- The Koolpte Telescope with Digital Eyepiece is ranked as the best overall telescope under $300 and is ideal for observing the moon and planets.
- The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is the best Newtonian telescope under $300 and provides incredible views of celestial bodies.
- The Sarblue Mak70 is the best Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope under $300 and is ideal for astrophotography.
- The Celestron 70mm Travel Scope is the best portable telescope under $300 and is lightweight and easy to transport.
- The ToyerBee Telescope for Beginners is the best budget-friendly telescope under $300 and provides good views of the moon and planets.
Whether you’re into stargazing or your kid wants to become a NASA scientist, the first step to fulfilling that dream or hobby is investing in a quality telescope. Professional models can set you back thousands of dollars, but an entry-level option is a good start for beginners.
Comparing specs and figuring out what you need can be challenging if this is your first-ever telescope. To save some time and find a model that’s worth your while, check our ranking for the best telescopes under $300 in 2023.
- Best Overall: Koolpte Telescope with Digital Eyepiece
- Best Newtonian Telescope: Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ
- Best Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope: Sarblue Mak70
- Best Portable: Celestron 70mm Travel Scope
- Best Budget-Friendly: ToyerBee Telescope for Beginners
#1 Best Overall: Koolpte Telescope with Digital Eyepiece
- 90mm aperture
- 900mm refracting telescope
- Vertisteel Altazimuth mount
- Compact and powerful
- Great for beginners and professionals alike
- Perfect for observing
The Koolpte telescope with a digital eyepiece is the best telescope under $300 for amateur astronomers and children.
It comes with a decent variety of accessories and is ideal for observing the moon, the planets, and other celestial objects. While the telescope itself won’t capture a great amount of details, the included digital eyepiece can improve image quality and allow you to obtain good-quality pictures.
The telescope’s 900mm focal length and 90mm aperture deliver a wide field of view. We also like the finder scope — it is somewhat tricky to align but it works beautifully once calibrated. Less exciting is the manual tracking, which can get tiring over a long night, and the images that have some chromatic aberration.
This telescope is relatively easy to set up and comes with a Vertisteel Altazimuth mount, a free-stop non-polar shaft, and angle fine-tuning that allows for easy control.
Check out the Koolpte Telescope with Digital Eyepiece on Amazon.
|Excellent beginner telescope for observing the moon and planets||Manual tracking can be difficult for beginners.|
|The telescope comes with a digital eyepiece that allows you to capture good-quality images.|
|The Vertisteel Altazimuth mount ensures easy setup.|
Best Newtonian Telescope: Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ
- Fully coated glass optics
- Great for beginners
- Adjustable height tripod
- Bonus astronomy software package
A Newtonian telescope is perfect for those who want to enjoy amazingly bright and sharp views of the night sky, and the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is one of the best you can find for under $300.
Like all Newtonian telescopes, this model has to be collimated properly. The process can be time-consuming and frustrating for beginners, so this model is more suited for intermediate amateurs familiar with this type of telescope. Otherwise, the initial setup is pretty straightforward.
Once collimated properly, the AstroMaster provides incredible views of celestial bodies and is ideal for both close planetary observations and looking at deep-space objects.
At under $300, the telescope comes without a motor drive. If you want help with tracking celestial objects and don’t mind paying a bit more, the model is also offered with a motor drive. This telescope comes with a 130mm lens, a StarPointer red dot finderscope, and two eyepieces.
Take a look at the Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ on Amazon.
|The fine tuner makes it easy to find targets and follow them.||Collimating the telescope can be very time-consuming.|
|Two eyepieces make it easy to observe close and distant objects alike.|
|The model is also offered with a drive motor.|
Best Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope: Sarblue Mak70
Suitable for anything from photography to terrestrial observing and stargazing, the Sarblue Mak70 is the best Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope under $300.
This model features a 70mm aperture and 1,000mm focal length, and it comes with a micro-control tripod that stabilizes the image and allows for quick adjustments. Using the directions and finding celestial objects can be a bit troublesome, but all it takes is some practice to effectively track planets and stars.
The diagonal prism and eyepieces are also made of plastic rather than metal, but that’s something to expect from an entry-level model. You do get three eyepieces, though, that you can switch to see closer or more distant objects — including stars in the Great Nebula.
The wide aperture and clear images make this telescope ideal for astrophotography, and it comes with everything you need to use it straight out of the box.
Find the Sarblue Mak70 on Amazon.
|This all-purpose telescope can be used for both terrestrial and celestial observing.||The viewfinder is not the best out there, but it is functional.|
|The telescope provides clear images and is ideal for astrophotography.|
|You can use the telescope with either a smartphone or DSLR camera for photography purposes.|
Best Portable: Celestron 70mm Travel Scope
The 400mm focal length is not really something to write home about, but it does a good job when observing close celestial objects. What we do like is the 70mm aperture of the lens, which is wide enough for both terrestrial and celestial viewing.
This travel telescope is made of sturdy aluminum and comes with an air-spaced double lens. The box also includes a dual tripod with a dovetail mount that allows you to fit on an astronomical equatorial mounting. Two eyepieces and an erecting prism add further value.
While you won’t be able to observe distant objects with this scope, it is a good choice for novices who travel a lot.
Check out the Celestron 70mm Travel Scope Telescope on Amazon.
|The telescope is lightweight and comes with a backpack for easy transport.||The 400mm focal length is too short to view distant celestial objects.|
|This model comes with two eyepieces, a tripod, and other accessories.|
|You can mount a smartphone or camera on the tripod if you want to use the telescope for photography.|
Best Budget-Friendly: ToyerBee Telescope for Beginners
At under $100, the ToyerBee telescope for beginners is the best choice for children and amateurs on a tight budget.
Despite its low price, the build quality feels solid, and the view clarity is impressive. Sure, you won’t be able to observe the deep space, but the 300mm focal length and 70mm aperture allow you to see the moon in great detail and even view Saturn’s rings.
The telescope doesn’t come with any fancy accessories, but the box does include a tripod with a smartphone adapter. It also includes a wireless camera remote you can use for easier object tracking.
The main downside is the lack of comprehensive instructions, so learning which eyepiece to use and how to make fine adjustments can take some time.
You can find the ToyerBee Telescope for Beginners on Amazon.
|This is one of the most affordable telescopes on the market.||Getting the telescope aimed and learning which eyepiece to use can be difficult.|
|Despite the short focal length, it provides good views of the moon and planets.|
|You can use the telescope with a smartphone to see the images on a larger screen and capture photos.|
How to Pick the Best Telescope Under $300: Step-by-Step
When shopping for an entry-level telescope, there are five considerations for most buyers.
- Intended use
- Build quality
- Optics quality
Let’s see how each of these factors can affect your decision-making.
The most crucial factor to consider when buying a telescope for beginners is what you want to use it for. Do you want to observe close celestial objects such as the planets and the moon? Are you hoping to view some deeper-space objects, such as nebulas and galaxies, or do you want to use the telescope for a combination of terrestrial observing and stargazing?
Maksutov-Cassegrain and Newtonian telescopes are the best options for deeper space observation. Cheaper models with a narrow aperture and short focal length are more suitable for observing the planets and terrestrial objects.
Budget telescopes are made of lower-quality materials, but you should still check the build quality before buying. Ideally, the telescope should be made of aluminum or at least high-quality plastic. The lenses must be made of optical glass, as any other material won’t be able to provide a decent view.
Also, check the quality of any accessories. For instance, the tripod should be sturdy and have a good balance.
The most important factor in a telescope is the optical quality. As mentioned, the lens must be made of optical glass, but you should consider other factors, too.
One of the most common problems with cheap telescopes is chromatic aberration (color distortion). Almost all telescopes under $300 distort colors, but higher-quality lenses are still able to provide clear images with sharp contrast. Coated or multi-coated optics are the best to reduce aberrations and improve viewing quality.
If you want to make the most out of your telescope, you should also consider the accessories your model comes with. Almost all telescopes come with two eyepieces that provide different magnifications, but some brands include three or more eyepieces. A viewfinder is another accessory that can make it easier to find and track objects. Smartphone or camera mounts, remote controls, and sky maps or charts are other accessories you might want.
Another thing to decide is your budget. If you want a telescope for a curious toddler or preschooler, models under $100 might suit your needs. These telescopes provide decent views of the moon and planets, but you won’t be able to see much beyond that. Models between $200 and $300 typically come with better optics, and you can use them to see close and deep-space objects alike.
What to Know Before Buying a Telescope Under $300
A telescope under $300 is an entry-level piece of equipment ideal for kids and beginners. They will not provide the same image clarity and contrast as a high-end telescope, meaning that you won’t be able to see outstanding details.
You should also know that telescopes under $300 generally don’t have motor drives. Object tracking is done manually, and that requires some getting used to before mastering the technique. Most models are compatible with viewfinders that can make things easier, but you mostly have to rely on your knowledge about the night sky.
The build quality in affordable telescopes is not exceptional either, so you have to pay attention when handling the equipment.
Before buying, also consider whether you want to use the telescope with higher-end accessories, such as better eyepieces. If you do, make sure the model you want comes with universal mounts and that it is compatible with accessories from other brands.
Using a Telescope Under $300: What It’s Like
Using an entry-level telescope can be more challenging than using a high-end model, mostly because you have to track the objects manually. Manual tracking can get tiring over a long night, and it also requires some learning curve.
Chromatic aberration can impair the quality of the image significantly, so this is something to consider if you want to use the telescope for astrophotography.
Aside from these inconveniences, using a budget telescope is great. You can still observe celestial objects, and some models are even powerful enough to capture galaxies and nebulas. They are ideal for kids, beginners, and students on a budget.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©AstroStar/Shutterstock.com.