A solar eclipse occurs when a portion of the Earth is engulfed in a shadow cast by the Moon which fully or partially blocks sunlight. This occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are aligned.
It can be a phenomenal sight to witness if you’re lucky enough to get the chance.
Looking directly at a solar eclipse with your naked eye can cause eye damage and trouble with vision. Telescopes are great for viewing eclipses in detail without harming your eyes.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite telescopes that are suitable for use during a solar eclipse.
In a hurry? Here’s a quick link to our favorite telescope on the market right now and a few reasons why we think you’ll love it.
- Aperture - 70mm
- Focal Length - 400mm
- Focal ratio - f/5.7
- 2 eyepieces and 3x Barlow lens included
- Adjustable aluminum tripod included
- Wireless camera remote included
- Smartphone adaptor included
- Handy carry bag included
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Gskyer’s AZ70400 telescope is by far the most popular telescope on Amazon right now and it has plenty of positive reviews to put your mind at ease.
Gskyer originated in China and they’ve been manufacturing telescopes since 1992. Since then. Gskyer has grown in popularity and is a well-known name among astronomy enthusiasts worldwide.
Their AZ70400 model has plenty of features that could improve your solar eclipse observation experience. It has an aperture of 70mm and a focal length of 400mm.
While this may sound quite underwhelming, these are great optics for those who are new to astronomy and those who are observing a solar eclipse for the first time.
This telescope comes with a 3x Barlow lens and 2 eyepieces. One eyepiece is 10mm in size and has a magnification of x40. The other eyepiece is 25mm in size and provides magnification up to 16x.
If you use the Barlow lens along with the larger eyepiece, the magnifying capability is greatly increased.
Focusing on your target accurately is crucial when observing a lunar eclipse, that’s why we love the mounting bracket and precise crosshairs that come with this model.
This telescope has a wireless camera remote and smartphone adapter, modernizing and simplifying your observation.
- Good optics
- Comes with 2 eyepieces and a 3x Barlow lens
- Features finderscope
- Adjustable aluminum tripod
- Includes wireless camera remote
- Smartphone adapter included
- Carry bag provided
- Complicated and limited instructions
Next up is Orion's 10015 StarBlast Reflector Telescope. This is another popular choice among astronomy enthusiasts and Amazon reviewers alike.
The 10015 StarBlast has a focal length of 450mm and an aperture of 114mm. This helps to improve the sharpness of the image and allows you to see finer details, such as small craters on the moon.
This telescope includes two eyepieces, one measuring 17mm and the other measuring 6mm. The telescope itself fixes onto a sturdy aluminum base that rotates smoothly.
The StarBlast is fitted with ultra-modern technology to make your life easier. The EX Finder II that is included can help to improve focus and reduce blur.
This telescope even comes complete with Celestron’s unique Starry Night astronomy software. This software works alongside Mac and PCs to improve overall telescope control.
The StarBlast is a compact piece of equipment that makes it ideal for on-the-go observations and easy storage.
- Good optics
- 17mm and 6mm eyepieces included
- Stable aluminum base
- Compact and portable design
- Includes unique StarryNight software
- Low magnification compared to other similar models
Our third addition to this list is yet another portable option. This portable refractor telescope from Occer is an excellent choice for a budget-friendly telescope that is powerful enough to observe a solar eclipse.
This telescope’s optics are ideal for beginners. It’s fitted with a 400mm focal length and a 700mm aperture.
These specifications are suitable for novices but are impressive enough to provide a high-quality observation experience.
The eyepieces that come with this telescope measure 9mm and 20mm. The 9mm eyepiece can be used at the same time as the 3x Barlow lens included if your goal is to increase magnification.
This telescope comes with a stainless steel tripod that allows you to pivot 360 degrees. This is ideal for viewing a solar eclipse as it ensures that you won’t miss any of the action.
Some other handy features on this telescope include diagonal mirrors for easy viewing, and a well-made carry case for all of your equipment.
- Good optics
- 9mm and 20mm eyepieces included
- 3x Barlow lens included
- Diagonal mirror improves visibility
- Finderscope included
- Adjustable steel tripod included
- Includes carry case and smartphone adapter
- Some reviewers found that the focus on this telescope could be a little tricky to figure out
Our next telescope worth mentioning if you plan on observing a solar eclipse is this Evoguide 50 made by Sky-Watcher.
This brand has been making high-quality astronomy equipment since the late 90s, and it’s easy to see why this model is a favorite among Amazon reviewers.
Refractor telescopes are great for beginners as it automatically adjusts to correct lighting and color, eliminating the need for manual adjustments.
This telescope has a focal length of 242mm and a 50mm objective lens. This is great for low-lit areas, making it perfect for viewing a solar eclipse.
It includes a 1.25-inch socket and T2 thread which makes camera connectivity super effortless. Alignment screws and rings have also been included.
- Apochromatic lens
- Powerful objective lens
- T2 thread makes camera connection simple
- Includes alignment rings and screws
- Portable and lightweight
- No eyepieces are included
Last but certainly not least is one of the most popular telescope models on Amazon, the Meade Polaris 114 Reflector Telescope.
This telescope has great optics that can create an optimal viewing experience during a solar eclipse. This telescope has a 114mm aperture and 1000mm focal length.
This helps to keep the image sharp, clear, and free from blur. This model comes with 3 separate eyepieces which measure 26mm, 9mm, and 6.3mm.
A 2x Barlow lens has also been included so that you can double the power of these eyepieces.
This telescope even has a stable mount and a red dot viewfinder that makes locating certain astronomical objects a breeze.
The tripod is made from stainless steel and can be set up in a matter of minutes, making it perfect for on-the-go observations.
Innovative AutoStar Suite software comes with this model which allows you to customize your viewing experience.
In case you’re new to telescopes, this model includes an in-depth instructional DVD to help get you started.
- Great optics
- 3 eyepieces and 2x Barlow lens included
- Stable mount
- Stainless steel tripod included
- Red dot viewfinder
- Includes unique AutoStar Suite software
- Instructional DVD included
- Assembly may require more than one person to complete
Best Telescope For Solar Eclipse Buying Guide
What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow over the latter. Solar eclipses can are a marvel to observe, whether you’re using equipment or not.
A total solar eclipse can plunge certain countries into complete darkness which can be an exciting and memorable event. Partial solar eclipses are far more common, but a lot less dramatic.
There’s at least a couple of solar eclipses every year, but many of these are often only visible in remote locations. Some avid astronomers will go to great lengths to witness a solar eclipse, sometimes that involves sailing out into the ocean.
Total Solar Eclipse
During a total solar eclipse, parts of the earth are completely blanketed in darkness as the moon blocks out all sunlight. The only light that remains visible is the outer atmosphere of the Sun, this white ring is called the corona.
A total solar eclipse can be an exciting experience and many people choose to celebrate these events. For a short while, the day literally turns into night. The sun will instantly set and you’ll be completely engulfed in darkness, regardless of what time of day it is.
To best observe a total solar eclipse, it’s crucial that you’re within the path of totality. This is where the moon blocks 100% of the sun’s light. These areas are usually hard to locate as they’re quite small and don’t necessarily have to be on land.
Even if you get as close as an area that blocks 99% of the Sun’s rays, you won’t experience the true wonder of totality.
Partial Solar Eclipse
A partial solar eclipse is exactly what it sounds like. It occurs when the moon only covers part of the Sun, therefore not blocking all of its light. A partial eclipse will be visible to those who are just outside of the path of totality.
A partial eclipse can also sometimes be observed by those who are within the path of totality, just before and just after the period of complete darkness.
As the Moon slowly moves in front of the Sun, more and more of it will begin to disappear. The moon will pass across the Sun and its light is able to reach Earth again. The further away from the path of totality you choose to observe the eclipse, the less light the moon blocks.
What features should I look for?
As astronomy becomes more and more popular, telescopes are becoming widely available to the average person. A good quality telescope can be found for less than $300, and a higher spec model will set you back slightly more.
With so many options available on the market, it can be difficult to know what features are important for observing a solar eclipse.
Whether you're looking to buy your first telescope or just researching the possibility, this guide will help you to make the right decision. Below we’ve identified the most valuable features to look out for when buying a telescope to watch a solar eclipse.
You’ll need to consider the size of the telescope, as well as its aperture, value for money, and portability. Each telescope has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Before jumping straight into a purchase, consider what sort of telescope is ideal for your skill level. The darkness of the sky you plan to observe will affect what kind of telescope will work best for you. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with the different types of telescopes on the market.
Arguably the most important element of a telescope is its aperture. This is another word for the diameter of the lens or mirror. The aperture of a telescope is important because it can determine how bright the image will appear and how sharp it will be.
It’s a good idea to fully understand the importance of aperture before making a purchase as it’s crucial to your ability to see the night sky.
As a rule of thumb, the bigger the aperture the better the telescope. For example, a 6-inch telescope will allow you to see the craters on the Moon’s surface, even ones that are less than a mile in diameter.
However, if you’re using a telescope with a 3-inch scope, you’ll only be able to see craters that are less than half a mile in diameter. A telescope that has a larger scope will improve what sort of sights you can observe.
A 6-inch telescope is capable of collecting four times more light than a 3-inch telescope. This means that whatever you’re observing will appear four times brighter, which can dramatically change your experience.
Your view of a solar eclipse will depend on the aperture of your telescope.
To those who have never used a telescope before, it may seem confusing when you realize that it isn’t actually an aperture that determines its magnification. In fact, a telescope has the ability to magnify as much as you like.
However, the range of magnification will depend on what eyepiece you use. Finding the optimum magnification for what you’re observing is key. If not, your target could appear too dim and far away, or too close and blurry.
Astronomers that observe far-away objects and galaxies will often opt for a low-powered telescope. If you plan on observing brighter things, such as a solar eclipse, we recommend going no higher than medium-powered telescopes.
If you try to view bright objects through a scope with excessive magnification, the image may appear grainy, pixelated, or blurry.
Fortunately, there’s a little rule that can prompt you to remember how much power is too much power. If your telescope’s aperture is measured in inches, your magnification should be 50 times this amount.
However, if your telescope’s aperture is measured in millimeters, then double this amount to find the perfect rate of magnification. This rule is only helpful if the scope in question has perfect optics and the conditions are clear and steady.
In other words, a good 4-inch telescope should only be pushed to around 200x. Remembering this can help you to make a smarter purchase as you’ll no longer be fooled by advertising techniques that claim that their telescopes are delivering ‘maximum power.’
Jupiter’s cloud belts and Saturn’s famous rings can be observed with a telescope that only has a magnification of 75x.
Even if you have a top-of-the-range telescope, you may realize that its detail quality isn’t always consistent. For example, some nights you may be able to observe fine lunar details whereas other nights you’ll struggle to see any definition at all.
When your telescope is set to high power, you may only see some shimmering and blurriness. This isn’t due to any fault of the telescope though, it’s actually caused by the Earth’s unpredictable atmosphere. Atmospheric conditions are often localized.
This means that you may be able to see perfectly in one location, but have little to no “seeing” just a mile down the road. If you choose a telescope that has a large aperture, you’re more likely to be able to spot fine details on the moon. However, regardless of aperture, the better the “seeing”, the more you can see.
The best piece of advice we can give to any budding astronomer is to practice. Any professional will tell you that it’s not what you look at, but how you look.
Over time and with practice you will become better at picking out important details and you’re likely to become more patient when observing your target.
Now that you know how the conditions of the sky can limit your observation, you may be wondering why size is even important at all.
Telescopes that have a big aperture, typically larger than 10 inches are great for those who want to observe dim objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters.
These objects are further away and therefore require lower powers. If you’re looking to observe something bright, such as a solar eclipse, the size of your telescope isn’t the most important factor to consider.
Larger telescopes also tend to experience shorter exposure times, which can cause problems for those who are interested in astrophotography. These problems can cause further issues if your telescope has a short focal length.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a large budget for your telescope, you should consider whether portability is an important factor to you.
If your telescope is very large, you’re not going to be able to move it around freely and will probably require a spacious observatory or a lot of strong people to lift and move it.
It's easy to be tempted by"aperture fever," which can inspire you to buy the biggest and most expensive telescope that you can find. However, these impulsive purchases often end up gathering dust in the basement or rotting away in the attic.
You need to ensure that your telescope is a practical size for you to use regularly. The more often you use your telescope, the more you’ll be able to see.
It’s also a good idea to check the item specifications of your telescope before purchasing, as some can be extremely heavy to transport and you may need to arrange some help.