Starting out as a beginner in something as niche a subject as astronomy can be difficult, especially when you don’t really know what you’re looking for – Reflector? Dobsonian? What aperture should I get?
With so many different options out there it can be a little overwhelming, so I’ve put together a guide for those looking for the best telescopes for beginners, including the best options and where to buy from.
This was written in conjunction with my friend Fabian, who has built a giant telescope in his back garden in Warrington. No, he’s not a beginner, but he was once – and helped me put together this guide.
Best Astronomical Telescope For Beginners in the UK
Binocular and Tripod Beginner Bundle
(Check Orion’s Price)
This 15×70 Astronomical Binocular and HD-F2 Tripod Bundle by Orion is ideal for beginners as it’s practical, lightweight and easy to set up.
Because the setup is binoculars rather than a telescope, it’s suitable for all the family, including the kids, as it’s easier to understand and look through.
In the UK, it’s very rare that we have a clear night sky – especially if you live in the city – so what’s great about this particular model is that with the 70mm objective lenses and 15-power magnification, you’ll still get a great view of the skies no matter where you live.
The included tripod ensures that you get a stable view and the binoculars can follow star clusters with smooth movement.
It also ensures that you arms don’t tire out from holding the binoculars for long periods of time, just attach them to the tripod instead!
The tripod is adjustable and the binoculars have an 18mm eye relief so it doesn’t matter if you’re tall, short or wear glasses – this bundle will be comfortable and give you great views.
According to one reviewer, these binoculars offer clear and sharp images of the moon’s mountains and craters as well as the Milky Way!
These binoculars also provide great views during the day too, so if you’re a bird watcher or love looking at daytime wildlife then these are suitable for that too.
- Tripod and binoculars
- Bright views no matter where you live
- Suitable for daytime and nighttime viewing
- Adjustable tripod
- 15 x magnification for close up views
- Built in spirit level on the tripod
- Binoculars come with a carry case, neck strap and eyepiece caps
- Can sometimes fog up
- Focusing knobs are stiff
Best Dobsonian/Stargazing Telescope For UK Beginners
Skyquest XT4.5 Dobsonian Telescope Kit
(Check Orion’s Price)
When looking for a good telescope, you should always take note of the aperture. This is the size of the light-gathering lens or mirror – the larger the aperture, the more you’ll be able to see and with better clarity.
Dobsonian telescopes have these characteristics and are best for deep-sky observation of galaxies and nebulae.
You should look for apertures of at least 70mm if you want a good view of the night sky.
The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Kit is a good value bundle.
The telescope, with its 114mm aperture and 900mm focal length, collects 260% more light than a typical beginner refractor telescope to give you amazing views of planets, nebulars, lunar craters and galaxies.
The 6×26 correct image finder scope makes it easier to aim the telescope at certain objects.
Then, once you’ve found something of interest you can choose your magnification setting with the 2 included Sirius Plossi eyepieces. One is a 25mm that gives 36x power magnification and the other is a 10mm for a whopping 91x magnification.
The telescope itself is easy to set up and balance with the CorrecTension springs that allow for complete motion control.
Once the tube is attached to the base, the springs keep it in place so no dismantling is needed. One of our family friends in London keep this by the window so they don’t have to set it up every time a clear night comes along.
The telescope and base can be carried as a unit with the handle, and it’s really lightweight, weighing just 17.6lbs altogether.
This makes it easy to move to better viewing spots, whether that’s your back garden or somewhere else entirely as you can just pick up the telescope and go – no need to faff around building it and then dismantling it!
One reviewer commented that this model is the ultimate grab and go scope, with excellent views of both stars and planets.
This particular model also comes with a Starry Night Special Edition software download that allows you to explore the night sky with realistic simulations when the weather means you can’t use your telescope.
This software will also help you to understand what it is you’re seeing when using the telescope and can also help you plan your observations, which is helpful for beginners who may not be as knowledgeable. It also maintains interest when there isn’t a clear night.
Using the software in conjunction with the telescope can be a great way to get the kids involved and teach them about space!
- Collects 260% more light than a typical beginner telescope
- Correct image finder
- 2 x eyepieces
- Built in Navigation knob
- Free Starry Night Special Edition software download
- Can be difficult to assemble alone
- Font on software is a bit small to read
Best Reflector Telescope For Beginners in the UK
Spaceprobe Equatorial Reflector Telescope
(Check Orion’s Price)
Reflector telescopes have a primary mirror inside the open tube that reflects the light onto a smaller secondary mirror, which then reflects the light back to the eyepiece.
This type of telescope allows for a much larger aperture than those available with a refractor telescope.
This Orion SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope is designed for beginner/intermediate stargazers and has a huge 5.1” (129.54mm) aperture that gathers enough light to see objects deep in the night sky.
This telescope is compact, weighs just 27lbs and has a smaller tube compared to the standard model making it easy to move.
It comes with 2 eyepieces so you can search for objects and then look in closer detail, and also has a 6×30 finder scope to accurately aim the telescope at an object of interest.
Once aligned, have a look through the finder scope and centre the crosshairs on the object, look back through the telescope and the object that you want to see will be in perfect view!
This model also comes with a tripod mount that allows you to track things as they move across the sky so you can see moving targets like comets in all their glory.
The tripod is adjustable and includes an accessory tray so wherever you decide to set up you can ensure that you’ve got everything that you need with you with ease of access.
One reviewer said that the mount is extremely sturdy and that the optics are easy to adjust, allowing them to see the Andromeda galaxy, Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings!
- Portable and lightweight
- 5.1” aperture
- Finder scope
- 2 x eyepieces
- Quick to set up
- Included tripod with accessory tray
- Starry Night Special Edition software download
- Vague instructions, although people have said that it’s still easy to put together despite this
Where’s The Best Place To Buy A Telescope In The UK?
When it comes to buying a telescope, yes, you guessed it – you get what you pay for. You’ll likely have to spend a bit more in order to get something decent.
Opting for a cheaper option probably won’t allow you to see much more than the moon, and will have low aperture and magnification levels – so if you’re serious about getting into astronomy then you should opt for something that’s going to be worth your while.
It’s best to buy from a reputable buyer that is an expert in the field and offer great customer service, such as Orion. You’ll have noticed that I recommend all their products here and there’s a good set of reasons why.
Orion has been selling telescopes since 1975, so you can be assured that they really know their stuff.
On their site, each telescope has a recommended user level such as Beginner, Intermediate etc along with a plethora of information in regards to what to look for in a telescope and how to choose one that suits your needs.
They have an online chat experience that allows you to speak to an expert and ask any questions that you may have to ensure that you are informed before you purchase anything.
Amazingly, they also offer a 30 day money back guarantee if you are not entirely happy with your telescope.
Just Want a Cheap, Basic Telescope?
If you want ‘cheap and cheerful’ and you’re on a very low budget then you can still use sites such as Amazon to get a Telescope – though bear in mind Orion are an independent British company and it’s good to support them! However, they don’t stock the very cheapest end of the market.
If you’re just looking for a simple telescope gift for someone, who perhaps isn’t yet into astrology but you think they might enjoy it then something like the National Geographic 50/600 AZ may be a better option.
It comes with a mount and tripod and has magnification up to 100x that allows you to see the moon clearly.
Bear in mind that going for something like this probably isn’t suitable for more serious stargazers, and instead can be more of a ‘fun’ gift or a way to spark an interest in children!
Then again, if they do lose interest or break it then you haven’t spent as much!
After reading this article, I hope I’ve given you some insight into what’s best in the perfect beginner’s telescope.
There’s no doubt that after a little research you’ll find one that suits you and be in awe of the wonders of the night sky above us, there’s just so much to discover than you can see with the naked eye!