Land viewing telescopes are a fantastic way to observe your surroundings more closely. Whether you like to scope out wildlife, architecture, or something else nearby, a land viewing telescope is the best way to do so. Here’s a look at our top picks for these unique, refractory telescopes.
Our best overall pick was MaxUSee Travel Scope. This kit has the best balance of affordability coupled with the gadgets and accessories to get you looking at the land around you quickly and easily!
Related post: Best Telescopes for Beginners (Kids and Adults!)
- Best Telescope for Land Viewing
- 1. Best Overall – MaxUSee Travel Scope with Backpack
- 2. Best for Serious Viewers – Celestron Regal Spotting Scope
- 3. Best Budget Option – MaxUSee Refractor Telescope with Tripod & Finder Scope
- 4. Best for Children – Levenhuk Starter Kit
- 5. Best for Mid-Level Watchers – Emarth Astronomical Refractor Telescope
- What to Consider When Buying a Land Viewing Telescope
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Telescope for Land Viewing
1. Best Overall – MaxUSee Travel Scope with Backpack
The MaxUSee Travel Scope with Backpack is the best overall telescope to get started on your land viewing journey. At an affordable price, it’s a more affordable version of some of the pricier, high-end scopes without sacrificing quality.
It also comes with a wide variety of accessories. Most telescopes come with multiple lenses, and this one is no exception. It includes two 1.25″ Kellner eyepieces (K20mm & K9mm) and a 3X Barlow lens so you can enjoy magnification levels from 20x to 132x. While you might not need such high magnification for land viewing, it’s nice to have and can bring farther images into focus.
Plus, this telescope comes with binoculars and best of all, a smartphone adapter. This adapter lets you attach your smartphone to the telescope and take photos or videos of whatever it is you’re looking at. If you see a particularly beautiful bird or ocean shot, you can snag it, print it, and frame it.
Lastly, this telescope also includes a backpack. This is key because most other scopes either only come with a case or nothing at all in which to carry them. You can take the MaxUSee Travel Scope anywhere, easily – on your next camping trip, outside onto your roof, or on a hike with the family!
2. Best for Serious Viewers – Celestron Regal Spotting Scope
The Celestron Regal Spotting Scope is one of the few telescopes we researched that is specifically marketed for land viewing. This puts it a little ahead of some of the other scopes, because the lenses for astronomical and land viewing can differ (see our frequently asked questions below).
Crafted from premium materials, the Celestron Scope is best for those who know they want to pursue land viewing as something more than a hobby, like photographers or scientists. It provides true-to-life colors, maximum light transmission, and can attach to a DSLR camera.
Additionally, this scope is waterproof and fog proof with a durable armored body, so it can stand up to being in the outdoors for long periods and even getting dropped. The dual-speed focusing mechanism means getting your subject in focus is easy and quick, so you never miss a moment.
3. Best Budget Option – MaxUSee Refractor Telescope with Tripod & Finder Scope
This company makes quality scopes, and the MaxUSee Refractor Telescope is no exception. Best for those on a budget or who aren’t sure if they’re fully committed to land viewing yet, this scope is portable and comes with a range of magnification levels.
Reviews on Amazon reflect that it’s a good telescope for beginners and is easy to assemble and use. It also comes with a phone adapter, so taking pictures of whatever you’re looking at is simple.
The large lens and finder scope makes finding your desired subject quick and the images you see crisp and clean. If you’re just starting out with land viewing, this is the scope for you.
4. Best for Children – Levenhuk Starter Kit
The Levenhuk Starter Kit is a perfect telescope to start young kids out with. It comes with a telescope, microscope, and binoculars, so especially if you have multiple children who all want to play at once, they can each have an interesting part of the kit and take turns.
The kit also comes with more than 20 accessories, including tools to conduct experiments with the microscope and prepared slides. The telescope comes with magnification that reaches 120x, plenty for your child to explore the world around them.
Amazon reviews mention the tripod might not be the most stable, but with adult supervision and balancing, your budding nature observer should be able to see whatever they set their minds to. Broaden their experience with curiosity-driven questions about their subjects!
5. Best for Mid-Level Watchers – Emarth Astronomical Refractor Telescope
The Emarth Telescope is a great next step if you’re past the beginner phase but not quite ready to sink your money and time into something like the Celestron Regal Spotting Scope. It’s another option that’s below $100 but comes with high magnification and easy setup.
It’s portable and compact design means it’s another scope that’s easy to travel with. It’s also a good option if your budding child land viewer has graduated from their kids’ telescope and is ready for a better challenge.
Utilize this scope if you want crisp images, a lightweight but stable construction, and durable parts.
What to Consider When Buying a Land Viewing Telescope
Make sure the telescope you’re looking at is designed for terrestrial use. While you can go land viewing with a scope that’s designed for celestial purposes, sometimes the lenses, magnification, or tripod set up aren’t optimal for land. Double-check that the item says “land,” “terrestrial,” or “daytime” use before you buy.
If you’re buying a telescope for a child, it will be a vastly different purchase than the one you buy for a skilled viewer. Make sure whatever you choose is designed for the appropriate age group. If you’re buying for a child, look for durability and ease of use at an affordable cost. If you’re buying for an expert, look for higher quality, more features, and better lenses.
By “practicality,” we mean how and where the scope will be used. Will you use it up on your roof, in which case it needs to be very light and with a stand designed for angles? Will you use it hiking through forested areas, in which case it needs to be portable and durable? Or will you use it in flat areas but want to take stellar photos of what you’re looking at? The “how” and “where” will make a big difference in your selection of telescope.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is land viewing?
Land viewing is basically exactly what it sounds like—viewing the land around you through a telescope. These scopes can be used in bird watching, studying flora in an area, or looking close-up at boats that are far away on the ocean. Any time you want to have a closer, detailed look at the environment around you via a telescope or even binoculars, that’s land viewing.
What is a refractor telescope and why are land viewing scopes different from celestial?
Refractor telescopes, as opposed to reflector telescopes, use lenses as opposed to mirrors, respectively. They typically collect less light than reflector telescopes, making them ideal for daytime or land viewing, as you don’t need to try to collect the light of a far-off star to see it. They also typically have slightly clearer images than reflector telescopes.
Due to the different ways the two telescopes work, they’re optimized for their intended purpose. Land viewing telescopes have three lenses to view the image and then turn it right side up. Celestial telescopes have two lenses plus their mirrors to collect more light, and the image is usually upside down (that doesn’t matter so much when you’re just looking at stars).
Is land viewing a STEM activity?
It can be! If you want to turn land viewing into a STEM activity, either for yourself or your child, consider adding other elements. Take a local bird book to a park nearby and see how many different types of birds you can spot, then learn about their habits. You can also use land viewing to teach about types of architecture (engineering), rock formations (geology), or wind and wave patterns (environmental science). With a little ingenuity, the possibilities for turning land viewing into an educational STEM activity are practically endless.
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Last update on 2021-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API