There’s a pretty good chance you’ve been told that astronomy is an expensive hobby. While this is true, it isn’t certain either. Astronomy is one of those hobbies where the sky is the limit (figuratively speaking). If you’ve gone through some stores, then you’ll notice that there’s equipment that’s cheap, and there’s also incredibly expensive equipment. Today, we’re going to talk about the best telescope under 200 dollars. Telescopes that are perfect for people who want to get into astronomy but are on a budget.
Now, there are a ton of inexpensive telescopes in the market. However, not all of them are worth buying. Some cheaper telescopes are incredibly annoying to use. They can easily ruin your stargazing experience. At the same time, there are some inexpensive telescopes that work quite well. The quality of a telescope’s image projection comes down to a handful of factors. If a telescope manages to get these factors right, then it can perform very well. In our reviews for today, we’re going to keep these factors in mind. We’ll highlight some of the best affordable telescopes currently available in the market.
Before we get into the reviews, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Astronomy telescopes aren’t expensive for no reason. Their optics and many other components are costly to produce. Everything needs to be precision made to make these telescopes accurate. When you’re viewing something with such a high level of magnification, even the slightest jitter can cause problems. Your image can be thrown off, or an ensuing wobble effect can make looking through the telescope feel uncomfortable.
Based on this, you cannot expect a budget telescope to provide you with an amazing experience. There are going to be limitations, especially in terms of image clarity and telescope power. However, this doesn’t mean that budget telescopes are bad. Some of them are great for viewing nearby objects. Every telescope that we’ll be talking about will let you see the moon well. It will also enhance the stars that can be seen with the naked eye.
Budget telescopes are like a gateway drug. They give you a taste of what you’re getting into. And once you’re hooked onto it, you’ll want to go for something stronger. With that said, let’s quickly go through all the major factors that determine the capability of a telescope.
Major Elements of a Telescope
There are loads of different factors that go into making a telescope. However, not all of them are important. This is especially true if you’re going for a beginner telescope. There are only a handful of factors that you should be aware of.
The first being the aperture of a telescope. The aperture is the diagonal size of a telescope’s main lens or mirror. A larger main lens lets more light enter the telescope. The more light that enters your telescope, the better image clarity you get. Keep in mind that larger lenses cost more and most beginner telescopes have small to medium apertures. However, as long as a telescope’s optic quality isn’t bad and you use it in the right environment, you’ll get a decent looking image.
Along with aperture, you also need to keep the mount in mind. A telescope’s mount is what keeps it stable and set on what you want to see. The mount plays a pretty important role in determining the usability of your telescope. A mount that isn’t stable or makes it hard for you to make minor adjustments to your telescope’s direction isn’t good. You want to prioritize stability over everything else in your mount.
Lastly, you need to keep magnification in mind. Your telescope’s magnification is determined by its eyepiece. Most telescopes come with at least two different eyepieces. Magnification is important since it lets you look at objects more closely. However, too much magnification is not always a good thing as it can compromise the quality of an image.
Now we’ve talked about telescopes and their various elements long enough. Let’s get into the reviews now.
The Best Telescopes Under 200 Dollars - Comparison Table
Gskyer Telescope 80mm AZ Space Astronomical Refractor Telescope
16X, 40X, 80X
Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope
Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope
Meade Instruments 216005 Polaris 127 EQ Reflector Telescope
38x, 110x, 160x
Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope
- A refractor type telescope with an 80mm aperture. This telescope has optics that are coated to provide better image quality.
- It comes with three different eyepieces that offer varying magnification level. You also get a Barlow lens that adds 3X to the magnification.
- You get a stable and adjustable tripod mount along with the telescope.
- It’s designed to be set up easily.
- Has multiple magnification levels to offer.
- Its coated lenses enhance the telescope’s ability to capture clear images.
- The telescope is easy to set up.
- It has a finderscope as well.
- Comes with a 1 year full refund warranty.
- Its optics are of low quality. There have been complaints of lenses being downright unusable.
- A compact and easy to use reflector scope that packs a decent level of power. This scope is great for beginners and intermediate astronomers.
- Doesn’t require any assembly. You can begin using it as soon as it arrives.
- Has a table top mount that is very stable and easily adjustable as well.
- Comes with two different eyepieces and some accessories that make using the telescope easier.
- Comes with plenty of accessories, including Starry Night astronomy software.
- Its mount is quite stable. Its altazimuth mount makes aiming the telescope quite easy.
- Its optics are well-made and are easy to maintain. You can collimate its mirror without too much trouble.
- It’s portable enough to be carried around easily.
- Isn’t powerful enough to look at anything beyond the moon.
- Easy to set up and easy to maintain. It comes with a permanently mounted StarPointer and other features that make it simple to use.
- It’s a great option for beginners who want to understand the basics of astronomy.
- One of the best options for people who want to experience astronomy without any hassle.
- It’s incredibly lightweight and portable as well.
- Unlike other telescopes in this list, this one doesn’t invert images. This makes it usable for terrestrial viewing as well.
- The telescope’s mount is annoying to use. Making smaller adjustments to it is hard.
- A reflector scope that’s equipped with a German equatorial mount. Aiming the scope and tracking objects with it is quite easy.
- It comes with three eyepieces that let you choose between different levels of magnification.
- The telescope comes with an instructional DVD and astronomical software as well.
- Its mount is very stable and makes interacting with the scope enjoyable.
- Isn’t too bulky, you can take it around with you easily.
- Its setup is easy.
- Doesn’t provide any tools that you need to collimate its mirror.
- The provided red dot finder isn’t that useful.
We’ve already covered this telescope in a previous article. You can check it out there and take a look at some more telescopes. Pushing your budget by just a bit above 200 dollars can get you some very nice telescopes.
These are some of the best budget telescopes that you can find in the market. While these won’t provide you with an exemplary astronomy experience, they will get the job done. You can view the moon, nearby planets and even a few star clusters with the right conditions. Another thing that you should keep in mind is that if you’re going for entry-level equipment, then you aren’t just limited to astronomy telescopes. You can use powerful binoculars and spotter scopes as well. We’ll recommend these two for people who want to get a taste of star gazing. You can get some very high-quality binoculars and spotter scopes within 200 dollars. With them, you can view the night sky and figure out whether you want to pursue astronomy or not. An advantage of binoculars and spotter scopes is that they don’t vertically invert images. Astronomy scopes usually project inverted images. This isn’t an issue when viewing stars and other celestial objects. However, this makes them unusable for terrestrial viewing. With binoculars and spotter scopes, you can view terrestrial objects as well.
Before you head out to buy a good telescope, keep in mind that astronomy can be very addicting. It’s an educational and fantastic hobby that makes you appreciate the grand size of the universe.