Best Telescope Under $200 [Reviews and Buying Guide]

Best Telescope Under 200

For an astronomer, a telescope isn’t just any instrument to take for granted. Even the one from Galileo’s time with all its limitations garnered serious fame. This age got us lucky as a low-end modern telescope presents far better optical clarity and specifications than the early version did.

So, looking for the Best Telescopes Under $200 is a rational idea because you’ll have an acceptable threshold of lens quality, aperture size, resolution, and magnification to see the sharpness of the telescopic images of galaxies, planets, stars, and other celestial bodies.

After hours of labor and down-to-earth attention to the dozens of telescopes at this particular price, we can conclude that Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ comes on top, and it’s fair enough to mention a few more choices that are worth your time and dime.

Telescope Buyer’s Guide

Our Guide to Choosing the Best Telescope Under $200

Models Type Aperture Focal Length Focal Ratio Resolution Mount Magnification
Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ Newtonian Reflector 127mm (5″) 1000mm (39″) f/7.87 0.91  arc second German Equatorial 50x, 250x
Celestron Astromaster 70 AZ Refractor 70mm (2.76″) 900mm (35″) f/13 1.66 arc seconds Alt-Azimuth 45x, 90x
Celestron – AstroMaster 114EQ Newtonian Reflector 114mm (4.48″) 1000mm (39.37″) f/8.77 1.02 arc seconds German Equatorial 50, 100x
Orion 10012 SkyScanner Parabolic Reflector 100mm (~4″) 400mm f/4 1.16 arc seconds Alt-Azimuth 20x, 40x
Orion 10033 FunScope Spherical Reflector 76mm (~3″) 300mm f/3.9 1.52 arc seconds Alt-Azimuth 15x, 50x
Instruments 209006 Achromatic Refractor 102mm (4″) 600mm f/5.9 N/A Alt-Azimuth 23x, 66x, 95x
Meade Instruments 216006 Newtonian Reflector 130mm (5. 1″) 650mm f/5 0.90 arc second German Equatorial 23x, 66x, 95x
Orion 10015 StarBlast Parabolic Reflector 114mm (4.5″) 450mm f/4 1.02 arc seconds Dobsonian 26x, 75x
Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope Refractor 70mm (2.8″) 400mm (15.74″) f/5.7 1.66 arc seconds Manual Alt-Azimuth 20x, 40x

All products reviewed here are from some of the world’s most prestigious brands and have their appeal to astronomers with different levels of experience and depth of passion. Except PowerSeeker 127EQ, others aren’t necessarily in any order of preference.

1. Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ

With larger aperture, Barlow lens, and higher magnification, PowerSeeker 127EQ is way more powerful and reasonably costlier than others on the list.

Features

  • Mirror and Aperture: The large primary mirror assigns a good value to the aperture which is 127mm/5 inches. It gathers 329 times more light than unassisted human eyes. The secondary mirror creates some obstruction but that is only 32% in diameter or 10% by its total area.
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: Focal length being 1000mm or 39 inches and two eyepieces measuring 20mm (0.79″) and 4mm (0.16″) contribute to wonderful magnification – 50x and 250x which may run as high as 300x and as low as 18x. The focal ratio is f/7.87 which gives you a shorter exposure time for taking images than what a higher ratio does.
  • Mount: With the German Equatorial mount, the telescope allows you to follow the stars according to their movements through the sky. A little bit of adjustment to the slow-motion altitude rod lets you point toward the object accurately and smoothly. Make sure you tighten the cross knob while doing the adjustment.
  • Accessories: Look at the accessories: 2 Eyepieces with holder, 1 Barlow Lens, 1 No-Tool Tray, Tripod, Starry Night Basic Edition! The 3x Barlow lens adds to the power of the eyepieces. Oh, don’t forget about the Finderscope. It works!
  • Materials and Coatings: The aluminum coatings won’t go away without taking the sizeable amount of impacts and daily wear. The aluminum tripod is another example of how Celestron cares about durability.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: Since some of the essential accessories come preassembled, the setup won’t be difficult. Speaking of portability, the telescope could be a little lighter than 21.38 lbs or 9.7 kg.

Specifications

  • Optical Design: Newtonian Reflector
  • Aperture: 127mm (5″)
  • Secondary Mirror Obstruction: 41mm (1.6″); Diameter- 32%; Area- 10%
  • Focal Length: 1000mm (39″)
  • Focal Ratio: f/7.87
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Focal Length): 20mm (0.79″); 10mm (0.16″)
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Magnification): 50x; 250x
  • Magnification: Highest- 300x; Lowest- 18x
  • Resolution: Rayleigh- 1.1 arc seconds; Dawes 0.91 arc seconds
  • Mount: German Equatorial with an Altitude rod
  • Optical Tube: Length- 508mm (20″); Material- Aluminum
  • Height Adjustment Range (including tripod and mount): 812.8mm to 1295.4mm (32″ – 51″)
  • Included Items: 2 Eyepieces with holder, 1 Barlow Lens, 1 No-Tool Tray, Tripod, Starry Night Basic Edition, and user manual

Pros

  • An affordable telescope with essential accessories included
  • Large aperture and magnification settings
  • Very little risk of aberration
  • Easy to set up and use with illustrated user manual
  • 2-year warranty with resourceful software for further studies on astronomy

Cons

  • So much for the Finderscope!
  • Heavy and not much stable on the tripod

While the second eyepiece is arguably not very good at what it does, it still stays ahead of the competition due to the low price brackets and a great instrument for amateurs.

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2. Celestron Astromaster 70 AZ

Astromaster 70 AZ packs all the benefits of a refractor telescope combining a list of useful accessories.

Features

  • Objective Lens and Aperture: The aperture measures 70mm or 2.76 inches meeting only the humble demands of professionals. However, you can still get the actual direction of your favorite celestial body, thanks to the erect image optics!
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: Two eyepieces measuring 20mm/0.8 inches and 10mm/0.4inches and the focal length being 900mm/35 inches give you 45x and 90x magnification power (for each eyepiece respectively). It makes a significantly high focal ratio (f/13) which is ideal for double stars, planets, or the moon.
  • Mount: You’ll see an Alt-Azimuth mounting system which is pretty much a basic style. There’s a panning handle or control clutch which makes all the adjustments for an accurate pointing easier and smoother.
  • Accessories: Two eyepieces are available to allow for variable magnifications. The travel tripod makes the positioning a breeze. The red dot finderscope lets you pinpoint the desired star. The erect image star diagonal gives the true direction of your target astronomical object.
  • Materials and Coatings: The aluminum optical tube can withstand the regular wear and tear except any major impact. The optics being fully coated and made of pure glass should give you undistorted viewing experience while being scratch-resistant.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: Weighing 11 lbs. when assembled, the telescope is portable; thanks to the lightweight frame and aluminum tube. Use the well-written instruction manual to get it on the go in just a minute and without using any additional tool.

Specifications

  • Optical Design/Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 70mm (2.76″)
  • Focal Length: 900mm (35″)
  • Focal Ratio: f/13
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Focal Length): 20mm (.8″); 10mm (.4″)
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Magnification): 45x; 90x
  • Magnification: Highest- 165x; Lowest- 10x
  • Resolution: Rayleigh- 1.99 arc seconds; Dawes 1.66 arc seconds
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth with pan handle and clutch
  • Optical Tube: Length- 914mm (36″); Material- Aluminum
  • Height Adjustment Range (including tripod and mount): 812.8mm to 1295.4mm (32″ – 51″)
  • Included Items: OTA, preassembled tripod and mount, two eyepieces, red-dot Finderscope, tripod, erect image 90° diagonal, and user manual

Pros

  • A budget model with no major feature missing
  • A great companion for beginners
  • Easy setup and flexible control with the mount and panning handle
  • All useful accessories included
  • 2-year warranty with helpful documentation and visuals

Cons

  • Now Barlow lens included meaning that you aren’t fully free of concerns for aberration
  • Stability issues with the tripod (difficulty getting it right unless the surface is plain enough)

Clearly, it’s not a telescope for professionals, but hobbyists or beginners will find it hard to deny the convenience the package offers.

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3. Celestron – AstroMaster 114EQ

Here we got another telescope from the famous AstroMaster series but with larger aperture, shorter focal ratio, and higher magnification than the other on our list. Let’s see if it’s worth the price.

Features

  • Mirror and Aperture: The aperture is 114mm (4.48″) which is slightly smaller than that of PowerSeeker 127EQ. The ability of the primary mirror to gather light is 265x. The secondary mirror obstruction is 44mm (1.73″) which accounts for 38% by diameter and 14% by area. However, the quality of the glass and very little maintenance requirements may seal the deal.
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: The focal length of eyepiece 1 and 2 goes 20mm (.78″) and 10mm (4″) giving you 50x and 100x in magnification respectively. The highest and lowest useful magnification can be 269x and 16x. The focal length being 1000mm (39.37″) makes a small number, f/8.77 in focal ratio and thus less tracking errors. The erect image corrector increases the utility of the eyepiece.
  • Mount: The German Equatorial Mount that comes with this model is slightly better than those with most other models of Celestron. Its two control knobs help users with precision adjustments maintaining slow motions.
  • Accessories: The package is full of them! Right out of the box, you’ll have Tripod plus Center Support Bracket, CG-2 Equatorial Mount, 2 Eyepieces, 2 Counterweights with bar, 2 Slow-motion Cables, Accessory Tray, The Sky™ CD Software, and Battery. The StarPointer Finderscope is the brand’s one of the many patented innovations.
  • Materials and Coatings: The mirror comes fully coated with very little susceptibility to damages unless there’s any purposeful attempt to destroy it. The aluminum tripod has steel tube legs measuring 1.25 inches each.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: The short focal length and thus the ratio should be some of the telescope’s pluses. While we expected 114EQ to be a little lighter, it’s still a lightweight device.

Specifications

  • Optical Design: Newtonian Reflector
  • Aperture: 114mm (4.48″)
  • Secondary Mirror Obstruction: 44mm (1.73″); Diameter- 38%; Area- 14%
  • Focal Length: 1000mm (39.37″)
  • Focal Ratio: f/8.77
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Focal Length): 20mm (0.78″); 10mm (0.4″)
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Magnification): 50x; 100x
  • Magnification: Highest- 269x; Lowest- 16x
  • Resolution: Rayleigh- 1.22 arc seconds; Dawes 1.02 arc seconds
  • Mount: German Equatorial with a Couple of Slow-Motion Control Cables
  • Optical Tube: Length- 457mm (18″); Material- Aluminum
  • Height Adjustment Range (including tripod and mount): 812.8mm – 1295.4mm (32″ – 51″)
  • Included Items: Optical Tube, StarPointer Finderscope, Tripod plus Center Support Bracket, CG-2 Equatorial Mount, 2 Eyepieces, 2 Counterweights with bar, 2 Slow-motion Cables, Accessory Tray, The Sky™ CD Software, and Battery.

Pros

  • Decent OTA specifications (aperture, mirror, and focal length) for the money
  • Reliable CG-2 Equatorial Mount with control knobs for adjustments at slow motions
  • Easy-to-use accessories
  • Little maintenance requirement
  • 2-year warranty with great support (for installation/setup)

Cons

  • Users’ Complaints: Rusty counterweights, visible glue on the assembly points, and tripod

Some arrangements to handle spherical aberration and a slightly larger aperture might be useful. After all, it’s worth your money unless you’re reluctant to maintain cost-efficiency.

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Best Telescopes for Kids!

4. Orion 10012 SkyScanner

The quality of the optics and other hardware parts of this tabletop reflector compensate for the considerable trade-off on the aperture and magnification.

Features

  • Mirrors and Aperture: Located at the optical tube’s rear part is the primary mirror that collects the incoming light. The gathered light is then projected to deliver bright images of Jupiter, many of the moon’s craters, and other planets, thanks to the parabolic shape! The 100mm aperture comes up to approximately 4 inches; a little larger could be better, though!
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: Two eyepieces (20mm and 10mm) allow you to see objects magnified by 20x and 40x respectively, whereas the highest useful limit of that can be 200x and the lowest 14x. The focal length is 400mm which gives f/4.0 in focal ratio; not bad when you want to handle it on your own.
  • Mount: This Orion reflector has a mount base with three stable legs and a photo tripod adapter integrated underneath.
  • Accessories: Not a lot of ‘bells and whistles’ come with it, but the box contains all the essentials. The eyepieces, reflex sight (EZ Finder II), 1.25″ Rack-and-pinion focuser, the special edition of Starry Night, and a 3/8″-to-1/4″-20 threaded adapter make a decent $100 package.
  • Materials and Coatings: The mirror being made of soda-lime comes coated with silicone dioxide and aluminum, and the material it uses is soda-lime plate. The steel tube has a scratch-resistant, painted finish, and the aluminum tripod is okay.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: The 15.7-inch optical tube weighs 3.4 lbs., and the tripod adds another 2.8 lbs. to the total weight which is 6.2 lbs. (fully assembled). The focus knob lets you adjust the optics for a desired level of image sharpness.

Specifications

  • Optical Design: Parabolic Reflector
  • Aperture: 100mm (~4″)
  • Focal Length: 400mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/4.0
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Focal Length): 20mm; 10mm
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Magnification): 20x; 40x
  • Resolution: 1.16arc seconds
  • Magnification: Highest- 200x; Lowest- 14x
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth
  • Optical Tube: Ideal for ¼”-20 tripods; Material- Steel
  • Weight: 6.2 lbs.
  • Included Items: 2 Eyepieces, Threaded Adapter, 1 Finderscope, and Starry Night Special Edition

Pros

  • An ideal choice for beginners and learners
  • Chemically solid optics at an affordable price
  • Sturdy tube and tripod
  • Lightweight and easy to assemble and maintain
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • Not big on magnification

However, you can still get the most of its magnifying power to catch sight of many of the craters.

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5. Orion 10033 FunScope

This FunScope telescope comes as a basic model with everything but acceptable compromises on the aperture size and magnification limits.

Features

  • Mirror and Aperture: The primary mirror is a spherical kind that offers 76mm or around 3 inches in aperture. The secondary mirror deflects the collected light out the optical tube’s side through the telescope’s focuser.
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: Two Kellner eyepieces measuring 20mm and 6mm lets you have 15x and 50x magnification respectively with the highest useful and theoretical level up to 90x and 152x whereas the lowest level is up to 11x. 300mm in focal length gives f/3.9 in focal ratio making it a handy device for kids and new users.
  • Mount: The alt-azimuth base provides the required stability when the user has to move it in altitude and azimuth. With rubber grips in their underside, the three feet don’t skid much but bring adequate ground clearance and stability.
  • Accessories: The package includes 2 Eyepieces, 1 Barlow Lens, Red-dot reflex sight (non-magnifying), and Orion MoonMap 260 alongside the telescope. Kellner eyepieces use achromatic doublet which helps reduce chromatic aberration.
  • Materials and Coatings: Steel for the tube and aluminum and silicone dioxide for mirror coatings makes it a typical Orion telescope. The mounting base uses wood composite with a water-resistant laminate.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: The focus wheels add to your convenience by letting you move the rack-and-pinion focuser and bring the target objects into sharp focus. There’s a tension knob to allow you to set the required amount of tension in your chosen altitude. The relatively small focal length makes for a small tube (259.08mm/10.2 inches) and an overall lightweight telescope.

Specifications

  • Optical Design: Spherical, Reflector
  • Aperture: 76mm (~3″)
  • Focal Length: 300mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/3.9
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Focal Length): 20mm; 6mm
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Magnification): 15x; 50x
  • Resolution: 1.52 arc seconds
  • Magnification: Highest- 90x; Lowest- 11x
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth
  • Optical Tube: Length- 259.08mm/ 10.2 Inches; Material- Steel
  • Weight: 4 lbs.
  • Included Items: 2 Eyepieces, 2x Barlow Lens, 1 Red-Dot Reflex Sight, Orion MoonMap 260

Pros

  • A well-built entry-level model within budget
  • A lightweight telescope for one person
  • Easy to use and maintain (dust cover included)
  • Durable OTA assembly
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • The primary mirror being not adjustable cause makes the sharp focus available on just one side.

The other limitations that you see in it are just the outcome of its super affordability. Nonetheless, beginners aren’t out of luck yet, a credit to the FunScope!

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6. Meade Instruments 209006

It has the optical excellence and features of a moderately priced intermediate-level instrument. Let’s see what makes it worth your time.

Features

  • Objective Lens and Aperture: This achromatic refractor has a 102mm objective which gives a 4-inch aperture allowing the user to view hundreds of celestial objects including the Orion nebula and the Milky Way’s nearest major galaxy named Andromeda Galaxy without much aberration.
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: As with Instruments 216006, three eyepieces having 26mm, 9mm, and 6.3mm in focal length let you enjoy magnify objects at 23x, 66x, and 95x while allowing for as high as 204x and as low as 15x. The unordinary standard focal length (600m) makes for a typical focal ratio which is f/5.9.
  • Mount: It has an improved version of a typical alt-azimuth mount. With a panhandle and precision slow motion controls on both axes, you can track many objects; no matter if it’s a day or a night.
  • Accessories: In addition to the eyepieces and Barlow lens, there’re Red-Dot viewfinder, focuser, tripod, Meade’s own astronomy software package, and essential instructions in a video.
  • Materials and Coatings: The optical tube uses steel, and so does the tripod whose legs are made with stainless steel tubes. Special coatings are neither in use nor much essential.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: The lightweight tube makes a portable telescope. Both visual and written instructions are available to assist you in the setup process.

Specifications

  • Optical Design: Achromatic Refractor
  • Aperture: 102mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.9
  • Focal Length: 600mm
  • Eyepiece 1, 2, 3 (Focal Length): 26mm; 9mm; 6.3mm
  • Eyepiece 1, 2, 3 (Magnification): 23x; 66x; 95x
  • Magnification: Highest- 204x; Lowest- 15x
  • Diagonal: 90° Erect-Prism
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth
  • Weight: 12 lbs.
  • Focuser: Rack-and-Pinion
  • Included Items: 3 Eyepieces, 2x Barlow Lens, Red-Dot Viewfinder, 1 Tripod, and “Autostar® Suite Astronomer Edition DVD”

Pros

  • Decent optical power for both nighttime view and daytime terrestrial observation
  • An alt-azimuth mount with smooth tuning knobs
  • Lightweight and easy setup
  • Useful accessories with no additional pieces required for basic astrophotography
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • Long-distance focus may not be a pleasant experience
  • Aligning the Red-Dot Viewfinder can be difficult for new astronomers.

Before beginning the setup and aligning the viewfinder, you should watch the instructional video at least two times.

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7. Meade Instruments 216006

With improved OTA details, nearly same list of accessories, and a heavier build, this reflector telescope sells at a significantly lower price than Instruments 209006. Here’s an elucidation of its features.

Features

  • Mirrors and Aperture: The 130mm objective (5. 1-inch aperture) and other hardware parts make this achromatic reflector a smart choice for both intermediate and new astronomers.
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: The package includes three eyepieces measuring 26mm, 9mm, and 6.3mm which allow for magnifications up to 23x, 66x, and 95x respectively where the highest limit is 260x and the lowest is 19x. The focal length is 650mm which may not be too much but still account for its hefty build.
  • Mount: The large yet stable German Equatorial style Mount features a slow-motion control cables and latitude adjuster with a scale for convenient tracking and viewing celestial objects across a wide variety of directions.
  • Accessories: With the eyepieces, you’ll have a Barlow, a viewfinder, an accessory tray, a tripod, and an instructional DVD. The 2x Barlow lens that can be inserted between the focuser and the eyepiece should help reduce chromatic aberration.
  • Materials and Coatings: It uses the same material as the Instruments 209006. Also, the construction of the optical tube doesn’t require any additional coatings.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: The telescope’s weight which is around 12 kilograms (26.8 lbs.) may pose challenges for those who need to move frequently.

Specifications

  • Optical Design: Newtonian Reflector
  • Aperture: 130mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Focal Length: 650mm
  • Eyepiece 1, 2, 3 (Focal Length): 26mm; 9mm; 6.3mm
  • Eyepiece 1, 2, 3 (Magnification): 23x; 66x; 95x
  • Magnification: Highest- 260x; Lowest- 19x
  • Resolving Power: 0.90 arc*second
  • Mount: German Equatorial
  • Focuser: Rack-and-Pinion
  • Weight: 26.8 lbs.
  • Included Items: 3 Eyepieces, Red-Dot Viewfinder, 2x Barlow Lens, 1 Accessory Tray, 1 Tripod, 1 Focuser, and “Autostar Suite Astronomy Planetarium DVD”

Pros

  • High-quality optics with a large aperture
  • German Equatorial Mount with good control options
  • Useful accessories for a variety of uses
  • Quick setup and easy to use (follow the video instructions properly)
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • It’s a heavy instrument that may disappoint frequent travelers.

Despite the average performance as the reducer of aberration, the Barlow works fine as an enhancer for the eyepiece(s) as it clearly takes magnification to a higher level.

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8. Orion 10015 StarBlast

This parabolic reflector has the potential to stand beside the Celestron – AstroMaster 114EQ and the slightly higher-end Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ.

Features

  • Mirrors and Aperture: A 114mm optical diameter makes for a 4.5-inch aperture which gives you an actionable objective mirror for viewing bright deep sky and imaging lunar and planetary bodies. In addition, the obstruction (34mm, 30% in diameter, and 9% by area) created by the secondary mirror is not beyond acceptance.
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: Two eyepieces allow for 26x and 75x in magnification respectively with the highest being 228x and the lowest being 16x. The focal length is 450mm which confirms the use of a short tube and therefore a small f number (f/4.0).
  • Mount: The Dobsonian mount stays balanced and moves both vertically and horizontally and helps you make each adjustment useful.
  • Accessories: A useful piece of accessory is the collimation cap which allows you to line up the mirrors and get the focused light delivered to the eyepieces. There’re 1 eyepiece rack, 1 reflex sight, and 1 standard focuser – all adding up to the usability of the entire package.
  • Materials and Coatings: The mirrors use borosilicate glass that suffers thermal expansion in very low coefficients and features strong resistance to temperature differentials which leads to enhanced durability. Other coatings include silicone dioxide and aluminum. The steel optical tube and sturdy tripod add to the overall durability.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: The telescope isn’t lightweight, but the carrying handle makes it easily portable. The tube clamp lets you ensure a more stabilized setup.

Specifications

  • Optical Design: Parabolic Reflector
  • Aperture (Primary Mirror): 114mm (4.5″)
  • Secondary Mirror: Obstruction- 34mm; Obstruction Diameter and Area- 30%, 9%
  • Material: Glass- Low Thermal Expansion Borosilicate; Tripod- Wood; Coatings- Aluminum & Silicon Dioxide
  • Focal Length: 450mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/4.0
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Focal Length): Explorer II 17mm; 6mm
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Magnification): 26x; 75x
  • Magnification: Highest- 228x; Lowest- 16x
  • Resolving Power: 1.02 arc*sec
  • Mount: Dobsonian with Alt-Azimuth Base
  • Optical Tube: Length- 457.2mm/ 18.0 Inches; Material- Steel
  • Focuser: 1.25″ Rack-and-Pinion
  • Weight: 13 lbs.
  • Included Items: 2 Eyepieces, 1 EZ Finder II Reflex Sight, 1 Collimation cap, Carrying handle, Eyepiece Rack, Tube clamp, and Starry Night special Edition

Pros

  • Good OTA specifications
  • An improved mount system
  • High-quality materials to ensure durability
  • Many accessories including the common ones
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • Poor magnification and distorted views of some important planets like Venus, Jupiter, and Uranus

You may take some extra measures to get rid of the vibrations and other weather factors to avoid aberrations to some extent.

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9. Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope

This Travel Scope fulfills the needs of those who want something modest with average specifications at half the price of many entry-level telescopes.

Features

  • Objective Lens and Aperture: Meeting the least of what a telescope should offer, the aperture size which is 70mm (2.8″) should not create a fuss among enthusiasts, but after all, you’ll have something to thrive on, especially it’s the first time you’re buying.
  • Eyepieces, Magnification, and Focal Length: Eyepiece 1 and 2 measure 20mm (.78″) and 10mm (4″) in focal length respectively offering 20x and 40x in magnification. The magnification can be useful up to 269x with 16x as the lowest level. The focal length is 400mm (15.74″) which makes a small ‘f’ number, f/5.7 in (focal ratio).
  • Mount: Nothing exceptional about it! The manual Alt-Az mount comes with a pan handle and clutch to let you move the OTA in both left/right and up/down directions; so you’re not going to miss the chance of flexibility.
  • Accessories: See if you can complain looking at the accessories: 1 Manual Alt-Azimuth Mount, 1 Tripod 2 Eyepieces, Erect Image Diagonal, Finderscope, SkyPortal app, backpack, and Starry Night Software (Basic Edition).
  • Materials and Coatings: What we’ve seen about Celestron’s coatings when they’re used on the glasses/lenses is still applicable to this one.
  • Ease of Use and Portability: As light as Orion FunScope, this one easily fits inside the provided backpack. It usually takes a beginner up to 3 minutes for the setup. Both written and visual instructions are available.

Specifications

  • Optical Design: Refractor
  • Focal Length: 400mm (15.74″)
  • Aperture: 70mm (2.8″)
  • Magnification: Highest- 168x; Lowest- 10x
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Focal Length): 20mm (0.78″); 10mm (0.4″)
  • Eyepiece 1 & 2 (Magnification): 20x; 40x
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.7
  • Resolution: Rayleigh- 1.98 arc seconds; Dawes 1.66 arc seconds
  • Mount: Manual Alt-Azimuth
  • Optical Tube: Length- 431.8mm (17″); Diameter- 98.4mm (3.87″); Material- Aluminum
  • Height Adjustment Range (including tripod and mount): 558.8mm – 1320.8mm (22″-52″)
  • Included Items: 2 Eyepieces with holder, 1 Mount, 45° erect image diagonal, 5×24 Finderscope, SkyPortal App, 1 Tripod, Starry Night Basic Edition, backpack, and user manual

Pros

  • A budget telescope with adequate optical power for beginners and amateurs
  • Usable for day and night observations
  • A lightweight product with required accessories
  • Little cleaning/maintenance required
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • No Barlow lens or special optics to reduce chromatic aberration

You may get pair items like low dispersion or extra-low dispersion glasses to make this telescope a great first purchase for yourself or a nice present for a teenage astronomy enthusiast.

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Now that you’ve got a handful of choices to fit a $200 bill, you can still try and find whatever is best for you, especially in terms of a telescope’s power. Without any hands-on user experience, the only way to do this is to know what the specifications suggest.

How to Choose the Best Budget Telescope?

Telescope Buyer’s Guide

Whether or not a telescope is ideal depends mostly on the four qualities, such as aperture, resolution, optics, materials, and magnification. Let’s know how much of these things you really need.

Light-Collecting Ability

The more light a telescope collects; the better (brighter and sharper) viewing experience it offers. When the budget is too tight for a very large aperture, you should aim for a 100mm to 130mm objective which has an aperture of 4″ to 5″.

Resolution (Resolving Power)

High resolution lets you see two different points of light separately while low resolution gives you a blurry view, meaning that you’ll get one point of light to see the two different points together.

Examples of telescopes with good objective diameter and resolution include Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ and Meade Instruments 216006 which offer 5″ and 5.1″ and a resolving power up to 0.91 and 0.90 arc second respectively.

Quality of Optics

Whether it’s a lens or a mirror, the overall cost of a telescope is associated with its optics. One of the primary goals is to choose optics that can handle aberrations, and the lens/mirror on a budget telescope may not always come handy in all circumstances.

Quality of Materials

The materials used for making the optical tube, mount, and tripod remain almost the same in most telescopes. Some differences can be visible when it comes to optical coatings. Most of the budget telescopes we’ve recommended come with fully coated optics.

Take a look at these two quick ideas to choose from.

Choose a Refractor for an Aperture Not Exceeding 5″

If you can cheer yourself with an aperture size not larger than 5 inches, refractors are your best bets. With the aperture, lens quality has its part to play. We’ve one good suggestion for the refractor lovers: Celestron Astromaster.

Choose an Affordable Newtonian Reflector with a 4″ or Larger Aperture

Newtonian reflectors are some of the most desirable telescopes with apertures between 4″ and 6″. Our top recommendations include Meade Instruments 216006, Celestron 114EQ, and Celestron 127EQ.

What Do the Specifications Mean?

In this section, we’ll discuss whatever you see on the list of specifications.

Optical Design

Telescopes that you’ll see at a departmental/local store fall into either of these two types – reflector and refractor. The part that is responsible for gathering light is known as the objective which also tells us the type.

The objective of a refractor telescope is a glass lens which helps collect and focus light. Two types of lenses are in use.

  • Convex lens gathers light.
  • Concave lens spreads light.

Costlier than the other type, this one requires little cleaning, collimation, and maintenance and is good for observing stars, planets, and the moon.

The same in a reflector is a mirror which serves the same purpose. Two types of mirrors are in use.

  • Concave mirror gathers light.
  • Convex mirror scatters light.

The more affordable of the two, this type requires frequent collimation and cleaning and doesn’t suffer chromatic aberration.

Aperture

The diameter of the objective (mirror or lens) is the aperture. Here, diameter refers to the size of the light collecting area. This particular feature tells how much light a telescope collects.

The ability to collect light is proportional to the objective (mirror/lens) area and eventually the aperture square. A large aperture size makes for a bright and clear image.

Well adapted to the dark, a healthy human eye has an aperture of 7 mm. Even the smallest of the aperture size on our list as in Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope comes with the ability to collect 100 as many times the light collected by the human eye. Here’s the calculation: (70/7)2 = 100.

Optical Tube and Focal Length

Optical tube is the housing that includes all optical accessories. The majority of telescopes on sale use a short tube that has a short focal length and small focal ratio. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The distance between the eyepiece and objective is the focal length, usually measured in millimeters. The focal length of a reflector telescope is typically longer than the original optical tube. As a result, the optical tube assembly of a reflector becomes more compact and lightweight than that of a refractor model of the same size.

Focal Ratio

The calculated result from the aperture divided by the focal length is the focal ratio. Expressed in an f-number, the focal ratio is f/15 for a 100mm telescope with 1500mm focal length. So, the shorter the focal length and the optical tube are; the smaller focal ratio will be.

Eyepiece and Magnification

When we see an object through a magnifying tool, it appears a certain number of times bigger than what we can see with naked eyes. That number indicates the magnification. For example, an optical tool with 32x magnification lets you get the view of an object thirty two times larger in size.

For a telescope, we see a number that expresses its magnification power. The focal length of a telescope is divided by that of an eyepiece. A telescope with a 300mm focal length and a 20mm and 6mm eyepiece as in Orion 10033 FunScope produces 15x and 50x in magnification respectively.

The intended of magnification level should start from 20x and go up to 165X.

Resolution/Resolving Power

Sky objects may get close enough to each other into a blurry blob making it impossible for observers to separate them. The resolution of a telescope lets us distinguish them and see them as separate objects.

Mounts

There’re two types available for astronomy enthusiasts, such as Alt-azimuth (AZ) and Equatorial mounts.

AZ Mounts

The type lets you position a telescope maintaining an altitude (up and down) position and/or a side to side (azminuth) way. If you’re going to buy a basic/entry-level telescope, it’s your pick.

  • Dobsonian Mount: A special variation of Alt-Azimuth, a Dobsonian mount comes affordable and handy for those who choose large Newtonian reflectors.

Equatorial Mounts

Offering greater flexibility to astrophotography enthusiasts, this type comprises two basic styles, such as German and Fork Equatorials.

  • German Equatorial: A German type often goes well with refractor and Newtonian reflectors.
  • Fork Equatorial: Designed to yield greater flexibility than their German counterparts, fork mounts are suitable for short optical tubes and the majority of Catadioptric models.

Coatings

In any form, this feature helps reduce the loss of internal glare and light while facilitating even light transmission, which lead to sharp and contrasted images. Coated optics looks dark or less shiny. The bluish, brownish, or greenish tint that you may see is the result of calcium/magnesium fluoride. Coatings come in the following levels.

  • Coated
  • Fully Coated
  • No Coatings
  • Multi-Coated
  • Fully Multi-Coated

Finder Scope

The pointing device that rides on the side or top of your telescope and brings an object right into the FoV of your telescope is known as the finder scope. With 6x to 9x magnification, these tools help you locate objects as you look in your instrument.

Reflex sight and optical tube finder scopes are two most common types with a few others being made for very particular reasons.

Tripod

Tripods are made with various materials which affect their sizes and weights and thus stability. Without paying much attention, you may choose a bulky and large tripod which isn’t really a problem if you aren’t traveling.

Focuser

Now that you’re already aware of the way a telescope gathers the light and directs it to one point for proper observation. Both refractors and reflectors have their eyepieces in that point known as the drawtube which is also a part of the focuser that lets you move your eyepiece back or forward so that you can bring the images in the eyepiece directly into focus.

How Much Does a Decent Telescope Cost?

Free Shipping on Order of $75+

First, you need to clarify the word ‘decent’. What satisfies a beginner may not give a knowledgeable user a desirable experience. Following is a chart showing the available specs at different pricing points.

Price Aperture Focal Length Focal Ratio Magnification Motorized Control
At or Below $100 50mm to 80mm 360mm to 700mm f/4.5 to f/12 14x to 175x No
At or Below $200 ($100+) 70mm to 130mm 400mm to 1000mm f/5.0 to f/10 20x to 175x No
From $200+ to $400 90mm to 130mm 650mm to 1500mm f/6.7 to f/13 24x to 120x Yes
From $400+ to $1000 125mm to 205mm 1200mm to 2000mm f/10 to f/15 50x to 175x Yes
From $1000+ 125mm to 220mm 1000mm to 2000mm f/9 to f/17 50x to 200x Yes

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Though you already have gone through most of what a telescope incorporates, a few more practical insights will be helpful.

What is Collimation?

Answer: To get the desired performance, all components, especially the objective should be aligned from time to time. This process is called collimation which is done in two ways, such as mechanical and optical.

How to Calculate Field of View (FoV)?

Answer: Use the formula below.

AFoV / Magnification = FoV

A 25mm eyepiece typically has an AFOV of 50°. When the eyepiece is used in a telescope with 1000mm in focal length and 40x in magnification, the true FoV is 1.25° (50/40= 1.25).

How to Calculate the Focal Ratio?

Answer: The formula is given below.

Focal Ratio= Focal Length / Aperture

If the focal length of a telescope is 650mm and the aperture is 100mm, the focal ratio will be f/6.5 (650/100=6.5).

How to Calculate Magnification?

Answer: The formula is:

Magnification= Telescope Focal Length / Eyepiece Focal length

If the focal length of a telescope is 900mm and that of an eyepiece is 15mm, the magnification that can be expected is 60x (900/15).

How to Calculate Resolution?

Answer: Resolving power is expressed in arc seconds. Here goes the calculation.

Resolution (Resolving Power) in Arc Seconds = 252,000 X (Observation Wavelength / Diameter of the Objective)

Note: the wavelength and objective diameter are variables, but 252,000 is a constant.

Maybe, your search for the best telescope under $200 has neared an ultimate point where you want no more theories but a name or two.

Conclusion

A good reflector besides the Meade and Celestron telescopes available under 200 bucks is Orion 10015 StarBlast. Meade Instruments 209006 should satisfy beginners who want a refractor telescope.

Both Orion 10033 FunScope and Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope are super affordable. But the former is more compact while the latter is lighter.

Again, we can’t help talking about Orion 10012 SkyScanner as it makes a worthwhile pick for those who want to get a balanced proportion of affordability and optical brilliance.

Finally, your skill, experience, and individual goals surrounding astronomy and/or astrophotography are the key factors that should lead to a specific choice. So, happy buying!

Muntaseer

I have wondered how the Stars and Moons look like for many years. I’ve fallen in love with Cosmology since I was a boy. I am writing these articles to share my love for astronomy with you.

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