Disclosure - If you buy something via our link, we may earn a commission with no additional expense to you.

Best Telescopes & Reviews – 2 Pro Astronomers’ Perspectives (2022)

Our team of experts including Zane, a TIME magazine mentioned home telescope maker, has tested 200+ telescopes and our chosen list of best telescopes are often recommended on most astronomical forums

If you look at the list of best selling telescopes on Amazon you’ll see low grade telescopes mostly reviewed by enthusiastic newbies who have probably never used another telescope in their life. Most of these newbies are content seeing a few craters on the moon and spotting the 4 moons of Jupiter … yet they probably don’t know any decent pair of binoculars that cost below $100 can do the same thing!

If you can’t trust Amazon and most of the telescope blogs, how do you truly know what makes a great telescope? That’s why we’re here. Here you’ll find all the information you need to buy the best telescope with confidence.

Some of these telescopes can be a lot of money, so you want to make sure you are investing in a great product … especially if this is your first one! Our comprehensive list contains the absolute best telescope for its corresponding price.

Basic Guide On Choosing The Best Telescope For You

The first thing you want to do is to figure out what you really want out of your telescope. Consider:

  • Where will you use it?
  • Where will you store it?
  • How much weight can you carry comfortably?
  • How will you find the things you want to see?
  • Is this for home use or will you frequently put it in your car?
  • Will you want to take it on an airplane?

If your observing location requires walking up or down stairs, or you can’t handle carrying something too heavy, or if you just decide you want to travel a lot with your scope, choosing a smaller one might be a better idea. 8" dobsonians are what we consider to be perfect in terms of the balance between portability and viewability.

While it’s amazing to peer through a big scope, it’s useless if it isn’t used. This goes for kids too. If you’re shopping telescope for a child, remember to choose something they can manage on their own.

Some telescopes come with built-in computer assistance for tracking and identifying celestial objects. We don’t typically recommend these over the manual ones.

Computerized telescopes can come with additional work and requirements. For example, they will need a power supply and can take longer to set up than most other scopes. Knowing what you can do with a good star chart is much more beneficial.

The money you’re spending on a telescope should be going as much towards the aperture (size of the objective lens or mirror) as possible. When you’re spending only a few hundred dollars on a computerized telescope, half your money is going to go to the drive systems and controller, and as a result, you get rather little actual “telescope” for your money. If you live in the city you’ll definitely want to prioritize aperture. A small telescope will show little under severe light pollution, but in general, you’re going to want to get as far away from cities as you can when you sky watch anyways.

If you prefer to have the scope to find the targets, then look at PushTo or GoTo computerized packages.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the level of technology that you’re comfortable with though, and both kinds of scopes (tech-included or not) have their own pros and cons, so make sure to really think about what you want out of your scope before making any kind of purchase.

There are several different types of telescopes, with the most common types being refractor, reflector and catadioptric telescopes.

  • Refracting telescopes usually provide the best image for their apertures but are usually pricey. They’re seldom available with large apertures. Inexpensive ones do have a fair amount of chromatic aberration though, thanks to the achromatic lens design they use. Refractors seldom require maintenance and do not usually need to cool down before use.
  • Reflector telescopes provide the most bang for your buck in terms of light-gathering power and resolution, but require frequent alignment of mirrors and may need to cool down before being used. Unintentionally, most of the recommended scopes on this guide are reflectors.
  • Catadioptric telescopes are moderately expensive but are much more compact than most equivalent-sized refractors or reflectors. They do require periodic maintenance and need to cool down as well, but not as much as most reflectors.

Cheap telescopes under $100 are almost universally toys. Below $300 consumer telescopes tend to have corners cut. Remember, a telescope is meant to last a lifetime; don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks if you’re able.

You don’t have to be a technical engineer to buy an awesome telescope, but if you understand a few concepts and terms like the ones below, you’ll be fine. 

  • Optical Tube Assembly – this is the light-gathering part of the telescope. Common forms are refractor, reflector, Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, SCT, and Maksutov-Cassegrain, MCT.
  • Aperture – This is the diameter of the front lens or rear mirror of the optical tube. This is usually stated in millimeters, mm, or inches and may be noted as 150 mm or 6” in the specifications. This is the key specification for judging the telescope’s ability to show you dim and distant planets and deep-sky objects. In general, the more aperture the better.
  • Focal Length – This is a measure of the optical path within the optical tube. Using this you can determine the magnification that will be provided by any given eyepiece.
  • FL scope / FL eyepiece = magnification.
  • Focal Ratio – This is simply the focal length divided by the aperture. It tells you about the physical size of the scope. A low focal ration optical tube will be shorter than a high focal ratio optical tube with the same aperture and of the same design.
  • Focuser – This moves the eyepiece in or out along the light path to bring the image into focus. Common sizes are 1.25 inch and 2 inch which determines the size of the diagonal or eyepiece that can be accepted. Some are single speed and some are dual speed, having a quick focus and a slow focus knob that allows much finer adjustments which can be helpful when using high magnification.
  • Diagonal – These are placed into the focuser and receive the eyepiece in refractors, SCTs, and MCTs. Common sizes are 1.25 inch and 2 inch which determines the diameter of the eyepiece that can be accepted. The diagonal turns the direction of the eyepiece either 45 degrees or 90 degrees to provide a more comfortable viewing angle. The 45-degree models are usually for daytime use when the optical tube is fairly level for use as a spotting scope. The 90-degree diagonals, also called star diagonals, are better for astronomy as the optical tube is usually pointing high in the sky.
  • Mount – This is what holds the optical tube and allows you to point it effectively. Common types are Equatorial, AltAz which works similar to a camera tripod, PushTo, and GoTo. The mount is a critical part of the telescope system. If the mount is wobbly, the image will shake every time you try to focus or when there is a breeze. If the mount is wobbly it may be difficult to track your target as you move the optical tube to account for the rotation of the earth. A good optical tube on a poor mount provides a frustrating experience.
  • PushTo or DSC Mount – There are sensors in the computer control system that track the position of the mount. An initial alignment procedure is done so the mount knows the date, time, and location. After that, you put your target into the computer, usually a handset, and it tells you where to point the scope to see that target.
  • GoTo Mount – Similar to the PushTo mount, there are sensors that know the position of the mount. However, the GoTo mount has motors that are controlled by the computer, usually a handset. After a quick initial alignment, so the mount knows the date, time, and its location, you put your target choice into the computer and the computer uses the motors to turn the mount so that the target can be seen in the eyepiece. As the GoTo mounts are motorized, the computer uses the motors to track the target as the Earth rotates where the other mounts require you to move the optical tube to track the target yourself.
  • Eyepiece – This is an optical device that goes into the focuser or diagonal. The optical tube gathers light but it is the eyepiece that provides the magnification. Eyepieces come in various focal lengths, each providing a different magnification according to the focal length of the optical tube according to the formula Focal Length Optical Tube / Focal Length Eyepiece = Magnification. Therefore a 10 mm eyepiece will provide different magnification depending on the focal length of the telescope. Eyepieces are standardized on 1.25” and 2” diameters. Which size you can use is determined by the focuser and diagonal. 

Best Telescopes (Comparison Table)

Almost everything decent is out of stock due to the pandemic. So if you want a scope, you'll have to place a backorder and wait several weeks to months, sadly. We'd also highly recommend telescope e-retailers because you'll get better technical and post-sales support, product range, deals from online telescope retailers, and also, better assurance that you'll get what you ordered. In the US, High Point Scientific, Orion's Telescope.com are all reputable retailers with decades of history and offer great shipping, refund, and financing options. Your experience with them would be as good as your usual Amazon orders. We'd recommend you check out our Telescope Ranking article and choose the 2nd or 3rd best telescope if the top one is unavailable.
Model & Price Group
Why Buy
Buy From
Best $100 telescope
Zhumell Z100 Tabletop Dobsonian
The Zhumell Z100 offers all of the basic features of a larger telescope but at the lowest price point of any telescope we recommend – a great starting point for any beginner.
Best around $150
Zhumell Z114 Tabletop Dobsonian
The Zhumell Z114 has collimatable optics and decent accessories with enough aperture to keep a beginner happy, but it’s compact enough to fit in a backpack! Even an experienced astronomer will enjoy the scope’s simplicity and portability.
Best $200 telescope
Zhumell Z130 Tabletop Dobsonian
The Zhumell Z130 builds on the Z114 and Z100, with even more aperture allowing for brighter and more expansive views of the night sky but still in a plenty portable and easy-to-use package.
Best around $300
Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian
The XT4.5 is even better for planets than the Zhumell Z tabletop scopes, doesn’t necessarily require a table, and comes with fantastic Plossl eyepieces. A great choice for the scrutinizing planetary, lunar, and double star observer.
Best $400 telescope
Apertura DT6 Dobsonian
One of the highest rated telescopes for hobbyists. The Apertura DT6 from HighPointScientific offers significantly more light-gathering power and resolution than its tabletop cousins, and is upgradable and versatile enough to last a lifetime.
Budget 8" Dobsonian
Sky-Watcher 8" Classic Dobsonian
Only a slight decrease in portability vs 6” but significantly more light-gathering power and resolution, and upgradable and versatile enough to last a lifetime
Best valued 8" Dobsonian
Apertura AD8 Dobsonian
The Apertura AD8 from the leading US telescope retailer HighPointScientific is one of the highest recommended telescopes for hobbyists, thanks to its fantastic value, included accessory bundle, and smooth roller bearings. It may be the only telescope you ever need!
Best in $900 range
Apertura AD10 Dobsonian
The Apertura AD10 offers humongous light-gathering power in a relatively portable and easy-to-use package. It's one of the best valued 10' dobsonian telescopes available.
Best for $1200
Apertura AD12 Dobsonian
The Apertura AD12 offers some of the most light gathering power a portable, affordable telescope can provide with the same easy-to-use Dobsonian mount as some of our other recommendations.
Best in $1K – $2K
Celestron NexStar Evolution 6/8
The NexStar Evolution scopes offer a lightweight, portable, 21st-century telescope design with fully wireless GoTo capability, a built-in rechargeable battery, and comfortable ergonomics.

1. Best Cheap Telescope – Zhumell Z100 Tabletop Dobsonian

Zhumell Z100 may not have all the bells and whistles that higher-priced telescopes have but if you can’t afford something more, this telescope will do the trick.
Zhumell Z100
Ranked #1 of 27 telescopes in $100 range
  • Inexpensive
  • Nice handle
  • Attaches to a photo tripod

If your wallet is a little tight, the Zhumell Z100 is the cheapest and best astronomical telescope you can buy. This telescope is well worth its low price.

The Z100 is perfect for kids, college students, and other newbies who are interested in looking deep into the cosmos.

The eyepieces supplied with the Z100 are 10mm and 17mm. The 17mm has a little too much magnification for a low power eyepiece. Don’t replace it with something else, though … you would be spending just as much on what could be a better telescope.

The Z100 weighs five pounds, and there’s a nice built-in handle attached to the side of the mount. When one needs an extremely portable and convenient telescope, the Z100 is your best bet.

The Z100’s primary mirror cannot be aligned (collimated). As a result, sharp images are hard to come by. We would certainly recommend spending a little more on a telescope with a collimatable primary mirror as it can make a world of difference in image sharpness. 

But still, the Zhumell Z100  is a great choice if you’re curious about sky watching, and has amazing value for its price. Whether you’re new to the field and not completely sure if you’ll become a fan or not yet, or your budget doesn’t allow for anything more, you won’t regret purchasing this awesome telescope and will definitely be getting a lot of use out of it.

2. Best $150 Telescope – Zhumell Z114 Tabletop Dobsonian

Our pick for the price range of $110 to $170, replacing the Meade Lightbridge Mini 114 which has sadly been discontinued by the manufacturer.
Zhumell Z114
Ranked #1 of 19 telescopes in $150 range
  • Decent eyepieces
  • Reasonably lightweight

The Z114 offers an extremely wide field of view, 2.1 degrees at 26x with the included 17mm eyepiece and up to 3.6 degrees with an additional lower-power wide-field eyepiece – big enough to fit even the largest deep-sky objects such as the Pleiades, and making it easy to find almost anything even with the included red-dot sight.

The Z114 also has fantastic optics, taking the 45x provided by the supplied 10mm eyepiece with ease and being capable of up to 200x magnification with a shorter focal length eyepiece like a 6mm goldline or a 2x Barlow (sold separately, of course). Don’t feel bad about spending a lot on extra accessories—they’re worth it with this scope.

Unlike the Z100, the Z114 can be collimated for the sharpest possible views. It’s great for anything – planets, star clusters, nebulae, and even some galaxies.

And at only 11 pounds, the entire telescope fits in a backpack and can be brought on an airplane, much like its smaller sibling, the Z100. 

If you’re looking for a decent scope that won’t break the bank or take up your whole vehicle, say hello to the Zhumell Z114 , the best telescope in its category. 

3. Best $200 Telescope – Zhumell Z130 Tabletop Dobsonian

Our pick for the price range of $160 to $230, Zhumell Z130, is basically a scaled-up and improved version of the Z100, our $100 choice.
Zhumell Z130
Ranked #1 of 16 telescopes in $200 range
  • Nice tube rings and handles
  • Large aperture for the price

The Z130 has a collimatable primary mirror and rotating tube rings. These tube rings allow you to rotate the tube to the most comfortable position for viewing and work well with heavy eyepieces.

The extra half inch of aperture is a noticeable improvement compared to 114mm scopes, but it comes at a cost—both financial and practical.

The red dot finder for aiming works pretty well, but with 130mm of aperture, a more serious 9×50 finderscope or reflex sight might be something you’ll upgrade to eventually.

The Z130 comes with both a 25mm and a 10mm eyepiece (both Kellners), providing 25x and 65x, respectively, but we recommend you get another eyepiece. A 6mm Goldline would let you view the planets in high resolution, providing 108x… and trust us, you’ll want to see that. But even if you can’t get that eyepiece right now, it’s not a dealbreaker. With or without the preferred eyepiece, the Z130 blows its competitors away. The Zhumell Z130 ‘s biggest drawback, however, is its weight. While twenty-one pounds isn’t a lot for a telescope, finding a table sturdy and wide enough to hold it may be difficult.

4. Best Cheap Dobsonian Classic Telescope – Orion SkyQuest 4.5 Dobsonian

Our pick for the price range of $230-$290, SkyQuest XT4.5 is the cheapest classic dobsonian that’s available on the market, once you exclude the tabletop dobsonians that we’ve recommended earlier.
Orion XT4.5
Ranked #1 of 10 telescopes in $250 range
  • Nice handles and great eyepieces
  • Sharper views and easier collimation

The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 comes with great accessories and an easy-to-use Dobsonian mount.

Thanks to its long focal ratio of f/8, the XT4.5 will have a sharp view at the edge of the field at low power because of less coma. The secondary mirror is smaller, increasing contrast by a minor amount. The longer focal ratio also makes collimation easier.

The XT4.5 comes with two eyepieces, a 25mm and a 10mm Plossl, providing 36x and 90x magnification, respectively. These are much better than the inexpensive Kellners and MA eyepieces supplied with the cheaper telescopes on this list.

The XT4.5’s finderscope is a 6×30 straight through unit, which is basically a miniature telescope attached to the side, as opposed to a red dot sight. It’s somewhat less comfortable to use.

Due to the long tube due to its classic dobsonian design, the SkyQuest XT4.5  is better suited to sit atop a milk crate or tall box rather than a table. This can be a little annoying, but the improvements over a smaller 114mm (4.5″) tabletop dobsonians are worth it. For $30-$60 more, however, you could get a 6” Dobsonian, which is the next entry.

5. Best Beginner Telescope – Apertura DT6 Dobsonian

Being our pick for the price range of $290 to $350, Apertura DT6 is one of the cheapest 6″ dobsonians available. 6″ dobsonian is considered more or less the minimum for any kind of serious observations.
Apertura DT6
Ranked #2 of 20 telescopes in $300 range
  • Large aperture and easy collimation
  • No table or crate needed

One of the highest rated telescopes for night sky hobbyists.

Before the 1970s, a 6” telescope was considered the pinnacle of what the average amateur astronomer could afford. However, light pollution and cost decreases have led to a 6” today being considered more or less the minimum for any kind of serious observations.

The Apertura DT6, offering from the US’s largest telescope retailer, HighPointScientific, includes a 25mm Plossl eyepiece providing 48x magnification and a 6×30 straight through finder.

A 6” can show you a lot. I spent my first two years of astronomy with one. A 6” telescope can go up to 300x with good optics and collimation. It can show you Neptune’s moon Triton, and even see (in detail!) Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the spiral arms of M51. 

While an 8” reflector is similar with regards to portability, a 6” is great for seniors, kids, or anyone who isn’t as capable of moving a heavy instrument around. The Apertura DT6’s long focal ratio of f/8 also makes collimation easy.

6. Best Budget 8″ Dobsonian Telescope – Sky-Watcher 8″ Classic Dobsonian

Our pick for the price range of $350-$430, Skywatcher 200P is usually the cheapest 8″ Dobsonian available in the US and comes with the bare essentials to get started.
Sky watcher 8" dobsonian
Ranked #6 of 34 telescopes in $450 range
  • Large aperture and easy collimation
  • No significant portability difference from 6” Dobsonians
  • No table or crate needed

An 8” telescope will show even more than a 6”. The entire Messier catalog is relatively easy to access from a suburban or dark site. Pluto may be spotted from reasonably dark skies, and many deep-sky objects begin to show fair amounts of detail. The moons of Uranus are possible sights on nights of steady air.

The 8” Traditional is no bulkier than the aforementioned 6” Dobsonian. The only difference is the weight. For older users or children, an 8” may be too difficult to set up without assistance.

The 8” Traditional (or Skywatcher 200P Classic) includes a 25mm and 10mm eyepiece, providing 48x and 120x, respectively, and a 6×50 finderscope. This finderscope is a little uncomfortable to look through, but usable.

The average person can handle an 8” Dobsonian and the gains over a 6” are certainly worth the price. An 8” telescope will last you a lifetime.

7. Best Value 8″ Dobsonian – Apertura AD8 Dobsonian

Our pick for the price range of $450 to $550, Apertura AD8 is the best valued 8″ dobsonian you could get your hands on and comes with all the accessories you need. It’s our personal favorite!
Apertura AD8
Ranked #1 of 34 telescopes in $450 range
  • High-quality accouterments
  • Extremely good value

Maybe you somewhat liked the accessories that came with the 8” Skywatcher, but you wanted just a bit more? The Apertura AD8 is exactly what you’re looking for! It’s the most perfect 8″ Dobsonian offering available in the USA.

With an improved dual-speed focuser with a micro-adjusting knob, a quality 9×50 finderscope, and even an included laser collimator, the Apertura AD8 is well worth the money. The AD8 even has a cooling fan for cold nights!

The AD8 comes with two eyepieces: a 2” 30mm SuperView (40x) and a 1.25” 9mm Plossl (133x). We would highly recommend an additional 6mm “goldline” eyepiece to get the best planetary views the scope can offer.

It is the best 8” Dobsonian available, and nothing beats the sheer value in its price range. If you’ve got the budget, it’s certainly worth it when compared to Skywatcher 8″ Classic which is our budget 8″ pick. Apertura AD8 is the telescope I most often recommend to beginners. 

8. Best Value 10″ Dobsonian – Apertura AD10 Dobsonian

Our pick for the price range of $550 to $750, Apertura AD10 is identical to the AD8 and comes with a 10″ aperture.
Apertura AD10
Ranked #1 of 24 telescopes in $650 range
  • High-quality accouterments
  • Extremely good value

The Apertura AD10 is only slightly less portable than the Apertura AD8, Zhumell Z8, and other 8” Dobsonians, but offers you 56% more light-gathering power and 25% more resolution. While it’ll still fit in an SUV, however, keep in mind that the tube and base are big enough that they’re getting a bit awkward to handle – though nowhere near as much so as the Apertura AD12. 

9. Best Value 12″ Dobsonian Telescope – Apertura AD12 Dobsonian

Our pick for the price range of $750 to $1000, Apertura AD12 offers 44% more light-gathering power when compared with Apertura AD10.
Apertura AD12
  • Huge, great accessories

An upscaled version of the AD8 which is identical to Zhumell Z8, the Apertura AD12 offers colossal light gathering power. A generation ago, only a professional or very rich amateur could own a telescope this large!

A 12” Dobsonian easily shows Pluto, globular clusters, and shows incredible detail in many galaxies, or even suburbs. Jupiter’s moon Ganymede may even show a slight dark marking called the Galileo Regio. You can, if it’s a good night, even see Uranus and Neptune’s moons.

Weighing only 75 pounds, the AD12 is not a lightweight telescope. Its 14” wide tube is rather awkward to carry too, but don’t fret! You can fix this with homemade or aftermarket straps. Or just put the whole scope on a hand truck or dolly. That being said, the AD12 will still fit in most sedans and SUVs, though compact car owners may be in trouble.

We’d recommend getting a smaller scope to complement the Apertura AD12, just to make sure you’re hooked before bringing this beast into your home. A smaller scope would help too, for nights when it isn’t worth hauling the big scope out. But if Apertura AD12 from HighPointScientific is in your budget, and if you can get this scope to where you want it, do it. There’s nothing quite like the power of a 12 inch Dobsonian.

10. Best Computerized GoTo Telescopes – Celestron NexStar Evolution 6/8

We’re showcasing Nexstar Evolution 6 and 8 as non-dobsonian computerized telescopes for the $1000 to $2000 categories that offer both portability and viewability. Feel free to check out our GoTo Rankings page for better choices.
Celestron NexStar Evolution 8
  • GoTo that actually works
  • Integrated battery & WiFi
  • Compact

Unlike cheap computerized telescopes, which have small apertures, cheap plastic gears, and hand controllers reminiscent of a pocket calculator, the NexStar Evolution telescopes have enough aperture to actually show you stuff, a solid all metal construction, and they can be controlled via a built-in WiFi network with your smartphone or tablet. The NexStar Evolution is incredibly easy to operate, and even has its own built-in rechargeable battery for plug-and-play use.

Being a Schmidt-Cassegrain catadioptric design, the Evolution’s main drawback is the somewhat narrow maximum field of view compared to a similar sized reflecting telescope. However, the computer functions more than make up for this.

The Evolution scopes come with two eyepieces: A 40mm Plossl providing 38x in the 6” and 51x in the 8” models respectively, and a 13mm Plossl providing 115x in the 6” and 156x in the 8” models respectively. While these will be fine to start out with, we’d highly recommend obtaining a 2” diagonal and low-power 2” eyepiece as well as a 6mm “goldline” to get the widest vistas and the highest powers usable with NexStar Evolution telescopes.

A Few Frequently Asked Questions

Which telescope brand is better – Meade, Celestron or Orion?

Almost all of the major telescope brands make great products—and unfortunately, they all market irredeemable garbage at low price points, using their good reputations to fool newcomers. Brand loyalty or image should never be a factor in choosing a telescope or accessories.

Where should I buy telescopes from?

Amazon, Agena Astro, High Point Scientific, Orion Telescopes & Binoculars, Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OTPCorp), Omegon, and Tejraj are all trustworthy retailers of telescopes with excellent customer service.

How much is a decent telescope?

A decent telescope can cost as little as $100, but we recommend spending at least $150 to $200 for something good with no compromises. You get what you pay for.

Can you see galaxies with a telescope?

Any telescope can at least show you the Andromeda Galaxy, but the quality of your views and the number of galaxies depends on your telescope’s aperture, your light pollution and sky conditions, and your skill as an observer.

Are telescopes easy to maintain and service?

The most complicated things you’ll generally need to do to your telescope are to collimate it (at least check every time you take it out) and clean the optics every few months or years. Collimation requires nothing more than a star and/or a collimation tool and is explained in our guide, while cleaning is generally little more than a rinse with distilled water (for mirrors) or cleaning with optical tissue and coating-safe lens cleaner or lens wipes (for lenses).

Why are Dobsonian telescopes considered the best telescopes?

Dobsonian telescopes have smooth and simple motions – up and down, left and right with no complicated equatorial coordinates or locks or levers. Their simple construction means they’re also relatively lightweight, cheap, and easy to assemble, meaning you can put your money and focus on the telescope tube itself. The Dobsonian’s Newtonian reflector optical design also provides you the most aperture for your buck allowing you to see more of the Universe – and without the pesky chromatic aberration of a refractor.

Small, medium, & large telescopes – What’s the difference?

Usually, when astronomers refer to amateur-sized telescopes, they lump them into several classes. 
“Small” used to refer to telescopes of 6 inches of aperture or less, but the trend of larger and larger telescopes means that most astronomers today term “small” as being 8 inches of aperture or less.
“Medium” usually refers to telescopes with an aperture of between 8 and 13.1 inches. Larger amateur telescopes (almost all of which are Dobsonians) pretty much require truss tubes to be managed by one person and fit in an automobile.
“Large” is a confusing term because there is no set definition as to where it ends. Some people would call a 30” Dob a “large telescope”. However, we would term it to be anything between 14” and 22” in aperture. A 22” is about the largest one-person scope you can buy.
“Very large” usually refers to telescopes above 22” of aperture. Telescopes above 22” (with the exception of some very exotic and groundbreaking ATM builds) are simply not manageable by one person and seldom fit in a regular car or truck. They also typically cost over $10,000, so few tend to own them. The largest amateur-owned telescopes you typically see are 36” to 42” in aperture, but there are some 50-inch, 60-inch, and even two 72-inch amateur telescopes that either exist or are in development.


These are just a few things to keep in mind as you shop to get the best telescope for beginners. Whether you’re an avid astronomer at the local observatory or just a college student looking for something to poke out of your dorm room window, now you are prepared enough to make a smart decision about what telescope you want next.

Good luck getting the top telescope there is for your budget. 

28 thoughts on “Best Telescopes & Reviews – 2 Pro Astronomers’ Perspectives (2022)”

  1. Thanks for the information! I’ve been searching for one as a present for my husband. He loves to look up at the stars and try and find constellations and stars/planets, etc. Would #4 or #5 be better for him just stargazing and wanting to see more definition in the planets/stars? I don’t know what the difference is on relating to that! Just looking for help, even after reading the reviews and comparisons! Thanks for any and all help!

  2. Very comprehensive guide. I like the Zhumell z8 and z12. However can’t find it in Europe. Is it sold under a different name? Can you recommend an European equivalent?

  3. Hi Zane,

    I’m looking for my first telescope since high school. I’ll be spending most of my time looking at DSO’s. I’ve been looking at the Evolution 9.25 and it seems manageable to me. If I were to purchase something with a little bit larger aperture, a shorter focal ratio, and a mirror with as good or better quality lens, what do you feel would be a good way to go? A telescope which can be broken apart to carry works best. I’m pretty sure I can manage any single piece of 25-30 lbs, but 30lbs is pushing it if it’s the tube itself. Thanks!

    • Hi Steve,

      Personally I’m not sure whether I’d go for the Evolution 9.25. It is a little unsteady on its supplied mount. I have a C9.25 AVX and love it but the longer C9.25 tube really needs a steady mount like the CPC or a CGEM.

      I would highly recommend the Sky-Watcher 10″ Collapsible (with or without GoTo) – you’d be surprised how easy it is to move the tube (it is a bit over 30 pounds but has plenty of places to grab), and the base isn’t too much trouble. It’s a lot cheaper, more stable, and has more light gathering ability as well as a wider field of view.

  4. I live in an area with some light pollution. Celina, Ohio area. Dobsonians are the best for viewing because of light gathering? What is the best compact one that can do what a 12″-14″ dobsonians can do? Schmidt-Cassegrain type is what I’m talking about for ease of portability. My budget is $3000.00 or so. I want to be able to see and also be mobile. Thank you so much

    • What you are asking for doesn’t exist. Large SCTs are extremely bulky and actually harder to manage than a Dob.

  5. Hi Zane,
    Appreciate your reviews thank YOU.
    Want to buy my first telescope very confusing yet frustating to say the least when it comes to decision making !! 🤪
    Seems like Zhumell is your fav
    Unfortunately not available in Turkey. For my budget Meade & Celestron has put me off after reading your reviews,found a web site that distubutes Omegon,Orion& Sky Watcher brands .
    Overall i would like something that will blow me away ..even though on a resticted budget🙄 tossing up on Orion dobsonians / reflectors ..but Omegon is a new brand for me .
    I woul appreciate it greatly if you could compare both brands..just want enjoy the greater skies..planets nebula galaxies or any unexplained out there😃 cheers &TIA

  6. Hi Zane
    Just wondering what the determents on calculating light gathering power &how can i calculate a telescopes
    Light gathering power,i believe there is a formular cheers

  7. G’day Zane ..
    Trying to get my first telescope
    Just need a hand though,limited in choice due budget
    Hoping u can spare time to help make that decision a bit easier
    In much appreciation .Cheers

    -Omegon Dobson Telescope Advanced X N 203/1200

    -Skywatcher Dobson Telescope N 200/1200 Skyliner Classic DOB



  8. Hi Zane thank you for yr advice ..dont know why but to me Orion has written ‘Buy me ‘ all over it
    I ‘ve read your X review Orion xt8/Skywatcher 8″ dobs .With respect to your rating《Skyliner 5☆》and《Orion xt8 4.8☆》Though it seems that Orion has a better overall rating as opposed to Skywatcher ,as i’m indeed newbie did i miss a point other than Skywatcher had more accessories?
    Could you kindly round it up in laymans terms for it to sink in
    Ps.i have provided specifics of 3 diff dobs (not in anyorder of preferance ) ,pls pls pls if u could generously in brief let me know whyone is better than the other ..i would be everso grateful..

    **Omegon Dobson Telescope Advanced XN 203/1200
    Telescope Type Reflector (Mirror Telescope)
    Telescope Structure Newton
    Mirror Diameter 203 mm
    Focal Length 1200 mm
    Focus Ratio f / 6
    Separation Force 0.58
    Limit Brightness Mag 13.3
    Light Gathering Capacity 820
    Maximum Magnification 400x
    Optical Tube Weight 10.2 kg
    Optical Tube Structure Full Tube
    Focuser 2 ” Crayfird
    Stock Type Dobson
    Stock Dobson
    GoTo Control No
    Tracking No
    Tripod Wooden
    Eyepieces (1.25 ”) 1.25 ” Plossl 25mm
    Finder 8×50
    Accessory Tray Yes
    Total weight 20.4 kg
    Series Advenced X
    Observable Objects Moon & Planets, Nebula & Galaxy

    ***Skywatcher Dobson Telescope N 200/1200 Skyliner Classic DOB
    Design Newton
    Mirror Diameter 200mm
    Focal Length 1200mm
    Focus Ratio f / 6
    Separation Force 0.58
    Limit Brightness Mag 13.3
    Light Gathering Capacity 820
    Maximum Usable Magnification 400x
    Tube Weight 11 kg
    Tube Structure Full Tube
    Focuser Crayford
    Connection of Focuser to Eyepiece 2nd”
    Stock Dobson
    GoTo Control No
    Tracking No
    Stock Material Wooden
    Eyepieces (1.25 ”) 25mm, 10mm
    Finder Binoculars 9×50
    Eyepiece Adapter 1.25 ” – 2 ”
    Total weight 26 kg
    Observable Objects Moon and Planets, Nebula and Galaxies

    ***Orion SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian
    Optical Design Reflector (Mirrored Telescope)
    Optic Diameter 203mm
    Focal Length 1200mm
    Focus Ratio f / 5.9
    Main Mirror Structure Parabolic
    Glass Material Low Thermal Expansion Borosilicate Glass
    Eyepieces (1.25 ”) Sirius Plossl 25mm
    Magnification with Eyepieces 48x
    Separation Force 0.57arcsec
    Lowest Magnification 29x
    Theoretical Maximum Magnification 406x
    Limit Brightness Magnitude 14.2
    Optical Quality Diffraction Limited
    Finder Binoculars EZ Finder II Red Dot Finder
    Focuser 2 ” Crayford (with 1.25 ” adapter)
    Secondary Mirror Block 47mm
    Secondary Chuck Blocking Diameter 23%
    Secondary Mirror Block Area 5%
    Mirror Coating Aluminum & Silicon Dioxide
    Stock Type Dobson
    Computer Compatibility –
    Tube Material Steel
    Tripod Material Wooden
    Optical Tube Length 118.1 cm
    Optical Tube Weight 9.2 kg
    Stock / Tripod Weight 9.38 kg
    Total weight 18.6 kg
    Observation Area Moon, Planets, Bright Deep Space.

    • I like the Omegon, but you’ll need to get a 9mm or 10mm eyepiece for it. Same with the XT8. All three are good scopes and very similar.

      • Very much appreciate professionalisim on the subject .Thanx for yr replies ..cheers 🚀🛰🪐🌞☄🌠🌝🙂🙂🙂🙂

  9. Thank you for the wonderful reviews and info. Looking for a nice beginner telescope that can grow along with our experience. Family of 4 and want to keep at lake house. Really want to be able to see planets, moon. $500ish budget.

    Thank you for your help

  10. HI Zane – Thanks for your reviews. We are in Sydney and light pollution is high. My son is 10 year old and we are looking to buy a decent telescope for viewing. Can you recommend one

  11. Hey Zane,

    I’m been wanting to purchase a telescope for a very long time and I really appreciate your feedback on the ones you mentioned. I’m a newbie at telescopes but I’ve been looking at the skywatcher 6” and the 8” just wondering what is the big difference between the two. The 8” is around the $445 range while the 6” is around $315.
    Thank you!

  12. Hi Zane,

    Love your telescope reviews and I am wondering what your goto pair of Binocs are. I almost have as much enjoyment using my cheap pair as I do my scope but am looking to upgrade.



Leave a Comment