You’ve seen those beautiful images of what appears to be something from this world using Best Telescopes for Astrophotography, another galaxy, or even a planet – well, those images are the result of astrophotography. This specialized photography that takes pictures and captures our beautiful universe in motion is something that can only be done with the right equipment. Whether you want to be able to take pictures of the moon, planets, stars, and distant celestial objects, the best telescope for astrophotography can help.
We know that there are many brands and products to choose from when it comes to selecting the right Best Telescopes for Astrophotography for your needs, skills, and budget. That’s why we’ve done this review. Throughout this article, you’ll discover that the seven best telescopes we offer are perfect for your new hobby (or lucrative new business), and we’ll highlight important features based on type, aperture, weight, focal length, ration, and warranty.
Just as you’ll be scanning the skies for the most beautiful celestial objects, we’ve scoured the web on the best research we’ve found on all the different telescopes for astrophotography through various sources to bring you the best of the best. Below and in our side-by-side product comparison table, you’ll find detailed reviews of each product highlighting its key features and the buying guide to help you choose the right one.
The 7 best telescopes for astrophotography
Sky-Watcher ProED 120mm using Best Telescopes for Astrophotography
Whether you are a beginner or looking for your new favorite model, the Sky-Watcher ProED can be considered the best all-around telescope for astrophotography.
As a refractor telescope with an aperture of 120 mm, you can capture a fairly clear image of the planets and celestial objects you are aiming for. The telescope is equipped with Schott ED glass with a focal length of 900 mm (f/7.5), which makes it quite high in relation to the focal length – an important feature when considering image clarity.
The Crayford 2″ dual speed focus with a 1.25″ adapter is also another plus when talking about the best features on the market.
The viewfinder is measured with an 8×50 AR and a 2″ dielectric diagonal, which also puts it at the top of its class. The Sky-Watcher ProED features a tube ring mounting system and even comes with an aluminium carrying case for easy transport to and from your viewing area.
The Sky-Watcher ProED works with high performance ED-APO refractors and offers first class optical performance for the amateur and novice astronomer.
Especially since this type of telescope is known for its superb contrast, high definition and charcoal black background, you can be sure that the stars and other objects in your image will shine brightly.
The Sky-Watcher ProED is covered by a 2-year limited warranty.
Orion 9005 AstroView best hand held telescope
The AstroView Orion 9005 is a pretty solid buy as one of our best telescopes for beginners if you plan to make astrophotography your hobby.
Thanks to its wide field of view construction, you are able to capture deep sky objects as if they were right in front of you. Its crystal-clear resolution, together with its 120 mm aperture and 600 mm focal length, allow you to see the most distant celestial objects, even for a beginner’s telescope.
The Orion 9005 AstroView is a refractor telescope that is perfect for taking pictures of nebular clouds, star clusters and galaxies, as well as for obtaining high-quality images of the moon and planets.
When you buy the Orion 9005 AstroView, you also get an adjustable tripod, as well as an equatorial mount for manual celestial tracking in slow motion. This can be useful if the celestial object you are looking at is moving. This telescope is also equipped with an internal polar alignment finder for precision performance.
Not only does the package stop there, but it also comes with two 1.25″ Sirius Plossl eyepieces, a 6×30 viewfinder, a 2″ smooth rack, a 90 degree mirror star diagonal and Starry Night astronomy software, making it the perfect purchase for a beginner.
- Type : refractor
- 36.3 lbs
- Limited to one year
- 6×30 rifle scope, 2 Sirius Plossl eyepieces, 2″ focuser, height adjustable aluminium tripod
Celestron NexStar 5 SE
The Celestron NexStar 5 SE is one of the best telescopes on the market for deep space astrophotography.
With a focal length of 125 mm and a focus ratio of f/10, this Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is certainly one of the most powerful and versatile on the market. However, not only is it versatile, but it is also very user-friendly, and comes with various objects that make up a complete package for someone looking to observe high quality celestial objects.
Not only does it come with a 2-year warranty, but it weighs only 17.6 pounds, making it one of the lightest telescopes on the market, making it extremely easy to carry. Celestron’s exclusive StarBright XLT coating system makes images and your vision extremely bright as light transmission sees an increase in the optical path.
The telescope also uses anti-reflective multi-coated lenses, highly reflective multi-coated mirrors and optical crown glass elements, to give you the best possible image. The Celestron NexStar 5 SE also has many other features that make it a complete system, ideal for deep space observation. Thanks to the mount’s precision tracking system and built-in equatorial wedge, you’ll be able to photograph and view images even as they move across the night sky.
You’ll also get a motorised Alt-Az single fork mount, 25mm eyepiece and pointing scope, SkyAlign alignment technology, NexStar+ computer hand controller, a database of over 40,000 objects with Sky Tours and a stainless steel tripod.
- Schmidt Cassegrain : 125 mm
- Weight: 17.6 lbs 1250mm
- Limited to 2 years
- alt-azimuth single fork mount, stainless steel tripod, database of 40,000 celestial objects, SkyAlign technology
The SkyWatcher S11600 is considered one of our best reflecting telescopes for astrophotography, and with these features it’s easy to see why:
This telescope not only has an aperture of 152mm, but also a focal length of 1200mm and a focus ratio of f/8, making it extremely simple to use and easy to track celestial objects in the sky.
The SkyWatcher S11600 is also equipped with a 2″ single speed rack-and-pinion focusing device as well as two different eyepieces to choose from. You can choose between a 25mm or a 10mm eyepiece.
This telescope also uses a 6×30 straight view finder, a tension control handle and a manual Alt-AZ ground mount. This is a great telescope to have as it uses its dual axis Teflon bearings and altitude tension clutch.
Not only does it look good, but it performs well too, with the large light bucket offering a look to match the performance.
The telescope works primarily with its large parabolic primary mirror, which is extremely reflective. It also eliminates the normal amount of distortion that is often associated with spherical aberration, especially at the edges.
- reflector 152mm
- 40 lbs
- 1200 mm
- Limited to 2 years
- 2″ speed rack-and-pinion focuser, Plössl 4-element 25mm and 10mm 1.25mm eyepieces
Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ
The Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ is one of the most affordable telescopes for beginners or astrophotographers who are not looking to break the bank when looking for a telescope.
Whether you are an older child or a beginning adult, the Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ is an excellent telescope that provides clear, bright images of all the celestial objects you want to see.
Whether it’s one of the planets or various galaxies, the Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ can be mounted on a mount, track objects as they move through the night, and do it all manually with slow-motion cables.
What makes this telescope extremely user-friendly is the fact that in about five minutes you can learn to track stars and take pictures of any other celestial object. You don’t need any tools to set up the telescope and you don’t need any level of experience to use it.
The permanently mounted StarPointer viewfinder centres the object of your photograph directly in your eyepiece. You can also use the Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ for terrestrial or astronomical use. The sturdy pre-assembled tripod is equipped with 1.25″ steel tube legs for solid mounting. The Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ also comes with TheSkyX First Light Edition planetarium software, which has a database of 10,000 objects and images.
- reflector : 114mm
- 17 lbs
- Limited to 2 years
- equatorial mount, 269x magnification, no tool setting, StarPointer finder
Gskyer Powerseeker 90600AZ
The Gskyer AZ is an excellent refractor telescope to have as a set, especially if you need one for your class.
Especially since they are well suited for the beginner, the Gskyer AZ comes with a kit designed for the complete package.
Weighing only 18 pounds, this telescope is extremely useful in a classroom when it needs to be carried from one part of the room to another or moved between students.
It is also an excellent choice when you want a complete kit – complete with mounting knob, safety screw and dovetail mount. The kit is easy to assemble and attach to the mount and tripod.
You will also be able to focus without much experience on the Gskyer AZ. The part of viewing where you improve the quality and clarity of the images is an important part of astrophotography, and with the blue film anti-reflection components of the unit, you will be able to do this easily and see the image without ANY internal reflection. This allows you to produce non-distorting images.
You can also use the three included eyepieces for each different viewing situation, making the entire unit completely adaptable.
- Type : refractor
- Aperture : 90mm
- Weight : 18 lbs
- Focal length : 600mm
- Focal ratio : f/6.7
- Warranty : Limited to one year
Types of astrophotography to consider
First of all, there are different forms of astrophotography and they differ depending on the type of celestial objects you want to capture:
Deep Space: This type of photography focuses on distant galaxies and nebulae. It requires a bit more experience and is a bit more complicated. You will need to take into account star trails, light pollution, editing software and other accessories than your basic telescope.
Solar system: This type of photography is, as it says, based on our entire solar system. With this type, you can simply use a variety of telephoto lenses.
Wide Angle: Just like the panorama function on your phone, wide angle astrophotography allows you to increase the field of view, for landscape photos that can fit the entire Milky Way, for example.
Time-Lapse: As the name suggests, this type of photography means that you take photos with varying exposures over time. You can use it to follow the paths of stars or other celestial movements.
Types of telescopes
Now that we know what types of astrophotography there are, let’s look at the types of telescopes that exist:
Refractor Telescopes: This type of telescope uses a long tube and a large lens, with an eyepiece at the other end.
Reflector telescopes: Instead of a lens, this type uses two mirrors, like the SkyWatcher S11600. Its construction is the same as that of a refractor, except that the eyepiece is located on the side.
Catadioptric telescopes: Using mirrors and lenses, this type is a much more modern design. Used with computerised, battery-operated mounts, you can manoeuvre this type of telescope to easily locate what you are looking for.
Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescopes: Using the path of light through a correction plate, this telescope uses two mirrors to form an image at the eyepiece.
Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes: Using both mirrors and lenses, this telescope differs from the Schmidt-Cassegrain in that it uses different points and types of mirrors.
Learning to use a camera with a telescope
Since astrophotography is a combination of using a camera and a telescope, it is important that you learn to use both. Fortunately, this is quite easy. It’s so easy that you can even use digital cameras and your own mobile phone cameras to capture those images of the galaxy and space.
Most of these telescopes come with mounting kits or at least are compatible with them, which include T-mount adapters, eyepieces and camera-specific adapters.
Choosing a telescope with the kit already included saves you from searching for a specific T-ring and T-wire. Once you have the kit, you can remove the eyepiece and attach the T-ring. Remove the eyepiece from the camera and attach the T-ring by screwing it onto the threads. If the assembly is easy enough, it will be relatively quick.
Tips and tricks for astrophotography
Especially for a beginner, you may need to be on the lookout for certain things. Here are some tips and tricks if this is your first time in the hobby:
1. Details are important when operating. In particular, if you want to get the most accurate image possible, you need to make sure that the flash is off when it is supposed to be and that the exposures and settings are right for the picture you want to get in the end.
2. Don’t underestimate the power of the sun. You already know how damaging the sun can be to the naked eye, so beware when doing astrophotography. It can hurt you quickly and even permanently.
3. Do your research beforehand. It is extremely useful in astrophotography to know the solar system, certain constellations and general information about where things are.
Features to consider when buying the best telescope for astrophotography
To help you choose the right telescope for you, here are some features to look out for:
Aperture is the key
Aperture is the measure of how large the telescope opening is that allows all the light to pass through. It is without doubt the most important characteristic of any telescope. Especially since the main component of a telescope’s operation is light, aperture is the key to a quality telescope.
Just as something is only as good as its solid foundation, the best telescope needs a stable and smooth mount. If you are going to carry the telescope to other locations for stargazing, you will need a mount that is also light.
There are two different types of mount: the altitude-azimuth (or “alt-az”) and the equatorial.
Alt-Az: The best choice if you are looking for something extremely portable and easy to set up.
Equatorial: Normally this is what you will want if astrophotography is your sole purpose, as it will need to have its polar axis aligned with the Earth’s rotation axis.
What difference does it make if you have a large aperture and you don’t have the focal length to back it up?
The focal length is responsible for the distance from the lens or mirror at which the light is focused. If you have a longer focal length, your image will be larger and your magnification will be higher.
However, be aware that the higher the magnification, the more distorted your image may be!
The focal ratio is the speed at which light is collected. If you have a faster focal ratio, you will need less exposure and you will collect the light much faster.
It is important to find the sweet spot with the magnification, as this will dictate the amount of detail in an image and not to be too magnified so that it is not blurry.
If you only intend to look at galaxies and nebulae, you will not need a very high power magnification. You will need medium to high power for a variety of planets, and higher power for anything beyond that.
Especially if you are a bit inexperienced with the night sky, your search can only take you so far. Having a finder, when used with medium or high power, can help you locate the celestial objects you are looking for.
If you have one of these telescopes, you need one, and a good one at that. The aperture should be larger than 25 mm to make a big difference.
Some of these telescopes come with three highly adjustable eyepieces to suit all your needs.
If you want to be a bit unique, you can get a telescope with a wide angle eyepiece. However, you will still need a reticle eyepiece to guide or centre a guide star.
Size and weight
Especially if you plan to carry your telescope around, it is best if it is light enough. Especially if it’s cold outside, the last thing you want to do is carry an extremely heavy telescope on a hike.
Most of the telescopes we present here will have a 1-2 year warranty, which seems to be about the average length of a telescope of this calibre.
If you’ve skipped our entire guide, here’s our review of the three best telescopes for astrophotography on the market:
The Sky-Watcher ProED is our editor’s choice for the best telescope on the market. Guaranteed for 2 years and weighing only 30 pounds, this refractor telescope has an aperture of 120 and a focal length of 900mm.
The Celestron StarBright XLT is our next recommendation if you are looking for an upgrade choice. A Schmidt-Cassegrain type, it is a little more advanced. Although it’s a little heavier, at 65 pounds, it makes up for it in detail, with a 280mm aperture and a 2800mm focal length. It also comes with a database of over 40,000 celestial objects.
The Celestron AstroMaster 114 EQ is our budget choice in the telescope market. The reflector telescope weighs just 17 pounds, but has a 114mm aperture and a 1000mm focal length, which means quality images.
We hope this guide has helped you get the best astrophotography telescope to guide you through the stars!
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