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7 DIY Telescope Plans You Can Make Today (With Pictures)

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man watching stars using telescope

Telescopes are a fun way to explore the visible world. To make the experience even more valuable, make your own telescope instead of purchasing one. Whether you want a high-functioning telescope or one that your kids will enjoy, there are tons of telescope plans to try out.

Below, learn about seven DIY telescope plans you can make today. Some of these plans are better suited for adults, whereas others are perfect for getting your kids involved in science. Select a telescope based on your end goal, get everything you need, and start building a telescope today.

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The Top 7 DIY Telescope Plans You Can Make Today

1. Telescope With Magnifying Glasses by wikiHow

Materials Corrugated paper, 2 lenses of different sizes
Tools Glue, pencil, scissors
Difficulty Level Beginner

If you are looking for a way to get your children involved with science, try out this telescope made from magnifying glasses. This plan is super easy, and you should be able to find the required items either around your home or at a local grocery store.

The plans themselves are super easy to follow. This plan is incredibly thorough and designed for beginners. The plan also includes written instructions, as well as graphics for every step in the process.

There are technically two plans on this site, but they have the same finished results. Both of the telescopes use magnifying glasses as the lenses, but there are different tools used for each plan. Select the wikiHow plan that is best for you based on the resources you already have at your house.


2. Working Telescope for Kids by Gift of Curiosity

Materials Two tubes, two lenses of different sizes, lens cap
Tools Cloth
Difficulty Level Beginner

Another great telescope plan for kids is this Gift of Curiosity Telescope plan. This plan is specifically designed for children, meaning it is easy enough to make and has a design that kids go crazy over.

This telescope is designed to look like a pirate scope. Whenever your children are dressing up as pirates, they can grab this telescope to get in character. Later in the night, your children can use this telescope to see things located far away.

These plans are incredibly thorough and easy to follow. In fact, the creator of this plan even mentioned that their son helped to create the telescope. In other words, anyone can make this super fun scope.


3. Simple Telescope by instructables

Materials PVC pipes, lenses, eyepiece, caps
Tools drill, plyer, hammer, razor
Difficulty Level Intermediate

If you are looking to make a telescope for yourself, the two plans above are likely too elementary for your needs. Luckily for you, there are tons of adult-friendly telescope plans that you can follow, including this Simple Telescope published by YADUKRISHNAN K M on Instructables.

In case you are unfamiliar, Instructables is a site where individuals can place their own plans and designs. Most Instructables plans are shoddy at best, but that is not the case for this plan. It is incredibly extensive, with a complete list of required items, pictures, and step-by-step instructions.

This is easily one of the most extensive telescope plans on the Internet. There are many comments on this plan talking about how great it is and how the instructions are so easy to follow.


4. Make Your Own Telescope Mirror by instructables

Materials Glass, ink pen tips, aluminum foil
Tools Diamond cutter, table, wood, drill press, grinding tool, pitch lap, clouder mask
Difficulty Level Expert

This Telescope Mirror is another plan located on Instructables. These plans are very thorough, and the telescope itself is practically professional level. If you are looking for a heavy-duty DIY telescope, this is the plan for you.

Although this plan is extensive and tells you everything you need to know, it is a bit more difficult to follow. There aren’t pictures for every step in the process, and the instructions are not separated into steps.

Because this plan is more difficult to follow than the previous, this telescope mirror is better suited for experts than those who already have some experience in telescope making. You might be able to figure out the plan as an intermediate builder, but it will take more time.


5. Backyard Dobsonian Telescope by Make: Magazine

Materials Mirrors, steel tubing, focuser, scope, plywood, Kydex sheets, ABS plastic, Teflon sheet, T-nuts, aluminum tubing, skate bearings, flat braces, wood screws, velveteen, elastic cord
Tools Wood glue, sanding and finishing tools, stables, CAD software, table saw, drill press, welder, screwdriver, sewing machine, scissors
Difficulty Level Expert

This Backyard Telescope is absolutely breathtaking. This plan features another telescope made for professionals who want to get their hands dirty in building the telescope by themselves.

As you might have assumed, a telescope of this nature is no small feat. It certainly is not for beginners. Instead, this backyard telescope is best suited for intermediate to experienced builders. Even some intermediate builders may find this DIY Dobsonian telescope difficult.

That being said, the writer of this plan covers everything you need to know. The instructions are easy to follow and include pictures and step-by-step instructions. So, intermediate and experienced builders should be able to build this backyard telescope with minimal issues.


6. 25-inch F2.6 Telescope by Mel Bartels

Materials Tubing, wood, hardware
Tools Various tools
Difficulty Level Expert

Mel Bartels offers extensive information about creating an F2.6 telescope. This plan is the update after using the telescope for a year and a half. If you scroll to the very bottom of the page, you will find every single resource needed to make this telescope.

This telescope is not for the faint of heart. On the contrary, this telescope is difficult and costly to make, making it best suited for experts and experienced telescope designers. If you put in the effort needed to create this telescope, you certainly will not be disappointed.


7. Dobsonian Telescope by Alex Rattner

Materials N/A
Tools N/A
Difficulty Level Expert

Finally, the last telescope on our list is the Dobsonian Telescope. This telescope is similar to the Backyard model, but the instructions aren’t as thorough and explicit. Still, this is a great plan for those who know what they’re doing.

If you are a beginner or intermediate builder, this might not be the plan for you. Instead, you might want to get some ideas from this plan. Those who are more expert builders will likely be able to follow the information that is given.

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Why Build Your Own Telescope?

Refractor Telescope

Image Credit: KAZLOVA IRYNA, Shutterstock

Building a telescope can be beneficial for several reasons. If you are building a telescope with your kids, even a simple one, you can encourage your child to investigate their curiosity and explore the world.

You don’t have to be a child to benefit from building a telescope. Adults can benefit from building a telescope by creating it in such a way that it fits their needs perfectly. In fact, self-built telescopes can sometimes be higher quality than commercial ones because the builder doesn’t have to sacrifice or cut any corners.

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Final Thoughts

Instead of purchasing a new telescope next time yours breaks, build your own from scratch. Using one of the seven plans above, you can make your own telescope today.


Featured Image Credit: True Touch Lifestyle, Shutterstock

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.

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