Best Telescopes in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update December 15, 2018
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 2018
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Optical surveillance system
Aperture size and Focal length
Mount
Eyepieces and magnification
Special features
Warranty
 
PROS

The 1.25” steel tube legs provide a sturdy and rigid viewing platform. And that is 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 telescope comes equipped with one of the largest mirrors in its price range, more than good enough to gather more light. 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

Convenient, compact, and portable. A quality product from a well-known brand. Wide viewing range. Comes with a handy carry bag.

CONS

The tripod is somewhat unstable and needs to be reinforced.

OUR VERDICT

A great telescope at a reasonable price. Perfect for those who want to start their astrology hobby without breaking the bank.

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

PROS

Multi anti-reflection blue film used in this telescope for optical coating is a great solution for long operating life as it offers a quality protection against damage and abrasion.

CONS

Rather heavy.

OUR VERDICT

After you set this robust telescope at home, you will be able to see even the furthest stars and planets much and much closer thanks to the nice collection of three different eyepieces.

detailed parameters
Optical surveillance system

Refractor

Aperture size and Focal length

80 mm / 900 mm

Mount

Equatorial

Eyepieces and magnification

Eyepiece1: 25mm(0.98 in) Magnification1: 36X

Eyepiece2: 10mm(0.39 in) Magnification2: 90X

Eyepiece3: 5mm(0.2 in) Magnification3: 180X

Special features

Multi anti-reflection blue film
Stainless steel tripod and accessory tray

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The purchase includes a backpack where you can store your telescope when not in use or carry it with you when you travel somewhere far from the city lights obstructing the view.

CONS

No covers for optic, exercise care when transporting.

OUR VERDICT

Simple in assembling/disassembling and setting yet highly durable, this refracting telescope will be equally good to use in your room, backyard, or during a trip.

detailed parameters
Optical surveillance system

Refractor

Aperture size and Focal length

70 mm / 400 mm

Mount

Equatorial

Eyepieces and magnification

K6mm - 67x

K25mm - 16x

Special features

Aiming control and lock
Horizontal motion lock

Warranty

2 years

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


 

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 21035

Optical Surveillance System

The Celestron Travel Scope is based on the refractor optical viewing system. This telescope is a compact, mobile product. The lens construction makes this telescope usable in all weather conditions, despite it average size. It has a diameter of 70mm, this travelscope has a focal length of 400 mm. The product comes with 2 Plessl eyepieces, one 20mm with 20x magnification, the other 10mm with 40x magnification.
Review of Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope

Adjustment

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

Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope in the use

Performance Opportunities and Ease of Use

The Celestron Travel scope is good for both viewing the beauty of the Earth or the solar system. 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 portable and take it with them wherever they go.
Detailed review of Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope

Special Features

Just like the Orion StarMax, this telescope is compact and portable. It comes with its own travel bag for easy packing and mobility. 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 a anti-reflection, multi-layered optics.
Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope application

VIDEO
Celestron Travel Scope 70 Review Model 21035
 

Gskyer EQ80900

Best Telescope for Astrophotography

The Gskyer EQ80900 is a 100% professional telescope for amateur astronomers and especially for astrophotographers. Every detail here is implemented for the best photos, from Equatorial mount, which will stay fixed on your chosen celestial object despite the Earth rotation, to a slow "speed" (or focal ratio) of f/11.25 that offers great magnification. The optical parts are made of glass, the lens coated with the multilayer green film that also adds to the image brightness and clarity.

The focal length of this scope is 900 mm, it will make the objects you look at appear bigger than a shorter product would. And the 3x Barlow lens, added to any of the three eyepieces that come in the box or to any of your other lenses, enhances the viewing power even more. With this telescope, high-power photography is a breeze, you will make pictures of the Moon, planets, and binary stars in the highest quality.

By the way, as this is a refracting telescope, you can use it for natural science photography just as well!

Review of Gskyer EQ80900 Astronomy Instruments PowerSeeker Telescope

Reliable Assistance in Your Observations

The tripod in this model is made of stainless steel, it will stand sturdy and won't wobble or break easily. Granted, it may be a bit heavy for a kid but not too much, in our opinion. The installation takes next to no time at all and requires neither tools nor any special skills. You just follow the included manual. There is an attachment plate for the telescope. There, you can put the eyepieces you don't use at the moment as well as your smartphone or anything you might need at some moment of observation.

The telescope generally does not require any special maintenance.

Gskyer EQ80900 Astronomy Instruments PowerSeeker Telescope in the use

Choose Your Magnification

The complete set you will obtain upon delivery includes the Gskyer telescope itself, a tripod with attachment plate, a manual, a wiping cloth, a Barlow lens, and three lenses of different sizes: 25 mm, 10 mm, and 5 mm. The 25 mm lens will offer 36x magnification, the 10 mm one—90x, and with the 5 mm lens you will see objects 180 times bigger than you would with a naked eye. This way, you have the opportunity to choose the magnification depending on what objects you are planning to observe. All three lenses have 99.5% light transmittance, providing you with a clear natural-looking image that will not cause stress or harm to your eyes.

Detailed review of Gskyer EQ80900 Astronomy Instruments PowerSeeker Telescope

 

INTEY F40070

Travelling Buddy

The INTEY F40070 is a fairly small and very portable telescope, its focal length is 400 mm and aperture is 70 mm (you can see it in the name). It's light in weight, a little over 2 kilos. You can easily take it along when you visit the countryside, go hiking or mountain climbing, or simply give your kid to carry to the friend's overnight pyjama party. It is, in fact, a great kids telescope, the best choice for their first model since it's not too costly and actually can give some more expensive models a run for their money.

Assembling this cute little guy takes five or so minutes. There is the telescope, its tripod, two eyepieces, a diagonal mirror, a finderscope. All parts are light and easy to manage. The mount has four adjustment angles and a directional adjustment up to 180° vertically and whole 360° horizontally, the latter is lockable. For clarification, the manufacturer has included a manual in several languages.

Review of INTEY F40070 Portable Astronomy Telescope

Convenience Above All

The telescope will come to you in an extremely handy rucksack. With pockets and straps inside, it has all the necessary space to safely store the scope and all its pieces when not in use or to carry along on a journey. It is also sturdy and simple-looking, so it can be used as a backpack where you'll put your other necessities when you travel and leave the scope at home assembled.

The height of the tripod can be set between 16" and 41" so you can stand or sit when you use it.

INTEY F40070 Portable Astronomy Telescope in the use

Up and Down

This kids telescope can be used to watch both sky and earth objects without restriction. Therefore, even if it ever happens that your little explorer outgrows the fascination with the starry sky, he or she can still use the scope to watch ships from the shore or animals in the field.

Detailed review of INTEY F40070 Portable Astronomy Telescope

Basic Set

There are two eyepieces here, one is 6 mm with a magnifying of 67x, the other is 25 mm with the magnifying of 16x. The 25 mm with a 5x finder scope is recommended for finding your target; after that, you can lock it and switch to the 6 mm piece and watch the chosen object for more details. The diagonal mirror will return your target's image to how it should be—necessary since telescopes normally show the objects mirrored upside down and right to left. Note, though, that the diagonal mirrors only rearrange the image vertically, meaning that horizontally, you will still see it reversed. It takes some time getting used to it but usually does not pose an issue.

To protect your INTEY telescope between uses without disassembling it, use the included dew shield and dust cap. These two items will shield the lens from damage.

INTEY F40070 Portable Astronomy Telescope application

 

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