Want to introduce your child to stargazing? Finding the best telescope, however, can be somewhat daunting. This telescope buying guide is about helping you find that best telescope for kids with what to consider and reviews of popular kid’s telescopes.
Encouraging children to stargaze helps expand their minds.
Children are naturally curious and so introducing them to a beginner telescope or a good set of binoculars will help them to develop this and form a broader understanding of the world around them.
Short on time? If you don’t have much time, use the links below to find my recommended kids’ telescopes…
– Best kids scope w/backpack at Amazon: Celestron 70 mm travel scope
– Great kids telescope at Orion: Orion 70mm GoScope
What is the best telescope to buy for a child?
If you’re wanting a good telescope for kids, look at buying one that they can explore nature in the day time with as well as astronomy at night. The reason: It’ll get more use and they’ll get more enjoyment from it. An 70–80 mm aperture should get them by in viewing details on the Moon and some features of planets such as Jupiter and Saturn.
For kids…Orion telescopes, binoculars, and microscopes offer the perfect solution for kids to explore the wonders around them without them having to leave home or venture too far! See what Orion has to Keep Kids Educated and Engaged.
Comparison of popular kids’ telescopes
Here’s a quick comparison chart of some popular telescopes for kids. List includes telescopes under $100 or around that mark.
The telescopes listed below are mostly refractors for these reasons but you should also check out a Dobsonian, recommended for beginners and worth considering if you don’t mind paying above the 100 dollar mark.
|1. Celestron Travel Scope ||80mm aperture|
Padded carry case
Smart phone adapter
Magnification: 20×, 40×
Eyepieces: 10 & 20mm
Erect image diagonal
|2. Orion GoScope II 70mm||Roomy backpack|
Magnification: 16×, 40×
Eyepieces: 10 & 25mm
45º correct image prism
Tripod: 43 cm height
|Buy at Orion|
|3. Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ||Magnification: 35×,70×,175×|
Eyepieces: 4,10,& 20mm
+ Barlow lens
90º correct image prism
Tripod: Full size
|4. Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ||Magnification: 45×, 90×|
Eyepieces: 10 & 20mm
90º correct image prism
Tripod: Full size
|5. Emarth Travel Scope 70mm||Focal ratio: 5.1|
Eyepieces: K10/ K25mm
90° correct image prism
Tripod: 40 cm height
What makes the best telescope for kids
A refractor type is typical of the kid’s entry-level telescopes and often considered the best for kids. This is because refractors compared to reflector telescopes are small and lightweight. Plus, refractors need very little maintenance. And, a refractor can be used for viewing nature as well as astronomy, so it will get more use.
A telescope with an alt-azimuth mount is typical for kids’ telescopes. It is a simple two-way moving mount (vertical and horizontal movement) that helps with pointing the instrument at the object of interest. A star diagonal (which is a correct image prism) is a feature that helps kids when viewing from a position perpendicular to the normal eyepiece axis.
Either way, you’ll want more than a plastic toy, right?
Let’s start with the three basics when buying a kids telescope: ✓ Cost, ✓ Ease of use, ✓ Quality of the telescope, and ✓ Versatility.
Cost of a telescope for children
For a first telescope, you might not want to go as far as purchasing a GoTo telescope. You mightn’t want to overwhelm the child with technicalities. Plus, you don’t know how long they’ll maintain their interest in stargazing to be making such a large outlay.
Starting with a refractor means you can buy something fairly cheap, a child’s telescope under $100 or at least around that mark. Many come with extras included in the purchase, such as a backpack, sky map, education software, or smart phone adapter, for example.
There are a lot of cheap telescopes on the market, see also, My article on a selection of telescopes for kids beginners adults for under 200.
But, according to Johannes Kepler in the practical stargazing guide, NightWatch, you’re looking at over $300 for a good quality telescope, so you’re not “stuck with something you wish you had not purchased”. From my experience, I’d have to agree.
If you are looking for something better quality, maybe a couple of hundred dollars more, and still really simple to use for a 6 or 7-year-old upwards, consider a Dobsonian telescope with a larger aperture (say 6″). The thing is you’ll need somewhere to store this telescope as it’s not compact.
Your child will learn a lot of skills with these, including collimation, which could make it the best telescope for a teenager who likes to fiddle with things. I cover the advantages and disadvantages of Dobsonians here.
Ease of use
In telescopes for kids, you don’t want anything too technical that will be a huge turn-off for the child (and you). Remember, the best children’s telescope is one they will use. Easy set ups are part of those described below.
Quality of the telescope
When looking for telescopes for children, you’ll want something that’s going to give them enjoyment and last for a reasonable amount of time. The features to consider include the eyepieces, the type of telescope, and the aperture size. For example, what is the quality of the glass?
But the stability of the mount and tripod is important to avoid a lot of frustration that comes with a flimsy wobbly tripod. Choose a telescope with a mount that is easy to move with the objects as they move in the sky.
Here’s a tip for you if you are wanting the best kids telescope, look for versatility. By this I mean a telescope kids can use for birdwatching or other terrestrial uses as well as stargazing. Apart from the telescope getting more use, it will give the child more freedom to explore.
Popular children’s telescope reviews
The following reviews a number of telescopes for kids that are current top sellers at Amazon.
#1. Celestron 70mm travel scope review
Suggested Ages: 6+ years
This Celestron kids telescope is a popular one for youngsters because of its portability and quality at a reasonable price.
It has an aperture size of 70 mm, a focal length of 400 mm, giving it a focal ratio of 5. The f/3 to f/5 types are best for wide-field observing, i.e., taking in more of the sky.
This size is good for observing the Moon and its many features that’ll keep the kids enthralled for a bit of time. By day, it can be used during outdoor trips to observe nature close up.
The item includes a lightweight adjustable tripod and two eyepieces (20 and 10 mm) for 20× (with a 2.5-degree field of view) and 40× magnification for likely views of Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons. The highest useful magnification is 165x. You’ll find the meaning of these parameters in this article on what to look for in a telescope.
It ticks the box for easy to use as, like most listed here, it is easy to set up, with no tools required. The manufacturer, Celestron, stands by their claim that you can set this up in just minutes. Celestron is considered one of the best telescope brands. It offers US-based support on the technical use of their instruments.
The telescope has an alt-azimuth mount for navigating to and pointing at celestial objects in the night sky. The panhandle with this works in an up and down, and left to right motion.
This telescope has fully coated glass optics for vivid views. Accessories include not only the tripod and eyepieces but software to help your child get to know the solar system and where to look for planets and constellations, etc. There is also a 45-degree prism to correct the image for a suitable plane of viewing. Tip: For looking at those objects high in the sky you might want to consider purchasing a 90-degree one as well.
Pros and cons: the Celestron 70mm refractor
You may need to adjust the tripod, to place it on a table, the roof of your car, or the top of a fence for better stability. Otherwise, consider investing in a sturdier tripod that has easy movement of controls.
- Comes with a sturdy padded backpack and smartphone adapter
- Lightweight, affordable, and easy to set up
- Can double for wildlife spotting
- Wide field views
- Included software for education
- Full size tripod is flimsy (but you can fix this – see notes above)
- Has plastic components (though these reduce the weight and cost factors)
The Celestron telescope comes at a reasonable price for what it offers, as listed at Amazon. See the latest price here. You’ll also see the Celestron 21035 70mm travel scope at a cheaper price, if you are wanting something like this, but have a limited budget.
#2. Orion GoScope II refractor telescope review
This ultraportable day and night telescope is perfect for on-the-go beginners. It is ve… [More]
Suggested Ages: 6 – 18+ years
This is another one with an aperture size of 70 mm (about 3″), a focal length of 400 mm, giving it a focal ratio of 5.7, this time by Orion. The eyepieces that come with this one are 25 and 10 mm. These lenses provide good magnification for viewing details of the moon, e.g. craters, and the telescope comes with a moon map for educational insights.
Orion is another well-known brand of telescopes.
You’ll likely get views of Jupiter and its moons and rings of Saturn. It might be worth buying one or two smaller lenses (e.g. 4 mm, 6 mm) separately or in an accessory kit, if your child is going to be interested in the details of planets. This telescope like most listed here is not suited to viewing deep space objects given the limitation of the aperture size.
It comes with an adjustable tripod and sturdy backpack to carry the telescope and all accessories.
Like most of these, it doubles for daytime use with terrestrial viewing and is a portable scope.
Pros and cons: the Orion GoScope refractor
- Moon map included for information about the moon’s features
- Easy to put together
- Affordable price
- The backpack has extra space to include personal items along with the accessories
- Tripod is not full size for adults but it can be placed on table or top of a vehicle to give it added height
#3. Celestron Powerseeker 70AZ refractor telescope
Suggested Ages: 6 – 18+ years
This refractor telescope is one of Celestron’s PowerSeeker range. It is simple to use, well built, and of good quality. It’s an ideal children’s telescope. Being a PowerSeeker, it comes with three eyepieces (4, 10, and 20 mm) and a 3× Barlow lens.
The optics are fully coated glass to provide enhanced image brightness.
It comes with a full-size tripod and stands about a meter from the floor. The mount is an alt-azimuth for manual movement to navigate to and adjust to stay pointed at objects in the sky.
The child will have fun in trying out the different lenses and working out the trick in figuring out which lens to use.
With this telescope, you will get a computer program where you can add your location and it will show you what constellations and planets are visible in that part of the sky at certain times of the year.
Pros and cons: Celestron Powerseeker 70AZ
- Lightweight, portable, and affordable
- Has a 90º correct image prism
- Easy set up with no tools required
- Good achromatic optics for a lightweight package
- The range of eyepieces
- Plastic parts (designed for lightness and low cost)
- No carry case — you will need to buy it separately
‘Value priced’ is what reviewers say about this. It’s in the ball park of others listed so far for the same aperture size. You might be able to get a discounted price at Amazon – See the latest price here.
#4. Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ refractor
The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is similar to the PowerSeeker 70AZ (above) but is said to have better construction (less plastic). The alt-azimuth mount is solid metal and the tripod has metal legs and a locking tray.
The other differences: It has two eyepieces (20 and 10 mm). The focal length is 900mm and aperture size 70mm, giving it a focal ratio of 13 and making it a ‘slow’ telescope with an implied higher magnification and narrow field of view – best for lunar, planetary, and binary star observations.
Includes free Starry Night astronomy software.
Pros and cons: Celestron Astromaster 70AZ
- Easy to set up
- Affordable price
- Includes a container for the eyepieces
- Includes a 90º elbow for ease of viewing
- Focal length
- No carry case
- The tripod can cause frustration when trying to keep object in view
Another one rated “great for the price”. This one is around the $100 mark. It is popular with buyers at Amazon. See the latest price here. For a bit extra, you can get a 80mm aperture (diameter of the objective lens) AstroMaster for a bit more. It has a shorter focal length giving it a focal ratio of 5, which is better for wide field observing, i.e., best for viewing star clusters, galaxies, and the Milky Way. This focal ratio implies lower magnification but more area of the sky can be viewed with brighter views of extended objects like a nebula or galaxy. Check it out here.
#5. Emarth telescope review – A 70mm refractor
Manufacturer Recommends Ages: 12+ years, but 3+ years can use this telescope designed for children.
This lightweight kids telescope comes with a 40 cm adjustable tripod, a finder scope, and carry bag. It has an aperture size of 70mm, a focal length of 360 mm, and therefore a focal ratio of 5.1.
The Emarth telescope for kids is super easy to set up since it is a no-tool gig. It has an alt-azimuth mounting and can be moved vertically as well as horizontally.
It sports fully coated optics and extras for the child to experience using, including a 3× Barlow lens to increase viewing power and two eyepieces (25 mm and 10 mm) giving magnifications of 128× and 51×. It uses BAK-4 prism for better viewing. Other accessories include a solar system map.
This kids telescope, sold by EmarthTech, comes with a 24 month warranty: “We will make an instant refund or replacement for you until you are satisfied with it”, and 24 hour service – according to Emarth, who is a supplier of outdoor, sports, and electronic goods.
Pros and cons: Emarth 70mm refractor telescope
- Compact scope at an affordable price
- Having a carry case makes it good for traveling also
- It also has a lifetime money back guarantee
- Tripod (40 cm) is not a full standing height for an adult
- No astronomy software but does include maps of the moon and stars
“Reasonably priced” say reviewers. It’s in the same ball park as the other 70mm telescopes. As shown at Amazon, they offer a satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy, send it back. Read the reviews of verified owners and while you’re at it, check out the price.
What can kids learn through a telescope?
A good child’s telescope will encourage children to learn about astronomy, and more!
1. The expanse of our universe
A telescope will open your child’s thinking to new perspectives. For example, they will learn about constellations, the unique features of the moon, and the Milky Way, and the enormity and complexity of our Universe. They will get an idea of just how small, the planet they live on, Earth, is compared to the size of the cosmos.
With stargazing, they will learn how to read sky maps and get to know the names and features of distant objects.
3. Caring of an instrument
They will get to learn how to take care of instrumentation. We provide the basic know-how in our article on how best to care for your telescope.
4. About nature
As the telescopes mentioned double for terrestrial pursuits, they will learn about nature and be able to watch the behaviors and characteristics of animals and plants close-up. Especially early morning or late afternoon they will learn the most when birds and animals are active. These are not the usual kids’ toys.
They’ll practice calculations, e.g., with understanding the magnifying power of eyepieces.
6. Develop imagination
A telescope will teach them a whole new set of horizons and support their fascination and curiosity. It will remain a toy for some, but even as a children’s toy telescope, it will help develop their imagination.
If there is one available, it’s best to get them involved in a local amateur astronomy club or similar, as they will learn the most from the experience of others.
When seeking to buy the best telescopes for kids on the market, there are a few things to consider. You’ll notice that the ones recommended are refractors. Refractors are low maintenance and durable types and hence why they are suitable for children’s telescopes. The alt-azimuth mount is common because it is light and simple. But, a thing to note, is that it does not track objects. For example, a star might go out of view in 20 to 30 seconds on high power (175x magnification). You will need to manually adjust by moving the handle up and down or left to right to account for the rotation of the Earth.