Does your child dream of one day being an astronaut? Maybe they began learning about the solar system and are now fascinated with the moon, planets, and stars.
Their exploration of the solar system doesn’t need to begin and end at the planetarium. You can buy a telescope for your home to help guide them on their journey through the universe.
Today, you can buy telescopes with kids in mind, and they aren’t the simple devices of the past. Many of these telescopes grow with your children as they become more confident in their skills.
Are you on the hunt for the best telescopes for kids? We created a complete roundup of our favorite products (including one for toddlers) below.
How We Made Our Choices
The best telescopes for kids aren’t necessarily glorified viewfinders, and we think it’s important to find a device that kids can grow and learn with.We listed telescopes that range from simple viewfinder toys right up to the kind of telescope that will grow with them through elementary school. We made our choices mostly according to usability and quality and then according to the manufacturer specs like aperture.When possible, we combined the manufacturer details with customer reviews to provide a helpful look at what it’s like to use the telescope over time.
The Best Telescopes for Kids Who Love Astronomy
Struggling to sort through the long list of toy and functional telescopes? Our list includes the best of both worlds—in no particular order.
Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope
- SUPERIOR OPTICS: The Celestron 70mm Travel Scope features high-quality, fully-coated glass optics, a potent 70mm...
- POWERFUL EYEPIECES FOR UP-CLOSE VIEWING: Our telescope for astronomy beginners is equipped with two high-quality...
- LARGE 70MM OBJECTIVE LENS: Our refractor telescope is equipped with a large 70mm aperture objective lens that provides...
The Celestron 21035 telescope is a refractor telescope with a 70 mm aperture, which makes it perfect for beginners and those improving their astronomy skills.The package includes the telescope, two eyepieces, a finderscope, an erect image diagonal, a tripod, and a backpack designed to fit each piece inside carefully and neatly. You can use it in your house, in the backyard, and take it away on vacation with you without a problem.We love the Celestron 21035 because it is very portable, which makes it ideal for city or suburban living. If you need to take a drive or move the telescope to find the right conditions for viewing, it’s easy to pack up, travel with, and set up again in your new location. It also comes with a carry case for both the main telescope and the added accessories.We also like it because it offers better value than the Travel Scope 50, which has less impressive specs despite being physically lighter.
Orion FunScope Astro Dazzle
If your child (or you) feel particularly committed to astronomy, or you happen to have an excellent viewpoint, we recommend the Orion FunScope Astro Dazzle.The Astro Dazzle is a reflector telescope that sticks to the tabletop format, and kids love it because the design is flashy and well-decorated. Some say that Orion began to compromise on accuracy for a dazzling design, but the price point doesn’t warrant a fantastic aperture anyway.You’ll get a 4.5 inch (114 mm) primary mirror and a 30-mm secondary mirror. The mirror features soda-lime plate glass and a coating of aluminum with silicon dioxide.If you’re a photography enthusiast, you’ll recognize the focal ratio—f/4/4—as meaning “fast” in the photography world. If you’re not familiar, the focal ratio refers to gathering more light in the lens than another telescope, even when the competitor has the same aperture.
iOptron iExplore 50AZ
- 600mm focal length refractor tube for increased magnification
- 2-eyepieces & finderscope
- Diagnonal lens
The iOptron iExplore is perfect for kids who like the idea of astronomy and want to become better acquainted with the night sky, but whose interests are known to be somewhat changeable. The telescope is as basic as it gets without simply being a paper towel tube, but it will still inspire kids getting to grips with science.iOptron’s telescope is a refractor telescope with a 50mm aperture, which means it’s one of the least powerful telescopes on the list. However, it’s still suitable for searching for the moon, but it’s not powerful enough to identify planets or any but the brightest stars.The telescope comes with the most basic features including:
- 600mm focal length refractor tube
- Two eyepieces
- Diagonal lens
- Adjustable aluminum tripod
The bottom line is that the iExplore 50AZ is a suitable beginner telescope. Customers say that assembly is simple, and kids will find it easy to find large objects and practice focusing with their parent’s help.However, it won’t stand up to much use or abuse. So, if you intend to move it around or you have several young astronomers who might fight over it, then you might find the lifespan of the telescope is disappointing. At the same time, you can’t expect much more at this price range.
Orion StarBlast 90mm Altazimuth Travel Refractor Telescope
- Complete 90mm Refractor telescope for daytime viewing or nighttime stargazing
- Telescope, tripod, and all accessories Pack conveniently into rugged carry case for travel anywhere
- Includes two Quality Kellner eyepieces (not cheapie "H" Eyepieces like with most other brands) for 20x and 56x...
The Orion StarBlast Altazimuth telescope is the first telescope on the list that’s suited to children who graduated from their basic telescope and are ready for a more advanced model.Those who use the StarBlast will enjoy a refractor telescope with 90mm aperture, which is significantly more powerful than the standard 70mm aperture found on telescopes geared for this age-range and market. Note that you will pay a slight premium for the extra features, but it does have the optical power to accommodate intermediate users.One of the most significant upgrades beyond the higher aperture is the eyepieces. The Orion Altazimuth model includes two Kellner eyepieces, which are superior to aftermarket products or those eyepieces that appear to be more of an afterthought. You’ll get two Kellner eyepieces, including 20x and 56x magnification options.We also like the upgraded tripod. Some of the budget telescopes feature a tripod that claims to be adjustable but is flimsy in reality. The Altazimuth’s tripod benefits from a stainless-steel construction and includes six slides for adjusting the height on the scope.Finally, it comes with helpful accessories that go beyond basic astronomy. Kids love the moon map included, which helps them identify 260 lunar features and brings the moon to life for them.We like the Orion Altazimuth telescope because while it offers more features, it is still simple enough for those who are only just ready for a more advanced telescope.
The ExploreOne Telescope is arguably the best-built telescope on our list with high-quality optics and an innately adjustable design.ExploreOne provided the telescope with a 114mm aperture and 500mm focal length for some of the best pictures offered from a budget telescope. The 4.4-inch aperture offers plenty of light to provide a bright view of not just the moon but planets, star clusters, and nebulas.Why would you want to upgrade to a 114mm aperture telescope for beginner users? The picture clarity offered inspires, and it encourages kids to commit to their new interest and progress further.The improved specs aren’t just about more light. The aperture reflector offers enough light to reduce aberrations and distortions by decreasing the amount of reflection and instead provide light transmission. Improved transmission brings the surface of the moon or planet to life in a way that you can’t achieve with a 70mm aperture.ExploreOne’s telescope comes with the essential accessories required for operation including:
- Plossi 26 mm eyepiece
- Plossi 9.7 mm eyepiece
- Red dot finderscope
- Aluminum tripod
- Accessory tray
- Detailed professional instructions
We like the body and the tripod because they offer slow-motion control. Kids new to astronomy tend to move too quickly and need their speed corrected. Because the controls allow you to adjust the telescope subtly, you’ll find less frustration as you set up the telescope.Just how good is this telescope? Customers reported being able to see the rings of Saturn.
Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope
- LOOK, LISTEN & LEARN: Teaches kids about space objects and phenomena. Featuring the voice of Emily Dawn Calandrelli,...
- COOL IMAGES FROM NASA: The perfect telescope for kids to view 24 beautiful space images withouth having to go outside....
- EASY VIEWING: Double eyepiece so no need to close one eye.
Is your future astronaut not yet school age? That doesn’t mean they aren’t ready for their first telescope. The GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope caters to the under-six crowd who are eager to learn but need some extra help and eye protection.Kids can use the Talking Telescope without closing their eyes, which promotes eye safety and improves accessibility.The telescope is a mix of what you know as a telescope and a slide viewer with slide images from NASA. It teaches children as they go using an audio guide. The audio guides kids through the slides by asking them questions and offering up kid-friendly facts to help them both name and respond to what they see.Kids between three and five will appreciate the slide viewer and audio guide, but the telescope grows with kids between five and eight years old. As they become more confident in their skills, kids can use the 4x telescope—with adult supervision.The eyepiece and the base of the telescope are wide, so kids will have few problems adjusting it. But as always, you need to supervise to help avoid eye injuries.The only downside to the telescope is that GeoSafari only offers 24 slides. As your little one masters the slides given, there’s no option to buy more audio slides.Overall, the telescope boasts positive reviews from users and toy industry experts. It was a Toy of the Year 2019 finalist, and the narration isn’t a computerized-voice but Emily Dawn Calandrelli, the host of the television Program Xploration Outer Space.
Orion 10034 GoScope II
- Aluminium alloy construction, lightweight and portable, good choice for beginning astronomer and children astronomer
- Includes 1.25 inch 10mm smartphone eyepiece adapter to take photos, preassembled aluminum full size photographic tripod...
- Multi-coated green film optics for clear and crisp images, to enhanced image brightness and protect your eyes
The Orion 10034 GoScope II is another ideal travel telescope. Like the Celestron model, it is a refractor telescope with a 70mm aperture, and it’s highly portable thanks to its aluminum alloy construction.It differs from other telescopes on this list because it features not only includes eyepieces but an eyepiece adaptor for your smartphone. The adaptor attaches directly to the eyepiece by gripping your phone, and it allows you to take photos of the visualsWe like that it is lightweight, and it comes with the essential beginner accessories. We particularly love that it fits inside of a backpack that comes with the telescope. There’s no need to stuff it into a flimsy travel bag.
Celestron NexStar 90SLT
- COMPUTERIZED STAR LOCATING TELESCOPE: The Celestron NexStar 90SLT is a computerized telescope that offers a database of...
- COMPACT AND PORTABLE: This telescope for adults and kids to be used together is ideal for weekend camping trips or...
- MAKSUTOV-CASSEGRAIN OPTICAL DESIGN: The NexStar 90SLT is the smalles in the SLT family. The 90mm aperture gathers enough...
The Celestron NexStar 90SLT is easily the most expensive telescope on our list, but it is perfect for adults and for kids who want to use a telescope as part of their educational experience.Why is such a high-spec telescope suitable for beginners? Because it is the only telescope on our list that is fully computerized.SLT stands for Star Locating Telescope. It takes the guesswork out of operating the device and instead uses a computer database of 4,000 stars, nebulae, and galaxies to automatically direct the viewer to the exact location and track the target.The design is slim and lightweight, which means you can take it apart and bring it with you as you travel. Celestron recommends bringing this telescope to dark sky sites, where users will make the most of the experience.Getting set up again is easy because the telescope features the manufacturer’s proprietary Sky Align software. All you need to do is find three bright objects, and the telescope finishes the set-up automatically.A significant part of the price category derives from the computer-assist programs. However, it also has some of the best optics you can find in a beginner telescope. Although the aperture is 90 mm, it uses Maksutov-Cassegrain Optics, which you won’t see in many other beginner telescopes.Other specs include 50x and 139x magnification and a focal length of 1250mm. The focal ratio is f/14.What do you get in the package? You’ll find a:
- Red dot StarPointer finderscope
- 25mm eyepiece
- 9mm eyepiece
- Adjustable, steel tripod
- Accessory tray
Bresser Argo 50mm Telescope/Microscope Kit
- Easy assembly, quick transformation from telescope to microscope makes the Argo an easy choice for parents
- Includes tripod and 10 slides with specimens (such as pollen and onion bulb epidermis) and 2 blank slides
- This telescope/microscope is made for little minds but packed with features and benefits that would intrigue the adult
The Argo 50mm compares to the iOptron iExplore telescope listed above. Like the iOptron, it’s a great introductory telescope because it offers an introduction to the telescope by working more as a spotting tool.The magnification is only 15x, and it’s great for looking at the moon or distant objects here on earth.One of the things we particularly like about the Argo 50mm is that it includes a secondary eyepiece that allows kids to use both eyes in the viewfinder. We find this is very helpful for first-time telescope viewers and young, elementary-age children who are getting to grips with their telescope.It also compares somewhat to the GeoSafari telescope because it includes a microscope attachment. The attachment isn’t so much for young microbiologists, but it operates more closely to the slide function on the GeoSafari. Kids can use the slides to see images of galaxies close up (even though the telescope itself won’t spot these). However, kids can still make their own slides.Unlike the GeoSafari product, the Bresser kit does seem to function best as a microscope rather than a telescope. Customers reported difficulties in using the telescope part of the device.
How to Buy Your Child’s First Telescope
Are you new to telescopes yourself? Our buyer’s guide will help you make sense of all the new-to-you terms like aperture, refractor, and magnification.Here’s what these terms mean and what to look for when hunting down the best telescope for kids.
Type of Telescope
Consumers can buy three types of telescopes: refractor, reflector, and compounds.Refractor telescopes are the most common devices found in the child market. A refractor telescope is more extended, thinner, and perfect for gazing at the moon as well as hunting down planets and celestial bodies.Reflector telescopes are smaller than refractor telescopes, but they are also cheaper.Compound telescopes feature both a reflector and refractor mirror, which means these telescopes are usually more powerful than a refractor or reflector telescope on its own. If your child is increasing their skills and they—or you—have an interest in astrophotography, then a compound telescope is a good idea. However, we didn’t add any to our list.
Although we listed ‘type’ first, it is the aperture that you should concern yourself with most.Aperture on a telescope works the same way as it does on your camera. The aperture size controls the amount of light captured by the telescope. Larger apertures let in more light and therefore offer clearer images, which is essential for finding stars and planets.A larger aperture naturally requires a more substantial telescope body, so you’ll need to strike a balance between size (and portability) with the size of the aperture.Most children’s telescopes sit at 70 mm aperture, which is perfectly suitable for looking at the moon and hyper-visible planets. A 50 mm aperture is also helpful for looking at the moon, but it’s better suited to younger children who also like to spot near-field objects here on earth.
The eyepiece of the telescope is where the magnification of the image occurs.An eyepiece with a high magnification level is valuable, but only when it’s matched with a meaningful aperture. You can’t use 40x magnification to make up for an aperture that falls below 50 mm.We recommend looking out for telescopes that come with multiple eyepieces. Typically, one eyepiece offers low magnification and the other provides a higher one. We also find the best telescopes for kids who are not yet school age are those that include a binocular-style eyepiece in addition to the one-eye viewfinder.