Does your kid dream of being an astronaut? Make their space dreams come true with one of these spectacular telescopes that will transport their imagination out of this world.
Space is a magical thing. Whether it’s from watching cartoons set in space, or Marvel movies that introduced us to the likes of Groot and Rocket Racoon – children are introduced to the wonder that is space from an early age.
Even Hogwarts, the school that every child – and most of us adults – would give anything to attend, had astronomy as one of its core subjects.
It’s little wonder then that so many kids want to experience space themselves. Now, as very few of us have our own spaceship, the easiest way by far to introduce our children to the stars above is by investing in a telescope for the family.
Yet, with so many telescopes in every shape and size on the market, the decision of which telescope is best suited for your children can feel more complicated than time travel.
Luckily for you, this little list of the best telescopes for kids will soon have your mind at ease and your fingers itching for your wallet. After all, a telescope is as much a gift for you as it is for the kids.
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The Top Models Compared
See how the leading telescopes for kids compare in the table below.
Our Top Pick
Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6
- Huge 6" aperture
- Simple navigation
- View planets, nebulas & galaxies
- Vibration free imaging
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
- User friendly
- 2 eyepieces
- 2 year warranty
Orion GoScope II 70mm
- Includes travel bag
- Comes with moon map
- Fully adjustable
- Multiple accessories
- 2 year warranty
- Powerful & easy to use
Celestron NexStar 90SLT Mak Computerized Telescope
- Remote control
- StarPointer finderscope
- High quality 90mm (3.5") Maksutov-Cassegrain
The Top Telescopes for Kids
In this section, we go into some detail about each of our recommended models. Find out all the specs and also why they stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 *** Our Top Pick ***
If your child is thinking about astronomy as a hobby, one of the best starter telescope kits on the market is the Orion SkyQuest XT6. Not only is this impressive telescope simple to set up, but the fact it’s so easy to operate also makes it a perfect telescope for kids. After all, you want your child to be able to look at the stars themselves, not constantly getting frustrated that they need a parent to operate it for them.
Set up for the XT6 is simple, you get sent everything you need – including the tools – with your new telescope. The scope itself is already assembled, all you really need to do is add your eyepiece and the spotting light, then you’re good to go!
The base and telescope itself are quite large, which might be off-putting to some parents, but actually, there’s a lot of advantages to such a bulk. For one, if you have small children, this telescope is very hard to push over. So, you won’t need to worry about any accidents.
Secondly, this size and shape is, for lack of a better word, just cool. Looking like something a mad scientist or supervillain would use in a cartoon, the XT6 will really capture the imaginations of children. The telescope also has a handle for easier movement, meaning you can take it outside or on a camping trip without too much hassle.
One slight problem with this size, though, is that because the actual tube is quite long, the eyepiece is rather high. This means that younger children are going to struggle to use it without a helping hand, so you may want to opt for something smaller.
That being said, if your heart really is set on the XT6, you could get them a little stool or just lift them until they grow into their telescope. This could be a great bonding hobby for you both to have, as you learn about the vast universe that surrounds us.
The XT6 is Newtonian – also known as a reflector telescope – with an incredibly impressive 6-inch aperture. This measures the amount of light your telescope can absorb, making for clearer images of the planets in our solar system. You won’t get much better than that in a telescope for kids.
So, what can you see with the XT6? Well, on a good night with good viewing conditions, you’ll be able to see the moon and all its glorious craters. Further than that, you’ll get to see Jupiter and some of its moons and the rings on Saturn.
Some planets, like Mars, Mercury and Venus, you’ll be able to view as small, colored discs. Things like comets or entire galaxies are also possible to view with this telescope. Keep in mind, though, you only get one 25mm eyepiece with this telescope. To fully see some of these planets, you’ll need to invest in a better one.
This is only one slight complaint, though, in an otherwise fantastic telescope that will last your whole family for years.
Bottom Line: If you want a telescope to capture your child’s imagination, look no further. The XT6 looks like it came straight out of a comic, meaning your kid will be incredibly excited when they see it. Even better, with its 6-inch aperture, you’ll get to see plenty of planets and other galaxies.
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
If you’re looking for a telescope more suited to younger children, then the Celestron AstroMaster is, for sure, the best telescope for beginners.
The AstroMaster is a refractor telescope, which is something that some astronomers stick their noses up at. This is because a refractor telescope is associated with being a telescope for beginners. Kind of like riding a tricycle rather than a bike with two wheels.
The thing is, though, you are looking for a telescope for a beginner! So, there’s absolutely no point in being put off just because other people are being snobby. Plus, the AstroMaster 70AZ is a particularly good refractor telescope. It’s more than enough to allow your budding-astronomer to view planets in our solar system as well as amazing views of the moon.
Even better, the AstroMaster works as a terrestrial telescope as well as a celestial one, that means they be able to use their telescope during the day to watch nature and look at skylines. Hopefully not to spy on the neighbors, though.
You won’t get as good a view as you would with XT6, though, so be prepared to be buying a new telescope in a few years if they continue to enjoy watching the stars. The aperture here is only 3.5-inch in comparison.
The telescope itself is incredibly easy to set up and use, which is what makes it such a popular choice with parents. Just unpack your box and set it upright, with absolutely no need for tools. This is particularly useful if you fancy taking the kids on a trip at night to find a better spot to view the stars. While the XT6 is rather hefty to carry, this is light and disassembled easily for quick travel.
For children that are always misplacing things, you’ll be glad to hear that the finder scope supplied with the AstroMaster is permanently attached – so naughty toddlers can’t hide it somewhere no one will ever find. Named the StarPointer, the finder works using a red dot, similar to the technology used on much pricier scopes, and can be used to guide you to certain celestial bodies.
This is battery powered, though, so try to remember to switch it off. Otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re constantly changing batteries.
Another plus point for the AstroMaster is its mount. A mount is very important when it comes to a telescope as it’s needed to position and move your telescope in a certain way to view a certain body – such as the moon.
The AZ mount is light and sturdy, which means younger children will be able to use it with little or no bother. Something that wouldn’t be possible with larger models.
Bottom Line: This is one of the best beginner telescope kits you can get for smaller kids. It’s a good all-around telescope and is strong enough to view the moon and some of the larger planets in our solar system.
Orion GoScope II 70mm
For a telescope small and simple enough even for preschoolers, you might want to look at the Orion GoScope II, which is definitely the best telescope for kids who don’t already know much about their solar system.
One of the most affordable telescopes on this list, the GoScope II is specially designed for getting up close and personal with our moon. Which is exactly why this telescope is fantastic for kids as young as four or five.
They haven’t been to school yet, so, unless you’re a spectacular astrologer who loves teaching the subject, it’s likely your child won’t know much about outer space yet. That is, apart from the moon. Which gives you the perfect opportunity to get them excited about planets with this neat little telescope.
Weighing at just 3.5lbs, this incredibly lightweight scope comes with its own backpack and book dedicated to the moon. This makes your new telescope easy to transport, perfect for taking on vacation or just for a day trip. You could even store it in your car, ready to bring out whenever the moon is visible.
A backpack or carry case might seem like something that should be automatically provided with a telescope, but you might be surprised to hear that it’s actually really unusual. So, the addition of a backpack is a real plus point for this model. Better still, kids will love being able to carry their own telescope. You could even get a few NASA or space-themed patches to decorate it with.
The book is also very useful, as it aimed at teaching telescopes for beginners – which usually means the parents! You could even spend a week or two learning the basics yourself, then introduce your child to the telescope. That way, you’ll be able to show them exciting stars straight-away, without facing the risk of them getting bored.
The aperture is only 70mm, which is very small. So, don’t expect to be discovering any new planets with this telescope. It is powerful enough to get superb shots of the moon, as well as being able to see Jupiter or Saturn.
To get better views, you can choose to upgrade from the 10mm and 25mm eyepieces provided. This will cost you a little more, but it’s worth the expense if you want to be able to see more planets more clearly, without shelling out for a more premium telescope yet.
If your child is slightly older and very interested in space, you may want to invest in something slightly more complex. As a telescope for a complete novice, though, this is a complete bargain.
Bottom Line: As a beginner telescope for smaller children, you can’t go far wrong with the GoScope II. If it’s for an older child who wants to see more planets and galaxies, look for something a little more advanced.
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There’s something about the Celestron PowerSeeker that just looks neat. True, it’s basically just a big tube, but with its sleek black design, it looks like it should be owned by some super-fancy spy or hero. Which is exactly why your children are going to adore it.
Made from an extremely reputable brand, Celestron have been developing and manufacturing some of the best telescopes in the world for over 50 years now. So, you know when you invest in a Celestron telescope that you are getting a high-quality product.
The telescope is Newtonian in design, this means that there are mirrors in the telescope that gather light to reflect an image for you to view. These are generally seen as better than refractor telescopes that use a lens to provide an image.
To get the best image, that is clear and legible, you’re going to want a large aperture or your reflector telescope. Here, Celestron has delivered, as the PowerSeeker is armed with a 5-inch aperture, which is more than enough for a novice astronomer looking to gaze at the stars. Parents will be happy to know that, even with this large aperture, the PowerSeeker is still very reasonably priced.
Even better, the optical elements included with your telescope are all high quality. Sometimes you can find a telescope to have a good aperture, but this ends up being meaningless as the optics aren’t good enough, meaning a poor, unclear image.
With the 127EQ you’ll easily see every little crater on the moon in wonderful HD. You’ll also be able to see planets like Jupiter and Saturn as well as star clusters and nebulas.
The telescope comes with two different eyepieces – 20mm and a 4mm -as well as 3 x Barlow lens which will give you further magnification. In fact, it will effectively triple your magnification, making it a nifty little gadget to be included.
The 127EQ comes with an equatorial mount, which although is easy for older to kids use and track the bodies they wish to see, is too big for younger kids. This is the only down point, though, in what is otherwise one of the best telescopes for beginners and children alike.
This is a telescope that the whole family can use and enjoy, it’s so well-built that you can expect it to last for decades within your family, making it quite the investment. Which is especially good when you consider how reasonably priced it is to start with.
Bottom Line: It’s extremely hard to find telescopes for kids that have the right balance of price, simplicity and power. The PowerSeeker 127EQ blows all your expectations out the window – it’s just that good. You’ll wish you’d invested in one years ago.
Celestron NexStar 90SLT Mak Computerized Telescope
All of the telescopes mentioned so far on this list have been aimed at beginners, making them perfect as kids telescopes. The NexStar 90SLT is no exception, and being created under the Celestron brand, you know it’s another telescope of exceptional quality.
Designed to be a telescope for beginners, the NexStar 90SLT is both simple to use and set up. You’ll be able to get your new telescope up and working in just a few minutes, with no need for complicated tools or instruction manuals that cause more headaches than solutions.
Be warned though, physical setup might be easy, but as this telescope is computerized, you’re also going to have to get it aligned and ready to use. This is just a one-off though, once it’s completed and ready to go, you’ll find that it’s very simple to use. The included database has around 4,000 objects for you to locate in the sky – which will keep you and the kids occupied all year!
The telescope itself has an aperture of 3.5-inches and an eyepiece with a 50X magnification. These are both decent attributes, however, perhaps not as spectacular as either the Orion XT6 or Powerseeker mentioned on this list. Which becomes disappointing when you consider this is one of the pricier telescopes on the list.
That being said, the aperture and magnification provided are powerful enough for you to get a good look at the craters on our moon as well as the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn – all of which make for magical viewing.
This is when the telescope’s computerized aspect becomes so useful, you’ll be able to locate and view all these celestial bodies far easier than you would with a normal microscope. For an educational bonus, the 90SLT also comes with a separate piece of software aimed at teaching novice astronomers everything they need to know about the universe around us.
Bottom Line: The NexStar 90SLT is expensive when you compare it to more powerful telescopes on this list. If it fits within your budget though, and you like the computerized element that makes finding certain planets and stars with a touch of a button, then it could be the best beginner telescope for you.
All the telescopes featured here have their own advantages and disadvantages based on your own circumstances, but for overall great value, there’s one clear choice. The Orion GoScope II is the best telescope for kids who are younger and new to the idea of looking up to our stars.
This telescope is powerful enough to get you a stunning view of our moon. The fact it’s so lightweight with its own bag is a serious advantage too. It could be the perfect show-and-tell item for kindergarten, which all the other children will love to see too. You could even match it with a Buzz Lightyear toy, for maximum effect.
It isn’t just for younger kids, though. True, this telescope isn’t going to let you view the rings on Saturn, but what it does do is give you and your children a great introduction to the world of astronomy. It’s even a smart choice for parents who want to try slightly older children with a telescope to see if they will like one, before committing to a far pricier option.
If you are ready for a more advanced telescope, the Celestron PowerSeeker should be at the top of your list. Not only is this telescope exceptional value for money, but it also has just the right mix of power and simplicity.
This means the kids will never feel intimidated by their telescope. Confidence is key to having fun, so if your child feels they need an adult to work their telescope for them, it’s highly likely they’ll stop using it. That’s not going to happen with the PowerSeeker. Especially when you consider all the amazing celestial bodies this telescope will let you view.
Indeed, you might have a slight issue trying to get the kids to bed as they’ll want to stay up all night watching the stars.
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It’s very easy to get bogged down in the specifications of telescopes, fretting over what kids’ telescope would be the best for your family. There is a simple solution though, ditch your adult head and start thinking about what your child wants from a telescope. From there, you’ll find your decision comes far easier.
Can You See Cool Stuff Through It?
Children don’t want to know about magnification or aperture values. That sounds boring and complicated, and to be honest, they’re not wrong! All you really need to know about a telescope is whether you’re going to see neat things that will excite you.
Look at reviews people have made of each telescope; these reviewers tend to add photographs of the planets and moons they’ve managed to spot while using their telescope. If you find yourself amazed at the photos, the telescope is for you. If you find the photographs boring, look elsewhere.
Ease of Use
It’s all very well going for the most complicated, fancy telescope you can lay your hands on, but it’s not very sensible. Bear in mind that any telescope you purchase has to be simple enough for your child to use too.
It’s going to get very boring, very quickly if your kid is just standing about watching you play with the new telescope. True, you want something that everyone in the family can use, but that means it needs to be easy enough for the kids to use by themselves too.
Plus, if you don’t fancy using the telescope that night because you have important work to do – like the football is on – you won’t be getting pestered to play. The kids will be too busy stargazing without you.
Generally, you’re not going to move your new telescope that much, but it makes sense to at least consider how easy it would be to take your telescope on vacation with you. This becomes especially important if you live in a city where smog can make visibility poor.
A telescope that is relatively easy to pack-up in the car and take for a camping trip is incredibly useful. You could even look out for nights where comets are passing or shooting stars are expected and plan a trip around these dates. These are the kinds of memories your children will be telling their own kids in the future.
Make a Budget
Like everything else in life, our choices are dictated to us by money, and this shouldn’t be any different when we are looking to buy a telescope.
Before you look at any telescope, it’s very important that you make a budget. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in the need to get the fanciest, most expensive telescope on the list. This, however, is silly. You should never waste money on what is effectively a gadget for the family if you’re not going to use it to its full potential.
Instead, base your budget on factors such as number of children, ages, how interested they are in astronomy and how much time you can dedicate to learning. You could even try a cheaper telescope to start, if everyone is enjoying their new hobby then you’ll feel better about investing in a more expensive model.
Don’t disregard a telescope completely if you think it’s not powerful or fancy enough, it might be possible to purchase a few added extras to help improve performance. Items like Barlow lenses and different eyepieces can all make a significant difference to the magnification and clarity of the images you see through your microscope.
If your kids are enjoying their telescope you could even use these telescope accessories as rewards for doing well at school or doing some extra chores.
Astronomy can be an absolutely magical hobby for everyone in your home – not just the kids! Every telescope featured here is a brilliant piece of machinery with its own advantages and disadvantages. The key is to look for the one that ticks the most boxes for you.
You never know, you might find yourself teaching your grandchildren how to look for stars or planets in the future too. You’ll probably find yourself hunting for Santa in the skies every Christmas Eve too, no matter how many times they get told to get to bed.
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Glossary of Telescope Terminology
Dobsonian Telescope – A popular telescope amongst amateurs, the Dobsonian telescope is an adaption of the Newtonian telescope, which was developed by John Dobson. It refers to the stand the telescope is on, the telescope itself is a reflector.
Newtonian Telescope – Another name for a reflector telescope.
Refractor Telescope – A telescope that uses a lens to form an image.
Terrestrial Telescope – A telescope used to view terrestrial objects, the image is not inverted.
Celestial Telescope – A telescope with a long focal length but an eyepiece with a short focal length. Used to observe celestial bodies like planets.
Nebula – A cloud of gas and dust found in outer space.
Barlow Lens – A lens placed between an eyepiece and mirror on a telescope. This is used to increase the magnification.
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