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Best Telescope For The Money  
Everything You Need to Know to Get a Great Telescope at a Great Price
Top Five for the Money (Based on our Frugal5 Formula)
How do we pick these products? We spend many hours doing unbiased research to only give you the highest rated products at the best price. We first come up with a list of features, which you can see below, that we feel the majority of people will need. We then look for the highest quality products with these features and only show you the top five with the best value. Our mission is to provide you with the best five options based only on the facts. Don't see the product you were thinking about getting? Click here to calculate it's frugal score.
GSI Land And Sky 76mm Reflector EquatorialGSI Super Quality Land And Sky 80mm Reflector EquatorialCelestron 21045 114mm Equatorial Power SeekerCelestron 127EQ Power SeekerCelestron 21062 AstroMaster 70 EQ Refractor
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Product Rating
Average Price
Cheap ($80)
Cheap ($100)
Cheap ($110)
Cheap ($115)
Cheap ($114)
Frugal5 Score
Features Needed
70mm Aperture or Better
- 76 mm
- 80 mm
- 114 mm
- 127 mm
- 70 mm
Astronomical Views
Greater than 100x Useful Magnification
- 269 x
- 300 x
- 165 x
Reflector or Refractor Type
- Reflector
- Reflector
- Reflector
- Reflector
- Refractor
Sturdy, Equatorial Mount
Features Not Needed
Catadioptric Type
Motorized/Computerized Mount
Terrestrial Views
What You Need To Know In 5 Minutes

Most people look to buy telescopes to gaze at the stars, but quickly become overwhelmed by the specifications and features available. Understand that some people buy a telescope, use it for a little while and then lose interest. Others buy a telescope and fall in love with stargazing. Those consumers will soon find themselves hunting for a telescope with additional features and functions that make their nighttime gazing more enjoyable. For your first purchase, choose a basic model that allows you to see what the fuss is about before you decide if a more advanced model is worth pursuing.

Getting the most from your first telescope takes some preparation. You should take time to learn the basic constellations in the sky. A great way to do this is by using a smart phone app like Google Sky to help you locate these objects with the naked eye first. Once you have a basic understanding of where to find these objects, practice with binoculars to get used to navigating the night sky. If, after this preparation, you feel ready, it’s time to start looking for your first telescope. 

What to Look For

Of course, optics are important in any telescope, but the mount that optics rest upon is equally important. Flimsy mounts make telescopes difficult to use, spoiling the fun. Understand that a telescope needs time to adjust to the outdoor temperature before it will work well. Set up your telescope outdoors about 20 minutes before you plan to use it. 

Reflectors and Refractors

Beginners should choose reflector or refractor models for affordability. A reflector telescope, also called a Newtonian reflector, reflects light from a large mirror at the base. It focuses light rays onto a smaller mirror that directs the image to the eyepiece. Because the design requires an open top, they collect dust, requiring cleaning. Mirrors also require an adjustment process called collimation.
A refractor telescope is much easier for the beginning astronomer because it is an enclosed system. These telescopes work the same way as binoculars, using lenses. Unfortunately, the convenience adds to the cost. Both are good choices, but for the beginner who prefers not to fiddle with maintenance, a refractor model may be worth the added cost. 

More advanced configurations like catadioptric are generally too expensive for the beginning astronomer. Dobsonian configurations work well, but don’t offer tracking options important for beginners (see “Tracking Objects in the Sky” below).

Size and Magnification

Generally, the larger the mirror or lens of your telescope, the easier it becomes to see faint objects in the night sky. This size is called the aperture. Beginners can start with a 70mm aperture. Experts recommend choosing the highest aperture you can afford.

The magnification of the telescope will determine how much detail you can see on those objects. Telescopes come with several eyepieces to offer different levels of magnification. However, the higher the magnification of a telescope, the harder it becomes to locate objects in the night sky. 

Tracking Objects in the Sky

Beginners should understand that objects in the night sky don’t stay put. As the earth moves, objects track out of sight. A good tripod has an equatorial mount, allowing the telescope to move in the same curved path that the stars follow. With this mount, a small nudge allows you to continue viewing objects, even as they track across the sky.  Having to constantly adjust and find an object again every time it moves takes all the fun out of the viewing. More advanced telescopes have other tracking technologies, such as computer assisted motorized mounts. These features are generally too expensive for beginner telescopes. 

Brands and Pricing

Celestron and GSI make the most affordable quality telescopes. Expect to pay $80 to $150 on your first one. Orion is a popular brand, but fails to deliver its features for the low price Celestron and GSI offer.

Features You Need
70mm Aperture or Better, Astronomical Views, Greater than 100x Useful Magnification, Reflector or Refractor Type, Sturdy, Equatorial Mount
Features You Don't Need
Catadioptric Type, Motorized/Computerized Mount, Terrestrial Views
What You Should Pay
Between $80.00 - $115.00
Top Of The Line Price
Over $500.00