Best Telescopes Under $1000

Whether you’re just starting in astronomy or a more experienced stargazer looking for an advanced telescope at a moderate price, there’s a quality scope to fit your budget — even if that budget is $1000 or less. Today’s consumer-grade telescopes include precision optics, computerized star finding, and a range of other features once found only in instruments used by professional astronomers.

The best telescopes under $1000 are designed for ease of use, quick setup, and portability, making them ideal for beginning astronomers eager to learn their way around the night sky. But these telescopes can also accommodate more advanced users and special interests such as lunar mapping and planetary and deep sky astrophotography.

These computerized setups work with smartphones and onboard handsets to provide precision targeting and tracking of up to 40,000-night sky objects. Some scopes include apps, books, and maps that put a world of astronomical information at your fingertips. Most include a full set of the accessories you’ll need to get started with viewing and imaging, such as eyepieces, smartphone adapters and holders, and tripods.

The Best Amateur Telescopes Under $1000

Here’s our list of the best telescopes under $1000 for beginning and intermediate astronomers of all ages, with a brief rundown of the pros and cons to keep in mind.

Celestron Starsense Explorer 8” Dobsonian Smartphone Telescope - $799.95

The Celestron Starsense Explorer is an outstanding beginner telescope that’s perfect for visual astronomy. This 8” reflector telescope works with your smartphone and the StarSense app to target objects for viewing. The Celestron Starsense is mounted on a detachable Dobsonian base for both stability and easy transport, and it comes with a smartphone adapter, a Barlow lens for added magnification, and a laser collimator for easy aligning of its mirrors.


  • One of the best telescopes for beginners under $1000
  • Interactive cellphone app makes it easy to pinpoint objects in the night sky
  • Large aperture for capturing light
  • Base detaches for portability


  • Mirrors must be collimated, but this kit does come with a laser collimator.

Celestron NexStar 5SE Computerized Telescope - $799.95

The Celestron NexStar 5SE 5-inch refractor might be the best astrophotography telescope under $1000. This affordable computerized telescope is suitable for photographing and sharing images of both deep space and planetary objects. The Celestron NexStar 5SE comes with NexRemote and SkyAlign technologies for locating up to 40,000-night sky objects and automatically tracking them for precision viewing and photography. The Celestron NexStar 5SE works with any Celestron planetary camera or DSLR, and the adjustable tripod includes a built-in wedge for long exposures.


  • Best refractor telescope under $1000
  • Fully computerized for easily finding objects and sharing views
  • Easy tracking for extended viewing
  • Long focal length for more magnification
  • Good for starting planetary photography
  • Can be used with a DSLR camera


  • Requires power for optimal operation
  • Not ideal for operating manually

Orion SkyScanner BL135mm Dobsonian Reflector Telescope Kit - $419.99

The Orion SkyScanner is one of the best refractor telescopes under $1000. It’s a compact Dobsonian telescope for beginning astronomers that comes with a kit of stargazing accessories that includes a Moon Filter, Telescope Observer’s Guide, and Orion’s Star Target Planisphere. This reflector telescope has a large 135mm mirror and a red dot finderscope for targeting objects, and its sturdy Dobsonian base keeps the telescope stable. The Orion SkyScanner comes with two eyepieces and a Barlow lens for extra magnification.


  • Easy to use
  • An ideal starter telescope for its price
  • Great views of both planets and deep sky objects
  • Includes MoonMap 260 for locating and identifying lunar features


  • Mirrors must be collimated
  • A laser collimator can help with this, but it’s not included.

Explore Scientific FirstLight 80mm Refractor with Twilight Nano Mount - $239.99

The Explore Scientific FirstLight refractor telescope may be the best amateur telescope under $1000. With an 80mm aperture and an f/8 focal ratio, it’s ideal for clear viewing of planetary and deep sky objects. This portable telescope system comes with a Twilight Nano Alt-Azimuth mount and red-dot viewfinder, plus an adapter for your smartphone to capture and share images of objects you’re viewing. The Explore Scientific FirstLight is a complete kit that also includes a 25mm eyepiece and 90-degree diagonal.


  • Budget-friendly beginner refractor telescope
  • Quality optics for lunar and planetary viewing
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Good gift for new astronomy enthusiasts


  • Shorter focal length means less magnification power
  • Doesn’t include a Barlow lens for increasing viewing power

Sky-Watcher Virtuoso GTi 150 Tabletop GoTo Dobsonian - $470

The Sky-Watcher Virtuoso GTi 150 is a light, collapsible Dobsonian telescope that’s perfect for both travel and backyard observation of both planetary and deep sky objects. This portable refractor scope comes with two eyepieces and a red dot finder, plus the SynScan Pro smartphone app that provides access to a database of over 10,000 objects, including the NGC and Messier catalogs. Sky-Watcher’s patented Freedom Find technology allows manual control of the telescope while retaining precise alignment.


  • Best telescope for beginners under $1000
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Smartphone control to go to objects in the night sky
  • Easy object tracking for extended viewing and image sharing


  • Need to collimate mirrors
  • A laser collimator is highly suggested, but it’s not included.

Celestron NexStar 127SLT Computerized Telescope - $699.95

Celestron’s NexStar 127SLT is an affordable beginner- to an intermediate-level computerized telescope that can be set up and ready for viewing in minutes. This Maksutov-Cassegrain reflector telescope has NexStar computer-controlled technology and a fully computerized Alt-Azimuth mount for finding and tracking more than 40.000 celestial objects. The NexStar 127SLT is powered by either 8 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter and includes upgradeable software for computer control of the telescope.


  • A rich database of celestial objects
  • Long focal length for more magnification
  • Easy locating and tracking objects for extended views and sharing
  • No tools required for setup
  • Cons:
  • Requires power for optimal operation
  • Batteries not included
  • AC adapter is optional

If you have any questions about purchasing a telescope or need to know more, please contact us. The OPTeam will be glad to steer you towards the best possible telescope for your journey into the world of astronomy. Happy stargazing!

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