Best Beginners Telescopes For Viewing Planets 2023



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Astronomical telescope over dark sky with the moon in the night

The night sky offers a fascinating and mythical view into an unknown world that most of us really can’t imagine. If you are wondering what is out there and want to explore deep-sky objects like planets or galaxies, a telescope is the right choice. But there is much to learn about telescopes. There are many different types of telescopes available at different price points. If you know what you can expect and what matters most, you can make the best choice for your goals. I’ve created this Best Beginners Telescopes For Viewing Planets list to find good deals that fit your budget.
That said, the world of astrophotography and observation of the night sky is vast. You will find options in all price ranges and quality levels. Your choice highly depends on your goals and budget. Different types of telescopes can give different results.

Although all of the telescopes in this list will allow you to view planets, their performance is different. Some will give larger and more detailed views than others. After reading this post, you will understand the differences well. You will know what to look for to find your best budget telescope.

Want more lists like this? Take a look at these:

What are Key Telescope Specifications

If you want to know which telescope is right for you, you need to know what specifications are important to look at. Telescopes have many different specifications. While I will not cover all of them, I will teach you the three most important ones.

The first one is called Focal Length. This specification determines your field of view. It will tell you how far you can see through your telescope.
Number two on the list is called Aperture. Your Aperture tells you how much light you will capture. The more light you can capture, the higher your level of detail will be. Think about the Aperture as the diameter of the main lens of your telescope. The wider your lens, the more light will get in.

Telescope in the desert watching the Great Bear constellation and the milky way
Telescope in the desert, watching the Great Bear constellation and the milky way

These first two factors are going hand in hand. They will determine your overall viewing experience when using your telescope.

The last specification is called the Focal Ratio. You can calculate this ratio by dividing the focal length by the aperture. In that sense, the focal length isn’t a separate specification but a combination of the first two. It is still helpful to know the Focal length because that single value will tell you how your Focal Length and Aperture will work for you.

Refractor Telescopes

A Refractor Telescope uses a glass lens as its focusing unit to collect the light at the front of a long tube. This lens usually combines two or more elements that refract the light to produce an image with reduced distortions.

Refractor Telescopes are one of the best choices if you want to get started on deep-sky astrophotography. They are very reliable and resistant to misalignment compared to other types of telescopes. The inner parts of the tube are sealed from the outside to protect it from dust buildup.

One downside of Refractor Telescopes is that they are known for producing chromatic aberration. This happens when the different colors of the light aren’t perfectly focused on the same point. In such a situation, your image might look like it is having a halo effect around bright objects.

Another factor you should keep in mind is that Refactor Telescopes tend to have a wide field of view. They are also more expensive than other telescope types with the same aperture.

Reflector Telescopes

This type of telescope uses mirrors to reflect the light that enters the tube. You then have an eyepiece on the side where the light is redirected. This type of telescope delivers the best value for your money. It is a great option for viewing planets such as Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Reflector Telescopes are not susceptible to chromatic aberration as the light is reflected instead of refracted. They are, however, more easily falling out of their alignment and need frequent cleaning.

Although there are many options, the Newtonian Reflector Telescope is the most common. It was invented by Isaac Newton, hence the name.

Catadioptric Telescopes

Think about a Catadioptric Telescope as a combination of mirrors and lenses. This allows them to come in a more compact form factor. It is approximately twice as long as wide, allowing for a larger aperture and a long focus. It is ideal for use away from home since it is a portable telescope option.

The Maksutov-Cassegrain is a widely used variant.

Equatorial Mount

Using an Equatorial Mount for your telescope allows you to follow stars and planets as they move across the night sky. It does that by having one axis aligned with the celestial pole. This is the point in the sky around which all other stars appear to rotate. When your telescope’s polar axis is correctly aligned, it is parallel to the search rotational axis.

These types of mounts are more complex to use. If you don’t align the axis correctly, your telescope will not be able to correctly track the objects in the sky. If this is your first telescope, an Equatorial Mount might not be the best option due to its complexity.

Because you can follow planets and stars over long periods, it is a perfect mount to take long-exposure photographs or to do deep-sky photography. You must take a long-exposure image to capture deep-sky objects such as nebulae or galaxies.

This Beginners Telescopes list has a few candidates with an Equatorial Mount, too.

Altitude-Azimuth Mount

This mount is simpler to use than the Equatorial Mounts. It has an altitude axis to move up and down and an azimuth axis to move left and right. If you observe stars or planets with an Altitude-Azimuth Mount, they will quickly drift out of view as the Earth rotates around its axis.

There are options available (CPC, NexStar Evolution) to make certain Altitude-Azimuth Mounts into Equatorial Mounts using a wedge. But they are coming at a higher price point.

Most telescopes of my Beginners Telescopes list use an Altitude-Azimuth Mount.

Which Telescope Is Best For Seeing The Moon?

Moon closeup showing the details of the lunar surface, taken with a beginners telescope.
Moon closeup showing the details of the lunar surface.

The moon is technically not very far away from the Earth. You will be able to view details of the moon with any telescope. You can also use a good binocular to get a good moon view. Some details can even be seen with the naked eye.

Which Telescope Is Best For Seeing The Saturn Rings?

The Sun and planets are in a row on universe's stars' background. Elements of this image furnished by NASA. 3d illustration
The Sun and planets are in a row on universe’s stars’ background. Elements of this image furnished by NASA. 3d illustration

You might be surprised that you can also see the rings of Saturn with almost any telescope. Of course, you need to be able to gather enough light to get more details and a higher image quality. An Aperture of 150mm is a good starting place. Look out for moderate to high magnification and a focal length of 1000mm.

One of the biggest factors determining what you can see with your telescope is light pollution. This is usually not a big issue for bright planets, but it can be an issue for star clusters, nebulae, asterisms, and double stars farther away.

Going camping is a great way to cut down on light pollution. Whenever I go camping, I can see the milky way with the naked eye almost all the time. Using a telescope in these conditions will create the best views for you.

Gskyer Astronomical Refractor

Gskyer Astronomical Refractor Telescope

The Astronomical Refractor from Gskyer is the cheapest option on my list. It is a refractor telescope with a 400 mm focal length and 80 mm aperture. The telescope has three replaceable eyepieces for 16X, 40X, and 80X magnification and a 3X Barlow lens. The highest magnification you get is 240X if you combine the 80X eyepiece with the 3X Barlow lens.

The finderscope of the Gskyer Astronomical Refractor produces a positive image as opposed to an inverted image.

The tripod is adjustable, providing many different viewing positions and a stable platform. The stability of the tripod is something that stands out compared to other telescopes in its price range.

It is a great choice for science-loving kids to learn more about the sky. You can easily assemble the telescope, and the directions provided are very useful.

Optical DesignRefractor
Aperture/Optical Diameter80mm
Focal Length400mm
Focal Ratiof/5.0
Magnification16X, 40X, 80X
FinderscopeReflex
MountAltazimuth
ExtrasStainless Steel Tripod, 3x eyepieces for magnification, Barlow Lens 3X
Gskyer Astronomical Refractor Telescope Specs

Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

This classic beginner telescope is one of the two reflector telescopes in the Best Beginners Telescopes For Viewing Planets 2023 list. It also offers a large Aperture of 150 mm and a focal length of 1200 mm. You will have no problems using this classic Dobsonian for planetary viewing.

This telescope has a 6-inch parabolic mirror that collects enough light for deep-sky viewing of nebulae, galaxies, and star clusters.

The initial setup comes with a small learning curve, so plan to invest some time to get used to your new telescope.

Perhaps the only downside of this telescope is its price point. It is the most expensive option on my list, but there is a reason why Dobsonian telescopes are well respected in the community.

Optical DesignReflector
Aperture/Optical Diameter150mm
Focal Length1200mm
Focal Ratiof/8.0
Magnification48x
FinderscopeReflex
MountAltazimuth
ExtrasBarlow Lens 2X, Orion’s MoonMap 260, DeepMap 600, and Telescope Observer’s Guide, a RedBeam Mini flashlight, and a smartphone photo adapter for taking pictures through the telescope’s eyepiece
Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Specs

Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Telescope

Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Telescope

The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ has an Equatorial Mount and is thus more complex. But this mount will allow you to track objects in the sky. If you want to do astrophotography and take long-exposure images, this is a perfect telescope and a great way to do this. The basic version allows manual following with a simple knob, but there is also an automated version with an integrated motor drive available.

The telescope has two eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm) and a StarPointer red dot finderscope. The eyepieces allow for 50X and 100X magnification.

With this telescope, you will have a great time viewing planets. It takes some time to get used to an equatorial mount, but once you can use it, you will have an excellent telescope for taking amazing images. And the good news is that all of that you will get for a very affordable price!

Optical DesignNewtonian Reflector
Aperture/Optical Diameter130mm
Focal Length1000mm
Focal Ratiof/8.7
Magnification50x
FinderscopeReflex
MountEquatorial
ExtrasOptions to include Motor Drive for auto-follow, 10 & 20 mm eyepieces, free Starry Night astronomy software
Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Telescope Specs

Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 Telescope

Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 Telescope

With the Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 Telescope, you get a real powerhouse for planetary viewing. This Catadioptric Telescope uses a Maksutov-Cassegrain optical tube to deliver contrast-rich views of night-sky objects. The primary mirror has a 94% reflectivity rating that gives you very crisp and sharp details.

The Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 Telescope includes a Vixen-Style Dovetail Plate to attach to almost all telescope mounts (Alt-Azimuth Mount and Equatorial Mount).

This 127 mm telescope is very lightweight, with 12.22 pounds, and thus very portable. It is also available in 150 mm and 180 mm, offering even more details when viewing deep sky objects.

Optical DesignMaksutov-Cassegrain
Aperture/Optical Diameter127mm
Focal Length1540mm
Focal Ratiof/12.1
Magnification250x
FinderscopeReflex
Extras2-inch 28mm eyepiece
Sky-Watcher Skymax 127 Telescope Specs

Mak70 Telescope

Mak70 Telescope

The Mak70 is a 70 mm aperture and 1000 mm focal length Catadioptric Telescope. Like the Skymax 127, it uses a Maksutov-Cassegrain optical tube.

The telescope has a slow-motion gimbal tripod and two eyepieces (10 mm & 20 mm) offering 100X and 50X magnification. It also provides a smartphone adapter to take images. A 1.5X Barlow lens can be used to increase magnification.

With a focal ratio of f/14.3, you get a perfect option for planetary viewing. This telescope is an ideal fit for doing astrophotography.

Optical DesignMaksutov-Cassegrain
Aperture/Optical Diameter70mm
Focal Length1000mm
Focal Ratiof/14.3
Magnification50x
FinderscopeReflex
ExtrasSlow Motion Gimbal Tripod, 10mm & 20mm eyepieces
Mak70 Telescope Specs

Explore Scientific FirstLight 130mm

Explore Scientific FirstLight 130mm Telescope

This 130 mm telescope is a perfect fit if your primary goal is deep sky observation. With a focal ratio of f/4.6, it shortens exposure times for photography.

The FirstLight 130mm has an Equatorial Mount (EQ3) to smoothly track celestial objects. It also includes a full-size tripod that provides additional stability.

A cool addition is the 2-sided Moon Crater Map featuring not only moon craters but also the precise locations of spacecraft moon landings from the lunar programs of the United States, Russia, and China.

Optical DesignReflector
Aperture/Optical Diameter130mm
Focal Length600mm
Focal Ratiof/4.6
Magnification250x
FinderscopeReflex
ExtrasEXOS Nano EQ3 German Equatorial mount
Explore Scientific FirstLight 130mm Telescope Specs

Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope

Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope

The Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro is a great beginner telescope. It has an aperture of 150 mm and a focal length of 750 mm. This shorter focal length means that the telescope has a wider field of view at the expense of magnification.

This telescope offers an Alt-Azimuth mount. It is a tabletop telescope. In its category, it is not the most lightweight option with 24 pounds, but it is still portable.

You also get two eyepieces (25 mm & 10 mm) offering 30X and 75X magnification settings.

Optical DesignReflector
Aperture/Optical Diameter150mm
Focal Length750mm
Focal Ratiof/4.9
Magnification30x, 75x
FinderscopeReflex
MountAltazimuth
Extras25mm & 10mm Sirius Plossl 1.25″ eyepieces, EZ Finder II aiming device, eyepiece rack, Starry Night software
Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope Specs

Final Thoughts – Best Beginners Telescopes For Viewing Planets 2023

This list of telescopes offers a wide variety of options for you. With the additional explanation of key telescope specifications, you are now equipped with all it needs to find your best telescope.

Exploring the night sky is a very adventurous activity that will bring you joy and excitement. Who knows what you are going to find?

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One response to “Best Beginners Telescopes For Viewing Planets 2023”

  1. Debbie Avatar

    This is an amazing resource for beginners wanting to select a telescope. The night sky is enchanting and finding the right way to view it is a really fabulous thing.

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