Best Telescope Reviews 2018

Telescopes help magnify distant objects, making them appear closer. Whereas reflector telescopes use mirrors and refractor telescopes are based on glass lenses, compound telescopes make use of both mirrors and lenses to magnify objects that appear far. We have compiled a review of five of the best telescope brands in the market, showcasing an instrument from each, to help you find one that best meets your needs.
Mount Type
Our Top Choice
Gskyer AstroMaster Reflector Telescope
Founded in 1992, Gskyer was established to design high quality, efficient binoculars and telescopes. Today, the global brand manufactures telescopes harnessing on modern technology.
Easy and quick to setup. Improved tracking accuracy. High performance. Convenient. Comes with a rechargeable battery for prolonged viewing. Supports astrophotography.
Costly. The Celestron cable needed to update the scope is sold separately. Some users reported boot load errors. Telescope is heavy and mounting is done manually.
Stainless steel tripod
34 lbs & 650 mm
EQ Advanced Equatorial Mount
307x maximum
Best Value
Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Telescope
Orion is a world-class manufacturer of high quality telescopes for use by both beginner and seasoned astronomers.
Great value. Fully accessorized. Excellent mechanical and optical performance. Provides clear and sharp views. Lightweight and compact. Portable. Great stability and ease of use.
Focuser is made of plastic. Eyepiece has a short height. Small in size.
Dobsonian base
114 mm
30.4 lbs & 900 mm
Dobsonian mount
228x maximum
Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 Telescope
Celestron is a popular premier manufacturer and supplier of amateur equipment for use in astronomy. Evolution 8 is the brand’s signature telescope for exploring outer space.
Easy and quick to setup. Improved tracking accuracy. High performance. Convenient. Comes with a rechargeable battery for prolonged viewing.
Costly. The Celestron cable needed to update the scope is sold separately. Some users reported boot load errors.
Stainless steel tube tripod
203.2 mm
40.6 lbs & 2032 mm
Single Fork Arm Altazimuth
480x maximum
Meade Infinity™ Refractor Telescope
Meade is a popular brand that designs and manufactures high quality telescopes using high-grade parts.
Provides clear views. Affordable. Simple and easy to use. Easy to assemble. Can be used both at night and daytime. Mirrors don’t have to align for the telescope to work.
No parts warranty. Manual tracking of celestial objects.
Stainless steel tripod
7 lbs & 700 mm
Manual Alt-Azimuth mount
156x maximum
GEERTOP® 90× Refractor Telescope
Geertop uses premier materials to design high performing telescopes aimed at ensuring you don’t just embark on your exploration journey, but relish every moment.
Highly-powered for high performance. Affordable. Durable. High quality.
Doesn’t come in different sizes or colors to choose from.
Aluminum table top tripod
50 mm
1.76 lbs & 360 mm
Altitude-azimuth mounting
360x maximum

(Updated )
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How Do I Choose the Best Telescope?

Are you into astronomy and looking for a complex telescope to take your career to the next level? Are you just beginning your career in astronomy and need a simple telescope that’s easy to use to get you started? Do you love watching the stars from your terrace or bedroom window at night? There are different types of telescopes designed to meet different viewing needs.

Telescopes are ocular instruments you can use to view distant objects such as stars. They are designed to magnify objects that are far so they appear closer, similar to glasses. Whether your profession dictates the use of a telescope or you just love watching the stars from the comfort of your home, you need the right telescope to fully enjoy the view.

A good telescope is your gateway to the universe for enjoyment that lasts a lifetime. What’s more, they also make perfect gift ideas. When shopping for a telescope, you must first decide the specific type you want. There are three major types of telescopes you might want to consider.

Refractor telescopes are designed to use glass lenses to project distant objects. These are the most common types of telescopes and although they require little to no maintenance, they increasingly become more expensive to maintain as their apertures increase. Although apochromat refractors are generally more expensive than achromat, they provide better optical quality.

Reflector telescopes use mirrors to reflect light from far objects to make them appear closer. In terms of aperture, these are the most cost-effective telescopes. However, they require adjustment of the optical alignments, a straightforward process known as collimation.

Catadioptric or compound telescopes are hybrid variations of refractor and reflector telescopes. They are lightweight and come with compact tubes. They are convenient and ideal for use on-the-go.

Look out for the right aperture, base/tripod, weight and focal length, magnification, and mount type in a telescope you want to buy. Also look out for the size of the telescope, the materials it’s made up of, number of eyepieces, optical diameter, and whether it’s designed for a beginner, standard, or seasoned astronomer. This guide will help you make an informed buying decision, so you can start recording your magical experiences in your journal.

But if you’d like a more hands-on experience during your space exploration, why not consider taking a drone out for a ride?
Since most cheap telescopes are mechanically and optically poor in quality, avoid buying them to save yourself from disappointment later on. If you’re working on a tight budget, let’s say a maximum of $200, there are many good binocular telescopes you might want to check out.

Also consider building a DIY telescope using wood if you’re gifted in craftsmanship and don’t have much to spend. Another good avenue to help you find high-quality telescopes is checking with dealers selling used telescopes. It could be someone you know letting go of a good ocular for an even better one.

On the other hand, don’t go for the most expensive telescope just because you can afford it. Buy a telescope with the features you need and will use. Whichever telescope you opt for, ensure it’s easy to setup, dismantle, and even store for future use.

Also note that there’s need to buy a detailed sky atlas, extra eyepieces for expansion of your telescope’s range of magnification, a guidebook, and other accessories. These are essential if you’re into astrophotography.

Good telescopes range in price from $400 to $1500 although you might find some basic ones at $250 or less. For instance, the Levenhuk Strike 80 retails at about $140 and the Celestron Regal M2 100ED retails at about $900.
Designed for standard, beginner, or experienced astronomers, telescopes are built with various features to support use in different settings and levels. Whereas basic telescopes come with simple features to support magnification of distant objects, advanced telescopes come with more complex features for increasingly complex applications.

Whichever type of telescope you want to buy, there are basic features to look out for as listed below and detailed in the next section.

Here are a few important telescope features to look out for:
  • Aperture/objective (optical diameter) – the diameter of the mirror or lens used to gather light
  • Mount type for stable use – alt-azimuth, Dobsonian, and equatorial
  • Weight and focal length – for portable use and focused views, respectively
  • Magnification – for enlarged object views
  • Type of telescope – refractor, reflector, and compound telescopes
  • Number of eyepieces – field of view (wide or narrow), size, and magnification
  • Size and materials – for portable and durable use, respectively
Easily mount your telescope and jet into the universe or pack your ocular device for use on-the-go as you deem necessary.
Construction and Design
Aperture is expressed in inches or millimeters, and is also known as the objective. As the most important feature of a telescope, a good one has a diameter of at least 70mm or 2.8 inches. For fine-viewing of object details, go for large apertures, especially if you live in the countryside. With a 6-inch or 8-inch aperture, you can view so much despite the amount of lighting in your environment.

Avoid telescopes being marketed by their magnifications because you need up to 50 times the aperture for fine-detail viewing. For instance, for a 600X magnification, you’d have to buy a telescope with 12-inch aperture. When choosing the right mount type for sturdy support, consider mounts or tripods with large robust plates or rings, but not single-screw attachments.

Altitude-azimuth, Dobsonian, and equatorial (ideal for astrophotography) are some mount types to look out for in your telescope. ‘Go To’ telescopes support keypad button-powered motors to help you automatically track celestial objects. These motors are found in the most advanced telescopes and are controlled by computers. Choose stable mounts for the best results.

Consider the field of view, size, and magnification (focal length) of eyepieces for the best celestial image focusing. Coupling the right set of eyepieces with a good lens offers high-quality and clear views of objects in the universe. The material used to make a telescope should be strong for durability and easy to clean.
Performance and Ease of Use
Choose a telescope with a large aperture or optical diameter, built with a stable mount, and that supports high magnification and use with powerful eye pieces for fine-detail viewing of celestial objects. The finer you want the objects to be, the more powerful your telescope of choice needs to be. Opt for lightweight telescopes in small sizes if you want a portable one for use on-the-go.

The materials should be durable for prolonged use and easy cleaning. Also ensure that you choose a telescope that’s easy to maintain, has readily-available parts, and comes with a warranty.

What is the Best Telescope?

When shopping for telescopes, you need to find one that has the right magnification power and aperture size to meet your astronomical needs for exploring the universe. Whether you’re a beginner and need an easy-to-use telescope or you’re seasoned in the astronomical field and seek a complex telescope, there’s definitely one to suit your needs. Find out if one of our recommended telescopes is what you need.
Our Top Choice
Designed for professional use, this reflector telescope offers high entry night vision with the possibility of 1000x magnification for you to obtain clear and detailed terrestrial and celestial images. Although the Gskyer Astronomical Refractor Telescope has a smaller aperture, it comes at a lower cost and delivers good performance.
Gskyer AstroMaster Professional German Reflector Telescope with 3 Magnification Eyepieces – Available in 5 Sizes

Gskyer Telescope EQ130650

The reflector telescope is a true definition of versatility. Although it’s designed for professional use, you can use it to embark on your journey across the universe, whether you’re a novice or experienced astronomer. Since the telescope is designed with photography in mind, you don’t need a universal T-ring adaptor to link either your SLR or DSLR camera. Although Gskyer initially served the Chinese market only, today it trades its telescopes across the global market.

With the Gskyer reflector telescope, you can easily track fast-moving objects across the universe such as comets. The Gskyer Astromaster Telescope comes with a 130mm aperture (with 655mm total focal length and a focal ratio of 5) for enhanced light focusing. Three eyepieces and three barlow lenses are also featured in the telescope to enable you attain higher magnification levels for your celestial images.

Here are the features of this reflector telescope to consider:
  • 130650EQ refractor aperture of 130mm for increased yet efficient focusing of light
  • Adjustable 1.25 inch stainless steel tripod for support
  • SLR camera compatible
  • 3 magnification eyepieces (25mm, 10mm and 5mm) for varying views
  • 3x barlow lens for doubling each eyepiece’s power of magnification
  • Several glass optics layers coated in green for eye protection and improved image brightness
  • 1-year warranty and a power management system
  • Red dot finderscope and a focal ratio of 5
If this model isn't right for your telescoping needs, then don't worry; Gskyer has 5 different models to choose from, all with slightly different features so pick the one that's just right for you.
Best Value
This Dobsonian Reflector Telescope is easy to use and portable, making it perfect for beginners; every member of your family can partake in stargazing. Opt for the Orion SpaceProbe Equatorial Reflector Telescope for a larger aperture that translates to better viewing and clearer images, particularly if you want to take your nightly observation to the next level.
Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope with 228x Maximum Magnification – Available in 4 Sizes

Orion Telescope 10014

Orion SKyQuest XT4.5 comes in an innovative design, compact size and simple structure, perfect for you to set up and view the stars hassle free. In addition to its optical performance and portability, the Dobsonian Reflector Telescope is user-friendly, a great introduction to telescopes for kids and newcomers to the industry. This is the telescope every beginner needs to have fun when they begin stargazing and exploring the best of the night sky. Orion designs its telescopes with the user in mind, ensuring that they are easy to use.

The 4.5inch aperture (steel tube made of enamel) houses a mirror whose sole role is gathering light for perfect images. Unlike a 60 mm beginner refractor telescope, this Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 gathers 260% more light. This means that you can view hundreds of more objects. It also has a base made of nylon/Teflon bearing pads, allowing for smooth gliding of the scope on top and providing steady support.

Here are the features of the Dobsonian reflector telescope:
  • 900 mm focal length for clear viewing of the universe (planets, comets, the moon, galaxies, etc.)
  • 4.5inch aperture for collection of 260% more light than a typical 60 mm refractor telescope
  • Two eyepieces of 25 mm and 10 mm focal length
  • Pinion focuser and Starry Night astronomy software
  • 1.25inch rack and a 6 by 30 finderscope
  • Portable and sturdy Dobsonian base for support on surfaces
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Navigation knob for easy handling of the reflector optical tube
  • Collimation cap and an eyepiece rack
  • Magnification ranges from 17x to 228x
  • Detailed instructions on a manual
You can also consider three other sizes in this product line series, namely: the XT6, XT8 and XT10 and choose the one perfect for your needs.
This robotic WIFI telescope is the key to exploring the universe through the Celestron SkyPortal application (free for download) that you can have installed in your Android or iOS smartphone. If this feels a little pricey, Opt for the Celestron NexStar Computerized Telescope for similar features at a pocket-friendly price.
Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope with HD Pro Wedge & Inbuilt Battery - Available in 3 Sizes

Celestron Telescope 12091 – 8" SCT

Whether you are a beginner astronomer or seasoned visual observer, this compound telescope is bundled with the right features to enable you explore the universe. NexStar Evolution 8 is WIFI-enabled to allow you view the best of space’s objects from your smartphone. All you need to do is link your mobile device to the telescope’s built-in wireless network. Download and install the Celestron mobile app and begin exploring the universe from the tap of your smartphone.

Evolution 8 supports maximum magnification of 480x and 2032 mm focal length, coupled with a 203.2 mm aperture for detailed viewing of celestial objects. Based on top of a single Fork Arm Altazimuth Mount, the telescope comes with a stainless steel tripod for support during use. The compound telescope can be operated for 10 consecutive hours, thanks to its lithium-ion rechargeable battery.

Here are the features of this compound telescope to look forward to:
  • HD Pro Wedge for detailed astrophotos and longer exposures
  • Brass worm gears and enhanced motors
  • Integrated WIFI to enable the Celestron mobile app to link to the telescope
  • Ergonomic handles for support during installation and operation
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion built-in battery to power the telescope for up to 10 hours
  • Stainless steel tripod for support
  • StarBright XLT Multcoated Optics for sharp and bright views
  • 4 auxiliary ports, including a USB charge port
  • StarPointer finderscope and an AC adapter
  • 2-years warranty and a power management system
  • Two 1.25-inch Plossl eyepieces
You can also opt for other models in the product line series with unique specifications and features such as a 6 inch and 9.25 inch SCT.
The Meade refractor telescope is designed to deliver detailed, bright, and clear terrestrial and celestial images. You can also opt for the Meade Instruments Infinity AZ Refractor Telescope, which comes at a lower cost but has similar performance to our featured product.
Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope with Dual Control Cables – Available in 6 Sizes

Meade Telescope 209003 - Blue

This Infinity Refractor Telescope is designed by Meade for beginners. The telescope provides newcomers with everything they need to begin their journey in astronomical observation. You can easily view planets, the moon, meteor showers and other bodies in the universe hassle-free. Meade is the brand for every novice astronomer who needs an easy-to-use telescope. You can never go wrong with this astronomical instrument.

The refractor telescope comes with a 70 mm aperture for optimal light refraction and 700 mm focal length to ensure that you can have a clear view of the celestial objects. The 2x barlow lens doubles the magnification of each of the two eyepieces for elevated view of the universe. The stainless steel tripod is easily adjustable to ensure that you attain a stable stargazing platform.

Here are the features you need to look forward to:
  • Two 26 mm and 9 mm eyepieces for varying views
  • 2x barlow lens for elevated magnification power of each eyepiece
  • Altazimuth mount for precision tracking based on a slow motion control rod
  • 70 mm aperture for light refraction and 700 mm focal length for detailed magnification
  • Red dot viewfinder for pointing at objects using the scope
  • Pinion focuser and rack
  • Dual control cables
  • 2-stage stainless steel tripod and a tray
  • Focal ratio of 10 for clear views and images
  • Fully multi-coated anti-reflection optics
  • Instructional DVD and astronomical software
Other sizes you can select from include: 50 mm, 60 mm, 80 mm, 90 mm and 102 mm AZ refractors.
Whether you are an amateur, entry-level astronomer or just looking for a telescope to help your children explore both the landmarks and space, this product is for you. Also consider the AmandaK® Super Clear Dual Focus Optics Zoom Monocular Telescope for its low price, despite having a lower magnification ability.
GEERTOP® 90× Astronomical Refractor Telescope with Tripod, 1-Year Parts Warranty & 50 mm Aperture

Geertop Telescope B017P30YM8 – 360x50mm, Black and Silver

Geertop Refractor Telescope is designed with your needs in mind. Whether you want to help your children explore their love for astronomy or you can barely differentiate a finderscope from a focuser, you will find this instrument easy to use. it has a simple design to help that is easy to master. Moreover, setting it up is a walk in the park; you just need to follow the instructions in the user manual.

This telescope features 360mm focal length and 50 mm aperture to deliver highly detailed views of celestial and terrestrial objects. Depending on object sizes and distance covered, you can easily adjust your magnification levels, thanks to the 3 powerful eyepieces featured with varying magnification power. Based on good resolution, you can easily magnify the moon for clear images.

Here are the features to look out for in this refractor telescope:
  • 360 mm focal length and 50 mm aperture for highly-detailed images and views
  • Aluminum table top tripod (30cm in height) for support of a stable work platform
  • Horizontally and vertically movable Alt-Azimuth mounting
  • 18x, 27x, 60x and 90x eyepiece magnification for detailed views
  • 3 eyepieces and high quality optical glass lens
  • Metal optical tube
  • 2,800 arc seconds in theoretical resolution of the universe and its celestial objects
  • Single 900 Zenith mirror to refract light
  • Single lens cloth and color box
  • 1-year warranty on parts
  • 1.76 lbs weight
You will use your Geertop telescope for many years to come, enjoying what you love the most: stargazing.

Get the Best Telescope of 2018!

Whether you want a telescope designed for novices or experienced astronomers, there’s one out there with the right set of features to meet your needs for celestial exploration. We hope that with our review of five of the top telescopes, you’ll choose the right instrument to support your astronomical journey. In case you want something slightly or totally different, check out our other telescope reviews.

Our Top Choice
Gskyer AstroMaster Reflector Telescope
Best Value
Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Telescope
Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 Telescope
Meade Infinity™ Refractor Telescope
GEERTOP® 90× Refractor Telescope