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Best Telescopes Under $200 – Reviews & Top Picks 2020

Last Updated on August 19, 2020

A blue refractor telescope

The quality of your telescope can have a major impact on your overall user experience. While a high-end unit will empower you to literally look up into the heavens, a bad product is essentially useless.

Finding quality options at an affordable price can be fairly tricky, but not impossible. After scouring the market for many hundreds of different pieces of optical equipment, we were able to find five affordable options that will treat you to a good experience at a great price.

So, let’s get right down to it, shall we? Read on for some affordable telescope reviews!

A Quick Summary of our Favorites in 2020

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Meade Infinity Meade Infinity
  • Easy to adjust
  • Red dot viewfinder
  • User-friendly features
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Gskyer 70400 Gskyer 70400
  • Affordable
  • High quality optics
  • Supplementary material provided
  • Third place
    Orion StarBlast Orion StarBlast
  • It’s a reflector
  • Compact dimensions
  • Includes “solar system” software
  • Celestron AstroMaster Celestron AstroMaster
  • Lightweight frame
  • Specialty coated lenses
  • Comprehensive package
  • Best Budget Buy
    Emarth 70mm Refractor Emarth 70mm Refractor
  • Easy to setup
  • For an absolute beginner
  • Two-year money-back guarantee
  • The 8 Best Telescopes Under $200

    1. Meade Instruments Telescope – Best Overall

    Meade Instruments 209006

    The Meade Instruments 209006 Infinity takes the day on our list. We chose this unit as our top pick because it is a great easy-to-use telescope and gateway to the world of stargazing.

    The Meade Instruments is easy to adjust and even features a red dot sightline that will make locking into your targeted area much simpler. The user-friendly features extend all the way down to the supplemental features included in the package.

    In addition to getting the telescope, you’ll also receive an instructional DVD that orients you to how telescopes work, and what you should be looking for.

    There is not much to speak of in terms of shortcomings. You will notice that it pushes the limits of our price threshold. If you are looking for something significantly under the $200 mark, you’ll probably want to read on as we get into some really affordable picks. Otherwise, it is a really good beginner telescope.

    Pros
    • Easy to adjust
    • Site line makes it easy to find what you are looking for
    • Supplemental material helps you to figure out your telescope
    Cons
    • Pushes the limits of our product’s price threshold

    2. Gskyer 70400 Telescope – Best Value

    Gskyer Telescope

    If you liked the features of our top choice, but not the price, you may find the Gskyer to be a more attractive option. For half the money, you get a product that is similarly easy to use.

    Like the Meade Instruments unit, this telescope features supplementary material that will help you acclimate to the practice of using a telescope. It even features a special attachment that allows you to hook your phone up to the piece.

    Through this accessory, you will be able to take high-quality pictures of the cosmos on your phone. You will, however, want to note that the optics aren’t quite as good with this unit as they are on some of our other picks. If you are looking for a product that will give you an exceptionally vivid look at space, you’ll want to keep looking.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Supplementary material provided to help you get used to the telescope
    • Can be used as an ultra extended lens for your phone
    Cons
    • Image quality is a little bit lacking

    3. Orion StarBlast Reflector Telescopes

    Orion 10015

    This preassembled telescope is advertised as a “grab and go” unit because everything about the design concept is engineered to be as low maintenance as possible.

    In addition to shipping preassembled, it is also compact enough to be stored on a tabletop or desk with ease. The attractive look will make it a fitting décor piece when not in use.

    However, when it is time to break the gear out, the Orion tends to be very easy to focus and adjust. It even includes specialty “solar system” software that helps you to easily learn the ins and outs of using this telescope.

    Keep in mind that because of the size of this unit, it is somewhat limited in what it is able to see. It’s also one of the more expensive options on our list today, which may be prohibitive for buyers on a budget.

    Pros
    • Easy to use
    • Compact dimensions
    • Great software for helping you use the telescope
    • It’s a reflector
    Cons
    • Limited range of vision
    • Not great for tight budgets

    4. Celestron AstroMaster Telescope

    Celestron

    In fourth place, we have a very basic and affordable, though ultimately still effective telescope. The Celestron AstroMaster features a lightweight frame and specialty coated lenses that are specifically designed to render high-quality images even in the dark.

    The kit comes with two different lenses, a stand, and a software program that will help you to get used to your new telescope.

    There is a durability problem that users should be on the lookout for. An ill-timed drop may very well mean the end of this telescope’s working days.

    It also doesn’t have the impressive range as some of the other products on our list. If you want something with a truly refined image quality, you’ll want to continue looking.

    Pros
    • Lightweight frame
    • Specialty coated lenses
    • Comprehensive package
    Cons
    • Image quality is only so-so

    5. Emarth Refractor Telescope – Best Budget Buy

    Emarth Telescope

    The Emarth is a refractor telescope that is specifically designed to be used by children. However, despite essentially being a child’s toy, it includes all of the same features you would expect to encounter with any of the other products on our list.

    The Emarth comes with several different lenses, a stand, and a case. It can also be set up easily without tools, and, perhaps best of all, you even get a guaranteed two-year time frame in which you can get your money back if you aren’t satisfied.

    Because this is a child’s toy, the focus on image quality and magnification abilities is not as high as is seen on some of the other products on our list.

    If you are buying this telescope for an absolute beginner it may serve as an excellent choice. However, more experienced buyers are likely to prefer something of a more refined quality.

    Pros
    • Easy to setup
    • Two-year money-back guarantee
    Cons
    • Very basic performance

    6. Orion Equatorial Refractor Telescope

    Orion Observer 80ST

    The Orion Observer is a refractor telescope that comes with a stand and carrying case. The mount is specifically designed for smooth operation. This feature makes it as easy as possible to track constellations.

    It also features proprietary software that will help you get used to using your telescope. You will want to keep in mind that the eyepiece here is not as comfortable as it could be. While many options will include a special rubberized guard that enhances the comfort factor, such is not the case here.

    Pros
    • High-quality mount
    • Specialty software
    Cons
    • Not very comfortable to use

    7. Celestron 127EQ Telescope

    Celestron 127eq

    Second to last, we feature the Celestron PowerSeeker. This unit is compact and easy to store, making it a good option for people who need to frequently transport their telescope.

    The knobs are also especially made to be easy to use and manipulate. The fine adjustment feature will be a welcome attribute for people who are not very used to using telescopes yet.

    It also features several different lenses that will give you a variety of viewing options, and special software that will help you acquaint yourself with the equipment.

    The eyepieces are very uncomfortable, and that will make it miserable to use over long periods. You’re also fairly limited in what you will be able to see.

    If you’re interested in getting a closer look at select constellations, this tool will get the job done. However, if you’re hoping to take a close look at other planets, you may need to invest in a higher-quality piece of equipment.

    Pros
    • Easy to manipulate
    • Compact
    Cons
    • So-so viewing range
    • Very uncomfortable to use for extended periods of time

    8. MaxUSee Kids Telescope

    MaxUSee Kids

    We close out our list with something that will be perfect for buyers on an exceptionally restrictive budget. This is the most affordable telescope on our list today. The MaxUSee is actually made specifically for kids and is designed to help introduce them to telescope use.

    The kit comes with a specialty “star map” that points out major constellations. Unfortunately, the kit has very little going for it outside of the solid price.

    The range and clarity is very low quality, the eyepiece is extremely uncomfortable, and the integrity of the product build is lacking.

    If all you want is to get your kid a decent educational toy, this will do the trick. However, you can find better options out there.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Not very comfortable
    • Not very durable
    • Unimpressive viewing quality

    Buyer’s Guide:

    You’ve seen what we have to offer, now let’s take a look at a few special buying considerations that might make it easier for you to finalize a decision.

    Intentions

    User-intentions play a big role in what type of telescope will be right for your needs. The options featured on our list today are designed with the budget buyer in mind. Perhaps as a consequence of this, they tend to favor beginners.

    None of the eight telescopes featured here will be optimal for in-depth scientific research. However, they will be perfectly efficient at introducing you to the cosmos as a hobbyist.

    Special Features

    Special features are a great way to enhance the overall user experience. Autofocus or tracking are two such options that make telescopes easier and more enjoyable to use.

    With these abilities, the telescope can easily find and lock onto specific areas for your viewing pleasure.

    However, it’s usually higher-end options that include these abilities. Some of the affordable choices on our list today were also enhanced by different sorts of special features. For example, the phone connection port is a cool way to take awesome pictures of outer space.

    You don’t necessarily need to have special features, but they can make your telescope a little bit more fun to use.

    User-Friendliness

    If you’re looking for a telescope in the price range that we are covering here in this article, chances are pretty decent that you are either a beginner or a hobbyist. In either case, it’s likely that you will appreciate a little bit of a primer on your new telescope and how to make the best possible use of it.

    Some of the options on our list today featured special software or other educational materials that were designed to help you better understand your new piece of equipment.

    These materials serve as an excellent way to get used to using a telescope.

    Portability

    Portability is a big factor with telescopes. This is especially true for buyers that live in the city. If you are in an environment that features bright lights at all hours of the day, you will need to travel out into a quieter, less populated area to use your telescope.

    In this situation, it will be to your benefit to invest in something that is easy to transport.

    Many of the options on our list today break down into compact dimensions, and some even feature carrying cases that make them easier to transport.

    Have a different budget? Try reading these articles:

    Conclusion:

    We hope that the affordable telescope reviews have helped to make your buying decision easier. However, if you’re still not completely sure which option you would like to take home, it may help to recall two of our personal favorite options.

    Our top choice, the Meade Instruments 209006 Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope is a perfect choice for buyers that are looking for an optimal level of quality.

    However, a tighter budget doesn’t mean that you have to settle on something that lacks quality. You can get a good deal on a decent telescope by selecting our Best for the Money unit, the Gskyer Telescope (AZ 70400).

    About the Author Robert Sparks

    Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.