Astronomy is one of the most exciting activities in the world. Just ask an astronomer and watch him or her try to explain the beauty of stargazing, although it is all in vain because the experience of astronomy is simply indescribable, unless you experience it personally. However, getting into astronomy with a telescope that cannot see the planets is like eating bread without butter. If you want to enjoy all the beauty of our galaxy, you must be prepared to buy the best telescope for observing planets.
Each planet offers something different and unique to observe – Saturn’s rings, surface detail on Mars or cloud bands on Jupiter are just some of the more common planetary features you can enjoy with your telescope. But, if deciding to buy a telescope to observe the planets is one thing, buying a working telescope is another. To help you find the right model for your needs, we’ve combed the internet to bring you the five best models. Our choices were based on a few key criteria, including the type of telescope, its aperture, its focal length, the included mount and the eyepiece.
The result of dozens of hours of research, this article is a comprehensive document designed to guide you in your search for the best telescope for observing planets and galaxies. It contains a comparison table for easy reading, a section that provides in-depth reviews of the products on our list, and a buying guide section that contains essential tips and information to help you make your buying decision.
Compared to other models in its class, Orion’s SpaceProbe is an affordable and robust device, ideal for beginners. It offers precise, clear steering and powerful visual capabilities to provide clear and interesting views of the night sky. The SpaceProbe has exceptional features for greater viewing capabilities and incredible compactness without compromising on optical quality.
Orion’s SpaceProbe has exceptional layout features such as a uniquely designed mount and a parabolic mirror. The parabolic mirror is used to accentuate the images created by the device, despite its shorter tube. Orion’s SpaceProbe doesn’t offer the sleek features or wider aperture often found on high-end telescopes, but it does offer pleasing views of galaxies, planets, the moon, and more. If you’re considering a telescope suitable for astrophotography, this is the model for you.
Combining affordability, compactness, high quality optics and StarryNight applications in one device, it’s one of the best options you’ll find. Apart from its low-spec EQ mount, which many users seem to struggle with, this camera has no nasty surprises.
- 650mm (f/5)
- Plossl 25mm
- 27 lbs.
- includes 6×30 Finder Scope; free special edition of Starry Night astronomy software
Celestron 22065 Astro Master
The Celestron 22065 is a high-performance refractor telescope that is perfect for beginners. It is so convincing that some buyers claim to use it for professional purposes as well, despite its reasonably affordable price. This model has a focal length of 660 mm and an aperture of 102 mm, which is more than you will find on most beginner telescopes on the market. Although this device is quite heavy and large, it is still somewhat portable, allowing it to be used outdoors. It weighs only 14.1 pounds, which makes it the best lightweight telescope for planet watching. So you can easily carry it with you on hunting or shooting trips.
It is equipped with two eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm), which give you great flexibility in adjustment and allow you to easily look at distant and close objects. The camera is also equipped with a Red Dot Finderscope, which makes it easy to track objects. In addition to providing clear, sharp images, this telescope also makes them vertical, thanks to the right star diagonal that corrects images vertically and horizontally. The set includes focusing knobs with adequate resistance, allowing you to focus easily.
It also uses an altazimuth mount, which will certainly improve your concentration skills even if you are a beginner. The mount is equipped with a panoramic handle that allows you to tilt the telescope in any way you wish. Finally, it comes with Astronomy Suite software to enhance your observation. We wish it came with a case to house the components, but it’s a great choice for beginners and professionals alike.
- Type in
- 660mm (f/6.5)
- 10mm: 66X and 20mm: 33X (1.25″)
- 14.1 lbs.
- all-glass optics with a full-height adjustable steel tripod and accessory tray
Celestron NexStar 5 SE
Although very portable, the Celestron NexStar 5 SE is one of the most powerful telescopes on this list. The telescope is small and light, making it easy to set up and carry. Like other similar Celestron models, the 5CE comes with a single mount, making it very easy to transport. In addition, it can be disassembled into smaller parts, which adds to its overall portability.
In addition, the Celestron NexStar 5SE is a computerised telescope that is easy to use, regardless of your skill level: it has a function that allows it to align itself automatically and provides a database of around 40,000 nighttime objects. So you can adjust your telescope effortlessly, recognise the celestial bodies you see, and even get the telescope to show particular nighttime objects with little effort.
In addition, the Celestron NexStar 5SE offers a five-inch aperture that allows it to make the most of the available light to get the best possible images. The included eyepiece offers 50X magnification and the built-in SkyAlign technology allows even beginners to quickly and easily align their telescope by focusing on three nighttime objects. You can also use the telescope with camera accessories if you want to take pictures of the sky.
The Celestron 5SE has only one drawback, namely that the 8AA batteries supplied have a short life and can only be used for about two hours. Therefore, you need an optional power source for longer stargazing trips.
- computerised; catadioptric
- 1250mm (f/10)
- Plossl 25mm: 50X
- 27.6 lbs.
- Fully automated GoTo mount with a database of over 40,000 celestial objects that allows for automatic object location and tracking
Orion 10016 StarBlast 6
The Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 has a number of features that make it attractive to those looking for a portable and convenient viewing instrument. Perhaps its most notable feature is its tabletop design. It has a durable reflective base that allows the telescope to be easily placed on the bonnet of a car or on a table to view the sky. In addition, the small base is pre-assembled, allowing beginners to easily and instantly adjust their telescope.
While this scope is ideal for amateurs, it offers optics and views that will also appeal to experienced astronomers. It has a six-inch aperture that lets in plenty of light. In addition, the telescope features reflector technology that uses mirrors to collect light and transmit it to the eyepiece. This technology allows for more accurate images because the colours of the light are less likely to distort as it passes through the telescope.
Other features you’ll find on the device include two eyepieces for sharper views and higher magnification, as well as a 750mm focus ratio. Weighing in at just 23 pounds when assembled, this scope is compact and has built-in carrying features that improve portability. The height of the scope is ideal for children, and adults can also enjoy it by placing it on the bonnet of a car or on a table. The only drawbacks of the scope are that it always has to be attached to something and it comes with a cheap plastic focuser.
- Focal length
- 750mm (f/5)
- Sirius Plossl 25mm: 30X and 10mm: 75X (1.25″)
- 23.5 lbs.
- EZ Finder II sighting device, eyepiece holder and Starry Night software
Instruments Meade 216003 Polaris
Meade Instruments is another highly regarded company in the telescope business, and the Meade Instruments 216003 is another sign that the company does not seem to be resting on its laurels. With a focal length of 900mm, you can expect this telescope to deliver high quality images. While the 3.5-inch aperture may not seem like much, it actually opens the doors to the sky since the optics are of high quality. This model is particularly well suited to beginners who are looking for a simple instrument for observing the planets.
The f/6.7 focal ratio of the telescope is only medium speed, but it is decent enough for a beginner astronomer. However, the most remarkable thing about this telescope is its durable and stable German equatorial mount, which is the most recommended mount for beginner and expert astronomers. The mount has slow-motion controls to make tracking cosmic objects simple and smooth. The camera is also equipped with three eyepieces (26mm, 9mm and 6.3mm) that allow you to vary your observing situations. The included 2x Barlow lens effectively doubles the magnification power of each eyepiece.
Although many users of this equipment think that it is not easy to assemble, they all agree that it offers superb views of the Moon, which means that it is an ideal option if you are looking for simple integration into space observation.
- 900mm (f/6.7)
- 6.3mm, 9mm and 26mm (1.25″)
- 20 lbs.
- Includes a 2x Barlow lens that doubles the magnification power of each eyepiece
How to observe the planets with a domestic telescope?
It is quite easy to view planets through a home telescope, just follow a few steps. First, find the precise location of the planet you want to observe at the time of the observation. You can find sky almanacs online that will tell you the position, azimuth and altitude of the planet at any given time.
To find the planet in the night sky, find a bright object that does not shine as brightly as the nearby stars, then compare the object’s location on the star chart. If the object does not appear on the map, then it is a planet.
Now point your spotting scope at the object. Use your finder to aim and make adjustments to the primary telescope. If your telescope has an adjustable magnification, start with a lower magnification to locate the planet, then move to a higher magnification to see the details. Focus your telescope using the edge of the planetary disk. The circular edge should be bright and clear when the telescope is properly focused.
Adjust your scope to counteract the apparent motion of the sky. As the Earth is constantly rotating, the sky appears to change position from time to time. This spinning motion will quickly cause you to lose sight of the planet you are looking at. The refractor’s drive motors are able to keep up with this regular motion, or you can even manually move the refractor every couple of minutes.
Features to consider when choosing a telescope
Before you buy the best home telescope for observing the planets, there are a few things you should consider. Different models are suitable for different skill levels, so you need to keep in mind the factors you are looking for.
There are three main types of scope and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Scopes are generally classified according to their ability to capture light and their approach. When looking for the perfect model to see through light pollution, there is no better choice than the refractor type. Reflector scopes are also suitable for lunar and planetary observations. Reflector telescopes, on the other hand, are suitable for deep sky observation and are not really suitable for observing through light pollution. They require constant adjustment and alignment if you use them regularly. The third type is the compound refractor, which is a combination of refractor and reflector elements. They are ideal for general sky observation and are very good for observing through light pollution.
The size of the telescope aperture is a huge factor to consider when buying a telescope, as it determines how much you will be able to see through the telescope. There is a proportionality between the size of the telescope and the resolving power, which is the ability of the telescope to show detail. Basically, this means that the higher the resolving power, the more the telescope will be able to display nearby objects one by one.
Larger telescopes are able to collect more light, which makes it possible to see fainter objects. This is particularly important if the sky is polluted. Large aperture models on this list include the Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 and our Editor’s Choice, the Orion 09007.
Another important consideration is the focal length. It is essentially a measurement that determines the magnification of the telescope. We will not go into the scientific definitions, but will just mention that there is a direct correlation between the focal length of the telescope and the eyepiece lens. Choose a model with a long focal length, such as the Celestron NexStar 5 SE and the Meade Instruments 216003.
An essential feature of any scope is its mount. The mount provides the stable position that is fundamental for a sharp, clear image. In general, there are two main telescope mounts on the market: the equatorial mount and the altazimuth mount.
The eyepiece plays an important role in planetary observation. To get a clear and sharp planetary image, you will need an eyepiece with high magnification and short focal length. When thinking about planetary observation, you should keep in mind that the eyepiece should not exceed 50X magnification for each inch of aperture. For example, you should not exceed a magnification of 200X if you have a four-inch diameter (aperture) telescope.
When it comes to astronomical telescopes, bigger is not always better. A long focal length is ideal, especially if you intend to observe high-powered objects such as double stars, the Moon or planets.
You should also consider additional features, such as included accessories and warranty conditions. Telescopes for observing planets are usually expensive, and you don’t want to make such an investment without having the necessary security. The warranty, in this case, is your security and you should consider the warranty terms when choosing the model that meets your needs. You should also look for products that come with useful accessories and instructional DVDs.
Our top choice is the Orion 09007 for its superb combination of high quality and affordability, a rarity these days. Although it does not have all the features of the more expensive models, it offers excellent value for money, making it the most affordable telescope for observing planets and galaxies.
The Celestron 22065 Astro Master comes in second place. With its excellent adjustability, performance, portability and ease of mounting, few can argue with the quality of this instrument.
The Celestron NexStar 5 SE, which happens to have the longest focal length of all the products here, is our third favourite. With over 40,000 nighttime objects in its database, coupled with its great optics, this camera was a pretty easy choice. Although it is a little more expensive than most similar models, it offers excellent value for money.
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