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The 15 Best Telescopes Under $1000 (Refractor, Reflector & Catadioptric)

When it comes time to invest in a telescope it’s always a big decision. Whether it’s your first telescope or you’re graduating up in size or telescope type, there’s a lot to consider. While we’ve previously covered telescopes that cover a range of budgets (from $200 to $2000), this list focuses exclusively on the best telescopes under $1000.

Specifically, it’s a list of the telescopes between $500 and $1000 in price, as there’s a big leap in terms of size and capability between the under-$500 telescopes and the $500-$1000 telescopes out there.

If you’ve got up to $1000 in budget and want to know how to invest it wisely, read on. You’ll discover refractor, reflector (including both Newtonian and Dobsonian options), and catadioptrics options. Together they make up the list of the best telescopes under $1000. The only question is: which one will you choose?

Note: Within each section, we listed the telescopes alphabetically. This is not meant to represent a ranked order.

Best Telescopes Under $1000: Refractors

If you love the traditional look and results of a refractor telescope, you do have some good choices in the “more than a kid’s telescope” but “less than $1000” range.

Note: Orion is currently experiencing major backorder issues. Be sure to check estimated delivery dates if you decide to go with an Orion.

Explore Scientific AR152

At the upper end of the $500-$1000 price range, the Explore Scientific AR152 is one of the best refractor telescopes on this list.

With a 6-inch aperture, it’s the largest in the AR series, providing a wide field (f/6.5) and great power versatility. From nearby planets to deep space objects, this telescope is versatile and capable – it’s also a favorite for astrophotography.

Orion Astroview 120ST Equatorial

The Orion Astroview 120ST is a solid refractor telescope for the price, with a decent combination of versatility and portability. The 4.7-inch aperture scope comes in at about 36 pounds – so not as lightweight as others on the list.

In online reviews, others report that it’s a decent midrange scope that might leave more advanced stargazers wanting, but it’s a solid starter for the price.

This equatorial mount scope is also the only one of its kind on the list, if that’s your style.

Orion ED80T Carbon Fiber Apochromatic

If you want a lightweight alternative to the previous Orion, here it is. The ED80T has a carbon fiber body, cutting the scope weight down to just under 11 pounds. You will still need a mount, but this gives you flexibility to choose one you like for features and weight rather than being wedded to the one it came with.

A smaller aperture (80mm) is made up for with a f/6 focal ratio and apochromatic extra-low dispersion (ED) lens to make for clearer images of whatever you’re gazing at.

Sky-Watcher EvoStar 80 ProED APO

The last refractor to make our list of the best telescopes under $1000 comes from Skywatcher: the EvoStar 80 ProED. It’s similar in specs to the Orion mentioned above, and equally capable.

With an 80mm aperture and f/7.5 focal ratio, this telescope is versatile without becoming cumbersome. The Apochromatic (APO) glass gives crystal clear images, especially of nearer objects – but it’s entirely possible to view and capture photos of deeper space objects with this one too.

Best Telescopes Under $1000: Newtonian Reflectors

If you know you want a Newtonian reflector telescope, there’s only one good option we found at the $500-$1000 price point.

Celestron Omni XLT 150

The Celestron Omni XLT 150 tripod-mounted reflector is the largest aperture in this family of telescopes; it also comes in 120mm and 102mm if you need a budget option.

It comes with a 25 mm multi-coated eyepiece and uses a CG-4 German Equatorial mount and ball bearings to give you smooth control for locating and tracking sky objects.

The tripod is also appropriately stable, with 1.75″ legs, an accessory tray, and bubble level. It’s also a no-tool setup, which makes it easier to get it and set up the same night.

Best Telescopes Under $1000: Dobsonian Reflectors

Dobsonian reflectors obviously appeal to many stargazers. If you’re ready to graduate to or upgrade your existing Dobsonian telescope, you can’t go wrong with any of these.

Note: Orion is currently experiencing major backorder issues. Be sure to check estimated delivery dates if you decide to go with an Orion.

Orion SkyQuest XT8 Plus

The Orion SkyQuest XT8 Plus (and its sibling, the XT10 Classic, mentioned below) are commonly cited favorites among the best telescopes under $1000. For those just starting on a Dobsonian – or upgrading – the XT8 Plus is a great option for the price.

The 8-inch aperture is great for stargazing and spotting deep space objects, and upgrades from the previous Classic model give you better eye pieces and a 2x Barlow.

Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic

Another popular option from Orion, the SkyQuest XT10 Classic is exactly that – a classic.

It’s also one of the biggest aperture telescopes on the list, showing how the Dobsonian style gives more bang for buck there. You’ll have real deep space viewing capabilities with a telescope this big.

At over 53 pounds though, it’s a great backyard scope if you have good dark skies in your area – or if you’re headed out for several nights of stargazing and are okay lugging it around.

Sky-Watcher Flextube 10-inch Collapsible

We can’t lie: this collapsable Dobsonian from Sky-Watcher is really clever. It obviously has some shortcomings, but it brings the collapsable style down to a lower price point and slightly smaller size and weight than competitors.

This 10-inch aperture is the largest size under $1000 (there’s also a 12-inch size) and comes with all the necessary accessories to put this versatile telescope to good use.

Zhumell Z10 Deluxe

If you’re looking for an alternative to the Orion XT10 Classic, consider the Zhumell Z10 Deluxe. The two have similar specs; the only downside is that the Zhumell adds even more weight, coming in around 60 pounds.

Zhumell says themselves that this is a good telescope for star parties and camping trips; it’s a bit of a beast when it comes to mobility and won’t live up to your backyard stargazing hopes if you have a ton of light pollution.

However, the 10-inch aperture and f/5 focal ratio make it a powerful telescope for seeing solar system and deep space objects alike, if you have good light conditions or are willing to bring this scope to go find them.

Best Telescopes Under $1000: Catadioptrics

Catadioptrics telescopes combine the best of both other types of telescopes, so it’s no surprise that they’ve become popular. We also found more great options of this type than others to make the list of best telescopes under $1000.

Note: Orion is currently experiencing major backorder issues. Be sure to check estimated delivery dates if you decide to go with an Orion.

Celestron NexStar 127SLT Computerized

Celestron does catadioptrics telescopes well, and the NexStar 127SLT is one of two that makes our list for the best telescopes under $1000. This one offers a nice aperture at 127mm and is computerized to make finding stars and deep space objects worlds easier (no pun intended).

Also, by going for the 127mm (5-inch) option instead of a larger aperture, you can still easily travel to darker skies with this telescope.

On the cons side, some note that the tripod can be wobbly and that you must use GPS (not your city name) to start the star finder system.

Celestron NexStar 5SE

The Celestron NexStar 5SE, part of the 11036 model family (which also includes the 4SE, 6SE, and 8SE) is a really solid catadioptrics telescope – we wolud definitely include the 6SE or 8SE but they’re above that $1000 budget!

This telescope has a 5-inch aperture for has good power and versatility, and comes with the NexStar computerized tech to make finding deep space objects easier.

It does require assembly on arrival and may need some collimation to work perfectly, but it’s a solid, portable telescope to invest in.

Explore Scientific First Light 127mm

This 5-inch telescope from Explore Scientific sneaks in just under the limit for this list of the best telescopes under $100.

The First Light 127mm telescope has a f/15 focal ratio and 1900mm focal length, and comes with a 25mm eyepiece. This makes it a solid choice for planet-gazing though perhaps weaker if you’re looking for deep space objects.

Meade ETX125 Observer

The Meade ETX125 Observer telescope is very similar to the Explore Scientific just mentioned, with a couple extra benefits.

First, its f/15, 1900mm focal length combo is paired with two included eyepieces (7mm and 26mm), giving you somewhat more versatility for whatever you want to see in the sky. Second, it comes with a computerized mount system to help making all those objects much easier.

Some more advanced observers might find this too simple or cheap, but for others, the portability and price are a solid combo.

Orion StarSeeker IV 130mm

Orion makes the list here too, with two telescopes of very similar aperture but they differ slightly. The StarSeeker IV 130mm offers a slightly wider view than the 127mm mentioned below, which can help with deeper space viewing.

It comes with a computerized star finder system (“StarSeeker”) and two eyepieces (10mm and 23mm) for additional versatility. This one is a great option for those just starting out who have the budget for it.

Orion StarSeeker IV 127mm

The second Orion on this list, the StarSeeker IV 127mm, gets rave reviews for portability, which is a definite plus as you consider some of the other options on this list of catadioptrics telescopes under $1000 – you want to be able to take it to dark sky locations for better viewing!

This 5-inch telescope has 1540 mm focal length and f/12.1, making it better for planets and nearer objects than deep space ones, but the computerized StarSeeker program will help you try to spot over 40,000 objects in the sky.

There you have it – 15 of the best telescopes under $1000, across the main types: refractors, Newtonian and Dobsonian reflectors, and catadioptrics. Which one will you choose?

If you have questions or notice an issue with one of the telescopes mentioned, please let us know in the comments.

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Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She decided to start the site after realizing how many friends and family had never seen the Milky Way, and that space tourism was going to unlock the next great travel destination: space!

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