When I first started getting interested in astronomy, I was a small, curious eight year old. My parents told me a new telescope was only for rich people. I only realised my parents were completely lying to me when I was a few years older (ok, I was 21). So when it comes to how much does a good telescope cost I was deeply interested.
Yes, the best and clearest views may come from taking out a small mortgage to pay for your telescope, but there are other great and cheap alternatives out there.
A good telescope can cost anywhere in the region of $150-600. The price can increase or decrease based on your own desires; more technology will probably increase the price, lower prices for those only wanting to view the moon.
Why not use binoculars?
This is a question I have been asked several times by wannabe star gazers. Binoculars have great magnification that can see the moon with some clarity, so why bother with a telescope? The truth is, sometimes you don’t need a telescope.
If you are only interested in some fleeting glances at the moon, a good pair of binoculars might be all you need. The Celestron 71198 Cometron binoculars have 50mm lenses which can allow for some good views. At just under $35, these are a steal!
At a Glance: 5 Good Telescopes At Different Price Points
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Buyer's Tips: Considerations when you're buying your first telescope
No matter the age, interest or knowledge of telescopes you have, always take into consideration several points before you buy.
- The bigger you have the further you will see. Do you really want to see Saturn's rings?
- Bases make for heavier telescopes, not the best for travellers or campers
- Do you need to track and monitor objects for imaging?
How Much Does A Good Telescope Cost?
Geertop - COST: $40
Suitable for: kids
Children rarely need or can’t cope with telescopes that have a great amount of power. For a cheap price, you can buy the Geertop with an aperture of 50mm. This is a good telescope for kids as they will be able to see the moon clearly enough along with Mars and Venus. Not too heavy, can fit on the tabletop and is extremely easy to use.
Suitable for: beginners
A good price for a beginner would be anywhere between the $100-200 mark. The Powerseeker telescope is an affordable and moderately powerful piece of equipment that will suit anyone just starting out in astronomy. This particular telescope is easy to set up, fairly portable with an average focal length. You won’t get spectacularly clear views, but for someone just starting out, you won’t want to spend too much money on something you may not use.
Orion 8974 SkyQuest XT8
Suitable for: amateurs
Ok, ok, this one may be a little more expensive than some amateur astronomers would like, but it isn’t a good telescope, it’s a great one! This is the upgrade to the normal XT8 where the added extras can provide precise focus adjustment. There are tonnes of upgraded accessories included in this price, lots of technology available for those used to astronomy and want to flex their muscles. The Orion is already mounted and there are several cameras you can use to take pictures. There are good telescopes that may cost a little less for amateur astronomers, but you would pay a lot more to get a telescope not much better than this.
Celestron NexStar 8 SE
Suitable for: the more serious hobbyist
A lot of people would probably gawp at this price, yeah I know it’s pricey. However, the Nexstar is worth it. The technology available can certainly be used by the professional astronomer. The database has information on nearly 40,000 objects, the Skyalign tech is useful to track and align objects easily. This is a good costing telescope for those used to stargazing and wanting a quality telescope to continue their hobby and see far away planets clearly.
Suitable for: travellers
There are those who wish to grab a telescope, go camping or travelling and look at the night sky whenever they want. For the travellers of the world, I have you covered! The Levenhuk sounds a bit weird but is pretty cool. The negatives: small lens and magnification. The positives: high portability as it only weighs four pounds; the Blaze is easily shoved in a bag and thrown over the shoulder. It’s very useful as it comes with its own carry case, posh!