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Best Portable Telescope Option For Travel [What to Know]

A portable telescope is great for stargazing when on the move. You don’t want something that’s chunky and difficult to move around taking up the limited space you might have. Here I look at what you should know about these telescopes with high portability.

best portable telescope when traveling
A telescope to take with you when you’re on the move

When you’re in the outdoors, in a dark place the stars are brighter. It’s an ideal time to have a telescope to get that better view of the planets away from city light pollution.

Here’s what I’ve discovered…

Price of a Telescope for Travel

If your budget is tight, you can pick up a travel telescope for under $100. But, whether you’re looking for one under 100 dollars or the best telescope under 500 dollars, the trick is to choose one you’re likely to use. In this case, you’ll want something easy to take with you on the go but at the same time gives you clear views.

the Best Portable Telescope

If you are looking at taking it travelling, you’ll want a telescope that is lightweight, compact, and quick to set up. A neat carry bag that holds everything and protects the gear is another thing to consider.

The following includes telescopes that fit these criteria.

You’ll notice these are typically refractor telescopes. One reason, for a smaller aperture size, they give a brighter and higher resolution image compared to a reflector, as I wrote in my article on reflectors vs refractors.

some Top-Rated Portable Telescopes

Looking for the best telescope for ‘stargazing on the go’ can be overwhelming with all the choices available. Here are three popular examples in the low end of the price range.

The beauty of these is that they are quick and easy to set up. The downsides, I discuss further down.

Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope

Celestron is a well known brand. This Celestron travel telescope is a refractor with 70mm aperture (2.76″). It features an altazimuth mount with smooth functioning so you can easily point the telescope to identified objects.

It has a 400 mm focal length (16 inches). A short optical tube will give you a wider field of view but you will be limited to lower magnifications. I write about the different features and how they affect performance here.

Portable telescope comes with carry bag.

The tripod is light and everything fits into a custom-made backpack, making it ideal for traveling and storage.

It also comes with a high-quality spotting scope, which adds value. You can use it in your day excursions for landscape and wildlife viewing.

Eyepieces, 20mm and 10mm, and an erect image diagonal are included.

It packs up nicely. Weight when assembled is 4.2 lbs (1.9 kg). Expect to set this one up in less than 15 mins (manufacturer claims 5 – 10 mins).

Price

One of the least expensive travel scopes, you can buy this online at Amazon. See details including the latest price.

Also check out…Orion GoScope Refractor

If you are interested in this size range, Orion has a model similar to the Celestron Travel Scope. Competitive in features and price is the Orion GoScope. It is available at Amazon, where you can check out the latest price and real owner reviews.

Orion GoScope III 70mm Refractor Travel Telescope


GoScope 70mm Refractor

available at Amazon

I wrote about Celestron vs Orion, if you’re keen to compare these two brand names.

Gskyer Telescope, 80mm AZ Space Astronomical Refractor Telescope

In the bit-higher price range is this highly portable 80mm refractor by Gskyer. It is quick to set up (say 15 mins). But, you’ll need to buy a carry bag separately for this one.

You might appreciate the German technology in this and expect to see more with an 80mm aperture.

Gskyer Telescope, Telescopes for Adults, 80mm AZ Space Astronomical Refractor Telescope, Telescope for Kids, Telescopes for Adults Astronomy, German Technology Scope
Gskyer 80mm AZ Space Refractor

available at Amazon

The short 400mm focal length makes it portable and light when compared to those with a longer focal length.

Optics come with a blue anti-reflective coating. It comes with three eyepieces – 25, 10, and 5mm (16x, 40x, and 80x) and a 3x Barlow lens, which effectively increases the magnification of any eyepiece used with it. Other advantages are a 24-hour customer service and a 1 year warranty.

It weighs 17.8 lb (8 kg), nearly twice as much as the Celestron Travel Scope, but the construction is sturdy (mostly made of metal). Your mode of travel will determine the importance of this weight difference. In which case, a 70mm option with 400mm focal length, weighing 6 lbs, is available if you need a lighter version.

Price

As expected you’ll pay more for the 80mm telescope, with sturdy construction, than those listed above. Check prices at Amazon – See details.

If you are wanting a carry bag, check out the Meade Instruments Infinity carry bag, available at Amazon. See details.

Downsides of most travel telescopes

The main downside of these lighter compact telescopes is the flimsiness of the tripod. It’ll hamper finding your object through the finderscope and more. With a shaky tripod you won’t be satisfied, believe me. My article about telescope tripod upgrade covers ways of remedying this. Go check it out.

In weighing up the pros and cons think about whether you can work around the downsides of these type of units for your travel adventures.

Alternatively, consider getting a good set of binoculars that are great for so many reasons.

Still not sure? Here's a tool by Orion Telescopes to help you select the best telescope or binocular to meet your personal needs. Orion's Product Wizard