Best Telescope for Astrophotography

The best telescope for astrophotography is the one that serves your needs. If you are looking for a way to capture images of celestial objects and share them with others, then you will want to invest in the right equipment. Telescope shopping is not as easy as buying a camera. The quality of your photos depends on both the power of your scope and many other factors like mount type, tracking system, eyepieces, filters and camera adapter.

The best telescope for astrophotography is the one that works for you. The main properties are large aperture and few aberrations. No matter how beautiful a telescope looks, it will be an expensive paper weight if it can’t collect enough light at low magnification to allow you to get sky glow-free images of deep-sky objects.

What is the Best Telescope for Astrophotography?

Practicality and usability are two keywords you should bear in mind with astrophotography. Finding the best model for your needs will help you develop your passion, not ruin it.

So what is the best telescope for a beginner? There are plenty of candidates out there, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. There are two main types to consider: refractor telescopes and reflectors. Let’s discuss each style and see which one is suitable for you.

List of the best portable telescope for astrophotography

These are the best portable telescopes for astrophotography. A deep sky telescope is a specialized telescope specifically designed to view the sky at night and through light-polluted skies. Many models have been designed that can be transported to your favourite observing site and others can be taken in a car or via plane as a carry-on item.

10. Gskyer Telescope 70mm (Budget/Kids)

  • Refractor
  • 70mm aperture
  • 400mm focal length
  • f/5.7
  • 16x and 40x Kellner eyepieces, 3x Barlow lens
  • 5×24 finderscope with mounting bracket and cross-hair lines
  • Alt-azimuth mount
  • 16x to 120x magnification
  • 5.71 lbs

There’s no doubt that astrophotography can be pretty expensive. But what if you’re on a super-low budget and still want to try taking photos of the moon or the stars? Then the Gskyer 70mm telescope is the best option for you. The Gskyer is one of the cheapest options you can find online. But is it any good for astrophotography? The answer is yes if you’re a beginner.

In our opinion, the Gskyer is the most reasonably priced telescope that produces decent images. Its 400mm focal length is enough for you to take photos of the moon. This telescope also includes a phone mount and remote control. So if you want to try astrophotography with your mobile device, this is the way to go!

Since the Gskyer is quite affordable, you may see some chromatic aberration every once in a while. That just means you may find fringes of colors around the moon or other celestial objects. It’s the reason why it’s at the lower end of our list. But the good news is you can quickly fix it in post-production if you want.

9. Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope Kit

  • Reflector
  • 114mm aperture
  • 450mm focal length
  • f/4
  • 6mm and 17mm Kellner eyepieces
  • Red-dot finder
  • Alt-azimuth mount
  • 16x to 228x magnification
  • 13 lbs

Need a beefier telescope than the Gskyer? Then consider getting the Orion Starblast 4.5. It costs about three times more. But it has better features than the Gskyer and already comes preassembled. You can use it right away as soon as you get it out of the box.

The StartBlast has a focal length that is 50mm more than the Gskyer. Its f/4 aperture lets in a lot of light. That easily translates to you capturing photographs faster than other options. Furthermore, it comes with an optional moon filter. You wouldn’t need to get another filter for your camera.

The Orion Starblast doesn’t come with a tripod. Instead, it comes with a tabletop base. You may find it convenient if you’re a beginner since you can quickly set it up on a table. But for obvious reasons, you’ll find it challenging to use if you’re taking photos in remote areas.

8. Sky-Watcher Evoguide 50ED APO Refractor (Beginner)

  • Apochromatic refractor
  • 50mm aperture
  • 242mm focal length
  • f/4.8
  • No eyepieces
  • No finderscope
  • No mount
  • Up to 100x magnification
  • 1.9 lbs
  • No accessories

It’s always nice to save some money on equipment. But when you have a cheap telescope that produces distracting chromatic aberration, is it worth it?

If you want a simple telescope without spending a lot of money, then you should consider the Sky-Watcher Evoguide. It doesn’t have as many add-ons as the others. But it’s a fantastic and reasonable price for a high-quality piece of equipment.

It doesn’t look as impressive from the outside compared to its competitors. But in our opinion, when it comes to performance, it belongs in the top-tier.

The Evoguide is a triplet APO refractor. As you’ll see in the buying guide below, that means it has the necessary optics to correct any chromatic aberration that may occur. Its simple design also makes it easy for a beginner. It just looks like any regular telescope, and you can use it right away after you attach your camera.

7. Orion ED80T CF Triplet Apochromatic Refractor (Affordable/Beginner)

  • Apochromatic refractor
  • 80mm aperture
  • 480mm focal length
  • f/6
  • No eyepieces
  • No finderscope
  • No mount
  • 12x to 160x magnification
  • 5.5 lbs

The Orion ED80T is an affordable option for beginner astrophotographers. The scope’s small size and lighter weight lets you get plenty of use out of it—both practically and photographically.

It is a popular choice due to its high-quality imaging performance. Plus, a built-in dew shield protects your telescope for those overnight shots.

It also includes a dual-speed (11:1) 2-inch Crayford focuser, a 2 to1.25-inch step-down adapter, a dovetail finder scope base, a 0.25 to 20-inch mounting block doubling as a Vixen-style dovetail bar, a carry case, and Starry Night astronomy photography software.

Plus, the extra-low dispersion (ED) glass combats chromatic aberration. Consider the Orion ED80T as your first telescope, and you can’t go wrong.

6. Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ Newtonian Telescope (Budget/Experienced)

  • Newtonian reflector
  • 114mm aperture
  • 1000mm focal length
  • f/5
  • Two eyepieces
  • Red dot finderscope
  • Manual equatorial mount
  • 16x to 269x magnification
  • 17 lbs

What if you’re experienced in astrophotography but don’t have enough money for an expensive telescope? Then the Celestron AstroMaster is for you. It has most—if not all—the features that only more expensive options offer for a low mid-range price.

With an aperture of 114mm, it’s perfect for photographing planets and constellations. It also features an equatorial mount with two slow-motion control knobs, ideal for fine adjustments.

The only downside of the Celestron AstroMaster is that it’s not a telescope for a beginner. It’s challenging to set up and use even without a camera. In other words, you need to be familiar with telescopes to use them to their full potential.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy it even if you don’t have the experience. After all, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a good piece of astrophotography equipment early on. It includes a tripod and Starry Night astronomy photography software.

5. Celestron – NexStar 127SLT Computerized Telescope (Budget/Beginner)

  • Refractor or Maksutov-Cassegrain catadioptric
  • 127mm aperture
  • 1500mm focal length
  • f/12
  • Two eyepieces
  • Red dot finderscope
  • A computerized GoTo alt-azimuth mount
  • 18x to 300x magnification
  • 18 lbs

Are you a beginner with some money but don’t want to break the bank? Then you might want to take a look at the Celestron NexStar 127SLT. It’s quite an advanced telescope that you can buy for less than a thousand dollars!

So what makes the NexStar 127SLT different? The SLT stands for “star locating telescope.” That means it has a built-in computer, so you don’t have to guess where any planets or constellations are in the night sky. All you have to do is enter which celestial object you want to track, and this device will find it for you. Now that’s quite an advantage, especially if you’re not familiar with astrophotography yet.

The NexStar comes in two telescope types—the refractor and catadioptric. Its 127mm aperture is ideal for deep-sky imaging. It will enable you to take photos of constellations and even observe Saturn’s rings!

It includes a star diagonal, SkyAlign, and Starry Night astronomy photography software.

4. TS-Optics PHOTOLINE 80mm f/6 FPL53 Triplet APO (Good Value)

  • Apochromatic refractor
  • 80mm aperture
  • 480mm focal length
  • f/6
  • 2-inch Crayford eyepiece (threaded connector, 1:11 micro-mount)
  • No finderscope
  • No mount
  • Up to 260x magnification
  • 6 lbs

The Photoline 80mm is perhaps one of the best telescopes out there for around 1,000USD. But what truly makes it unique from other options is that it’s purposely built for astrophotography (hence the Photoline title).

Photoline is perfect for astrophotography beginners and veterans because it’s so easy to use. It’s also relatively compact at 37.5cm, and it only weighs 6 pounds. So if you want to travel around to take photos of celestial objects, this is your perfect partner.

Of course, we can’t forget the quality of the photos the Photoline 80mm produces. It’s a triplet APO means it doesn’t have nasty chromatic aberrations. Its sharpness also compares well with its more expensive counterparts. So if you want both superior performance and affordability, this is the best option for you.

It includes a CNC aluminum tube with rings and a dovetail bar, a 2.5-inch RAP focuser with a dual-speed transmission, a 1.25-inch reducer, a  mounted finder shoe, and an aluminum case.

We know the Photoline 80mm is still quite expensive. But if you consider all the value it brings to the table—this telescope is a great deal!

3. Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope (Mid-Range)

  • Newtonian reflector
  • 130mm aperture
  • 650mm focal length
  • f/5
  • 10mm (26x) and 25mm (65x) Sirius Plossl eyepieces
  • 6×30 finderscope
  • Equatorial mount
  • 19x to 260x
  • 27 lbs

Orion is a quality brand of telescopes. It has tons of products that are pretty expensive. But it also has budget-friendly options that are perfect for astrophotography beginners. The one that we like the best is the Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST.

What makes the SpaceProbe 130ST special is its quality materials. Plus, it has a mid-range price. That’s significant, especially since astrophotography demands high-class optics—which Orion offers!

The SpaceProbe has a 5.1-inch aperture that lets you view and photograph distant planets and even nebulas. Its 24-inch tube makes it portable and ideal for long trips. The whole set also only weighs 27 pounds, which isn’t substantial for telescope equipment at all. That means you can take it to remote areas without struggling too much.

Another great feature of the SpaceProbe worth mentioning is its equatorial mount. It allows you to track stars manually with precision. It includes a 1.25-inch rack-and-pinion focuser, a tripod, a tripod accessory tray, tube rings, a collimation cap, and Starry Night astronomy photography software.

2. Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope (Advanced/Expensive)

  • Schmidt-Cassegrain catadioptric
  • 203.2mm aperture
  • 2032mm focal length
  • f/10
  • 25mm eyepiece
  • Red dot finderscope
  • GoTo tabletop mount
  • 29x to 480x magnification
  • 33 lbs

This telescope is one of the most expensive ones on our list. But it’s also one of the best. It has excellent optics and computerized GoTo tracking. The Celestron NexStar 8SE is definitely for advanced astrophotographers since they need a long focal length for a narrow field of view.

The Nexstar 8 SE comes with a simple red dot finderscope and a basic 25mm eyepiece. To take full advantage of the telescope’s excellent optics, you should add a few good eyepieces.

The Celestron NexStar 8SE has a fully-automated, built-in GoTo mount that automatically locates and tracks objects for you. It also features a database of more than 40,000 celestial objects!

Perhaps the only issue with the Nexstar 8 SE is its focal ratio of f/10. That means it doesn’t let in very much light for your camera. In other words, you may have to use longer exposure times when taking pictures. In contrast, other options have a focal ratio of f/4, which is much better for astrophotography.

But it’s light, portable, and straightforward to use. And it includes a star diagonal, database, and SkyAlign software.

1. Takahashi FSQ-85ED (Intermediate/High-End)

  • Apochromatic refractor
  • 85mm aperture
  • 450mm focal length
  • f/5.3
  • No eyepieces
  • 6×30, 8° finderscope
  • No mount
  • 11.6x to 178x
  • 7.9 lbs

The Takahashi FSQ-85ED is a refractor telescope and is a perfect take-anywhere telescope. It has a 44mm diameter imaging circle, capable of accepting medium format CCD or DSLR cameras.

Its impressive features include a premium doublet extra-low dispersion (ED) design. As a result, it keeps the color tones from the earth’s atmosphere low. Its wide-field telescope is for intermediate users. Some of the features are a lot more involved than beginner telescopes.

One thing we like is the built-in camera rotator. It allows camera rotation of 360° without loss of critical focus. It also includes a 72mm rack-and-pinion focuser, dust caps, a retractable dew shield, and a built-in camera angle adjuster.

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