After you start to take your astronomy seriously, you’ll realise that it can be an expensive hobby to have. Sure, you can get by with a few hundred dollars worth of telescope and the accessories it comes with for a while, but if you want to take the next step up, many top telescopes go into the thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, there are some telescopes that aren’t that expensive, and you can still find a great deal for less than $1000. It really will depend on what you’re looking for in a telescope. You could also consider spending a little less and getting a telescope for $200 if you’re just getting started and don’t want to invest too much.
But where can you find these telescopes without spending too much? Well, we’re going to check out a few of the best telescopes that you can find now for under $1000.
Best Telescope under $1000
- StarMax 127mm Equatorial Maksutov-Cass Telescope | Orion Telescopes
- Celestron NexStar 5SE Telescope - Our #1 Choice
- Orion 10026 SkyQuest XT6i IntelliScope Dobsonian Telescope
- Sky-Watcher EvoStar 80 APO Doublet Refractor
- Explore Scientific 10" Dobsonian FirstLight Telescope
- High aperture
- Good support
- Low focal ratio
- Sky-Watcher 250 Dobsonian 10-inch Flextube
- Orion StarSeeker IV 127mm GoTo Mak-Cass Telescope Kit
- Full bundle
- Strong mount
- Not for advanced
Although there generally aren’t a lot of different Maksutov Cassegrain telescopes out there to choose from, one you can consider is this Orion Starmax. Often you’re limited to reflecting telescopes when you’re trying to stick within a certain budget, but there are a few alternatives for the keen amateur astronomer.
It has a 5 inch aperture, and a focal length of 1450mm. This give us an overall focal ratio of f/11.4, which means that it’s more suited to high powered narrow field viewing. If you want to see the rings of Saturn, this would probably do the trick, as it’ll allow you to get brighter images of the night sky.
The telescope itself is pretty small, but that shouldn’t put you off. It’s overall a well built device, using an EQ mount as opposed to an Alt-azimuth mount. Orion are known for producing some cheaper telescopes, which you may associate with a reduction in quality. But the Starmax goes against the grain, and although it’s not an advanced telescope by any means, it’s definitely well made.
Even though it’s quite a basic scope, it is fairly heavy – this means that it’s unlikely to be a good option if you’re looking for something portable. This is largely due to the aluminium tube, which is definitely a step up on the plastic telescopes you can find online. Plus, it also comes on an EQ mount, which is perfect if you’re taking your astronomy seriously (equatorial mounts are the most common type of telescope mount).
Altogether, it’s ideal for those looking for something with a little more power than your average budget telescope. You’ll be able to spot space objects fairly easily with this one, so it’s definitely worth giving it a go if you want to get started with star hopping.
- Full telescope bundle has some great accessories, including an eyepiece and finderscope.
- Comes with a well made equatorial mount.
- Available at a fair price point considering its power.
- Ideal for beginners but maybe not powerful enough for advanced astronomers.
- Not good for astrophotography.
Verdict: One of the most popular Maksutov Cassegrain telescopes on the market, it’s still worth checking out. It has a pretty long focal length considering its short telescope tube, and like any telescope, it’s going to work best if you use it in an area with low light pollution.
The Celestron Nexstar Series is my favorite series of telescopes (it’s number 1 on my list of the ultimate best telescopes). They range all the way from the 4SE up to the higher end models like the 8SE, with the number just representing the aperture of each telescope. Unfortunately the 8SE usually costs a little more than a thousand dollars, but you could still consider getting the Nexstar 5SE.
The Nexstar 5SE is a computerized telescope – it’s really easy to use once you get the hang of it. You can enter your co-ordinates into the panel on the side of the telescope (you can find your co-ordinates on any smartphone) which will enable you to use the finder. Having computerized tracking is ideal for spotting bright and fainter objects in nighttime skies.
After you enter some details (your location, the time etc), you need to make sure that the finder scope is properly aligned with the optical tube. This is easy and you can do it just by using the alignment scrolling wheels at the base of the tube. When this is done, you can start the fun without having to worry about tracking objects.
With the automated mount and the 5 inch primary mirror, you’re easily able to see a vast array of objects, like the moon and planets. The telescope can track tens of thousands of different objects in the sky with great accuracy due to the lengthy database. This can make it very easy to find galaxies and nebulae, and the computerized finder is one of the things that the Celestron Nexstar 5SE telescope is known for.
Whilst this isn’t great for astrophotography – that’s probably it’s weak spot – it’s definitely a great place to start. You’ll end up with some star trails that you wouldn’t get with a refractor telescope, but that’s something you can learn to deal with over time. All in all, this is one of my favorite telescopes and the Celestron Nexstar 5SE would be a perfect addition to your house.
- Comes with a bunch of accessories (eyepieces etc).
- A great option if you’re looking for a compound telescope.
- The Goto mount is very well made and reliable.
- Doesn’t let a large amount of light in compared to other telescopes.
- The set up is easy, but it might take a while to get used to.
- Not a good choice if you’re only interested in portable telescopes.
Verdict: One of the best telescopes if you’re new to astronomy and are happy to dedicate some time into learning how to use it. It’s computerized ability to find star clusters and other deep space objects make it unparalleled at this sort of price range, meaning it’s perfect for amateur astronomy.
Orion 10026 SkyQuest XT6i IntelliScope Dobsonian Telescope
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Another heavy scope
- Good aperture
- Finderscope included
- Another heavy scope
Another good choice if you like the idea of a computerized telescope is the Skyquest XT6i. It’s a high quality telescope that is ideal for beginners or more advanced astronomers. The XT6i has a 6 inch aperture, which is enough power to see celestial objects easily. This definitely means that one of the larger telescopes currently available on the market, but that comes with a big aperture size.
It has a focal length of 120mm, which gives the telescope a focal ratio of f/8.0. This means that it’s a slightly slower telescope with a limited field of view. However, you do sacrifice the wider field of view for a higher magnification and more in-depth views of planets. The telescope comes with a focuser, two eyepieces (10mm and 25mm), a finder scope and a collimation cap too.
Where the Nexstar series are Cassegrain telescopes, this is a Dobsonian. The main advantage of having a Dobsonian is that you’ll get a larger aperture for the same price, or even cheaper than a Cassegrain or a refractor. It’s definitely a deluxe Dobsonian reflector telescope, although it’s actually fairly affordable.
This telescope has 6 inches of aperture, which means that it will allow more light in than a telescope with 4 or 5 inches of aperture (8 inches is the maximum aperture you can get with the NexStar series). In turn, this increased light will allow you to see dimmer objects than you would with a lower aperture telescope.
If we’re considering the negatives of this telescope, the only things that I can really think of are getting it set up and ready to go. For example, the finder scope can be a little difficult to align properly, but once it’s set up, it does its job well enough. Also, the instructions could be a lot clearer than they are, and for a novice it might take some time to get the telescope set up properly.
However, once the Intelliscope is set up, it’s a solid option for looking at the night sky. It has strong light gathering capabilities and is a great starter telescope and is definitely worth consideration if you’re new to astronomy.
- Generally, the larger the aperture, the more powerful the telescope. This 6 inch Dobsonian provides a lot of aperture.
- Perfect for spotting deep sky objects.
- Comes with a well made and useful finderscope.
- Very big and heavy, making it unusable as a portable telescope.
- The LCD display make it less compatible for cold temperatures.
Verdict: Another awesome intelligent telescope that can help you on your astronomy journey, whether beginner or intermediate. The Skyquest series is held in high regard by most astronomers, and its six inch aperture should be good enough to get started with.
I’ve mentioned a reflector telescope, and I’ve mentioned a Cassegrain telescope, so it’s only fair that I give a refractor some love too. The Skywatcher 80ED is an awesome telescope and it’s perfect for astrophotography.
This model is an apochromatic refractor, as opposed to an achromatic refactor. The difference being that an apochromatic, often abbreviated to APO, brings in three different wavelengths colors into focus instead of two. For us, this means that an APO practically eliminates any chance of chromatic abberation, or color fringing. This makes it the perfect telescope for astrophotography.
In terms of the specifications of the telescope itself, it has an aperture of 80mm and a focal length of 600mm, giving it a focal ratio of f/7.5. It’s an ideal telescope for those who want to use something for wide field of view, and it will allow you to see a vast amount of different nebulae and galaxies.
Of course, you could use this telescope as a spotting scope, but you’d likely want to buy a good telescope mount (preferably an equatorial mount) to go with it. This means that with the mount, you would be spending well in excess of a thousand dollars, so it might not suit if you’re on a tight budget.
However, if you’re looking for a telescope to use with a DSLR camera, then it’s pretty hard to beat this one when it comes to overall value. If you want to get clear images of the sky, this is my recommendation to opt for.
- This telescope has excellent optics as you’d expect with most refractor telescopes.
- A well assembled telescope that’s on par with more expensive models.
- Very easy to pack up and take with you anywhere.
- Expensive when you consider you’ll need a mount as well.
- Doesn’t have the highest aperture.
Verdict: This telescope offers a lot when it comes to astrophotography, and it’s ideal for wide view looks of the night sky. The apochromatic lens will ensure that there’s no chromatic aberration, making it perfect for planetary viewing.
Another good choice to consider if you’re looking for a telescope that is less than $1000 is this Skywatcher Dobsonian telescope. It’s available in both a 8 and 10 inch aperture model. But, ideally we want the 10 inch model to get the best view we possibly can at a relatively cheap price.
With the 10 inch aperture and the 1200mm focal (giving us a focal ratio of f/5.0), this telescope is perfect for those that don’t mind having a big powerful telescope that takes up quite a bit of room. Of course, one of its selling points is that you can easily collapse the telescope so it takes up significantly less room, but it is still quite large.
It’s quite heavy too, so it’s not going to be ideal for those that want to use this as a portable telescope (although it’s advertised as such). It’s very easy to set the telescope up – after screwing in the primary mirror properly, all you really need to do is set up the finder scope and you should be good to go.
As Dobsonian telescopes go, it’s a very easy set up and you’ll soon be able to look at celestial objects at will. If you combine the power of this telescope with a Barlow lens (it doesn’t come with one), then you’ll easily be able to see Jupiter, Saturn, and an array of other objects up in the night sky.
For the price, you do get a good deal but it will be harder for a beginner to use this telescope than if they used one of the computerized options I mentioned – start hopping can be difficult with a Dobsonian.
- Good choice if you’re looking for a second telescope.
- Doesn’t take up too much space.
- Still works fairly well in light polluted areas.
- Can be pretty difficult for beginners to collimate this telescope.
- Doesn’t come with a Barlow lens.
Verdict: This is one telescope that you’ll definitely want to consider if you’re looking for a lot of power.
- High aperture
- Good support
- Low focal ratio
Dobsonian telescopes have long been the choice for amateur astronomers, as they provide great value and power. This Explore Scientific telescope has a similar aperture to the previous mentioned Dob, but there are a couple of features that it has that make it stand out from the rest.
Like any reflector, it has two mirrors, and the primary mirror has a diameter of 254 mm. It has a 2740mm focal length, which gives is a focal ratio of f/5.0, This means that although it’s made of wide field viewing as the focal ratio suggests, if you combine it with the right high quality accessories (Barlow lens and eyepieces), then you’ll be able to use it for both wide and narrow field views.
At first glance the 10 inch aperture may seem massive in comparison to most telescopes of this price range, and it’s true – you’ll be able to see this difference between this and an 8 inch model, and especially in comparison to smaller 5-6 inch telescopes.
This High Point telescope bundle is definitely one of the better options available, and if you’re looking for a simple reflecting telescope, then this may be the right choice. It offers a solid viewing experience, and you’re going to get a high aperture telescope, which is perfect for viewing faint objects in the night sky.
- High Point Scientific special, good support.
- Smartphone adapter included.
- Strong image clarity.
- At the higher end of our budget.
- Tough to set up.
Verdict: Those in search of a larger telescope that packs power, this model will allow you to easily find nearby planets due to its good magnification and design.
Orion StarSeeker IV 127mm GoTo Mak-Cass Telescope Kit
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No equatorial mount
- Easy setup
- No equatorial mount
This 5 inch Orion Cassegrain telescope provides excellent value for money, and if you’re looking for your first telescope, it may be the perfect choice. Once you get it set up and aligned properly, it’s surprisingly easy to use and definitely good value for money.
The GoTo element of the telescope means that it is essentially computerized, and you can take advantage of their current database full of stars; this makes it very easy to track celestial objects in the night sky. The database has in excess of 40,000 different objects that you can find, which should be enough to keep you busy for more than a short while.
This telescope also comes with quite a good variety of different accessories that you can use too. This includes two eyepieces that are 10mm and 23mm in size, which will give you some good variation whilst keeping a relatively wide field of view. This is an important feature to think about when you’re purchasing a telescope, as a wide field of view will give you the ability to see the whole of the night sky.
So as it stands, this is definitely up there when it comes to the best telescopes under $1000, and you can usually purchase it for less than this too. Whilst it’s definitely not a low price telescope, overall it still provides better viewing than most other telescopes out there and is undoubtedly a quality product.
- You can center it quickly for almost immediate use.
- It’s has a fairly lightweight telescope tube, making it easy to carry.
- Comes with an additional moon filter to create contrast.
- Would prefer an equatorial mount over an Alt-az, but doesn’t matter much for computerized.
- Doesn’t come with a Barlow lens included.
Verdict: Whilst battery life is something you’ll have to think about if you opt for a computerized telescope like this one, this may just be the best choice available right now. It’s one of our top picks on the market, and it’s perfect for picking out specific objects in the night sky.
Most commonly asked Questions about Telescopes – Buying Guide
How powerful does my telescope need to be to see planets like Jupiter?
Well, Jupiter specifically is actually quite easy to see because it’s actually the biggest planet in the solar system. Even with a budget telescope, you should be able to see the moons of Jupiter. Jupiter is quite a bright planet, so even with a 5 or 6 inch refractor telescope you would be able to see it relatively clearly (however, magnifying your view too much will make Jupiter blurry!).
How much does a really decent telescope cost?
This really depends on how much you can afford, but in my mind you can get a good telescope for between 500 and 1000 dollars. Are you going to be able to get the best telescope ever? No, probably not, but it will certainly be good enough to see celestial objects. It’s also important to consider other things you need, like a mount (I like an equatorial mount) and lenses, which can make it easier for you to see faint objects in the dark sky.
What focal length should my telescope be?
There is no set focal length that your telescope should be. Obviously, your idea focal length will change depending on what aperture your telescope is. In fact, for those who are looking for a beginners telescope, a shorter focal length may actually be best. A wide field of view isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and that’s what you’ll get with a telescope that has a low focal length.
How can I increase the focal length of my telescope?
If you want to increase the focal length of your telescope, you can easily do this by using a Barlow lens. This will magnify your view, in turn giving you a larger focal length. You can also do this by using an eyepiece, and if you really want high magnification, then you can use a Barlow and an eyepiece at the same time.
What telescopes do professional astronomers use?
Professional astronomers will always use a reflector telescope as opposed to the other options out there. A good example is the Hubble space telescope, which is a reflector telescope. This allows astronomers to get the maximum possible view into space. Amateur astronomers will use any different model of telescope, from a Maksutov Cassegrain through to a Newtonian.
What deep sky objects can you see?
If you’re looking to see some of the object in the sky which aren’t stars, then there are a few good places that you can start. One of the easiest deep sky objects that you can see is Orion’s Nebula, which is just south of the constellation Orion. It’s extremely bright, and even visible to the naked eye between November to February. Another good deep sky object is the Whirlpool galaxy, which is located near the Big Dipper. Once you get the right telescope, it will become quite easy to find objects.
Hopefully this has given you an idea of what telescopes under $1000 are currently available on the market. You could consider getting a Dobsonian telescope or a Newtonian telescope which will have a higher aperture than a refractor/Cassegrain, and probably a lower price too. They’re often considered to be the best value for money.
If you’re looking to take your astronomy seriously, then you could also think about opting for a refractor. However for newbies, I prefer the computerized telescopes that have the ability to find planets and constellations easily.
My verdict is that the Celestron Nexstar series offers the best telescopes under $1000. They’re easy to use, fairly powerful and are more than enough to see anything you wish to. If you have any comments or questions, as always feel free to leave them below!