Best First Telescopes
Looking to get into astronomy with no prior experience? Here are my top telescope recommendations for someone starting out.
Before I get into the list, I must explain why I only recommend reflectors as beginner astronomy scopes. The reason is that they offer the largest size for the lowest cost. Reflectors use two mirrors to collect and focus the light, which is ejected out of the side or back of the telescope tube. Cheap reflectors can provide really great viewing experiences at the fraction of the cost of similar telescopes of the same size.
Because of this my list is also deliberately short, I want my list of recommended telescopes to be short because I genuinely don't think there are many good beginner telescopes. I want this to be quick and simple for you. Also stock levels for these scopes are usually very finite, so I'm keeping this up to date as the times change!
With that out of the way let's get into it!
The Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ is a computerized telescope that uses a smartphone app to assist in aligning and finding celestial objects. The telescope has a 130mm aperture and a focal length of 650mm, which allows for detailed views of celestial objects such as the Moon, planets, and deep-sky objects such as galaxies and nebulas. The telescope mount is an alt-azimuth mount, which makes it easy to track objects as they move across the sky. The app, called StarSense Explorer, uses the camera on the smartphone to take a series of images of the sky, which it then analyzes to determine the telescope's position. The app then provides a list of objects that are currently visible, and allows the user to select an object to view and the telescope will automatically point itself at it. The telescope also comes with two eyepieces, a 20mm and a 10mm, which provide different magnifications. The Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ is a great choice for both beginners and experienced stargazers.
If you're looking for something with a little more ease of use, better tracking, a hand controller, and the ability to get more zoom on objects, the celestron 6SE and its siblings (4SE, 5SE, 8SE) are all fantastic options for a beginner. As a catadioptric telescope, it gives you much more zoom in a small package which is really fantastic for getting close views of the moon and planets, you really can't go wrong with this classic telescope. You can even put this to use with a planetary camera, DSLR, or iphone to capture some really excellent images of the moon or planets. This type of telescope does require collimation, but it is a simple affair.
If you want to take pictures of anything in the sky through these telescopes, then you will really benefit from having a phone adapter to hold your phone to the eyepiece. This will make it very simple to snap images, and you can get some very nice images of the moon this way.