The Best Telescopes to Buy Right Now

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The Best Telescopes to Buy Right Now

Whether you’re an experienced astronomer or deep-space dilletante, finding the best telescope is no easy task. During the ’scope selection process, you’ll need to consider several factors, including telescope type, viewing application, magnification power, and more.

To help you find the best telescope for your astronomical ambitions, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite ’scopes and separated them by use case and category.

– Best Telescope Overall:  Celestron NexStar 6SE
– Best Premium Telescope: Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25
– Best Telescope for Beginners:  Celestron NexStar 4SE
– Best Telescope for Kids: Celestron FirstScope
– Best Astrophotography Telescope:  Unistellar Odyssey Pro
– Best Smart Telescope:  Unistellar eVscope 2

Best Telescope Overall: Celestron NexStar 6SE

The best telescope for most people

Offering a perfect balance of power, performance, and portability, the Celestron NexStar 6SE is the best telescope for most people. This 150mm Schmidt-Cassegrain-style telescope features Celestron's proprietary StarBright XLT multi-layer coating system, which lets stargazers observe clear images of celestial bodies in the night sky.

Celestron NexStar 6SE 150mm f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope
Celestron NexStar 6SE 150mm f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope

Speaking of celestial bodies, the NexStar 6SE's hand controller is programmed with more than 40,000 local and deep-sky objects that it can locate and track automatically—everything from the Moon and planetary system to distant stars and galaxies.

Although it weighs more than 30 lb when assembled, the NexStar 6SE can be broken down into smaller components that make it easy to transport. Similarly, the NexStar 6SE's intuitive design and easy-to-use SkyAlign system allows users to assemble, mount, and align the telescope in practically no time at all.

Read More: How to Choose the Best Telescope

Best Premium Telescope: Celestron NexStar 9.25

The best telescope for deep space and deep pockets

If you’re an experienced stargazer looking for top-tier performance—and you don’t mind paying a premium price—the Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 is one of the best telescopes you can buy.

Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 235mm f/10 AZ GoTo Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope
Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 235mm f/10 AZ GoTo Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

Thanks to its large 235mm aperture and StarBright XLT optical coating system, the NexStar Evolution 9.25 delivers breathtakingly clear views of a wide range of celestial bodies, including planets, deep-space objects, and more.

More than 40,000 celestial objects are programmed into the NexStar Evolution 9.25’s accompanying hand controller, including 100 user-defined objects. When connected to the SkyPortal companion app, the database expands to more than 120,000 objects—all of which can be easily located through the user-friendly app. 

Weighing more than 60 lb when assembled, the NexStar Evolution 9.25 definitely isn’t the most portable telescope on the market. It’s best used for backyard stargazing. The good news is that, despite its heft, the NexStar Evolution 9.25 is super easy to break down, reassemble, mount, and align in almost no time at all.

Read More: Solar Eclipse Observing

Best for Beginners: Celestron NexStar 4SE

The best telescope nascent night-sky navigators

Easy to use and packed with a ton of novice-friendly features, the Celestron NexStar 4SE is our pick for the best telescope for beginners. The 4SE can't quite match the performance of its more powerful sibling, the Nexstar 6SE, but its 102mm aperture, 53x magnifying power, and StarBright XLT optics are more than enough to produce clear, crisp images of the Moon and neighboring planets.

Celestron NexStar 4SE 102mm f/13 Maksutov-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope
Celestron NexStar 4SE 102mm f/13 Maksutov-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope

The NexStar 4SE's easy-to-use hand controller tracking system uses the same computerized mount to pinpoint and focus on any of the more than 40,000 celestial bodies stored in its vast database. The ease and speed at which these objects are located, as well as the resulting image that follows, will also appeal to beginners, since it rewards their stargazing efforts immediately.

Like the NexStar 6SE, the 4SE model breaks down into easily transportable sections. Assembling the telescope is equally painless, so beginners don't have to worry about any complicated steps or procedures.

Read More: Introduction to Stargazing

Best for Kids: Celestron FirstScope

The best telescope for junior stargazers

The best telescope for kids is one that delivers an exciting experience for young stargazers without stressing their parents’ budget. The Celestron FirstScope satisfies these requirements, thanks to its ease of use, fast focal ratio, and reasonable price tag.

Celestron FirstScope 76mm f/4 Alt-Az Reflector Telescope
Celestron FirstScope 76mm f/4 Alt-Az Reflector Telescope

Featuring a Newtonian reflector optical system, 76mm aperture, and a fast f/4 focal ratio, the Celestron FirstScope is an ideal starter scope for junior stargazers searching for bright images of the Moon and planetary bodies. The two included eyepieces provide magnifications of 15x and 75x—not super close or pin-sharp, but plenty to get some nice basic views of lunar craters and other large details. For even better image quality, you could upgrade to eyepieces that match the FirstScope's highest and lowest magnification limits of 180x and 11x.

The FirstScope comes fully assembled and ready to use straight out of the box. On top of that, there's nothing to break down or disassemble when stargazing sessions are over. This is an especially nice feature for parents who don't want to disassemble and reassemble a telescope repeatedly.

The FirstScope sits on an easy-to-operate alt-azimuth mount and tabletop base. The base allows the FirstScope to be set up just about anywhere, and its lightweight, yet robust, build means it's durable and very portable. Despite its quality build, the FirstScope is relatively inexpensive, making it a great value for parents, and a great all-around scope for kids.

Best for Astrophotography: Unistellar Odyssey Pro

The best telescope for capturing the cosmos

Although it’s not your typical telescope, the Odyssey Pro is one of the best telescopes you can buy for astrophotography. The latest smart scope from Unistellar is a versatile all-rounder that’s great for clearly viewing local bodies, like the moon and planets, and deep-space objects, including distant nebulae and galaxies.

Unistellar Odyssey Pro Smart Telescope
Unistellar Odyssey Pro Smart Telescope

The Odyssey Pro doesn’t have the same resolution as our favorite digital telescope, the Unistellar eVscope 2, but it’s lighter and much more portable, which is why we prefer it for astrophotography—especially if you’re frequently traveling to and from different viewing sites.

Astrophotography has a reputation of being one of the more expensive hobbies, and with an MSRP of around $4K, the Odyssey Pro isn’t going to dispel that notion any time soon. However, it is significantly cheaper than Unistellar’s other smart ’scopes, and despite its hefty price, you do get a state-of-the-art ’scope that will serve you well for years and years to come.

Read More: Backyard Astrophotography

Best Smart Telescope: Unistellar eVscope 2

Not only is the Unistellar eVscope 2 the best smart telescope available today, you could also make the argument that it's one of the best telescopes, period. Built around a Sony IMX347 image sensor and Unistellar's brilliant and incredibly accessible companion app, the eVscope 2 allows stargazers of any skill level to view local and deep-sky objects.

Unistellar eVscope 2 114mm f/4 GoTo Reflector Telescope + Backpack
Unistellar eVscope 2 114mm f/4 GoTo Reflector Telescope + Backpack

Because it's a smart telescope, the eVscope 2 forgoes many of the traditional design elements of a reflector telescope. Instead, it features more advanced components, such as a digital eyepiece from Nikon and the aforementioned Unistellar app, which controls the eVscope 2's movements.

Read More: Unistellar eVscope 2 Hands-On Review

Questions about our top telescopes or how we made our picks? Feel free to drop us a comment, below, or you can check out our guide, How to Choose the Best Telescope, for a detailed explanation on what to look for when shopping for a telescope.

2 Comments

Why no mention of Vaonis VE50 Vespera Exploration Station Digital Telescope with Tripod?

Good recommendations but I might just spend a little more and go with the 6SE over the 5SE if I was starting out. The 6 is going to capture just that much more light and has a tiny bit more reach and they're both nearly identical in how they operate. The 5SE was my first scope and I still use it. And yes you can absolutely use them for astrophotography if you decide to. Be careful though, these NexStar scopes are like a gateway to spending more money on telescope equipment. =).

Clear Skies!