We humans have been looking up at the sky for as long as history can tell us. Not only because the sky is really beautiful to look at, but also because of the immense wonders that it holds. Astronomy can be a really fun hobby, but many people who live in cities aren’t able to indulge in this hobby thanks to excessive light pollution. Today, we’re going to be looking at the best telescope for city viewing.

One would think that using a telescope to look at the stars or even to view a city’s skyline would be quite easy. High rise buildings provide the perfect place to set up your telescope and look at the world around you. While there are plenty of vantage points in a city, there’s also a lot of light. Light sources in the city wash out the light that comes from the stars and celestial bodies. This results in these fainter sources of light being washed out by stronger ones. This is the biggest obstacle that city-based astronomers have to deal with.

City viewing can be broken down into two categories; terrestrial viewing and extra-terrestrial viewing. The former is quite easy to do in the city since there’s an ample amount of light. All you need is a decent telescope, and you’re good to go. However, this same light becomes a problem when you point your lens towards the sky. Fortunately, certain telescopes have what it takes to view the night sky. These models are capable of viewing celestial object in areas polluted with light. Telescopes such as these will be the focus of our guide.

There’s a lot more to astronomical telescopes than you might think. If you’re new to the world of astronomy, then you may want to learn a bit about astronomical telescopes at first. One of our previous articles discusses telescopes in great depth.

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What to Look For in a City Viewing Telescope

Telescopes that are used for astronomical purposes tend to be bulky. They usually come with a bipod on which they are placed when being used. Their size and bulk make space an issue. People who live in apartments or have limited space may have a hard time finding places to set up their telescope. This is why you need to keep the amount of space that you have available in mind when selecting a telescope.

The focal length matters as well. Larger lenses can capture light more effectively. This means that for city viewing, you want a telescope with a larger focal length.

When it comes to city viewing, the size of your telescope is important. However, there are some smaller details that matter as well. One of them being your eyepiece. An eyepiece with a proper eyecup makes sure that there isn’t any light interfering with your vision as you look into the telescope. Some telescopes come with eyepieces while others can be fitted with store bought ones. Speaking of store-bought add-ons, you can also consider buying a Light-Pollution reduction Filter (LPR). These filters can be attached to a telescope’s viewing lens. As their name suggests, they reduce light pollution and make fainter light sources more visible. However, keep in mind that LPRs can’t increase the brightness of far off objects. You cannot expect them to improve your viewing experience significantly.

Now let’s take a look at some great telescopes for looking at the night sky in the city.

Best Telescopes For City Viewing - Quick Comparison

Product Name

​Focal Length

​Focal Ratio

​Aperture

​Weight

​Levenhuk Strike 80 NG

​720mm

​f/9

​80mm

​15.1 Lbs.

​Orion StarMax 90mm

​1250mm

​f/13.9

​90mm

​6.5 Lbs.

​Orion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor

​400mm

​f/5

​80mm

​10 Lbs.

​Celestron 70mm Travel Scope

​400mm

​f/5.71

​70mm

​4.2 Lbs.

Levenhuk Strike 80 NG

levenhuk strike 80 ng telescope review

Features

  • ​Has a 720mm focal length and an f/9 focal ratio. The lens’ size is great for use in light-polluted areas.
  • ​Has an aperture of 80mm.
  • ​Has a magnification range of 12x to 165x.
  • ​Its long body houses a refractor design that helps minimize image distortion.
  • ​The telescope’s eyepiece has a diameter of 1.25 inches and gets placed at a 90-degree angle.

Pros

  • ​The telescope is simple to use. It’s a great option for beginners.
  • ​It comes with a finderscope that is attached to the telescope’s body.
  • ​The telescope and its stand have a durable stainless steel construction.
  • ​The inner tube of the telescope is blackened to reduce light interference.
  • ​The telescope comes with a variety of accessories that increase its versatility.

Cons

  • ​The telescope’s weight and size make it hard to move around.
  • ​Its eyepieces don’t come with eyecups.

Orion StarMax 90mm

orion starmax 90mm review

Features

  • ​This compact and durable telescope is designed for use in city environments.
  • ​It has a focal length of 1250mm and an f/13.9 focal ratio.
  • ​Has an aperture of 90mm.
  • ​Its magnification ranges from 13x to 180x.

Pros

  • ​It’s highly portable. You can take it pretty much anywhere with you.
  • ​It comes with a finderscope.
  • ​The telescope’s base is incredibly stable. The rest of the telescope has superb build quality as well.
  • ​The huge focal length of this telescope makes it ideal for city viewing. It can easily view bright and faint space objects.

Cons

  • ​This telescope is subject to image loss thanks to having a center spot.

Orion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor

best telescope for city viewing

Features

  • ​A short tube design telescope that packs power in a compact frame.
  • ​Its short body makes it optimal for wide field viewing.
  • ​Has a 400mm focal length and an f/5 focal ratio.
  • ​Has an aperture of 80mm.

Pros

  • ​A great option for wide field viewing.
  • ​Comes with some accessories. It also includes a finderscope.
  • ​Its included tripod is very stable and allows for superb control over the telescope thanks to its equatorial mount.

Cons

  • ​It doesn’t have the best performance in light polluted areas.

Celestron 70mm Travel Scope

celestron 70mm travel scope review

Features

  • ​This telescope is designed to be packed into a single bag. It’s incredibly compact.
  • ​It has a focal length of 400mm and an f/5.71 focal ratio.
  • ​Has an aperture of 70mm.
  • ​It can magnify objects 20x and 40x.

Pros

  • ​Incredibly portable and lightweight. It’s great for traveling and use in limited spaces.
  • ​Comes with a travel backpack and an erect image diagonal.
  • ​Its main lens is coated to increase picture quality.

Cons

  • ​The included tripod isn’t stable.
  • ​The scope’s ability to view fainter space objects is limited as well.

These are some of the best ​telescopes that you have for viewing the night sky in a city environment. Keep in mind that there are much more powerful telescopes out there that can perform amazingly well in light polluted areas. However, these telescopes are bulky and expensive. Their size makes them impractical for regular use in city environments.

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