Best Telescopes - Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr

The 9 Best Stargazing Telescopes from $200 to $2000

In Space Gearby Jacob WhitishLeave a Comment

As an amateur astronomer, your most powerful tool to unlock the mysteries of the universe is your telescope. But especially when you’re first starting out stargazing, it can be hard to know which telescope to invest in. How much should you spend? Which features should you care about? Choosing between the best stargazing telescopes for your budget is a tough decision!

To help, we’ve scoured thousands of reviews and compared all the best stargazing telescopes at each price point. Below you’ll find nine great telescopes, ranging from under $200 to $2000. Each has features that make it a good option at that price, so you can compare and find the one that’s right for your stage of stargazing and your budget. Read on to learn about the nine best stargazing telescopes we’ve found.

What to Look for in a Great Stargazing Telescope

As you compare the telescopes below – as well as any others you’re considering – keep in mind the following:

  • Price. Naturally, price is an important consideration for many people, especially when you’re just starting out in astronomy. You don’t want to spend too much for a telescope you never use, nor do you want to compromise on certain other features.
  • Type. Research how different types of telescopes (reflector vs refractor, Dobsonian vs Schmidt-Cassegrain) affect your ability to see the night sky objects you’re looking for.
  • Diameter. The diameter of your telescope will obviously affect how far you can peer into deep space. Again, consider how this affects your ability to see specific objects you want to observe.
  • Stability. As you read reviews about different telescopes, keep a particular eye on comments about the base, mount, and tripod. These can impact your observation a ton, and it’s almost always worth it to upgrade for better stability.
  • Other features. If you’re looking for computer-assisted night sky navigation, there are options on this list. If you prefer to search the sky yourself, that may help save some money for those on a tight budget.

All this said, let’s dive into the list of telescopes we recommend.

The Best Stargazing Telescopes for Every Budget

Meade Polaris 130

  • Price: $172.49
  • Type: Newtonian Reflector
  • Diameter: 130mm

If you’re looking for a starter telescope at a reasonable price, the Meade Polaris 130 Reflector is a good choice. It’s the highest-end option in the Meade Polaris series and offers the power to help open up the wonders of the night sky – but lacks some of the bells and whistles from other telescopes. This trade-off helps make it a good budget option, especially for entry-level astronomers.

Reviewers on Amazon report that the setup is sturdy and high quality; it’s more than sufficient to teach you the mechanics of using a telescope and also provide decent magnification for solar system objects. Add that with the sub-$200 price tag and you’ve got a great option for a holiday or birthday gift for the enthusiast in your life.

Astronomers Without Borders OneSky 130

  • Price: $199.99
  • Type: Reflector
  • Diameter: 130mm

Want to support astronomy outreach around the world and snag a telescope under $200? Check out the AWB OneSky 130. This telescope is imported to the U.S. by Celestron and proceeds (about half of the $200 pricetag) support Astronomers Without Borders.

Unfortunately, the AWB OneSky 130 is only available in the U.S. If you’re outside the U.S., consider the Skywatcher Heritage 130P.

Celestron AstroFi 90

  • Price: $283.44
  • Type: Refracting
  • Diameter: 90mm

If you’re looking for a starter refracting telescope, the Celestron AstroFi 90 might be among the best bang for your buck out there. At less than $300, you’ll get the basics of a solid 90mm Refractor, plus a cool mechanical upgrade that allows you to control the telescope using a self-contained WiFi network and a mobile app for your smartphone or tablet.

Reviews are a bit mixed on the AstroFi 90, primarily regarding setup and the reliability of the WiFi connection. As always, reading the manual can help solve these issues; otherwise reviewers report the hardware is good – especially given the price.

Celestron NexStar 130SLT

  • Price: $403.44
  • Type: Newtonian Reflector
  • Diameter: 130mm

Sneaking in at just over $400, the Celestron NexStar 130SLT is a solid investment when you’re ready to move on from hand-held adjustments to a computerized model. With the 130SLT (Star Locating Telescope), you’ll get the power of more affordable options on this list with the ease of computer-assisted night sky navigation.

Reviewers agree that this is a great telescope for your first upgrade once you’ve mastered the basics of astronomy and using a telescope proficiently. The 130SLT can help unlock deep space objects and bring the solar system right to you; the only feedback is – as usual – setup can be a challenge. Take the time to read the manual and you’ll ease that stress.

Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope

  • Price: $499.99
  • Type: Reflector
  • Diameter: 6″

So far, every telescope on this list has come in under $500 – the Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope is the last one at this price bracket, and it’s definitely a great option if you’re stepping up from a beginner to intermediate telescope. It’s also the first telescope on the list that brings diameter from milimeters into inches. With this one, you’re entering the big leagues!

This tabletop telescope comes with a Computerized Object Locator, so once it’s setup and calibrated, you can easily navigate to over 14,000 night sky objects.

Orion SkyQuest XT8i IntelliScope

  • Price: $649.99
  • Type: Dobsonian Reflector
  • Diameter: 8″

With the Orion SkyQuest XT8i, you can peer deeper and further into the universe without breaking the bank. This solid 8″ Dobsonian originally sold for around $750, but has seen some price cuts since it was first released and now comes in under $650. All around, it’s a fantastic telescope for amateur astronomers as a first scope upgrade and won’t blow your budget, leaving room to upgrade the eyepieces if needed.

With the SkyQuest XT8i, you’ll get the Computerized Object Locator, which reviewers say is the top selling point. You’ll save time searching for objects plus money compared to other, similarly priced (and larger) models.

Celestron 11069 NexStar 8SE

  • Price: $1199.99
  • Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Diameter: 8″

At the top end of the NexStar series, the Celestron 11069 NexStar 8SE is easily powerful enough to satiate most amateur astronomers. As the first Schmidt-Cassegrain on the list, the NexStar 8SE offers bright, clear views of night sky objects: whether you want to see Jupiter’s bands or the cloudy swirl of Andromeda, it’s all easy and beautiful with this telescope.

At just under $1200, this will be the big investment most amateur astronomers need, and mobility gets a little clunky with this large of a telescope. If you need to step down for price or mobility, other telescope owners say the NexStar 4SE or 5SE are both good options.

Meade LX90-ACF

  • Price: $1699.99
  • Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Diameter: 8″

Need more or have more flexibility in your budget? Consider the Meade LX90-ACF. The big selling point on this 8″ model is its Advanced Coma-Free (ACF) optical design, making it popular among astronomers and astrophotographers alike. While there’s a definite jump in price here, you’ll get the bells and whistles from other models on this list, but even better clarity without dramatically increasing the telescope size.

Orion Atlas 8 EQ-G GoTo

  • Price: $1999.99
  • Type: Dobsonian Reflector
  • Diameter: 8″

At just under $2000, the Orion Atlas 8 EQ-G GoTo tops our list – of course there are more expensive models out there if you have the funds, but the Atlas 8 will be more than enough for most amateurs.

In particular, those who love long observing sessions or plan to do astrophotography with a scope will love the stability the Atlas 8 mount provides.

Which of these telescopes is on your wishlist? Let us know in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr

About the Author
Jacob Whitish

Jacob Whitish

Jacob is the other half of Space Tourism Guide – and Valerie’s better half! He is responsible for the business operations and tech management for the website and Alexa skills. He also manages our non-writing team.

Like many people, he dreamed of going to space as a kid and was an ardent supporter of Valerie when she launched STG in 2017. He formally joined the company as a co-founder in 2019.

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