A well-chosen telescope can provide a lifetime of discovery, but a poorly chosen one gathers dust in the closet. There’s no best telescope it all depends on your interests, observing location, need for portability, and budget. Planetarium astronomer Scott Young has selected four telescope packages which span every age range and level of interest, from the new stargazer to the experienced amateur.
For basic information on what telescopes do and how to choose the right one, check out our Telescope Primer. In short - the bigger the main optics are, the better the views.
- Intro: For younger astronomers or for an inexpensive and portable starter scope, check out the 80mm GoScope tabletop refractor. Will show you craters on the moon, the rings of Saturn, and the brighter star clusters, galaxies and nebulae.
- Standard: A step up from the "Intro" model, the StarBlast 4.5 tabletop Dobsonian reflector provides brighter, more detailed views of planets as well as the "deep sky" objects such as clusters and galaxies.
- Medium: For serious beginners, the StarBlast 6" Dobsonian reflector is a powerful yet portable telescope. This is our recommended starting point for an adult observer.
- Large: The SKyQuest XT8 Dobsonian reflector is a powerful telescope capable of showing thousands of objects. Its 8" aperture mirror gathers 54% more light than the StarBlast 6, providing brighter and more detailed images.