Best Telescopes in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update December 2, 2019
Learning the secrets of the Universe — this has always been seen as a way to improve your knowledge and outlook on the world. Maybe you want to buy a powerful tool and do astrophotography? Modern telescopes have an option for everyone. Our review will show you 5 of the best available. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2019
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Optical surveillance system
Aperture size and Focal length
Mount
Eyepieces and magnification
Special features
Warranty
 
PROS

The SkyAlign tech lets you keep in memory up to 40 000 objects, which in return gives the owner the ability to store 40,000 celestial objects in its memory, making them available at the push of a button.

CONS

Poor battery life and a poor-quality tripod. 

OUR VERDICT

This model of a telescope is suitable for observation and offers astronomical photography with a long exposure. It allows you to observe all reachable objects and bodies of the Solar system. In addition, this scope has a remote control option making it very easy and convenient to use. 

detailed parameters
Optical surveillance system
Catadioptic telescope, Schmidt-Cassrgrain optical system
Aperture size and Focal length
150 mm, 1500 mm
Mount
Azimuthal adjustment
Eyepieces and magnification
25 mm (60x)
Special features

Sky Align navigation system

GPS

Remote control

Warranty

2 years

PROS

The telescope comes equipped with one of the largest mirrors in its price range, more than good enough to gather more light compared to similar models. The 25-millimetre eyepiece offers a pretty great field of view.

CONS

Not the most compact device. 

OUR VERDICT

The product is one hell of a package. The red dot finder will make your job a lot easier. The focal length and the optics make this model a pretty great choice for experienced individuals and beginners alike. All in all, this telescope will make observing the night sky an enjoyable and hassle-free activity.

detailed parameters
Optical surveillance system

Refractor

Aperture size and Focal length

130 mm / 900 mm

Mount

EQ2 equatorial mount

Eyepieces and magnification

Eyepiece1: 10mm, Eyepiece2: 25mm

Magnifications (with optics supplied): x36, x72, x90, x180

Special features

Motor drive for the automatic tracking

Comes with multi-speed handset aluminium tripod with accessory tray

Warranty

5 years

PROS

The 1.25” steel tube legs provide a sturdy and rigid viewing platform, which is basically all you need to take great images. This dual-purpose telescope is suitable for both terrestrial and celestial viewing.

CONS

It'll be difficult for a newbie to set the telescope up. 

OUR VERDICT

The Celestron AstroMaster 31051 is as good of a personal telescope as they come. There isn't a whole lot it won't do for you. Using this instrument, you will be able to explore the night sky as well as the land. It isn't the most powerful option out there but it is definitely one of the more practical ones.

detailed parameters
Optical surveillance system

Refractor

Aperture size and Focal length

130 mm / 650 mm

Mount

CG-3 equatorial mount

Eyepieces and magnification

Eyepiece1: 10mm (0.78 in) Magnification1: 33X

Eyepiece2: 20mm (0.4 in) Magnification2: 65X

Special features

Motor drive for the automatic tracking

Bonus astronomy software

Comes with a steel tripod and an accessory tray

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The smartphone adapter will let you take night sky images through the 'piece. The vixen-style dovetail receiver will enable you to easily switch between different optical tubes. The integrated accessory holder will let you organise the 'pieces and keep them accessible. 

CONS

The anti-glare lens surface is not as effective as one might expect. 

OUR VERDICT

The Meade AC 70/700 StarPro AZ Telescope is an easy-to-use, portable telescope that will work wonders for on-the-go astronomers. The optical tubes that come with the telescope incorporate fully-coated optics, bringing you bright and clear images of everything that's worth observing.

detailed parameters
Optical surveillance system

Achromatic refractor

Aperture size and Focal length

70 mm / 700 mm

Mount

Single-arm, Alt/Azimuth mount with slow-motion control cables

Eyepieces and magnification

Eyepiece 1: 6.3 mm,
Magnification: 111x

Eyepiece 2: 9 mm,
Magnification: 77x

Eyepiece 3: 26 mm
Magnification: 26x

Special features

Vixen-style dovetail

Full-size adjustable aluminium tripod with integrated accessory holder

AutoStar Suite® Astronomer Edition software on DVD and smart phone adapter included

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The model is convenient, compact, and portable. it is a quality product from a well-known brand. The unit's viewing range is high. Plus, the product comes with a handy carry bag that will make transportation easy. 

CONS

The tripod is somewhat unstable and needs to be reinforced.

OUR VERDICT

A great telescope at a reasonable price. The manual alt-azimuth mechanism incorporates this panhandle that lets you navigate the sky with ease. The mount is attached to this 1.25-inch adjustable tripod that you can modify to the desired height.

detailed parameters
Optical surveillance system

Refractor

Aperture size and Focal length

70 mm / 400 mm

Mount

Altazimuth

Eyepieces and magnification

Plessl 20mm (20x) and 10mm (40x)

Special features

Multilayered anti-reflecting optics

Convenient bag

The Sky X - First Light Edition software

Warranty

2 years

Celestron NexStar 6 SE

Optical Surveillance System

The Celestron NexStar is based on the Schmidt-Cassegrain system, which is very popular among manufacturers because it combines outstanding focal length, good value for the money, and advanced features for more experienced users.

Though the aperture is relatively large, this particular telescope is surprisingly portable and convenient. At the same time, the 6-inch aperture features outstanding light-gathering capabilities to provide remarkable views of the Moon and different planets, along with those deep-sky objects like the Orion Nebula.

The aperture's diameter measures 150 millimetres, while the focal length reaches a ridiculous 1500 millimetres. The standard eyepiece is 25 millimetres, providing 60x magnification.

The adjustment system of this telescope is azimuthal. This type of system is handy and convenient, especially for refractor scopes. As it's been mentioned before, this type of adjustment system is normally used in amateur scope building due to its low cost, light weight, and good performance. So, if you've just started doing astrophotography, you'll absolutely love this unit.

Review of Celestron NexStar 6 SE

Performance Opportunities and Ease of Use

This model of a telescope is suitable for observation and offers astronomical photography with a long exposure. It allows you to observe all reachable objects and bodies of the Solar system. In addition, this scope has a remote control option making it very easy and convenient to use.

This telescope is also easy for children to operate. Just get acquainted with the guide and start your studies.

In most ways, what we have here is a modern and innovative telescope set on a metal tripod (which stops the tripod from falling over). The control system is convenient and easy to use for both amateurs and children.

This telescope is GPS compatible. The system is able to provide GPS coordinates to the telescope via the SkySync app. Alternatively, you can add automatic alignment functionality using StarSense AutoAlign.

Also, the owner can adjust the telescope precisely and efficiently in regards to the SkyAlign navigator system. SkyAlign gives a chance to keep in memory up to 40,000 objects, which in return gives the owner the ability to store 40,000 celestial objects in its memory, making them available at the push of a button.

All things considered, this product will be able to present the best stargazing experience for experienced users and newbies alike. The model's specs are good enough to make this product attractive to the former, while its easy-to-use setup makes the unit appealing to the latter group.

Celestron NexStar 6 SE in the use

VIDEO
Celestron NexStar SE Tutorial
 

Skywatcher Explorer-130M 10713

It's All About the Imagery

The Skywatcher Explorer-130M has quite a lot going for it but what we liked in particular and the first thing we would like to talk about is its design. Though not the most important aspect of any instrument, the luxury, glossy design of the telescope makes it stand out from the rest of its competitors, and that's always a plus.

Of course, it wouldn't necessarily matter if the visual aspect was the only good thing about this product but that is far from being the case here. From a technical standpoint, this is one of the most impressive telescopes in its price range. But before we get to those technical characteristics, we would like to mention that the model comes with a multi-speed handset aluminium tripod that includes an accessory tray. Its aluminium composition makes the tripod particularly robust and the multi-speed handset will provide you with the opportunity to take some of the most outstanding images.

Review of Skywatcher Explorer-130M 10713 Motorised Newtonian Reflector Telescope

Light-Gulping Reflectors

With that out of the way, it is time to talk about the model's performance. On the first sight, this telescope utilises your standard Newtonian reflectors. But that first impression is as misleading as it gets. These reflectors boast excellent quality and versatility. They range in aperture from a decent 130 millimetres to an incredible light-gulping 300-mm aperture.

Thanks to its aperture size and focal length, the model is suitable for astronomers of all levels. Whether your interests align with the deep sky, the moon, the surrounding planets, or a combination of all of these things, the Skywatcher Explorer telescope will fit you to a tee, with its excellent all-round diffraction-limited performance.

Skywatcher Explorer-130M 10713 Motorised Newtonian Reflector Telescope in the use

Sharp and Clear View

Now, we would not have been able to cover the performance aspect of this product without talking about its mirror. And it is a good thing since this telescope comes equipped with one of the largest mirrors in its price range. As some of you may know, a large mirror is as great of an asset as they come as far as telescopes are concerned since it allows the instrument to gather more light.

The 25-millimetre eyepiece that comes with the model may not seem particularly different from your average deal but it does offer a pretty great field of view. For the most part, you will be able to observe a sharp and clear view of the stars. Though you will get slight distortions around the edges of that field.

Aside from the aforementioned tripod and the 'scope itself, you'll receive a motor drive for automatic tracking, a couple of Barlow lenses, and a red dot finder. In conclusion, what you will get from the Skywatcher Explorer-130M telescope is one hell of a package. The red dot finder will make your job a lot easier. The focal length and the optics make this model a pretty great choice for experienced customers and beginners alike. 

All in all, this instrument will make observing the night sky an enjoyable and hassle-free activity.

Detailed review of Skywatcher Explorer-130M 10713 Motorised Newtonian Reflector Telescope

 

Celestron AstroMaster 31051

Stargazing Experience

The AstroMaster 130EQ is neither particularly cheap nor is it one of the simpler options on the market. If you wouldn't be able to describe yourself as an intermediate user, there's a good chance you will have a hard time setting up the telescope. But that is the way it is supposed to be. This is a product for people that have at least some sort of an idea what to do with these things.

And if you do have some experience with telescopes, we couldn't recommend this model highly enough. Yes, it might be difficult for a beginner, but the aforementioned intermediate users will be able to get it up and running in no time at all. Using the quick release dovetail attachment, you will set this thing up quickly and easily. It does not require any tools and the tripod already comes preassembled.

Review of Celestron AstroMaster 31051 Reflector Telescope Motor Drive

Dual-Purpose

Speaking of the tripod, the one that this model comes equipped with is a particularly rugged component. Part of that tripod is a 1.25” steel tube legs. They may not seem that different from any other telescope foundation, but they do provide a sturdy and rigid viewing platform. And that is all you need to take great images.

All in all, the best thing about this product is that it is a dual-purpose telescope. That means that the model is suitable for both terrestrial and celestial viewing. Using this impressive instrument, you will be able to explore both land and sky.

That said, we would say that it is the telescope's celestial viewing capabilities that make it such a popular product. In other words, what makes this device so great is that it produces bright, clear images of the Moon and the nearby planets. This instrument makes it really easy to observe the moons of Jupiter and to explore the rings of Saturn and, honestly, that's more than you could ask from a personal telescope.

Celestron AstroMaster 31051 Reflector Telescope Motor Drive in the use

Helpful Software

There's a lot to like about this model but we have particularly enjoyed the motor drive that allows for automatic tracking and the star pointer finderscope that works with the former to help you track and locate the stars and other sky objects. It is the said component, as well as the all-coated, glass, erect image optics that make this instrument so great for terrestrial and astronomical use.

Aside from its components, we would be remiss not to mention the "TheSkyX - First Light Edition". This astronomy software comes with a 10,000 object database, maps, and images, a perfect addition to the instrument itself as it will help you understand and learn everything about the sky objects that you'll encounter.

All things considered, the Celestron AstroMaster 31051 is as good of a personal telescope as they come. There isn't a whole lot it won't do for you. Using this instrument, you will be able to explore the night sky as well as the land. It isn't the most powerful option out there but it is definitely one of the more practical ones.

Detailed review of Celestron AstroMaster 31051 Reflector Telescope Motor Drive

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Meade AC 70/700 StarPro AZ

Vixen-Style Dovetail Receiver

The Meade AC 70/700 StarPro AZ is probably the most practical and convenient telescope we've recently looked at.

First and foremost, the model's as compact and lightweight as they come. Measuring 63.5 x 139.7 x 73.7 centimetres and weighing somewhere around 3.8 kilograms, this portable telescope will prove brilliant for astronomers on the go.

The company's new-and-improved single-arm, alt-azimuth mount incorporates axes with slow-motion control cables, making the entire observing experience an absolute breeze. At the same time, this new mount comes fitted with this vixen-style dovetail receiver, meaning that you'll be able to switch between different optical tubes and will have no issues switching too.

Moreover, the sturdy tripod hosts this integrated accessory holder that will let you organise the eyepieces that come supplied with the package and keep them accessible at the same time. Plus, you'll be able to comfortably transport them without having to bring any third-party cases/holders.

Review of Meade AC 70/700 StarPro AZ Telescope

Solid Aperture

Generally speaking, telescopes are only as good as the optics allow these instruments to be and here the optics are pretty darn good. Fitted with 70mm aperture, the refractor collects a hundred times more light than the naked eye and much more light than any cheap beginner telescope that will usually come with an aperture somewhere between 50 and 60mm.

As you'd imagine, a higher aperture means a higher resolution and, with its 140x maximum magnification, the telescope will be able to show you much larger surface features when observing planets like Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. Observing the moon will become a much more rewarding experience too since you'll be able to see the moon's everchanging cratered landscape much more clearly.

Meade AC 70/700 StarPro AZ Telescope in the use

Everything Worth Observing

Using the erecting lens or an Amici prism, you'll also be able to view and admire land objects like wildlife/beautiful landscapes.

Apart from that, the package includes a DVD with the AutoStar Suite® Astronomer Edition software and a smartphone adapter. The adapter will let you take night sky images through the 'piece.

As far as the product's flaws are concerned, the anti-glare lens surface is not as effective as one might expect.

Bottom line, the Meade AC 70/700 StarPro AZ Telescope is an easy-to-use, portable telescope that will work wonders for on-the-go astronomers. The optical tubes that come with the telescope incorporate fully-coated optics, bringing you bright and clear images of everything that's worth observing.

Detailed review of Meade AC 70/700 StarPro AZ Telescope

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Celestron Travel Scope 70 (21035)

Optical Surveillance System

The Celestron Travel Scope is based on the refractor optical viewing system. This telescope is a compact and mobile product. The unit measures 18 x 7 x 14 inches and weighs less than 3.5 pounds, so you'll have no issues with mobility and transportation. You'll be able to find enough space for this telescope in the boot and might even fit this unit inside some bags.

The lens construction makes this telescope usable in all weather conditions, despite its average size. It has a diameter of 70 millimetres, which is really good considering the model's budget price bracket. This diameter means that the refractor is able to gather ~100 times more light compared to the naked eye and more light than most budget telescopes (those usually hover around 50-60 millimetres).

At the same time, this travel scope has a focal length of 400 millimetres, so the image will appear wide and bright. The product comes with 2 Plessl eyepieces, one 20mm with 20x magnification, the other 10mm with 40x magnification. You'll be able to juggle between these eyepieces to view celestial objects with low and high power at night as well as explore terrestrial objects during the day.

Review of Celestron Travel Scope 70 (21035)

View the Beauty

The Celestron Travel scope is good for both viewing the beauty of the Earth or the solar system. Again, it is portable, compact, and easy to operate. It has a solid aluminium platform which ensures a stable viewing base. Travelers and lovers of outdoor activities find this telescope extremely convenient because you can easily take this unit with you wherever you go.

The flexible altazimuth viewer ensures the owner gets blur-free views. This simple yet convenient system is perfect for beginners. It is just as good for astronomical photography which gives you clear unblurred images.

Celestron Travel Scope 70 (21035) in the use

Nice Special Features

In addition to the telescope's lightweight and portable build, the people behind this product send you this custom backpack that will let you carry this unit with ease.

TheSkyX - First Light Edition" software is included with the telescope. The SkyX includes useful information about stars, celestial bodies, and has an informative, cartographical manual. Also, this telescope has an anti-reflection, multi-layered optics.

Last but not least, the aforementioned manual alt-azimuth mechanism incorporates this panhandle that lets you navigate the sky with ease. The mount is attached to this 1.25-inch adjustable tripod that you can modify to the desired height.

Detailed review of Celestron Travel Scope 70 (21035)

VIDEO
Celestron Travel Scope 70 Review Model 21035
 

What Is a Telescope?

From Galileo Galilei to Albert Einstein to every other kid in your neighbourhood, stars never cease to fascinate people. Outer space is considered the future of the humanity. How many books and movies are created about mankind adventures out there! And while just setting out to such a journey is still a dream, we watch the Universe through the "eye" of our telescopes, the devices somewhat similar in construction to monoculars.

But telescopes, even the portable ones everyone can have at home, are so much more powerful. Today, this invention allows us to see not only a ship in the sea or a mountain far away but watch distant celestial bodies—by catching the light they emit and magnifying the image to fill the retina of our eyes. The science has gone far since the times of Copernicus, hasn't it?

If you or your kid ever dream of becoming an astronaut going for a space travel, a good overall fitness is a must. Start preparing right now with inversion tables and treadmills.

What Features to Compare

The modern telescope market has a wide selection to suit nearly every taste. The correct lens and mirror system are vital when making your choice. There are 5 mains systems to consider when choosing - a reflector, refractor, Cassegrain, Maksutov-Cassegrain, and Schmidt-Cassegrain, thus make sure to not overlook the optical surveillance system. An important thing to consider is the aperture size and the focal length of the telescope because these features predetermine the optical power of the product.

Next up, attention must be paid to an eyepiece and magnification. Selecting an eyepiece is a real headache for stargazers because there are lots of diverse products varying in schemes and design. The scheme of the eyepiece determines its maximal magnification capability.

There are three main types of adjustment (mount) systems in the world of amateur telescopes, which are azimuthal, equatorial and the Dobson system. Each type of adjustment system has its own benefits and downsides. For example, an azimuthal adjustment is not excessive, inexpensive and lightweight, but is incapable of precise astronomical photography. Equatorial adjustment is more excessive and weighs more, but is more accurate when compensating for the Earth’s rotation without computers and servo-motors.

Performance opportunities and ease of use give practical advice for easy maintenance. Also, different models offer different additions and special features which simplify handling and make it more enjoyable. As an example, some of the modern telescopes have a navigation system (GPS) which helps a user to find a defined object in a matter of minutes.

Did you know?

The night sky is fascinating and, for the very same reason, the instruments that allow you to view that night sky can also be a rather fascinating subject. It may not be the most inherently complicated instrument but we bet there's a lot you don't know about it. So buckle up and settle in for these illuminating and starry telescope facts.

Sorry, Galileo

Contrary to the popular belief, Galileo did not actually invent the telescope. Despite being often credited for it, he was "merely" the first person to turn the instrument in question skyward. Being the first scientist that used a telescope to study the night sky, he was the driving force behind humanity's discovery of Jupiter's satellites, as well as the craters on the moon. Though one of the most brilliant astronomy minds in the history of mankind, he was also the very first person to point a telescope to the sun, a not-so-smart decision that may have led to his loss of sight in his later years.

Business Acumen

For the most part, we associate telescopes with astronomy, scientists, and some of the more curious minds with a deep passion for the former science. But that wasn't always the case. On the contrary, the main clientele of some of the earlier telescopes consisted mostly of merchants. These opportunistic gentlemen were buying telescopes like hotcakes and using these instruments to spot approaching trade ships. This way, they had the opportunity to beat their competitors as they were privy to the information that most of their fellow merchants didn't have access to.

Online Telescope

Nothing beats having the actual instrument at your immediate disposal. Unfortunately, that's not always an option. But there are some alternatives. For example, websites like Virtual Telescope and World Wide Telescope, among others, will provide you with a very neat opportunity to observe the night sky. Since many different websites use different telescopes that are located in different places, you'll be able to view various parts of the night sky, all from the comforts of your home. 

Not Just Amateurs

The convenience of commanding a robotic observatory without actually leaving the premises of your home is so alluring that even the majority of professional astronomers work this way too. While it may seem less romantic, there are very few astronomers these days that actually look through an eyepiece instead of using a computer to remotely operate the telescope.

Mind-Boggling Numbers

Some of the most powerful telescopes out there have the ability to see about 13 billion light-years away. It is hard to wrap your head around these kinds of numbers, isn't it? Well, it gets even more unfathomable. Most astronomers believe the aforementioned number to be the approximate age of the universe. So, looking out that far is actually akin to looking back in time. And if that isn't spooky, we don't know what is. 

Shying Away from the Camera

The Hubble Space Telescope has done a lot for us. But it hasn't been able to photograph Earth and Mercury. With the former, the problem is that the telescope is too close to the planet to take a clear picture. And Mercury' issue is that the said planet is so close to the sun that it's intense reflected light would end up damaging Hubble’s instruments.

FAQ:

Q: What are these f/5, f/10 numbers?
A:
 They are called the focal ratio or also the "speed" of the telescope. Focal ratio is calculated by dividing the focal length by the aperture and in simple words, it shows how wide and bright the image you see will be. Faster focal ratios (those with lower numbers) have wider field and lower magnification, good for those users who are into deep space observation. Slower ratios are good to watch the Moon, planets and other big or relatively close objects.

Q: Do I need a Barlow lens?
A:
 That is up to you to decide. Barlow lenses magnify the image of the eyepieces, so, let's say, instead of buying three additional eyepieces with double the magnification of the three you already have, you can buy a single 2x Barlow lens and use it with each. Actually, using a Barlow will offer you a better quality image with less aberration.

Q: Is more magnification always better?
A:
 Not always, it normally depends on what you look at. When you have higher magnification, you simultaneously lose in the field of view and in brightness. Consequently, if the object you look at is already faint, high magnification will not help. To see faint objects clearer and to make them appear brighter, you need higher aperture. Also, at the higher aperture, you can also add magnification.

Q: Do I need all these many eyepieces?
A:
 Different eyepieces are good to observe different objects, so if you are buying a telescope for a single particular type of objects you might not need additional eyepieces but for anyone interested in astronomy in general, the more eyepieces usually the better.

Q: Reflector vs. refractor, which should I choose?
A:
 Again, this is subjective to your goals. Refractors provide more contrasting pictures than reflectors but a refractor with a big aperture for observing deep space would be extremely bulky and will cost an immense amount of money so they are usually better for planetary, lunar observation, and to watch really bright binary stars and nebulae. Reflectors have bigger apertures, thus they gather more light and allow you to see farther into space clearly.

Sources:

1. Lauren Cox Who Invented the Telescope? Space.com. July 13, 2013.

2. Craig Freudenrich, PhD. How Telescopes Work, HowStuffWorks.

3. Daniel Schwartz 10 Things To Prepare You For Space Travel, Flight Centre. April 20, 2015.

4. BUYING A TELESCOPE FAQ, The University of Toledo.

5. Telescope, Wikipedia.

6. Adrian R. Ashford How to Choose a Telescope, Sky & Telescope Media. April 16, 2014.

7. Christopher Witt Telescope Buying Guide, B&H Explora.

8. Ryan Wick Beginner’s Telescope Buying GuideIFL Science.

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Publish Date: 2017-09-12 16:25:08