Beginner Telescopes Guide

Your first telescope is arguably the most important because if the views do not amaze and delight, your interest in astronomy will crash and burn on the runway!

All the telescopes in this section are affordable yet have enough magnification, resolution and light gathering ability to view details on the lunar surface, the rings of Saturn and cloud belts on Jupiter. A number of deep-sky targets can also be observed including the famous globular cluster in Hercules (M13) and the Great Nebula in Orion (M42).

Too many choices? They all perform well but, if asked, our favourites are: 


Celestron FirstScope 76

The Celestron FirstScope is our most affordable telescope but don't be put off by it's low price. It is made by one of the biggest names in the business and was awarded 'Official Product of International Year of Astronomy 2009’. The 76mm (3") diameter Newtonian optics provide views that are brighter and clearer than the 60mm 'toy' telescopes available in department stores. Introduce your kids to stargazing for only a little more than the cost of a video game!


Celestron Astromaster 70EQ

Kids love the Astromaster 70EQ because it 'looks' like a telescope (a long tube with a lens at the front, an eyepiece at the rear, mounted on three legs). Considering it’s low price, it is also remarkably well made. The tube is metal, the optics are coated, the long focal-ratio reduces aberrations and the GEQ mount enables you to track the target as it moves across the sky. Observe Jupiter and a number of it's moons, Saturn and it's rings and the Moon's deep craters and dark flat plains. An excellent introduction to astronomy. 


Sky-watcher Heritage 100p

The Heritage 100p is essentially a larger version of the Celestron FirstScope and arguably the BEST <£100 telescope available. Low maintenance and easy to use so suitable for kids and the compact size makes it an excellent choice for taking on holiday. Don't let the low price put you off, it will easily outperform similarly-priced models found at department stores and camera shops. Like the FirstScope 76, it requires a sturdy garden table to stand on but has a 3/8" thread in the base so can be fitted to a suitable photo tripod. 


Celestron Astromaster 90EQ

How can anyone not like the Celestron Astromaster 90EQ, it is the quintessential beginner telescope! It is also a popular choice with kids because it looks and behaves how they expect a telescope to look and behave. The coated glass optics and long focal-ratio provide very nice views and an optional RA motor is available for easy tracking of targets, even at high magnifications. Not as compact as the Heritage 100p but the GEQ mount is more advanced and the tripod legs don't require a garden table, it can literally stand on it's own three feet. 


Skywatcher Explorer 130P (EQ-2)

The Explorer 130p's 5-inch (130mm) parabolic Newtonian mirror will comfortably reveal a number of Jupiter's weather bands and moons. Saturn's rings will also be clearly visible, as will a number of its moons. Mars will appear as an orange disk with subtle shading. The lunar surface will show a wealth of detail and, at times, it will feel like you can reach out and scratch the surface! The GEQ mount is a little more complicated than some but will accept an RA motor (optional) which will automatically track targets as they move across the sky.


Skywatcher Skyliner 200p Dobsonian

The Skyliner 200p is our bestselling telescope and is the UK's most popular Dobsonian. At £285 it might be a little expensive for a beginner telescope but by crikey it's good!

"Turning to Saturn, the view really took our breath away: we saw five moons, a clear-cut Cassini Division and a colour difference between the A and B rings. Not only that, but Saturn also displayed a prominent belt - with this scope planetary detail is certainly not compromised... The Skyliner was a joy to use." BBC Sky @ Night magazine.


Hmm, so what else will I need? 

Useful accessories include a 0.9x 1.25" Moon filter, a Planisphere, a good book and a red light torch. The telescopes are supplied with two eyepieces but at some point you will want more. Most astronomers own three or four eyepieces. We suggest you become familiar with what you have before buying additional eyepieces but are happy to advise if you are in a hurry. You will also need a warm coat, thick socks, and a hat! 

Consider also joining your local astronomy society or an online astronomy forum like Stargazers Lounge

For further information or advice please contact us via our helpdesk  smiley

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Skywatcher Heritage-76 Mini Dobsonian

Skywatcher Heritage-76 Mini Dobsonian£47.00

'International Year of Astronomy Special Edition'

The Sky-Watcher Heritage-76 has been specially designed to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) and the 400th Anniversary of Galileo’s first telescope.

This is not only a functional optical instrument but also an ideal gift for the younger astronomer aged 5-10 years.

Celestron FirstScope 76mm Telescope

Celestron FirstScope 76mm Telescope£49.00

Introduce your kids to stargazing for around the cost of a video game! 

Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ

Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ£94.00

A longer version of the Cosmos LT 60-AZ with a wider objective for higher magnification and increased light grasp. 

Skywatcher Heritage-100P

Skywatcher Heritage-100P£95.00

An excellent introduction to astronomy and the BEST <£100 telescope available. 

Celestron AstroMaster 70EQ

Celestron AstroMaster 70EQ£99.00

Essentially the same telescope as the Celestron Astromaster 70AZ but mounted on a German-Equatorial (GEQ) mount. 

Sky-Watcher Capricorn 70 EQ1

Sky-Watcher Capricorn 70 EQ1£99.00

The Capricorn 70 is a classic looking 70mm (2.75") F/900 refractor on EQ1 mount perfect for beginners.

Skywatcher Skyhawk 1145P

Skywatcher Skyhawk 1145P£134.00

Recipient of two group test winner awards in BBC Sky at Night Magazine.

"The optics were so good".... "The review instrument certainly delivered in every important respect."

Skywatcher Skyhawk 1145P review 

Skywatcher Heritage-130p Flextube

Skywatcher Heritage-130p Flextube£137.00

Housing the same Parabolic Primary Mirror-set as the highly-acclaimed Explorer-130P, this telescope is an excellent introduction to astronomy that will provide wonderful views of the Moon, planets and the brighter Deep-Sky Objects.

Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ

Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ£145.00

Provides 65% more light gathering power than the Astromaster 70AZ. 

Includes 10mm & 20mm Celestron eyepieces. 

Skywatcher Explorer 130 (EQ-2)

Skywatcher Explorer 130 (EQ-2)£147.00

An excellent introduction to astronomy!  

"Taking everything into account, this telescope made observing the night sky enjoyable and relatively hassle free….great views coupled with ease of use."

BBC Sky At Night Magazine

Skywatcher Explorer 130 review

Celestron Inspire 70mm AZ Refractor

Celestron Inspire 70mm AZ Refractor£149.00

The Celestron Inspire 70AZ is quicker and easier to setup than any telescope in it's class and offers features and accessories not normally found on entry level telescopes.  

Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ & 130EQ MD

Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ & 130EQ MDFrom:  £159.00

The Celestron 130EQ is not one of those flimsy toys you see in department stores and photo-shops. It is a grown-up telescope from one of the industry’s most respected manufacturers. 

Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ

Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ£179.00

Provides 65% more light gathering power than the Astromaster 70EQ. 

Includes 10mm & 20mm Celestron eyepieces. 

Skywatcher Explorer 130M (EQ-2)

Skywatcher Explorer 130M (EQ-2)£185.00

Motorised version of the Skywatcher 130, now includes multi-speed handset.

"Taking everything into account, this telescope made observing the night sky enjoyable and relatively hassle free….great views coupled with ease of use."

BBC Sky At Night Magazine

Review of non motorised version of same telescope

Skywatcher Explorer 130P (EQ-2)

Skywatcher Explorer 130P (EQ-2)£193.00

“I was most impressed by the views revealed by the ‘scope during tests…Despite a phase of nearly 96 percent, the waxing gibbous Moon revealed a seemingly inexhaustible amount of fine detail…The mechanical and optical specification delivered at this price break puts it into an essentially peerless position. Highly recommended!”

Astronomy Now Skywatcher Explorer 130p review
Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian

Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian£209.00

A firm favourite here at FLO!

Of all the telescopes we stock the Skyliner 150p Dobsonian probably has the highest performance-per-£.

Skywatcher Skyliner 200P Dobsonian

Skywatcher Skyliner 200P Dobsonian£285.00

The UK's most popular Dobsonian telescope. 

"Turning to Saturn, the view really took our breath away: we saw five moons, a clear-cut Cassini Division and a colour difference between the A and B rings. Not only that, but Saturn also displayed a prominent belt – with this scope planetary detail is certainly not compromised ...The Skyliner was a joy to use.” 

BBC Sky At Night Magazine

Celestron Astro Fi 90mm Refractor

Celestron Astro Fi 90mm Refractor£354.00

Astro Fi 90mm Refractor - fully featured telescope that can be controlled with your smart phone or tablet using the free Celestron SkyPortal app.

  

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