Now let’s get down to some specific suggestions for telescopes and accessories. These are suggestions only. You don’t have to get the particular brands or exact telescopes mentioned here. But these are good guidelines, and these telescopes and accessories have served thousands of stargazers well. The suggested telescopes in this article will cost less than about $500. 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.
A 6-inch (150 mm) or 8-inch (200 mm) Dobsonian such as the Orion XT6 or XT8 are perhaps the ideal beginner’s telescopes. These scopes are inexpensive, easy to use, and sturdy, and they have sufficient aperture to give quite splendid bright images of thousands of celestial objects.
More aperture is better, so get the 8-inch version (the XT8) if you can afford it and if you can handle the extra weight. The telescope breaks down into two pieces, the tube and mount, for transport and storage. The tube of both the XT6 and the XT8 will be about 1200 mm (4 feet) long. The tube and mount of the XT8 each weight about 9.5 kg (21 lbs). The tube and mount of the XT6 weigh 6.5 kg (14 lbs) and 9.5 kg (21 lbs) respectively.
The approximate price of the basic XT6 and XT8 are $300 and $350, respectively. Each scope comes with a finder and a 25 mm eyepiece to give a magnification of 48x.
You will need at least one more eyepiece for the telescope. An eyepiece with 10 mm focal length will give 120x, which is a good bet. A “Plossl” eyepiece design will work well. A 10 mm Plossl eyepiece will cost an extra $60 or so.
NOTE: If you have the budget, the XT6 and XT8 are available with “push-to” mounts that include hand-held computer controllers to help guide you to specific objects in the night sky. The approximate prices for these so-called Intelliscope versions of the XT6 and XT8 are $480 and $630, respectively, and they include a second eyepiece with 10 mm focal length.
An alternative for those who need a more portable scope…
If the above Dobsonian scopes are too heavy or bulky, you might consider a small refractor instead. The Celestron AstroMaster 90 AZ has a 3.5” achromatic lens (90 mm), comes with an alt-azimuth mount, and includes two eyepieces for 50x and 100x, a finder, and a star diagonal. The whole thing costs about $250. Unlike the Dobsonian reflectors, this scope is also useful for viewing terrestrial objects. However, it will not give images as bright and detailed as the suggested Dobsonians.