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Many people enjoy stargazing and observing the planets. A telescope is needed to get the best view, and there are a ton of them out there to choose from. They are expensive, though, so how do you get one if you live on a budget?
We reviewed many telescopes that cost under $1000 and have put together a list of seven that we think will give you the most value. We will tell you some of the pros and cons of each one so you can begin to narrow down the field that you have to choose from.
|Best Overall||Sky-Watcher ProED||
|Best Value||Orion SpaceProbe 130ST||
|Celestron NexStar Computerized||
The Sky-Watcher ProED is a 100mm APO refractor telescope with a 90mm focal length. It includes a dual speed two-inch focuser with an adapter, an 8×50 viewfinder, a two-inch dielectric diagonal, two different-sized eyepieces, and a carrying case.
This is a small telescope that’s easy to take with you wherever you go and provides you with quality images. However, if you’re using a heavy eyepiece, the focuser slips at times, making it more challenging to get a clear view. The case is kind of flimsy. It has good padding on the inside to protect the telescope, but the outside material doesn’t seem like it will hold up very well.
The Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope features a six-inch aperture and a 59-inch focal length. It comes with SkyAlign technology to help you get your scope aligned correctly, so you can easily find the 40,000+ celestial objects that are preprogrammed into the scope. It’s great that this scope automatically finds things for you because there are no crosshairs to help you find the center of the object you’re observing. All this technology drains the telescope’s battery pretty fast. You may want to consider getting a 110-volt adapter for it if you’ll be using it near an outlet.
This telescope has a steel tripod that breaks down for easy transport with the compact scope. The tripod only has one arm, though, so if you breathe hard or have even the slightest breeze, it will wobble on you. It isn’t a huge deal until you get into the smaller lenses.
The Sky-Watcher S11620 Traditional Dobsonian Telescope features a ten-inch aperture with a 1200mm focal length for obtaining a clear view. The telescope is held onto the tripod by a mount with Teflon bearings and a tension clutch. This mount will hold the scope steady, but the telescope itself is quite heavy, and you’ll find that the tripod slowly drifts downward under its weight. You’ll either have to keep readjusting it or get a heavy-duty tripod.
This telescope has a two-inch single speed focuser with a 1.25-inch adapter. It doesn’t have fine-tuning capabilities, though. It also comes with two different-sized eyepieces, 25mm and 10mm.
The Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope features a 5.1-inch aperture and a 24-inch focal length. Both are pretty small, so you don’t see high-quality images. It comes with a finderscope and two different-sized eyepieces, 25mm and 10mm.
The first problem we encountered with this telescope was the written instructions. They are very confusing and difficult to follow. We recommend using YouTube videos to assemble it. They are much clearer.
We also found that the mount isn’t strong enough to hold this telescope steady. The grips don’t stay secure, and the scope wobbles, making it difficult to see clear images.
The Celestron NexStar 127SLT Mak Computerized Telescope has a five-inch (127mm) aperture, a 1500mm focal length, and a finderscope. It also comes with SkyX planetarium software to help you locate specific items in the sky. We do find it difficult to fine-tune images with this telescope.
This telescope isn’t built with the best materials, so it seems to be somewhat fragile. The focuser causes the scope to shake somewhat, and at times it will move the object you’re looking at completely out of view.
The mount that comes with this scope is another reason the telescope is shaky. It’s very lightweight and not strong enough to hold the telescope steady. The tripod that comes with this telescope is not great. It wobbles with a light breeze.
The Orion 9005 AstroView 120ST Equatorial Refractor Telescope has a 4.7-inch (120mm) aperture, a 600mm focal length, a polar alignment scope, and two different-sized eyepieces, 25mm and 10mm.
This telescope is heavy and cumbersome, so taking it places can be difficult. Once you get it set up where you want to view, it’s hard to find the objects you’re looking for unless you know the layout of the sky well, as there is no computer guidance to help you find things. Another thing that makes it difficult to see objects is the axis finder. Its location on the telescope makes it very awkward to use. There is also no auto guide to help you align the telescope to where you want it.
The Orion 8297 8-Inch f/3.9 Newtonian Astrograph Reflector Telescope features an eight-inch aperture and an 800mm focal length. Both of the internal mirrors also come with a protective coating to help keep them from getting damaged.
This is a good telescope for a beginner who can’t afford much, but remember that you get what you pay for. Most of the parts on this telescope are painted a flat black, but the spider vanes are a shiny black, and the focuser is silver. Things reflect off silver, making this a bad choice, but the shiny finish on the spider vanes causes glare too. You also need to be careful with the focuser, because it’s held in place with plastic thumbscrews. When you do finally get your object into focus, there’s no focal lock to keep it in position.
This telescope has a glass lens at the front and a mirror in the back. Light passes through the lens, into the mirror, and then into the eyepiece. This is the most common type of telescope.
Refracting telescopes have all the optics protected in a sealed tube. They’re simply designed and easy to use. They also require virtually no maintenance.
A reflecting telescope has two mirrors in it. The light enters through one end, reflects off the first mirror into the second, and then goes into the eyepiece. They’re compact and lightweight, but they have open tubes that allow dust to collect on the optics. These telescopes will give you much better quality images than refractor types, but they do require some maintenance to keep the optics clean.
The compound telescope has a mirror at each end and a lens that the light must pass through before it reaches the eyepiece. The optics are protected in a sealed tube and are great when you’re trying to view faint objects. These scopes are usually big and bulky and are more expensive than the other two types.
What kind of telescope is best for me?
Aperture is the amount of light that gets into your telescope. It’s determined by the diameter of the mirror or lens inside the scope. The amount of light determines how much you can see. As a general rule, the larger the aperture, the better you can see.
2. Focal Length:
The focal length determines how big your objects will look. It’s measured by the distance between the point you’re focusing on and the lens or mirror in your telescope. The longer the focal point is, the bigger your object will appear.
The magnification of an object is determined by the focal length and the eyepiece you use. Again, the bigger the number of magnification, the bigger the object will appear. Different eyepieces have different magnification levels. You can start with whatever comes with your telescope and upgrade to a higher magnification later.
Related telescope reads:
Now that we have explained the different types of telescopes and the most important things to look for when buying one, let us remind you of our favorite 4 scopes from our reviews.
1. Sky-Watcher ProED 100mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope – Best Overall
2. Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope – The Runner-Up
3. Sky-Watcher S11620 Traditional Dobsonian Telescope
4. Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope – Best Value
Hopefully, you now have enough information to get you headed in the right direction in your shopping spree. Now all that’s left is to decide which one will fit your needs and your budget the best.
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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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