If you’re committed to spying, it might be a good idea to invest in some gear to be more discreet. Since you’re here, you’ve decided to see what options are available to you, and we’re here to help.
We’ve gathered the best telescopes that are great for, let’s call it domestic use. This means they’re not too overpowered and they’re relatively small gadgets that you can keep in your home. You’re not spying on the moon, after all, so you don’t need to have the largest, clearest, and most expensive piece of equipment.
Below you’ll find five of our favorite telescope recommendations for spying, roughly ordered by their popularity and how much they’ll cost, so you can grab the one that best fits your needs.
What’s more, we’ve included a small buyers’ guide that tells you exactly what you should look for in telescopes. We’re assuming you’re not a stargazing enthusiast if you’re here, so consulting our buyers’ guide to find the best kind of telescope for you will be useful.
In a Hurry?
If you just want to get our two cents and leave, we’d suggest the Gskyer Refracting Travel Telescope as our top telescope for spying. It’s a very popular product that’s freely available and accessible to those who don’t have much experience with these gadgets, so it’s definitely something to check out. Here are some pertinent specs that you get with this telescope:
- Using a 3X Barlow lens, the telescope has 10mm and 25mm eyepieces that are ideal for acquiring closer targets. They’re also coated in high light transmission coating that brightens the field of view in a way that’s discreet.
- Thanks to the adjustable tripod at the base of this telescope, it can be positioned easily and conveniently to get more varied visuals, faster.
- The telescope comes with a camera remote, a smartphone adapter, and wireless connection functionality, and a carry bag to house the telescope and its peripheral gear safely during your travels.
OUR TOP PICK
For our first recommendation, we have the single #1 bestselling telescope refractor available on Amazon today. Why? Before we get into the specs, the fact this is a popular item on Amazon means that many thousands of people have bought this telescope online and found satisfaction with it.
Assuming it wasn’t 13,000 astronomers who left reviews, this makes the Gskyer Refracting Travel Telescope a safe recommendation for many of our readers.
With that said, let’s get into the details of what buying this telescope will get you. First, the telescope has ten millimeters and twenty-five millimeters eyepieces that come with this telescope and give you some freedom in what you can capture.
If the view from one eyepiece is too big or small, you can try swapping them and see if that works well. The telescope uses a 3X Barlow lens that triplicates the magnification of the eyepieces, so that’s something to be aware of if buying this one.
As is common with telescopes, all of these optics have high transmission coatings layered onto them. Transmitting what? Light, mainly.
The coating makes use of the light that’s already out there to brighten your view without introducing any artificial means of lighting which aren’t discreet, as you can imagine. These coatings are intended to brighten the night sky for astronomy, of course, but it has practical applications for spying too.
At the bottom of this telescope, you’ll find an adjustable tripod. Many astronomy telescopes are rather fixed but the use of an adjustable tripod is great for tracking moving targets or changing your object of focus very often.
The telescope also comes with a smartphone adapter and a wireless remote for the telescope’s camera function, so you have options in how you record the sights your telescope finds.
Not only that, but the telescope also comes with a carry bag that’s pretty convenient for storing the gear safely and transporting it across far distances. This makes the telescope great for both domestic uses and for taking with you when on the move.
- 10mm and 25mm interchangeable eyepieces are trebled in power by a 3X Barlow lens.
- This telescope’s optics have high transmission coatings on them to enhance and brighten images.
- An adjustable tripod allows this telescope to be set up at a variety of viewing positions.
- Retails with a wireless remote and a smartphone adapter.
- Also comes with a convenient carry bag for easy travel and storage.
- An introductory telescope, so it may disappoint those who know their telescopes.
The next telescope we have to recommend is from an established brand in the industry, so you may have heard of them. That would be the Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope, one of Celestron’s entry-level astronomy scopes.
The fact it’s an entry-level model not only keeps the price down but ensures that it’s easier to set up and learn to use for your spying needs.
The 127EQ telescope, like our number one suggestion, comes with two eyepieces that get fixed onto a 3X Barlow lens. The first of these is four millimeters while the second is twenty millimeters.
These give you a broad distance range to work with, allowing you to view whatever you’re spying on when it’s closer to you and when it’s farther away.
The construction of the 127EQ telescope is quite portable thanks to the lightweight materials used and the compact way that they’re joined together. Though it doesn’t have a carry case like our first recommendation, this telescope is still great for picking up and moving it to wherever it needs to be. It’ll also fit into most vehicles.
Though it’s a feature for navigating the sky, the manual German equatorial mount and its slow-motion altitude rod allow you to find your visuals smoothly and accurately.
Once you’ve got the visual you want, there’s a tightening cross knob on this Celestron telescope model that secures the visual and ensures you don’t accidentally lose it.
Your experience with Celestron doesn’t have to end when you check out. With this purchase, you get two years of unlimited access to Celestron technical support with US experts who speak the language and will understand whatever issues your telescope may have.
The user manual isn’t great but, thanks to the wonders of the internet, beginners should be able to find relevant tutorials on YouTube and similar websites.
- A handy entry-level telescope that’s affordable and easy to set up.
- This telescope uses a 3X Barlow lens with two eyepieces, a 4mm and 20mm.
- Pointing is smoother than ever thanks to a German equatorial mount and you can lock your visual once you’ve acquired it.
- Lightweight and compact, making it a great portability option.
- 2-year unlimited access to technical support from US experts.
- The user manual isn’t great.
The next model comes from Meade Instruments in the form of their 114 EQ Backyard Telescope, an achromatic refractor model that can deliver high-quality visuals once it has been properly set up.
We emphasize this setup process because this is quite a cumbersome telescope to shift around, so this is best used when you set up at a reliable, stationary location. Setup is also easy thanks to the inclusion of an instructional DVD with this purchase.
Now that we’ve got the side details out of the way, what can you expect on the actual telescope itself? Let’s talk about the lens and the eyepieces first.
This model has a 2X Barlow lens, a change from the 3X Barlow lenses in this list so far, and that comes with a powerful 6.3-millimeter eyepiece and weaker nine and twenty-six-millimeter eyepieces. This is the broadest magnification range yet, so this is a great option for those of you who want versatility.
This telescope also has a German equatorial mount that’s great for tracking moving targets without requiring fast, jerky motions. Finding the perfect visual is also made easier thanks to a red dot viewfinder that you can use to spot and home in on the object of your spying.
- An inexpensive achromatic refractor telescope that delivers high-quality visuals.
- Retails with three eyepieces, a high magnification 6.3mm eyepiece, and 9mm and 26mm variants, which all work in tandem with a 2X Barlow lens.
- German equatorial mount allows you to track moving targets smoothly.
- Comes with a red dot viewfinder that makes it easier to spot and focus on targets.
- Includes an instructional DVD that teaches you how to operate this telescope model.
- It’s not very portable.
The next telescope on our list is an affordable but powerful model, the Aomekie Astronomy Beginners Telescope. Don’t let the product’s title put you off, it’s designated as an astronomy telescope because it has an impressive magnification range at 28X to 234X.
This magnification is controlled through two Kellner eyepieces that come with this telescope, the high magnification K9mm and the relatively low magnification K25mm. You can also use a 3X Barlow lens to increase the magnification capabilities of the telescope.
Unlike many other telescopes, this Aomekie telescope creates an erect image. Much like our own eyeballs, many telescopes use a refractory method to capture an upside-down image that is then displayed the ‘correct’ way to us.
That isn’t the case here, thanks to this telescope’s 5X20 erect-image finderscope and a 128-degree diagonal. That diagonal can also be rotated to expand the field of view for your telescope, allowing you to keep an eye on more visuals at once.
The objective lens of this telescope measures in at 60mm and has numerous light control features built into it. The main two examples we should tell you about are the high light transmission lens coating on the lens itself and the moon filter.
The coating does just what that sounds like, facilitating the pathway of present light through the scope so you get a brighter image. The moon filter keeps this in check, however, ensuring that the brightness of bright objects is reduced so that they can be viewed in more detail.
As for the physical construction of this telescope, an aluminum tripod suspends it off the ground and can be locked at anywhere between sixty centimeters and one hundred and twenty centimeters, so you’re spoiled for choice in how you can set this model up.
It also has recording capabilities thanks to a phone adapter you also get with the purchase. Through this, you can connect your phone to the telescope to capture images and video content. You also get a carry bag for the model and these peripheral items.
- A 28X-234X magnification telescope that comes with two Kellner eyepieces – the K9mm and the K25mm.
- Produces what’s called an erect image, resulting in a more comprehensive field of view.
- It has a large 60mm objective lens that is coated for high light transmission.
- Its adjustable aluminum tripod can be set up at 60cm to 120cm, where it will lock in place.
- Retails with a phone adapter, allowing you to take video with this telescope model.
- Plastic-heavy construction that won’t survive much punishment.
For our last telescope recommendation, we have something a little different. Here’s the Gosky High Definition Monocular Telescope, a handheld monocular that has the ergonomics and zoom-ability to be used as a telescope in the absence of a tripod or other long-term support system.
It’s Amazon’s #1 bestseller for monoculars but its light-sensitive fifty-five-millimeter objective lens and its zoom function make it a great handheld alternative to the traditional telescope.
Now, we know what you might be thinking, holding a monocular telescope up to your face for prolonged periods of time is going to get uncomfortable.
Fortunately, this Gosky telescope prevents this problem by having long eye relief. This means that you can see through the telescope from further away and even adjust the eye-relief length through its twisting eye cup.
It has all of the proofing that you’d like a handheld device to have. It’s waterproof and dustproof, which is great for outdoor use. Its rubber coating also makes it shockproof so it should survive accidental knocks and drops.
The argon purging method that has been used to protect this device even prevents the buildup of condensation and fog inside the telescope, so the monocular can be used in humid areas with no worry.
- A handheld telescope alternative that allows for unmatched mobility and discretion.
- Capable of 12X55 high power magnifications and bright imaging via its 55mm objective lens.
- Long eye-relief ensures that you don’t need to keep this monocular close to your face.
- Purged with argon to be waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, and even fog proof.
- Not great for use as a camera.
- The most affordable option on this list.
Best Telescope for Spying Buying Guide
Spying the Best Telescope
Finding the best telescope when you’re relatively new to this gear can be intimidating, which is why we’ve written this buyers’ guide to help you out. Even if none of our recommended products are what you’ve been looking for, here you can learn more about the features that make a better telescope for spying instead of traditional astronomical use.
Below you’ll find that we’ve separated the use of a telescope into several parts and features so that we can talk about them independently and you focus on the areas you want your purchase to address.
If you don’t plan on using your telescope for stargazing, you don’t have much to worry about where magnification is concerned. This is because most telescopes cover the minimal end of magnification where you’ll be spending most of your time. What we call magnification in telescopes is just the combination of the scope’s objective lens with different eyepieces.
For closer-distance sighting, grab the telescope that has the longer focal-length eyepieces. Many telescopes retail with multiple eyepieces at a variety of lengths, so there should always be a longer eyepiece that’s ideal for spying and, if you need more firepower, you’ll already have better eyepieces ready.
Telescopes are designed for looking deep into the night sky where you’ll find a lot of stars and a brightly shining moon. Because of this, most telescopes will have light reductive features like coatings on their glass lenses, designed to eliminate this light pollution and secure a visual in higher detail.
You’re going to be contending more with that streetlight across the way over a star lightyears away, but the same principle stands. Try to get a telescope that has these light reducing features so that artificial lights don’t interfere with your spying capability.
If you plan on keeping tabs on a moving target, you’ll want an agile telescope model that can be manipulated with ease. Look at the tripod and, more specifically, if it has a good equatorial mount. It’s often a selling point for telescopes so any model that has an agile mount that’s worth your time will advertise it on their product listing page.
Gauging the construction quality of any item you buy online can be tricky but it’s not impossible. First, look at the materials used. An overreliance on plastic parts is often seen as a bad thing since it won’t stand up to scrutiny, so consider how much punishment you expect the telescope to face and whether the materials used can stand up to it.
Also, look at the dimensions. This is simple enough, decide whether you want a larger or smaller model and go from there. If you have a designated place to keep the telescope, measuring that out and comparing them to dimensions is a great way to know what you’re buying.
Most telescopes come with a tripod but check out how adjustable that tripod is, along with if it can get detached in its entirety. You can even get tabletop telescopes if you require ultra-compact models that can fit easily in apartment buildings. Given your planned use of the telescope, discretion is obviously a buying factor here.
Lastly, you should always keep an eye on the price. If you’re using a telescope for spying, you may or may not have an interest in astronomy too. If you don’t, you can easily get away with spending less on your telescope. There’s no need to buy a thousand-dollar telescope that can zoom into individual craters on the moon if you’re taking a look at what’s going on on the other side of town.