Astrophotography is the art of capturing still images of space: specifically, of astronomical objects and celestial occurrences.
This form of astronomical photography is a great way to enhance your photography skillset and portfolio while learning more about and appreciating the beauty of the incredible galaxy around us!
The first thing you’ll need in order to take professional-quality photographs of space is a good telescope. Using the right telescope for astrophotography will help you to obtain a clear image of the celestial object or event you want to photograph.
An astrophotography telescope will be able to connect to your camera, allowing you to capture the perfect image.
We’ve compiled a guide to the best telescopes for astrophotography available on the astronomy market to get you started!
In a hurry? Make a start on your next astrophotography project right away with our top pick: Gskyer Telescope AZ70400
- 70mm aperture
- 400mm focal length
- Focal ratio f/5.7
- 2 eyepieces and 3x Barlow lens
- Adjustable aluminum tripod
- Wireless camera remote included
- Smartphone adaptor provided
- Includes carry bag
OUR TOP PICK
If you search for astrophotography telescopes online, one of the first and most emphatic recommendations you’ll get will be for Gskyer’s AZ70400 telescope.
Gskyer is a Chinese company that has been manufacturing telescopes since 1992. Since being founded nearly 30 years ago, Gskyer has gone on to become one of the most trusted manufacturers of telescopes worldwide.
But The AZ70400’s popularity is about far more than just brand recognition. This telescope model boasts a range of exciting and advanced features that make it perfect for astrophotographers of any experience level.
One of the most appealing features of the AZ70400 refracting telescope is its modest, yet good-quality optics.
With an aperture of 70mm and a focal length of 400mm (f/5.7), this might not be the most visually powerful telescope on the market, but its optics are ideal for beginners or children who want to try out astrophotography without breaking the bank.
2 eyepieces and a 3x Barlow lens are included with the AZ70400 telescope. The 10mm eyepiece has a magnification of x40 while the 25mm eyepiece will magnify an image 16 times.
The Balow lens can be used in conjunction with the eyepieces and will treble the magnifying capability of whichever eyepiece is being used.
If all that magnifying power wasn’t enough, the AZ70400 also features a finder scope, complete with a compatible mounting bracket and precise crosshairs, to help you focus in on your target accurately.
The adjustable aluminum tripod allows the user superior flexibility in terms of angling and positioning.
It can be folded for transportation in the provided carry bag, so you can easily take this telescope and all its accessories with you on your adventures!
To sweeten the deal even further, Gskyer has included a wireless camera remote and smartphone adapter with this telescope for effortless, uncomplicated astrophotography.
- Decent beginner optics
- Includes 2 eyepieces and a 3x Barlow lens
- Features finderscope
- Adjustable aluminum tripod
- Includes wireless camera remote
- Smartphone adapter included
- Carry bag provided
- Very limited instructions
For slightly more seasoned astrophotographers, one of the most popular telescope models is the Meade Polaris 114 Reflector Telescope.
This telescope features very high-quality optics that are sure to produce equally high-quality photographs.
The 114mm aperture and 1000mm focal length (f/8.8) ensure that each image will come out crisp, clear, and finely focused.
3 separate eyepieces are included with the purchase of the Polaris 114: a 26mm, a 9mm, and a 6.3mm.
A 2x Barlow lens has also been included so that you can double the capability of any of these eyepieces.
You can easily track any astronomical object or event using this telescope thanks to the stable, motion-controlled equatorial mount and red dot viewfinder.
The steel tripod is highly durable thanks to its metal construction and even includes a convenient accessory tray for easy accessibility and ergonomic use.
Also included with the Polaris 114 telescope is AutoStar Suite astronomical software, which allows the user additional control over the imaging and settings of the telescope.
An instructional DVD is also provided to help you get to grips with your brand new telescope as quickly as possible!
- High-quality optics
- Includes 3 eyepieces and 2x Barlow lens
- Stable equatorial mount
- Durable steel tripod
- Red dot viewfinder
- Includes AutoStar Suite software
- Instructional DVD included
- Complicated assembly process
Orion’s 10015 StarBlast Reflector Telescope is another popular telescope choice amongst amateur and intermediate astrophotographers.
The optics of this telescope are impressive thanks to a focal length of 450mm, an aperture of 114mm, and a focal ratio of f/4.
These optical ratings indicate that this telescope will be great for creating sharply focused and detailed images.
17mm and 6mm eyepieces are included with the StarBlast telescope along with an eyepiece rack to keep all your accessories safe and within reach. Orion has also provided a collimation cap for sight alignment.
Orion’s StarBlast mounts to a stable, tabletop altazimuth base that maneuvers smoothly and ergonomically for tracking moving objects.
The EX Finder II reflex sight will also make this process easier by helping you to focus accurately on the content of your image.
This telescope comes complete with Celestron’s Starry Night astronomy software, which is compatible with both Mac and PC computers and enables advanced telescope control.
The compact build of the StarBlast makes it an ideal telescope for traveling wherever the stars take you.
Perhaps best of all, this telescope arrives pre-assembled, so there’s no complicated assembly process to fight your way through before you can start taking incredible astronomical photographs!
- Impressive optics
- 17mm and 6mm eyepieces
- Stable tabletop base
- Compact, portable build
- Includes StarryNight software
- Not enough magnification for professional use
This portable refractor telescope from Occer is an excellent choice for a budget-friendly and child-friendly astrophotography telescope.
The Occer portable telescope has ideal beginner optics, including a 400mm focal length and a 700mm aperture.
These are really good numbers for beginners to start working with and they will ensure that your images come out crisp and clear.
You can take full advantage of this telescope’s satisfying optics with the 9mm and 20mm eyepieces provided.
The 9mm eyepiece can be used in conjunction with the included 3x Barlow lens for enhanced magnification.
Using the adjustable, stainless steel tripod, you can position your telescope as needed and rotate a full 360° to capture the best photographs.
The included diagonal mirror also allows for easy and ergonomic viewing from otherwise awkward angles.
A smartphone adaptor and telescope backpack are included with the Occer telescope to facilitate easy and practical astrophotography.
- Good-quality optics
- 9mm and 20mm eyepieces
- 3x Barlow lens
- Ergonomic diagonal mirror
- Finderscope included
- Adjustable steel tripod
- Includes telescope backpack
- Smartphone adaptor included
- Some reported issues with focusing
Sky-Watcher has been manufacturing quality products for amateur astronomers and astrophotographers since 1999, and the Evoguide 50 telescope is a perfect example of this.
The Evoguide 50 is an apochromatic refractor telescope, which means that the lens will automatically correct deviations in shape and color without any manual adjustment.
This is ideal for beginners since it allows telescope users to get straight into their astrophotography without getting bogged down with manual settings.
The 242mm focal length and focal ratio of f/4.8 provide more than enough focus to produce sharp, high-quality photographs.
The 1.25-inch helical focuser, meanwhile, allows the user to fine-tune the telescope’s focus as necessary.
This telescope features a 50mm objective lens, which is perfect for clear visibility in low lighting and, therefore, perfect for astrophotography.
A 1.25-inch socket and T2 thread are built into the Evoguide 50 telescope so that you can easily connect your camera or other telescopic accessories.
Alignment screws and rings have also been supplied so that you can correct your axis alignment without too much trouble.
Ultimately, this is a highly effective, lightweight, and portable telescope that is an accessible and practical option for amateur astrophotographers!
- Advanced apochromatic lens
- Powerful objective lens
- Fine-tunable focus
- T2 thread for camera connection
- Includes alignment rings and screws
- Lightweight and portable
- No eyepieces included
Best Telescope for Astrophotography Buying Guide
We hope that our reviews of the best telescopes for astrophotography have inspired you to invest in the best telescoping equipment for your astrophotography projects!
But if you’re still having trouble navigating all the different functions and components of the telescopes we’ve showcased, don’t worry: our buyer’s guide will go into more detail on the most important features and point you in the right direction.
The first thing you’ll need to decide on before buying your astrophotography telescope is what kind of telescope you want.
If you’ve been paying close attention, you may have noticed that we’ve been referring to the telescopes featured in our review section as either ‘reflecting’ or ‘refracting’.
Now, reflector and refractor telescopes have different optical and functional capabilities, so it’s important to understand the differences between the two so that you can make an informed and calculated decision as to which telescopic type will work best for your astrophotography endeavors.
First and foremost, the internal construction of a refractor telescope is built around lenses, while a reflector telescope relies on the use of mirrors for its optics. Whereas refractor telescopes work simply by directing light that hits the lens through to the eyepiece, a reflector telescope involves a couple of extra steps.
Instead of the light passing straight through to the eyepiece once it has entered the optical tube, a pair of mirrors inside the reflector telescope reflect the light beam twice within the tube.
These mirrors accumulate the light and direct it towards the eyepiece in a way that ensures a brighter, clearer image (in theory).
From this explanation, you might be thinking that a reflector telescope is undoubtedly the superior telescopic type, but it’s not quite as simple as that. There are several advantages and drawbacks to each type of telescope.
Although reflector telescopes are typically able to produce brighter and clearer images, on average, than refractor telescopes, refractors do have the upper hand in several areas.
For one thing, because reflector telescopes rely on large mirrors to boost their optical quality, they tend to be bigger and more cumbersome to work with than refractor telescopes.
This means that reflector telescopes, despite the boost in brightness and clarify that they may offer, are often not easily portable and might be more difficult to manipulate.
Another thing to consider is that, because reflector telescopes don’t use lenses, the optical tube of a reflector telescope is essentially open during use.
This means that the mirrors inside are frequently exposed to all kinds of tiny debris, including dust. Accumulation of debris inside a reflector telescope can impact the reflective quality of the mirrors and, in turn, negatively affect the quality of your photographs.
Therefore, reflector telescopes require much more maintenance in the way of cleaning than refractor telescopes. They are also likely to need collimating (the realignment of the mirrors) for consistent optics.
Refractor telescopes, on the other hand, may not produce images of the same brightness as reflector telescopes, but they definitely hold their own in other areas.
For instance, a refractor telescope with multiple lenses has the ability to produce extremely clear and detailed images without the need for internal cleaning or collimation. Additionally, they tend to be much more portable, but they are often more expensive.
So, ultimately, the decision between a reflector and refractor telescope will come down to whether you will be prioritizing bright images and affordable prices or sharpness, portability, and ease of maintenance.
Once you’ve established what kind of telescope you want for your astrophotography endeavors, you’ll need to start thinking about what kind of optics you’re looking for.
The main terms you’ll need to familiarize yourself with in this regard are ‘aperture’, ‘focal length’, and ‘focal ratio’.
Aperture refers to the size of a telescope’s opening and is usually measured in millimeters. The larger the opening, the more light will be able to enter the telescope’s optical tube, and the brighter and clearer your image is likely to be.
A good aperture for beginners who perhaps want to try out astrophotography without paying for a telescope with very high-quality optics is 70mm. This is the lower end of the aperture scale that will still provide decent visibility.
Higher quality telescopes, however, can have apertures up to and over 300mm.
The focal length of a telescope is essentially a fancy term for the telescope’s length. Essentially, the longer the distance between the objective lens of the telescope and the surface on which the image is created, the larger your image will appear.
So, if you want to take close-up photographs of celestial events or objects, you will need a higher focal length. A focal length of about 400mm is a good starting point for beginners, but for larger, higher-quality images, you may need to shell out a little more for a telescope with a focal length of closer to 1000mm.
A telescope’s focal ratio basically brings the aperture and focal length of a telescope together into a single rating which measures the speed and magnification of the telescope.
The focal ratio is calculated by dividing a telescope’s focal length by its aperture. Things can get a little complicated here, but the important thing to remember is that a lower focal ratio (eg. f/4) will allow for a wider field of visibility, but the image won’t be as magnified as with higher focal ratios (eg. f/10) which provide close-up images within a smaller field of vision.
Eyepieces and Lenses
The optics built into your astrophotography telescope aren’t the only things that will dictate the quality of your images. It’s also worth taking note of what kinds of eyepieces and lenses are included with your telescope.
Lenses and eyepieces are responsible for magnification, so these little accessories will help you to produce detailed, close-up photographs of the night sky. Often, telescopes with lower apertures and focal lengths can be significantly improved y the use of high-quality eyepieces and lenses.
As far as eyepieces are concerned, the smaller the measurement of the eyepiece in millimeters, the greater the magnification will be. So, a 6mm eyepiece will magnify your image twice as much as a 12mm eyepiece.
Barlow lenses are also great additions to refractor telescopes. These lenses will effectively increase your telescope’s focal length for an extra boost of magnification.
Therefore, if you have a telescope with a lower focal length, a Barlow lens (often included) can help to rectify any magnification issues you may be having.
Mounts and Tripods
It’s all very well having a powerful telescope with high-quality optics, eyepieces, and lenses, but without the right tripod and mount, you’ll probably find it quite difficult to take good photographs.
A telescope tripod’s job is to keep your telescope steady in the correct position, while a mount is what will allow you to move and rotate your telescope to track moving targets.
Ideally, a tripod should be stable, durable, and adjustable so that you can adjust the angle and positioning of your telescope easily. We recommend an aluminum or stainless steel tripod that can be adjusted and, if possible, folded for easy transport.
The 2 main types of telescope mounts are equatorial and altazimuth mounts. Equatorial mounts are especially useful for taking photographs or moving celestial objects because they keep one axis parallel to the Earth’s rotational axis at all times, so it can follow a moving object without needing to be adjusted.
If you don’t anticipate doing a lot of moving target photography, however, a simple altazimuth mount may be the best choice for you. These mounts are typically much less expensive, intuitive, and generally simpler to work with.
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