Best Barlow Lens for your Telescope [2021]

When you’re buying accessories for your telescope, a good Barlow lens is often where people. Aside from being relatively cheap, they’re one of the most practical ways to see more when you’re looking at the night sky.

A Barlow lens is the easiest way to increase the magnification of your telescope without spending a ton of cash. You can easily add a cheap Barlow lens to your telescope and increase the magnification by 2 or 3 times. That means that even if you have a cheap $300 telescope, a Barlow can dramatically increase its power.

But when you’re looking for a Barlow lens, should you be looking for anything in particular? Or are they all similar to each other? Well, I’ll be looking at some of the best Barlow lenses currently available to give you an idea of what to look for.

Best Barlow Lens


Our Pick
Celestron Omni 2X Barlow Lens
$32.00
Pros:
  • 2 element
  • No chromatic aberrations
Cons:
  • No cover
Buy at Amazon Buy at High Point Scientific
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/30/2021 11:22 am GMT

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced Barlow lens, then I’d advise you to look at this Celestron Omni Barlow. It’s a 2x magnification lens, which is a great place to start if you’re a beginner. It has a lot of good features like a low profile and a fully-multicoated optical design. It also has blacked lens edges which can help to reduce scattered light, and is a good feature of a decent quality Barlow lens.

And overall the quality of this Omni Barlow is actually pretty amazing considering its low price – it’s on par with much more expensive Barlows out there. It will allow you to gather more light, which is the main thing that we really need from a Barlow lens. It also manages to help you maintain optical quality whilst also giving you a clear image.

You’ll get a clear view with no aberrations, provided you use it with the right size eyepieces. For those not sure of the best eyepieces to use with this Barlow, then I’d advise anything between 12mm and 32mm. Of course, the Barlow is going to double the power of whatever eyepiece you use, so if you have a 12mm eyepiece it will be the equivalent of 6mm.

If you’re worried about not getting enough eye relief with this Barlow, then you don’t need to be concerned. This Barlow has enough eye relief that even if you wear glasses, it won’t be any issue for you to use this. So overall, for beginners who are looking for their first Barlow lens, or a step up from the free one your telescope came with, then I’d advise you to opt for this Omni Barlow.

Celestron 93428 X-Cel LX 1.25-Inch 3x Barlow Lens (Black)
$96.50
Pros:
  • Strong grip
  • Brass compression rings
Cons:
  • Expensive
Buy at Amazon Buy at High Point Scientific
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
10/01/2021 05:06 am GMT

For those that want more power than a 2x lens can offer, then this X-Cel LX from Celestron is a good choice for those who are happier with a 3x Barlow. This would suit those who have a range of eyepieces around 18-40mm, as you probably wouldn’t want to use this with an eyepiece less than 12mm.

You’ll get some of the crispest images possible, which is down to the 3 element apochromatic optics that this lens uses. It also has a great rubber grip, so if you want a Barlow lens that will be able to withstand bad weather, then this would be a very good choice. As with most Barlow’s, this works with any 1.25 inch telescope.

If you’re searching for a telescope eyepiece that has a brass compression ring too, then this is the right option. The compression ring will help to hold the eyepiece itself in place, so you don’t need to worry about any light loss, and the fully coated optics will stay in place.

So all in all, if you’re looking for a good 3x Barlow lens then I’d advise you check out the Celestron X-Cel. It’s a good quality lens that will give you some awesome views, and if you’re interested in seeing planets in better detail, you would probably do well to get a powerful lens like this one.

Celestron 93428 X-Cel LX 1.25-Inch 3x Barlow Lens (Black)
$96.50
Pros:
  • Strong grip
  • Brass compression rings
Cons:
  • Expensive
Buy at Amazon Buy at High Point Scientific
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
10/01/2021 05:06 am GMT

If you have a telescope with a low focal length, then you might want to consider a 5x Barlow lens. Usually, I wouldn’t advise a 5x Barlow for most people, but if you have a low powered telescope, then it might be the best way for you to get a closer view of some deep sky objects. The magnification provided with this lens is much higher than the standard 2-3x most people use.

This kind of 5x Barlow is perfect for using with 25-50mm inch eyepieces, as it will turn any wide angle into a much closer view. If you’re trying to get a detailed view of the moon, or other planets, but your telescope isn’t quite powerful enough even with an eyepiece, then this might make the difference. It’s very simple and easy to use, and it’s a well-made piece of equipment.

It has a four lens element design – this means that it manages to maintain a good optical quality even though you’re going to be seeing objects up much closer. If you’re finding that you’re struggling to see planets up close enough to make out their details, then a fully multi coated Barlow lens like this one would do the job.

This Orion lens uses a 4 element design, which helps to ensure that you get the most clarity in your view. For people looking for a 5x Barlow lens, then this would be a safe choice, as it allows for higher magnifications and has strong astronomy optics too.

Celestron Eyepiece and Filter Accessory Kit
$144.99
Pros:
  • Lots included
  • Colored filters
Cons:
  • More than most need
Buy at Amazon Buy at Telescope.com
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
09/30/2021 11:22 am GMT

If you’re a beginner and you aren’t exactly sure what accessories you need, then it would probably be worth looking at this full accessory kit made by Celestron. It includes a 2x Barlow lens, as well as 5 different eyepieces to use it with ranging from 6mm up to 32mm. The decent quality Barlow lens works very well, and doesn’t suffer with any optical aberrations.

It also includes an arrangement of colored filters which can be used when you’re looking at planets or the moon, as this can help to highlight certain details that you wouldn’t notice without. If you’re looking for a cost effective way to see a lot more with your telescope, then this accessory kit is a must have. Even though they’re colored filters, they still manage to give you a clear image using their high contrast filter.

As mentioned, the price points of all of these accessories separately would be pretty expensive, which is why I think it offers good value for money. Sure, it’s a budget friendly option, but it’s an easy way to get a lot of telescope accessories without having to lay down a whole lot of money.

But the Barlow lens that’s includes with this set is good enough for an amateur or professional astronomer. And actually if you shop around, you can find this set in both a 1.25″ and 2″ at the same magnification factor, which means that you can get the right set for your telescope. Most people will need a 1.25″ model, but double check this before you decide on the set for you.

Buying Guide for Barlow Lenses – FAQs

What is a Barlow lens?

A Barlow lens is just a small optical tube that enables you to increase the magnification of your telescope. The tube is filled with a concave lens, and when this lens is placed between the lens of your telescope and its eyepiece, this will increase the lens by the magnification specified (most Barlow lenses come in 2x, 3x and 5x magnifications).

Is a Barlow lens worth it?

If you’re wondering whether you even need a Barlow lens, then the answer is; probably. A Barlow lens is a cheap way to increase the magnification of your telescope, and for beginners especially, it’s pretty important that you have the ability to do this.

Do I need a Barlow lens?

One of the most common questions people ask about barlow lenses is whether they’re really necessary for astronomy. Since the majority of telescope packages come with eyepieces, do you really need a barlow lens? In my opinion, a Barlow lens is still an essential piece of equipment for any astronomers, and is best used in conjunction with an eyepiece. For example, if you have a 10mm and a 18mm eyepiece, then you have 2 different options. But if you have a 10mm and a 18mm eyepiece, combined with a 2x and a 3x barlow, then you have more options (10mm, 10mm x 2, 10mm x 3 etc).

What’s better, a Barlow Lens or an Eyepiece?

Another commonly asked question is whether a barlow lens is going to give better results than an eyepiece. For example, if you have a 10mm eyepiece with a barlow lens, this is equivalent of having a 20mm eyepiece, right? But which one would be better? Many old school astronomers prefer to collect an eyepiece in every different magnification – it’s part of the fun for them. The reality is that in most cases, there’s not going to be much of a difference between the two, but often eyepieces are made for the telescope brand, so they may be a little better.

Can I use 2 barlow lenses together? (Stacked Barlows)

Many people wonder whether they can use two Barlow lenses together at the same time. The answer is that yes, you can! If you use a 2x and a 3x Barlow lens together, then you’ll get a 6x magnification (this is approximately). However, bear in mind that it will be a lot harder to focus your telescope if you stack your Barlows together like this.

How does a Barlow lens work?

barlow-lens

One of the most confusing things about a Barlow lens can be understanding how it works, and what the benefits are of a Barlow lens. It doesn’t work the same way that an eyepiece does, which often confuses people who think that they work in the same way. But, the benefits of a Barlow lens are pretty clear to understand.

At its simplest, an element Barlow lens is simply a diverging lens that’s used to amplify the magnification or focal length of the lens of your telescope. You simply place it between your lens and the eyepiece, and it can give you the ability to change your magnification considerably when paired with different eyepieces.

A good Barlow lens can produce a good image quality, even though they aren’t particularly high powered. They’re made to work well with the eyepieces you have for your telescope – they’re not necessarily a replacement. They’re much lower power than your standard eyepiece.

barlow
Here’s a Barlow lens along with some eyepieces and a finderscope too.

However when use together, you can use your telescope to a very high power and easily see further into the night sky. For spotting planets, a quality Barlow will work well.

Pros of Using a Barlow Lens

  • A Barlow lens can easily double the amount of magnifications possible with the eyepieces you currently have, and if you combine 2 Barlows with 3 or more eyepieces, you give yourself a really good range of magnifications at an affordable price.
  • They enable you to get some really high powered magnifications for the lowest cost, which is very important if you’re on a tight budget.
  • You can stack Barlow lenses together to get even more power if you have a cheap telescope, which is ideal if you want to get some up close and personal views.

Cons of Using a Barlow Lens

  • In the long term, most people end up having a wide range of different eyepieces to choose from, and don’t really use a Barlow lens much.
  • Barlow lenses can be quite big and bulky, which is why many astronomers turn to eyepieces in the long run.
  • Inexpensive Barlows can suck, so it makes sense to shop around for one with a solid build quality and at an affordable cost.

Conclusion

When you’re buying a Barlow lens, you need to ensure that you’re buying one the right size for your telescope. The majority of Barlow lenses are designed to work with 1.25 inch eyepieces, as this is what most telescopes use. However, some are made to work with 2 inch eyepiece barrels for a wider viewing angle. Just make sure that if you buy a 2 inch Barlow, that it comes with a 1.25 inch adapter (most of them do!).

All in all, a Barlow lens is an essential piece of kit to add to your astronomy toolkit, as it can easily allow you to adjust the magnification of your telescope with little hassle. Deciding on a Barlow lens shouldn’t be a difficult task – they all have the same objective, you should just base your purchase on how much you can afford to spend on a Barlow lens.

A Barlow lens is especially useful if you have a low powered telescope, and it often cheaper than buying a new one. As mentioned earlier, you can also combine it with eyepieces to make a super well powered telescope.