While stargazing is great, there’s nothing like unlocking the wonders of the night sky with a telescope. And while I’ve shared a few other posts about telescopes at different price points (from $200 to $2000, and the best options under $1000), it helps to know multiple options at given lower price points.
In this post, I’m covering the best telescopes under $300. This price point is a good option for either getting a really nice starter telescope or investing in a second telescope of a different type than you currently own.
These eight telescopes under $300 represent a wide range, including reflector, refractor, and catadioptric types. They also represent a price range, showing how there are good options at a number of price points under your $300 budget.
Short on Time?
The best telescope under $300 is (still!) the Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro
Whether you’re just getting started or looking to try a different type of telescope without splurging, these are the best telescopes under $300 for your consideration.
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 May 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 $300 that I recommend.
The Best Telescopes under $300 (Ranked)
Keeping all those aspects in mind, I pulled together the best telescopes under $300 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||Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro||–||~$230||Link|
|2||Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector||New!||~$300||Link|
|3||Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ||New!||~$225||Link|
|4||Meade Instruments Polaris 127mm||New!||~$280||Link|
|5||Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ||New!||~$300||Link|
|6||Celestron Inspire 80AZ||New!||~$220||Link|
|7||Carson Red Planet 45-100ｘ114mm||↑1||~$240||Link|
Read on to learn about each of these telescopes under $300 in greater detail.
1. Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro
- Type: Reflector
- Price: ~$230
One more to consider on this list of the best telescopes under $300: the Orion 10015 Starblast 4.5 Astro. Despite its design being nearly 20 years old – it just goes to show how a classic design will always work and makes this telescope a solid investment for your child or enthusiast of any age with a lifelong love of space.
This telescope is equipped with a focal length of 450mm and a 4.5-inch aperture; that’s a good combo for moon-viewing, planet-spotting, and stargazing. And at just 13 lbs, this is a tabletop reflector telescope that’s great for stargazing events whether that’s a family camping trip or a star party at your local state park.
2. Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector
- Type: Reflector
- Price: ~$300
Last but certainly not least, here’s one more from Orion that makes my list of telescopes under $300.
The build quality and sturdiness is the first thing you’ll notice on the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST. Unlike other telescopes, even the tripod is well-built and doesn’t wobble as much.
The SpaceProbe features a 5.1″ parabolic primary mirror, which gathers a significant amount of light and grants excellent views of the planets and moon. It also has a wide field of view (‘fast’ f/5 focal ratio) to explore bright nebulas, galaxies, and star clusters. It’s a little heavier than its counterparts on the list at 27 lbs. However, you can still move it around quickly.
The pack also includes two 1.25 inch Sirius Plossl eyepieces (25mm and 10mm), a 6×30 finder scope, a 1.25inch rack, a pinion focuser, a tripod accessory tray, collimation cap, and Starry Night astronomy software.
3. Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ
- Type: Newtonian Reflector
- Price: ~$250
Finding a great telescope under $300 can be hard, but the Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ is yet another option from this company in the AstroMaster family.
It’s a little heavier than other options at almost 27 lbs – so not as move-friendly as others, but still a decent option for the price.
This telescope has a manual German equatorial mount that makes it easier to navigate the night sky while stargazing. It also has a slow-motion altitude rod that enhances accuracy and clearer images. In simple terms, this telescope is a combination of power, quality, and value for money.
4. Meade Instruments Polaris 127mm
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$280
If you want to get as close as possible to the Moon and stars while sticking to your budget, the Polaris 127mm from Meade is your best choice.
This achromatic refractor from Meade Instruments features a beautiful design with a wide optical tube that lets light flood right in. It comes with a 127mm aperture plus three different eyepieces: a 6.3mm, 9mm, and 26mm. Within the package, you’ll also find a Barlow 2x eyepiece to observe even finer details.
To ensure you can track objects smoothly, the Meade Polaris 127 comes with a stable German equatorial mount, which has slow-motion control settings that allow the user to make smooth and steady tracking for celestial objects.
5. Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$300
The Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ Refractor telescope is powerful, effective, and budget-friendly – making ideal for amateur astronomers.
It has high-quality 90 mm optics having a primary mirror that’s fully coated. This refractor telescope under just under $300 displays spectacular views of heavenly bodies thanks to its slow-motion control Knobs that allow you to make a precise adjustment when stargazing. This telescope weighs 15lbs and is quick to set up, making it easier to use regardless of whether you’re an adult or child.
6. Celestron Inspire 80AZ
- Type: Refractor
- Price: ~$220
For a bit more power in the Inspire family, consider the Celestron Inspire 80AZ.
Moving out of the AstroMaster family, Celestron has several other great telescopes under $300, and the Inspire 80AZ is one such option.
As its name suggests, it has an 80mm refractor with a fully coated lens. Its frame is lightweight, weighing just under 17 lbs, and you can easily set it up with no tools. This affordable telescope also has an adjustable tripod, an accessory tray and a red LED flashlight that comes in handy during any stargazing session.
Lastly, the Celestron Inspire 80AZ has panning handle control that enables you to firmly secure your telescope.
7. Carson Red Planet 45-100ｘ114mm
- Type: Newtonian
- Price: ~$240
The RedPlanet 45-100 x 114mm from Carson is one of the best telescopes under $300. This Carson is a perfect combination of quality, value, features, and power. Thanks to its large 114mm diameter reflecting mirror, the Carson captures plenty of light to deliver crisp, bright images of the Moon and stars. The telescope’s ease of use will seduce beginners the most.
The RedPlanet features a tripod and equatorial mount to provide for a stable viewing platform. The optics come multicoated to ensure maximum light transmission, while the finder-scope offers excellent terrestrial and astronomical viewing opportunities. Last but not least, the RedPlanet comes with two extra eyepieces, a 20 mm eyepiece and a 9mm one, which reveal even sharper images.
There you have it – the list of what I consider to be the best telescopes under $300. Have any questions about these products or have you tried one (or more) of them and want to share your thoughts? Post them in the comments!