8 Budget-Friendly Telescopes Under $200 (2023)
As you get more interested in astronomy, you might find yourself wanting equipment to level up your stargazing experience. After all, while our eyes are great tools for exploring the wonders of the night sky, they’re also severely limited. That’s why we spend literally billions of dollars to launch space telescopes like Hubble, Spitzer, and Webb… And why people invest in telescopes right here on earth.
Whether you’re buying your first telescope or ready to upgrade from an even cheaper (and likely less effective) telescope, I’m here to help. Making the leap up to a $100-$200 telescope will give you a lot more power to see into deep space, but only if you get a good one. That’s where this list of the best telescopes under $200 comes in!
Short on Time?
The best telescope under $200 is the Celestron Astromaster 70AZ
Below you’ll find 8 budget-friendly telescopes that all come in at $200 or less (as of publishing; prices may vary when you read this!). Each one is a bit different, and has different features and capabilities. No matter which one you choose, you’ll likely be happy with how much further you can gaze into the solar system, galaxy, or universe.
Note: Lens and telescope prices have been very volatile in the past two years due to supply chain issues. Prices might vary widely from the prices I reported when this post was last updated in January 2023.
This post was originally published in September 2021, and was re-ranked and updated in January 2023.
What to Look for in a Great 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 under $200 that I recommend.
The Best Telescopes Under $200 (Ranked)
Keeping all those aspects in mind, I pulled together the best telescopes under $200 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 2023.
|1||Celestron Astromaster 70AZ||↑2||~$125||Link|
|2||Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ||New!||~$120||Link|
|3||Orion StarBlast II 4.5||New!||~$200||Link|
|4||Gskyer 600x90mm AZ||New!||~$175||Link|
|5||Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope||↓1||~$125||Link|
|6||Celestron PowerSeeker 114EQ||↑5||~$140||Link|
|7||Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ||↑2||~$150||Link|
|8||Zhumell Z100 Portable Altazimuth Reflector Telescope||↓1||~$160||Link|
Read on to learn about each of these telescopes under $200 in greater detail.
1. Celestron Astromaster 70AZ
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$125
Built with an intuitive setup system, the Celestron Astromaster 70AZ is the best telescope under $200 on the market, taking our #1 spot this year.
While it’s not the highest-powered telescope, the Celestron Astromaster comes with an aperture of 70mm and magnification of 45x to 90x. At this magnification level, stargazers will be able to get a spectacularly good view of the Moon, see Mars close enough to distinguish some color, witness the magic of the Galilean moons, and appreciate Saturn’s rings clearly defined.
Despite its low price, this telescope is quite sturdy and well made, with durable, professional, high-quality components and materials. Last but not least, the Celestron Astromaster is super lightweight and portable, weighing just 11 lbs.
2. Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$120
Meade is a world leader in the industry when it comes to telescopes.
The Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm meets all the criteria of a superb beginner telescope: easy to use, not too heavy, works amazingly well, and… is easy to use.
This beginner’s telescope offers high usability without losing a pinch of quality and performance. Thanks to its altazimuth mount, this Meade is easy to adjust and even features a red dot sightline that will make locking into your targeted area much simpler. To make things even more accessible, the package includes an instructional DVD that orients you to how telescopes work and what you should be looking for.
With a 70mm aperture and a focal length of 700mm, stargazers can get very crisp and clear images of the Moon and its crates along with great views of distant planets like Jupiter and Saturn.
3. Orion StarBlast II 4.5
- Type: Newtonian
- Price: ~$200
The Orion StarBlast II 4.5 is a favorite among novice stargazers, with its great optics, convenient portability, and easy-to-use operation.
Thanks to its fast f/4.0 optics and a short 450mm focal length, the Orion StarBlast II 4.5 lets you find celestial objects in the sky. The eyepieces have higher transmission than other eyepieces on the lower end, so you can rest assured that you’ll brighter images as well as wider fields of view, which is what you want when viewing celestial objects. This Orion also comes with two Sirius Plossl eyepieces, a 25mm and a 10mm, to enjoy 18x and 45x magnification.
The Orion StarBlast II 4.5 has an equatorial mount and an EZ Finder II reflex sight. Both features ensure you can aim the telescope anywhere in the night sky and keep the celestial objects centered and in focus.
4. Gskyer 600x90mm AZ
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$175
Yes, there are other great telescopes under $300 that aren’t made by Celestron! The Gskyer 600x90mm AZ refractor telescope sneaks in under the wire – but by pushing the price limit, it also pushes the features right to the limit of your budget.
This telescope comes in around 18 lbs, which is on-par for other telescopes in this range – but it’s a solid 3.5-inch (90mm) aperture that opens up a bit more of the night sky than others on this list. It also comes with a stainless steel tripod (rather than iron and aluminum for comparable telescopes), helping improve stability during your stargazing sessions.
5. Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope
- Type: Reflector
- Price: ~$125
If you’re a novice with a tight budget, the Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope is one of the best low-budget telescopes in the market.
Stargazers love it because it features a perfect combination of quality, price, functions, and power. A refractor telescope, the Celestron features a yoke mount with a slow-motion altitude rod to ensure a smooth and accurate pointing.
It also includes an erect image diagonal, two extra eyepieces (4mm and 20mm), plus a 3x Barlow lens to triple the power of each eyepiece. It also comes with a 5×24 finderscope to help you center objects. At 5.85 pounds, the telescope it’s still highly portable. The good news is that despite being lightweight, its materials are sturdy and durable.
6. Celestron PowerSeeker 114EQ
- Type: Newtonian
- Price: ~$140
The PowerSeeker 114EQ is sure to take you on a trip across the universe, thanks again to Celestron.
This Newtonian telescope is also one of the best budget telescopes for beginners. With the PowerSeeker, stargazers can enjoy higher-powered magnification and light collection; it also comes with two eyepieces and a 3x Barlow lens to vary the magnification levels.
This telescope features a manual German Equatorial mount paired with a slow-motion altitude rod for smooth and accurate pointing. While this is an excellent mount style, newbies will need some time to get the hang of it. The large design is the only downside of the PowerSeeker. Weighing in at 18.9 lbs, this telescope isn’t the best choice for traveling stargazers.
7. Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ
- Type: Bird-Jones Newtonian
- Price: ~$150
Also from the Celestron family, the PowerSeeker 127EQ is another top option among the telescopes under $200 in the market. However, stargazers should know that the PowerSeeker 127EQ is mostly for intermediate stargazers. This is because the PowerSeeker 127EQ features a jones-bird type design, which is quite challenging to collimate.
The best features of this telescope are its user-friendly mount design and its excellent magnification power, which you can increase using the extra eyepieces. Thanks to its manual German Equatorial mount design, the PowerSeeker 127EQ provides flexibility and portability. With the PowerSeeker 127EQ, you’ll enjoy crisp images of Saturn’s rings, clear views of the Moon’s craters, beautiful glimpses of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, and many other celestial objects and sights.
8. Zhumell Z100 Portable Telescope
- Type: Dobsonian
- Price: ~$160
If you don’t want to deal with shaky tripods, then the Zhumell Z100 is the way to go.
A tabletop reflecting telescope, the Zhumell comes on a Dobsonian-style mount, so you can be sure it won’t move during your stargazing session. It’s one of the most powerful telescopes on the list, with a 100 mm parabolic glass objective lens, a highly unusual feature in telescopes of this size. Parabolic mirrors provide sharper views because it removes visual defects like spherical aberration.
The package also includes two interchangeable eyepieces, 17 mm and 10mm, so you can change magnification depending on the viewing situation. It also comes with a 1.25” focuser and a red dot finder. It weighs 5.25 pounds, so it’s a little bit heavier than most telescopes I’ve mentioned here. Still, it’s super lightweight and easy to carry.
Have any questions about these telescopes – or do you know of another great telescope under $200? Let me know any questions in the comments!