In the first article about suggested beginner telescopes, you got a few suggestions for scopes under $500. If your budget extends to the $1,000-$1,500 range, and you value portability, a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with computer control is worth consideration. Celestron and Meade are the kings of this type of telescope, and both have interesting offerings. Here are three choices, all with sold alt-azimuth mounts that are good for visual observation.
The prices listed here are in U.S. dollars and are approximations of prices available at telescope dealers in the U.S. and Canada. Cost of shipping is not included. Prices in other countries will vary. NOTE: One-Minute Astronomer receives no commission or any other consideration for recommending these telescopes.
- Celestron NexStar 6SE. For visual observing and full “go-to” capability, the NexStar telescopes from Celestron work well. You can set these up in 10 minutes (once you get some practice) and configure the built-in computer by pointing to a couple of known bright stars. Then use the “go-to” feature to find thousands of pre-programmed objects. This telescope is great for city observing where portability is important and faint objects are hard to find. For a 6-inch NexStar you’ll pay $700-$800. It comes with a 25 mm eyepiece, so budget another $60 or so for another eyepiece of 10 mm focal length.
- Celestron NexStar 8SE. If you can handle a little more weight and cost, go for the 8-inch version of the NexStar SE. It’s priced at $1,100 to $1,200. Again, only one eyepiece is included
- Meade 6” LS Schmidt-Cassegrain. This 6” telescope was introduced recently and comes with a very useful feature. It can essentially align itself to the night sky with an automatic routine using a built-in GPS. You don’t even need to align the mount to bright stars, as you must with other go-to mounts. After the telescope aligns itself to the night sky, you can select from thousands of objects to observe. The telescope also has built-in audio descriptions and information about many objects. It only comes with one 26 mm eyepiece which gives 58x. You will need to add at least one more eyepiece with a 10 mm or 12 mm focal length to give you 154x or 128x. The downside for all this extra technology is price… the LS6 goes for about $1,400, nearly twice the price of the Celestron NexStar 6SE mentioned above.