If you are interested in astronomy a home telescope is a must. While it is interesting learning about the solar system, there is nothing quite like seeing different planets and stars for yourself.
You do not have to break the bank to purchase a good quality telescope. There are many available at a great price. All of the telescopes we have featured in this article are below $300 and are of great quality.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the five best telescopes under $300. We have included telescopes of different prices within this range.
Do not forget to check out our buyer’s guide, which will tell you everything you need to know about purchasing a telescope!
In A Hurry?
Here is our top pick: Celestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope
We have chosen this telescope because it is made by a great brand and is fantastic value for the money. The Celestron is easy to use and set up. It provides clear and crisp images.
It has an overall aperture of 70mm and the 20mm eyepiece has 45x zoom. The 10mm eyepiece has a zoom of up to 90x. The optics are high quality and the telescope comes with a 2-year warranty.
Given that the Celestron comes with access to the Starry Night astronomy software and is supplied with an accessory kit, it is certainly worth considering.
The tripod is easy to use and has an Alt-Azimuth mount. The only downside is that it can become a little shaky.
OUR TOP PICK
The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is a refraction telescope that uses an Alt-Azimuth Mount. It is a great telescope for beginners as it is easy to use.
It is one of the more expensive telescopes we have featured, but it is high quality.
It has fully coated optics, and the frame is lightweight. Its height can be adjusted. The frame is easy to put together and requires no tools. It can be a little shaky, however.
The optics are 70MM and are of high quality. The 20mm eyepiece has a magnification of 45x and the 10mm eyepiece zooms up to 90x.
The Celestron telescope comes with the following accessories:
- Erect image star diagonal
- Red dot finderscope
- 20mm eyepiece
- 10mm eyepiece
- Travel tripod
You also gain access to the Starry Night Basic Edition astronomy software. The software includes an interactive sky simulation.
The telescope comes with a 2-year warranty and access to technical support from experts.
- Great value for the money
- 70mm fully coated glass optic lens
- Comes with access to the Starry Night Basic Edition software
- Tripod can be a little shaky
This Celestron Refractor telescope is a popular choice and great value for the money. It is mid-range in its price and is made by a well-trusted brand.
Weighing only 3.3 pounds, it is lightweight and great to use on the go.
The optics of the Celestron are particularly good and better than many of its competitors. The eyepieces included are 20mm and 10mm. They are great for viewing images. The lens is 70mm.
This telescope and tripod are easy to set up and the products come with a backpack to make transportation simple.
It has an Alt-Azimuth style mount. You also gain access to astronomy software when you purchase this telescope.
The telescope comes with a two-year warranty and unlimited technical support. The instructions are not the clearest to follow, however.
- Comes with a backpack and free astronomy software access
- Great optics
- Eyepieces are clear and work well
- Instructions are not overly clear
The OYS telescope comes with a tripod and a carry backpack. It is a refractor style and uses an Alt-Azimuth mount. It is reasonably priced and well within the $300 budget.
It comes with two eyepieces, 20mm and 9mm. The 20mm provides a magnification of 20X and the 9mm provides a magnification of 44X.
The optical lens is fully coated. The lens provides clear and crisp images.
The telescope can be easily transported and the tripod is easy to set up and adjust. What is great about the OYS telescope is that it comes with a phone adapter.
This 10mm eyepiece allows you to connect your phone to the telescope to share what you can see with others.
The only downside to the camera attachment is that it does not provide as much zoom in comparison to the other eyepieces.
The telescope is covered by a lifetime warranty. OYS provides good customer service.
- Comes with a phone adapted eyepiece
- Lifetime warranty
- 20mm and 9mm eyepieces
- Limited zoom with the camera attachment
The Stilnend telescope is a refracting type that comes with an Alt-Azimuth mount. It is compact and is one of the least expensive telescopes featured.
The aperture is 70mm which is great for a telescope under $300. The optics are fully coated and protect eyesight when in use. The telescope uses a Barlow lens and can be magnified up to 150X.
What makes the Stilnend telescope stand out from its competitors is that it comes with the option of attaching your phone to the eyepiece. The eyepieces are easy to install.
The telescope also comes with an accessory tray and is the perfect telescope to use on the go. It is not clear if this telescope comes with a warranty.
- Fully coated optics that protect eyesight
- Can be magnified up to 150X
- Great to use on the go
- Does not state if the telescopes come with a warranty
The Meade Instruments Telescope is a refracting style. It uses an Alt-Azimuth Mount and is a reasonably priced telescope.
The optical glass is fully coated with a high transmission coating. The magnification is good with the finder scope being 5x24. The setup is simple and does not require the use of any tools.
As the tripod and telescope are easy to set up, it is great for use when camping or traveling. It is lightweight and can be easily stored. It comes with detailed instructions that are simple to follow.
The telescope comes with lifetime customer service if anything goes wrong with it. It comes with two eyepieces 10mm and 25mm.
Some users have noted some issues with the telescope not securing the tripod well.
- Well priced and great if you are on a budget
- Easy to set up and transport
- Comes with two eyepieces, 10mm and 25mm
- Potential issues with telescope attaching to the tripod
Best Telescope Under $300 Buying Guide
Our buyer’s guide will inform you of everything you should know before purchasing a telescope.
While telescopes under $300 may not have the same magnification and power as one that costs thousands of dollars, that does not mean they are not worth purchasing.
A telescope under $300 is a great starting point and will allow you to stargaze and see some planets. You do not need to spend an excessive amount of money to purchase a good quality telescope.
Types Of Telescope
Before you choose a telescope, it is useful to have some knowledge of the different types of telescopes available as this may change your overall decision.
Here is a summary of the two different types that are available and how you can tell the difference between them:
A reflector telescope does not have a lens as such. Instead of the glass at the end of the telescope being curved, it sits flat.
Instead of being a lens, it acts as a protective shell instead. The shell can be made out of plastic in addition to glass depending on the make and model.
A lense causes light to warp, which a reflector telescope does not do. Instead, it uses a mirror. This mirror is located at the back of the telescope. It is the mirror that is curved rather than glass or plastic.
As it is curved it directs the light so that it hits a second mirror. The smaller mirror is then what directs the light to the user’s eye through the eyepiece.
It is fairly easy to spot this type of telescope. The eyepiece is particularly close to the front of the telescope in comparison to other types of telescope where the eyepiece is found at the back.
If you are looking for a telescope on a budget, this would be your best option. The larger apertures for reflector telescopes are cheaper in comparison to refractors.
There are other types of reflector telescope available, such as compound/catadioptric. While these are great options, you will rarely find these types under $300.
Unlike refractor telescopes, reflector telescopes will need to be calibrated fairly regularly. This is called collimation.
Refractor telescopes are one of the more popular choices. When you picture a telescope, this design likely is what you will imagine.
These telescopes operate by refracting light. The lens of the telescope directs light onto a mirror. The light then refracts off the mirror, into the eyepiece, and then into the user’s eye.
These telescopes need little maintenance and require no adjustments like the reflector models. While there are many refractor telescopes available at a good price, the larger the aperture the more expensive this option becomes.
If you are looking for a telescope with a larger aperture for a cheaper price, this may not be the best option.
In addition to the style of telescope you purchase, the mount that the telescope comes with is equally important.
There are two different mount types available. They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Alt-Azimuth MountsThe first type of mount available is the Alt-Azimuth. This is the best option for beginners and the easiest type of mount to use. This mount can move horizontally and vertically on two axes.
Alt refers to the horizontal altitude movement, and Azimuth refers to the vertical movement. This can also be referred to as the compass bearing movement.
If you are familiar with tripods for a camera, these types of mount work in a very similar way.
When you have found the angle you are happy with, you simply tighten the telescope with the knob to secure it in place. When you want to move the telescope again, you unscrew the knob and it can be moved.
Equatorial mounts are designed specifically with telescopes in mind. They help users to track objects in space with ease.
As the object you are locked on to will move due to the earth’s constant movement, equatorial mounts allow you to follow the course of what you are tracking more easily.
While they are designed with ease in mind, if you are a beginner, they may not be the best type of mount to begin with. This is because they do require some practice to use. Once you are more comfortable with using a telescope, they are a good option, however.
It is worth noting that both of these mounts can be computerized or motorized.
The eyepiece of the telescope is important to an extent.
They will vary in size and shape so you should choose one that feels the most comfortable for you. The better the eyepiece the clearer and better view you will have overall.
The size of the telescope does affect how good the telescope is overall. Typically, the larger the telescope or aperture, the better it will be overall. This is why it is better to choose the largest telescope within your budget.
However, it is worth noting the differences between the refractor and reflector telescopes. If you placed both types side by side, reflector telescopes will be slightly smaller due to how it uses light.
As we have mentioned above, the aperture of a telescope is key. The larger the aperture the better the telescope will be overall.
When you are choosing a model, this is the most important thing you should take into consideration.
Ease of Use
The ease of use is important when choosing a telescope. You do not want to purchase over a complicated one. A good telescope will be easy to set up at use.
As mentioned above, reflector telescopes do require collimation from time to time. While this is fairly easy to do, it is more maintenance in comparison to refractor telescopes.
Given this, if you are a beginner or you are purchasing a telescope for a child, a refractor telescope may be the slightly easier option, to begin with.
The materials your telescope is made from is worth considering. You should purchase a telescope that has good quality materials.
As they are not cheap to purchase, you want to ensure that they are going to be durable and last, especially if you are planning to use the telescope outside.
Finally, it is worth double-checking whether or not the telescope you are purchasing has a warranty.
While this is not essential, it will reassure you should anything potentially go wrong with your telescope.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about telescopes that you may have.
Can You See The Flag On The Moon With A Telescope?
The answer to this question may be slightly disappointing. While the flag is still on the moon, with a home telescope you will be unable to see it.
While you will be able to see the moon and its craters fairly clearly, the magnification of home telescope lenses is far too small. You would need a huge telescope to see small details like a flag.
To put it into perspective, the Hubble space telescope is 2.4 meters in diameter and is far too small to see the flag. In addition to this, the Keck telescope is 10 meters in diameter. Even this telescope is unable to see the flag on the moon!
Is Buying A Telescope Worth It?
The answer to this question all depends on each person. For someone interested in astronomy and stargazing, a home telescope is certainly worth it.
Being able to see different planets, the moon, and the stars at a closer distance with your own eyes is far better than seeing photos of them online.
If you are not interested in this hobby, it is unlikely that a telescope will be worth it for you.
While there is a dispute over whether or not telescopes under $300 are worth it, they are a good starting point. They may not be the most advanced in technology but are an excellent gift for children or someone who wants a better understanding of the galaxy.
The larger and more advanced the telescope, naturally the better it will be overall.
What Is A Good Strength For A Telescope?
When looking to purchase a telescope, you should be aware that the highest magnification your telescope will reach is around 50 times the aperture of the telescope in inches.
The higher the aperture, the better the overall strength and magnification it will be.