Some people watch the sky as part of their job. On the other hand, other people simply want to do it as a hobby. They want to get home after a long day and reap the beneficial effects of skywatching, for them we’ve done this article of the Best Telescope for Hobbyists.
And who wouldn’t want to stay all evening long, taking a very close look at the celestial objects that are so far out of reach from most of us? Unless we are planning to become astronauts, chances are that we won’t get anywhere close to those objects – so our only solution would be to take a good finder scope and look at it from far away.
Choosing the Best Telescope for Hobbyists, however, is not as easy as it sounds. You need to be careful about factors such as magnification, focal length, aperture – you can check our telescope buying guide, where you can see how to choose a telescope.
If you are a person interested in amateur astronomy, you are probably already familiar with most of these features – but still need some extra guidance. With this article, we will help you find the most appropriate choice for skywatching, regardless of your preferences or financial situation.
We fell in love with the Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE and we’ll tell you why right away. However, considering that you’ll be paying a fair amount of money for your hobby, you might as well make sure that it suits your own convenience.
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Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE Computerized Telescope
Our top choice when it comes to the Best Telescope for Hobbyists is the computerized telescope. It is not necessarily, because the other choices are bad; it’s actually quite the opposite. All of the models presented are good. The difference is that this particular model excels in areas that other telescopes for hobbyist might not.
Molded after the Schmidt Cassegrain telescope that made everyone in the 1970s happy, this telescope was updated with all the modern features that every astronomer should look for – regardless if they are doing it as a hobby or not.
Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE Computerized Telescope is part of the catadioptric category – essentially being a telescope that uses mirrors with a specific shape to show a better image of the celestial objects. With an aperture of 203.2mm, this device can gather a great amount of light so that you can get an excellent view of the moon and stars.
It is also very easy to carry around. With its single fork arm design and detachable steel tripod, this Best Telescope for Hobbyists is very easy to carry around. Furthermore, considering that is fully computerized, this unit will find objects for you and store them into a database.
The only drawback is that you’ll need a power source close by when you are using this scope. It can be from a car, your house, anywhere – but it might be rather problematic if you are viewing from a point where you can’t bring a power source.
The price tag is, however, better than any telescope you can get your hands on – so in more sense than one, this is definitely the Best Telescope for Hobbyists that you could go on a budget.
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Meade LX200-ACF 12″ F/10
Meade LX200-ACF 12″ F/10 catadioptric is the favorite of many astronomers, both amateur, and professionals. Having an aperture of 305mm, this one has among the best viewing powers you can look for in a telescope for hobbyists.
Having a 3048-focal length, this telescope can see pretty far away – more than even most professional telescopes. Furthermore, considering that it has a 720x highest theoretical magnification, it can close in much better on every target.
Its mount type is altazimuth – meaning that it can be adjusted in a simple manner by just the turn of a knob. It also features the GoTo system, one that allows you to automatically find the object in the sky.
The downside is that the price tag is a bit on the elevated side, but it is also fair considering what it offers. With this price, you get a telescope for hobbyists that is truly professional – and you will appreciate it deeply even if you are a simple hobbyist.
This Best Telescope for Hobbyists is also fairly compact, so you may easily carry it around with you, without worrying that it will take too much space. Every healthy adult should be able to carry it without experiencing any problems.
Overall, this is a high-quality telescope that brings a lot to the table. It can see pretty far away, giving you a very good view of the moon and other celestial objects.
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Orion SkyQuest XX16g GoTo Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope
best telescope for hobbyists may look simple but it was made this way to ensure superior portability. With an aperture of 16 inches (405 mm), this model can be fairly big for some people – but at the same time, it will provide an excellent view of the stars and the moon that cannot be rivaled.
This dobsonian telescope was meant to be heavy-duty. With a mount that was made mainly for a Newtonian reflector – the massive ones – you get great lens size along with improved stability. Furthermore, you take advantage of the GoTo system that allows you to find the objects automatically.
Even as a hobbyist astronomer, you already know that the size of the lens is determinant on how clear the image will be. The bigger the lens, the better you will see. And considering that this one provides a focal length of 1800, you will get a pretty decent and clear view.
Featuring a 960x magnification, this one can go pretty far away. You can see the moon in great details – and you will also be able to notice more objects than you would with the average celestial telescope.
At 200 lbs, this telescope for hobbyists is not really lightweight, and this might be a disadvantage – but that is only to be expected, considering the lens objective and features that it provides. The advantage, however, is that it can be easily broken into pieces to ensure easy transportation. For amateurs and professionals alike, it is definitely a telescope that is worth the price.
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Orion Atlas 10 EQ-G GoTo Reflector Telescope
With an aperture of 10 inches (254 mm), can show you a pretty wide range of objects, without missing out on the details. Categorized as a reflector telescope like the Orion StarBlast, this model uses mirrors to bounce off the light and provide you a better view of the sky.
The magnification power of the Orion Atlas is also superior. At a 600x power, it can see farther away than most telescopes of this kind, offering you a very good image even of the objects that are very far in the sky.
Considering its features, this model is fairly comfortable. At 120 lbs, it is not too lightweight, but not too heavy either. Furthermore, you can easily break it down and carry it wherever you have astronomic business to conduct (pun intended).
The downside is that the focal ratio is lower than your average telescope – but at 4.7 inches, it can offer you a pretty clear image of an object at a big distance. What sets it apart from other telescopes, however, is its focal length. At 1200 mm, you get great images.
This telescope functions with an equatorial mount, which allows you to easily turn the telescope as the stars and the moon move. The rotation will be automatic – mostly thanks to the GoTo system that tracks the movement of the celestial objects.
The telescope for hobbyists may not be electrical – but it certainly behaves like one. It is something that both professionals and hobbyists will appreciate.
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Celestron Advanced VX 6” Refractor Telescope
is generally a popular choice among hobbyists since it doesn’t use any complicated systems. Using the actual lens to gather light, these types of telescopes are more resistant to defocalization, and it will be much easier for you to add stability to an image.
Furthermore, considering that this item works on an equatorial mount, it will be simple for you to stabilize your image – even when the celestial bodies keep changing their position. All you have to do is slowly adjust the mount and you will get a fairly clear image. The GoTo system within the mount will also further improve the stabilization, looking for the objects and focusing on them right away.
With a 0,77 resolution, this Best Telescope for Hobbyists is perfect for every hobbyist hoping to take a good look at the sky. Furthermore, with its 1200 mm focal length, it can see objects that are far away, giving you a fairly good view of the moon and the stars. The 360x magnification also ensures that no details will be lost during your skywatching episode.
At 100lbs, this telescope is lightweight enough to carry it comfortably, regardless of your destination. You can even take it apart with ease, dropping it into a compact mode.
The only weak point of this telescope for hobbyists is its aperture. At 6 mm, it’s the smallest one in the comparison.
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What Can We See?
The Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE Computerized Telescope may be affordable, but that doesn’t mean it is cheap – at least not when it comes to the construction. Having a 480x magnification along with an 8-inch aperture, this Best Telescope for Hobbyists can go pretty far into the distance and show you images you could not see with the naked eye.
The focal length of the NEXSTAR is also superior. It is 2032 mm, so it is perfect for viewing the moon, the planets, and the nebulas – everything in great detail. Plus, the fact that you can take pictures with this one is a major plus.
While the focal length of the NEXSTAR is superior and provides clear images of planets such as Saturn or Jupiter, it’s nothing like the ones you can see with the Meade LX200-ACF 12″ F/10. Having a 12” aperture and 3042-focal length, this model can even go even farther than your average hobbyist telescope – and it’s the perfect thing to have around if you have an eye for detail.
While this Best Telescope for Hobbyists may not allow you to take pictures like the Celestron does, it’s the kind of device that will burn the image into your mind rather than burning it onto a picture. It perfectly tracks whatever you are looking at, and it is also very easy to stabilize the image. It is the kind of piece that you can easily use to see Saturn’s Cassini division.
Thanks to its 12-inch aperture, you may use this device for astrophotography; however, you will need a wedge as an attachment, which is not included in the package.
The Orion SkyQuest XX16g Telescope is also a very good telescope for hobbyists catch when it comes to planetary viewing. At a 16-inch aperture, you can not only see the planets – but you can see their positioning compared to other planets as well. Having a focal ratio of 4,4 and focal length of 1800, it might not stabilize as easily as the NEXSTAR, but this is no inconvenience. It also has a big 960x magnification that allows you to go deep into the galaxy.
All things considered, you will still be able to see the galaxies and the nebulas with this telescope for hobbyists. Furthermore, considering its aperture, this device will gather enough light so that you can get a clear image of the nebula brightness – something which is difficult to achieve with an amateur-level telescope.
The Orion Atlas 10 EQ-G Telescope has a medium-length aperture that stops at 6 inches – which is smaller than most telescopes presented here. Its focal length is, however, at a decent 1200 mm along with a good 600x magnification. For hobbyists wanting to take a good look at the stars, this one is a very good choice.
Last but not least, the Celestron Advanced VX 6” Refractor Telescope is also a good telescope for hobbyists that offers you a decent 360x magnification with his aperture of 6”. For hobbyists that just want to take a good look at the stars, the nebulas, and the planets, it is a decent choice.
Winner: Every one of these Best Telescope for Hobbyists is of high quality depending on what you are looking for, but if you are looking for the best magnification and aperture, then you definitely should go with the Orion SkyQuest. The Meade and the NEXSTAR follow immediately after, but the other telescopes presented are just as good.
Sold at around $1,100, the Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE is the cheapest of the batch – which is pretty surprising, considering the features that it comes accompanied with. For only a quarter of the price for the Meade LX200, you get two-thirds of the aperture and focal length, along with more than half its magnification.
It even has a better magnification than the Celestron Advanced VX6, which still has a decent magnification and aperture. Sold at $1,400, it is slightly more expensive than the NEXSTAR, but it is certainly worth the purchase.
The Orion SkyQuest is also something that most people would deem as being expensive; however, when you compare it to the Meade model, it is actually a very good deal. At approximately $3,500, it is not as expensive as Meade – but it offers a higher aperture. The magnification is also much higher, making the Orion SkyQuest a better acquisition than the Meade model.
The Orion Atlas 10 EQ-G is also a worthwhile acquisition when it comes to price. Sold at approximately $1,900, this is what you would call a well-balanced telescope for hobbyists. Not too cheap, but not too expensive either – and it brings a lot of cool stuff to the table.
The magnification is almost as large as the Meade model, and the same thing applies to the aperture. With the Orion, you are basically paying the standard price to get the features that would convene every hobbyist or professional.
Winner of Price Ranges: The winner for Best Telescope for Hobbyists is most definitely the Celestron NEXSTAR. For a fairly low price, you get great aperture, great magnification, superior close focus, and overall an extensive range of features. It’s perfect for the hobbyist that wants to see planets and nebulas without selling an arm and a leg for it.
Ease of Setup
When you are using a telescope for hobbyists, perhaps the last thing you want is for it to be difficult to assemble. If you use it in the comfort of your own home, perhaps this might not be such a big issue. However, if you have to carry it towards different areas for a better view, then this might actually be fairly troublesome.
Similarly, if you have to set it up every time with difficulty, then it’s of no good. A Best Telescope for Hobbyists should be able to let you see a meteor shower perfectly, without making you miss half of it – all because you were too busy fumbling with the settings.
The Celestron NEXSTAR, for instance, takes a fair time to install – mainly because you need to know your focal point along with some other technical data. At the same time, it takes some time to connect it to your computer – but that would mostly happen if you do not really have experience with USB ports.
Once it has been set up, it may take a while until you reach the focus – but once everything is out and done with, you can see the planets and the moon much better than any other picture you might have seen in your life.
The Meade LX200 is fairly similar when it comes to this aspect. Granted, the setup menu might take a while to get used to, but the directions are still somewhat intuitive. After a few moments of testing and reading the manual, the settings will all be good to go.
This telescope works just as well as the Orion SkyQuest. When it comes to configuration and setup, it may look intimidating at first – mostly because it has weighty components that have to be assembled. However, if you stick to the instructions, it should not be that difficult to install – although it might be helpful to have someone with mechanical skills around you.
The Go-To features also configure quickly, even when it comes to computer control. The design may look fancy and different, but it was actually thoughtfully designed for the amateur astronomer.
The Orion Atlas 10 EQ-G is the standard of what you would find in every average amateur astronomer’s house. It even has the standard mount, and you can easily get a clear image of the celestial objects.
This compound telescope may, however, take a while to set up. The advantage is that once you get the gist of it, it will get much easier. It’s just the first time that will be more difficult.
Lastly, the Celestron Advanced VX telescope is among the easiest to set up. All you will have to do is set the tripod at a height that is comfortable, install the mount, and then attach the telescope.
As for the alignment, you might want to know your way around the sky before you try to see anything. Knowing which focal point and length to set will spare you a lot of trouble in the future – but this generally applies to pretty much every telescope out there.
Winner or Ease of Setup: In a way, you can say that each of these Best Telescope for Hobbyists is a winner. Perhaps the Celestron Advanced XV is the easiest and fastest to set, but the others are just as doable. As long as you are capable of following some instructions and have good instincts, it should not be that difficult to set and configure.
Comfort and Ease of Use
Comfort is one of the most important factors that decide how easy it will be for you to use the unit. So, let’s see our contestants for Best Telescope for Hobbyists.
Weighing only 40 lbs, the Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE is by far the easiest one to handle – especially when it’s in a compact form. This way, amateur astronomers who want to take their stargazing trips to another location will not have any problems with the weight.
The buttons and features are also easy to use, provided you pay close attention to the instructions – but that can also be achieved if you have fairly good instincts with technology.
The Meade LX200, on the other hand, might not be as lightweight as the NEXSTAR – but considering the size of the lens, it is still easy to carry. If it was any more lightweight, the quality of the telescope would have been compromised, and it would have also affected its durability.
Out of all telescopes, the Orion SkyQuest might take the longest to install, since you have to work with various screws and bolts to set is up. On the other hand, if you leave it the way it is and decide not to uninstall it, it will be very easy to use once you get it up and running.
At 200 lbs, it may be quite difficult to carry it around and use it if you like to change sceneries. It’s only a good option to have around if you want to keep your skywatching activities in the comfort of your own home.
When it comes to design, the Orion Atlas 10 and the Celestron Advanced VX are just as easy to install – and they are fairly lightweight. At 100 lbs and 120 lbs respectively, all of them can be broken down to ensure compact form. They are very suitable for stargazing away from home.
All mount types of the models presented feature a motorized system called GoTo – an option that can automatically help you find the objects, therefore making the telescope much easier to use and Best Telescope for Hobbyists.
Winner of Ease of Use: In this category, we would say that the Celestron NEXSTAR is the easiest to install and the most comfortable to work with. Overall, however, each of them is very easy to use once you get the hang of the system.
Featuring an apparent field of view of 0.63 inches along with a magnification that can go up to 480x, the Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE can reach far into the galaxy. The feature that is probably most appreciated, however, is the fact that it also has a double line computer hand control that is operated by led buttons. Once connected via USB, you can even take pictures of the celestial objects.
The Meade LX-200, on the other hand, is probably most appreciated for its ultra-high transmission coating that captures the light efficiently – providing HD-level images. The Orion SkyQuest and Orion Atlas 10 EQ-G, on the other hand, are most appreciated for their GoTo tracking system that can store up to 42,000 celestial objects. This makes them very easy to operate in automatic mode.
As for the Celestron Advanced VX, the features that set it apart from the other models are its Programmable Periodic Error Correction and Integer gear ratios that help eliminate recurring track errors. Most of the other relevant features were already mentioned in the categories discussed above in our analysis.
Winner of Specs: When it comes to specs, the winner is, once more, the Celestron NEXSTAR because it comes packed with everything you need for an amazing stargazig session.
The Review Criteria
When reviewing these five telescopes for Best Telescope for Hobbyists, we considered certain criteria, and most of them boiled down to the following: how far you can see with them, whether the price is worth it or not, how easy they are to set up and use, and of course, the set of unique features that they have.
The Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE ranked well for all criteria and is our winner. However, all of the above-mentioned products are great to use; it just depends how much you are willing to pay for them. You may go for the best budget one – or you may go for the most expensive model. Needless to say, regardless of your choice, you are bound to get a product that will suit the fancy of every hobbyist astronomer.
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Best Telescope for Hobbyists Concluding Remarks
No telescope is ever the same. Some can be very cheap, such as our top choice, the Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE, and others may be more expensive, yet with a higher magnification – namely, the Meade LX200.
As a hobbyist, you may not want to go for something overly-complicated – basically since you are barely getting used to the “sport.” This is why all the models presented above for the Best Telescope for Hobbyists are fairly easy to use, so that you don’t drop out of the hobby before you even start it.
Hopefully, our guide helped you pick your favorite. You already know ours – Celestron NEXSTAR 8SE.
Still, all of them have outstanding features. Now, all you have to do is decide the budget and where are you planning to use the device. In the end, every telescope for hobbyists works very well; it depends on your own preferences.
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First of all, we encourage you to read our buying guide here, to have a better knowledge about the main specs before make the buy.
You may buy any of these telescopes from wherever you want. You may go for a specialized shop, or you may decide to purchase them directly from the manufacturer.
However, the smarter way would be to give internet retailer as a Amazon a try. While many people are reluctant to buy from internet because of the shipping fees, you may be surprised to find out that many of these products have free shipping; all you’ll have to do is ensure that they ship to your state or country.
The choice is yours. Regardless of the situation, you may want to do some extensive research beforehand to find the best price. Also, never forget the reviews. The more reviews you read, the better. Reading about other people’s experience will make it easier for you, and you’ll know whether you should get that telescope or not.