Best telescopes 2023 - Our top picks to go stargazing

best telescopes

best telescopes

If you're on the hunt for one of the best telescopes, then we've got you covered right here.

There are a few key things you'll want to look out for when searching for a great telescope, most important of which will probably be price.

If you're just getting started with stargazing, you may want to opt for one of the best telescopes under 200 to begin with before investing in a more expensive option.

But, if you want a telescope for astrophotography, then some of the more affordable options may not be up to the task, which means you're in the right place reading this article.

It's also worth noting whether you want a refractor or reflector telescope. For short-distance stargazing, a refractor telescope is going to be best, whilst if you want to analyse entire galaxies, reflector telescopes will serve you well.

In addition, the size of the telescope is going to be important, as will its use case. If you're just going to stick it next to a bedroom window or you're planning on taking it out anywhere, then something lighter and portable may be best.

But, if you're using it where you've got more space, such as in your backyard, and you want something with a more powerful lens, then going for something bigger will be better.

With all that in mind, we’ve selected what we think are the best telescopes available today, based on specs, reviews, and the features they offer that we think make them stand out from the crowd. In addition, we’ve also taken the time out to answer any burning questions you might have.

So, without further ado, here are some of the best telescopes you can buy today.

Best Telescopes

Best Telescope For Most People - Skywatcher Explorer 130M

best telescope for most people skywatcher
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Image Credit: Skywatcher
Design: Reflector | Aperture: 130mm | Focal Length: 900mm | Mount: Equatorial

For most people, we'd say the best telescope out there is the Skywatcher Explorer 130M.

This is thanks to the fact it's a capable all-rounder, as it has a long lens with a 900mm focal length and aperture of f/6.92, allowing you to view both planets and deep space in great clarity.

As a reflector telescope, this Skywatcher offering should be excellent for more long-range stargazing and its 130mm aperture will allow for some detailed imagery, too.

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In addition, it looks to be pretty easy to set up and rather well-made with its aluminium tripod and metal construction.

There's also plenty of adjustability with the Skywatcher Explorer 130M thanks to its clever multi-speed handset that can allow it to pan around and track planets according to their RA and DEC coordinates, which is rather cool indeed. This comes courtesy of it being an equatorially mounted telescope.

Best Telescope For Enthusiasts - Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ

best telescope for enthusiasts celestron
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Image Credit: Celestron
Design: Reflector | Aperture: 127mm| Focal Length: 1000mm| Mount: Equatorial

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ looks like a marvellous choice for enthusiasts out there who want a handy all-round offering.

First things first, you'll be getting a focal length of 1000mm which will provide you with plenty of opportunities to zoom in to view your favourite galaxies, and with a maximum usable magnification of 300x, you should be able to get nice and close if you want to.

There are also a load of additional eyepieces included with a Barlow, 4mm and 20mm all bundled in to give you the ability to scale the magnification to suit your needs.

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A 127mm aperture, combined with the good magnification, should essentially result in the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ providing you with some amazingly detailed images to enjoy on a clear night.

Do note, you will need some know-how in using an equatorial mount and in the process of polar aligning to get the best out of this telescope, or in other words, aligning your mount in line with the poles to parallel the Earth's axis.

Best Telescope For Astrophotography - Skywatcher Skymax 150 PRO

best telescope for astrophotography skywatcher
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Image Credit: Skywatcher
Design: Maksutov-Cassegrain | Aperture: 150mm | Focal Length: 1800mm | Mount: Equatorial

If you're going to be using your telescope for taking some sharp pictures of planets, galaxies and stars far away, then the Skywatcher Skymax 150 PRO looks like an amazing choice.

You'll find you're getting a beefy 1800mm focal length for some true close-up photography which provides you with a usable magnification of up to 450x. A 28mm eyepiece that comes bundled will also allow you to scale this down to 64x if you need to.

Moreover, its Vixen-style Dovetail plate means the Skywatcher Skymax 150 PRO can be used on any existing telescope mounts you might have around, and any pro-grade mount you do choose is likely to have space for accessories including a powerful DSLR camera for long-exposure photography.

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With that being said, this telescope's optics should be nice and smooth with little to no distortion, allowing for some incredibly clear shots in the process, especially when paired with a high-quality camera, be it a DSLR or an APS-C - there are plenty of different types of camera, which will work especially well for astrophotography.

The focuser on the Skywatcher Skymax 150 PRO also looks to be pretty incredible and should be smooth to operate, as well as being able to maintain fine focus for a good period f time, which is key if you're going to be shooting for an extended period of time.

Best Telescope For Beginners - Celestron Astromaster 102AZ

best telescope for beginners celestron
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Image Credit: Celestron
Design: Refractor | Aperture: 102mm | Focal Length: 660mm | Mount: Altazimuth

If you're someone that is just starting out with telescopes, then the Celestron Astromaster 102AZ should be a great beginner's choice.

It features a focal length of 660mm focal length is which is great for looking at planets in the solar system and a wide 102mm aperture will provide you with some good detail once you're all zoomed in, too.

Moreover, its convenient panhandle setup and Altazimuth mount will allow you to easily pinpoint different objects in the night sky.

It's worth noting that for beginners, an Alt-Az mount is the simplest to use thanks to the convenience of panning in all directions, compared to equatorial mounts which require some work to parallel to the Earth's axis.

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In addition, the Celestron Astromaster 102AZ also features everything you need to get started in the box with some 10 and 20mm eyepieces to regulate the magnification as well as a red-dot finder scope for easy identification and some handy astronomy software.

All in all, quite the handy starter package, therefore, especially since it comes from a manufacturer who also makes some of the best binoculars too that may also be worth your time.

Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!

Best Compact Telescope - SVBONY SV25

best telescope compact svbony
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Image Credit: SVBONY
Design: Refractor | Aperture: 60mm | Focal Length: 420mm | Mount: Fixed

The SVBONY SV25 is a great option if you're looking for a compact and affordable telescope that should be able to set up almost anywhere.

Its 420mm focal length will be decent for some closer objects such as the Moon as well as land objects too, and is a great option for beginners who just want to learn about the world around them. In addition, a 60mm aperture will allow you to see those objects in a good level of detail.

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Moreover, the SVBONY SV25 features an adjustable tripod for added ease of use, and whilst its mount is fixed, you should be able to manoeuvre it around to get some clear images.

There's also a handy phone mount included if you want to take any pictures or video of what you can see out of the telescope, and luckily, many phone cameras these days have dedicated night or low-light modes and should aid you in taking some sharp photos, whether you're using one a flagship or one of the best mid-range phones.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are always going to be a few questions that pop up time and time again when it comes to telescopes, so here are our two cents to help you make an informed decision.

How many mm is a good for a telescope?

This really depends on what you're going to be using the telescope for, and before going any further, it's worth considering that there are two specific measures on a telescope that use millimetres - aperture and focal length.

In taking aperture first, as a general rule, anything above 70mm will be good for beginners, and for more professional or enthusiast-level options, around 130-150mm will be a good starting point.

Aperture itself is a measurement of how large a telescope's lens is. A larger lens can allow more light in, causing more detailed images.

It's similar to how a larger sensor in cameras can allow for higher levels of detail, as well as for better low-light performance. If you're still wanting to know more about aperture, then Celestron themselves have an article on the benefits of a wider aperture.

For focal length, beginners should aim for around 750mm to get good views of closer objects and some longer-distance stargazing. If you're more of a professional, then head for a telescope with over 1000mm of focal length and you shouldn't be disappointed.

What is the best magnification for telescopes?

This depends on what you'd like to see through your telescope.

For wider, and perhaps more general views of space, 20-30x will be a good start and as you zoom further in, images will become more detailed, even up to 300x, for instance.

A good middle ground looks to be a telescope with 100x magnification so you can zoom in far if you want to, as well as keep a wider viewing angle.

How much should I spend on a telescope?

This all depends on what you're going to be using the telescope for. If it's for casual use, then you get away with spending around $100. For a more premium option that will allow for better clarity as well as potentially higher magnification and a better aperture, then you'll be spending up to $300.

If you're going for an all-conquering telescope that you can use for astrophotography, then some of these can run you four-figure sums.

Can a telescope see planets?

To put it simply, of course. Any decent telescope with a good focal length will be able to see planets.

Where things become a little differently is how detailed those images of those planets are, which is where the aperture comes in. A wider range, in theory, should give you more detailed images, which is something to remember when choosing which one to go for.

How powerful does a telescope have to be to see the rings of Saturn?

By rights, anywhere between 25 and 50x magnification should be enough to see the rings of Saturn clearly from your telescope. Of course, the more magnification, the more you'll be able to zoom in, and with a wider aperture, those images should also be more detailed.

What's the difference between a reflector and a refractor telescope?

Reflector telescopes use a series of mirrors to reflect the light entering the telescope, which can alter the size and justification of the image.

Refractor telescopes on the other hand use lenses to slow down the light, which causes the light to bend, effectively enlarging the image.

Can you see galaxies with a telescope?

As long as you've got a telescope with a pretty large aperture (around 8 inches or more), you should be able to see galaxies with no trouble. This is because, of course, galaxies are some of the furthest objects away in the sky, and to see them in some detail, you need to have a wide aperture and decent magnification.

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