7 Incredible Telescopes That You Can Buy for under $200

43 Models Considered
68 Hours of Research
4 Experts Interviewed
258 Reviews Analyzed

Whether you’re an occasional stargazer or a more serious astronomer, then you know that nothing can really be compared with the incredible enthrallment that comes along with watching the skies. The ability to see the magnificence of the galaxies, planets, and stars up close is truly a breathtaking experience that will show you the world from a completely different position. However, if you’re intending to discover the night skies in a special way, you’ll need a high-quality telescope. And you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on a good telescope as the best telescope under 200 can easily fulfill all your stargazing needs.

In recent years, the numbers of people getting into stargazing have greatly skyrocketed, which has consequently led to a rise in the numbers of companies manufacturing stargazing tools as well. While this might be a good thing in the sense that buyers have more options to choose from, the availability of several options also means choosing the right model from the sea of options is very difficult. To help make things easier for buyers, we have compiled a list of the top seven telescopes under $200 for you, while taking key criteria such as the type of telescope, aperture, focal length, mount, and eyepiece into consideration.

Top 7 Telescopes under $200

With this article, we aim to enlighten buyers on everything they need to know before shopping for the right telescope under $200. Having invested a lot of time and effort into the creation of this guide, we hope we’ll be able to achieve just that. Right after this paragraph is a comparison table that is designed to give you an idea of the things to come. Afterward, you will find a product review section where each telescope on our list is reviewed comprehensively, before finally landing on our buying guide section which contains tips and recommendations you’ll need for the task ahead.

Name and Features Image Rating Price
1. Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ (Editor’s choice)
A reflector telescope that provides you with two eyepieces of 50X and 250X magnification, and also includes a 3X Barlow lens for even crispier views
Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ
2. Celestron 21061 (Best Refractor Telescope under 200)
This model with 70mm aperture features a handy altazimuth mount and with a free Starry Night astronomy software
Celestron 21061
3. Orion 10015 (Best Beginner Telescope under 200)
A scope with lots of accessories included: an eyepiece rack, a collimation cap, and Starry Night astronomy software for easy start
Orion 10015
4. Emarth 70mm Refractor Telescope (Budget Pick)
A budget-friendly pick with 5 x 24 finderscope for easy search of any astronomical object
Emarth 70mm Refractor Telescope
5. Meade Instruments 216002 (Best Refractor Equatorial Telescope under 200)
A decent 80mm aperture telescope with sturdy German equatorial mount for effortless control
Meade Instruments 216002
6. Orion Observer 80ST (Most Versatile Telescope under 200)
Weighing only ten pounds, this unit provides crispy-clear images of the astronomical objects thanks to the eyepieces with anti-reflection coating
Orion Observer 80ST
7. Orion StarBlast II 4.5 (Best Reflector Telescope under 200)
A scope with 114mm aperture and 450mm of focal length gives you an opportunity to view the most popular astronomical objects
Orion StarBlast II 4.5
7 Incredible Telescopes That You Can Buy for under $200
Features
  • Type: reflector
  • Aperture: 127mm (f/8)
  • Focal length: 1000mm
  • Mount: German equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 20mm: 50X and 4mm: 250X + 3X Barlow lens
  • Weight: 21.4 lbs

More features: comes with aluminum tripod and accessory tray

OVERALL RATING: 9.8 out of 10

The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ is undoubtedly one of the most popular scopes on the market today. Despite being fairly affordable, the telescope is almost as powerful as a pro-grade model. It comes with a 3x Barlow lens, which allows you to improve your stargazing experience. Offering high-quality lenses, an impressive aperture size of 127mm, and a stable German Equatorial mount, you can be guaranteed that this scope is the best telescope for star watching under 200 and is designed to help you watch celestial objects with the greatest amount of clarity.

The telescope comes with a fairly decent focal length of 1000mm. Besides, it features a handy aluminum tripod and an accessory tray for keeping your accessories. This telescope provides a lot of detail. Moreover, the Celestron PowerSeeker features slow motion controls that allow you to easily track the movement of celestial objects. The erect image optics of the telescope allow you to observe objects on the terrestrial range as well.

Overall, this Celestron telescope provides great performance for the price. It is recommended for budding astronomers, hobbyists, and scientists. Apart from the fact that the scope alignment takes some learning, there are not many bad surprises with this option.

PROS:
  • Assembly is relatively easy
  • Delivers images of good quality
  • High-quality optics

CONS:
  • The scope alignment takes some learning
  • The unit is quite heavy

Features
  • Type: refractor
  • Aperture: 70mm
  • Focal length: 900mm (f/13)
  • Mount: altazimuth
  • Eyepiece: 10mm: 90X and 20mm: 45X (all 1.25″)
  • Weight: 11 lbs.

More features: free Starry Night astronomy software; panhandle Alt-Az control with clutch

OVERALL RATING: 9.6 out of 10

Celestron AstroMaster 21061 70AZ Telescope is likely one of the most popular and well-known budget-friendly telescopes available on the market. But the device is not only popular, it actually boasts features to match its popularity. Coming with a dual-purpose, altazimuth mount, this refractor telescope can be used for observing both terrestrial objects and the night sky.

Furthermore, the Celestron model comes with an objective lens of 70 mm, which is the common size found on budget-friendly models. This unit offers a great combination of affordability and high quality. It also comes with two eyepieces (20mm and 10mm) which means that both provide a magnification of 45x and 90x respectively. The purchase includes an accessory tray and a Star Pointer Finderscope.

One thing we don’t really like about this device is that it comes with an unstable tripod. While the build and the durability of the telescope itself are not in question, the tripod’s stability is open to doubt. A lot of customers complained that the stand can be too shaky sometimes, especially when held by little kids.

PROS:
  • Easy to use and set up
  • Lightweight construction
  • Affordable price
  • Can be used for both stellar and terrestrial objects

CONS:
  • Unstable tripod

Features
  • Type: reflector
  • Aperture: 114mm
  • Focal length: 450mm (f/4)
  • Mount: Altazimuth
  • Eyepiece: 17mm and 6mm Explorer II, 1.25″
  • Weight: 13 lbs.

More features: EZ Finder II reflex sight; comes with an eyepiece rack, a collimation cap, Starry Night astronomy software

OVERALL RATING: 9.5 out of 10

The Orion 10015 Starblast is a great scope for beginning and intermediate stargazers, and also for anyone looking for a premium-quality portable scope. Weighing just 13 pounds, this unit is fairly compact and easy to transport. In addition, it comes pre-assembled, which makes it a very user-friendly choice. Even better, it features a 114mm aperture, which is very impressive since most scopes in this price range come with a 70mm aperture.

The telescope’s high-quality optics and fairly generous aperture size result in clear images with a lot of detail. You may even be able to discover nebulae and galaxies if you ever take it to a remote location. Apart from the scope itself, you will also get Starry Night astronomy software, which offers an excellent way to increase and solidify your children’s interest in astronomy. Besides, the Orion StarBlast comes with two eyepieces (17 mm and 6 mm) to set you on the right path.

Furthermore, you get 2x Shorty Barlow Lens which is an excellent supplement to the unit, especially if you are looking to improve your stargazing experience with a few additional lenses. In general, apart from taking a lot of time for the collimation process, the Orion 10015 StarBlast offers great value for money. Its premium quality guarantees popularity with your family for many years to come.

PROS:
  • Arrives pre-assembled
  • Includes a handy Starry Night astronomy software
  • Fairly compact and portable

CONS:
  • Takes lots of time for the collimation process

Features
  • Type: refractor
  • Aperture: 70mm
  • Focal length: 360mm (f/5.1)
  • Mount: altazimuth
  • Eyepiece: K10mm: 51X; K25mm: 128X (1.25″)
  • Weight: 2.87 lbs.

More features: 70mm objective lens; comes with Map of the Moon & Star; Pan Handle to control the mount; 5 x 24 finderscope with mounting bracket

OVERALL RATING: 9.4 out of 10

Featuring a very compact construction, the Emarth 70mm Refractor Telescope is the perfect choice for both celestial and terrestrial observations. As soon as you set the unit up on the low-power eyepiece, the finderscope will help you find the images. The viewing angle can be adjusted with the aid of the panhandle on the mount. Undoubtedly, this model is the best fit for beginners, amateurs, students, and kids.

It also weighs less than three pounds, which makes it one of the best small telescopes for under 200 dollars. It is absolutely ideal for family trips since it can be easily carried in your backpack without any trouble. Its compact design is also ideal for younger children, who will find it perfect for their little hands. The unit comes with a little aluminum tripod (which is only 40cm), a finderscope, two eyepieces (10mm and 25mm), and a map of the Moon and stars.

This small scope is also easy to use and set up. If you ever get stuck, you will find an instruction manual in the package to help you find your bearing. Moreover, the manual contains a free moon map, which will provide you with an idea of what you are watching. Besides, the Emarth unit features an upright image diagonal so that pictures come out right-side-up, which makes this unit suitable for terrestrial observation as well.

PROS:
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Suitable for kids
  • Can be used for terrestrial viewing

CONS:
  • Small tripod
  • Doesn’t include any astronomy software

Features
  • Type: refractor
  • Aperture: 80mm
  • Focal length: 900mm (f/11.3)
  • Mount: German equatorial
  • Eyepiece: MA 6.3mm, MA 9mm and MA 26mm (all 1.25″)
  • Weight: 18 lbs.

More features: includes bonus Astronomical Software and Instructional DVD

OVERALL RATING: 9.3 out of 10

Designed for amateur and beginner astronomers, the Meade Instruments 21600 Refractor Telescope offers a breathtaking experience that will keep you asking for more. This excellent device from Meade Instruments perfectly combines premium-quality optics and a sturdy equatorial mount with outstanding value, which makes it your ideal access to the cosmos.

This excellent telescope is an awesome pick for amateurs and beginners who are looking to discoveries. Featuring an aperture of 80mm, the Meade Instruments 216002 will deliver clear, bright images for the enjoyment of the beginner astronomer. Whether you are viewing the rings of Saturn, polar caps on Mars, the moons of Jupiter, or just terrestrial objects, this telescope enables first-time observers to explore the solar system, universe, and beyond.

The Meade telescope comes with three eyepieces which offer low, medium and high magnification, alongside a red dot finder to help you focus on the skies. It also comes with a stable tripod and a sturdy equatorial mount which makes it easy to watch the stars all through the night. Since this is a refractor telescope, it has a very solid construction and doesn’t require much maintenance, so beginners don’t need to worry about spoiling it whilst improving their skills. Besides being difficult to assemble, this device doesn’t have many drawbacks.

PROS:
  • Durable construction
  • Stable tripod
  • Doesn’t require much maintenance
  • High-quality optics

CONS:
  • Difficult to assemble

Features
  • Type: refractor
  • Aperture: 80mm
  • Focal length: 400mm (f/5)
  • Mount: EQ-1B equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 10mm and 25mm Kellner 1.25″
  • Weight: 10 lbs.

More features: eyepieces with anti-reflection coating; mount equipped with dual slow motion controls

OVERALL RATING: 9.1 out of 10

Whether you are looking to set up a personal observation post at home or you are in search of a powerful viewing device for watching the planets, the moon, and star clusters, the Orion Observer 80ST is one device you should be looking at. It is more like a pro-grade model as it is capable of exploring the planets and also scanning the bright sky seamlessly. Although it enables you to see a lot of terrestrial objects, it also comes in a very compact design that doesn’t take up much space in your room.

Being compact and free of hassle, taking this device out and setting it up is effortless, and it is also easy to bring inside when you are done. Thanks to the 400 mm focal length of the telescope, you can easily see bright, wide views of the sky and other terrestrial objects. Although, you can’t compare the views here with those provided by more expensive models, it’s understandable considering the cheap price.

Furthermore, the Observer 80ST comes with a stable and smooth equatorial mount, which makes it extremely easy to track celestial objects. The mount comes with dual slow motion controls to enable you to track objects in the sky with ease. The device also features a reflex sight and two eyepieces (10mm and 25mm) with an anti-reflection coating. The pint-sized telescope also comes with the handy MoonMap to aid the identification of interesting stellar features for you. You won’t find a niftier portable telescope than this model.

PROS:
  • Compact and portable design
  • Comes with the handy Moon map
  • Decent objective lens

CONS:
  • Not as powerful as more expensive models

Features
  • Type: reflector
  • Aperture: 114mm
  • Focal length: 450mm
  • Mount: equatorial
  • Eyepiece: 25mm: 18X and 10mm: 45X Sirius Plossl
  • Weight: 20 lbs.

More features: includes a MoonMap 260 and EZ Finder II reflex sight

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

Orion is a terrific maker of high-quality scopes and that explains why this list features three of their products.  Whether you’re in search of a lightweight telescope that is easy to carry or one with high-quality optics, the Orion StarBlast II is a solid option that should be taken into consideration. This unit comes in a very compact construction, which makes it ideal for children. But just because it is small in size does not mean that you won’t be able to see large images through its lens. Contrarily, even distant objects such as galaxies will come out crisp when this scope is paired with the perfect magnifying lens.

This device has a focal length of 450mm, which allows you to see clear terrestrial objects. It also includes a sturdy mount and a copy of Starry Night software. You also get two eyepieces (25 mm and 10 mm), which provide a magnification of 18x and 45x respectively. The included mount is very robust and sturdy, which works well for reducing vibrations.

The low magnification eyepiece will allow your child to find objects in the night sky effortlessly. The only genuine drawback we discovered with this unit is that its assembly takes time. All things considered, the fact that the assembly is a one-time process makes it easy to overlook. Besides, this scope doesn’t require being collimated constantly, which is a huge plus if the device will mostly be used by your kids.

PROS:
  • Large aperture for the price
  • Robust equatorial mount
  • Collimation is required only once or twice a year
  • Compact design

CONS:
  • Assembly takes time

Buying Guide

If you are really keen on finding a budget-friendly telescope, you likely won’t be able to afford choosing the wrong model. For this not to happen, you need to carefully read our buying guide below.

Is it possible to find a decent telescope for under $200?

Telescopes are an incredible door to the heavens, for anybody intrigued by space science and willing to investigate the unending immensity of the world. Of course, it is possible to find a decent telescope for under $200, even though they usually come with some limitations. These devices are ideal for amateurs, who’re just beginning to dabble into astronomy and keen on taking it step by step. While the best telescopes under $200 are just as useful as more expensive models, they are usually found wanting in high-end features, that enhance your viewing sessions.

telescope-pointed-at-the-milky-way-galaxy-royalty-free-image-93204189-1533148569

That is why manufacturers focus on the main feature a decent telescope should possess – high-quality lens and optics. The lens or primary mirror is usually of decent quality and likely to deliver a good image, enough to effortlessly observe the Moon, planets of our Solar System and stars. However not all the objects will appear flawlessly crisp, so pay attention to the eyepieces and maximum magnification a certain model can provide you with.

Features to consider while choosing a telescope

While a telescope can be one of your most important belongings when you find the right model, it can be a source of unending frustration for you when you end up with the wrong model. We don’t want you to be an unhappy buyer, so consider the factors below before choosing a telescope.

Type

There are three types of telescopes and each one has their strong and weak points. They are categorized by the abilities to gather light and the way they go about it. Refractor scopes are better than every other type at viewing through light pollution. Also, they are ideal for planetary and lunar observations.

Reflector scopes, on the other hand, are perfect for deep-sky observation and don’t perform excellently with light pollution. These scopes require regular alignment and adjustment if used regularly.

Compound scopes utilize a mix of reflector and refractor elements. They’re great for general observation of the sky, and they perform well even in areas with light pollution. However, such models are of high-end scopes, and therefore were not included in the list.

Aperture

telescope
The aperture is always one of the first considerations you need to make when buying a telescope of any kind. Even though it sounds somewhat complex, a telescope’s aperture is basically the diameter of its mirror or lens, depending on whether it’s a reflecting or refracting telescope. The larger the aperture of a telescope, the brighter the images you can view through the lens will be. If you are looking for a telescope with a fairly great aperture size, we recommend the Orion 10015 Starblast Telescope.

Focal length

The focal length of a telescope has a direct influence on the amount of magnification. Basically, what this means is that the longer the scope’s focal length, the higher its magnification. Do not assume that the tube length of the scope is its focal length. Complex scopes, despite having short tubes, usually deliver a sharp and clear image. This means that longer focal length is achievable through the proper combination of lenses and mirrors.

Mountsky1

The mount is another key factor you must take into consideration when shopping for the right telescope under 200 dollars. When it comes to purchasing a telescope, there are two primary mount categories that you need to know about: equatorial and altazimuth.

Equatorial mounts – We recommend equatorial mounts for people who are interested in advanced astronomy; this type of mount is usually not a good fit for beginner astronomers due to its complexity and intricacy. An equatorial mount has a north-south axis and an east-west axis, also referred to as a polar axis. So as to be parallel to the earth’s polar axis, you will need to tilt the north-south one. Some scopes with equatorial mounts include Meade Instruments 216002, Orion Observer 80ST, and Orion StarBlast II 4.5.

Altazimuth mounts – On the other hand, altazimuth mounts involve using a telescope in altitude and in azimuth, which easily tells us where its name came from (often abbreviated to alt-az). These mounts are suitable for beginner astronomers and people who are just developing an interest in celestial observation. Some scopes with alt-az mounts include Celestron 21061, Orion 10015, and Emarth 70mm Refractor Telescope.

Eyepiece

50395182-infinite-space-background-with-silhouette-of-telescopeAn important part of choosing an astronomical telescope is understanding the importance of eyepieces. There is no greater secret behind enjoying a great stargazing experience than discovering the ideal magnification for the terrestrial objects you intend to view. If your magnification is too powerful or too weak, the celestial objects you are viewing can either look excessively bright to comprehend or excessively low-lighted to even see. You need to choose your preferred type of eyepiece depending on the kind of target you intend to observe. For instance, if you are looking to watch galaxies and planets, you should consider a great low power magnification eyepiece.

To know which magnification you can expect, simply divide the scope’s focal length by the eyepiece focal length (e.g. if you use a 25mm eyepiece with Orion StarBlast II 4.5, the magnification is 450/25 = 18X).

Construction quality

For your scope to last you for a long time, it must have a high-quality construction. One of the positive things about telescopes is that they are not machines that can be broken easily and normally, they’re never in danger of getting damaged. Obviously, a telescope has to be able to withstand knocks or drops, and even a hit. However, the scope’s stability is even more crucial.

The more durable the scope is, the more accurate and precise its tracking and pointing will be. If you are intending to photograph the things you see in the sparkling sky or just don’t want to be dealing with a continuously shaky device, this will be very crucial to you.

Weight

Depending on the sort of person you are, this factor may or may not be important to you. If you are intending to use your scope at a specific place and not to ever travel with it, then the weight may not really be a point of focus for you. And besides, half the delight of having a telescope is in showing it off. For that, you may decide to travel with the scope.

For one thing, keep in mind that girth and weight are two different features. Even if a telescope weighs a tone, it can still be compact and vice versa. Therefore, don’t just make your judgment based on the weight only.

Make sure that some of the parts of the scope can be disassembled, and that it is adequately small not to consume too much space.

Extra features

It is also important that you consider extra features such as accessories, warranty, instructional DVDs, and more. Buying a telescope that is backed by a good warranty is usually a confidence booster for buyers, and will give you a peace of mind. You also need to consider if the telescope comes with extras such as a tripod, instructional DVDs, or Map of the Moon.

FAQ

If you are a beginner at astronomy, the perfect fit for you is the Orion 10015 Starblast. Besides including several accessories for a beginner’s seamless introduction to astronomy, the unit also comes pre-assembled, making it very convenient for novices to use.

While you can view planets with some of the scopes we featured, none of them can really be compared to more expensive models in terms of the quality planetary viewing. A mistake that is commonly made by amateurs is thinking that the best eyepieces for observing the planets are high power eyepieces. Most often than not, the opposite is true. The ability of a telescope to collect light from a faraway target is determined by its aperture. Low magnification focuses that light gathered into a small, vivid image, whilst high magnification spreads the light collected over a larger space, thereby creating a dimmer picture. Excessive magnification will make the image look so faint that focusing or even seeing will become impossible.

So, what is the perfect magnification for viewing the planets, especially Mars? That is difficult to say really, but a common rule you might want to keep in mind is the “sixty power per inch” rule. It means that you should never utilize an eyepiece that is going to magnify the image more than sixty times for each inch of aperture.

A finderscope is a device used for aiming in astronomy, usually a small secondary telescope attached on the chief astronomical scope along a similar line of sight. The magnification of the finderscope is typically smaller than the chief unit, offering a much wider field of view, suitable for aiming a telescope manually and finding the desired lunar objects. Some finderscopes come with crosshairs to facilitate the focusing of the telescope at a particular target.

Our Verdict

The winner from this round, undisputedly, is the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ. Being the most popular model on this list, this telescope packs features to justify its popularity. The unit comes with two eyepieces of 20mm and 4mm providing you with 50X and a whopping 250X magnification respectively.

Our runner-up is the Celestron AstroMaster 21061 70AZ Telescope, which despite being one of the best units on this list, is also one of the cheapest, which is somewhat ironical. This unit is also very versatile as it can be used for observing both celestial objects and the beautiful night sky.

Our third pick is the Orion 10015 Starblast, which in our opinion is also the most suitable option for beginners. One thing most buyers will appreciate about this unit is how it comes pre-assembled, which makes the device really easy to use.

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