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. (If you’re looking for other options, I have guides at other budgets, like the best telescopes under $300.) You’ll discover refractor, reflector (including both Newtonian and Dobsonian options), and catadioptric options. Together they make up the list of the best telescopes under $1000. The only question is: which one will you choose?
Short on time?
The best telescope under $1000 in 2022 is theCelestron Omni XLT 150.
As you compare the telescopes below – as well as any others you’re considering – keep in mind the following:
This post was originally published in March 2021, and was re-ranked and updated in January 2022.
What to Look for in a Great Stargazing Telescope
- 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 under $1000 that I recommend.
The Best Telescopes under $1000 (Ranked)
Keeping all those aspects in mind, I pulled together the best telescopes under $1000 and ranked them. To come up with this ranking, I considered price, popularity, and review scores from Amazon.com. Here’s the list I came up with, using updated data for 2022.
|1||Celestron Omni XLT 150||~$700||Link|
|2||Orion SkyQuest XT8 Plus||~$880||Link|
|3||Explore Scientific AR152||~$980||Link|
|4||Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD Newtonian||~$540||Link|
|5||Celestron 114LCM Newtonian||~$520||Link|
|6||Orion ED80T Carbon Fiber Apochromatic||~$830||Link|
|7||Meade ETX125 Observer||~$830||Link|
|8||Orion Astroview 120ST Equatorial||~$700||Link|
|9||Celestron 80LCM Refractor||~$580||Link|
Read on to learn about each of these telescopes under $1000 in greater detail.
1. Celestron Omni XLT 150
- Type: Reflector (Newtonian)
- Price: ~$900
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.
2. Orion SkyQuest XT8 Plus
- Type: Reflector (Dobsonian)
- Price: ~$550
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.
3. Explore Scientific AR152
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$950
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.
4. Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD Newtonian
If you’re a novice but committed stargazer, the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is one of the best telescopes to upgrade to if you’re ready to take the next step in the world of stargazing. It is one of the priciest on the list; however, the price-performance ratio is unbeatable.
A product of the popular Astromaster line, the Celestron is a powerful telescope with an astounding light gathering ability. The telescope features a fully-coated 130mm lens and f/5 focal ratio. More than enough to get close-ups of the moon and other celestial bodies.
It includes two eyepieces (20mm and 10mm), a travel tripod, a motor drive, and a StarPointer red dot finderscope.
5. Celestron 114LCM Newtonian
One of the best mid-range telescopes, the Celestron 114LCM, is everything you need to peek at the stars. The telescope has a large all-glass 80mm objective lens and a 1.6° apparent field of view. The kit features an adjustable aluminum tripod, two high-quality eyepieces (25mm & 9mm), and a StarPointer red dot finderscope. The telescope comes with a functional Sky Tour button that generates a list of the best objects currently available to view in the sky if you struggle to spot them on your own.
The main downside of the Celestron 114LCM is its Bird-Jones optical configuration. While not impossible, it’ll be more challenging to collate than other models, especially if you’re a beginner. However, if you’re willing to go the extra mile to learn how to align the mirrors properly, this Celestron is an excellent investment.
6. Orion ED80T Carbon Fiber Apochromatic
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$1000
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.
7. Meade ETX125 Observer
- Type: Catadioptric (Maksutov-Cassegrain)
- Price: ~$1000
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.
8. Orion Astroview 120ST Equatorial
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$600
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.
9.Celestron 80LCM Refractor
The Celestron 80LCM is one of the best telescopes under $500 for amateur astronomers. As one of the best telescopes of the LCM lineup, the Celestron features an 80mm refractor with all-glass optics, which grants clear Crisp images of celestial bodies.
The telescope includes two Kellners eyepieces, 25mm and 9mm, providing 36x and 100x magnification. There is also a StarPointer red dot finderscope, erect image diagonal, and free Starry Night astronomy software included in the package. Regarding the assembling, it is simple enough for beginners to put together as long as they follow the instructions. The telescope’s tripod would be the only noticeable downside. While it seems sturdy, the motorized alt-azimuth mount wobbles considerably during stargazing sessions.
There you have it – the nen 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, let me know in the comments.