Best Telescope For Kids for Stargazing

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Children are naturally curious and so introducing them to a beginner telescope or a good set of binoculars will help them to develop this and form a broader understanding of the world around them. Finding the best telescope, however, can be somewhat daunting. This telescope buying guide is about helping you with what to consider when buying a kid’s telescopes.

kid telescope, best childrens telescope

Encouraging children to stargaze helps expand their minds.

So what is a good children’s telescope?

Which telescope should I buy for my kids? Consider a lightweight and portable telescope suitable for astronomy and versatile enough to double as a scope for closeups of nature outdoors. Such a telescope will get more use. And, it should see you get the most value out of your purchase. Check out the following buying guide.

Short on time? This travel scope 80 w/backpack would make a good kid’s telescope.

What This Covers…

Comparison of Popular Kids’ Telescopes

Here’s a quick comparison chart of some popular telescopes for kids. List includes telescopes under $100 or around that mark.

ProductTop Features$$$Editors Rating
1. Celestron Travel Scope 80mm aperture
Padded carry case
Smart phone adapter
Magnification: 20×, 40×
Eyepieces: 10 & 20mm
45º correct image prism
Tripod: Full size
See Price4.0 stars
2. Orion GoScope II 70mm Roomy backpack
Magnification: 16×, 40×
Eyepieces: 10 & 25mm
45º correct image prism
Tripod: 43 cm height
See Price3.8 stars
3. Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ

Magnification: 35×,70×,175×
Eyepieces: 4,10,& 20mm
+ Barlow lens
90º correct image prism
Tripod: Full size

See Price3.9 stars
4. Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Magnification: 45×, 90×
Eyepieces: 10 & 20mm
90º correct image prism
Tripod: Full size
See Price4.0 stars
5. Emarth Travel Scope 70mm Focal ratio: 5.1
Eyepieces: K10/ K25mm
90° correct image prism
Tripod: 40 cm height
See Price4.0 stars

What Makes the Best Telescope for Children

A refractor type is typical of the kid’s entry level telescopes for sale and often considered the best for kids. This is because, compared to reflector telescopes, refractors are small and lightweight. They also require very little maintenance, which is another reason they are popular kids’ telescopes. The telescopes described below fall into this category. That is, apart from the dobsonian, a type often recommended for beginners, but which is somewhat above the mark of 100 dollars.

Alt-azimuth is a type of mount worth considering. It is a simple two-way moving mount (vertical and horizontal movement) that helps with pointing the instrument at the object of interest. A star diagonal (which is a correct image prism) is another feature to aid viewing from a position perpendicular to the normal eyepiece axis.

If you are new to using telescopes, you can find more about the different telescope features in this article here.

Either way, you’ll want more than a plastic toy, right?

Let’s start with the three basics when buying a kids telescope: ✓ Cost, ✓ Ease of use, ✓ Quality of the telescope, and ✓ Versatility.

Cost of a Telescope for Children

For a first telescope, you might not want to go as far as purchasing a GoTo telescope. You mightn’t want to overwhelm the child with technicalities. Plus, you don’t know how long they’ll maintain their interest in stargazing. So you consider sticking to a telescope under $100 or maybe one under $200. I cover a selection for beginners looking at telescopes under 200 in this article.

Refractors

Starting with a refractor means you can buy something that’s reasonably okay as a child’s telescope for under $100 or at least around that mark. Many come with extras included in the purchase. Does it include a backpack, sky map, education software, or smart phone adapter, for example?


Dobsonians

If you are looking for something more upmarket, maybe a couple of hundred dollars more, and still really simple to use for a 7 year old or beginner, consider a quality Dobsonian telescope with a larger aperture (say 8″), like the SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope by Orion. You child will learn more skills with these, like collimation, which could make it the best telescope for a teenager who likes to fiddle with things.

Check Out the Skyquest xt8

A Classic Dobsonian reflector telescope

Ease of Use

In telescopes for kids, you don’t want anything too technical that will be a huge turn-off for the child (and you). Remember, the best children’s telescope is one they will use. Easy set ups are part of those described below.

Quality of the Telescope

When looking for telescopes for children, you’ll want something that’s going to give them enjoyment and last for a reasonable amount of time. The features to consider include the eyepieces, the type of telescope, and the aperture size. For example, what is the quality of the glass?

Versatility

Here’s a tip for you if you are wanting the best kids telescope, look for versatility. By this I mean a telescope kids can use for birdwatching or other terrestrial uses as well as stargazing. Apart from the telescope getting more use, it will give the child more freedom to explore.


Reviews of 7 Popular Children’s Telescope

The following reviews a number of telescopes for kids that are current top sellers. Five of these are compared above.

#1. Celestron 80mm Travel Scope Review

Great telescope for kids or beginner

Suggested Ages: 6+ years

This is a popular scope for kids because of its portability and its quality at a reasonable price.

It has an aperture size of 80 mm (about 5″), a focal length of 400 mm, giving it a focal ratio of 5. The f/3 to f/5 types are best for wide field observing, i.e., observing large faint objects like galaxies, rather than finer details of planets.

You’re child will enjoy good views of the moon’s features and exploring the celestial objects and constellation at night and by day can take it on outdoor trips and observe nature close up.

The item includes a lightweight adjustable tripod and two eyepieces (20 and 10 mm) for 20× (with a 2.5 degree field of view) and 40× magnification for likely views of Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons. The highest useful magnification is 189x and limiting stellar magnitude is 12. You’ll find the meaning of these parameters in this article containing a glossary.

It ticks the box for easy to use as, like most listed here, it is easy to set up, with no tools required. The manufacturer, Celestron, stands by their claim that you can set this up in just minutes. Celestron is considered as one of the best telescope brands. It offers US-based support on the technical use of their instruments.

The telescope has an alt-azimuth mount for navigating to and pointing at celestial objects in the night sky. The pan handle with this works in an up and down, and left to right motion.

This telescope has fully coated glass optics for vivid views. Accessories include not only the tripod and eye pieces, but software to help your child get to know the solar system and where to look for planets and constellations etc. There is also a 45 degree prism to correct the image for a suitable plane of viewing. Tip: For looking at those objects high in the sky you might want to consider purchasing a 90-degree one as well.

Pros and Cons: the Celestron 80mm Refractor

You may need to adjust the tripod, to place it on a table, the roof of your car, or top of a fence for better stability. Otherwise, consider investing in a sturdier tripod with the easier movement of controls.

Pros:
  • Comes with a sturdy padded backpack and smartphone adapter
  • Lightweight, affordable, and easy to set up
  • Can double for wildlife spotting
  • Wide field views
  • Included software for education
Cons
  • Full size tripod is flimsy (but you can fix this – see notes above)
  • Has plastic components (though these reduce the weight and cost factors)

Price

The Celestron telescope comes at a reasonable price for what it offers, as listed at Amazon. See the latest price here. You’ll also see the Celestron 21035 70mm travel scope at a cheaper price, if you are wanting something like this, but have a limited budget.


#2. Orion 10034 GoScope II Refractor Telescope Review

Suggested Ages: 6 – 18+ years

This is another one with an aperture size of 70 mm (about 3″), a focal length of 400 mm, giving it a focal ratio of 5.7, this time by Orion. The eyepieces that come with this one are 25 and 10 mm. These lenses provide good magnification for viewing details of the moon, e.g. craters, and the telescope comes with a moon map for educational insights.

Orion is another well-known brand of telescopes.

You’ll likely get views of Jupiter and its moons and rings of Saturn. It might be worth buying one or two smaller lenses (e.g. 4 mm, 6 mm) separately or in an accessory kit, if your child is going to be interested in the details of planets. This telescope like most listed here is not suited to viewing deep space objects given the limitation of the aperture size.

It comes with an adjustable tripod and sturdy backpack to carry the telescope and all accessories.

Like most of these, it doubles for daytime use with terrestrial viewing and is a portable scope.

Pros and Cons: the Orion GoScope Refractor

Pros
  • Moon map included for information about the moon’s features
  • Easy to put together
  • Affordable price
  • The backpack has extra space to include personal items along with the accessories
Cons
  • Tripod is not full size for adults but it can be placed on table or top of a vehicle to give it added height

Price

Reviewers rated this “good for the price”. It is available of Amazon with a video of how to set up – See the latest price here.


#3. Celestron Powerseeker 70AZ Refractor Telescope

Suggested Ages: 6 – 18+ years

This refractor telescope is one of Celestron’s PowerSeeker range. It is simple to use, well built, and of good quality. It’s an ideal children’s telescope. Being a PowerSeeker, it comes with three eyepieces (4, 10, and 20 mm) and a 3× Barlow lens.

The optics are fully coated glass to provide enhanced image brightness.

Aperture size is 70 mm (about 3″) and focal length 700mm, giving a focal ratio of 10. Your child should get a good view of the moon and be able to observe the bright planets such as Venus.

It comes with a full-size tripod and stands about a meter from the floor. The mount is an alt-azimuth for manual movement to navigate to and adjust to stay pointed at objects in the sky.

The child will have fun in trying out the different lenses and working out the trick in figuring out which lens to use.

With this telescope, you will get a computer program where you can add your location and it will show you what constellations and planets are visible in that part of the sky at certain times of the year.

Pros and Cons: The Celestron Powerseeker 70AZ

Pros
  • Lightweight, portable, and affordable
  • Has a 90º correct image prism
  • Easy set up with no tools required
  • Good achromatic optics for a lightweight package
  • The range of eyepieces
Cons
  • Plastic parts (designed for lightness and low cost)
  • No carry case — you will need to buy it separately

Price

‘Value priced’ is what reviewers say about this. It’s in the ball park of others listed so far for the same aperture size. You might be able to get a discounted price at Amazon – See the latest price here.


#4. Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor

8+ years

The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is similar to the PowerSeeker 70AZ (above) but is said to have better construction (less plastic). The alt-azimuth mount is solid metal and the tripod has metal legs and a locking tray.

The other differences: It has two eyepieces (20 and 10 mm). The focal length is 900mm and aperture size 70mm, giving it a focal ratio of 13 and making it a ‘slow’ telescope with an implied higher magnification and narrow field of view – best for lunar, planetary, and binary star observations.

With this, you should easily see the Moon in HD and then Mars, Jupiter and its moons, Saturn, Venus, and the Orion Nebula.

Includes free Starry Night astronomy software.

Pros and Cons: The Celestron Astromaster 70AZ

Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Affordable price
  • Includes a container for the eyepieces
  • Includes a 90º elbow for ease of viewing
  • Focal length
Cons
  • No carry case
  • The tripod can cause frustration when trying to keep object in view

Price

Another one rated “great for the price”. This one is around the $100 mark. It is popular with buyers at Amazon. See the latest price here. For a bit extra, you can get a 80mm aperture (diameter of the objective lens) AstroMaster for a bit more. It has a shorter focal length giving it a focal ratio of 5, which is better for wide field observing, i.e., best for viewing star clusters, galaxies, and the Milky Way. This focal ratio implies lower magnification but more area of the sky can be viewed with brighter views of extended objects like a nebula or galaxy. Check it out here.


#5. Emarth Telescope 70mm Refractor Review

Manufacturer Recommends Ages: 12+ years, but 3+ years can use this telescope designed for children.

This lightweight kids telescope comes with a 40 cm adjustable tripod, a finder scope, and carry bag. It has an aperture size of 70mm, a focal length of 360 mm, and therefore a focal ratio of 5.1.

It is super easy to set up since it is a no-tool gig. It has an alt-azimuth mounting and can be moved vertically as well as horizontally.

It sports fully coated optics and extras for the child to experience using, including a 3× Barlow lens to increase viewing power and two eyepieces (25 mm and 10 mm) giving magnifications of 128× and 51×.  It uses BAK-4 prism for better viewing. Other accessories include a solar system map.

This kids telescope, sold by EmarthTech, comes with a 24 month warranty: “We will make an instant refund or replacement for you until you are satisfied with it”, and 24 hour service – according to Emarth, who is a supplier of outdoor, sports, and electronic goods.

Pros and Cons: The Emarth 70mm Refractor Telescope

Pros
  • Compact scope at an affordable price
  • Having a carry case makes it good for traveling also 
  • It also has a lifetime money back guarantee
Cons
  • Tripod (40 cm) is not a full standing height for an adult
  • No astronomy software but does include maps of the moon and stars

Price

“Reasonably priced” say reviewers. It’s in the same ball park as the other 70mm telescopes. As shown at Amazon, they offer a satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy, send it back. Read the reviews of verified owners and while you’re at it, check out the price.


#6. Review of the MaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope for Kids

Suggested Ages: 6+ years

Similar shape to the previous telescopes for kids shown above. This comes with a tripod and a finder scope. It is another ‘no-tool’ needed setup that’s easy and good for portability.

Includes a 3× Barlow lens, three eyepieces (6, 12.5, and 20 mm), Moon mirror, and an erecting eyepiece. The package also includes binoculars (8 × 21) with BK7 roof prism and FMC green multi-coated optics, which offer clear vision.

Pros and Cons: The MaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope

Pros
  • A bit cheaper than the last two
  • Has four eyepieces — 6 mm, 12.5 mm, 20 mm, & 25 mm
  • Includes a set of binoculars that the child can use to explore the outdoors or simply to complement the telescope in locating an object in the night sky
Cons
  • The tripod is short and is not adjustable
  • No carry case

Price

Looking for a cheap kid’s telescope? This one is less expensive than others reviewed here. You’ll find it at Amazon also. See the latest price here.


#7. TwinStar 60mm Refractor Telescope Review

Suggested Ages: 6+ years

This is a compact telescope. It comes with two eyepieces 6 mm and 20 mm, a 2× Barlow lens, a lightweight tripod, and is fitted with an alt-azimuth mount. Aperture size is 60mm and has acromatic lens. The focal length of 300mm, means the focal ratio is 5.

Like the others, it is easy to set up. It is simple to use with just 4 parts.

With some practice, you may be able to pick up at least four of Jupiter’s moons and the rings of Saturn.

Pros and Cons: The TwinStar 60mm Refractor Telescope

Pros
  • Comes with a full standing height tripod that is also lightweight
  • Cheap price
Cons
  • No carry case
  • Flimsy tripod
  • Turning portion not smooth when adjusting for Earth’s rotation
  • Smaller aperture size than others listed here

Price

Not bad for the price. This Twinstar AstroVenture is also in the less expensive range, and available at Amazon – See its price here. If you want something cheaper, this brand also has the AstroMark but with a smaller aperture, check out the Twinstar AstroMark 50mm.


What Can Kids Learn Through a Telescope?

A good child’s telescope will encourage children to learn about astronomy, and more!

1. The expanse of our universe

A telescope will open your child’s thinking to new perspectives. For example, they will learn about constellations, the unique features of the moon, and the Milky Way, and the enormity and complexity of our Universe. They will get an idea of just how small, the planet they live on, Earth, is compared to the size of the cosmos.

2. Orientation

With stargazing, they will learn how to read sky maps and get to know the names and features of distant objects.

3. Caring of an Instrument

They will get to learn how to take care of instrumentation.

4. About nature

As the telescopes mentioned double for terrestrial pursuits, they will learn about nature and be able to watch the behaviors and characteristics of animals and plants close-up. Especially early morning or late afternoon they will learn the most when birds and animals are active. These are not the usual kids’ toys.

5. Math

They’ll practice calculations, e.g., with understanding the magnifying power of eyepieces.

6. Develop imagination

A telescope will teach them a whole new set of horizons and support their fascination and curiosity. It will remain a toy for some, but even as a children’s toy telescope, it will help develop their imagination.

If there is one available, it’s best to get them involved in a local amateur astronomy club or similar, as they will learn the most from the experience of others.

Final Thoughts

When seeking to buy the best telescopes for kids on the market, there are a few things to consider. You’ll notice that the ones recommended are refractors. Refractors are low maintenance and durable types and hence why they are suitable for children’s telescopes. The alt-azimuth mount is common because it is light and simple. But, a thing to note, is that it does not track objects. For example, a star might go out of view in 20 to 30 seconds on high power (175x magnification). You will need to manually adjust by moving the handle up and down or left to right to account for the rotation of the Earth.

Jeff Madden

Hi, Jeff Madden here. I'm an enthusiast of the wide open spaces with over 15 years experience in spatial data. I like to research and compare the latest technology available. My writings are about helping others explore and capture visuals of the outdoors.

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