How to buy a telescope on Amazon

You have a lot of choices on amazon which is great, but it can be confusing

I went into a local convenience store to buy a bottle of water. And was shocked because there was at least 100 different waters to choose from! What should I have done? I couldn’t research waters and brands right there in the store. I just ended up getting the cheapest water they had. Which is fine for water. But don’t do that with a telescope!! After all, a bottle of water is only around a dollar. But a telescope, well, that will cost you at least a hundred dollars. And most likely more.

In this guide I will assume you are a beginner looking for a first, or a second telescope. I will give you tips and my thoughts on what is good and what is not. I will also give you some price guidelines and some advice that comes from decades of using all kinds of telescopes.

Note that if you are buying a telescope as a gift for someone I have an article devoted specifically to that topic. Check it out here: How to buy a telescope as a Present or Gift

This is a fun process. You are, after all, shopping! So, enjoy the process. Let’s have some fun looking at telescopes! In no time at all we will find you a telescope to look through!!

If you haven’t already seen my book you might want to also consider getting it with your new telescope. It is an easy and basic guide to getting the most out of your small telescope. It even has a chapter on how to easily take photos of celestial objects with your telescope. It is also available on amazon here: See it With a Small Telescope But don’t check out the book yet. I will remind you later. First off let me give you a sense for the price range. The telescopes we will look at range from 100 to 1000 dollars. This gives you a sense of what you will spend.

Stick with the brands that have an established long term reputation. This is important because a telescope can look good in the pictures but not be very good. The optics are so important and established companies do a good job with the optics. The mounts could look good but not function well. Here are my suggestions as to what companies are the best to buy from:

Top one and two in no particular order:

Celestron and Meade

You can browse the Amazon Celestron Store right here

You can browse the Amazon Meade Store right here

And in a close second place I recommend Orion. They have a really nice range of Dobsonian telescopes. If you are buying a Dobsonian Orion is a good choice.

You can shop Orion telescopes on amazon right here

Okay, let’s get started with some general browsing categories

If you would like to simply browse through what they have on amazon I have made it easy for you. First off you can go directly to the section on Best Sellers in telescopes right here: Amazon Best Sellers in Telescopes

And if you are a trendsetter and want to know what the newest telescopes are on amazon you can check them out right here. This is a live listing that changes frequently. But, I recommend you go to that page only if you have some telescope know-how. These new products need time to get reviews and build a reputation.

If you know the general type of telescope you want of the four major types you can go directly to those sections with these links:

Refractor Telescopes
Reflector Telescopes
Dobsonian Telescopes
Catadioptric Telescopes (SCT)

Now for some exact recommendations from Will

First telescope, around 100 – 200 dollars. Possibly a second telescope if the first one you bought was a disappointment.

Are you looking for a telescope that is easy to use and can also be used during the day? Then you should get a refractor telescope on an alt-azimuth mount. That mount works the same way as a camera tripod, It goes up/down and left/right. Very easy to use.

Celestron Powerseeker 70AZ
Why this one: It is a little bit more like what we expect with a telescope. Longer tube and bigger lens. It is also on an alt-azimuth (Up-down/left-right) mount. So it is very easy to use and point at objects in the sky.

If you want a little bit more of an astronomical instrument that is better for night time observing and a little bigger I recommend this celestron. This one also comes with an accessory kit that you are going to be glad you got.

Celestron Astromaster 90EQ with accessory kit –

Why this one: Everybody who uses a telescope once in a while needs to get more accessories. If you think that the recipient of your gift telescope is going to use the telescope more than just a few times you really should get this bundle. It comes with some great to have accessories.

Lets get a little more serious about astronomy. You have done some observing. Know your way around some of the constellations and have seen some planets and deep space objects. Price range here is between 200 and 500 dollars.

This telescope has an eight inch mirror in it. That is a very generous size and it will gather a whole lot more light, see deeper into space than all the previous telescopes we have looked at. Simply designed and very easy to use. Good choice here at a reasonable price.

Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope –

Why this one: This one is a bit more serious. The 8 inch primary mirror is a light bucket that will gather much more light than the previous telescopes. It is also a pretty big telescope. This one is for the recipient that is pretty serious about getting into astronomy as a hobby.

If you travel, do camping, hiking and a lot of outdoor activities and want an excellent telescope to take along with you. Then you need something powerful and small enough to travel with. This is an excellent choice. It is computer driven which will make finding things extremely easy.

The Celestron Nexstar 4 SE – superb optics, great price range. The smallest telescope they make of this type. But they designed it specifically to be useful, powerful, and portable. You can do astrophotography with this telescope.

I like refractor telescopes. For me the crispness of the images is unbeatable. But you have to have good optics and Celestron telescopes have great optics. This 90mm refractor is an excellent scope at a great price. Get the version here with the accessory kit.

Celestron Astromaster 90EQ with accessory kit –

Why this one: Everybody who uses a telescope once in a while needs to get more accessories. If you think that the recipient of your gift telescope is going to use the telescope more than just a few times you really should get this bundle. It comes with some great to have accessories.

Higher end telescopes. Over 500 dollars

With these telescopes you can not go wrong. They are bigger, well built and capable of taking serious astronomical photos. Except for the first one (the dobsonian) that one is designed to be easy to use and gather as much light as possible. This is for the person who loves viewing through the telescope and wants to gather as much light as possible particularly to see nebulae and galaxies. Not so much concerned with astrophotography. Whopping ten inch mirror size.

Meade Instruments 10-inch Truss tube Lightbridge telescope

The Meade 1005-05-03 LightBridge 10-Inch Truss Tube Dobsonian Reflector Telescope is a big telescope that goes anywhere. The setup and takedown are quick so you can take one of these massive windows to the universe out to your favorite dark sky location. LightBridge Dobs give you high quality Meade optics, premium components and ultra portability- all for about the same price as an ordinary tube Dob. Meade optics consistently out-perform telescopes of similar and larger aperture because of the diffraction limited optics. This telescope also features an open truss tube design with new anti-reflection coatings on trusses and castings. The 2-inch Crayford style (10:1, dual speed) machined focuser with 1.25-inch adapter and (Series 4000 QX Wide Angle) 26-millimeter, 2-inch eyepiece produces views that are detailed, crisp and full of contrast. The laminated base features roller bearings on the azimuth axis, variable tension altitude brake, advanced 4-reticle red dot viewfinder, cooling fan and AutoStar Suite Software. This LightBridge (f/5) telescope features a 10-inch aperture and a focal length of 1270-millimeters, while the focal ratio is f/5.

If price is not so much a factor for you and you want quality and exquisite viewing experiences then this is the telescope for you.

 Celestron NexStar 8 –

Why this one: This is a quality telescope that is on the upper range of what an amateur would get while still staying within a reasonable price range. Once telescopes get bigger than this the cost goes up significantly. With this one an amateur astronomer can do a lot including taking amazing photographs of deep space objects, galaxies, nebulae, planets and more.

Celestrons signature orange-tube telescope combines advanced features and excellent optics in one easy-to-use system, the NeXStar 8SE. Its the perfect choice for your first serious telescope, offering impressive views at an economical price.Our Founders Vision, Reimagined for the 21st CenturyIn the 1970s, the classic Celestron 8 brought the hobby of astronomy to the masses and established Celestron as the worlds premier telescope maker. Our founder, Tom Johnson, invented Celestrons proprietary method of producing Schmidt corrector plates for superior views and maximum portability. Johnson believed in creating high-quality optical instruments at an affordable price, and inspired a generation of amateur astronomers.Four decades later, weve improved upon this design by adding cutting-edge features, while staying true to our founders intent.Big Mirror, Small PriceWith a full 8″es of aperture, the 8SE reveals details in even the faintest celestial objects. With this much light-gathering ability, youll clearly observe Cassinis Division in Saturns rings, the cloud bands on Jupiter, and the Great Red Spot. Beyond the solar system, your 8SE will show you hundreds of pinpoint stars in the Hercules Globular Cluster, the spiral arms of the Whirlpool Galaxy, and more. And dont forget the Moonyoull see craters and geographic features like never before.Revolutionary Single Fork Arm MountWe know the best telescope is the one you will use most often.

Okay! So that’s it! I have given you some solid advice on what to get in terms of a telescope. I hope this guide was helpful! If yes and you bought a telescope be sure to send me an email. I would love to hear about it!! – The Telescope Nerd