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Best Telescope For Kids for Stargazing

When introducing your child to stargazing, finding the right telescope for them can be somewhat daunting. I’ve written this to help you find one that’s best, including what to consider and examples of some popular kid’s telescopes on the market.

children's telescope, a girl looking through a telescope

A telescope can offer a child so much including fun but also education. You can get a cheap kids telescope for around the $100 mark. For a decent one you’ll probably need to pay more.

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, 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.

Buying one they can use to explore nature in the day time as well as for astronomy at night will extend their enjoyment of it.

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.

If you don’t mind paying a few hundred dollars extra, have a look at a Dobsonian telescope. They’re simply put together and you get more bang for your buck. You can find out more in my article on advantages and disadvantages of Dobsonians.

Comparison of popular kids’ telescopes

Here’s a quick comparison chart of some popular telescopes for kids. These are typically refractors (vs reflectors), are viable as a scope for watching wildlife as well. See my article on refractors vs reflectors for more details on why these dominate this range.

ProductTop Features$$$
1. Celestron Travel Scope

Celestron - 70mm Travel Scope - Portable Refractor Telescope - Fully-Coated Glass Optics - Ideal Telescope for Beginners - BONUS Astronomy Software Package

80mm aperture
Padded carry case
Smart phone adapter
Magnification: 20×, 40×
Eyepieces: 10 & 20mm
Erect image diagonal
Tripod: Adjustable
See Price*
2. Orion GoScope III 70mm

Orion GoScope III 70mm Refractor Travel Telescope

Magnification: 44×,20×
Eyepieces: anti-reflection coated 9,& 20mm Kellner
Correct image prism
Tripod: Full size
See Price*
3. Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ

Celestron - PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope - Manual Alt-Azimuth Telescope for Beginners - Compact and Portable - BONUS Astronomy Software Package - 70mm Aperture

Magnification: 35×,70×,175×
Eyepieces: 4,10,& 20mm
+ Barlow lens
90º correct image prism
Tripod: Full size
See Price*
4. Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
Celestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope - Refractor Telescope - Fully Coated Glass Optics - Adjustable Height Tripod – Bonus Astronomy Software Package
Magnification: 45×, 90×
Eyepieces: 10 & 20mm
90º correct image prism
Tripod: Full size
See Price*
5. Emarth Travel Scope 70mm

Telescope, 70MM Aperture Kids Telescope with 2 Eyepieces, 360MM Refractor Portable Telescope for Kids with Tripod & Finder Scope, STEM Toys Astronomy Gifts for Children

Cheap
Focal ratio: 5.1
Eyepieces: K10/ K25mm
90° correct image prism
Tripod: 40 cm height
See Price*
* at Amazon

What makes the best telescope for kids

You might want to tick the box for these basics when buying a kids telescope:

A refractor

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, and need little to no maintenance.

Plus…a refractor can be used for viewing nature as well as astronomy, so it offers more in use.

Alt-azimuth mount

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.

I explain about mounts in this article article with diagrams of how they work.

A star diagonal

This is to correct the image. It’s is a feature that helps kids when viewing from a position perpendicular to the normal eyepiece axis.

If you are new to using telescopes, you can find more about the different telescope features in this article here.

Cost of a telescope for children

Let’s go on and look at these: ✓ Cost, ✓ Ease of use, ✓ Quality of the telescope, and ✓ Versatility.

You’ll want more than a plastic toy, right?

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 tend to agree.

Dobsonians

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 it.

One thing… the tripods with these beginner telescopes are usually flimsy. A shaky tripod will take away from the ease and enjoyment of use for your kid. But you can either upgrade or improvise by means I describe in my piece on dealing with flimsy tripods.

Quality of the telescope

Weigh up whether you want quality that’ll last or just something to occupy your child as an introduction. The features to consider include the design and quality of the optics. Is it cheap plastic or high quality glass optics?

For quality, stick to good brand names and avoid the toys that tend to be plastic and cheaply built.

Versatility

Here’s a thing to consider for the best kids choice — can you use it 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 examples

The following looks at a number of telescopes for kids that are current top sellers at Amazon or Orion.

#1. Celestron 80mm travel scope review

Celestron - 80mm Travel Scope - Portable Refractor Telescope - Fully-Coated Glass Optics - Ideal Telescope for Beginners - Bonus Astronomy Software Package - Digiscoping Smartphone Adapter
Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope

Available at Amazon

Suggested Ages: 6+ years

This Celestron travel scope is a popular one for youngsters because of its portability and quality at a reasonable price.

It has an aperture size of 80 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 189x. 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 80mm 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 modifying or investing in a sturdier tripod that allows easy movement of controls.

Pros:
  • 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
Cons
  • Full size tripod is flimsy (but you can fix this – see notes above)
  • Has plastic components (though these reduce the weight and cost factors)

Price

The Celestron telescope comes at a reasonable price for what it offers, click the image above to see. You can also get the 70 mm for less, as listed at Amazon. See the latest price here.

#2. Orion GoScope III refractor telescope review

Orion GoScope III 70mm Refractor Travel Te…

This ultraportable day and night telescope is perfect for on-the-go beginners. It is ve… [More]

Price: $84.99
Sale: $84.99

Suggested Ages: 6 – 18+ years

This has 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. 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

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

Celestron - PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope - Manual Alt-Azimuth Telescope for Beginners - Compact and Portable - BONUS Astronomy Software Package - 70mm Aperture

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.

Aperture size is 70 mm (about 3″) and focal length 700mm, giving a focal ratio of 10. Your child should get a good view of the moon and be able to observe the bright planets such as Venus.

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

Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • Plastic parts (designed for lightness and low cost)
  • No carry case — you will need to buy it separately

Price

‘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

Celestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope - Refractor Telescope - Fully Coated Glass Optics - Adjustable Height Tripod – Bonus Astronomy Software Package

8+ years

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.

With this, you should easily see the Moon in HD and then Mars, Jupiter and its moons, Saturn, Venus, and the Orion Nebula.

Includes free Starry Night astronomy software.

Pros and cons: Celestron Astromaster 70AZ

Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Affordable price
  • Includes a container for the eyepieces
  • Includes a 90º elbow for ease of viewing
  • Focal length
Cons
  • No carry case
  • The tripod can cause frustration when trying to keep object in view

Price

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 80 mm aperture (diameter of the objective lens) AstroMaster for more light gathering. Check it out here.

#5. Emarth telescope — A 70mm refractor

Telescope, 70MM Aperture Kids Telescope with 2 Eyepieces, 360MM Refractor Portable Telescope for Kids with Tripod & Finder Scope, STEM Toys Astronomy Gifts for Children

Manufacturer Recommends Ages: 12+ years, but 3+ years can use this telescope designed for children. You’ll find this small telescope is also marketed under other brand names. It’s a real cheapie and one to buy if you’re after an introductory piece for your kid to play around with the extra accessories without a huge outlay.

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 kid’s 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

Pros
  • Compact scope
  • Having a carry case makes it good for traveling also 
  • It also has a lifetime money back guarantee
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Tripod (40 cm) is not a full standing height for an adult
  • No astronomy software but does include maps of the moon and stars

Price

“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.

Bottom line

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.