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The 5 Best Budget Telescopes for Home Reviewed – [2019]

Complete Guide And Recommendations For The Best Inexpensive Telescopes Available

Whether you are a first-time stargazer or an experienced telescope user that needs an upgrade, we have some incredible choices.

We also strongly recommend checking out our guide on How to Choose a Telescope for Home to make sure you fully understand what you need to consider as you make a decision on which telescope is right for you.

Best Budget Telescopes for Home

 Gskyer 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Telescope Celestron 21035 70mm Travel ScopeCelestron 31042 AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope
editors choice

ApertureAperture of 70mm
Aperture of 70mm
Aperture of 114mm
Focal LengthFocal length of 400mm
Focal length of 400mm
Focal length of 1000mm
Focal RatioFocal ratio of f/5.7
Focal ratio of f/5.7
Focal ratio of f/8.7
Customer Ratings
4.5 / 5.0 Stars3.9 / 5.0 Stars4.0 / 5.0 Stars

Also see: Best Budget Telescopes Comparison Table


Quick Answer: The 5 Best-Rated Budget Telescopes

  1. Gskyer 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Telescope for Kids & Beginners
  2. Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope
  3. Celestron 31042 AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope
  4. Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope
  5. Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope

Best Budget Telescopes for Home Reviews

Best Telescope for Kids

#1 – Gskyer 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Telescope for Kids & Beginners

best buudget telescope

Gskyer 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Telescope At A Glance:

  • Aperture of 70mm
  • Focal length of 400mm
  • Focal ratio of f/5.7
  • Magnification up to 120X
  • 10mm and 25mm eyepieces
  • Barlow lens
  • Compact carrying bag
  • Smartphone adaptor
  • Adjustable tripod
  • Bluetooth camera remote

If you’re looking for a great children’s telescope, this choice from Gskyer is our pick for the best telescope for kids. It definitely isn’t just for kids, though. We think this is the best telescope for beginners regardless of age.

It is fairly basic compared to some of our high-tech choices later on the list, but that is part of what makes it a good beginner telescope. It also helps to keep the price down as this telescope is very affordable.

That’s especially true when you look at the specs, quality, and included accessories that you get with this purchase.

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The aperture of this Gskyer telescope is 70mm. What that means is that the objective lens is 70mm in diameter. This is an important factor because the objective lens is the main lens of the telescope that collects light in order to produce the images you see through the telescope.

Basically, the higher the aperture, the more light you get. The more light you get, the brighter and clearer the image is. While 70mm is the smallest aperture you’ll find on our list, it is still a decent size that still allows it to be the best starter telescope that produces good, high-resolution images.

The focal length of this telescope is 400mm. This length along with the aperture determines the focal ratio of f/5.7. The focal ratio of the telescope tells you how wide or narrow your view of the sky will be as well as what level of brightness you will see it at.

A focal ratio of f/5.7 is relatively low, which mostly just means that you’ll have a wider view of the sky with a bit less magnification than options with higher focal ratios.

This means that this telescope is not the best telescope for viewing planets in great detail, but it is excellent for looking at larger celestial objects like galaxies or nebulas. It also shows you these objects with greater brightness than something with a higher focal ratio.

This telescope comes with 2 different eyepieces as well as a Barlow lens. Each different eyepiece has a different magnification. The 25mm eyepiece magnifies the images 16X, while the 10mm eyepiece magnifies at 40X.

Then, the Barlow lens can be used with either of the eyepieces to increase the magnification by 3X. This means that the maximum magnification you get with this telescope is 120X, which isn’t too bad considering the low cost.

An included smartphone adaptor and a Bluetooth camera remote make this the best telescope for astrophotography on a budget!

Assembly is simple and only takes around 10-20 minutes even for beginners. The entire telescope and all of its accessories fold down and fit into an included compact carrying bag to make this an easily portable telescope. There is so much to love about this incredible telescope.

It really is one of the best budget telescope options for kids or beginners and gives you the best quality and versatility for the low price.


Best Telescope Under 100

#2 – Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope

Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope At A Glance:

  • Aperture of 70mm
  • Focal length of 400mm
  • Focal ratio of f/5.7
  • Magnification up to 165X
  • Full-size tripod
  • 10mm and 20mm eyepieces
  • Erect image diagonal
  • Backpack-style carrying bag
  • Free Starry Night software
  • Free SkyPortal Astronomy app
  • Finder scope included

Here is our top pick for the best telescope under 100! If you’re looking for an impressive telescope but can’t or don’t want to spend too much, this is definitely the best budget telescope for home use. It’s the Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope.

Celestron is an industry leader that makes telescopes of all different sizes and abilities. From the best amature telescopes to top-notch professional options, Celestron has something for everyone.

Because of their high quality and impressive reputation, you can plan to see more Celestron options down the rest of our list of recommendations.

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This particular choice is incredibly inexpensive and is easily the best cheap telescope to buy. It is actually a decent bit below $100 and is even a good bit cheaper than our previous pick from Gskyer.

This Celestron model is actually pretty similar to the Gskyer telescope in term of specs. It features the same 70mm aperture, 400mm focal length, and f/5.7 focal ratio as the Gskyer. Similar stats leave these two telescopes at a similar size.

That means that this is another very portable option. It even comes with a convenient backpack style carrying bag. This bag is a little bigger than the Gskyer bag, but it is also easier to carry since you can put it on your back.

This telescope comes with a 10mm eyepiece as well as a 20mm eyepiece. It also comes with something called an erect image diagonal. This nifty little device goes between the telescope itself and the eyepiece of your choosing. It has a couple of cool functions.

First of all, it corrects the orientation of the image. This is especially helpful if you choose to use your telescope for viewing things on this planet such as wildlife. Secondly, it allows you to look into your telescope at a much more comfortable viewing angle.

The included tripod adjusts easily between 22 and 52 inches for use on the ground or a table. Possibly one of the coolest things about this telescope is that it comes with Celestron’s special software called Starry Night.

Starry Night is an interactive simulator of the night sky. It lets you explore space virtually which can help you learn a ton and plan out what you will look at when you use the telescope. You’ll also be able to download Celestron’s SkyPortal Astronomy app.

This app is also an interactive map of the night sky and it allows you to even hold your phone up to help you find certain celestial objects in relation to where you are on Earth.

The app can even provide you with a specialized list of the best celestial objects to view based on your current location and the time.

This special software, free app, and the included finder scope on the telescope all work together to make it incredibly easy to locate the things you would like to view in your Celestron telescope.


Best Telescope Under 200

#3 – Celestron 31042 AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope

Celestron 31042 AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope At A Glance:

  • Aperture of 114mm
  • Focal length of 1000mm
  • Focal ratio of f/8.7
  • Magnification up to 269X
  • Red dot finder scope
  • 10mm and 20mm eyepieces
  • Manual equatorial mount
  • Steel tripod
  • Free Starry Night software
  • Free SkyPortal Astronomy App

If you’re okay with spending just a little more, you can get our pick for the best telescope under 200! This is really the best telescope for the money if you’re looking for some really incredible features with amazing quality at a more affordable price.

One of the most notable differences of this Celestron telescope compared to our previous two choices is the aperture of 114mm. This is considerably larger than the 70mm apertures of the last two telescopes.

It brings in a lot more light that allows you to see more objects that are farther away in greater detail.

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A focal length of 1000mm gives the telescope a focal ratio of f/8.7.

This is a nice medium focal ratio that gives you some leeway in either direction whether you are more interested in viewing wider fields of view with nebulas and galaxies or if you’re trying to look for more detail among things like the moon and planets.

Included 10mm and 20mm eyepieces are easy to swap out for greater versatility.

Under the right conditions, this telescope has strong magnification capabilities of up to 269 times. This is much more than our previous picks and not too far from the highest magnification on our list of recommendations.

A special red dot finder scope makes it especially easy to get your telescope pointed in the right direction for viewing whatever you’re interested in. Just like our last Celestron recommendation, this telescope does come with the free Starry Night software.

One more highly notable feature about this Celestron AstroMaster telescope is the manual equatorial mount. This is the piece of equipment that attaches the scope to the included tripod.

What’s special about this mount is that it has multiple knobs that allow you to adjust the direction of the telescope in tiny, smooth increments.

This is amazingly helpful for tracking celestial objects. The tripod is also superiorly strong and steady with thick, steel-tube legs for clear and consistent viewing.


Best Telescope Under 500

#4 – Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope

Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope At A Glance:

  • Aperture of 102mm
  • Focal length of 1325mm
  • Focal ratio of f/13
  • Magnification up to 241X
  • Steel-tube tripod
  • Motorized mount
  • Automatic object locating and tracking
  • Handheld remote control
  • Free Starry Night software
  • Free SkyPortal app

If you really want a state-of-the-art telescope that provides incredible imagery with ease, you need to check out the Celestron NexStar 4 SE. This Celestron telescope is our pick for the best telescope under 500.

The aperture of the Celestron NexStar 4 SE is actually just a little smaller than that of the Celestron AstroMaster at 102mm. The focal length, however, is longer at 1325mm. This creates a higher focal ratio of f/13.

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This means it is a great telescope to see planets and other celestial objects within a smaller field of view with greater detail. It is perfect for distinguishing between two very close stars, looking at the craters on the moon with great detail, or checking out Saturn’s rings.

This Celestron telescope has magnification capabilities up to 241X. This is just below that of the Celestron AstroMaster. Just like our other Celestron picks, this telescope does include the Starry Night software for free and you can download Celestron’s SkyPortal app.

Both create amazing interactive sky maps to help you get the most out of your stargazing experiences. What is probably most spectacular about this telescope, though, is the built-in NexStar SkyAlign technology.

This impressive technology allows the telescope to automatically adjust itself to positions that let you view specific celestial objects with ease.

The NexStar database has thousands of objects that you can set the telescope to look at. This includes various stars, planets, galaxies, and more. It couldn’t be any easier than this to find the things you want to look at.

To use it, you simply locate and mark 3 different bright objects in the sky. From there, the telescope is able to find nearly anything else that you may want to look at.

A connected remote allows you easy control of this astronomical system. It should be noted that while this is a very high-quality and impressive telescope, the NexStar database actually includes many objects that can’t be viewed with it due to not being bright enough.

With the high focal ratio, this is probably the best telescope for planets. However, if you’re interested in seeing more of the objects within the NexStar SkyAlign database, the next up telescope might be more suited for you.


Best Telescope Under 1000

#5 – Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope

Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope At A Glance:

  • Aperture of 150mm
  • Focal length of 1500mm
  • Focal ratio of f/10
  • Magnification up to 354X
  • Steel-tube tripod
  • Motorized mount
  • Automatic object locating and tracking
  • Handheld remote control
  • Free Starry Night software
  • Free SkyPortal app

This is the Celestron NexStar 6 SE telescope. It is our pick for the best telescope under 1000 and it is basically like an upgraded version of the NexStar 4 SE. It looks very similar to the 4 SE in design.

It is larger, though, which is what drives the cost up higher. The aperture of the NexStar 6 SE is an impressive 150mm – a good bit larger than the 4 SE. The focal length of the 6 SE is a bit longer than that of the 4 SE as well at 1500mm.

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With an aperture of 150mm and a focal length of 1500mm, this telescope ends up with a focal ratio of 4/10. This is in the middle of the previous Celestron telescopes.

It means that it is excellent for viewing planets and smaller fields, but it is also perfectly capable of showing stunning images of wider view objects like nebulas and galaxies. The 150mm aperture brings in quite a bit more light than any of our other picks.

That means that you’ll be able to see much more with this telescope and it can show you thousands of different amazing things throughout space with the power of the NexStar SkyAlign technology. The magnification of this telescope can be as much as 354X.

It has the same motorized mount and automatic locating and tracking abilities as the 4 SE. The remote makes it easy to control and the included steel-tube tripod keeps the telescope nice and steady for easy locating, viewing, and tracking.

Since this is another Celestron telescope, it does also come with the free Starry Night software and free SkyPortal app. When you take into consideration the aperture and focal length of the telescope, it is actually a very compact choice.

Although, it is the heaviest option on our list of recommendations at 30 pounds. The telescope does, however, break down into several relatively lightweight pieces that make transport much easier.

Overall, if you have a more open budget, this is definitely the best telescope to buy for maximum light gathering and viewing capabilities.


Best Budget Telescopes Comparison Table

  PriceApertureFocal LengthFocal RatioCustomer Ratings
Gskyer 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Telescope $95.99 70mm
400mm
f/5.7
4.5 / 5.0 Stars
Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope$69.88 70mm
400mm
f/5.7
3.9 / 5.0 Stars
Celestron 31042 AstroMaster 114 EQ Reflector Telescope
$189.98 114mm
1000mm
f/8.7
4.0 / 5.0 Stars
Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope$499.00 102mm1325mm f/134.1 / 5.0 Stars
Celestron NexStar 6 SE Telescope$799.00150mm1500mm f/104.1 / 5.0 Stars

How to Choose a Telescope for Home

Telescopes are incredible tools that allow us to remotely explore far outside our own planet and even solar system. They can be very useful and entertaining whether you want to study the stars in depth or if you’re just looking to enjoy the night sky a bit better.

Celestron-best budget telescope review

If you are looking for the best home telescope, we have the perfect recommendations for you. We have sifted through the many different home telescope options out there. We looked at different features, specs, quality, and prices and now bring you this list of the best budget telescopes for home use.

Choosing the best home telescope can be hard. Options range from less than $100 to over $1000. The many differences and specs of telescopes can be confusing.

So, if you are having trouble figuring out how to buy a telescope that is right for you, read over the parameters below. We have simplified the basics of telescope-buying to make it easier for you to make the right choice.

Aperture

The aperture of a telescope is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right telescope for you. Aperture simply refers to the diameter of the objective lens of the telescope – that is, the main lens.

This part of the telescope is what gathers light, which to put it simply, determines the brightness and clarity of the images you see. In other words, the larger the aperture, the better the telescope in terms of what you can view and in how much detail.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to choose the largest aperture available. An aperture as low as 70mm can still be one of the best amateur telescopes out there and can still produce great imagery far beyond anything you could ever see with the naked eye.

While the images are better with a larger aperture, telescope cost is closely related to the aperture. So, a larger aperture means higher cost. A larger aperture also means a larger and heavier telescope in most cases. It is up to you to determine what balance of viewing ability, portability, and affordability is right for you.

Focal Length/Focal Ratio

Focal length and focal ratio are more important factors that affect what a telescope is good for and therefore can help you to determine if a certain telescope is right for you or not.

Focal length simply refers to the distance from the objective lens of the telescope to the focal point of the image you’re viewing. This distance divided by the aperture of a telescope gives you the focal ratio.

A higher focal ratio is ideal for seeing greater detail on things like planets and the moon. It is perfect for checking out Saturn’s rings or looking at the craters on the moon in great detail.

A higher focal ratio also means better ability to differentiate between objects close together like double stars. A lower focal ratio is great for wider views.

They can show you greater brightness because it focuses on a wider area. This is perfect for things like viewing galaxies and nebulas.

Magnification

Magnification is simply the number of times larger a telescope can magnify an image you’re looking at. This is largely influenced by the size of the eyepiece(s) a telescope comes with.

Each eyepiece also has a focal length just like that of your actual telescope. This length determines the amount of magnification you get on the image produced by your telescope.

A shorter eyepiece focal length means more magnification. Most telescopes have the ability to let you swap out eyepieces to change your magnification, but the maximum magnification of each telescope also depends on the regular focal length.

The longer the focal length of the telescope, the higher the maximum magnification is.

Accessories

Finally, you’ll want to consider what types of telescope accessories that your telescope has. This varies wildly with different telescopes, so take care to pay attention to these details. Some telescopes come with just one eyepiece while others include multiple ones.

Most telescopes come with a tripod, but some are much sturdier than others. Portable telescopes are likely to come with carrying bags for added convenience.

A motorized mount on some telescopes makes adjustment especially easy. Some telescopes even come with the ability to adjust themselves to focus on certain specific points in the sky such as well-known celestial objects.

A finder scope is another accessory that can make manually finding objects much easier. Think about these things and consider what is most important to you in a telescope.

Home Telescope FAQs

Are telescopes hard to use?

The difficulty of a telescope depends on the telescope. We purposefully chose a variety of different telescopes that are all fairly user-friendly for our list of recommendations.

Most home telescopes are not too difficult and can be figured out by reading the manual.

 

Do telescopes work during the day?

Telescopes certainly work during the day, but you are a lot more limited on what you can view. The moon can often be seen during the day, though. Certain planets such as Venus can sometimes be viewed during the daytime as well.

You can even look at the sun IF you get a special solar filter for your telescope. Never look directly at the sun with or without a telescope if you don’t have the proper equipment such as a special solar filter for your telescope.

 

Can telescopes take pictures?

Telescopes, themselves, don’t take pictures. However, many telescopes are compatible with different cameras. Some are even compatible with your phone.

Buyer’s Tips for At-Home Telescopes

Choosing a telescope may be a little more complicated than you once thought. There are many important features to consider such as aperture, focal ratio, and magnification. We aimed to help you understand these specs in our above guide.

We hope that through our carefully-written guide and detailed reviews that you can find the best budget telescope for your specific needs and desires.

Remember that telescope Amazon reviews are one of the best sources of info out there if you still have trouble making a decision.

Amazon can definitely be a great place to purchase your telescope as well since they do have a ton of great options with reasonable pricing, fast shipping, and unbeatable customer service.

Even so, it is never a bad idea to explore what’s out there in terms of finding the best deal. Soon, you’ll be enjoying breathtaking sites from all over the galaxy and beyond!

Magnification
Features & Accessories
Price / Value

Outside Pursuits has chosen the Gskyer 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Telescope as Editor's Choice in the Budget Telescopes category.

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OutsidePursuits.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. OutsidePursuits.com earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

R. L. Moore "El Tigre"

Richard M. aka El Tigre is an avid adventure traveler with extensive trekking experience throughout Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. In 1998 he weathered category 5 Hurricane Mitch on the northern coast of Honduras. He has mountain-biked, hiked and 4x4 toured extensively in Central America, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico. In the summer of 2004 he lived among the Kuna Indians of the San Blas islands in Panama. Today, he manages a real estate investments company based in San Jose, Costa Rica and organizes adventure travel excursions to Costa Rica. He is a motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys sport touring and dual-sport riding. Richard lives in Arizona.

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