Guide: The Best Telescopes for Kids and Beginners
While there are many amazing telescopes to start in astronomy, it's easy to forget not every new astronomer knows exactly where to start.
The good news is that there is a telescope for everyone. Whether you're looking to buy the first telescope for yourself as an adult or to buy one for a child, this guide will help you make the best choice at any beginner level.
What to look for when buying a telescope for kids
There are three basic types of telescopes, refractors, reflectors, and catadioptric telescopes. Refractor telescopes use lenses. Reflector telescopes use mirrors, and compound or catadioptric telescopes use both.
The Best Telescopes for Young Children
For young children and those who just want to see various solar system objects, a small refractor of three to four inches or less in diameter is perfect.
A tabletop Dobsonian of similar size can work equally as well. If you choose a reflector, collimate it regularly for the best results. Collimation is the alignment of the internal mirrors.
The views seen through the eyepiece of a reflector like Dobsonians will appear upside down and may be confusing for some beginners, but this is just a byproduct of how reflectors work and is perfectly normal.
The Best Telescopes for Intermediate Beginners
For an adult or child who is more serious about astronomy, a midsize refractor could be a great fit.
Refractors utilize specially designed lenses to focus the light into an image. Most refractors are small making them the perfect travel scope. Unlike reflectors, the images viewed through a refractor will be right-side up.
Since the lenses for this type are locked in place, they are very durable and require little maintenance. Smaller models also tend to be inexpensive, and while the price of refractors can grow quickly as you get into the larger models, most casual beginners will do just fine with the smaller ones.
Mid to large aperture telescopes are a great value and make an excellent choice for beginners who want to see a lot starting out in the hobby.
The Best Telescopes for the Advanced Beginners
For the dedicated beginner astronomer, it might be worth looking into a compound scope of around four to eight inches in diameter. These compact designs pack a lot of power into a very small package on top of their optical quality. They tend to be durable, easy to store, and easy to transport; however, this type of telescope represents a bit more financial investment.
Some telescopes have variants with go-to and tracking options. Go-to allows a telescope to automatically move two objects in the sky with the press of a button. While tracking lets a telescope follow along with an object in the sky as the Earth rotates.
Another great advanced beginner telescope is the STELLINA, although at a higher price point, it’s a great astronomy tool to learn and see the cosmos processed live on your tablet or phone at any experience level! Click here to read our review.
We hope you found this guide helpful and that it helped make your decision easier. If you are looking for more ideas, click here to see our full collection of telescopes for kids! You can also see our beginner’s guide on how to use a telescope if it’s your first time buying one.
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 the beginner in your life. Happy first time observing!