Observing the starry sky is quite an exciting activity, and not only professional astronomers, but also amateurs have been interested in it for quite a long time – there are many discoveries that were made by them. You can look into the depths of space in the observatory, where very powerful optical instruments are installed, but there are also telescopes for home use.
We decided to dedicate today’s review specifically to amateur telescopes. They do not occupy a very large niche on the market, but there are plenty to choose from. On sale there are products designed for beginners, teenagers, as well as people who have been engaged in space exploration for quite a long time. Before proceeding to the consideration of specific models, we decided to first give some recommendations regarding the choice of telescopes.
What is the basis for choosing a good telescope?
First of all, it should be borne in mind that the telescope is a rather complex structure; it can be used to see objects that are at a considerable distance from the observer. In shape, it is a pipe, on one side of which there is a lens that collects light, or a concave mirror – a lens. On the other is an eyepiece through which a person will look at the image.
Even the simplest telescopes are mostly equipped with a special finder that allows you to see specific space objects. In addition to them, a light filter can be provided, which somewhat muffles the radiance of the stars, allowing them to be viewed without harm to the eyes.
More complex models are equipped with various electronic equipment, a GPS navigator, even an electric motor. Most often on sale you can find the so-called refractors or lens telescopes. Their design is the simplest – the lens and the eyepiece are located on the same axis, and the image is transmitted directly in a straight line. They are not too expensive and are great for beginners. With their help, you can easily see most of the objects in the solar system. It is recommended to use such a telescope far from the city, where there is no street light in the sky.
A reflector or mirror telescope has a slightly different principle of operation – the beam is transmitted by two concave mirrors, one of which is located in the lens, and the other reflects the image at an angle, since the eyepiece is located on the side here. Such telescopes are most suitable for exploring deeper space – galaxies, stars, nebulae. There are a lot of settings here, so it will not be so easy for a teenager or a beginner to cope with adjusting the picture.
Catadioptrics combine the advantages of mirror and lens models. These telescopes are considered to be universal – they can be used to view both relatively close and very distant objects. The image obtained in the eyepiece of such a telescope is very clear, so you can photograph the objects you like.
When developing our ranking of the best telescopes of 2020, we took into account the feedback from users and professional astronomers, as well as the value for money of the device. Our review did not include the most expensive products, which for sure will not be affordable for every fan of watching the starry sky. Now let’s look at the main characteristics of the products included in the rating.
Universal designs for beginners
3. Veber 400/80AZ
Our rating is opened by a design characterized by compactness, excellent aperture ratio and reasonable cost. The telescope is perfect for long trips to nature, but it can be installed at home or in an apartment. The eyepiece is equipped with a Schmidt prism, the picture is straight, not mirrored. The maximum magnification is 160 times – through such a telescope you can see lunar craters with a diameter of about 7-8 km, see the rings of Saturn, the clouds of Jupiter, and so on. The lens here is achromatic, due to which the picture is as clear and sharp as possible across the entire field of view – there are no distortions or coloring at the edges.
Particular attention should be paid to the ocular part. It is at an angle of 45 degrees to the axis of the device, and if necessary, can rotate, locking in one of eight positions. Thanks to this possibility, observation becomes the most comfortable – you can watch the starry sky both in a standing and sitting position. The picture is straight, not mirrored. The design provides for an azimuthal mount, which even a child can handle, there are two micrometer handles responsible for pointing, and a viewfinder is also installed. Due to all these elements, the telescope can be accurately brought to the target. The tripod is not included in the kit, it will have to be purchased separately.
- The parameters are just perfectly balanced;
- One of the lightest in our entire review – its weight is only 4 kg;
- Acceptable cost.
- The mount should be handled with the utmost care – there is a high probability of damaging it.
2. Levenhuk Strike 80NG
A refractor telescope, it has a small mass, if necessary, it can be carried in one hand. When disassembled, the dimensions are small – about 80 cm, so you can even travel with such a telescope in public transport. The design provides for an inverting prism, due to which the picture is not inverted, but straight. The telescope is considered universal, since it can also be used to observe terrestrial objects, it is used even in the daytime. The pipe of the device is painted white, practically does not heat up in direct sunlight. The build quality of the device is excellent. The design is made very carefully and reliably.
The viewfinder has a red dot called Starpointer, which makes it even more convenient to use, finding the desired object in the sky is quite simple. Before starting observations, it is worth setting the viewfinder coaxially with the main tube of the product. The focuser is made of high-quality plastic of increased rigidity, it is characterized by a soft stroke, there is no backlash. The telescope has a Yoke alt-azimuth mount, thanks to which the weight of the product is lightened, and it becomes even easier to control it. There is a special hood, which is designed to provide high-quality protection of the lens even from strong impacts and from dew. Mounts on a tripod very quickly. A special planetarium program is supplied with the telescope, there is also a book for beginner astronomers and a compass. All these points allow you to master the basic skills of using the telescope for its intended purpose in the shortest possible time.
- The greatest useful magnification is 360x;
- The viewfinder is equipped with a red dot;
- The kit contains everything you need for comfortable work with this equipment.
- Weak luminosity, therefore, it is recommended to use a telescope exclusively for observing dim celestial bodies.
Levenhuk Strike 80NG
1. Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ
This is a very functional product, which is characterized by excellent build quality and the resulting image. The optics here are powerful, all mechanical elements are reliable, using this telescope is very simple. Through it, you can view a lot of space objects, and the picture will be bright and contrasting. The design is modern and interesting. Such a telescope will be most suitable for a person who is seriously interested in astronomy. With this equipment, you can see many stars in our galaxy, various constellations – Sagittarius, Eagle, Scorpio, Cassiopeia and many others. It is quite natural that a telescope will be able to see all the major planets of our solar system, various nebulae, and so on.
The kit comes with a viewfinder with a red dot, in addition, there are two eyepieces, the diameters of which are 10 and 20 mm. The first allows you to get a picture enlarged 33 times, the second – 65 times. With such eyepieces, you can quickly catch the desired object. The 2x and 5x Barlow lenses provide high power to the telescope, and special filters for the moon and stars are also provided. At maximum settings, you can get a magnification of 307 times – in this case, you will be able to consider craters, paths, the famous Martian channels, and so on.
- Acceptable cost;
- High image quality;
- Strong and reliable assembly;
- Minor weight.
- At first, catching a celestial body in the lens will be quite problematic.
Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ
The best telescopes for deep space
3. Synta Sky-Watcher BK 1149EQ1
This is a fairly high quality Newtonian reflector equipped with an EQ1 equatorial mount. Thanks to this device, you can see many galaxies, various star clusters, nebulae and other space objects that are far from the Earth at a distance of a huge number of light years. The manufacturer claims that this telescope is suitable even for observing closer objects belonging to the solar system – planets, asteroids, comets, satellites, and so on. The image is quite bright, all sorts of chromatic aberrations are not observed. The design provides a very convenient optical finder. The telescope comes with two eyepieces – their diameters are 25 and 10 mm. The first is intended to obtain an overview image, the second is used to study the selected space object in more detail.
The optical tube is placed on a special equatorial mount, with which it is possible to compensate for the daily movement of objects across the sky. All mechanisms are characterized by smooth movements, no jerks are provided. If necessary, an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery is placed on the right ascension axis. It is not included in the kit, it must be purchased separately.
- Very high performance in terms of aperture ratio;
- If necessary, you can install various kinds of accessories;
- Spherical aberrations of the image are completely absent.
- Quite a serious mass – it is 11.7 kg, it is not very convenient to take it on foot;
- The power of the eyepieces leaves much to be desired, astronomers recommend purchasing additional ones to get a better picture.
Synta Sky-Watcher BK 1149EQ1
2. Levenhuk Skyline 76×700 AZ
This model, like the previous one, is made on the basis of the classical optical scheme – Newton’s reflector. Such a design is ideal as a first tool for a novice astronomer who is just taking his first steps in this field – the telescope does not weigh too much (it can be easily transported as an ordinary hand luggage), it is distinguished by an acceptable cost and ease of use. The optical scheme does not distort colors, such chromatic aberration often occurs in inexpensive lens models, it is best seen at the edge of fairly bright objects. The telescope comes with everything you need for comfortable observation.
The mirror of the telescope has a diameter of 76 mm, thanks to which it is possible to collect light about 100 times more than with the naked eye. Thanks to this quality, one can consider not only the planets themselves, but also their large satellites. It shows well objects that are far from the solar system – galaxies, nebulae, various kinds of double stars or star clusters. All mirrors are coated with protective compounds, due to which it is possible to ensure a long period of operation of this equipment. The telescope tube is made of lightweight aluminum alloy and is mounted on a manual alt-azimuth mount. The set comes with a tripod, which, if necessary, can be adjusted in height, it has a convenient shelf for various accessories. The optical finderscope has a 6x magnification, so you can easily find the desired object. Eyepiece lenses are made of glass, they have multilayer coating. The maximum useful magnification is 150x.
- Suitable weight for manual transport;
- Reliable and stable tripod;
- Acceptable aperture;
- If desired, you can install various kinds of accessories.
- Not the most powerful eyepieces are supplied with the telescope.
Levenhuk Skyline 76×700 AZ
1. Celestron NexStar 130 SLT
This telescope belongs to the latest series of devices equipped with computer control. This design is designed specifically for people who have just begun to comprehend the basics of observing celestial bodies. The telescope was manufactured using the latest technology for automatic targeting, and the control system is intuitive. The kit comes with a number of additional components that make the telescope completely ready for use. The tuning process is carried out through a special computer application, and there is not even a need to know the names of the stars. The telescope will point its lens at the object selected in the available database.
This allows you to significantly save time on reconciliation with stellar maps. Such a telescope is equipped with the most modern software, if necessary, it can be updated via the Internet. The connection between the telescope and the mount has been modernized, so if necessary, you can quickly change the optical tube. To make the design as stable as possible, steel tubular tripods are used instead of aluminum tripods, which, if necessary, will easily extinguish even serious vibrations.
- computerized telescope;
- Included is a remote control;
- Sufficiently high luminosity;
- Controlled by a special computer application;
- The highest magnification can reach 307x.
Celestron NexStar 130 SLT
The best hybrid telescopes
3. Levenhuk Skyline PRO 80 MAC
Many astronomers consider this model to be professional; it is made on the basis of a system of lenses and mirrors Maksutov-Cassegrain. The telescope has a fairly compact size, the picture is very high quality. First of all, such a telescope is designed to observe distant space objects – double stars, clusters, nebulae and galaxies. The lens diameter is 80mm. The telescope is mounted on a robust German-made equatorial mount. The tool is well suited for field trips, especially since it does not weigh too much. The lenses are coated with anti-reflective compounds, so that maximum light passes through them. Mirror surfaces also have a special protective layer, which greatly increases their service life.
The equatorial mount is equipped with handles for fine movements, a connector for installing an electric motor is provided. The mount has special circles of coordinates, due to which you can quickly find the desired object by celestial coordinates. The tripod is adjustable in height, there is a shelf. With the help of such a telescope, you can get the highest return, which will be very useful both for observations and for taking photographs of various space objects.
- Good luminosity;
- Small size and weight;
- If necessary, you can connect various kinds of accessories.
- Expensive construction.
Levenhuk Skyline PRO 80 MAC
2. CELESTRON NEXSTAR 4 SE
In second place in this section of the ranking of the best telescopes is a versatile device with an attractive optical design. It is easy to install and has a compact size, and the cost is quite acceptable. The diameter of the main mirror is 102 mm. With such dimensions, it will be possible to make out relatively close objects, located mainly within the solar system. The optics are treated with anti-reflective compounds, it is produced using Star Bright XLT technology, which minimizes the possible loss of light. The telescope comes with a base containing over 4,000 cataloged objects. If necessary, it can be updated via the Internet.
The telescope is fully computerized, a motorized fork mount is provided – this allows you to find and track space objects in automatic mode. SkyAlign guidance system – it is enough to point it at three stars, after which it will align the device. This feature is very handy for beginners. The telescope operates on the basis of the Maksutov-Kassergrain optical scheme; it will not require additional color calibration. The dimensions of the optical tube are insignificant, it is also characterized by low weight. Folding the tripod is very easy.
- It is brought into working position within only a few minutes;
- Portable overall dimensions;
- Small mass;
- Doesn’t need calibration.
- Due to the diameter of the main mirror, it is not always possible to view objects located in deep space.
CELESTRON NEXSTAR 4 SE
1. Levenhuk SkyMatic 105 GT MAK
The undisputed leader in its segment of the best telescopes is this design, which has a pointing function. Another important advantage in terms of equipment operation is a relatively small weight and compact overall dimensions. This was achieved largely due to the use of the Maksutov-Cassegrain optical scheme. The diameter of the main mirror is 102 mm, the focal length is significant – this allows you to consider both fairly distant objects such as nebulae or star clusters, as well as close ones – planets, comets, asteroids, satellites, and so on. The mount is equipped with drives for each axis, due to which it is possible to take photographs with short shutter speeds. With a standard SLR or even a webcam, you can get a great feed from the lunar surface. The telescope finds all the required objects on its own.
Azimuth mount with automatic aiming function is very simple to operate – even a child can figure it out. Guidance is carried out by a special remote control with the SynScan AZ system. The database contains over 40,000 space objects. If necessary, the telescope is connected to a laptop or a personal computer – there is a special cable for this, control is carried out using a number of programs. The telescope comes with two eyepieces with focal lengths of 10 and 25 mm.
- Can be controlled by computer;
- There is a function of automatic aiming at objects;
- If necessary, you can connect various kinds of accessories;
- The tripod is very comfortable and weighs a little.
Levenhuk SkyMatic 105 GT MAC
In conclusion, we offer a thematic video
Our review of the best telescopes of 2020 has come to its logical conclusion. We hope that among the considered tools, the most suitable one was found for you. If you have any questions regarding a particular product, you can ask us in the comments to this article.