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Best Reflector Telescopes on Tripod (3″ to 8″ Newts)

While Dobsonian telescopes dominate our rankings and are hailed for their affordability and exceptional viewing capabilities for the price, other types of telescopes such as a good quality tripod-mounted Newtonian may fit your needs too.
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When it comes to the telescopes and the accessories that we review or recommend, our editorial board (which is comprised entirely of astronomers) makes unbiased judgments. Read our telescope testing methodology or read about us.

Telescopes primarily come in three types of optical configurations: Newtonian reflectors (which also encompass Dobsonians), refractors, and catadioptric telescopes (like Schmidt-Cassegrains and Maksutov-Cassegrains).

Typically, if a Dobsonian telescope isn’t going to work out for your situation or you’re looking for a smaller scope to accompany a dobsonian that you already own, I’d recommend a small catadioptric or a refractor; these scopes are typically lighter than an equivalent aperture Newtonian on a tripod, and catadioptrics tend to be compact. For instance, the SarBlue Mak70, a Maksutov Cassegrain, is barely bigger or heavier than a 20-ounce beverage can and sits atop a lightweight and compact tripod. It accompanies my 5” Maksutov as a “grab n’ go” scope for when I want to quickly go outside and get sharp views of the Moon or planets without much effort.

Mounts are also a crucial aspect to consider when it comes to choosing any telescope. They come in two primary types:

Alt-az mounts, such as Dobsonians, can be straightforward and easy to use, moving both vertically and horizontally, making them suitable for beginners. However, most of the manual alt-az mounts/tripods sold today, especially to beginners, are wobbly, imprecise, and generally of low quality.

Generally perched atop a tripod or pier, Equatorial mounts are aligned with the Earth’s axis of rotation, allowing for smooth tracking of celestial objects across the sky by turning a single knob or with an automatic clock drive rather than the “stair-step” adjustments you have to make when tracking with an alt-azimuth mount.

The majority of good-quality tripod-mounted Newtonians are mounted on manual or computerized German equatorials (GEMs, for short), with a few smaller units that are on manual or computerized alt-azimuth mounts. Computerized mounts aid in locating and tracking celestial objects with relative ease.

If your prime intent is to do deep-sky astrophotography, you’ll want to pick out a Newtonian astrograph optical tube and a separately sold mount, which may not be from the same manufacturer. In this article, we’ve ranked some of the best and affordably-priced Newtonian reflectors on tripods, which are meant for visual observation at the eyepiece and are easy to use if you’re new to the hobby. These telescopes don’t offer the best value for the money compared to a Dob or even some refractors and catadioptrics sold at similar prices, but they are all fine instruments.

Why are Dobsonians Mounts Better for Newtonians than Other Mounts?

Ergonomically, Dobsonian mounts offer a more user-friendly experience and compact design than an equatorial mount or any sort of alt-azimuth tripod, crucial factors for handling and transporting larger telescopes. Their design is inherently simple and intuitive to use as well as to manufacture.

By contrast, the construction of a steady and reliable German equatorial mount for larger Newtonian reflectors presents significant engineering challenges. As the aperture of the telescope increases, so does its weight and physical size. Designing a German equatorial mount that can not only bear this increased weight but also maintain precise tracking and stability becomes a complex engineering endeavor. This usually means there are drastic increases in weight, complexity, and cost as the aperture goes up. A great deal of German equatorial mounts are also less sturdy compared to their rock-solid Dobsonian counterparts. Portability and ease of use are other crucial factors.

Newtonian telescopes with an aperture of 5–6 inches strike a balance between offering substantial light-gathering capability and being somewhat portable on a typical equatorial mount. An 8” is getting cumbersome, but it is still easily assembled and hoisted atop its mount head. However, as we move into the territory of 10 inches and beyond, the notion of portability with anything other than a Dobsonian mount becomes more of a fantasy than a realistic prospect. While a 12” or 14 on a large equatorial mount might technically be portable, it’ll fill an entire truck or SUV and cost nearly as much as one. Setting it up yourself might also be a bad idea due to the strain of lifting a heavy telescope tube high onto a mounting saddle or into a set of tube rings. And you’ll need to lug around what amounts to a stack of barbell weights to balance said telescope on its mount.

Lastly, there’s cost, which ultimately is the most important consideration when choosing any telescope, especially if it’s your first. As mentioned, the tripod-mounted Newtonian telescopes listed here are all fairly affordable, but compared to their Dobsonian counterparts offering the same aperture, you are paying 2 or 3 times as much for the same optics and ultimately the same views at the eyepiece.

A mount big enough for an 8” Newtonian telescope, like the Celestron Advanced VX, costs over $1,000 USD. An equatorial mount big enough to hold a 10” or 12” reflector adequately, such as the Sky-Watcher EQ6R or Celestron CGEM II, costs over $2,000 USD. In either case, that’s more than twice as much as the corresponding telescope tube itself typically goes for.

My Top Newtonian Reflector Picks, Sorted By Price

Cheapest Reflector

SpaceProbe 76


Under $200

The Orion SpaceProbe II 76mm, while mounted on an equatorial mount similar to other budget models often labeled as “hobby killers,” stands out with its relatively robust build. Despite its size, it manages to offer a degree of sturdiness not always found in telescopes within its price range. However, the SpaceProbe II 76mm, though adequate, might not be the best investment for every astronomy enthusiast.

  • Sharp 76mm (3”) optics for excellent views of the Moon, planets, double stars, brightest and most well-known deep-sky objects
  • Fairly sturdy equatorial mount/tripod
  • Red dot finder and two Kellner eyepieces included
  • Easy to collimate/focus thanks to long focal ratio

The optics of this telescope are plenty sharp. While the primary mirror of the SpaceProbe II is spherical, its f/9 focal ratio and small size mean that the difference between spherical and parabolic mirrors’ performance at this spec is negligible, and it provides superb images for a telescope of its size. The SpaceProbe II includes two decent Kellner eyepieces to get you started, and aiming the telescope is facilitated by a simple red dot sight.

Any telescope in this price range—other than a tabletop Dobsonian—is not going to be ideal for deep-sky viewing due to the small aperture and narrow field of view of telescopes like the SpaceProbe. For those interested in exploring beyond the Solar System, a set of 7×50 or 10×50 astronomy binoculars could also be a more suitable and versatile option.

Best 4.5″ Reflector

StarBlast II


$200 – $300

The StarBlast II performs excellently on all types of objects, and it’s a considerable upgrade from the typically smaller, longer focal length refractors and reflectors that dominate the market, such as the previously mentioned Orion SpaceProbe II.

  • 114mm (4.5”) parabolic primary mirror yields sharp views of Solar System objects and wide-field deep-sky objects such as star clusters and nebulae
  • Fairly lightweight/compact tube and easily broken-down mount make this scope very portable
  • Not much more expensive than Dobsonian model, StarBlast Astro

The Orion StarBlast II EQ shares its optical tube with the popular Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro. However, it diverges by being mounted on Orion’s EQ-1 equatorial mount rather than a tabletop Dobsonian mount, and it comes with a pair of Plossl rather than Bertele eyepieces, which more or less offer the same performance. You also get a simple smartphone adapter to attach your phone to the eyepiece.

The Orion StarBlast II’s short focal length of just 450mm gives it a very wide field of view. The stock 25mm Plossl (18x) provides a field of view of 3 degrees, six times the apparent diameter of the Moon. This makes it very easy to locate deep-sky objects as well as fit the largest ones, such as the Andromeda Galaxy or the Sagittarius Star Cloud, in a single field of view at once. Pump up the magnification (with an aftermarket eyepiece since the provided 10mm provides a mere 45x) and you can split close double stars, resolve the shadows and disks of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons as they transit, and even view the Cassini Division – a slender gap in Saturn’s rings.

Best 5″ Manual Reflector

Gsyker 130


$300 – $400

Many of Gskyer’s products fail to impress, as most of the brand’s offerings consist of low-quality refractors on wobbly mounts. However, the Gskyer 130mm f/5 EQ model is an exception. This telescope, the brand’s sole reflector, surprises with its quality features and 130mm f/5 optics comparable to those in our recommended tabletop Dobsonian models like the Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P and Zhumell Z130.

  • Sharp 130mm f/5 optics are the same as highly recommended tabletop Dobsonians
  • 130mm aperture yields brighter and sharper views, resolves detail in globular clusters and galaxies under a dark sky
  • Sturdy all-metal Crayford focuser
  • Large set of included accessories

With the Gskyer 130mm, you can resolve individual stars in the brightest globular clusters and detail in some galaxies, as well as get splendid views of the objects in our Solar System on a steady night. This scope’s longer f/5 focal ratio also makes it a bit easier to collimate/focus and more tolerant of cheap eyepieces than the faster f/4 reflectors like the previously mentioned StarBlast II.

The Gskyer 130mm EQ includes three Kellner eyepieces, an adapter to attach your smartphone to these eyepieces, and a 6×30 finder to aim the scope. Gskyer has even thrown in a remote shutter button for your smartphone, so you can snap photos of the Moon without disturbing the telescope when you tap your smartphone’s screen. The mount this scope sits atop is not much different from the one supplied with the smaller Orion StarBlast II; it’s definitely on the small end for a 130mm telescope but holds the Gskyer 130 optical tube plenty steady at all but the highest magnifications.

The Gskyer 130mm EQ stands apart from similar equatorially-mounted 130mm models with inferior spherical optics, such as the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ. Our tests confirm that it delivers sharp images even at higher magnifications. While similar to the Orion SpaceProbe 130ST, the Gskyer 130mm EQ boasts a better focuser and is generally sold at a more attractive price point.

Best 5″ PushTo Reflector

DX 130AZ


$400 – $500

Sharing optical specs and performance with other 130mm f/5s, the StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ’s main selling point is its use of Celestron’s StarSense Explorer technology, which consists of a bracket/phone dock on the side of its mounting and a software app that uses your phone’s onboard camera and gyroscopes to give you real-time information on where your telescope is pointed. There is arguably no easier-to-use system available when it comes to computerized aid in aiming a telescope.

  • 130mm f/5 optics with 2” focuser allow for wider views with aftermarket accessories
  • Easy-to-use StarSense Explorer technology helps you find your way around the night sky
  • Lightweight but sturdy alt-azimuth mount/tripod

The StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ comes with two Kellner eyepieces to get you started and a red dot finder should you wish to aim the scope without the StarSense Explorer app. Being a 130mm f/5 Newtonian, the views through the eyepiece are quite good.

As with all the other scopes in our top picks in this article, the StarSense Explorer DX130 tube and mount use a universal Vixen-style dovetail, too, so you can even take the 130mm f/5 optical tube off and use another telescope with the StarSense Explorer bracket (provided it weighs under 10 lbs).

Best 5″ GoTo Reflector

Astro Fi 130


$500 – $600

The Celestron Astro Fi 130, though not as powerful as the 6” or 8” Dobsonians, is a commendable option in its price range. It features a computerized GoTo mount, which, when controlled via the SkyPortal or SkySafari app on your smartphone or tablet, automatically finds and tracks celestial bodies for you after a short alignment process that the app walks you through.

  • 130mm f/5 optics and 2” focuser for excellent wide-field views
  • Decent planetary performance
  • Lightweight GoTo Astro-Fi mount is easy to operate via your smartphone/tablet
  • Sturdier than similar NexStar 130SLT model and more up-to-date technology

This motorized system is in contrast to PushTo systems like the StarSense Explorer, which do not physically aim the telescope for you or keep objects in the eyepiece with motorized tracking. However, whether or not you need full GoTo with this relatively small wide-field instrument really comes down to whether or not you want the convenience of being able to aim the telescope unpowered (you can’t with the Astro Fi) and whether you’re willing to pay for it.

The Astro Fi 130 is a 130mm (5.1”) f/5 Newtonian reflector, just like the previously mentioned Gskyer 130mm f/5 and StarSense Explorer DX 130. The views through this telescope in general won’t be any different from another 130mm f/5, but the Astro Fi does sport a 2” focuser like the StarSense Explorer DX 130, allowing you to use wide-angle 2” eyepieces for a broader view if you wish. Two Kellner eyepieces (a 25mm for 50x and a 10mm for 75x) are provided with all of the Astro Fi scopes. They work fine with the Astro Fi 130, but you’ll at least want to buy an additional shorter focal length eyepiece, such as a 6mm goldline/redline, for close-up views of the planets.

It should be noted that the Virtuoso GTi 130P from Sky-Watcher, a computerized tabletop Dobsonian, offers nearly identical Wi-Fi-controlled GoTo functionality and 130mm f/5 optics to the Astro Fi 130 but adds a collapsible tube, the ability to manually adjust the telescope’s positioning without the electronics, and a more affordable price. The larger Virtuoso GTi 150P model, also from Sky-Watcher, provides more aperture and better performance than either 130-mm scope. These telescopes can both be attached to any sufficiently sturdy photo tripod with a ⅜” socket. Give them some thought.

Best 6″ Reflector

Omni XLT 150


$600 – $1000

Celestron’s Omni XLT 150 uses the same 150mm f/5 optics as many other high-quality mass-manufactured scopes, such as the Sky-Watcher Heritage/Virtuoso GTi 150mm and Celestron’s own StarSense Explorer 150mm Dobsonian.

  • 6” f/5 Newtonian optics for sharp and detailed views of all types of objects
  • The sturdy CG-4 mount can accept a variety of different telescopes and easily upgraded with motorized tracking
  • Few plastic parts used in construction

While this scope used to have a 2” focuser for the widest possible field of view with 2” eyepieces, Celestron has opted to switch it to a 1.25”-only unit. This means that to use a coma corrector or 2” eyepieces, you would need to drill out room for a larger focuser on this scope. However, if you’re new to astronomy, the lack of 2” capacity is of little concern, and this scope can still provide sweeping wide-field vistas of deep-sky objects even with the limitations of the 1.25” format.

The Omni XLT 150 comes with only a single eyepiece (a 25mm Plossl yielding 50x) and a 6×30 finder; you’ll want to replace or augment these with more eyepieces and perhaps a better quality finder scope or reflex sight. Given the relatively wide field of view you get even with the stock eyepiece at 50x, the 6×30 finder is plenty powerful for aiming the Omni XLT 150; not everyone finds magnifying finders comfortable or easy to use, however.

The Omni XLT 150 is mounted atop Celestron’s CG-4 mount, a mid-sized German equatorial mount that is rock-solid with this configuration and very well-constructed. While the CG-4 is purely manual and lacks a polar scope by default, Celestron sells an aftermarket polar scope (not generally necessary) and a dual-axis motor drive system, which you can add on. Neither is cheap, however.

Best 6″ GoTo Reflector

AVX 6″ Newt



The Celestron Advanced VX 6″ Newtonian features a 6” (150mm) f/5 telescope optical tube with a 750mm focal length, just like the Celestron Omni XLT 150 and many 6” f/5 tabletop Dobsonians. It is mounted atop the computerized Advanced VX German equatorial mount, which offers automatic tracking/pointing, and being an equatorial mount opens up the possibility of long-exposure astrophotography of deep-sky objects.

  • 6” f/5 Newtonian optics
  • Advanced VX mount offers fully motorized tracking, pointing
  • Some deep-sky as well as planetary astrophotography capabilities

Of course, the views at the eyepiece of this telescope and the overall form factor are basically identical to those of the previously mentioned Omni XLT 150. What you’re paying for here is the electronics of the Advanced VX mount and its beefier tripod. As with the Omni XLT 150, you only get a single 25mm Plossl eyepiece (50x) and a 6×30 finder. However, if you’re paying this much for a telescope, it’s generally expected that you’ll have room in the budget for aftermarket accessories too. The Advanced VX 6” Newtonian’s focuser is, like the Omni, a 1.25”-only unit – though it’s a rack-and-pinion which is a bit less precise than the Omni 150’s Crayford.

The Advanced VX mount is extremely sturdy with the lightweight 6” f/5 Newtonian optical tube on top, but don’t be fooled. The relatively petite 6” Newtonian is about the largest telescope the Advanced VX mount can be trusted to reliably carry for deep-sky astrophotography. The Advanced VX is simply not made well enough to track accurately with heavier payloads for a long period – and you’ll need to autoguide it for optimal results regardless. You’ll also need to pick up a polar scope or another polar alignment tool if you intend on doing deep-sky astrophotography with the Advanced VX, since Celestron does not provide one with the mount and accurate polar alignment is essential for good images.

The Advanced VX 6” f/5 Newtonian telescope tube itself is not ideal for deep-sky astrophotography due to the limitations of its 1.25” focuser, which restricts camera compatibility and precludes the use of a coma corrector. This telescope package can still yield impressive images of smaller deep-sky objects with the right camera, however, or you can drill out room in the tube for an aftermarket 2” focuser and bolt one on, which will eliminate all such concerns.

Runner Ups

Among the offerings from Explore Scientific’s “ExploreOne” brand for kids, the Explore One Aurora 114 stands out as the only viable option for serious stargazers. The Explore One Aurora 114 is a 114mm (4.5”) f/4.4 Newtonian reflector with a focal length of 500mm. The Aurora’s provided pair of Plossl eyepieces and its red dot finder are cheaply made but functional; the scope’s simple alt-azimuth mount has slow-motion controls and is fairly sturdy but can be hard to keep in place when the Aurora 114 is aimed high in the sky.

The Celestron Advanced VX 8” Newtonian telescope is a larger counterpart to their 6” f/5 model, likewise mounted on the Advanced VX mount. While the Advanced VX mount theoretically should handle an 8” Newtonian for both deep-sky imaging and visual observation, its practical performance often falls short in astrophotography contexts – though it supports the scope more than adequately for visual observation. The C8N optical tube itself performs well—not much differently from an 8” Dob – but it has a cheaply-made rack-and-pinion focuser that is rather unacceptable for the price of this telescope and a cut below virtually any of the focusers found on mass-produced 8” Dobsonians.

For those aspiring to delve into deep-sky astrophotography with any 8” Newtonian, a more robust mount such as the Sky-Watcher EQ6R, Celestron CGX, or Losmandy G11 would be a better choice. Generally, you’d also want to purchase a separate 8” Newtonian optical tube (usually an 8” f/4 imaging Newtonian with a dual-speed focuser).