5 Best Kids Telescopes in 2020 [to Discover Astronomy]

Two of the most rewarding things in life are curiosity and passion. When to harness such things if not in childhood? The best part is, most telescopes can be used by both children and adults at a fair price. 

Children are more likely to be awed by the power of the telescope, genuinely developing an interest in astronomy or science in general, by looking at space objects, rather than reading dry facts about space in their school textbooks. 

A common challenge is, of course, to find the right telescope for your child, but rest assured for we have done the needed research in order to help you.

We Recommend

Best kids telescope

Meade Instruments
Refractor Telescope

Best budget option

Orion SkyScanner
Reflector Telescope

Great family combo

Celestron PowerSeeker
Equatorial Telescope

What to consider before picking a kids telescope?

The first telescope for your child can be a basic one. When they grow, they can graduate to bigger ones. Many famous astronomers got one when they were kids, such as Carl Sagan. In a nutshell, age and thus usage is what you have to consider beforehand.

Age: Children have critical learning periods (1). Up to age 4, they can’t really appreciate the wonders of the telescope. But from age 5+, it is a good start, they learn very quickly. Guidance and supervision will be needed. Never let them look at the Sun with the telescope, and also check the telescope for smaller parts, they can be easily ingested by kids. From age 6+, you can also consider buying a family type telescope since they are at a fair price and kid-friendly.

Usage: Usually, a telescope with a 4” aperture is good enough for children. The mount has to be sturdy and stable so that the telescope doesn’t vibrate when observing. It has to be kid-friendly, lightweight, easy to transport. If they want to use it in the day, only a short refractor will do the job, and usually, the sturdiest telescopes are the reflector types. If you plan the whole family to use it, you should consider the optics, aperture, focal length, and magnification.

Key features to look for

First impressions matter, for children especially. In order to grab their interest, the telescope should impress somehow and good telescopes are usually at a fair price. This is what you have to look for:

  • Mounts – There are three types:
    • Altazimuth – very sturdy and durable, moves vertically and horizontally, maybe the best choice for kids.
    • Equatorial – very good for those with a bit of experience, not good for beginners as they can be too complicated.
    • Computerized mounts – they have “go-to” buttons, automatically tracking what you want; they can take a bit of time to set up, though. It makes stargazing easy, on the other hand.
  • Aperture – 2.8 inches – 70 mm, at least. Larger aperture lets you see fainter objects.
  • Magnification – Usually, 50x per inch is good, but this is not so important in comparison with other features.
  • Focal length – Magnifying power depends on focal length; It should be at least 1000mm for versatility.
  • Optics – The diameter of the tube is essential; the bigger, the better. Usually, the best type of telescope, especially for beginners, is the reflector type.
  • Eyepieces – the lower the number, the more it magnifies, they can be used on different telescopes.

What can you see with a kids telescope?

When it comes to telescopes, you can expect what you pay for in general. Good telescopes should not be expensive, especially for beginners/children. We have sorted everything into 2 price ranges and what you can expect:

$0 – $99 – It can be quite a fun experience; however, in this price range, there are small chances that other members of the family would experience the same amount of satisfaction. Usually, children will be caught up into it, but don’t expect too much, as only the moon/stars can be viewed at best, and in certain cases, some of the planets. 

However, telescopes can be improved upon by different accessories such as eyepieces that might extend the range of what can be seen, up to even Saturn’s rings.

$100 – $199 – This is the sweet spot when it comes to good telescopes for beginners or children. In this price range, not only children can be awed by the power of these telescopes, but adults as well. In this price range, the whole family can experience some great and perhaps unforgettable moments together. 

These telescopes usually extend beyond the moon, up to planets, nebulae, galaxies, Messier objects, and much more.

Don’t forget the accessories

Accessories can greatly improve the whole experience of stargazing. Usually, there are many accessories already included, here’s what to expect:

Barlow lens – they boost the focal length; thus, they boost magnification power. They are usually cheap but are not always included. Any Barlow lens will help.

Telescope Eyepieces – consider them as the tires of a car; they can be used in the future, so investing in some shouldn’t be considered wasteful. Almost all telescopes come with 2 or more eyepieces. A 20 mm eyepiece on a 2000 mm telescope (2000/20), for example, gives you 100 power (100x). This makes objects appear 100 times closer to you through the telescope than they appear to your unaided eye. Start with lower power, and gradually increase.

Moon filters – not all telescopes include them, but they are essential, giving much more contrast, cut down glare, and give greater surface detail.

Astronomy Guide Books – most telescopes include them, either in physical or digital format, they can offer very useful information.

Star maps – same as guide books, but they mostly come in digital format through apps or DVD’S. They are great tools that can help in searching for certain celestial objects or how to find them.

How to choose the right telescope for kids?

Durability – When it comes to children, durability and sturdiness are important, especially for younger ones. Usually, reflector type telescopes do the job; they are quite bulletproof. This doesn’t mean supervision is not advised, however. Small pieces of the telescope could be ingested by children.

Ease of use and setup – The mount is essential. Altazimuth mounts move vertically and horizontally; they may be the best choice for children. On the other hand, there are computerized mounts, which make stargazing even easier for everyone. It is essential to easily set up the telescope if it’s too frustrating; it can decrease the child’s interest.

Compact for travel – They should be lightweight, easy to carry around and shouldn’t occupy too much space. Telescopes can be a fun gadget to have on field trips, camping, especially when you go out of the city. Since cities are usually light-polluted, it makes stargazing difficult and that is why you should also consider if it is easy to carry around.

Aperture – The diameter of the objective lens, the bigger, the better. The field of view of the telescope decreases as the aperture increases, but the resolving power increases. Aperture is essential in detecting faint objects. Aperture can play an important role in keeping the child’s interest.

Best telescopes for kids

1. Celestron FirstScope Telescope

This model could be an ideal entry-level astronomical telescope. 

It has a high-quality style stand with a 76 mm reflector tube. It is easy to store, transport, and set up having a portable-lightweight table-top design. 

It comes with two eyepieces that have different focal lengths and they can be easily changed with better ones later, thus making this model ideal for children of age 6+ and even adults due to its easy use and upgradability. 

The telescope also comes with an instruction manual. The highest useful magnification is about 180x, while the lowest useful magnification is 11x. 

As its name implies, the FirstScope could be a great choice to get started on the marvelous journey of stargazing while its small size prevents it from taking up too much space in your home.

Check the price of Celestron FirstScope Telescope here

What we liked

  • Great for beginners
  • Upgradable
  • Durable design
  • Easy to use and setup
  • Comes with 2 eyepieces

What we didn’t like

  • Moon/nearby stars view limitation

What can you see with it: The Moon, (if upgraded – up to Saturn and its rings)
Aperture: 76 mm
Focal length: Eyepiece 1 – 20 mm (0.79), Eyepiece 2 – 4mm (0.16)
Magnification: Eyepiece 1 – 15x, Eyepiece 2 – 75x. Max magnification 180x, lowest magnification 11x.
Weight: 4.5 pounds
Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 16 inches

2. Zhumell Z100 Altazimuth Reflector Telescope

This might be a good telescope not just for children of age 6+, but also for all family members

This model features a 100mm parabolic primary mirror, which helps against spherical aberration by providing noticeably sharper views, quite a rarity for telescopes of its size. 

The model includes 2 eyepieces: 17mm for wide-field view, 10mm for higher magnification.  

The design is sturdy, compact, ideal for traveling while also including a finder scope – red dot finder, single-arm Dobsonian mount, and even a screwdriver. 

The manual can be obtained for free online while overall, the telescope is easy to use and it can be upgraded with additional tools/pieces, possible bringing it close to a professional level type of telescope.

Check the price of Zhumell Z100 Altazimuth Reflector Telescope here

What we liked

  • Many useful tools included
  • Easy to use and transport
  • Compact/durable
  • Good optics for the price
  • Comes with Dobsonian mount

What we didn’t like

  • It cannot be collimated by the user
  • Might not be good for photography

What can you see with it: Planets, nebulae, moons, stars
Aperture: 100 mm/3.9
Focal length: 400mm
Magnification: 150x +/-
Weight: Assembled – 6.2 pounds
Dimensions: 14.5 x 11 x 11.8 inches

3. Celestron PowerSeeker 127mm 127EQ Telescope

This model comes with a tripod, finderscope, two eyepieces, and a Barlow lens, which triples the power of both eyepieces. 

The equatorial mount makes it easier to track objects as they appear to move across the night sky. 

Celestron also provides a free sky portal mobile app for iOS and Android to locate objects in the night sky. 

A key feature of the equatorial mounts is that they can rotate at any angle. It is tilted so it can rotate parallel with Earth’s axis, basically following any object at a constant rate. 

This might be a great choice both for kids 10+ and family members in general, offering a combination of quality, value, features, and power. It is easy to use and setup, transport, and they also provide a 2-year warranty and unlimited access to technical support.

Check the price of Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope here

What we liked

  • Equatorial mount – accurate pointing
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Durability – 2-year warranty
  • Great for adults and kids
  • Multiple accessories/upgradability

What we didn’t like

  • Might be too heavy
  • Collimation may prove difficult

What can you see with it: Planets, moons, nebulae, stars, galaxies
Aperture: 127 mm (5”)
Focal length: 1.000 mm (39”)
Magnification: 50x, 250x
Weight: 21 pounds – assembled
Dimensions: 33 x 17 x 11 inches

4. Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope

This model comes with two eyepieces of 20 mm and 10mm, the Starry Night astronomy software, and EZ Finder II aiming device for accuracy, and Starry Night astronomy software. 

The tabletop mount is very stable and if you don’t have where to put it, it comes off, and the telescope can be attached to a regular photo tripod, provided it is sturdy enough to hold it. 

Its overall size makes it very portable and it doesn’t occupy too much space making it easy to store. It is also easy to set up, and maybe well suited for both adults and children. 

Even in light contaminated areas, it has been reported that it still does a good job, offering comprehensive and clear pictures of celestial objects such as Saturn, and the craters on the Moon.

Check the price of Orion SkyScanner TableTop Reflector Telescope here

What we liked

  • Good price for good quality
  • No plastic lenses
  • Can also be attached to a regular tripod
  • Good even in light contaminated areas
  • Comes with 2 eyepieces

What we didn’t like

  • At first, may be too complex for small children

What can you see with it: planets, moons, stars, most Messier objects, nebulae, galaxies
Aperture: 100-150 mm
Focal length: 400 mm
Magnification: 200x – 14x
Weight: 6.2 pounds
Dimensions: 9.5 x 9.5 x 14 inches

5. Meade Instruments Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope

This model comes with three eyepieces: 6.3 mm, 9 mm, and 26 mm 1.25 inches. 

Along with this, there are 2x Barlow lens included, thus varying levels of magnification are available. 

It has a slow-motion control rod, 90 Degree erect prism, and pre-assembled full-height aluminum tripod. 

An astronomical software and instructional DVD is also provided. 

The slow-motion controls and the red dot viewfinder are great for helping you track and point your scope at objects, be it day or night. It is the most expensive of the aforementioned telescopes, yet it easily usable by both kids and adults alike. 

It may be a good tool for both beginners and newcomers. The large aperture is useful for both land and celestial objects, providing bright and sharp images.

Check the price of Meade Instruments Infinity AZ Refractor Telescope here

What we liked

  • Altazimuth mount, good precision
  • Very good accessories included
  • Good aperture
  • Red dot viewfinder
  • Good guidance provided
  • Easy to use

What we didn’t like

  • In certain situations the tripod may be too shaky
  • Not suitable for left-handed people

What can you see with it: Messier objects, galaxies, planets, moons, nebulae
Aperture: 102 mm (4”)
Focal length: 600 mm
Magnification: 100x
Weight: 12.2 pounds
Dimensions: 34 x 34 x 53 inches

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