Beginner Telescopes Guide

The BEST astronomy telescopes for beginners. 

Your first astronomy telescope is arguably the most important because if the views it provides do not amaze and delight, your interest in astronomy will crash and burn on the runway! We don't want that, so we have created this category and populated it with our favourite beginner astronomy telescopes. 

Before choosing your first telescope, think about what interests you most. 

Suppose you want an easy-to-use large-aperture telescope for visual astronomy (not astrophotography). In that case, a Newtonian reflector telescope on a Dobsonian mount is best because it provides the largest aperture for your money. Larger apertures collect more light, so make faint targets brighter and easier to see. 

If you are most interested in observing the Moon, planets and brighter deep sky objects - and value low maintenance - consider a refractor or Maksutov telescope. 

You may want to control your astronomy mount using a handset, smartphone, tablet or computer. Or instruct it to automatically find a target, centre it in the eyepiece, and then track it. All this is possible with a computerised GOTO astronomy mount. 

The telescopes shown below are affordable yet have enough light-gathering ability and resolving power for you to view details on the Moon’s surface, see Saturn's rings, Jupiter's cloud belts, and its brightest moons. 

Several deep-sky targets, including famous Messier Objects like the globular cluster in Hercules (M13) and the Great Nebula in Orion (M42), can also be observed. 

Telescopes in this category are designed primarily for visual astronomy. If you wish to photograph the night sky, then a short focal length refractor telescope (or a DSLR camera and lens) on a Star Tracker mount will suit you better because it tracks the target as it moves across the sky. 

We like to help, so if you have questions or are looking for support, please contact ussmiley 

Ursa Major 80mm Tabletop Dobsonian

Don't be put off by its low price. This highly portable, easy-to-use Dobsonian telescope has 80 mm (3.15") diameter Newtonian optics that deliver brighter and clearer views than the 60mm 'toy' telescopes available in department stores. It also has noticeably better eyepieces!

A good first telescope for a young astronomer. 

Ursa Major 102mm Tabletop Dobsonian

This larger version of the Ursa Major 80mm has 1.63x more light-gathering ability but is still compact for convenient storage and transport to a dark sky location.

Quick to set up, easy to use and low maintenance.

The included eyepieces are noticeably better than those supplied with other tabletop Dobsonians, so you can expect good views from the outset. 

Sky-Watcher Heritage-130p Flextube

A popular beginner Telescope! The Heritage-130p is easy to use and has the same Parabolic Primary Mirror as the highly acclaimed Explorer-130P, so it provides wonderful views of the Moon, planets and the brighter Deep-Sky Objects.

The collapsible patented FlexTube system makes it easy to transport and store. 

Celestron Astromaster 80AZS

A good first telescope for a young astronomer. 

It is easy to assemble, easy to use and provides nice views of the night sky. 

The sturdy Alt-Az tripod/mount with panhandle is also surprisingly good for such an affordable telescope. 

Sky-Watcher SkyMax-102 AZ Pronto

Easy to use, grab-and-go telescope for visual astronomy and high-power daytime terrestrial observations.

The compact but powerful Maksutov Cassegrain telescope is ideal for observing the lunar surface, bright planets, double-stars and other bright deep-sky objects. 

The telescope includes a well-engineered, easy-to-use Alt-Azimuth mount with slow-motion cables, on both the horizontal (azimuth) and vertical (altitude) axes.

Ursa Major 8" f/6 Dobsonian

The Ursa Major 8" f/6 is a popular Dobsonian telescope and a great all-rounder.

At £349, the price is perhaps a little high for this 'beginner' category, but for many astronomers, it will be the only telescope they need!

High-quality Newtonian optics provide wonderful views of Mars, with surface shading and polar cap. Jupiter's weather bands and several Moons, Saturn with its rings (including the Cassini division!) and Venus and its phases can also be observed. So too can many deep sky objects, like M42 / Orion Nebula, star clusters and Galaxies, like M81 and M82. 

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 include one or two eyepieces, but you will want more at some point. Most astronomers own three or four eyepieces. We suggest you become familiar with what you have before buying additional eyepieces, but we are happy to advise if you are in a hurry. You will also need a warm coat, thick socks, and a hat! 

To hear what is happening in astronomy, consider joining your local astronomy society or an online astronomy forum like Stargazers Lounge

We like to help, so if you have questions or are looking for support, please contact ussmiley

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Celestron Astromaster LT60 f/12 AZ Telescope
£95.00  £119.00
Ursa Major 80mm Tabletop Dobsonian Telescope
£107.00  £119.00
Sky-Watcher Mercury-707 AZ
Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 80 AZ Refractor Telescope
£185.00  £229.00
Sky-Watcher SkyHawk-1145PS AZ Pronto
Sky-Watcher Evostar-90/660 AZ Pronto
Sky-Watcher Startravel 102 (AZ3)
Sky-Watcher SkyMax-102S AZ Pronto
Ursa Major 6'' f/8 Planetary Dobsonian
Sky-Watcher SkyHawk-1145PS AZ-GTe
£299.00  £335.00
Bresser Messier 6'' Tabletop Dobsonian
Ursa Major 8'' f/6 Dobsonian
Sky-Watcher Classic 200P Dobsonian
Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 (EQ3-2)
£439.00  £489.00
Sky-Watcher SkyMax-102 AZ GTi
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