Ranking Refractor Telescopes

$150
$250
$400
$700
$1000+

$75 range

Gskyer Telescope 70mm Refractor
Rank 1
2.5/5
Not Recommended
Rank 2Celestron Powerseeker 70AZ2.2
Rank 3Hexeum Telescope 70mm aperture 500mm 2.2
Rank 4Celestron ExploraScope 70AZ Refractor 2
Rank 5Celestron ExploraScope 60 AZ2
Rank 6Celestron Travel Scope 70 1.9
Rank 7Celestron PowerSeeker 60 EQ
1.9
Rank 8Celestron PowerSeeker 60 AZ1.9
Rank 9Celestron Travel Scope 60 DX 1.8
Rank 10Orion Observer II 70mm AZ 1.8
Rank 11Orion Observer II 60mm AZ 1.8
Rank 12Celestron AstroMaster LT 60AZ 1.7
Rank 13Zhumell 60 AZ 1.6
Rank 14Celestron PowerSeeker 50 AZ 1.4
Rank 15iOptron iExplore 70AZ Refractor 1.4
Rank 16ToyerBee Telescope 70mm aperture 300mm 1.3
Rank 17Zhumell Z60 1.3
Rank 18Zhumell Z50
1.3
Rank 19Celestron Travel Scope 50 1.3
Rank 20Orion GoScope III 70 1.2

$150 – $200 range

Explore Scientific FirstLight 90mm Doublet Refractor Telescope with AZ Mount
Rank 1
3.1/5
The FirstLight 90 is relatively simple in its mounting and accessories, but it’s super lightweight, easy to use and delivers a wide field of view for deep-sky viewing. However, those interested in a scope optimized for lunar and planetary views might want to choose a longer focal ratio refractor with less chromatic aberration.
Rank 2
3.1/5
The PowerSeeker 80EQ is an okay telescope, but its equatorial mount isn’t the best and the supplied eyepieces and finderscope are nearly unusable, making it a less-than-decent choice. However, it does have adjustable tube rings, which allow one to balance and rotate the tube more freely.
Celestron PowerSeeker 80AZS Refractor
Rank 3
3.1/5
The PowerSeeker 80AZS is almost useless for planetary and lunar observing thanks to its high levels of chromatic aberration, but makes for a great wide-field instrument for viewing large deep-sky objects. However, it’s dragged down by its low quality included eyepieces and diagonal, and the mount leaves much to be desired.
Celestron Inspire 70AZ Refractor
Rank 4
3/5
The Inspire 70AZ has decent accessories and a functioning mount, but it’s quite expensive and offers no significant advantages in practice over some of the cheaper 70mms on this list. You’d be better off with a larger scope for the price.
Celestron PowerSeeker 70 EQ Refractor
Rank 5
2.9/5
The PowerSeeker 70EQ is a decent scope with good performance, but the included accessories are pretty bad, and the equatorial mount can be a little harder for beginners to get used to.
Celestron AstroMaster 70EQ Refractor
Rank 6
2.9/5
The AstroMaster 70EQ has decent optics but has mediocre build quality and a barely functional finderscope, along with low-quality accessories.
Abotec 80mm Aperture 500mm Refractor
Rank 7
2.7/5
Not Recommended
Celestron Explorascope 80AZ Refractor
Rank 8
2.7/5
Not Recommended
Celestron Travel Scope 80 Refractor
Rank 9
2.5/5
Not Recommended
Explore FirstLight 70mm Refractor AZ Mount
Rank 10
2.5/5
Not Recommended
Orion Observer 80ST EQ Refractor
Rank 11
2.3/5
Not Recommended
Celestron AstroMaster LT 70AZ Refractor
Rank 12
2.3/5
Not Recommended
Hexeum Telescope 80mm aperture 600mm
Rank 13
2.2/5
Not Recommended
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor
Rank 14
2/5
Not Recommended
Celestron Travel Scope 70 DX
Rank 15
1.9/5
Not Recommended
Zhumell Z70 Refractor
Rank 16
1.8/5
Not Recommended

$200-$300 range

StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ Refractor
Rank 1
3.7/5
The StarSense Explorer LT 80AZ Refractor has decent optics and a pair of quality eyepieces included. It’s also very easy to aim thanks to Celestron’s StarSense Explorer Technology.
Explore Scientific FirstLight AR80 White Refractor with Twilight Nano
Rank 2
3.7/5
The FirstLight AR80 is cheap and lacks a good set of accessories, but it’s hard to argue with its good optics, simple and sturdy mount, and almost unmatched convenience. It’s great for travel or as a “grab n’ go” scope, and its wide field of view makes it great for viewing large deep-sky objects. With a focal ratio of f/8, it doesn’t have too much chromatic aberration and can thus provide thrilling views of the Moon and planets.
Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor
Rank 3
3.7/5
The Celestron Inspire 100AZ is a telescope designed with beginners in mind—from its included tray light and lens cap/smartphone adapter to the simple alt-azimuth mount and focus markings. However, the included mount is rather poor and lacks fine adjustments, and the scope itself suffers from a lot of chromatic aberration. It’s not terrible, but you can tell this instrument was made to satisfy a price point and some marketing requirements.
Celestron Inspire 80AZ
Rank 4
3.4/5
The Inspire 80AZ has good optics and comes with decent accessories, but offers neither a wide field of view or an equatorial mount with fine adjustments, and its included red dot finder can be confusing to get used to.
Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ
Rank 5
3.2/5
The AstroMaster 90EQ is a fairly good instrument, and the included mount holds it adequately, but the included accessories are rather poor, and the mount can be frustrating for beginners. An alt-azimuth mounted 80mm or 100mm refractor is probably a better choice in its price range.
Gskyer Telescope 90mm Refractor
Rank 6
3/5
Gskyer Telescope 80mm Refractor
Rank 7
3/5
Orion VersaGo E-Series 90 Refractor
Rank 8
2.9/5
The VersaGo 90 has acceptable optics and an easy-to-use mounting, but the build quality overall is rather poor and the included accessories are cheap junk, making the whole telescope a rather infuriating experience to try to use. The 45-degree, non-astronomical diagonal in particular does not help.
Not Recommended
Celestron AstroMaster 90AZ Refractor
Rank 9
2.6/5
The AstroMaster 90AZ has decent optics, but its low-quality tripod (little more than a pan-tilt photo tripod with no slow-motion controls) and mediocre accessories make it a poor scope for the price and a frustrating experience for beginners to try to use.
Not Recommended
Celestron AstroMaster 80AZS
Rank 10
2.6/5
The AstroMaster 80AZS has a poor mount, poor accessories, and its optical and mechanical quality are far from being the best in its price range.
Not Recommended
Orion StarBlast 90
Rank 11
1.7/5
The StarBlast 90 is an atrociously bad telescope with a poor mounting, extensive use of plastic in its construction and low-quality accessories. We’d recommend steering clear of this one.
Not Recommended
Celestron Ambassador 50 Table Top
Rank 12
1.3/5
Not Recommended

$300-$500 range

Explore FirstLight 80mm EQ3 Refractor
Rank 1
3.7/5
The FirstLight 80 has rock-solid optics with a long enough focal ratio to mostly escape the troubles of chromatic aberration, along with a sturdy equatorial mount, but its included accessories are somewhat lacking.
Rank 2
3.5/5
The AstroView 90’s long f/11 focal ratio makes for a great planetary scope with remarkably little chromatic aberration, and the included Sirius Plossl eyepieces provide crisp and sharp views. The scope’s EQ-2 mounting is also rock solid. However, the AstroView 90’s small aperture means it simply cannot compete in light grasp or resolution with larger 114mm and 130mm reflectors, and it is outclassed in convenience by the 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrains at and below its price range.
Celestron Inspire 100AZ Refractor
Rank 3
3.5/5
The Celestron Inspire 100AZ is a telescope designed with beginners in mind—from its included tray light and lens cap/smartphone adapter to the simple alt-azimuth mount and focus markings. However, the included mount is rather poor and lacks fine adjustments, and the scope itself suffers from a lot of chromatic aberration. It’s not terrible, but you can tell this instrument was made to satisfy a price point and some marketing requirements.
Orion Observer 90 Refractor
Rank 4
3.4/5
The Observer 90’s long f/10 focal ratio makes for a great planetary scope with remarkably little chromatic aberration, and the included Sirius Plossl eyepieces provide crisp and sharp views. The scope’s EQ-3 mounting is also rock solid.
Sky-Watcher StarTravel 102 AZ3
Rank 5
3.3/5
The StarTravel 102AZ3’s build quality is great, and its short 500mm focal length and 2″ focuser make it great for wide-field deep-sky sweeping, but the scope’s fast f/4.9 optics make it unsuitable for lunar and planetary viewing, and its supplied mount and star diagonal are far from good for the price.
Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ
Rank 6
3.2/5
The AstroMaster 90EQ is a fairly good instrument, and the included mount holds it adequately, but the included accessories are rather poor, and the mount can be frustrating for beginners. An alt-azimuth mounted 80mm or 100mm refractor is probably a better choice in its price range.
Explore Scientific FirstLight 102mm Doublet Refractor with EXOS EQ Nano
Rank 7
3/5
The FirstLight 102mm f/10 has great optics. The Exos Nano EQ-3 mount is adequate, though weighing it down somehow might be a good idea. It lacks the high-quality 2″ focuser of its more expensive, Twilight I-mounted sibling. The included accessories are also abysmal. If you already have a good mount and accessories, however, and don’t mind adding a new focuser, this scope is really a bargain.
Explore Scientific FirstLight AR102 Twilight Nano
Rank 8
3/5
The 102mm f/6.5 FirstLight isn’t terrible optically, but its poor included accessories, mediocre mounting, and high price make it a poor deal compared to the various other 102mm f/6.5 refractors available at often significantly lower prices.
Celestron AstroMaster 102AZ
Rank 9
2.8/5
The AstroMaster 102AZ’s low-quality mounting (basically a glorified photo tripod) makes it difficult to aim or keep steady on a target, and it’s more expensive than better options like the Celestron’s own Inspire 100AZ.
Not Recommended
Orion StarBlast 102mm
Rank 10
2.5/5
The StarBlast 102 is generally low-quality in its optics, mounting, and accessories and should probably be avoided.
Not Recommended

Computerized

Popular Science Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 100AZ Refractor
Rank 1
4.2/5
Sporting the same great features of the StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ but with a significantly lower price, this scope is quite a bargain for what you get and compares favorably in view quality to 114mm reflectors in its price range. The StarSense Explorer technology is a nice (if unnecessary) bonus that’s included for essentially no extra cost.
Rank 2
3.8/5
The StarSense Explorer DX 102AZ’s PushTo mount requires no batteries or cables and is extremely easy to use, while the optical tube is well-made and delivers sharp views of the Moon, planets, and brighter deep-sky objects. However, the limited aperture of the DX102 makes it questionable as to whether the StarSense Explorer technology is worth the significant price hike.
Celestron Astro Fi 90 Refractor GoTo
Rank 3
3.4/5
The Astro-Fi 90 has good optics, is super easy to use and can be controlled wirelessly via your smartphone or tablet. However, the amount of objects that a 90mm telescope can show you that really require GoTo to locate is low, and if you must have a GoTo scope, we’d recommend something at least 4″ in aperture.
Celestron 80 LCM
Rank 4
2.2/5
The 80 LCM has mediocre accessories and a very low quality mount. We would recommend steering clear of this telescope.
Not Recommended

$500-$850 range

Celestron Omni XLT 102 Refractor
Rank 1
3.9/5
The Omni XLT 102 is well-made and offers great lunar, planetary, and deep-sky views. While the equatorial mount and long optical tube are more cumbersome than the shorter, faster altazimuth-mounted refractors also available, the Omni beats them at high-power views, and the equatorial mount is a lot easier to keep pointed at the Moon and planets—especially if you add an aftermarket motor drive.
Rank 2
3.7/5
The Omni XLT 120 is a bit awkward to move around and complicated to assemble, but it’s well-made and offers pleasing lunar, planetary, and deep-sky views.
Explore FirstLight 102mm Doublet Refractor with Twilight I Mount
Rank 3
3.6/5
The FirstLight 102mm f/10 is a great scope optically, and the version sold with the award-winning Twilight I mount makes for a rock-solid piece of equipment. However, the included accessories are very poorly made, and an equatorial mount like that of the Celestron Omni XLT scopes might be more appealing to a refractor user.
Explore FirstLight 127mm Doublet Refractor with Twilight I
Rank 4
3.5/5
The FirstLight 127 Doublet/Twilight I is a great scope paired with a great mount. Unfortunately, said scope is a bit on the large side for its mount. The tripod is a bit too short and a bit too light-duty to properly accommodate the massive 127mm doublet OTA and allow it to reach its full potential.
Orion AstroView 102mm Refractor
Rank 5
3.4/5
The AstroView 102 has a lot of chromatic aberration, uses a lot of plastic parts, and it’s undermounted too. A longer refractor is more likely to give good lunar and planetary views; a fast achromat should be mounted atop a steady alt-azimuth mount and preferably retail for a lower price. The AstroView 102 is simply not a good choice and is not worth the asking price.
Takahashi Starbase 80 Achromatic Doublet Refractor Alt-Az
Rank 6
3.3/5
The Takahashi Starbase 80 is an extremely high-quality achromatic refractor. It’s great for beginners, and it is probably one of the highest-quality achromats on the market today. However, for a bit more money, you could just get an apochromat, which is more compact and suitable for imaging, though Takahashi’s products in this category are equally extremely expensive for what you get.
Sky-Watcher StarTravel 120 AZ3
Rank 7
3/5
The StarTravel 120 AZ3 is a great wide-field instrument for observing large deep-sky objects like star clusters, but it’s hobbled by the mediocre included mount and disastrously bad erecting prism. Even without these problems, the scope is borderline unusable for high-magnification, detailed views of the Moon and planets. The AstroView 120ST offers a better deal, but either one should be avoided if you want a good, general-purpose instrument.

Computerized

Sky-Watcher StarTravel 80 AZ-GTe
Rank 1
3.4/5
The lightweight and portable design of the AZ-GTe mount makes for a great pairing with this wide-field, short-tubed 80mm f/5 refractor. The included accessories are great, too. However, considering the high price tag and the huge amount of chromatic aberration inherent in a cheap fast refractor, we’re not sure who this telescope is intended to appeal to.
$540 at High Point Check Amazon Price
Sky-Watcher StarTravel 102 AZ-GTe Refractor
Rank 2
3.3/5
The StarTravel 102 AZ-GTe isn’t an ideal lunar and planetary instrument, but it’s lightweight, portable, and features the advanced AZ-GTi mount, which can be moved manually and controlled with your smartphone or tablet.
Explore Scientific FirstLight 80 mm Refractor with iEXOS Equatorial GoTo
Rank 3
3.2/5
Think of the FirstLight 80 and iExos package as a star tracker with a decent telescope tube thrown in. They’re not a great match for each other, though both are fairly good quality. However, if you’re looking for an astrophotography rig, you’re going to need a bigger budget, and for a purely visual telescope, an alt-azimuth mounted and preferably larger refractor might be a better choice in this price range.
Rank 4
2.7/5
The NexStar 102SLT’s flawed mechanical design with its too-short dew shield and unstable mount make it a barely usable instrument that offers little in the way of convenience or ease of use for beginner or experienced users.
Not Recommended

Above $1000

Celestron Ambassador 80
1.3/5
Celestron Advanced VX Series 6″ Refractor GoTo
3.2/5
The 6” Advanced VX Refractor suffers from some chromatic aberration, is a bit cumbersome, and is certainly not the astrophotography-ready platform that marketing material might suggest. It’s a great choice for those who want a big refractor, though you might want to ponder what it is that’s so appealing about such a rig before purchasing.