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The Best Telescopes for Beginners

If you are just setting out on your journey to stargazing and observing celestial objects, buying your first ever telescope can seem like a daunting task. But don’t worry, you are not alone in the universe (as the saying goes!)

There’s a great deal to consider when purchasing any stargazing equipment from price range, to practicality, to general capability of what you’ll be able to see and do.

So with this simple product-by-product guide, you should be able to get a much clearer idea of the type of device you’ll need, within your budget and get great results.

Low-Range Budget (£100 & Under)

If your budget is limited, you could consider one of two routes – a telescope or a pair of binoculars. A good pair of binoculars might be a suitable alternative to a telescope and can give surprisingly good results. They are light, portable and with the right pair, can allow you to enjoy a lot more of the sky than you think. Telescopes however, will provide a better, steadier image. So if observing planets and other celestial objects is your priority, a telescope might be your best bet.

SkyWatcher Mercury 707 Refractor Telescope – From £75.00

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SkyWatcher Mercury 707

The SkyWatcher Mercury 707 refractor telescope allows you to take your first steps into the fascinating world of astronomy. Featuring a 70mm refractor lens on a simple manual mount, it’s easy to use at low and medium powers for both astronomical observation and distant land use. A useful alternative to starting out with binoculars as it allows higher magnification but remains simple to use for beginners.

Great for

  • Beginners on a Budget
  • Ease of use for those wanting to learn the night sky
  • Your first telescope

Downsides

  • High power observations
  • No motorized tracking option available for this mount

Mid-Range Budget (£150-200)

At this price point, you open up a few more options so now it is possible to purchase a nice manual telescope with good tripod and mount with tracking motors.

Good examples we’d recommend would be:

Sky-Watcher Evostar 90 EQ2 – From £164.00

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Sky-Watcher Evostar 90 EQ2

Featuring a 90mm refactor lens, that offers nice and high contrast images. Will easily show the rings of Saturn, the bands and moons of Jupiter, as well as many other objects outside of our solar system. By adding a tracking motor, you will be able to use your telescope at high power and even attach a camera to take pictures of the moon, planets and sun (with a suitable solar filter).

You will however need to learn to navigate the night sky, as you will have to find celestial objects by yourself.

Great for

  • The dedicated beginner on a budget who is prepared to learn the night sky and find objects manually

Downsides

  • You need to learn to navigate the sky to find objects to look at

Upper-Range Budget (£250+)

At this price point you can now look at telescopes that feature the GOTO system. Telescopes with GOTO provide automated navigation so you can find the objects you want to look at automatically, removing the need to know how to navigate the night sky.

The best and most intuitive to use at this price range is:

Sky-Watcher Evostar 90 EQ3 – From £259.00

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Sky-Watcher Evostar 90 EQ3

Featuring the same 90mm refactor lens and quality optics as the model above, yet this model is attached to the EQ3/2 mounting. This mounting offers much more stable support and can be upgraded with a dual axis motor drive, suitable for astrophotography or even a full motorised GoTo system can be added for both astrophotography and automatic navigation. If budget allows, this would be our choice over the basic mount as it offers much greater versatility and will take you beyond the basics.

Great for

  • The dedicated beginner on a budget who is prepared to learn the night sky and find objects manually
  • Upgrading for advanced astrophotography
  • Upgrading to the full GoTo tracking system, for advanced photography and automated navigation

Downsides

  • None

Celestron Nexstar SLT series – From £339.00 – £395.00

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Celestron Nexstar

The Celestron Nexstar range includes the impressive “all star align” facility – a feature that allows anyone to align the telescope to the night sky with no previous knowledge of astronomy.

To align the telescope, enter the time, date and your nearest town; then point the telescope using the handset controls to any three stars in the sky above. You do not even have to know what you are pointing at to align your telescope!!

The telescope is now aligned and you can now navigate by choosing an object from the menu and pressing enter. The telescope will now move to and track your chosen object.

Great for

  • The novice that needs help navigating the night sky
  • General purpose family telescope
  • Making the most of clear skies!

Downsides

  • Can’t be used without battery or mains power
  • Not for those who dislike computer control!
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