This year still has a lot of celestial events in store for astronomy enthusiasts. Some of the main events include the Equinox on the September 22, the Partial Lunar Eclipse on November 19, and the highly anticipated Total Solar Eclipse on December 4 — which happens only once every 100 years or so. If you’re a budding astronomer, or just someone interested in getting a better view of these extraordinary events, you’ll need a telescope that can suit your needs and can help you enjoy the night sky to its fullest.
In this article, we are going to introduce you to our top three choices of easy-to-use, high quality, and affordable telescopes to help you get started on your astronomy journey.
1. Celestron Astro FI 102
This is one of the best telescopes on the market, and it’s one that can provide beginners with everything they need to get great views of the sky. It includes 10mm and 25 mm eyepieces for magnifications of 132x and 53x, a smartphone adapter for recording and astrophotography, and a red dot finder in its kit. One of its best features is its SkyAlign technology, which makes it extremely easy to align your instrument before beginning observations. By simply clicking a button, the Astro Fi 102 can focus on your desired target — the Celestron SkyPortal app lets you do this and more. It can also recommend targets for you to observe, so you don’t need to worry about your limited knowledge of celestial objects, and you can focus on enjoying the experience and learning along the way.
Overall, the Celestron Astro Fi 102 is a great starter kit, as it doesn’t require any additional tools to assemble, it’s easy to control and navigate, and comes at a very affordable price too, at under $500 for the whole setup.
2. Sky-Watcher Skyliner 200P
This telescope features a Dobsonian mount type, which makes it a powerhouse for holding larger apertures, usually at a lower cost compared to tripod-mounted or refracting telescopes. Its 200mm diameter aperture and incredible light-absorbing ability allow for fantastic views — you’ll be able to see some of the furthest galaxies and nebulas up close, which is an amazing feat for a telescope of this price.
The Skyliner 200P is heavy-duty and collapsible. However, it is on the heavier side. You might have a bit of trouble moving it around, but that’s nothing a good telescope dolly can’t handle. If you plan to lug it around on your travels, you can invest in a dolly or build your own. Lastly, the telescope is quite delicate when it comes to alignment, so you’ll have to learn how to tinker with this particular instrument.
3. Meade Instruments Infinity 102 AZ
The Infinity 102 AZ is a little old-fashioned — in a straightforward, easy-to-use way. It gives superb night-sky tours due to its single arm mount and slow-motion control cables. With this model, there are no jerky movements during navigation even as you sweep from left to right, or up or down. It is fully supplied with a tripod, 26 mm, 9 mm, 6.3 mm lenses, and a Barlow lens.
It doesn’t have a smartphone app. Instead, it provides the AutoStar Suite Astronomer Edition software on DVD, which might suit those looking for a simpler experience. With this type of telescope, you can definitely grab your best flashlight, stash all your equipment into your pickup, and head towards high ground — thanks in no part to how portable it is.
These three telescopes have all the qualities you would want from your first telescope. With our picks, you’ll be able to explore the skies easily and enjoy quality features at a reasonable price.