Best Telescopes under $200 for Beginners
Table of Contents
If you’re a neophyte to the world of Astronomy and you want to jump right away to the action, below you will find a selection of the best telescopes for beginner. I’ve spent many hours to put it together and I think that it represents with no doubts a selection of the finest and the most competitive models available in the market today.
Here is a list of some of our favorites entry level best telescopes under $200.
Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker
The Celestron 127EQ has a Barlow lens that magnifies the image up to three times. It has an aluminum tripod stand along with an accessory tray and an equatorial mount. The aperture is about 127 mm and the focal length is 1000mm. The 127EQ PowerSeeker is one of the absolute best sellers in the reflectors category with a price of less than $200. You can click on the picture to check the actual price on Amazon:
According to many reviews, this is one of the best entry level telescope. Main reason is that many entry level telescopes in such a low price range are usually not exceptional, whereas this certainly is. According to a review by a customer who had his first experience with an equatorial mount, it did not require much time in setting up and balancing. The package includes software which makes navigation easier.
Here is a video of the full moon pass taken with this scope, look the level of detail:
The 127EQ is a good product to buy at an entry level, however with time and the advancement you will need to upgrade a few accessories like the eyepiece, Barlow lens and the finder scope. At such a price range, you get to see images of really good quality. And the image quality is really great, as long as you focus the objects in the sky properly.
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You can expect quite detailed images of the Moon, Saturn rings, the shapes of the galaxies, Venus and Mars. However, they won’t give extremely high precision as required by more experienced users. To sum it up, this is a great investment for an amateur who doesn’t want to spend too much money on his hobby and still get a performing instrument.
Orion 10012 SkyScanner 100mm Table Top Reflector
This is another best entry level telescope that has 100 mm parabolic mirror optics. There are no plastic lenses as some of the beginner level telescopes have. You can easily view detailed images of Jupiter and other planets of the Solar System, and the Moon from bright city locations as well.
This tabletop reflector is big enough to view objects in the night sky. But it isn’t small enough to be stored in a closet or be kept for display on a desk. It has two eyepieces, one of 20 mm that is for a magnification up to 20 times and the other is about 10 mm, which gives magnification up to 40 times.
It has Starry Night astronomy software, an EZ Finder II aiming device, that aids in wide-angle and low power views of the Milky Way and other dim objects in space. The 10012 Skyscanner is available in burgundy color at really low price. You can click on the picture to check reviews on Amazon:
The customer reviews for the Orion 10012 Sky Scanner are quite satisfactory. Customers seems to be really happy with what they got at this price. You can easily carry it with you on camping because of its light weight. The Starry Night software is quite phenomenal, detailed and easy to use.
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You can easily view detailed images of the Moon and the craters, the rings and moons of the Saturn and Jupiter, the Nebula and Pleiades. However, there are a few shortcomings, like the finder scope which is hard to use for viewing objects far above the horizon and the difficulty to collimate without employing serious modifications. Many users says that if you add a good Barlow lens, this tabletop reflector will be a bliss for its price.
Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor
The Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ Reflector is a quick and easy to use scope that requires close to zero setup. It has a permanently mounted star pointer. It gives erect images and it is ideal for terrestrial and astronomical use. The optical lens has a diameter of 70 mm. It has a pan handle Alt-Az control with a clutch that aids in smooth and accurate pointing.
This is yet another best seller by the notorious Celestron, at a really low price. Click on the picture to get more details on Amazon:
The Celestron 21061 is as good for amateurs of any level, as for the beginners. To clearly explain why this is rated as one of the best telescopes under $200, a user shared his thoughts saying that it has outstanding optics at such a low price. He praised its light in weight, the exceptional portability, the complete absence of chromatic aberrations and the clear and crisp views of the Moon and other planets.
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Here is an unboxing video, you will get a better feeling for the size and the packaging:
The Astromaster 70AZ has a very helpful viewfinder, its software too is easy to use and quite helpful for navigation purposes. It comes with a good focal length and the prism gives erect image of celestial objects. But the cons of this design are related to its structural stability. The horizontal rotation works well, but the vertical movement might give you some problems. Be sure to pay caution to the area where you install your scope. Be sure to always check the tripod. Otherwise the telescope will be absolutely great and you will probably be delighted by the quality of images and ease of use.
A selection of the best telescopes for beginners
If you, like me, have developed since long time a strong curiosity for the mysterious shining lights over your head during the night, you’ve come to the right place.
Initially fear was great, and all that complicated information about telescopes for newbies seemed impossible to understand, but thanks to my – and hopefully our – passion for discovery, you will be finally able to see clearly. Having a telescope does not just mean looking at the stars.
With a telescope you have access to a huge world, unknown to many people. The Moon, Mars, Saturn, Uranium and other deep space objects you don’t know yet, will finally be accessible.
What makes my telescope’s focus improve?
Three parameters influence the capacity of focus of your instrument:
- The quality of eyepieces and optics;
- How well they are aligned, also known as collimation;
- The focusing system.
How to Choose the Best Beginner Telescope for Your Needs
Before proceeding with the core of our analysis, we must have a rough idea of what a telescope actually is.
Generally, one can define a telescope as an instrument to make distant objects look bigger, but by saying that we not include a wide range of operations performed by a telescope. So, we can better define a telescope as an instrument that collects electromagnetic radiations as visible light and gather them to provide images of the objects under consideration.
There is a wide range of instruments that come under this statement, depending upon different frequencies taken by astronomers to observe a specific body.
Buying a beginner telescope
Who does not want to have a look at a sky full of stars and count celestial bodies, for nothing but just a mysterious revelation? It is a fact that there are amateur astronomers hooked for exploring galaxies and the wonders of the sky by pointing their instruments towards anywhere in the sky. They keep looking out for the best telescopes to have the pleasure of viewing and to take full fledge experience out of it.
For us the best amateur telescope is the one providing more precise and accurate observations as required by the observer. That really sounds cool to whom that has an inherent interest in life: exploring galaxies.
You’re better stop daydreaming about owning an unprecedented telescope and go to the market to have a fantastic new one.
The Three Classes of Amateur Telescopes
The best starter telescopes today are mainly classified into three categories depending on different functions, mechanisms and views. These three classes are briefly defined below:
The first starter telescope we have is called a refractor. It works on the principle of gathering light with an objective lens at one end, and focusing the light at the eyepiece at the other end. Refractors were almost becoming outdated at one point, but modern glass elements have brought them back to prominence.
Refractors are highly advantageous for there is no obstruction in the passage of light, resulting in best images.
There might be disadvantages, like chromatic aberration, and pricing, as they easily are the most expensive of all the three classes.
Invented by Isaac Newton, the next telescope we have is a reflector. It uses a parabolic mirror at the end of a tube and focuses the light back at the front of the tube once they are deflected by a smaller secondary mirror in the light path.
The advantages are: no color aberration, cheapest of all three designs and its portability.
Since there is secondary obstruction, it results in a loss of contrast and will require occasional collimation of optics.
The third type of telescope works on the principle of using both mirrors and lenses to fold the optical path back onto itself, which results in a compact tube called catadioptrics.
The advantages are: less expensive than refractors and totally computer driven, offering the most compact of the three designs.
Choosing an amateur telescope
If you are thinking about buying something of your own choice, you must have an ample knowledge of its facts and figures. Otherwise, all your roaming and searching would go in vain if you don’t find the actual information about it. With telescopes is the same case.
When you decide to buy a beginner telescope you must have an idea regarding your location and then the darkness in the sky. You should also keep in mind the level of observation you want to obtain and how good of an observer are you. The cost of the item must also be known before buying the telescope for long lasting services.
The above factors should necessarily be considered while you are up for buying a telescope. That will then provide a better path to get involved with astronomy and its powerful experiences.
There are some basic key features that every telescope shows, and here we list them in order to give you a basic idea. A good beginner telescope would definitely come with all of these elements satisfying requirements of the user.
Aperture – one significant factor
One of the most important and key factors to keep in mind when buying a telescope is its aperture. It’s basically a name given to the diameter of the main optical component of the telescope, like that of a lens or a mirror. It is a fact that the bigger the aperture is, the better would be. That is because of the fact that a bigger aperture will mean a bigger surface area, allowing it to collect a greater amount of light as compared to the telescope with smaller apertures.
The basic purpose of aperture is that it will determine the resolution and the gathering of light. The ability of light gathering will influence the brightness of the resulting image. Resolution refers to the sharpness of the image.
Good amateur telescopes will come up with big apertures, according with the requirements of the user.
There is a general misconception when people ask how much a telescope can magnify. They usually refer to magnification as the criteria of a telescope for being good or not. But in reality, it’s completely up to you how much you want to magnify, depending on the eyepiece you decide to use.
There must be an optimal magnification maintained to see the objects clearly and to prevent the spreading of the light to bright objects, making them blur. Astronomers, therefore, usually prefer low magnification power for faint objects, like galaxies and nebulae. Medium to high power are set to see objects like the moon and planets.
A good telescope would provide optimal magnification that is less for faint bodies and medium for bright bodies without making them blur.
Magnification Vs. aperture
The scope has a focal length. Focal length is the distance from the primary lens to the image it forms. Depending on the type and scope of aperture, focal length large number are usually printed on the front or the back of the scope. It usually ranges between 400 to 3,000 millimeters.
When going for a telescope, make sure that you are looking for the quality of aperture diameter rather than the magnification.
Keeping in mind the above key points, you can own a perfect amateur telescope and start your practice today with enthusiasm and spirit.
Looking at planets through your telescope will become a long lasting joy and possibly one of the most wonderful experience of your life.
An example of good telescope for beginner
The best starter telescope to view the planets and to make the most out of an experience of astronomy, for us is the Celestron Cosmos 90GT Wifi. This is the best personal telescope with all the stated features available at a really competitive price.