Best Cheap Telescopes 2021 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

This post has affiliate links. At no cost to you, we earn a commision for puchases made through links in this post. Read more

Quick Overview: Our Top 5 Picks for Cheap Telescopes

OUR TOP PICKptsntbl-table__imageCelestron 21045
  • Compact and Portable
  • You can track objects smoothly and seamlessly
  • Works with all smartphone devices
ptsntbl-table__imageExplore Firstlight
  • Best price and quality
  • Affordable telescope
  • Compatible with almost all smartphones
  • Rotatable observe angle
  • Metal Moon Filter
  • Adjustable Tripod
  • Quick and easy to set up and use
  • Comes with a universal smartphone adapter
  • Perfect for family travel
ptsntbl-table__imageOrion Observer 80ST
  • Compact and low-cost
  • Delivers sharp and bright wide-field views
  • Easily track objects in the sky

Are you a stargazer? Are you looking for the best cheap telescope with above average functionality? In this guide, I will be discussing with you what basic factors make a telescope the best while not being too heavy on your pockets. If you are looking to buy the best telescope I would recommend you go through the specifications and features of each brand very carefully. The non-branded telescopes that you see online or in stores usually have very terrible optic vision.

The best budget telescope can give you a majestic view of the clear night sky. And here is the good news for you, you don’t need to spend thousands of bucks on a high-end telescope to obtain a good image. You just need to find the right features in a telescope.

Most of the best, affordable telescopes can create a clear and sound picture of the Saturn ring or moon craters. The good ones must also create sharp images of celestial objects much farther away. Hence, when choosing your best cheap telescope to make sure you analyze three things: cost, optics, and simplicity of the setup.


Factors To Consider Before Buying A Budget Telescope

The best budget telescope is one that has about 3 to 7 inches of the aperture. With the right size of the aperture event inexpensive telescopes can give you an extensive and wide-angle image of the galaxy. The reflector of your telescope also plays a vital role in obtaining extensive sky images. Most of these best value telescopes come in a two-piece setup with a wide field. A good telescope gives you at least about 20x magnification. The focal length is also one of the most significant aspects of a telescope that you must take into consideration before buying one.

1) Aperture: The most significant part

Aperture is the first thing you need to evaluate in your telescope. In simple words, the aperture is the diameter of the converging (light gathering) lens of a telescope. In some cases, it is also a mirror. Aperture is also called the objective. Aperture is generally measured in millimeters or in inches. Generally, well-performing telescopes have an aperture of at least 70mm or more.

The more the length of the aperture, the better you are able to see the details of the objects. However, it also depends on the location from where you’re viewing the objects. For example, from a remote and dark place, an aperture of 80mm can show you very fine details. You might not be able to see the same details with the same aperture in a city. A telescope’s magnification is also derived from its aperture. For example, most of the telescopes’ magnification is about 50 times more than its aperture.

2) The Mount

The mount gives you all the sturdy support your telescope needs in order to obtain balanced images. Most of the telescopes (or at least the ones I am going to suggest) come with a complementary mount or tripod. Some of the smaller telescopes only have blocks as mounts.

Some mounts let the scope rotate left and right and adjust up and down. They are called altitude-azimuth mounts. Some advances mounts these days also track the movement of stars to get you a more balanced image. These mounts are called equatorial mounts

3) The Eyepieces

Remember the power of your telescope’s eyepieces is not the only object to look forward to. A basic telescope has at least one eyepiece. But generally, a good telescope must have at least two. The efficiency of an eyepiece is also measured in millimeters. The smaller the number, the higher the magnification. In all basic eyepieces, at least one eyepiece is 25mm.

However, magnification or power isn’t the only factor that indicates the efficiency of the eyepiece. High power of the eyepiece doesn’t necessarily mean that it will give you a clear image. However, a higher power does give you an edge while observing details. For example, if you are trying to observe a nebula, a higher power helps you see the details better. So high power and lower power eyepieces have their own pros and cons and you must decide which is best suited for you based on your requirements.

With a higher power eyepiece, it gets very difficult to keep the object image stable and in view. Hence, a mount becomes of significant importance in such cases. With a low power eyepiece, finding objects and keeping them stable becomes a lot easier. Also, with low magnification eyepieces, it is easier to locate and view dark objects.

4) Focal Length

Focal length is the power of magnification of the eyepiece. It is the distance from the objective lens or primary mirror, generally called the prime focus and the point where the light rays come together in focus. The focal point is the spot where the light coming in from a distant object converge. Higher the focal length, the more magnification you will have for your view.

5) Refractor or Reflector Telescope

The two basic categories of the best, affordable telescopes are the refractor and reflector telescopes. A refractor telescope has two lenses. The larger one is called objective lens and the smaller one is the ocular lens. As an observer, you are going to want to use the ocular or eyepiece.
A reflector telescope uses a concave mirror to collect rays of light at the end of the telescope. This concave mirror is called the primary mirror. The ‘primary’ allows you to adjust light and it controls the reflecting scope.

6) The Focal Ratio

When you divide your telescope’s aperture size by its focal length, you get the focal ratio of the telescope. The focal length is calculated from the main lens or mirror. A telescope with an aperture size of 3.5 inches and a focal length of 35 inches has a focal ratio of f/10.

It is not necessary that a high focal ratio obtains a high-quality image. However, with constant aperture, high focal length can mean it has a longer scope. This also means that the surface area of the telescope has increased.

7) Resolution

Resolution is the measure of a telescope’s ability to observe small details. Telescopes with more aperture show more details of the object. To calculate the resolution of a telescope theoretically, divide 4.56 by the aperture of the telescope in inches. A lower number means better resolution. This ratio is called the Dawes Limit.

8) Definition

It is the ability of a telescope to differentiate between two contrasting colors with similar brightness to create a clearer image of that object. In planetary observation, it helps the viewer in differentiating between dusts, thermals and atmospheric dirt.

9) Apparent Field of View

It is a fixed property that has a different value for each type of eyepiece. It is measured in degrees. The Plössl eyepieces have an AFOV of about 50 degrees. Similarly, Radians has a 60-degree AFOV. Other eyepieces such as Panoptics and Naglers have 68 degrees and 82 degrees respectively.

10) Exit Pupil

The image that is formed at the eyepiece is called the exit pupil. It is measured from where you place your eye on the eyepiece to view an object. When choosing the best affordable telescope to make sure the exit pupil is not more than 7mm or less than 0.5mm. If you’re buying a refractor telescope, there is the no preferred upper limit.

11) Components Of A Telescope

While details and features play a vital role, the material and components of a telescope also plays a part in determining the results and durability of the telescope. So in this section, I am going to give you a basic idea of some of the telescope components that are significant to consider before buying one.

A cheap but good telescope consists of three main components. The first segment of the telescope collects light from distant objects such as planets, stones, and other space objects. The second segment magnifies the image made from the gathered light from the first part and the third part is what balances the telescope. It can either be a mount or a tripod.

12) Main Optical Tube

The purpose of an optical tube is to gather light coming from the sky or planets. This gathering of light depends on the diameter of the primary surface. In a refractor telescope, light is refracted by lenses and hence gathered while a reflector telescope uses mirrors to gather light. On the other hand, a compound telescope gathers light with a combination of lenses and mirrors.

13) Optics

The optics of a telescope assures that the gathered light converges exactly at the eyepiece. Optics are responsible for how accurately light is being gathered in the eyepiece. Below are some of the most important factors to consider in optics before buying a telescope:

– Coatings
– Smoothness
– Type of glass
– Size of the optics

14) The Mounts

Below are some kinds of mounts available with the telescopes:

1. Equatorial:

An equatorial is used to follow the celestial equator.

2. Alt Azimuth:

Alt stands for altitude which means the mount is adjusted with respect to the height. Azimuth means side to side. This means the mount is adjustable from side to side.

3. Fork

A Fork mount can be used as both equatorial or azimuth

4. Dobsonian

It is a very popular mount for larger telescopes. These mounts can be handled both manually or from a computer.

15) Configuration Of Your Telescope

The configuration of the telescope means the total value for all above-mentioned specifications. Eyepieces are available in different configurations, each having its own pros and cons on for viewing the objects. Some configurations are only suited for planetary objects while some are for dark and more detailed objects. If you are specifically a moon gazer, check specification that is categorically for moon gazing.

16) Focuser

The diameter of the focuser determines the size of the eyepiece you can use on it. It generally has a size of about 1.25 to 2 inches. However, not all focusers of the same size have the same qualities. The material and quality of construction have a significant role in obtaining the image. The gearing also plays an important part in the efficiency of the focuser. The better the focuser, the better you’re able to focus on your objects. Some focusers comes with course and adjustments.

Let’s discuss a few good options available on the online market. These best affordable telescopes offer you everything you need for an amazing stargazing experience:

Top 13 Best Cheap Telescopes 2021

1. Celestron 21045 114mm Equatorial PowerSeeker EQ Telescope

Celestron 21045 114mm Equatorial PowerSeeker EQ TelescopeThis is one of my favorite best and cheap telescopes. The components are made of high-quality material. Celestron has installed a powerseeker 114EQ telescope in it for a wide and more in-depth picture of the sky. The best thing I like about this telescope is its compatibility and portability. This is of the best affordable telescopes for novice astronomers. The optical components of the telescope are all made of glass. The glass has a high transmission coating that keeps it safe from cracking while also maintaining brightness for distant images.

The optical design of the telescope is Newtonian and has a 114mm aperture and a focal length of about 900 mm. It also comes with an equatorial mount for stable image tracking. The telescope has a Barlow lens of about 1.25 inches. The eyepieces of the telescope are about 20 mm and 4 mm.

The accessories include an aluminum tripod and a metallic tray. The best feature of this telescope, not to mention my favourite, is that it comes with a smartphone adapter (with an additional cost). Your smartphone can connect with the telescope and you can save videos or images in your phone through the eyepiece. The adapter works with Android and iOS devices. This adapter is also compatible with other telescopes that has a diameter of 29mm to 45mm and hence, this will be a fruitful investment. The adapter is very easy to use. Just fix your phone to the adapter, adjust the camera of your phone in the center above the eyepiece and lock the knobs.


2. Explore Firstlight Telescope – 114mm White Tube Newtonian 

Explore Firstlight Telescope- 114mm White Tube Newtonian with 500mm Focal Length f4.3 Telescope with EXOS Nano EQ3 German Equatorial Mount - FL-N114500EQ3This amazing and affordable telescope by Explore has a 114mm aperture that gives it an edge over other telescopes in terms of light gathering. It provides in-depth images of planets and other celestial objects. It is excellent if you are particularly looking for a bright object. It has a focal ratio of 4.3. This telescope has one of the shortest exposure times and comes with an equatorial mount to balance the images of celestial objects. There are two flexible shafts to maintain the balance of the components. These shafts weigh about 2.5 lbs each.

Other accessories include a metallic tray to manage eyepieces. The eyepiece of the telescope is 25mm Plössl. It has a red dot viewfinder as well that helps in tracking the location of the planetary objects. This telescope also includes an adapter that is compatible with almost all smartphones to save and store images and videos of your stargazing experience.


3. Aomekie Telescopes

Aomekie TelescopesThis telescope is super affordable and reliable for astronomy beginners. The telescope has a focal length of 700mm and an aperture of 60mm. This telescope has a travel scope refractor that makes it extremely portable.

The 700mm focal length and the aperture are fully made of glass that a has high transmission coating on it. It obtains highly clear and bright images of the planetary objects. In case this is your first time using a telescope, this can be the perfect start.

The aperture gives the telescope a magnification of about 28 to 234x with two eyepieces of 28x and 78x each. The eyepieces are made from the latest generation of Kellner K9mm for 78x and K25mm for 28x. There is also a Barlow lens that increases the magnification to about 3x. Hence, 84x with a barrow lens is increased to 234x.

The accessories also include a mounting bracket and a 128°erect prism placed diagonal to get erect images. It is 360 degree rotatable to get a wider sky image. It also comes with a moon filter that helps you get the best moon pictures with or without craters. There’s also an adjustable telescope and a phone adapter. The adapter has an eyepiece of about 10mm x 10mm which is easy to install and rotate. An Aluminum tripod helps in balancing the distant images. Another cool accessory with this telescope is a carrying bag which can carry 1 60mm telescope, 2 eyepieces, 1 Barlow lens, a cover, smartphone adapter and tripod.


4. MaxUSee Travel Scope

MaxUSee Travel ScopeThis telescope is another amazing product if you are a beginner or getting it for a kid. It’s gives an absolutely majestic landing view with its 70mm large aperture objective lens. The images obtained are highly bright and clear. There is a 45 degree prism that is placed diagonally to get erect images. There are two eye pieces of 125 inches, K20mm and K9mm. There’s a 3x Barlow lens that can you give you a magnification of about 20x to 132x.

One of the most exciting accessories with this telescope are the full size 10×50 binoculars for moon sighting. These binoculars give you a magnification of about 10x and have an object lens of 50mm. The optics are multi-coated and can be your perfect travel buddy during hunting and bird watching.

Other accessories include a smart phone adapter that is universal to almost all smartphones. It can be used with both telescope and binoculars to capture and store images and videos in your devices. This best affordable telescope also comes with a uniquely designed backpack that can carry binoculars, telescope, tripod and everything else you will need during the travel. This makes it my personal favorite for traveling. If you are a travel junkie, this telescope will be perfect for you.


5. Orion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope

Orion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor TelescopeThis is one of the best affordable telescopes that offers a heavenly planet imagery. It captures the bright sky gems for you with an 80mm refractor. This is especially for the people who commute or travel a lot. This telescope’s compact design is what gives it an edge over others. It is a refractor telescope with 80mm f/5 rich field refractor that can obtain a sharp and wide image of objects such as the moon, cosmos and galaxies. There are two eyepieces of 1.25 inches Kellner with anti reflection coating on it. The eyepieces also have a red dot reflex sight and an Orion Moon Map.

The accessories include an EQ 1B equatorial mount. A complimentary height adjustable tripod that helps in taking balanced videos and images of the objects. There is a star diagonal of 90 degrees.


6. Gskyer Telescope

Gskyer Telescope• 400 mm focal length
• 70mm aperture
• Easily portable
• Bluetooth control
• 1-year warranty and lifetime maintenance

This inexpensive bluetooth controlled telescope is just what you need to start your stargazing experience. With easy installation, it will only take 15-30 minutes to completely set-up the telescope wherever you are. Whenever you feel like exploring a star, you can carry the telescope to a suitable location and set it up quickly because it is portable and easy to store since it is lightweight. Through easy steps, you can learn your way through the intricate world of space and galaxies.

This telescope is designed to gather a beautiful image of a celestial object. The multi layered glass lenses can be swapped and are covered with a green coating to increase the brightness of what you want to discover. Moreover, the telescope comes with an adjustable tripod and a cover bag. The additional components which include two replaceable eyepieces( 25mm with 16x and 10mm with 40x magnification) and one 3x Barlow lens help to further increase the efficiency of the telescope. The 3x Barlow lens trebles the magnifying power of each eyepiece.


7. Celestron 22030

Celestron 22030• 80mm refractor telescope
• Easy and quick setup
• Lightweight and simple design and functioning
• 45 mm diameter

This simple and lightweight telescope is just the kind of telescope the beginners are inclined towards, a telescope that does not require the assistance of a professional or any tools to be set-up for use. Moreover, the easy steps can help you with a quick installation eventually leading to an immediate sight seeing of the sky.

You can adjust the tripod stand and pan handle according to your personal style and install one out of the two different eye-pieces to better suit your vision. The package comes with two eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm), erect image diagonal, finder scope, a smartphone Adapter, and a travel backpack. The smartphone adaptor allows the user to connect any smartphone to the telescope for storing the images or to capture a moment you wish to cherish and keep.


8. Meade Instruments 209003

Meade Instruments 209003• 700mm focal length
• 70mm aperture
• Two different eyepieces
• Includes astronomical software
• Includes instructional DVD

This amazing telescope comes with a beautiful package for the beginners; a set of eyepieces to teach you to focus the telescope for the best coherent vision for celestial objects, an Altazimuth mount that carries a slow motion rod to judge the depth of the heavenly bodies and explore them profoundly, a red dot viewfinder to assist in the acquisition of a precise image and instruction manuals to help you work a telescope and gather significant knowledge about the space and its objects.

This kind of telescope is ideal for viewing both the celestial and terrestrial objects because it carries a feature which enables the user to view the images more clearly and in more detail than other telescopes.


9. Celestron 21061

Celestron 21061• Lens Diameter is 70mm
• 70AZ Refractor Telescope
• Easy and simple setup
• 900mm Focal length
• Sharp and bright images

This telescope has one of the best setups for proper observation and exploration of the space and its components, even the terrestrial objects. It has a quick and simple setup procedure that anyone can manage on their own. The pan-handle is designed to offer for smooth and precise pointing which is accompanied by a StarPointer which is permanently mounted.

The telescope provides a sharp and consistent set of images through the two different eyepieces attached with the package. This is ideal for not only astronomical but also for terrestrial viewing, making it a favorite amongst beginners who have yet to choose a path in astronomy.


10. Gskyer Telescope, AZ70400

Gskyer Telescope, AZ70400• 400 mm focal length
• 70 mm aperture
• Quick setup and lightweight
• Easy to carry around
• 12-month warranty

This is the perfect telescope for beginners. It can be easily set up, is quite light and can be carried around with ease. Moreover, this telescope is designed to capture the brightest of the images you wish to capture as part of your first telescopic experience. It creates a precise point of viewing through the set of eyepieces that come attached with the package. These lenses are glass-coated to protect your eyes from any potential damage from harmful radiation and reducing the enhanced brightness from directly affecting your eyes.

It can be easily carried around and does not require any tools for setup. You can follow the trail of stars and adjust your vision of sight anywhere, anytime with ease. Moreover, the telescope also comes with a travel bag to better enhance your stargazing experience.


11. Gskyer Telescope 60mm AZ Refractor

Gskyer Telescope 60mm AZ Refractor• 700mm focal length
• 60mm aperture
• Provides clear and sharp images
• Adjustable tripod

It is a high magnifying telescope that carries lenses which are optically glass covered, creating a better visual image with sharp features and clear consistency. The already enhanced brightness can be further increased by the use of two different eyepieces which are fashioned to be adjusted according to your personal style with the help of an adjustable tripod. The tripod also carries a lock to fix the point of viewing once you have focused onto a specific area.

The mount also comes with an accessory tray and a slow-motion rod control which are present to enhance the user experience. The package includes a 3x Barlow lens to increase viewing power, 5×24 finderscope with mounting bracket for better tracking of the objects in space. The refractor telescope comes with a quality guarantee; the company will refund or even replace your product if you find any issues with the product regarding its quality.


12. Aomekie Telescope

Aomekie Telescope• 70mm Large aperture
• Adjustable tripod
• Moon filter
• Erect image viewing
• Latest set of Kellner eyepiece

This modern-paced telescope is the kind of telescope you can brag about to your friends because it may be your starting point of your space journeys. Although it is designed for a beginner, it has all the basic and latest features that makes this telescope a great and beneficial investment.

Apart from the latest set of Kellner eyepieces to better suit your level of adjustable vision, it has a large aperture for better gathering of light in order to focus the brightness onto the clear and sharp images. The multi coated glass lenses are designed to protect your eyes from the excessive brightness but offer a greater sense of vision for your space adventures. There is an additional moon filter installed within the telescope that reduces the brightness to better view the images with sharp accuracy.

There is an adapter attached to the package that connects the phone with the telescope for capturing wondrous space moments and images. Moreover, a castor wheel bottom is assembled within the telescope to adjust the tripod in different positions for better viewing and direction. The kit also includes 1 x Telescope tube,1 x k25mm eyepiece,1 x k6mm eyepiece ,1 x Adjustable aluminum tripod, 1 x 45 degree diagonal mirror,1 x 5X24 Finderscope,1 x User manual, 1 x Phone adapter and 1x Star target planisphere.


13. Gskyer Telescope AZ70700

Gskyer Telescope AZ70700• 70mm aperture
• 700mm focal length
• Multilayer coated glass lenses
• One-year warranty and lifetime maintenance
• Star Finder
• Adjustable

This beautiful telescope has intricate details to enhance the beginner’s experience of the vast galaxy with by capturing clear images of the celestial objects. The focusing tube predicts the adjustable style preferred according to your style. Added to this is a multi layered green optical coating that prevents excessive brightness from damaging your eyes, a stainless-steel tripod with a slow motion control whose height can be adjusted according to your requirements and an adjustable handle to direct the telescope around the 360-reference angle for better tracking.

It also includes an inverted star finder that helps in exploring and tracking of the stars. The telescope comes with a set of eyepieces to help you in better analyzing what pair of lenses would best assist in your star tracking. Moreover, the company provides lifetime maintenance for the telescope along with a one-year warranty if the need arises.


Which is the Best Budget Telescope?

You have the opportunity to gather your money and invest in this amazing product that will leave you restless with curiosity and exhilaration. The mere accountability to dedicating your time to exploring the depths and subtleties of the celestial and terrestrial objects is an art that you cannot shy away from.

This is why we have gathered the best telescopes in the market, integrated them into a list so that you can compare your options easily. Make sure you study and understand all aspects of a telescope and read specifications of your telescope thoroughly before buying one.

According to our list, Gskyer Telescope is the best option in the market, but you should do some research on own as well and invest in what you think will better suit your style and preference. Do not wait much, as these affordable telescopes are ready to give you a sense of delight and interest while you use them to gain knowledge of the space and its objects.

The following two tabs change content below.
Dale Monroe

Dale Monroe

Monroe’s passion for celestial bodies first sparked when he was a child and he attended a space camp during the summer. He went on to pursue a degree in Astrophysics and this blog is the fruit of his love for outer space
Dale Monroe

Latest posts by Dale Monroe (see all)