If your kid, or a special child in your life, has shown an interest in the vast expanses of space, one of the greatest gifts you could give them is a telescope. Far greater than any photograph book - you can show them the wonders yourself.
Astronomy is a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be difficult for beginners; the equipment you need will come without all of the overcomplicated bells and whistles, so you won’t need to work at NASA to work it, and nor will the kid!
Knowing where to start with picking one out can be tricky, too, as there are many on the market, each professing to be exactly what you’re looking for. That’s where we come in, presenting five of the best telescopes that any young space cadet will love.
If you need further convincing on the benefits of introducing a telescope into a child’s life, or just want to know what characteristics to look out for, our Buyer’s Guide has everything you need. It’s clear, concise and to the point - no waffle here.
Still got questions, worries or frustrations? Try consulting the FAQS section right at the end. We’ve searched for and answered some of the most common queries from fellow customers with similar concerns - yours may be one of them!
Looking For a Top Tier Telescope? Here’s Our Top Pick:
OUR TOP PICK
Proffering 360mm focal length with 70mm aperture, the Emarth telescope costs less than the latest video game system, but boasts interchangeable eyepieces for high magnification up to 128x, which makes locating objects a breeze even for kids.
Thanks to the BAK-4 prism, you’ll see brighter, more clear images with a higher refractive index rate; a greater light transmitted to the entire field of view allows for exploration in full high definition.
Assembling almost instantly, with very little setup, they won’t get bored waiting for you to build it, and the adjustable aluminum tripod can be adjusted to the perfect height and viewing angle to suit the individual user.
As part of your purchase, you’ll receive the telescope, a tripod, two interchangeable eyepieces, a bracketed finder scope, an in-depth user manual and a complimentary map of the moons and stars - it’s a fantastic package deal and makes a great gift.
Offering lifetime customer service, Emarth guarantees you’ll be satisfied with your purchase, and in the event that you’re not, promise to do everything in their power to put a smile back on your face.
- Two interchangeable lenses for viewing stars, planets and other objects clearly
- Adjustable tripod for unlimited positioning
- Free map of space, clear user’s guide
- Cross star finder scope to assist in object location
- On the pricier side of our list!
Despite being the same price as the average toy, this NASA style telescope from Smurfect offers up to 90x magnification, to allow kids to explore the universe, learning about space with their adorable, professional looking MoonScan.
Boasting a 1.5x mounted eyepiece, there’s enhanced magnification; weighing less than a kilogram, it’s easily transported by a child or an adult, being lightweight and portable enough to use on the go.
As well as watching the stars, this also works excellently to observe wildlife, if you’re a family that enjoys going for nature walks (or you’d like to be!) and checking out your company. Two for the price of one!
Featuring industry mimicking Altitude Azimuth Mounting Technology - which basically means it can be moved both vertically and horizontally - it’s an excellent rendering of a larger adult telescope that can be used by little hands.
It’s durable, made from long lasting aluminum to offer high quality optics for years to come, which means if you have several children the younger ones can definitely inherit.
Plus, it’s a timeless toy - space is never going anywhere!
- Recommended for kids of all ages
- Decent magnification capabilities for a budget-friendly telescope
- Strong and sturdy
- Lightweight and portable
- Maximum magnification is only good for highly transparent objects like the moon
Another higher end offering comes from Gskyer, with a 400mm focal length and 70mm aperture, including a 3x Barlow lens for triple the magnification power and two replaceable eyepieces for safe keeping.
Fully coated optics glass lenses with high transmission coating are capable of recreating stunning images whilst ensuring your eyes are totally protected.
Introduce your child to the wonders of the world and keep them totally safe.
You’ll also find a 5x24 finder scope and mounting bracket in box, which cleverly uses cross-hair lines for easily locating stars, planets and other objects.
The adjustable tripod lets you view from any position, for a comfortable night stargazing every time.
Not only do you receive all of the above, but a wireless camera remote for capturing amazing celestial images via your smartphone, an adapter for mounting the device, and a heavy duty carry bag for storage and easy portability.
As they’re sure you’ll be satisfied with your purchase, Gskyer also provide lifetime free maintenance for your telescope, as well as customer service and product advice for as long as you own it.
- Offers plenty of lenses and a high magnification rate
- Fully coated glass lens for beautiful images viewed safely
- Position yourself however you like with the adjustable tripod
- Smartphone adaptor and remote for space photography
- More expensive than similarly capable products
Aiming at a slightly younger audience, the Scientoy telescope is smaller and not as capable as its more expensive counterparts, but serves as an excellent introduction to the world of astronomy for children aged three and above.
Equipped with a 170mm focal length, 60mm aperture objective lens, it’s still definitely capable of producing clear, quality images of space at between 20 and 40x magnification with three different lenses included in the box.
Weighing just over a pound, it’s lightweight enough to easily fit into your bag, and the adjustable tripod can be assembled with ease in just a couple of minutes, extended and adjusted to the position that best suits the user.
Built from non-toxic material and optic lenses that won’t damage the user’s eyes, it’s a safe option for younger users that doesn’t run you as much as a telescope aimed at older kids would.
Providing three years of customer service, Scientoy ensures that, in the event you are not satisfied with your product or require a replacement, you can get in touch for assistance without a problem.
- Budget friendly, great for younger kids interested in space
- Built to last - won’t succumb to toddler rage!
- Lightweight enough to carry in your bag
- Adjustable and decent enough magnification for the price
- Not able to see the planets (in any clarity)
Falling in the middle of the list, price wise, this is a good gift for parents on a budget without compromising on quality, as the SV502 telescope offers a 360mm focal length and meets the needs of beginners astronomically, so it’s ideal for kids.
Using fully coated technology, their lenses are guaranteed to meet optical imaging requirements; the 1.25 inch K20 eyepiece allows for clear and crisp pictures, whilst the 1.25 inch, 45 degree Erect Image prism allows you to view both land and sky.
With no tools needed, it’s easy enough to set up and start using in just a minute or two - you can use it with or without the adjustable tabletop tripod, which is sturdy for an easy, wobble free observation.
Built from aluminum alloy, the bench stand with 360 degree horizontal and vertical adjustment (to approximately 90 degrees) is durable and long lasting, allowing the viewer to view from whatever angle they prefer.
Lightweight enough to carry in your bag, it’s not difficult for a child to transport, and the 5x20 Finder Scope makes locating the moon and other objects much easier.
The focusing wheel is soft to the touch and easy enough for kids to figure out.
- Less expensive than competing products
- Composed of solid aluminum for years of use
- Fully coated, safe optical lenses
- Child friendly mechanisms that are simple to understand
- Table top only - not full sized
Best Telescopes For Kids Buying Guide
The Wonders Of Space - Why Get Your Kid A Telescope?
As they are naturally inquisitive beings, kick starting a kid’s exploration of physics is an excellent way to get them invested in STEM subjects, It’s even more beneficial with girls, as they’re naturally drawn away from such endeavors by bias.
Checking out the night sky with your child, especially if you also have an interest in space, can be an excellent chance for some bonding time together, even more so if you have some good facts or wisdom to impart. Who doesn’t love cocoa and stars!
Not only can they explore the galaxy, but learning to use and take care of a piece of scientific equipment like a telescope is an excellent lesson in responsibility, especially if you’re starting them off early.
There are other activities you can do together off the back of using a telescope, like drawing, writing, watching documentaries or movies - it opens up a whole new world of hobbies and interests for your kid, away from the dreaded internet!
If your kid struggles with their confidence, mastering skills around using their fine motor skills, verbal reasoning, logical thinking and vocabulary is a huge self-esteem boost, especially if you praise them on a job well done.
As well as encouraging them towards STEM subjects, you’re also teaching them plenty more skills, like learning some independence, understanding theories (if they’re old rough!) and other desirable traits for the rest of their lives.
A telescope is something that the whole family can enjoy, which means that instead of staying inside and playing a board game or video game or watching Netflix again, you can get outside for fresh air all together, which may be a rarity for some.
Features To Consider:
Age Range: Depending on how old your kid is, they’ll either want a toy, or an actual functioning telescope. You can obtain both very easily, but make sure you identify which one you need and choose accordingly! Always check manufacturer recommendations.
Investment In Space: If they’ve never suggested they might like to know more about what’s going on in the sky, it could be worth seeing if there are other cool pieces of equipment they might like, for instance binoculars for bird watching or a metal detector for going on treasure hunts.
Durability: Especially the case for younger children, but in general, kids are clumsy and messy creatures. Even the most careful and capable can have accidents though, so picking up the sturdiest product you can get is your best bet. Look for aluminum and other strong metal materials.
What’s In The Box?: Of course, you’re shopping for a child and not yourself, but depending on your budget, you might want to focus on how much the telescope has to offer. Will it zoom out far enough? Can you use it effectively to check out the sky?
Or is it a glorified plastic tube…
Simplicity: Obviously you or another responsible adult will be there to help your child use the telescope, but anything overly complicated and they’ll likely become bored very quickly. Make sure it’s easy enough to work and figure out together!
Safety: Believe it or not, looking at the brighter objects in space can be potentially dangerous without the right protection. Coated lenses that are thick enough to keep your eyes safe from light refraction are an imperative, and shouldn’t be skipped.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need an expensive telescope to enjoy astronomy?
You might believe that only NASA-style equipment that costs thousands or even millions of dollars are capable of bringing the glorious reaches of space to your very own eyeballs, but you’d be wrong.
As long as you have a good viewing location, a clear night and some patience, even the most basic of telescopes can show you the stars and the moon at the very least, and a decent high-street offering can pick up the planets, too.
Perhaps if your kid gets older and is still equally as invested in astronomy, it could be worth upgrading to a bigger and better model, but starting out with a beginner’s telescope is your best bet. Who knows if they’ll get bored and give up after one try!
Also, it’s worth pointing out that, whilst a hundred dollars is a lot to spend, many of the other gifts your child asks for would cost a lot more, and it’s a worthy investment if you do have the money to treat them.
How much magnification do you need to see the planets?
For observing the nine (if you count Pluto, which we do here!) planets of our solar system, you’re going to need a magnification of around 180x, which will enable you to see even Jupiter and Saturn, though perhaps not in high definition.
For a clearer view of their greatness, you’ll want a magnification of around 380x, which will offer you a clearer resolution and make for better photographs if you’re that way inclined. Not every single child’s telescope will accomplish this!
Don’t be disheartened if the ‘scope you’ve opted for isn’t able to do quite as much as you’d like - there’s still plenty of things to check out at lower magnification, including star clusters and planetary nebulae. Just wait until there’s clear skies above!
What does a beginner’s telescope need?
Perhaps the most important consideration regarding telescopes is the aperture, which essentially refers to the diameter (or length) of its main lens. As you might guess, the bigger the lens, the further out into space you’ll be able to see!
Aiming for around four or five inches in diameter should enable you to see the planets, and going for any bigger will result in a model that’s not especially portable, which won’t really be suitable for a younger future astronaut.
There are tabletop and full size telescopes available - it’s up to you which one you go for, but the full size ones only cost a little more and offer a much more realistic stargazing experience.
Magnification wise, you don’t need anything more than 200x for a beginner, as you’ll still get a decent view of the stars, planets and other nearby objects, without breaking the bank on a super expensive, high end or professional level design.
If you’re buying a telescope for an especially young user, durability should be a priority - it’s still a piece of equipment, even if it’s a toy, and you want it to last long enough for them to get enough use out of it!