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Best Telescope for Teenager [Our Top 8 Picks in 2020]

Sandy Fargus

Last updated: November 12, 2020

Best Telescope for Teenager

Buying a telescope can be daunting. Especially if it’s not something you know lots about. To help you find the best telescope for teenagers here’s some great options. Top of this list is the Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ – it’s a fantastic beginner telescope. It has an easy to use mount, good aperture size, and comes with lots of supporting software to help your teenager get the most out of their observations.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall
Celestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope - Refractor Telescope - Fully Coated Glass Optics - Adjustable Height Tripod – Bonus Astronomy Software Package
Best Computerized Telescope
Celestron - NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope - Compact and Portable - Newtonian Reflector Optical Design - SkyAlign Technology - Computerized Hand Control - 130mm Aperture
Best Budget Option
SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars for Adults Durable Full-Size Clear Binoculars for Bird Watching Travel Sightseeing Hunting Wildlife Watching Outdoor Sports Games and Concerts
Name
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
Celestron NexStar 130SLT
SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars
Features
This is an excellent all-round telescope that’s easy to get to grips with. It can be used for viewing the sky at night or wildlife during the day.
This computerized telescope offers a large aperture size in a relatively compact optical assembly.
These binoculars are a great starting point for getting into astronomy. They are comfortable and easy to use for amateur astronomers.
Best Overall
Our Top Picks
Celestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope - Refractor Telescope - Fully Coated Glass Optics - Adjustable Height Tripod – Bonus Astronomy Software Package
Name
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
Features
This is an excellent all-round telescope that’s easy to get to grips with. It can be used for viewing the sky at night or wildlife during the day.
More Info
Best Computerized Telescope
Our Top Picks
Celestron - NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope - Compact and Portable - Newtonian Reflector Optical Design - SkyAlign Technology - Computerized Hand Control - 130mm Aperture
Name
Celestron NexStar 130SLT
Features
This computerized telescope offers a large aperture size in a relatively compact optical assembly.
More Info
Best Budget Option
Our Top Picks
SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars for Adults Durable Full-Size Clear Binoculars for Bird Watching Travel Sightseeing Hunting Wildlife Watching Outdoor Sports Games and Concerts
Name
SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars
Features
These binoculars are a great starting point for getting into astronomy. They are comfortable and easy to use for amateur astronomers.
More Info

Related post: Best Astronomy Books for Beginners in 2020

Best Telescopes For Teenagers in [current year] 

Best Overall – Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ

Best Overall
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
This is an excellent all-round telescope that’s easy to get to grips with. It can be used for viewing the sky at night or wildlife during the day.

The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is an excellent telescope for teenagers who are getting into astronomy. It’s a refractor telescope, so it offers a superior quality image for the size. With its 70mm aperture, it’s powerful enough to view the moon’s surface, the rings of Saturn, and the Moons of Jupiter. The lenses are of great quality, so this telescope can easily be used during the day to view wildlife and landscape.

This is a good telescope for teenagers because it’s a proper telescope, but it is still easy to use. It comes with an adjustable height tripod and an Alt-Az mount. A panning handle makes it easy to move the telescope around while looking for objects in the night sky.

Whenever you buy a Celestron telescope, you also get access to their software and app package. These are handy tools for a beginner. The app contains a skymap which can help you to find objects in the night sky. The desktop software has lots of information about what can be viewed and simulations that can help your teenager plan their night’s viewing in advance.

This is a great all-round beginner telescope. It’s easy to use, has a good range, and has everything you need to get started, including two eyepieces and a red dot viewfinder.

Best Computerized Telescope – Celestron NexStar 130SLT

Best Computerized Telescope
Celestron NexStar 130SLT
This computerized telescope offers a large aperture size in a relatively compact optical assembly.

The Celestron NexStar 130SLT is a nicely compact telescope for the size of its aperture. It’s big enough that you can not only inspect Jupiter’s cloud bands, but you can see a good range of deep space objects as well.

As a computerized telescope, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. All Celestron computerized telescopes offer the same great features. They’re easy to set up with no prior astronomical knowledge needed. They can offer a choice of suitable objects to view based on time, date, and location. There are over 40,000 objects in the database, so this is a computerized telescope that will last a long time.

As well as the telescope, you will also get access to some great software. There is an app that helps you locate objects in the night sky and a program that allows you to plan your observations and learn more about the objects you’ll be viewing.

This telescope is easy to take apart, and the mount is nice and sturdy. This means you can easily take it on trips. A portable telescope can be a real plus when you’re buying for teenagers. It allows them to get a lot more use out of it.

Budget Option – SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars

Best Budget Option
SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars
These binoculars are a great starting point for getting into astronomy. They are comfortable and easy to use for amateur astronomers.

The SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars may not be a telescope, but they may actually be a better option in many cases. When you’re starting out with astronomy, it can be off-putting to set up a telescope and try to align the finder scope. A pair of binoculars can be a lot easier to get started with.

This pair is a good size and is ideal for astronomy. They are comfortable to hold and easy to adjust. They also have foldable eyepieces, which are ideal for anyone who wears glasses.

A significant advantage of binoculars is that they are much more portable and versatile than a telescope. You can often view many of the same objects, but you will also get much more use out of them, especially if your family is interested in nature.

These are an excellent budget option that might even work out as a better first option than a more expensive choice.

Best Push-To Telescope – Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope

Best Push-To Telescope
Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope
This hands-on telescope will guide you to find the objects you’re looking for in the night sky, it’s a great telescope for budding astronomers.

The Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope is a Dobsonian Telescope. This means that it is a large reflector telescope that has a special type of mount. These telescopes were designed to be easy for people to make and use. This is why it’s quite nice that you will need to do a bit of construction to get this telescope up and running.

Once it’s all together, this is a really easy to use telescope. It has a good-sized aperture, and the mirrors are reasonable quality. There is some distortion towards the edges, but for beginners, that will hardly be noticeable.

This telescope is pretty small and compact. Unlike other Dobsonian telescopes, it isn’t really big enough to sit on the ground. It’s a tabletop telescope. So if you’re going out and about with it, you might want to pack a crate or something similar that you can use to stand it on.

What really makes this telescope great as a learning tool is that it is computerized but not motorized. What this means is that the handheld controller will guide you to find the star you’re looking for. Your teenager will still have to move the telescope themselves to get the object in their sights. In reverse, you can find an object in the sky and then ask the computer what you’re looking at. It’s a great compromise between accessibility and real hands-on learning.

Best for Viewing Planets – Celestron 114LCM

Best for Viewing Planets
Celestron 114LCM
This computerized Newtonian reflector is an excellent telescope for easily finding and viewing planets.

The Celestron 114LCM is a computerized telescope. It comes with a go-to mount. This means that once you have aligned it with the night sky, you can tell it what you want to see, and it will find it for you. All it needs is the date and time.

It can be a little tricky to align some computerized telescope, but Celestron telescopes are really easy. All you need to do is align the red dot finder. Then you point the telescope at three bright objects in the night sky. That’s it. You don’t need to be able to identify a single star to get up and running.

This Is a reflector scope, which means that the eyepiece is located at the top of the telescope’s barrel. It’s a good position for making observations while standing. There are also two different eyepieces included, so you can play with the magnification a little if you wish.

This is a great telescope for amateur astronomers. The range and size make it ideal for viewing planets. You can see the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter.

For beginners and teenagers, this is a great telescope. It’s easy to use, so getting started is quick. With over 40,000 objects in the database, this telescope will continue to be a great go-to telescope for years.

Best for Taking Pictures – Gskyer Astronomical Refractor 

Best for Taking Pictures
Gskyer Astronomical Refractor
This telescope comes with a phone adapter and wireless remote, letting your kids get off and running, taking pictures of the stars and planet.

The Gskyer Astronomical Refractor comes with everything your kids need to take pictures of the sky using their phones. There is a phone adapter and wireless control, which makes taking pictures easy.

Included with the telescope is a good quality adjustable tripod with an Alt-Az mount. There are also two eyepieces and a 3x Barlow lens. A Barlow lens is a handy addition for photography as you can easily add it to the eyepiece to enhance the magnification after you’ve found something of interest.

The 70mm aperture on this scope is a good size, especially as this is not an overly expensive telescope. The carry case combined with its modest size means that it’s easy to pack this telescope up and take it out with you.

Best Telescope with an EQ Mount – Meade Instruments 216004 Polaris 114

Best with an EQ Mount
Meade Instruments 216004 Polaris 114
This EQ mounted reflector scope is ideal for teenagers who are looking for a more advanced telescope.

This Meade Instruments 216004 Polaris 114 is a great telescope. The mount it comes with is a German EQ style mount. It’s sturdy and moves smoothly, making this a great telescope for tracking objects.

Because this is an EQ mount, I would recommend this for teenagers who already have some experience with astronomy and who know some background theory. Eq mounts can be a little intimidating, but the experience of using and finding just what you’re looking for is priceless.

The telescope is a high-quality reflector scope from Meade instruments. It comes with three eyepieces and a 2x Barlow lens. There is also a red dot finderscope attached to the barrel of the telescope.

Young astronomers will love this telescope for its great range and the challenge it offers in mastering the EQ mount. This is the best telescope for kids who are serious about astronomy.

Best Dobsonian Telescope – Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6

Best Dobsonian Telescope
Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6
This classic Dobsonian mounted telescope is an excellent easy to use telescope that offers a great viewing experience.

The Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 is a classic Dobsonian telescope. It’s a reflector scope with an immense 6-inch aperture, the biggest on this list. This means that it’s bright enough to see not only local planets and stars but a good array of deep-sky nebulae and star clusters as well.

Dobsonian telescopes are a great first telescope. They offer a great viewing experience and are really easy and intuitive to use. The mount sits directly on the ground, which makes it cheaper to produce. In return, you get more from your telescope. These mounts are really sturdy and are ideal for beginners.

The whole apparatus is on the larger side. Typically these work best for people who can observe from a single location. It can be a little difficult to travel with these telescopes.

What to Consider When Buying a Telescope For Teenage Kids

Aperture Size

One of the most critical features of any telescope is the aperture size. It’s this that lets you see more distant objects. The magnification does not affect that at all.

The aperture is the size of the opening on the telescope. The bigger it is, the more light it can gather. This light is concentrated together to pass through the eyes piece. By focusing more light from distant objects in this way, they appear brighter, so you can see them.

So, the deeper into space you want to look, the bigger the aperture should be.

Size and Weight

Teenager in bedroom holding a telescope to view the sky at night

You might be tempted to think that you should just choose the telescope with the biggest aperture. This would let you see more objects in the night sky, but it will also lead to a much heavier and bulkier telescope.

You want to give some consideration to the size and weight of the telescope. The chances are that you will need to move your telescope to a different location at some point. If it’s too heavy, you won’t want to move it around, and it won’t get as much use.

Viewing Location

You need to consider where you will be using your telescope. If you’ll mostly be using it in a city with a lot of light pollution, then it can be a good idea to think about a computerized telescope. These can track objects in the night sky. It can be really difficult to do this in an area with a lot of light.

You do still need to be able to make out at least two bright stars to configure these telescopes. So, you need to be able to see and identify two big stars.

If you plan to take your telescope out and about, then you’ll want to opt for one that’s light enough to move, small enough to fit in your car, and not too difficult to set up.

Magnification

If you’re new to telescopes, it’s a common misconception to think that what you need in a telescope is high magnification. However, it’s the aperture size that determines the quality of what you can see. Zooming in on a low-quality image doesn’t make it clearer.

Beware of telescopes that make a big deal out of their magnification level. This often means they are of low quality or have a small aperture.

You can change the magnification of your telescope by changing the eyepiece. However, unless you are planning on doing some astrophotography or deep space astronomy, then the magnification is probably not that important.

You even do better to stick with a lower magnification telescope. With increased magnification, you are much more at the mercy of small vibrations. A gentle breeze can be all it takes to disrupt the image. You probably want to get a year of observing under your belt before you start playing with magnification. It’ll be much easier to learn the skills you need without the added magnification.

Durability

Most telescopes are pretty durable objects. They don’t require too much maintenance. The most important thing is to dry them after use and store them properly. However, some scopes will stand up to knocks better than others. Generally, reflectors are more resilient than refractors.

Tabletop telescope at home

For younger teens, you might want to opt for a tabletop telescope or binoculars. These are more resistant to accidents.

The Mount

There are three types of mounts to choose from. The choice of your mount can have as big of an impact on your experience as your choice of telescope, so it shouldn’t be a secondary consideration.

When you’re viewing objects in the night sky, they don’t stay put. The only star that doesn’t move during the night is the pole star. To keep watching an object, you have to track it across the sky. This means making constant adjustments, which is why your choice of mount is critical.

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Alt-Azimuth (Alt-Az, AZ)

This is probably the most accessible mount to get your head around. It has two perpendicular axes. So you can move it up and down or left to right. Basic models are moved by grabbing the telescope assembly. Others have knobs or cables to control the position.

Celestial objects will move in arcs across the sky. So with an Alt-Az mount this you will have to adjust both axes simultaneously to track anything. It’s not unlike drawing a curve on an etch-a-sketch.

If you just want to get up and running quickly with no fuss, this is the right mount for you.

Equatorial Mount (EQ)

An equatorial mount is a lot more precise than an Alt-Az. They are designed to work with the motion of the Earth. Again there are two axes. One controls declination (angular distance from the celestial equator). The other follows the line of right ascension. This means it moves in an arc that matches the Earth’s curve.

To use this mount, you need to first align it with the pole star. Once you’ve done that, if you know the coordinates of the object you want to see, it’s really easy to find it. You just align your mount to the correct declination and right ascension. To then track the object, you just need to adjust the right ascension.

The learning curve for using this mount is a lot more intense. There is a lot to learn and a lot of number crunching involved. However, it does result in a much more satisfying viewing experience.

If you don’t mind some maths and some learning, and you want to track objects in the sky, this is the better sort of mount for you.

Motorized Mounts

Telescope on motorized mount

Motorized mounts can be either Alt-Az or EQ. As the name suggests, they are driven by a motor. This can make it easier to find objects and reduce vibration while tracking an object in the sky. A motorized mount is definitely an improvement over a manual one.

A big bonus of a motorized mount is that it can then be computer-controlled. At that point, it becomes a go-to mount. This means you can choose what you want to look at from a database and then tell the mount to go-to it.

These do often still need to be calibrated by finding two bright stars in the sky. But once that’s done, it is really easy to find objects of interest. What you can find is just limited by the database you have access to.

Type of Telescope

There are three types of telescope to choose from.

Reflectors

Reflector telescopes rely on mirrors to collect and concentrate the light from the night sky. They usually have a wide barrel and are often the same diameter from top to bottom. The eyepiece will often be located towards the top of the telescope. This means it is in a more comfortable position for viewing. You just have to get over the fact that your face won’t be pointed towards the sky.

One of the best types of reflector scopes for beginners is a Dobsonian scope. These are easy to use and offer a good viewing experience for a lower than average price.

Refractors

Refractor telescopes use lenses to create the image. This is why they have the more traditional shape most people think of. They are larger at one end than the other, and the eyepiece is pointed towards the sky.

Black telescope on mount

For any aperture size, a refractor will give you the best image. So, if the size is your limiting factor, then you should always opt for a refractor telescope.

However, cheaper lenses can have chromatic aberration. This means that the color won’t remain true all the way to the edge.

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Compound/Catadioptric

These telescopes contain a mix of lenses and mirrors. The most common types are Schmidt-Cassegrains and Maksutov-Cassegrains. They usually produce good quality images in a relatively compact package. As a result, they tend to be more expensive.

Eyepiece

Telescopes that have changeable eyepieces are a good option if you want a flexible telescope. The eyepiece is responsible for the magnification. As mentioned earlier, this is probably something you don’t want to worry too much about early on. However, having the option to change it at a later date can be worthwhile and could save on the expense of buying a second telescope.

You may also want to consider looking for telescopes with a good-sized eyepiece. This is where you will be looking. If you have to squint the whole time, it can be very off-putting and tiring to boot.

Experience

When you’re buying a telescope for a teenager, you need to consider how much knowledge and experience they have with astronomy.

If they are totally new to astronomy, then you probably want to keep things simple. A good pair of binoculars or a Dobsonian telescope on an Alt-Az mount would be an accessible place to start.

However, if the teenager in question is really into astronomy and is capable of calculating coordinates of star clusters, then you might want to look for something with an EQ mount or even a computerized telescope.

For anyone interested in astrophotography, you’ll probably want to opt for a reflector scope. These will give a better picture with shorter exposure time.

Observing vs. Learning

Young boy observing the sky with a telescope

You need to take a little bit of time to consider how the telescope you’re buying will be used. If the aim is to just look at the stars, then you will want to focus on the ease of use. I would certainly suggest choosing an Alt-Az mount.

If the aim is to give your teenagers a platform to learn more and to encourage them to develop and practice skills, then you might choose to go for a more complex viewing setup. Something that will require them to learn more, like a computerized mount that needs some calibration or an EQ mount. However, if this is a new hobby to them, I’d suggest only jumping in at this point if you have the knowledge to support them as they get started.

If you are buying this scope for teenagers interested in astrophotography, then you’ll be more interested in the quality of the mount. The smoother the mount moves, the better the picture. A motorized mount can be a good choice, especially along with a refractor scope.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best telescope for viewing planets?

If you want to track planets to get pictures of them, then you may want to consider choosing a telescope with an EQ mount. These are good for tracking objects in the night sky. If you have the coordinates of the planet you want to observe, you can easily find it.

Alternatively, a telescope with a go-to mount can be a good option. Once calibrated, you can choose the planet you want to view from the database, and it will find it for you.

What magnification should you look for on a telescope?

The magnification is not the most important feature of a telescope. It’s best to stick to telescopes with low magnification while you’re starting out. The aperture size is more important for getting better quality images.

What’s the best type of telescope for beginners?

A Dobsonian telescope is a great option for beginners. It’s an easy-to-use telescope that’s quite portable. They are also an inexpensive option, which is good for people new to the hobby.

Sandy Fargus

Last update on 2020-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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