What’s the best kids telescope? Well, it depends on the age of your child and your budget. Thankfully all of these telescopes are affordable. We put together this buying guide with our recommendations for some of the best telescopes for kids.
We hope you find what you’re looking for. These make wonderful gifts for kids anytime of the year.
Best Telescope for Kids
Curiosity is something that sparks the minds of all children. They learn about the world around them through observation and exploration. For young minds, what better way to learn more about the things around us than with the best kids telescope? These instruments are wonderful tools to help us get a close-up view of the things we want to learn more about.
Most renowned scientists and astronomers can attribute their love and desire for exploration from receiving their very own telescope. The initial development for a working telescope is acclaimed to Netherlands spectacle makers Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Janssen as well as Jacob Metius. It was Galileo Galilei’s concept of a refracting telescope, however, that really made headway.
He took the initial Dutch design that was first introduced in 1608 and made improvements to it consisting of a convex objective lens and a concave eyepiece. His innovation in designing an instrument to observe and study objects at greater magnifications paved the way for future astronomers. Later, in 1668 it was Isaac Newton’s design consisting of a small, flat mirror that was diagonal to reflect light into the eyepiece that established the first practical reflector telescope.
Today there are a number of different types of instruments labeled as telescopes that are used for different purposes. There are specific types that are primarily used by professional astronomers as well amateur astronomers which consist of sophisticated technology and design to utilize various wavelengths of light including:
- Ultraviolet telescopes
- X-ray telescopes
- Infrared telescopes
- Optical telescopes
- Submillimeter telescopes
The ones that are going to be used by your average enthusiasts, students, and aspiring astronomers are optical telescopes. These use visible light and optics to magnify the size and brightness of far objects such as planets and constellations in our solar system. They can also be used for observation of things on Earth.
Choosing the Right Telescope
These neat tools are often used in stargazing to make far out discoveries that just can’t be captured with the naked eye; however, not all optical telescopes are designed the same. A telescope works by collecting visible light to focus on objects and there are 3 common types for optical models which are designed specifically to work in different ways. Some are ideal for specific types of activity, but not others. Choosing the best kids telescope will be determined by how you intend to use it.
The most common of these different types of telescopes that we will cover are known as refractor telescopes due to their simple design and ease of use. This type of scope is made with a large lens at the front end of the telescope which gathers light. A mirror placed at the back of the scope collects the light and reflects it into the eyepiece. The simple design is great for looking at remote objects on earth as well as the moon and even the stars. It is a great starting point for beginners because it doesn’t require any maintenance like more technical telescopes and gives users necessary practice and experience to work their way up to more advanced models.
A reflector telescope contains two mirrors inside the tube – one is placed at the end to collect light and sends it to the second mirror at the back of the tube which sends it through the eyepiece. These telescopes are great for observing faint objects in the sky and are easily portable due to their compact, lightweight design. This is primarily useful in viewing objects at a higher image quality; therefore, it’s not so great at viewing objects that are on earth. The open end lens can also collect dust, which will affect your viewing quality so it will require some maintaining.
Compound telescopes are also known as catadioptric telescopes and consist of different elements of reflector and refractor telescopes. It has a mirror in the front and one in the back to reflect back into the eyepiece. It also has a corrective lens at the front of the scope. These types are bigger and bulkier in design and are usually more expensive. These are generally used for astrophotography to track and record pictures of objects.
When you’re looking for the best kids telescope, there are a few important keywords to pay attention to. For starters, the aperture of the lens is really important because this affects how much you will be able to see. The aperture is the lens’ or mirror’s diameter and is typically indicated in millimeters. The larger the aperture, the more your child will be able to see out of their telescope.
Another element that you might want to factor in when it comes to viewing small or harder to see objects is the focal length. Telescopes with greater focal lengths will provide a larger magnification of the focal point. This isn’t of great significance like aperture but as you become more versed in using telescopes you may want to look into one that has additional eyepieces that can be purchased later with larger magnification.
Beware of telescopes that are marketed with high power. It may seem appealing to opt for a high-power magnification on a telescope, but in reality these will reduce the brightness of the object you are viewing. These also cause any unsteadiness to become heightened. For amateur and novice stargazers, a reasonable power to opt for is 50-power per inch of aperture. In other words, a 3-inch refractor telescope should be of no more than 150-power for a more effective viewing experience.
Using an advanced telescope to view the stars, planets, and explore outer space requires some practice in order to get the most from your experience. Don’t expect to dive right in and see everything in a day. Conducting some light research on what’s out there to be discovered is advised so you have a better grasp of what you can expect to see. Go over the manual and user guide instructions thoroughly when setting up for the first time to ensure you understand how the instrument works. Practice viewing and focusing on remote objects during the daytime beforehand. Never aim or point the telescope near the sun.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
Introducing a telescope is a meaningful way to apply S.T.E.M. in your child’s early education. S.T.E.M. appertains to the study of science, innovation, and math concepts and is a common practice in schools to enhance development. Implementing the concepts of S.T.E.M. can provide substantial benefits to equip your child for the future.
There are many great tools that are designed to encourage and implement the S.T.E.M. curriculum, including telescopes. What’s unique in the S.T.E.M. approach as opposed to teaching these specific areas separately, is that it connects science with math to bring them together. It is particularly beneficial to young learners as an introduction to logical techniques they’ll experience in their day-to-day lives. Acquiring strong skills in these areas are crucial to life-long skills and can help in career advancement, performance, and critical thinking.
The use of a telescope implements all of these key areas. Users will gain fundamentals in science as they learn and explore things about our planet and beyond. Use of a telescope, whether for terrestrial objects or intergalactic objects, requires navigation skills to find and locate what you want to see. Basic math concepts are implemented as you practice and learn how to focus using different magnifications and focal lengths because all things in space are measured in distance. Telescopes are a fun way to apply all of these practical techniques that can inspire a love for learning and creativity even at an early age.
- Perfect for teaching little ones about animals, space, and more, this portable, detachable telescope includes 20 slides with full-color images
- View colorful images as you listen to 200 fascinating facts and challenging questions about your slides.
- Insert a slide, press the Facts or Quiz button, and get ready to learn while you play! Features realistic animal sounds and space sound effects.
- Detachable 4x telescope for real-world viewing; 20 full-color slides; talking base; and helpful guide
- Images include 12 animals and 8 space-age phenomena, including images from NASA
- Supports STEM learning with hands-on experience with a key scientific tool
- Requires 4 AA batteries (not included)
This little telescope is an ideal start for budding discoverers that are enthusiastic about learning. The recommended age range for this model is 5-8 years. It is great as an introduction for using scientific tools to provide enrichment that is fun and experience working up towards the more sophisticated telescopes. Its ease of use and features are encouraging for kids to explore on their own without the assistance of an adult. It comes with a guide on how to use the telescope in addition to facts and suggestions for use and exploration. It’s wise to learn and research more about what’s up there in the great beyond before you set off to stargazing. This is the best kids telescope to provide fun facts that may help to gain a better understanding of what to look at.
Special Features: The telescope features 20 different slides that provide full-color views of various animals and images from NASA of outer space. The 8-inch telescope has 4x magnification to discover up-close objects for observations and pivots up and down on the unit to adjust viewing or it can be detached to take it on the go. Users can adjust the focus on the eyepiece for better clarity of images.
There are two modes featured on the interactive talking telescope; one provides facts and the quiz mode asks questions to challenge what they learn. It features 200 interesting facts with animal sounds with sound effects. There is a storage compartment to keep the slides neatly organized. Each slide has its own unique code that the user inputs to find out facts and questions on that specific slide. The automatic off feature will turn the unit off after 2 minutes of not being in use to conserve the battery.
- Great first telescope for kids and families to test the waters of stargazing at an affordable price
Fun Scope lets you see craters on the Moon, bright planets in our solar system, and brighter sparkling star clusters and nebulas
- Includes the Orion Moon Map 260 which makes it fun and easy to find the names of the craters and lunar features you see in the Fun Scope telescope
- Fun Scope’s 76mm-diameter optics collect 60 percent more light than typical 60mm beginner telescopes and comes with a host of useful accessories
- The portable Fun Scope weighs only 4 lbs. so it’s easy for kids to take camping, on field trips, or for quick nighttime adventures out in the backyard
- You’ll get two eyepieces with the FunScope: a 20mm eyepiece which gives a 15x view, and a 10mm eyepiece which gives a more powerful, 30x view.
This tabletop reflector telescope is a great ‘next-step’ model from a toy to a real science instrument for learning. There is no assembly required so you can use it right out of the box. A map of the Earth’s moon is included to study and learn more about it and what features users should look for using the funscope. You can take this telescope outside to view the moon, bright planets and large, bright star clusters in the solar system. It is lightweight, easy to use and suitable for portability to take on camping trips and outdoor exploration.
Special features: The 3-inch (76mm) telescope lets in more light than typical beginner telescopes with 60mm-diameter optics for better viewing. The scope comes with a 20mm eyepiece to provide up to 15x magnification for a wider view and a 10mm eyepiece for more powerful 30x magnification. A red-dot aiming tool is also provided to aim and target objects in the sky for easier navigation. The tabletop telescope has a ⅜-inch adapter that it can be mounted on a tripod with a ⅜-inch or ¼-inch 20 threaded post.
Orion 10015 | StarBlast 4.5 Astro
- Compact grab-and-go telescope designed for entry-level and intermediate astronomy enthusiasts
- Substantial 4.5 inch aperture and fast f/4 focal ratio provides bright, detailed views of solar system targets like the Moon and planets, as well as wide-field celestial objects like nebulas and star clusters
- Ships pre-assembled so you can go from the box to your backyard in minutes
- Stable tabletop base provides smooth altazimuth motion for easy manual tracking of celestial objects
- Includes : two Explorer II 1.25 inch Kellner telescope eyepieces (17mm and 6mm), EZ Finder II reflex sight for easy aiming, eyepiece rack, collimation cap, Starry Night astronomy software, and more!
This is another tabletop reflector telescope that’s ideal for children and adults alike that are enthusiastic about astronomy. The magnification power and aperture makes this one of the best kids telescopes for exploring the moon’s craters, cloudy distant nebulas, and Saturn’s rings. It also comes with Starry Night astronomy software to provide further reference and education on the constellations and galaxies.
Special Features: The aperture of this scope is 4.5 inches for some serious detailed views of the major solar system targets. There are two 1.25-inch Kellner eyepieces included- a 17mm that provides up to 25x magnification and a 6mm eyepiece for 75x magnification. It’s also equipped with a red-dot reflex sight for accurate aiming to track objects for your viewing. There is a dust cap included to protect the mirrors from dust.
- An ideal entry-level reflector telescope with 100mm parabolic primary mirror optics – no plastic lenses as found in some other telescopes made for beginners
- See hundreds of craters on the Moon, detail on Jupiter and other planets, even when viewing from relatively bright city locations
- A tabletop telescope big enough to find and observe objects in the night sky, but small enough to easily store in a closet or display on a desk
- Perfect reflector telescope for wide-angle, low-power viewing of the Milky Way and other deep sky objects when viewing from relatively dark skies
- Includes two 1.25 inch telescope eyepieces: 20mm (for 20 power magnification) and 10mm (for 40 power magnification), EZ Finder II aiming device, Starry Night astronomy software, and more!
This 100mm tabletop reflector telescope is a very suitable entry-level model that is modestly priced. It allows users to see spectacular views even in brighter metropolitan areas when skies are relatively dark. This telescope is compact, lightweight and easy to use but it is far from inferior to other telescopes in its range. Although smaller in size, the mirror of this telescope is very similar in size to the StarBlast to provide similar quality images. Additional accessories can be purchased to further enhance its use with more experience
Special Features: This scope is equipped with 100mm parabolic primary mirror optics. It comes with 2 eyepieces that provide 20x magnification and 40x magnification for greater wide-angle and low-power viewing. Specialty Orion eyepiece filters can also be used with these eyepieces (not included) to provide more enhanced views. In addition, it comes with an EZ Finder II aiming device for more accurate views of intended targets.
- High quality Dobsonian style stand with a 76 mm reflector optical tube make FirstScope an ideal entry level astronomical telescope.
- Portable and lighweight table-top design makes it easy to store, transport and setup your FirstScope Telescope
- FirstScope is very easy to observe with, the user simply navigates the night sky by moving the tube in the direction of their desired object.
- Stylish and decorative design makes FirstScope a wonderful keepsake for anyone interested in astronomy.
This simple Newtonian reflector telescope is a decent choice as a first telescope for astronomy enthusiasts. The optical tube is adorned with the names of well-known scientists and astronomers including the world-famous Galileo. It’s very easy to use and requires no assembling. It can sufficiently provide magnification and power to view the moon during its many phases as well as the stars. It is also recognized as an official International Year of Astronomy instrument. An additional guide can be downloaded that instructs on how to use the scope for ‘star hopping’ or mapping out constellations.
Special Features: The tabletop telescope has a 76mm aperture optical tube that is affixed on a rotating stand. It comes with a 20mm focal length eyepiece for 15x magnification and a 4mm focal length eyepiece for up to 75x magnification. The optic tube can pivoted up and down from a knob for ease of use to locate and navigate celestial finds.
- Observe constellations, star clusters, even the Orion Nebula, with this serious scientific tool that’s simple to use!
- Includes telescope with all-glass optics and 35x, 50x, 60x, 90x, 100x, 150x, 180x, and 300x magnifications.
- Includes 76 mm achromatic primary mirror, 3 US standard 1.25″ eyepieces, 3x Barlow lens, 1.5x image erector, and 5 x 24 mm finder scope.
- Features deluxe telescoping tripod and rugged portability for on-the-go observations.
- Supports STEM learning, providing practice with a key scientific tool.
- Great introductory science tool for budding astronomers.
- View colorful, giant Jupiter, study Saturn’s dazzling rings, examine the cratered surface of the moon, and more!
This reflector telescope is a suitable option for more established viewers (third graders and up). It uses all-glass optics that provide clear viewing and bright images. The telescope’s magnification and power allows users to view the moon, stars, and planets. It is lightweight for easy portability and comes with a full-size sturdy tripod to set it up that is heavy-duty.
Special features: This Newtonian 700mm reflector telescope is of high-quality for incredible viewing. It has magnifications of 35x, 60x, 90x, 100x, 150x, 180x, and 300x providing the best kids telescope that grows with your child’s capabilities. It comes with 3 standard 1 ¼ -inch interchangeable eyepieces for low power, medium power, and high power. It uses a 3x Barlow lens and an image erector.
A finder scope is affixed with a bracket to the telescope for aligning with distant objects to make them easier to locate. You make quick and easy adjustments using the focuser to bring more clarity in images you are trying to view. The tripod can be adjusted to various heights for adults and children to make viewing more comfortable. An accessory tray is equipped on the tripod stand beneath the telescope to hold eyepieces, the Barlow lens, and image erector. There is a dust cap included for the end of the telescope to protect the mirrors from scratches and dust. The scope uses a Lithium battery that is included.
Kids and adults alike are mesmerized by the spectacular sights there are to discover in the night sky with the use of a telescope. There is so much more to than what meets the eye, but there are a few things you should know when exploring with a telescope. These tools are instruments that require some time and practice in order to achieve positive results. Proper care and handling of your telescope will help prolong its use and enhance your experience so you get the most out of it.
Set up your telescope in an open, grassy place that isn’t too close to buildings. You want to avoid using a telescope too close to large buildings, objects, or pavement because these absorb heat during the day. As they release heat, typically at night, air currents are created that can potentially result in the image quality becoming degraded. For this same reason, it is not recommended using a telescope to observe through a window. Also turn off any surrounding lights as much as possible and allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness prior to viewing.
It is not recommended that you use your telescope outdoors under extreme weather conditions. Remember, these tools are comprised of glass and mirrors that can easily become damaged under harsh conditions as well as extreme temperature changes. When bringing the telescope outdoors from inside, allow it to acclimate for about 30 minutes so the air inside the tube is the same as the outside air for optimal performance.
It is advised to always start with the lowest power eyepiece provided with your telescope first when viewing. This gives you wider-angle views and sharper images. As you get accustomed to using the telescope gradually increase power to observe greater details. Use slow, steady movements when making adjustments with your telescope to reduce vibrations.
NEVER aim or point your telescope towards the sun. Some telescopes include a dark lens that is meant to serve as a solar filter for looking towards the sun; however, it is highly recommended not to use it for this purpose. The mirrors inside can reflect the light back towards the eyepiece causing it to crack and potentially cause eye damage.
NEVER leave your telescope unattended. Children should be supervised while operating a telescope and it should not be left unsupervised around adults unfamiliar with proper handling and operating procedures.
For proper storage always store your telescope in a clean environment free of dust and moisture that isn’t prone to frequent or extreme temperature changes. Be sure all dust caps are placed over the lens, eyepieces, and additional accessories should be stored separately.
Your telescope may require cleaning from time to time to remove dirt and dust that accumulates on the mirrors, which can negatively affect your viewing. Be sure to refer to the user guide on proper care and handling of your telescope for cleaning to avoid causing damage or scratches to the mirrors.
Many of the best kids telescopes like those that were mentioned here have additional filters or accessory kits that can be purchased separately. As you and your child grow more familiar and experience with the instrument, look into using different filters to enhance lunar and planetary observations.