What Are the Best Budget Telescopes on the UK Market?

Many of us already know that a passion for astronomy means professional equipment and significant costs. What fewer people know is that you can also discover the Universe’s secrets with budget telescopes that will do a terrific job without burning through your savings.

Having said this, we’ve analysed the best budget telescopes on the UK market for you and read tens of honest consumer reports from real users. This is how we found the Orion 08946e 36X Reflector Telescope in Metal and Wood to be the best telescope under £500 on the market.

Coming second we have the Celestron 31051 AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope Motor Drive as the best telescope under £200.

As for the cheapest and best telescope under £100, we’ve found Orion 10012 SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope to be the best possible solution.

Who Should Buy an Affordable Telescope?

Telescopes are a great gateway to the skies, for anyone interested in astronomy and willing to explore the infinite vastness of the Universe.

Affordable telescopes are perfect for beginners, who are just starting to dabble in astronomy and willing to take it step by step. These are just as good for family use, especially when kids are involved and you’d like to spark their curiosity for astronomy.

They are just as useful as larger, more expensive telescopes, but lacking in subtler features, that add finesse to your celestial viewing sessions.

Why Are Some Telescopes More Expensive Than Others?

Other telescopes may come at a heftier price since their design allows for more comfort of use and a considerably improved viewing experience. For example, they may allow you to observe deep space objects, such as nebulae and star clusters. Or for a few hundred pounds extra, you can get a telescope that holds its collimation throughout the entire evening.

Another great feature that more expensive telescopes have is an equatorial mount. You’ll find that as soon as you locate the star you were looking for, you may need to adjust your telescope again since the Earth’s rotation made it slip out of your reach once more. An equatorial mount and a little motor fix all that, allowing you to track the stars automatically.

As we said before, more affordable inexpensive telescopes are just as good for celestial observations without the subtler features that fine-tune the viewing experience. Ultimately, those who wish to pay a little extra and have these additional perks at their disposal are already more advanced in terms of celestial explorations.

Key Considerations When Buying a Budget Telescope

These are all finer features that you can get if you’re willing to pay a little extra. However, the guidelines for telescope shopping should be the same in any case. You need to look for a decent aperture – this is the size of the mirror that focuses the light from far-away objects –  a medium aperture of 10 cm is a great place to start.

You also shouldn’t overlook eyepieces – these are an integral part to a telescope and implicitly to your viewing experience. To this end, Plossl eyepieces are universally acclaimed, good eyepieces.  Of course, technical features matter greatly when buying a reflector telescope, but you still need to take into consideration the area you live in and make sure it’s not too polluted, so you can actually get clear skies.

To this end, a great aperture will do less for you if you’re dealing with constantly covered skies, than a smaller aperture would do when viewing on a clear night.

A Brief Review of the Best Budget Telescopes on the UK Market

1. BEST UNDER 500: The Orion 08946e 36X Reflector Telescope in Metal and Wood

Pros

  • Great optics
  • Easy to operate
  • Good value for money
  • Big aperture
  • 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece
  • Stable Dobsonian base
  • Perfect for deep-sky viewings

Cons

  • Quite big and heavy
  • Needs disassembling so may be difficult to move around frequently

Overview

The Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic is a very popular and high-quality Dobsonian reflector telescope. It has a big aperture that offers great viewing experiences, while its smart design makes it easy to operate, even for beginners.

With its great 1200mm focal length and its large 254mm mirror, this telescope brings in a great deal of light, bright images with stark contrast. It offers you the opportunity to have deep space viewings and clear images of the moon and several planets.

The highest useful magnification you can get with this telescope is around 300x. However, this magnification can be amplified considerably with additional Barlow lenses.

Weighing in 24.2 kg and measuring about 121 cm in length, the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic is quite the machinery and needs ample storage space.

What It Does Best

The Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic is perfect for deep sky observations. Boasting great features such as a 254mm mirror and 1200mm focal length, it offers clear, bright images of the moon and the planets, as well as of nebulae and star clusters.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

As users have noticed, this telescope is certainly not a small toy that you can easily forget in a corner of your house or carry around with you without difficulty. On the contrary, with a weight of 24.2 kg and a length of 1.2 m, it needs its own storage space and requires some effort to transport.

Ideally, you should have a permanent place for it outside, so you don’t have to deal with these shortcomings or improvise a transportation method that makes it easy to get it even on the highest of hills. However, these measurements do come as a side-effect of its high-quality, so none of them actually constitute a deal breaker, but just mere inconveniences.

What Other Customers Think

The customers all love the Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic, since it offers great deep space images at a price of under £500. Everyone also loves how easy it is to use and operate.

Should You Buy It?

Undoubtedly. With this telescope, you get top-notch features, while shopping on a budget. It’s also a telescope that’s easy to operate, even by the more inexperienced users out there.


2. BEST UNDER 200: The Celestron 31051 AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope Motor Drive

Pros

  • Permanently mounted Star Pointer
  • Equatorial mount
  • 10,000 object database, maps and images
  • Motor Drive for automatic tracking
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Ideal for terrestrial and astronomical use

Cons

  • The Star Pointer can prove to be inefficient in some cases and cannot be replaced
  • Tripod a bit flimsy
  • A bit big

Overview

One of the best parts about the Celestron 31051 AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope Motor Drive is that it can be used both for terrestrial and celestial observations.

Thanks to its great glass optics and 10mm included eyepiece, you can enjoy clear images of the moon, of Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s four moons.

Another great perk it has is represented by the Motor Drive system, which allows for easy tracking of the objects you’d like to see. The German Equatorial mount with Setting circles is also a great integrated feature that can help you better locate your desired celestial objects. The telescope’s steel tube legs make it a sturdy viewing platform, contributing to an improved viewing experience.

The included software comes with a 10,000 object database, maps and images – everything you need to delve deeper into the mysteries of the Universe.

What It Does Best

Even though the Celestron 31051 AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope Motor Drive can also be used for terrestrial viewings, it shines best when it’s used for celestial observations. Especially considering the fact that it offers great, clear images of the Moon, Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons.

If you’re an entry-level user, you’ll be happy to know the telescope is equipped with a 10,000 object database, which means it can help you locate them on the sky with considerably more ease. What’s more, the equatorial mount it comes equipped with is designed to help you better locate and track the objects you desire.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Some users claim that the tripod is a bit flimsy, making the telescope and its supporting gear seem like not such a sturdy construction.

Another drawback seems to be the Star Pointer system, which may not locate all desired objects with total accuracy – but can be used just the same as a powerful referencing system.

Other users have also pointed out that this is pretty bulky equipment that needs its very own storage space.

However, these are just minor flaws that do not weigh enough to actually tip the balance over and become deal breakers.

What Other Customers Think

Reviewers are actually delighted with the telescope’s features, ultimately considering the AstroMaster great value for money. The low price of £198.85 does come with a few shortcomings and inconveniences, but they’re not all that damaging to the overall quality of the telescope.

The telescope seems to be a great find for both beginners and families with kids, since it’s very easy to operate and highly rewarding in terms of imagery.

Should You Buy It?

Without any doubt. The Celestron 31051 AstroMaster 130EQ Reflector Telescope Motor Drive is a perfect find for beginner users who are just starting out with their astronomy passion and who also have kids and would like to initiate them in this fascinating field.

The quality it offers comes at such an affordable price, that it makes it an irresistible purchase for anyone with a knack for celestial observations. All in all, it’s a great gateway to exploring the infinite mysteries the Universe has in store for us.


3. BEST UNDER 100: The Orion 10012 SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope

Pros

  • 10cm primary mirror optics
  • Perfect for seeing Moon craters and details of Jupiter and other planets
  • Tabletop telescope – easy to store
  • 20mm and 10mm eyepieces
  • Low-power deep-space viewing

Cons

  • The red dot finder system may be a bit awkward to use
  • Difficulty in mounting a traditional finding scope

Overview

The Orion 10012 SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope is an entry-level reflector telescope, whose 100mm parabolic primary mirror allows for exciting viewings of the Moon’s craters, Jupiter’s surface details and other planetary details.

This is an ideal entry-level telescope, as its tabletop design is easy to store and highly portable. It also offers low-power deep space viewings, such as those of the Milky Way and other deep space objects. This is especially favorable when the sky is particularly dark and clear.

It also comes with a finder system, that helps you better locate certain objects on the night sky, as well as with two eyepieces: a 20mm and a 10mm one, which you can switch around according to your needs and preferences.

What It Does Best

This super portable telescope offers great images of the Moon’s craters and certain planetary details, at a really convenient price. The telescope’s great optics, ease of use and low cost make it a great find for anyone dabbling in astronomy, especially at a more entry level.

Its additional finder system is a great feature that can help you better navigate the sky and locate the celestial objects you want.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

One customer claims the finder system can be a bit awkward to use and possibly not entirely efficient at all times. To this end, trying to fit a traditional finderscope on it may be a bit difficult, considering the telescope’s particular mounting arrangements. However, this has not been mentioned by other users as well, so it may an odd occurrence.

Overall, this is a very good telescope for all entry-level users, so whatever minor flaws it has can be easily overlooked and not considered deal breakers.

What Other Customers Think

Customers are very thrilled with the value for money this telescope offers. At £99.99, it has a very sturdy design that also makes it highly portable and easy to use. They are delighted with the images the telescope offers, as well as with the finder system’s ability to locate certain celestial objects.

Some suggest that although the eyepieces it comes with are a good place to start, adding some Barlow lenses may considerably improve the viewing experience. All in all, the reviews are positive and customers say it’s a great telescope for the price it’s listed under.

Should You Buy It?

Absolutely. If you’re looking for an affordable, good quality, easy-to-use and portable telescope, then the Orion 10012 SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope is the right purchase for you.

It is especially designed for beginners, as it poses no complications and it offers good imagery of the Moon and other planets. The finder system is also a great tool that can help you ease in into your first astronomic experiences. Ultimately, it’s a great and powerful little telescope that will give you just enough thrills to make you want to become a real connoisseur.

Comment 1

  1. Mary-Anne J. December 22, 2017

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