Best Telescopes Under $400
The best telescopes under $400 have all the features new astronomers need to start their stargazing journey. But they also include precision optics, adaptability, and quality design that can accommodate more experienced users. If you’re a beginner looking for a quality telescope that’s easy to set up and use or are a more seasoned explorer on a budget, today’s consumer telescopes from leading manufacturers such as Celestron and Orion have plenty to offer for less than $400.
With options for astrophotography, deep sky viewing, and even daytime nature observation, there’s a mid-range telescope with the configuration and accessories you need to begin observing and learning about the celestial objects in your night sky. Because they’re easy to set up and use right out of the box, they can open the world of astronomy to the whole family.
Top Telescopes for Beginners and Astronomy Enthusiasts
The telescopes on our list include refractors, reflectors, and dedicated astrophotography instruments. Most come with all the essentials you’ll need to start viewing immediately, with a minimal learning curve and a quick setup. Some feature computerized tools for locating and tracking objects, plus added apps and software for finding and learning about more than 10,000 observable objects. Here are the top telescopes under $400, with a few pros and cons of each.
The Askar FMA135 Triplet APO Telescope is made for superior astrophotography on a. budget. This compact, versatile astrograph has an objective lens with a 30-millimeter aperture and focal length of 135 millimeters, plus a flattener designed for wide-field astrophotography. This design makes the Askar FMA135 an outstanding choice for both astrophotography and visual observation. The Askar FMA135 can also work as a finder or guide scope, and with adapters, it can be attached to a variety of DSLR or dedicated astronomy camera bodies for use in terrestrial imaging as well as night sky photography.
- Great for entry-level, wide-field astrophotography of deep-sky objects
- Also works as a guide scope and 135-millimeter camera lens
- Comes with rear-end visual adapter and thread for DSLR or astronomy cameras
- Not powerful enough for up-close observations of distant objects
- Requires adapters for use with cameras
The Celestron 114LCM Computerized Telescope combines quality optics with computerized tools for locating and tracking night sky objects. This Newtonian reflector scope features a 114-millimeter aperture with a focal length of 1,000 millimeters for clear viewing of the solar system and deep sky objects. The Celestron 114LCM comes with an array of computerized assists, including NexStar computer control technology, SkyAlign AutoAliign, plus GoTo software for easy alignment and tracking of more than 4,000 celestial objects in the telescope’s accompanying database. The package also includes an LCM Motorized Altazimuth mount and online support for control unit upgrades, and advanced remote-control software.
- Best budget choice for a computerized GoTo telescope
- Computerized tools make it easy to locate and track objects
- Comes with The Sky X First Light CD-ROMs
- Has NexStar + Hand Control for precise targeting and tracking
- Prone to vibration
- Has some aberrations
The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD Telescope with Motor Drive is a motorized Newtonian reflector with multi-coated optics for bright, sharp images of the moon, planets, and deep-sky objects. This telescope comes with a pre-assembled tripod, and stable equatorial mount with a clock drive for tracking objects in the right ascension. The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ-MD includes a permanently mounted StarPointer finderscope for easy targeting and a pre-assembled tripod for quick, no-tools setup. With an optional solar filter, you can also use the Celestron Astromaster to observe the sun.
- Good entry-level EQ mount with tracking the night sky for extended viewing sessions and sharing views of night sky objects
- Comes with The Sky Level 1 planetarium software with a 10,000-object database
- The EQ mount has a slight learning curve for beginners
- The motor drive requires a 9-volt battery
The Orion SkyScanner BL135-millimeter Dobsonian Reflector is a compact, user-friendly Dobsonian telescope that delivers clear, sharp views of deep space objects such as star clusters and nebulae, as well as our solar system neighbors. This telescope’s 135-millimeter mirror collects plenty of light for bright, detailed images, and the kit includes two interchangeable eyepieces plus a 3x Barlow lens for added magnification. The Orion SkyScanner BL135-millimeter Dobsonian Reflector comes with a red dot finderscope for precise targeting, plus the Orion Moon Map 360, which shows the location and names of more than 260 lunar features. The kit also includes base assembly hardware and needed tools for quickly setting up the telescope.
- The perfect choice for budget-conscious beginners who want a quality telescope
- The optical tube moves vertically and horizontally on its Dobsonian base for easy “point and view” operation
- Base has a convenient carry handle for portability
- Eyepiece barrels are threaded to accept a variety of optional Orion filters
- Can be used for simple lunar astrophotography
- Requires periodic collimation of mirrors
- Base requires some assembly, but screwdrivers are included
- Requires a lithium battery
The Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ f/5.6 Doublet Refracting Telescope features coated all-glass optics for clear viewing of near and distant night sky objects as well as daytime observation of the natural world here on Earth. This manual Alt/AZ telescope features panhandle control for accurate pointing and the standard startup set of two eyepieces, a finderscope, and a diagonal for accurate imaging. The Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ also comes with Celestron’s Starry Night software for locating and learning more about viewable celestial objects.
- Easy for beginners to set up and use
- Family-friendly for introducing kids to astronomy
- Compatible with a wide array of 1.25” eyepieces
- No tools required for the setup
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 toward the best possible telescope for your journey into the world of astronomy. Happy stargazing!