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10 Best Telescopes for Kids 2017

10 Best Telescopes for Kids 2017

Is your child interested in astronomy? Or do you want to encourage them to start? Sounds like it’s time to buy them their own telescope. Here we have reviewed the 10 best telescopes for kids. They are designed for beginners and have kid-friendly features.  Read on for our buying guide after our top 10 picks for beginner telescopes.

Top 10 Telescopes for Kids

PictureNameRatingPriceReviews
Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope4.3$$$$337
Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST4.1$$$176
TwinStar AstroMark Telescope4$$25
Black Twinstar Kids Telescope4$$47
Meade Instruments Infinity3.9$$340
Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope3.9$$829
Celestron NexStar 130 SLT3.8$$$281
Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker3.8$$$856
Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope3.4$$$$18
Educational Insights 5351 Nancy B's Moonscope3.3$$354

Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope

Celestron NexStar 4 SE Telescope
Type  Compound
Analog/Digital  Digital
Aperture  102mm
Focal Length  1,325mm
Maximum Magnification  241x
Weight  11 pounds
Price Range  High

Usability

The Celestron NexStar 4 SE produces high quality images thanks to its compound optics. Two included eyepieces allow the user to choose between closer or longer range viewing. The included remote and the digital control make it a simple matter to align the telescope on its motorized GoTo mount. Point and click to any of 40,000 celestial objects. This is a large object library by industry standards, and your child will enjoy discovering them all and learning more about them.

Extra Functionality

SkyAlign technology makes setup incredibly easy. Align the telescope to your location using any three bright celestial objects.

The Sky Tour feature will show the young astronomer points of interest that are visible based on the location and date.

Portability & Assembly

The Celestron NexStar 4 SE is remarkably small and portable. At only 11 pounds, it is easy to take along on trips or tote to the nearest park. No tools are needed to assemble the scope. It is designed to be easy to assemble, including a single fork arm and sturdy steel tripod. The Celestron NexStar 4 SE takes AA batteries, so you can run all the digital features even without a nearby power supply.

Affordability

The Celestron NexStar 4 SE is definitely a high-end telescope that provides professional-level quality. Therefore it requires a somewhat larger investment than some of the other telescopes on this list.

Summary

The Celestron NexStar 4 SE is a premium telescope which is in the top of its class for usability, durability, and breathtaking optics. Reviewers unanimously recommend it for children and beginning users because of its large database and its user-friendly functionality.  Its small weight is perfect for children to carry around. This is definitely a telescope that will engage and excite your young astronomer.

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope
Type  Reflector
Analog/Digital  Digital
Aperture  130mm
Focal Length  650mm
Maximum Magnification  307x
Weight  30 pounds
Price Range  High

Usability

The Celestron NexStar 130 SLT produces amazing and bright images. Its large aperture allows for detailed viewing even at lower magnifications. Two eyepieces at different magnifications allow the user to choose between closer or longer range viewing. Computerized control combined with the Go-to function allows you to enter the date, time, and your location, and the telescope will point toward the celestial object that you want to see. The object library contains 4000 of the most popular and dramatic stars, planets, galaxies, and celestial phenomena. The star pointer finder scope uses a red LED to help navigate and identify objects.

Extra Functionality

The excellent SkyAlign technology is very user friendly. Simply align the telescope using any three bright celestial objects, so that it is configured to your location.

The Celestron NexStar 130 SLT ships with a student version of “The Sky” planetarium software.

Portability & Assembly

The Celestron NexStar 130 SLT is a bit heavier than some of the other telescopes on this list. Still, it is lightweight enough for transporting. Assembly is very easy, requiring no tools. Simply snap the components together. It is battery operated so it is very good to take outdoors.

Affordability

The Celestron NexStar 130 SLT is at the higher cost range for children’s telescopes, but it is still quite affordable when compared to most.

Summary

The Celestron NexStar 130 SLT is designed with durable engineering and top-shelf components for an unparalleled skywatching experience. Users love the bright and clear images and the simple operation.  A child will love using this telescope to view the skies for many years to come.

Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope

Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
Type  Reflector
Analog/Digital  Analog
Aperture  127mm
Focal Length  1000mm
Maximum Magnification  250x (750x with Barlow lens)
Weight  17 pounds
Price Range  Medium

Usability

The Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker provides bright, clear, and sharp images, thanks to all glass optical elements which have highly reflective aluminum coatings. The large aperture allows for detailed viewing even at lower magnifications. The PowerSeeker ships with two different lenses, as well as a Barlow lens that can improve magnification up to 750x.

The PowerSeeker is an analog telescope, so tracking and aligning the scope must be done manually. It is maneuvered in a fluid and gentle motion, thanks to the Equatorial mount which rotates on two axes.

Extra Functionality

The Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker ships with a student version of “The Sky” planetarium software, including printable sky maps and a database of 10,000 objects.

Portability & Assembly

The Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker is quite lightweight. It mounts easily on a lightweight aluminum tripod. Because it is an analog telescope, you don’t need to worry about powering it when you take it outdoors.

Affordability

The PowerSeeker is a quite affordable model from Celestron, a world-class manufacturer of high end telescopes. It is clearly priced to be accessible to beginning astronomers.

Summary

The Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker will give the beginning astronomer hands-on experience in reading star charts, calculating angles, and tracking across the night sky. The package provides all the tools to start a starwatcher out on their journey of discovery. It is an economical product with premium engineering and components.

Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope

Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope
Type  Refractor
Analog/Digital  Analog
Aperture  70mm
Focal Length  700mm
Weight  13 pounds
Price Range  Low

Usability

The aperture on the Infinity 70mm is a bit small, but still produces high-intensity images. The Infinity 70mm is also good for viewing earthly objects. It comes with two eyepieces and also a Barlow lens. As a refractor telescope, it has a closed-tube design which requires very little maintenance.

The Infinity 70mm is an analog telescope which rotates on an AltAzimuth mount. It moves through two axes, and the slow motion control rod enables smooth and fluid tracking across the sky. The red dot viewfinder provides assistance in locating the object you are looking for.

Extra Functionality

The Infinity 70mm ships with Autostar Suite Astronomy planetarium software with over 10,000 celestial objects.  It is Windows-compatible.

Portability & Assembly

The Infinity 70mm is very lightweight and easy to transport. One drawback is that it doesn’t ship with a tripod, so you will have to purchase one separately.

Affordability

The Infinity 70mm is a very economical telescope that delivers good value without breaking your budget.

Summary

The Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope is a classic design from Meade Instruments. It delivers everything a beginning stargazer would want in user-friendly operation and excellent performance. The images will awe and delight first-time observers in both day and night conditions.

Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope

Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope (Black)
Type  Reflector
Analog/Digital  Analog
Aperture  130mm
Focal Length  650mm
Maximum Magnification  65x
Weight  27 pounds
Price Range  High

Usability

The Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST is a Newtonian reflector telescope. The aperture is a nice size for viewing detailed, high-quality images of celestial objects. The SpaceProbe 130ST incorporates innovative design and top-shelf components. In this way it is able to provide better quality images in a wider field of view. The SpaceProbe 130ST comes with two eyepieces and a finder scope to aid in alignment.

The SpaceProbe 130ST includes an Equatorial mount equipped with dual setting circles and slow-motion hand controls. Manually track across the night sky with precision focus and fluid motion.

Extra Functionality

The Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST includes Starry Night Special Edition software. It is compatible with Windows or Macintosh OS. A very nice function of the Starry Night software is that it will actually alert the user to upcoming celestial events. This appears to be a surprisingly rare function.

Portability & Assembly

The SpaceProbe 130ST is a short tube model, so it is more compact and easy to carry. It comes with a lightweight aluminum tripod. However, some users felt that assembly and setup of the telescope was a bit cumbersome.

Affordability

The Orion brand is synonymous with crystal clear images and best-in-class components. The SpaceProbe 130ST is priced lower for beginning users, but it is still at a fairly high price point.

Summary

The Orion SpaceProbe 130ST delivers amazing functionality and value, holding its own against telescopes that cost twice as much. Orion clearly put a lot of focus into delivering strong performance within the cost and size limitations. The exceptional image quality and usability make this an ideal telescope for the beginning astronomer.

Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope

Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
Type  Reflector
Analog/Digital  Digital
Aperture  130mm
Focal Length  750mm
Maximum Magnification  75x
Weight  24 pounds
Price Range  High

Usability

The Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope combines the precision of computerized location with the control of manual positioning, with its exclusive “push to” feature. The StarBlast 6i rotates on its base to navigate around the entire night sky. The IntelliScope computerized object location system has a library of 14,000 objects to locate. A display provides directional arrows, and a red dot sight guides you quickly to the identified celestial object. The Tour feature will guide you to the most dramatic and interesting object visible during the current month.

Extra Functionality

The Orion StarBlast 6i comes with Starry Night Special Edition software. It is compatible with Windows or Macintosh OS.

Portability & Assembly

The Orion StarBlast 6i is fairly lightweight. However it does not come with a tripod as it is designed to be a tabletop model to be placed on a flat surface.

Affordability

Orion is one of the best-regarded names in telescopes, and the StarBlast 6i is a premium model with exceptional performance and handling. It represents a fairly significant investment, although it is still cheaper than many higher-end telescopes.

Summary

The Orion StarBlast 6i is well worth its higher cost. It delivers unparalleled quality and durability, and its components and engineering are in a league of their own. The unique “push to” operation allows beginning users the excitement of locating objects, with expert computer guidance pointing them to the night sky’s highlights.

Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope

Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope
Type  Refractor
Analog/Digital  Analog
Aperture  70mm
Focal Length  40mm
Maximum Magnification  40x
Weight  3 pounds
Price Range  Low

Usability

The Celestron 70mm Travel Scope has a fairly small aperture, so it isn’t powerful enough for much deep space viewing. However it has ample light and definition for viewing closer objects. All coated glass optical elements deliver clear, crisp images. Since it is an analog telescope, you can align and track manually by maneuvering the scope on the attached AltAzimuth mount.  The Celestron 70mm Travel Scope comes with 10mm and 20mm eyepieces.

Extra Functionality

The Celestron 70mm Travel Scope comes with astronomy software called “The SkyX – First Light Edition”. It contains a database of 10,000 objects and printable star charts.

Portability & Assembly

Obviously the main selling point of the Celestron 70mm Travel Scope is its portability. It is feather-light, and comes with a pre-assembled tripod and a padded backpack carrying case. Take it to your favorite wilderness viewing spot, or tote it on camping trips.

Affordability

The Celestron 70mm Travel Scope is a very affordable telescope for beginning users.

Summary

The Celestron 70mm Travel Scope is a good entry point into stargazing. Or because of its low cost you could even buy it as a second telescope to have to take on trips. You will be pleased with the performance and durability of this compact telescope.

Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club Moonscope & Sky Gazers Activity Journal

Educational Insights Nancy B's Science Club Moonscope & Sky Gazers Activity Journal
Type  Refractor
Analog/Digital  Analog
Maximum Magnification  90x
Weight  2 pounds
Price Range  Low

Usability

The Science Club Moonscope may look like a toy, but it is a fully functional refractor telescope suitable for viewing the moon, planets, and stars, or even magnifying earthly objects. The Moonscope has two magnification settings (18x and 90x). It comes with two all-glass eyepieces as well as a moon filter and a finder scope. It is designed for children ages 8 and up, with a friendly and approachable style that won’t be intimidating.

The Moonscope comes with a journal, activity guide, and suggested resources for introducing the novice astronomer to the adventure of stargazing.

Portability & Assembly

The Moonscope is certainly feather-light and ready to be transported anywhere. Easy one-step assembly locks the telescope to the tripod without the need for any tools.

Affordability

The Moonscope is available at a very budget-friendly price point. Of course it doesn’t have many high-performance features like some of the more advanced telescopes.

Summary

The Science Club Moonscope was designed by Educational Insights specifically for children to promote STEM learning and exploration. It’s a good beginner toy telescope before children are ready to move on to something more robust. Children will be delighted to explore the solar system using the handy guides included. The Moonscope has won several awards from Parents’ Choice, Parents Magazine, and the National Parenting Center.

TwinStar AstroMark 50mm Refractor Telescope Kids Pak

TwinStar AstroMark 50mm Refractor Telescope Kids Pak Bundle
Type  Refractor
Analog/Digital  Analog
Aperture  50mm
Focal Length  600mm
Weight  5 pounds
Price Range  Low

Usability

The TwinStar AstroMark Refractor Telescope can be used to view the moon, planets, stars, and even earthly objects. An achromatic objective lens delivers crisp and clear images. Adjust the angle vertically or horizontally on the AltAzimuth mount. The operation is so simple, just point and shoot. You’ll be stargazing within 5 minutes of unpacking the unit.

Extra Functionality

The TwinStar AstroMark 50mm comes in this great Kids Pak bundle, which includes Redshift 8 software for learning about the basics of astronomy. Kids will also get a map of the moon and 12 glow-in-the-dark star stickers to put up in their bedroom.

Portability & Assembly

The TwinStar AstroMark 50mm sets up very easily on the included tripod. The tripod is adjustable so it can be used by children of different sizes, and even adults.

Affordability

The TwinStar AstroMark 50mm is an economical and practical childrens telescope for your beginning stargazer.

Summary

The TwinStar AstroMark 50mm is ideal for children who want to learn about exploring the stars. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the other models, but it is designed to make exploration and learning a fun and engaging process. Start your child on a lifelong path by stoking their interest with this sensible and functional telescope.

Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Refractor Telescope

Black Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Refractor Telescope
Type  Refractor
Analog/Digital  Analog
Aperture  60mm
Maximum Magnification  50x
Weight  4.6 pounds
Price Range  Low

Usability

The Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Telescope comes in different colors to appeal to different tastes. It comes with two eyepieces, 15x and 50x magnification. The telescope also includes a side viewfinder, which makes it easier to locate objects before observing them through the eyepiece. Rotate it in two axes on the AltAzimuth mount to point it at any interesting object in the night sky.

Portability & Assembly

The Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Telescope is very light and so easy. Carry it out of the house to a favorite viewing spot, or stow it in the car to go on a trip. It comes with an adjustable tripod, so the telescope will be at just the right height for your child.

Affordability

The Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Telescope is a good starter telescope at an entry-level price.

Summary

Designed with kids in mind, the Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Telescope is sure to please and engage your budding astronomer. You will be delighted to see them go on their own adventure of discovery, exploring the vast solar system. What’s more, it’s easy on your wallet.

Best Telescopes for Kids: Buying Guide

Astronomy is a great way for your budding scientist to learn about nature and explore the outside world. It encourages learning in the all-important STEM education, which is a crucial foundation for children’s future learning and success. Young astronomers will enjoy the excitement of seeing lunar features on the Moon up close, looking for icecaps on Mars, or discovering Saturn’s rings. Astronomy can be a fun and educational hobby for folks at just about any age.

Children’s telescopes come in many varieties, from the most basic beginning scopes to several that are more sophisticated and powerful. Let’s review some of the basic kinds of telescopes, before moving on to examine what features you might prefer to have.

Types of Telescopes

There are three different kinds of telescopes, based on their means of magnification.

  • Refractor telescopes are easy, intuitive, and user-friendly. They are typically quite durable, needing little maintenance. However they are generally bulky and hard to manage. Refractors produce upright images.
  • Reflector telescopes are typically streamlined with a lower weight, and reliably generate a very bright image quality. However they willl require more upkeep than a refractor telescope, because the open tube can collect dust. You also need to collimate or align the mirrors occasionally. Reflectors produce reversed images.
  • Compound telescopes use both mirrors and a lens for magnification. They are often less affordable, and are bulky for carrying around. But they need less maintenance because a sealed tube protects the optics, and you will find the image quality very good. You can use this kind of telescope to see earth-bound objects. This kind of telescope may also be called Maksutov-Cassegrain or Catadioptric.

Analog Versus Digital

Analog telescopes tend to be more affordable and will have lots of good qualities. However the stargazer will have to adjust the telescope manually to locate objects of interest. This may be more difficult for children, especially if they are beginners in the field.

Digital telescopes are computer controlled. They typically feature a large database of celestial objects and the best times for observation. Many of them will automatically point in the direction to view interesting objects. The computer tracking greatly helps in finding celestial highlights.

Metrics

When considering telescope features, you will particularly note the following terms: aperture, focal length, and magnification. The aperture is the diameter of the telescope’s mirror or lens. The magnification is determined by the focal length and the eyepiece. So to get the best viewing experience, each of these three metrics should be as large as  your budget allows.

Factors to Consider

  • Quality: It is possible a beginning astronomer will not notice the difference between fuzzy images and images with more clarity. But if the image is too poor, a child may be discouraged and may not want to continue using the telescope – which is your hard-earned money down the drain.
  • Experience: Consider your child’s level of experience. If they are old enough, go ahead and ask their opinion on what features are important to them. If they are true beginners, you want a scope that is easy to operate and rewards their efforts along the learning curve.
  • Size: Children might be using the telescope from their bedroom, in which case size doesn’t matter as much. But most intermediate astronomers know the best place for viewing is outdoors if possible, away from city lights. If you expect your child to be traveling with the telescope, you’ll want to find one that is more lightweight and slim.
  • Cost: Obviously you will need a telescope that will fit your budget, but by now it should be clear that cost should not be your only consideration.

Operation: Getting the Most out of your new telescope

It is no good investing in a telescope if you don’t use it well. Check the manufacturer recommendations, and look for online tutorials.

  • Light Pollution
    Light pollution definitely hinders your viewing experience. It is best if you can find a wide open area away from downtowns, urban centers, and other large light sources. The week of a new moon is best for viewing stars and planets. A full moon is not ideal if you want to see the lunar features, because the moon is too bright. View the moon during its waxing or waning phase.
  • Vibration
    Even tiny vibrations will cause your telescope image to shake and blur. For optimal performance, set the telescope on a solid surface and weigh it down if you can. Keep your hands off the telescope when you are viewing. You may want to consider investing in anti-vibration pads and a good telescope mount like an Altazimuth mount.
  • Protection
    To protect your eyes, always use a filter when observing the moon. Never look at the sun through your telescope.
  • Mobile Apps
    There are many astronomy apps available to add to your astronomical knowledge base. No matter what kind of mobile device you have, there is probably an excellent app for your skill level. Reviewers recommend Star Walk 2, ISS Spotter, and NASA mobile apps.