How We Decided
We tested the most popular models which were purchased by our own funds.
Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Educational Benefits
- 3 Review: Top 10 Telescopes for Kids in 2018
- 4 Orion FunScope Astro Dazzle 4.5 Inch Reflector Telescope
- 5 Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
- 6 Celestron 31045 AstroMaster 130 EQ Reflector Telescope
- 7 Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
- 8 Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope
- 9 Meade Day or Night Telescope – EclipseView 82mm Reflecting with Removable Filter
- 10 Celestron COSMOS FirstScope Telescope
- 11 Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope
- 12 FunScope 76mm TableTop Reflector Telescope Moon Kit
- 13 Buyer’s Guide – The Five Types of Telescope
- 14 Catadioptrics Telescopes
- 15 Radio Telescopes
- 16 X-ray Telescopes
- 17 Refractor
- 18 Newtonian Reflector
- 19 How to Choose the Best Telescope for Kids
- 20 Tips on How to Setup and Use a Telescope
- 21 Using a Telescope
- 22 How to Find Objects in the Night Sky
- 23 Winner: Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope
Imagine what it would be like if you could make your child’s dreams of diving into the world of astronomy a reality – you just need a best telescope for kids. Perhaps you’ve put it off because you’ve cringed at the thought of spending hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars on “just another toy”. Telescopes are far from being just another toy that your child will grow sick of. We’re talking real telescopes, just like you would see in the classroom, which are similar to what you could find in the home of a practiced astronomer.
Purchasing a telescope for your child could provide them with a portal into another world, encourage their zeal for learning, and provide the whole family with countless memories that you’ll treasure forever. As if all of that weren’t enough of a reason to stop putting this off, it turns out that the cost of these gadgets likely isn’t anywhere near what you were expecting. All of the telescopes in our review are well below $500, with several of them costing less than $200, and one bargain-priced option that will really blow your mind!
Has your kid been begging for a telescope and backed their argument up with the claim that it will give them something fun to do that doesn’t involve sitting in front of the television or being glued to their phone? As it turns out, their argument may have some legitimacy to it. Surely it hasn’t escaped your attention that many children have a short attention span.
Rather than sitting a child down in front of a science textbook or playing another “boring” space exploration documentary for them, give them a telescope so that they can explore what lies beyond our world for themselves. Providing a child with a telescope is an excellent way to cultivate an interest in, and respect for, science. You could even think of it as a clever way to go about getting the wheels of their mind turning. Giving a child access to a telescope can be a very positive way to create in them a genuine interest in education.
Giving your kid educational “toys” can create a type of domino effect when it comes to creating a yearning for knowledge. Granted, this hobby could get a bit on the expensive side. But wouldn’t you rather your child be interested in metal detectors, microscopes, binoculars and even bottle rockets instead of being glued in front of a computer screen or playing video games for hours on end? Who knows? Maybe your kid could even grow up to be the next Galileo if you are intentional to create a yearning for learning in them at an early age.
Let’s face the facts. The truth is that many children’s test scores are dropping in areas related to science because the interest just isn’t there. If you take it upon yourself, as a parent, to take science outside of the classroom, then it can greatly help your kid in the classroom. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear praises from their teacher saying that your child is coming in and teaching other kids about the wonders of astronomy, in addition to seeing their grades improve? On top of all of that, taking the time to explore space with your child will give both of you a lifetime of fun memories to look back on.
Review: Top 10 Telescopes for Kids in 2018
Do you know what the great thing is about making fun purchases like this for your little one? Only you know them well enough to help them decide which telescope will suit them best. We can, and we will, give you our top recommendation. But ultimately, the decision boils down to whatever you and your family decide will provide the best experience for your child. Some kids love tinkering around with things and figuring what makes them work. A telescope that requires collimation may not be a threat to them, while it would be overwhelming for others. Other kids have a hard time sitting still and may quickly lose interest in a tabletop telescope, while others love the idea of kicking back and relaxing as they explore space as if it’s their very own real time movie. No matter what you decide is the better option, this in depth review will give you all the ins and outs of the top beginner telescopes that are on the market!
Orion FunScope Astro Dazzle 4.5 Inch Reflector Telescope
Who says that telescopes have to have a no-frills black and white appearance? Many telescopes look like they would be better suited for a science lab than your child’s favorite lookout spot. The Orion FunScope doesn’t quite fit into that box! This beautifully designed telescope features the wondrous mysteries of space that the world has come to ponder. This includes stars, planets and colorful galaxies that lie atop a black backdrop.
This swivel tabletop mount allows you to move the telescope about freely and easily. That paired with the 4.5-inch aperture provides wide-field optics. As if all that weren’t enough to help you to see what an excellent contender it is, then consider how easy it would be for your kid to move this lightweight scope to your favorite spot out in the backyard. In addition, this telescope comes pre-assembled which will save you up to two hours in the setup process!
Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
Do you imagine your child preferring a manual Newtonian telescope to a fancier model with too many bells and whistles? This Celestron telescope will take your kid back to the original days of star gazing. While they may be able to see a crisper image with this telescope, you will likely need to invest several hours of your time to collimate the scope. The good news is that this trusty telescope comes with a tripod that can easily be moved from indoors to outdoors. After all, who doesn’t want to connect with nature while they’re exploring the night sky?
With the ability to magnify objects by 300x and to work with the Celestron motor drive, your little one will be able to capture crisp and clear images with ease! “The Sky” software can help them locate planets and galaxies and provides them with 10,000 different reasons to continue their journey into astronomy. To top it all off, Celestron covers this product with a two-year warranty.
Celestron 31045 AstroMaster 130 EQ Reflector Telescope
As far as Newtonian telescopes go, this is one of the best. As is the case with most telescopes, there is a slight learning curve. However, Celestron 31045 AstroMaster 130 EQ is far easier to master than similar types. It’s a bonus that the tri-pod comes pre-assembled, which can save you tons of time when setting it up. If you shy away from tinkering around with tools, the “no tool required” setup of this product will have you breathing easy again.
The erect image optics that can be enjoyed with this telescope makes it an ideal option for both terrestrial and astronomical use! This Newtonian reflector will give your child the sense that they are well on their way to being a true astronomer, providing them with the opportunity to master collimation and focusing and refocusing on objects in the night sky. While others may see this as a disadvantage to a beginner scope, the truth is that this will prepare to move onto more advanced models for those skilled operating a telescope!
Before the first use of this product, please read this USER MANUAL very carefully. This user manual has been designed to instruct you as to the proper manner in which to assemble, maintain, store, and most importantly, how to operate this model in a safe and efficient manner.
Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
This Orion telescope has nothing but good things to offer! Whether you are looking for a lightweight telescope that is easy to transport or one that has great optics and is easy to use, the Orion StarBlast II is a tough competitor that should be considered before making a purchase. Just because this telescope is petite doesn’t mean that your child won’t be able to see larger than life objects through the lens. On the contrary, even distant objects like galaxies will be clear when pairing the right magnifying lens with this scope!
The low magnification eyepiece that is included with the purchase will make it easier than you imagined for your child to locate objects in that wide open sky. It seems that the only real downside of this scope is the amount of time it can take to assemble. In the grand scheme of things, that one time process makes this disadvantage an easy one to overlook. Are you considering purchasing a telescope for a child who is under the age of nine? Then don’t overlook the huge benefit that comes with not having to constantly collimate this scope for them.
Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope
Amongst the telescopes that are of the tabletop variety, this Orion model is top of the line. It is certainly one of the best telescopes that you can get without spending thousands of dollars, and when you are purchasing a telescope for a beginner it really isn’t necessary to throw $3,000 into it. The fact that this is a tabletop telescope makes it easy for children to lie down out in the front yard, or at the family’s favorite camping spot, as they gaze at the stars.
In fact, tabletop telescopes are arguably the easiest variety for a beginner of astronomy to master! In addition to that, this scope provides one of the largest fields of view of any tabletop telescope with its 6 inch aperture. Not only does this aperture provide a wider field of view, but it also allows fine details of the moon and planets to be noticed. If all of that isn’t enough to convince you that this is the perfect scope to add to your home, then consider all of the many features that come standard with this Orion telescope in comparison to other models!
Before the first use of this product, please read this USER MANUAL very carefully. This user manual has been designed to instruct you as to the proper manner in which to assemble, maintain, store, and most importantly, how to operate this model in a safe and efficient manner.
Meade Day or Night Telescope – EclipseView 82mm Reflecting with Removable Filter
This tabletop telescope is perfect for youngsters, beginners and those who need something that is easily portable. It is the first option in our list that features a removable filter which allows them to use this telescope in daylight and evening hours! It is very lightweight and compact, in addition to being very simple to assemble and use. It’s arguably the best bang for your buck out of all of the telescopes that are featured in this list.
The 360-degree swivel mount allows your child to point and aim towards a vast number of objects within our solar system! This sturdy, yet lightweight telescope is one that you can trust your kid to use unsupervised without fear of them destroying it. A huge advantage to adding this telescope to your collection is that the small size of it allows you to easily stow it in a carry-on bag and take it virtually anywhere in the world when it’s time for amazing sky explorations like eclipses!
Celestron COSMOS FirstScope Telescope
Do you want a memorable first telescope for your little one that is just as visually appealing as the images they will be gazing upon? One of the main selling points of the Celestron FirstScope is that it is wrapped in a stunning cosmic image. This telescope is wonderful for beginners, as it is very easy to move and transport. If fact, how easy this scope is to transport is one of the primary things that customers rave over!
Unfortunately, this particular telescope does not come with a Barlow lens, so if your child desires a closer look at the galaxies, you will need to purchase a Barlow lens separately. Those who are skilled in using telescopes recommend investing in Sirius Plossl eyepieces or the Celestron zoom, instead of a Barlow lens, to produce crisper and brighter images over closer and blurred images. Several customers claim that this option is perfect for those interested in viewing planets such as Saturn or Mars, as well as the craters that speckle our moon!
Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope
If your child has an extreme fascination with the universe and is serious about exploring space, then this telescope may very well be the perfect option for them. The ease of use and collimation cap makes this telescope stand out from competing products. With this telescope they will be able to track objects across the night sky without worrying about anything moving out of focus. While the weight of it makes it a bit difficult to move and set-up alone, the sturdiness of it ensures an amazing viewing experience of the planets and stars within our solar system!
The number of objects that your little one will be able to view with this telescope is nothing short of astounding! Several customers have mentioned that they have been able to view wondrous objects such as Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, Orion nebula, Andromeda galaxy and the moon’s craters. What’s even better is that they have shared stunning images that they were able to capture with this top of the line scope! For those children who have the time, patience and interest in tracking objects as they move across the night sky, this telescope may very well provide the greatest viewing experience.
FunScope 76mm TableTop Reflector Telescope Moon Kit
Being so wide, this Orion FunScope tabletop telescope collects 60 percent more light than typical beginner scope. The best part are the accessories: two eyepieces of 20 and 10 mm. They will give all the magnification needed to see our planet’s natural satellite, making it a legitimate moon telescope. Speaking of which, the scope comes with a detailed moon map with all the moon’s craters, valleys and mountain ranges. In addition, it shows all landing sites used by both US and Soviet astronomers in their lunar exploration missions.
Being rather light weighted, the Orion FunScope is more than portable, making it easy to be taken in camps or field trips. It’s simple to use anywhere. However, as it doesn’t have a tripod, you may want to set it on a table or a rather flat surface. The name says it all: it’s a tabletop telescope. That means that the Orion FunScope was originally designed to be used on a table, rather than unstable conditions.
Buyer’s Guide – The Five Types of Telescope
Would you ever have imagined that the world of telescopes was so vast before you first started searching the market? There are, in fact, five different types of telescopes that can be used to delve into astronomy. These include refractors, Newtonian reflectors, catadioptrics, radio and x-ray and gamma-ray telescopes. Since the primary telescopes that should be considered for children and beginners are refractors and Newtonian reflectors, we will only briefly cover the other three types.
Catadioptrics provide excellent focus and magnification by folding and directing the light path through a combination of mirrors and lenses. While they have fantastic optics and are excellent for astrophotography and deep sky observing, they are often more expensive than Newtonian reflectors and do not have as wide a field of view as reflector or refractor telescopes.
As you have likely already guessed, radio telescopes create an image by harnessing the radio waves from celestial bodies. These telescopes look a bit different than the other types, as they catch the radio waves through their large dish antennas.
While radio telescopes use radio waves, x-ray telescopes use x-rays and gamma-ray telescopes use gamma-rays to create those stunning images you’re looking for. If your primary goal were to study stars, supernovas or the sun, then an x-ray telescope would be the best option. Alternatively, gamma-ray telescopes are ideal for witnessing events in space that produce gamma-rays such as pulsars, supernovas and black holes.
If you are searching for a telescope that will be easy for your kid to use on their own, then you may consider the popular option of a refracting telescope. These telescopes get their name from their ability to refract, or bend, the light that it collects in its lenses. These reliable telescopes are perfect for those interested in terrestrial, planetary, binary star and lunar viewing. If you choose this type of telescope your little one will be enjoying high contrast images in no time, thanks to their clear apertures. If you choose a refracting telescope, be prepared to spend a little more money for a product that is bulkier and heavier than its Newtonian counterpart. It’s also important to note that these telescopes will limit the ability to view distant galaxies and nebulae.
Newtonian reflectors are also known as catoptrics and collect, reflect and focus light through the use of a spherical parabolic mirror and a flat mirror. Reflector telescopes are typically more lightweight and less costly than other telescopes on the market. They deliver bright images of those objects found in deep space. So if your child is interested in exploring star clusters, galaxies or nebulae, then this may be the best option for your family. Newtonian telescopes are also good for those who have an interest in astrophotography, or capturing images of deep sky objects. The major disadvantage of reflector scopes is that they require regular collimation. This alignment process can be very difficult to master and quite time-consuming for beginners.
How to Choose the Best Telescope for Kids
First things first, when shopping for a telescope for your kids you need to forget the idea that a telescope is a toy. That means you don’t want to be browsing a toy shop for a flimsy, plastic telescope unless you’re purchasing one for a child who is under the age of six. Now that that is out of the way, we can move on to the criteria that really matters.
Choosing a reputable brand is always a wise move. If you go with a company who is well known and has left a positive imprint in the minds of their customers, then you will be far less likely to receive a product that is damaged, missing parts, of a low quality or unable to hold up over time. Sadly, many little-known companies provide little to no customer service and it can be nearly impossible to return a damaged item or have missing parts shipped to you.
Whether your child has expressed an interest in exploring the night sky or you simply want to provide them with an educational hobby, you don’t need to break the bank when purchasing a first telescope for a beginner.
There’s a good chance that your child won’t know the difference between a Newtonian telescope and a gamma-ray telescope, or even that so many different types exist. You don’t need to save up for years to provide them with a telescope that has all of the bells and whistles that will come with an unnecessary learning curve. Trust us when we say that, for a beginner, figuring out how to properly collimate a telescope will provide enough of a challenge.
If you decide to purchase a complex telescope that is better suited for experts in astronomy, you will likely face the same issue that you would if you purchased a toy telescope; you run the risk of your child getting easily frustrated and losing interest in exploring space through the eye of a telescope altogether.
It’s also important to look into what additional features are offered with your purchase. Do you have a child who likes to lie out on the back lawn beneath the stars? If so, then a tabletop telescope may be your best bet as this option will allow your child to lie down on the grass as they gaze up at the night sky. Or you could take the route of choosing a telescope that sits atop an Equatorial mount. These telescopes are the better option for tracking objects as they travel through the sky.
Don’t forget that this new purchase can be a new hobby for both you and your child and creates a new area that you can bond over. Unless you are considering this purchase for a teenager, then you will need to be prepared to lend a helping hand in the set-up process and as your child is first figuring out how to learn the telescope. There are countless helpful tutorial videos available on the web that will help you in setting up and operating this new addition to your home as the two of you begin your exploration of space.
Tips on How to Setup and Use a Telescope
Are you more of a “by the book” type of person? If you answered yes to that question, then all you need to do is continue reading out to learn a few of the key tips on setting up and using a telescope.
Setting Up Your Telescope
It’s important to keep in mind that the setup process can vary depending on which telescope you purchase. Some telescopes come pre-assembled, while others come with detailed instructions on assembling the telescope and mount. Aside from assembling your child’s telescope, the first step will be to align and level the telescope mounting. If this step is skipped over, your kid will have a difficult time tracking any moving objects. To do this you will need to use a compass to determine where south is. At that point, you can set up the tripod so that the ‘north’ mark is correctly aligned with the compass.
Be sure to extend the tripod legs to the necessary height before locking them in place. You can then use a bubble gauge (if the mounting does not come with one attached) to level the tripod. Then you will need to raise the RA axis, ensuring that it is aligned with the North Star, which is close in proximity to the Celestial North Pole. You will also want to be sure that the Right Ascension axis is tilted towards Polaris. For this step, you can use Google Maps to determine the latitude of the location that your child will be using their telescope.
At this stage in the setup process, you will want to fit the finder scope to the dovetail location of the focuser unit. To ensure that the telescope is properly aligned with Polaris select the low power eyepiece to put into the focuser unit. This will enable you to more easily focus in on the object as you are releasing and locking the clutches and adjusting screws to make sure that Polaris is centered in your sight. Repeat this process in the telescope before centralizing in the finder once more. Now move the telescope back and confirm that the object is viewable in the finder and the eyepiece.
It’s time to rotate the RA and Declination Indicator until the tube is pointing north. Then lock the RA into place. The bubble gauge will come in handy once more as you lower the tube so that it is level with the ground. Rotate the Declination Indicator barrel so that ‘0’ is set at the arrow mark. Release the Dec clutch, raise the tube to the proper alignment level, and lock the clutch back in place.
Before you release the reigns to your little one, switch out the lower eyepiece for the higher powered one and make sure that Polaris is still in the center of the eyepiece and finder.
This may take some fine tuning on your part, so be patient as you adjust the knobs slightly and ensure that Polaris isn’t moving about too much in the eyepiece.
Using a Telescope
When to Use Low and High Magnification
Low magnification eyepieces allow for a wider field of view, making it easier to find an object in the night sky. This eyepiece will give your child the sharpest and brightest image. Switching out the lower magnification eyepiece for the higher one will provide a closer view of the object. It’s important to remember that as you increase the level of magnification, the level of brightness will grow fainter.
Using the Barlow lens
A Barlow lens can double or triple the magnification of the object that your child is looking at, depending upon whether you have a 2x or 3x Barlow lens. The Barlow lens is best paired with the low magnification eyepiece in beginner telescopes.
Manual Telescopes and Disappearing Objects
If you have purchased a manual telescope, you and your child will often to need to move the telescope about slightly as objects drift out of eyesight. Again, keep in mind that the level of magnification plays a part here. When using a higher magnification eyepiece, it will become more difficult to keep an object in the field of view.
Have Realistic Expectations
When using a telescope your child will not see images like those shown in magazines, online or in movies. The reason for this is that those familiar images are captured by those using large observatory telescopes. Your child will, however, be able to see many of these same planets, stars and galaxies, just at a further distance.
How to Find Objects in the Night Sky
Do you remember when we discussed the importance of choosing the right magnification? If you have a young child that is using the telescope, they may need to be reminded of the difference of low and high power magnification before they get in the swing of things. Even for those who have years of practice using a telescope, it can be nearly impossible to locate an object using a high magnification eyepiece. You always want to use the lower magnification when first trying to find an object in that big, beautiful sky of ours.
Keep in mind that technology is a wonderful thing to have at our fingertips, especially when it comes to exploring something as vast as the universe. Don’t hesitate to encourage your kid to reference the astronomy software that will give them a better idea of where they need to be pointing that telescope. Don’t forget that using a telescope requires a lot of patience. There will be nights when it is easier to locate several planets and stars, and evenings when they will need to spend a lot of their time slowly moving their telescope about to locate what it is that they are searching for.
With such a strong list of beginner telescopes, it was no easy task for us to decide which would get our vote for the best telescope for kids. We had to weigh out all of the varying features, along with the pros and cons, how easy the telescope is to use, and the costliness of the telescope. While the Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope is one of the pricier competitors in this list, we feel that it is well worth the money that you may spend on it.
When purchasing many telescopes you will find that you need to make additional purchases of items that either don’t come with the telescope or are included items that aren’t quite up to par. These additional items can include astronomy software, a Barlow lens, additional eyepieces with a higher magnification, a red dot finder and a collimation kit.
The only one of these items that isn’t included with this purchase is a collimation kit. By now you have learned that even the word “collimation” can be scary, but rest assured knowing that past customers love how easy it is to collimate this telescope in comparison to other models.
Just about any purchase you make in this world comes with its disadvantages, but we felt that the many features of this tabletop telescope and all its advantages far outweighed its disadvantages. So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Amazon and check out what customers had to say about this trusted company. You don’t just have to take our word for it; you can get the scoop from plenty of customers that were more than happy with their very first telescope purchase!
The team that worked on this review