Shopping for a telescope is definitely no easy task. You’ll see plenty of different features, price tags, and promises. While some telescopes may be better than others (i.e., better optics), you can definitely find a quality telescope for under $500.
In this article we’ll review the five best telescopes under $500 readily available on Amazon.
If you’re not sure what to look for in a telescope, don’t worry, because you might need less than you think. When shopping for a telescope you should definitely look into the features, but some features are more important than others.
In many cases, some features can actually prove to be quite useless for certain applications. Here are some of the core features you should be looking at:
- Aperture size
- Focal Length
- The overall size of the telescope
- Deep space capabilities
- Mount types
- Computer enhanced technologies
Be sure to read our ultimate telescope guide for all the nitty-gritty details of what to look for when purchasing your first telescope.
The good news? You can find all of these features for under $500. So without wasting anymore time, let’s dive right in, and take a look at 5 of the best telescopes under $500. The best telescope under $500 might surprise you.
The NexStar 4SE is truly a professional telescope. You can focus on deep space with relative ease, and you can even scan the deep craters of the moon. You’ll have plenty of light to clearly see what you’re looking at, and won’t be disappointed if you plan on stargazing often.
The NexStar 4SE also comes equipped with computer configuration, so you’ll be able to view the depths of space with surprising levels of precision. For any level of stargazer, this is definitely a great option.
The price comes in at about $450, and while that may be higher than others on this list, you’ll find that it is truly a great bargain.
Here are some of the features the NexStar has to offer:
- Maps with thousands of deep space viewing opportunities
- GPS capabilities with additional upgrades
- A 14 inch tube with a compact design as powerful as larger models
- A tripod and mount
- A patented single control arm type design
- Computerized mounts
- Educational CD designed to help show beginners the ropes
- Active software updates
The NexStar 4SE may be the most expensive telescope on the list, but that does not mean that it is a waste of money.
You’ll have plenty of options to upgrade, so if you’re looking to make stargazing a real hobby, you won’t need to worry about buying another telescope. Plus, out of the box, you’ll have everything you need to get started.
The computer interface makes it incredibly easy to get precise results, so you definitely won’t be disappointed. If you’re looking for a telescope that will last you many years, and has great upgrade potential, the NexStar 4SE is definitely the telescope for you.
The NexStar 4SE is also extremely portable, and you’ll be happy to hear that it can be easily broken down and reassembled. The components are all lightweight, and with a lens power of 53x you’ll find that you can see as far as you’ll ever need too.
The reason this telescope is great for both beginners and experts, is due to the fact that the computer comes programmed with plenty preset destinations that will definitely drop your jaw. This telescope just might be one of thee best telescopes under $500.
While this telescope comes packed with plenty of features out of the box, you’ll definitely encounter one slight issue.
This telescope has amazing capabilities, but to really unlock the full potential of this telescope you’ll need to purchase some additional components. These components can cost about $80 per piece, which can immediately send you over that $500 budget.
So if you’re looking for something that is 100% perfect out of the box, you might end up a bit disappointed with the NexStar 4SE.
The Sky Watcher S11610 telescope is great if you’re looking for a powerful telescope. The price point sits right at $400, making it very competitive when it comes to pricing.
This telescope is extremely simple to use, and if you’re into deep space sightseeing, this telescope definitely has what you’re looking for.
Dobsonian telescopes are often given the title of “best bang for your buck”. This is because they are the among the cheapest telescopes for their aperture size – one of the most important feature in a telescope.
Some features of the Sky Watcher S11610 that you should know about are:
- Has an aperture size of 8 inches (203 mm)
- 1200 mm focal length (f/5.9)
- 2” single-speed Crayford-style focuser with 1.25” adaptor
- 4-element Plössl 25 mm and 10 mm 1.25” eyepieces
- Solid rocker-mount with Teflon bearings and tension clutch for altitude
The Sky Watcher S11610 telescope is great for people who are planning to go for deep-space objects. The large aperture size makes viewing the planets and distant galaxies a breeze.
You’ll also be more than satisfied with the two Plössl eyepieces. The reason this telescope makes the list of best telescopes under $500, is definitely due to its unmatched ability to capture light.
While this telescope might come packed with everything you need, it is definitely the larger of the telescopes in the list.
The Sky Watcher S11610 may have the others beat when it comes to light gathering ability, but it tends to lack when it comes to technology.
If you’re someone who is interested in the more technological aspect of stargazing, you might be disappointed. That said, the Sky Watcher S11610 is definitely in the running for the best telescopes under $500.
#3. Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Newtonian
The Celestron AstroMaster is a telescope that truly offer excellent potential for an excellent price. The price point comes in at at around $400, and for the price, you really can’t beat the features that come with it.
While it might not be as technologically advanced as some of the other telescopes on this list, you’ll find that it definitely makes up for this with its ease of use and can easily find its place in the best telescopes under $500.
Some features you can expect to find in the Celestron AstroMaster out of the box are:
- Wireless technology
- Impressive zoom magnification
- Great light reflecting ability
- A tripod and mount
The Celestron AstroMaster telescope comes packed with plenty of great lenses, and quite powerful zoom options. On most fronts, this telescope thrives on a 120 millimeter focal lens that provides excellent zoom ranges.
If you’re a beginner, or an expert, you’ll find that the Celestron AstroMaster comes with enough features to keep you entertained.
While this telescope has quite a bit in common with the competition on this list, the reason this telescope stands out is due to its Newtonian design.
Not a lot of cons with this telescope at this price-point. The only downside, when compared to the NexStar 4SE reviewed above, is it lacks computerized go-to functionality. If this isn’t an important feature for you then this telescope is a great buy.
The Orion 9024 telescope definitely gives you plenty of bang for your buck. You’ll have access to sleek design, and plenty of stargazing potential right out of the box.
For about $300 you could definitely do worse, and you’ll definitely be impressed by the amount of features this telescope has. Think of it as a step up from the Orion StarBlast II.
The Orion 9024 telescope is great for both beginners and experts, and is designed to be used often. The 90 millimeter tube will definitely have you drooling over the stars in no time.
Some features you can expect out of the box are:
- Power magnifications at 36x and 91x
- A 25 millimeter eyepiece
- Two different eye pieces
- Planetarium software
- An equalizer for easy stabilization
- 910 millimeter focal tube
The Orion 9024 telescope is excellent for both experts and beginners. The large focal tube makes it easy for adults to use, and the magnification capabilities are unmatched for the price. You’ll be able to see deep into space from the convenience of your home.
You can even switch eyepiece options, and you’ll find that stabilizing this telescope is extremely simple. Plus, right of the box, you’ll have access to top of the line planetarium software.
While the Orion 9024 telescope is stellar in most departments, there are a few reasons you might want to stay away from it. The main reason is that it is not family oriented. The sheer size of the telescope only makes it useful for adults, and it definitely lacks in the portability department.
You also might not want to hear this, but this telescope is prone to wobbling on occasion which can make stargazing quite the hassle. This is generally mounting issue, so try some at home troubleshooting before you give up on it.
The Orion 9024 definitely comes close to being the best telescope under $500.
The Orion StarBlast II will cost you about $300, and is a great telescope for anyone who is looking to dip their toes into the vast world of stargazing.
This telescope is fantastic, because it comes with slow motion capabilities which allow you to configure the four and a half inch refractor tube with relative ease. This is great for beginners, because it allows you to easily maintain a precise view of what you’re trying to look at.
Here are some of the features you can expect to find in the StarBlast II:
- An aperture tube and reflector tube (4.5 inch diameter are the standard for both tubes)
- A sturdy equalizer for increased stability and slow motion aiming
- An equatorial mount with tripod
- A 450 millimeter focal length
- Views ranging from 18 to 45 lens power
- A map of the moon
- A standard reflex sight
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the stargazing world, this is a great telescope for you. The StarBlast II is also great for children, and tends to be a great telescope for the whole entire family. Everyone can aim, look, and smile, through this telescope because it is so easy to use.
If you’re someone who doesn’t care too much about the details of stargazing, then this telescope can make a great toy for stargazing adventures. This telescope is also extremely compact and lightweight, which makes it easy to pack up and setup.
Plus, if you find it difficult to aim a telescope, you’ll find that the equalizer makes this extremely simple.
If you’re someone who plans on really diving into the world of stargazing, you might want to avoid the StarBlast II. While this telescope may come with everything you need, you’ll find that it is definitely lacking in some departments.
The ability to upgrade this telescope is also isn’t the greatest, and the actual tube is not exactly the easiest to look into.
At the end of the day, for anything other than simple stargazing, you might want to steer clear of this telescope. The power level when it comes to magnification is also lacking.
Sadly, you’ll only be able to get a 45x zoom. Is the StarBlast II the best telescope under $500? You can probably find better.
Best Telescopes Under $500 – Final Verdict
Finding a telescope is not an easy task, and if you’re just getting started, it can be even harder to know what you’re looking at.
While you might be tempted to start out with a $3,000 telescope with top of the line features, you might actually be better off going with one of the telescopes listed above.
You can find any of them on Amazon for under $500, and they definitely have everything you need.
The Best Telescope Under $500
Telescopes may be about personal preference, but there is definitely one on this list that stands out from the pack. If you’re looking for a well rounded telescope, with all of the features you’ll need, you should definitely consider the NexStar 4SE.
This telescope comes packed with easy computer based alignment, and is a great telescope for stargazers at any level. For $449, you really can’t find more bang for your buck when it comes to telescopes.
That concludes our discussion on the “Best Telescopes Under $500”. I hope this article been of value to you and has provided you with everything you need to make an informed purchase.
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