Buying your first telescope can be daunting, we have so many different models to choose from in so many different styles. The below models are our recommendations at 3 different price ranges, all aimed at beginners.
For an overview of telescope terminology, please read our guide.
If you are interested in a telescope for land-based objects, please see our spotting scope guide.
A little table top scope. It is one of the best in its price range for the large 100mm aperture. Easy to follow manuals and low magnification means beginners and children don't get lost trying to align the scope on the targeted subject. The entire unit is small and portable, but it can be mounted onto a larger tripod.
This classic Dobsonian design offers amazing value for money, with a huge 8-inch aperture in a body that collapses for transport. The 8-inch aperture renders so much detail out of so many objects that it is something most people never upgrade. It comes with an optical finderscope for easy target location and handling has been thought about too, with a handle for easy setup. It is perfect for a new user who has a interest in astronomy, and is wanting a bright and clear image.
Featuring a GOTO system, a SCT optical design for compact, powerful performance and many different accessories available, such as WIFI dongles to automatic alignment tools, it's not hard to see why the Nexstar 6SE ranks at the top of most sites in terms of sales.
Perfect for the beginner astrophotographer as well as observation. It also comes in a 8" model, for those looking for a brighter but not as portable option.
Are you really interested in Astromony and are looking for a telescope that is going to grow with you then this list is for you. The telescopes below have excellent features, build quality and optics in their price range.
It's just so big. For it's price it offers fantastic value for money due to it's massive 12" mirror. It's not flashy with goto controls or wifi, but a simple to use, high quality product for intermediate users. It is big in real life which is why it's not on the beginners list though does collapse down to be transported and stored. Finding objects is easy too, with something so bright it's hard to miss.
The natural evolution of the classic SE range, these new units have built in wifi for smartphone and tablet control, internal brass gears for better tracking, manual clutch control and a built in lithium battery for a completely transportable unit.
These scopes come in a 6",8" and 9.25" versions, Depending on your budget and travel requirements. If your not sure what to get, the evolution is very expandable for all of your needs in the future.
The payload is well within the mounts specifications and the triplet refractor offers a fast and easy camera attachment system. Later down the line, the setup can be easily upgraded with an autoguiding system. It's ideal for taking photos of the planets and widefield astrophotography in high amounts of detail.
Accessories are required such as a power tank or ac adapter for the mount and camera attachments for the Telescope. To know what attachments would be best for your camera gear please contact us.
Unlike the other Top 3 lists, this won't be in any order. As all advanced level telescopes are typically OTA (Optical Tube Assembly) or mount only, and when you are at this level you are getting a scope for a specific use.
The monstrous 20" Skygate from Skywatcher is a big telescope to say the least. Jaw dropping images of space are possible when you have this much light gathering at your fingertips. It's 20% brighter than a 16" and is designed to be setup on site. It's just possible with one person (and a ladder) and the scope comes in either goto or manual versions. Here is a video of someone setting it up for the sense of scale.
Mount: SkyWatcher AZ-EQ6 GT
This trio of products combines well to make a fantastic, world-class astrophotography setup. Featuring the world-class optics, a belt instead of gear tracking and an easy to use guiding solution you will be taking great shots of our night sky in no time.
They are sold as parts and other adapters may be required depending on your camera. This scope can also be used visually with eyepieces (1.25 or 2").
SkyWatcher's AZ-EQ6 mount not only does great EQ movement but offers a fast to align AZ mode for a quick visual session.
This scope comes in bigger aperture sizes than a 9.25", but the 9.25" seems to be the best fit for Celestron's new CGX mount. The Edge HD optics render tons of star detail when used with a camera.
The mount's modern design is portable and easy to use, and the motor uses the belt tracking for a quiet, smooth experience.
Compatible with numerous accessories, like the Celestron StarSense which greatly simplifies the setup process. Comes in all sizes up to a 14" HD on a CGX-L mount.