I was given the task recently to try and find a good telescope for the family. It needed to be suitable for my kids, but also good enough quality that me and my wife could use it easily too. She also stated that we were on a budget – a very strict budget – of around 200 dollars.
I’m always up for a challenge, so I told her not to worry – I’ll find the best telescope under 200 bucks and you’ll get some change back, too! I’m not a novice in astronomy and I know that some of the equipment can cost thousands of dollars, but I know that technology has advanced a lot in recent years and you definitely don’t need to spend that if you’re a beginner.
So, let’s have a look at some of the best options for telescopes if you’re trying to spend less than $200 or so dollars.
Best Telescope under 200
Meade Polaris 127
- Aperture: 127mm(5.0"). Focal Length: 1000mm. Focal Ratio: f/7.9. Rack-and-Pinion Focuser, Setting Circles, Latitude Control w/ Scale
- Large, stable German Equatorial mount with slow motion controls makes tracking celestial objects smooth and simple
- Low (26mm), medium (9mm), and high (6.3mm) magnification eyepieces give you variety for any viewing situation & 2x barlow lens doubles the magnifying power of each eyepiece
- Red dot viewfinder helps you point your scope at objects you want to observe & accessory tray stores accessories while observing
- Includes Astronomical Software and Instructional DVD
The Meade Polaris was the first telescope that I look at when I was thinking about purchasing a telescope. Aside from Celestron, Meade are probably the most popular brand on the market when it comes to astronomical stuff. And there’s a good reason – their products come at a good price when you consider their quality.
You can find the Meade Polaris in a variety of different apertures, so it really does depend on how important this is to you. For me, I wanted to get an aperture of at least 5 inches, which makes the Polaris 127 or 130 pretty acceptable (127 and 130 refers to mm aperture, which is approximately 5 inches).
Another good thing about the Meade Polaris is that it comes with 3 different eye pieces, which give you a better range when you’re looking for different things in the night sky. The eye pieces/lenses help to give a more magnified view of the sky, which might not be important when you’re first practicing, but it will prove valuable further down the line.
All in all, it’s clear to see that the Polaris line of telescopes are a good option for the majority of people. Whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, this is a good choice of telescope.
Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ
- 3x Barlow Lens
- German Equatorial Mount. Optical tube length is 20 inches
- 127mm Aperture
- 1000mm Focal Length. Fully coated glass optical components with high transmission coatings for enhanced image brightness and clarity
- Comes with aluminum tripod and accessory tray.Focal Length of Eyepiece 1 (mm) 20 mm (0.79 in).Focal Length of Eyepiece 2 (mm) 4 mm (0.16 in)
The PowerSeeker range are Celestron’s beginners range – though that doesn’t mean to say that they’re not effective.
You know what you’re getting with a Celeston – the most trusted brand in astronomy, it can be difficult to find their products without a hefty price tag attached to them . Fortunately with the PowerSeeker, we can all enjoy their products too.
Like the Meade Polaris, this telescope has an aperture of 127mm (or 5 inches if you’re old school). For me, this is probably the minimum amount you’ll want in a telescope if you’re going to start trying to take your astronomy a bit more seriously.
Another thing that you’ll want to take into account about the PowerSeeker is that it has a focal length of 1000mm. This is an important factor to consider, as the focal length effects how your telescope works.
Overall, the Celeston PowerSeeker is another good option for anyone who wants to get themselves a good quality telescope that’s available at a really great price.
- Aperture: 80mm. focal length: 400mm. focal ratio: f/5. rack-and-pinion focuser. comes with Low (25mm) , medium (10mm) and high (5mm) magnification eyepieces & 3x Barlow lens.
- Fully Multi-coated optics glass lens ,1.27in preassembled adjustable full size stainless steel tripod& accessory tray, 1-years limited warranty on parts and labor.
- Large aperture-80mm, all front and back lens are coated with multilayer film, which render excellent transmittance and clear image.
- Excellent CF4 optical glass with low dispersion is adopted, which can eliminate chromatic aberration of red, green and blue.
- The Gskyer 80 series telescope ushers in a superb path to explore the universe for those aspired to become astronomers. It is a collection of combination of quality, property, price and appearance advantages, which is exclusively designed for beginners
If you’re on a tighter budget than $200 and you want to get something for the kids, then it could be worth looking at this Gskyer telescope.
Although this is only a 70mm aperture telescope, you’ll still get a good view of the sky if you ensure that you’re in a clear area. It might not be suitable if you’re trying to see things very far in the distance, but you should be able to get a good view of stuff if you ensure that the sky is clear. It has a relatively short focal length of 400mm, but this should still be fine if you’re just starting out.
I’ve included the Gskyer as it’s available at a very cheap price – you won’t typically find a telescope that’s available at such a cheap price. Whilst it isn’t the most prestigious brand around, it’s definitely worth considering if you want a good quality telescope that will get the job done.
Celestron 21061 AstroMaster
- Quick and easy no-tool setup
- Permanently mounted StarPointer
- Erect image optics - Ideal for terrestrial and astronomical use
- Quick release dovetail attachment - no tool setup
- Optical Tube Length 36 inches (914 mm).Resolution (Rayleigh):1.99 arc seconds
If you want a nice cheap option, then you could look at the 21061 Celestron Astromaster. It’s a good option if you want a new telescope that does exactly what it says it does – it’s an ideal starter scope. One of the good things about this telescope is that you don’t need to play around taking ages to set it up – with the easy instructions, you should be able to use it within 5-10 minutes.
The specs of the Astromaster aren’t particularly impressive, and although I’ve droned on about aperture being the most important thing, you don’t necessarily need a big aperture if you’re a beginner. It’s far more important to have a telescope that you can understand, which is why you should like consider going for the AstroMaster.
Another thing that may attract you to this telescope is that you don’t need to worry about carrying around a 30lb scope with you everywhere – this one only ways around 11bs (or 5kg). If you want something easily portable, then the Astromaster could be a good choice for you.
Orion 10015 StarBlast
- A great compact grab-and-go telescope designed for entry-level and intermediate astronomy enthusiasts
- Substantial 4.5 inch aperture and fast f/4 focal ratio provides bright, detailed views of solar system targets like the Moon and planets, as well as wide-field celestial objects like nebulas and star clusters
- Ships pre-assembled so you can go from the box to your backyard in minutes. Glass material : Low thermal expansion borosilicate glass
- Stable tabletop base provides smooth altazimuth motion for easy manual tracking of celestial objects
- Includes two Explorer II 1.25 inch Kellner telescope eyepieces (17mm and 6mm), EZ Finder II reflex sight for easy aiming, eyepiece rack, collimation cap, Starry Night astronomy software, and more!
Overall, these are some of the better options on the market if you’re on a budget when you’re buying your telescope. Just because you don’t have a super expensive telescope, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy looking into the night sky and seeing the planets.
If you do want to see further into space, then you might need to get a better telescope. These telescopes have a great aperture, which means that they can see clearer when you’re looking at further distances. They also have a greater focal range too, which improves image quality when you’re looking through your magnified lens. But, if you’re a beginner then you can stick to one of these telescopes that will easily fulfil your needs.
Overall, these are some of the best telescopes that you’re going to find for less than $200. You definitely don’t need to go and blow $1000 or even $500 on a telescope to get something of a decent quality, but you will definitely notice the difference when you start to up the price structure. For me, the sweet spot seems to be somewhere between $100-200 to get a telescope that works well, but isn’t too cheap to not have enough quality to work well.
One thing that you do need to consider is that it doesn’t matter how good your telescope is, if you don’t have the best night conditions then you’re really going to struggle seeing pretty much anything. So even if you do spend a bit of cash on a new telescope, you do need to be sure you’re getting good conditions so you can view the sky easily and clearly.
Last update on 2018-11-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API