Before you read this post: If you’re looking for something with more power and to stop you reaching the limits of your equipment sooner then check out this post on the best telescopes under $1000. These scopes are in the sweet spot between price and power and will last you a lifetime. Clear skies and happy hunting!
Orion StarBlast II Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Telescopee
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
TELMU Astronomical Refracting Telescope
Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope
Celestron Portable Refractor Telescope
Interested in purchasing a telescope because you love astronomy so much?
Don’t think that you need to shell out tons of money in order to get a quality telescope that will bring you hours of joy.
Why do you need a telescope for astronomy?
While you can look at the sky with binoculars, a telescope provides you with more light-collecting ability and magnification.
With that in mind, let’s look at the best telescopes you can buy for under $200.
We’ll start with the best one on offer, while also looking at four alternatives to cater to your specific needs, such as if you want a telescope that will help you take amazing pictures of what you see in the night sky.
Best Telescopes Under $200 – Reviews & Buying guide for 2021
Best Overall: Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
If you want a quality telescope that doesn’t ruin your budget, this is the best one you can buy. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
- EQ-1 mount
- Sirius Plossl eyepieces
- 114mm aperture
- You’ll be able to see tons of celestial objects when pointing this telescope at the night sky, such as the moon, planets, star clusters, and galaxies!
- It has fast f/4.0 optics and a short 450mm focal length. These two features means that it’s really easy to find celestial objects in the sky.
- The telescope comes with an equatorial mount that keeps those moving celestial objects centered and in focus, thanks to its slow-motion controls.
- This telescope comes with two Sirius Plossl eyepieces: one of 25mm and the other of 10mm. These will ensure you can enjoy 18x and 45x
- The eyepieces have higher transmission than cheaper eyepieces, so you can be guaranteed of seeing brighter images as well as wider fields of view, which is what you want when viewing celestial objects.
- It comes with a ton of extra features included, such as a moon map, an EZ finder, and an adjustable tripod.
- The moon map, known as the MoonMap260, will help you spot lunar features, such as mountains, valleys, and craters on the moon.
- This telescope’s equatorial mount will take a bit of getting used to so it’s probably not the best for beginners.
- Some people who have purchased this telescope have reported that it’s not too easy to assemble.
- The telescope’s EZ Finder helps you to locate celestial objects anywhere in the sky because it places a red dot on the viewing window. When you move the telescope so that the red dot is focused on the place in the sky where you want to look, this will make it easy to zone in on whatever is there.
This Orion telescope is the best reflector telescope under 200. It has all the features you need to achieve quality views of the sky.
Runner Up: Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope
This telescope is both powerful and user-friendly for beginners. You’re certainly not limited to seeing the moon as this telescope will make you view exciting images of the sky, such as Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, and more.
- Panning handle
- Red-dot finder scope
- Accessory tray
- This telescope has a 70mm glass optic objective lens which means that it will collect enough light to enable you to see things in the night sky clearly.
- It comes with an erect image diagonal. This means that you’ll be able to view objects in their correct orientation and it also makes it more comfortable for you to look through the eyepiece at any angle.
- You will love being able to use its panning handle so that you can accurately yet smoothly find what you want to look at in the sky.
- The telescope comes with two eyepieces – one of 10mm and the other of 20mm. You’ll be able to achieve magnification of 35x and 70x respectively.
- It also comes with a travel tripod and a red-dot finder scope.
- To keep all your items in the same place, this telescope comes with an accessory tray.
- Some people have reported that there are plastic components on the telescope, such as brackets, that can break easily.
- Others have said that the telescope is difficult to focus.
- You can download the Starry Night Basic Edition software and make use of wonderful interactive sky simulation.
This grab-and-go Celestron telescope is the best refractor telescope under 200. It’s filled with everything you need, along with some extra items, that will make you eager to start finding celestial objects. However, you won’t be able to view deep-sky objects, such as nebulae.
Best Telescope For Beginners Under $200: TELMU Astronomical Refracting Telescope
Don’t be fooled by how it’s the best telescope for beginners – this one has many features even advanced stargazers will love.
- Smartphone adapter
- Finder scope with crosshairs
- Accessory hook
- This Telmu telescope comes with a tripod that can be rotated 360 degrees. It makes use of a bionic design and is designed in the shape of a hoof so that the tripod remains much more secure than those in some other telescopes do.
- It also has a nifty hook on which you can hang accessories. Not only convenient, this makes using the telescope much steadier, preventing shaky or blurry images.
- If you want to take pictures of what you see, you’ll love that this telescope comes with a smartphone adapter.
- The finder scope has cross hairs which make it easier to locate and pin down objects you want to track.
- People have reported problems with the tripod breaking easily.
- Others have reported that it’s not easy to set up, with disappointing instructions provided in the pack.
- To make this an even more portable telescope, it comes with a handy backpack.
This Telmu telescope is the best beginner telescope under 200. It’s a wise buy for you if you’re looking for a telescope that offers convenience, such as the ability to take photos of what you see.
With a 70mm aperture, it probably won’t give you the most detailed views of all celestial objects, but it’s a solid telescope for beginners and easy to use.
Best Reflector Telescope Under 200: Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope
This is another quality telescope from Celestron. Let’s check it out!
- Easy collimation
- Aluminum optics
- German equatorial mount
- This telescope has a German equatorial mount that offers slow-motion movements for accurate and smooth tracking.
- With its high-quality optics, you’ll be able to see many celestial bodies, such as the moon and planets, as well as details on the planets. Now’s the time to finally see Saturn’s rings for yourself!
- People who have purchased this telescope have said that it’s really easy to collimate.
- The telescope’s optics contain aluminum coatings. These are said to be advantageous because of their reflectance.
- While it’s easy to collimate, some people have said that it’s not easy to use if you’re a beginner.
- This telescope comes with extra items in the pack, which include two eyepieces (one is 4mm while the other is 20mm) and a 3x Barlow lens. These combined will increase your magnification to between 150x and 450x!
- You receive a Starry Night Astronomy Software package with your purchase.
- Many of the telescope’s parts are made out of metal, which is strong and durable.
This Celestron telescope ss valuable for beginners because once you master it it’s sure to provide you with many years of enjoyment.
Best Refractor Telescope Under 200: Celestron Portable Refractor Telescope
This is a good telescope under $200 that’s not only extremely affordable but it has a lot of other features for the beginner astronomer. Let’s check them out!
- Altazimuth mount
- Steel tripod
- Upgraded aperture
- This telescope comes with two eyepieces – one of 10mm and the other of 20mm – that you can use when you need high- or low- powered views.
- This telescope is an upgrade from a previous model as it has a 70mm aperture, instead of 50mm, and high-quality optics to provide clear, sharp views of the planets and stars.
- It comes with an altazimuth mount that works with a panhandle to make it easier for you to manually track stars and planets.
- The mount comes with a tripod to keep it steady. This is made of steel for the ultimate durability and you can adjust its height so that you’re comfortable.
- People who have purchased this telescope have reported that the tripod is flimsy in spite of its steel construction.
- Others have said that it’s a bit tricky to adjust the tripod when you want to scan the sky.
- This is a highly portable telescope: it comes with a backpack and it only weighs three pounds!
- Its compact and portable nature make it extremely easy to move around and set up – the manufacturer states that it will take mere seconds to get this telescope up and running, so it’s wonderful for beginners.
This Celestron portable telescope ss ideal if you want a telescope that you can take with you to your favorite stargazing locations, but based on the reviews on Amazon you might have to swap out its tripod for a sturdier one.
Telescopes for Under $200 FAQ
So far in this article we have featured five of the best telescopes you can buy for under $200, but there are some important things you need to consider when it comes to choosing a telescope.
Picking the right telescope type for your needs
When you choose a telescope, you have to ensure that it will allow you to see as much as possible in the night sky. You don’t want to spend money on it only to find that it limits your astronomy hobby. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the most important features to consider before you purchase a telescope.
- Aperture. Without a good aperture, you won’t be able to collect enough light to see the objects in the sky. The aperture is basically the diameter of the telescope’s lens or mirror. It should be at least 70mm.
- Type. You will have to choose between a reflector and refractor telescope. It’s not always easy to know which one is better, so it comes down to your needs. If you want to see the moon and planets, choose a refractor. On the other hand, if you want to see deep-sky celestial objects, like galaxies, you should choose the reflector telescope.
- Mount. Now, even the most expensive telescope in the world won’t be good enough if it’s not set on a sturdy mount to prevent image distortions. There are two mounts to choose from: equatorial mounts and altazimuth mounts. Both have their advantages, but consider this:
- An altazimuth mount has a pan-and-tilt head that moves the telescope up and down and left and right. Equatorial mounts, on the other hand, are tilted so that they can be aligned with the earth’s rotational axis.
- If you want to use your mount for light sightseeing of the sky, an altazimuth mount will meet your needs. On the other hand, an equatorial mount will be much more powerful if you want to track celestial objects and you have a deep interest in astronomy.
- Convenience. This is not just something that will appeal to beginners. You want a telescope that won’t make you sweat when you set it up! It has to be user-friendly. You also want a telescope that you can grab-and-go whenever you want to head out to a remote stargazing location. So, it should be compact and easy to carry.
What telescopes are best for deep space viewing?
If you intend on searching for and viewing deep-space objects, such as nebulae and galaxies, you’ll need to ensure that your telescope is up to the task at hand! Here are some important things to look for.
- Aperture. As with our previous tips on how to choose a telescope, its aperture is one of the most important features to look for. Some galaxies and nebulae in deep space will be very dim, so you want a telescope that’s capable of collecting as much light as it can in order to bring them into view.
- Equatorial mount. A telescope that has an equatorial mount is definitely worth purchasing if you’re interested in deep-sky objects. This is because the telescope will move in many directions, not just up and down or side to side. As the Earth moves, the telescope will be able to track celestial objects.
- Magnification. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a very high magnification to be able to see deep-sky objects such as galaxies. You need to ensure that you have 35x to 50x on a four-inch scope, 70x to 100x on an eight-inch scope, and 120x to 175x on a 14-inch scope (via Starizona).
- Short focal length. While a longer focal length is sometimes said to be a good thing because of how it provides a narrow field of view but makes objects seem larger, a shorter focal length is beneficial for deep-sky objects like star clusters because it provides you with a larger field of view. However, the celestial objects will seem smaller.
- Refractors. Since they contain specialized lenses, refractor telescopes are ideal for deep-sky views.
What celestial bodies can I expect to see with telescopes under $200?
The good news about buying a budget-friendly telescope that doesn’t cost more than $200 is that it will have many features that you’d find in high-end devices.
Based on our review of the best telescope for beginners under $200, we can see that the best telescopes on the market offer decent apertures that allow you to see various celestial objects.
An example is the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope that comes with an Equatorial mount and can help you see planets as well as their details, such as Saturn’s rings.
Other telescopes, such as the Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope, will provide you with the chance to view star clusters and nebulae.
It’s been said (via New Atlas) that telescopes which are considered to be for beginners will have an objective diameter (or aperture) of about 60 to 115mm, but this is enough for you to see a variety of objects, such as the moon, planets, galaxies such as the Andromeda, and more.
As a sidebar, the Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope that we featured in our reviews of the best telescopes has a 114mm aperture, so that will provide you with more than enough light to view all the treasures listed above.
So, it’s clear that you will be able to see many celestial bodies with a telescope that doesn’t cost a lot of money.
Can telescopes under $200 do astrophotography?
If you want to take pictures of space objects, not just look at them, you might be wondering if you can achieve this goal with telescopes that cost less than $200.
To answer that question, let’s look at what features your telescope needs to have for you to do astrophotography.
Your telescope needs to have a mount
This is so that you can track the objects you want to photograph much easier. Remember, the Earth rotates, so you want to capture those slow-moving objects!
Some of the best telescopes under $200 have Equatorial mounts to help you with this task, such as Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope that we featured in our reviews.
Your telescope needs a wide-enough aperture
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: your telescope needs as large an aperture as possible! If it can collect enough light this will also ensure that you can take detailed photos, especially if you’re hooking up your camera or smartphone to your telescope.
Aim for a telescope with around 114mm, such as the Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope.
Your telescope needs the right focal length
If you want to photograph deep-sky objects, such as galaxies, you’ll need a shorter focal length because it will let you have a larger field of view.
A longer focal length will be better for viewing planets and the moon because it will give you a narrow field of view but allow the objects to be larger so you can look at their fine details. The Orion StarBlast II has a short focal length.
The best telescopes under $200 tick all the right boxes!
You want to purchase a telescope but you don’t want to spend a lot of money. As we’ve seen in this buying guide of the best telescopes, you really don’t have to spend a lot in order to purchase a quality telescope.
Telescopes are becoming much more accessible to the general public, but it’s important to know which ones are worth your time and energy.
In these reviews we have featured five of the best telescopes you can buy for under $200, along with some important information you need to make the best choice for what you want to use them for, such as if you want to study deep-sky objects or capture Saturn’s rings.