic pieces of equipment to beginner astronomers.
Be cautious and wary of certain brands, models and telescope types. Some telescopes are actually ‘Toys’, which are typically made of cheap material (plastic) and they are not powerful enough to see anything of significance in the sky. They usually do not come with any accessories and do not provide you with clear indications on their specification.
To avoid this mistake, its always recommended to purchase from a reputable astronomy manufacturer like Celestron or Orion. Additionally you are going to want to check closely the product description and any reviews that can be found on the model you are considering. (The best models are to follow in the section below). This is why it is recommended to purchase a telescope directly from Amazon as you can quickly compare models, types and brands.
If you cannot find all of the information you need, its always good to contact the manufacturer ahead of any purchase. The worst thing possible is to get your kid a toy telescope that will end up severely restricting their views – leading to disappointment.
Branded Telescopes Are Best
As previously mentioned, it is strongly advised that you purchase a branded telescope. This will ensure you are purchasing one of high-quality, that is well-constructed and should last a long time. The best astronomy equipment manufacturers make their telescopes for beginners easier to use and more simple in their design; they do not limit or reduce the quality of the optics or other important components.
The majority of the premium and widely acclaimed astronomy manufactures (like Celestron and Orion) have designed telescopes exclusively for kids. These are some of the best telescopes to take a look at and to start researching; for they will have a lot of customer reviews and a long history of favorable experiences.
What to Look For In The Telescope
Now we have briefly looked at some of the specific factors to consider, we will now discuss some of the specifics. These are some of the other things that you need to consider to ensure you get the right one for your child:
The Aperture is perhaps the most significant feature of a telescope. This simply means the amount of light that the telescope can capture (the more light, the more you can see). Thus, Larger Aperture Telescopes will give your children brighter, clearer images. However, this all comes with a caveat – the larger the Aperture, the larger the telescope (because the Aperture is dictated by the size of the lenses). Therefore its important you get a balance for your child to ensure power meats portability.
Type of Telescope
Typically, there are three types of Telescopes available to you and your child:
- Refractor or
There are pros and cons to each different version, but here’s a quick summary.
Reflector telescopes are primarily used for Celestial viewing (night sky) whereas Refractor and Compound telescopes can view both (the land and the sky).
They are usually smaller, take up less space and are usually more affordable if your child is more interested in astronomy. However, Reflectors will require some ongoing maintenance.
Refractor Telescopes are generally longer and thinner but will be great for your kid if they are looking to use their telescope for more than just on the planets and stars.
Compound Telescopes are designed with two mirrors. This gives them more power (can see further with higher magnification) but images display dimmer than Reflector/Refractors. They are therefore more ideal for Astrophotography.
Magnification (ability to zoom in) is dictated by eyepiece(s) provided and included with the Telescope.
High magnification is important, but Aperture is more so. Whats the use of seeing further if its blurry? Thus, a high magnification eyepiece is largely ineffective on a telescope with low Aperture. Thankfully, most telescopes comes with several eyepieces, for different viewing purposes.
The Best Telescopes For Children
Depending on the age of your child, will depend on what telescope may be best for them. As such, we have provided the top three scopes for kids under the age of 6 and then above:
Best for Kids Under 6:
A telescope for a child under 6 are generally smaller, can be be adjusted to different and lower heights and they include designs desired by younger children. The majority of telescopes for this age group are Refractors. Here are the highest rated on Amazon:
Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ
✔️ Quick and Easy Set Up – No Tools Required
✔️ Easily Operated – Simple controls to move the scope slowly
✔️ Excellent Eyepiece; 175X magnification (enables views of Planets and their details)
✔️ “TheSkyX” astronomy software included – to help plan and print sky maps.
Black Twinstar 60mm
✔️ Two Eyepieces Included (15x and 50x Magnifications)
✔️ Includes an Altazimuth Mount (for easy, two-axis adjustments)
✔️ Full-sized tripod (can be adjusted to your kids height + as your kid grows)
✔️ Viewfinder included. Helps kids identify and track objects before observing them. Esepcially helpful with higher magnification eyepiece.
✔️ Available in Black/Pink (suitable for boys and girls).
Twinstar Astromark 50mm
✔️ Several Accessories Included (Detailed Maps, Astronomy Computer Software, Telescope Assembly Instruction Guide, Glow in the Dark Stickers)
✔️ Two Eyepieces Included (30x and 48x Magnification)
✔️ Full-sized tripod (can be adjusted to your kids height + as your kid grows)
✔️ Two-axis Altazimuth Mount; easy to move, adjust and point.
Best for Kids Over 6:
If your child is over 6, you are going to want to get a telescope that can be used as your child ages and grows. Therefore, it makes sense to invest in a high-spec telescope that you can get for good value. The telescopes below are excellent for observing the sky and are of premium quality to last for years. In terms of power, these can essentially be used by even adult astronomers!
Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerised
✔️ Unrivaled Clear, Bright and Sharp Views – 5x Brighter than standard telescopes
✔️ Includes a Computerized Hand Control to automatically point the telescope to on object of choice (over 4,000 objects to choose from).
✔️ Convenient, Easy to Set Up, Easy Transportable
Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ Reflector
✔️ Very Easy Set Up; no Tools Required.
✔️ Slow motion controls to track objects closely in the Sky.
✔️ Coated-glass Optics
✔️ 3x Barlow Lens (for extra Magnification if required – excellent for planetary viewing).
Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector
✔️ Designed with a diffraction-limited parabolic mirror (used in premium, more expensive telescopes). Provides sharper images.
✔️ 5 inch Aperture (perfect for views of Planets, Moon, Galaxies, Nebulae, and Star Clusters.)
✔️ Portable and easily transportable – weighs only 25 pounds.
✔️ Finderscope included to quickly identify objects
✔️ Slow-motion controls make this very easy to work with.
Getting the right telescope for your kid is essential if you want them to have a positive experience and continue using it for years to come.
Ensuring that it is easy to set up, use, transport and is powerful enough to provide crisp and clear views of objects in the night sky are just some of the factors to consider. Otherwise, you can be sure that your child will get bored quickly and lose interest.
The telescopes included at the bottom of this article will help you to find the best models. These are the most purchased, highest reviewed and most recommended telescopes for children.