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Best Refractor Telescope: The Ideal Tools For Stargazing

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Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Have you ever looked at the sky and wondered what is out there? You are not the only one! Every night, a large number of beginner astronomers pick their telescope and point it towards the sky. Do you want to be just like them? To have an amazing telescope with which you’ll be able to see all the small details that can’t be seen with by the naked eye. Join the club and prepare yourself for the ride in searching for the best refractor telescope.

If you are intending to take up space science as a hobby, you really need one. You simply cannot see faint outer space objects and look at what our solar system is made up of without it. For the purpose of this article, we are going to be reviewing the best refractor telescopes, which are the oldest and most common types of telescope.

These telescopes are simple to use, don’t require much maintenance, and naturally provide extremely sharp and clear views. Sadly, it is hard and costly to make large diameter version of these telescopes, therefore they are quite small in the aperture.

So, despite how common and popular these telescopes are, choosing a good one may prove to be difficult sometimes and might not be really straightforward. So, to save you the hassle of researching in order to find the best one, we have done the job for you. We have made a list of the best refractor telescopes and also discussed their important features and their pros and cons. We hope this guide will go a long way in helping you to make the best decision.

Product Name MagnificationAperture Weight Price
Levenhuk Strike 80 NG360x80 mm13.4 lbCheck price on Amazon
Celestron National Park Foundation ExploraScope 60AZ 3x Barlow lens60 mm11.9 lbCheck price on Amazon
Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ 45x, 90x70 mm17.99 lbCheck price on Amazon
Celestron PowerSeeker 50 AZ3x Barlow Lens50 mm5.17 lb
Check price on Amazon
Gskyer 60mm AZ 14x, 35x60 mm4 lbCheck price on Amazon
Meade Infinity 70mm AZ2x Barlow Lens 70 mm7 lbCheck price on Amazon
Gskyer EQ901000 Astronomy 40x,100x, 200x90 mm24 lbCheck price on Amazon
GEERTOP 90X
18X, 27X, 60X, 90X
50 mm
1.8 lb
Check price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

In this section, we are going to discuss the features to consider before purchasing a refractor telescope. However, only the most important features will be discussed as there are many others.

Magnification and Aperture

The quality of scope relies upon its diameter or aperture. The higher the aperture, the more the amount of light it will collect. The drawback is that a bigger aperture means the telescope will be larger as well and that means it won’t be portable.

For a beginner’s telescope, the ideal aperture is from 4 to 8 inches. In general, the highest useful magnification of a telescope is fifty times its aperture in inches, therefore stay away from telescopes with improbable magnification.

Focal Length

The focal length directly influences the amount of magnification, which means the longer the focal length, the higher the magnification. You shouldn’t assume that the telescope’s tube length is the focal length.

focal length

In complex telescopes, despite the fact they have short tubes, the image is clear and sharp. This implies that you can achieve longer focal length by utilizing the correct mix of mirrors and lenses.

Wave Error

When mirrors or lenses are produced, their clarity relies on how well refined they are. The degree of roughness or smoothness of the surface of mirror or lens is referred to as wave error.

The more polished the surface is, the sharper and clearer the image. Read the item specification carefully and endeavor to discover the wave error, ideally ⅛ or less is good for a telescope.

Aberration

This aspect is usually pertinent to the top of the line scopes. While watching an object that is far away, in the event that you move from the eyepiece and go on to watch a range of colors, the telescope has distortion/aberration then.

telescope on rocks

Any sort of aberration causes the image to blur. Before purchasing, make sure that every one of the lenses doesn’t have any distortion or aberration, and every mirror utilized in the scope doesn’t have a circular aberration.

Resolution

Resolution relies upon every one of the factors such as magnification, aperture, wave error, focal lengths of mirrors or lenses opening, and varies as per certain conditions as well. Every one of these factors affects the clarity and sharpness of the image.

The resolution will truly set a low-quality telescope apart from its higher-end counterparts.  However, it will not come without a price hike as well.  You will need to balance out your need for a great resolution with the budget you have for this telescope.

Mounts and Handling

The mount is a frequently ignored aspect, which is just as essential as the optical tube of the telescope. It defines how a telescope moves and it holds the telescope. There are essentially two kinds of mounts; equatorial and alt-azimuth.

telescope mount

Alt-azimuth enables the telescope to climb and down and forward and backward. The equatorial mount is built to follow objects moving in the sky, while the alt-azimuth allows the scope to go up and down and forth and back. For a pleasant stargazing experience, a simple to handle mount is very essential.

Best Products on the Market

Below, we reviewed 10 of the best refractor telescopes available in the market at the moment. We checked their features and reviewed their pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

Levenhuk Strike 80 NG Refractor Telescope Levenhuk Strike 80 NG Refractor Telescope

Price: Approx. $145

Weight: 13.4 lb

Dimensions: 33.9 x 14.2 x 6.3 in

Magnification: 360x

Aperture: 80 mm

Specific features: Achromatic refractor, objective lens diameter: 80 mm, focal length: 720 mm

Best use: Stargazing

Description: Levenhuk Strike 80 NG Refractor Telescope is one of the best telescopes for novices. This product is suitable for home use. It has a magnification of 360x which gives you a chance to watch the Moon’s better elements, Cassini Gap, periods of Mercury, Iapetus, climatic streams of Jupiter, and more numerous wonderful celestial objects.

Levenhuk Strike telescope is genuinely basic and simple to utilize – any kid can set it up easily. Just like every NG model, the Levenhuk Strike is utilized for stargazing.

This set isn’t just for the telescope and the eyepieces though.  You also get some other information included in with your purchase.  Not only will you find an astronomy book and some posters, but you will note that this package includes the Stellarium planetarium software on a CD.

With all of this information, you will not just feel like you’ve been handed a telescope and wished the best of luck.  You can tell that the company really wants you to take to your new hobby and excel in it.

PROS:

  • Easy and simple to use
  • It is easy to set up

CONS:

  • Documentation could be improved

Related: Customers who bought this product frequently bought 50 Things To See With A Small Telescope. It is a book made for astronomers so they can enjoy their stargazing with a small telescope.

Check the price on Amazon

Celestron National Park Foundation ExploraScope 60AZ Telescope Celestron National Park Foundation ExploraScope 60AZ Telescope

Price: Approx. $150

Weight: 11.9 lb

Dimensions: 32 x 37 x 52 in

Magnification: 3x Barlow lens

Aperture: 60 mm

Specific features: 60 mm aperture, fully coated glass optics, Pan handle alt-azimuth control,  permanently-mounted finder scope, SkyPortal smartphone app

Best use: Stargazing

Description: Take your stargazing to the next level with the special Celestron National Park Foundation ExploraScope 60AZ Telescope. This full-size telescope incorporates completely coated lenses for sharp and bright views of the rings of Saturn, the moon, Orion nebula, sky objects, and much more. This product comes with a StarPointer finderscope assists you locate objects in the sky and focus them in the eyepiece of your telescope. Also, due to its straightforward build, you will be up and watch celestial objects in minutes!

The ExploraScope 60 AZ accompanies a complete accessory kit which includes all you require to get started with beginner astronomy: LED flashlight, 2 eyepieces, compass, a 3x Barlow lens to improve each eyepiece magnifying power, and a full height aluminum tripod, LED spotlight, and compass. Also, Celestron’s SkyPortal application for Android and iOS devices can be downloaded to help discover and find out about space objects.

The telescope also sports 60 mm aperture with a redesigned mount for added steadiness and fully coated glass optics, pan handle altazimuth control with clutch for smooth and accurate pointing, quick and easy no-tool setup with a rugged tripod and permanently-mounted finder scope for convenience.

PROS:

  • Ideal for astronomical and terrestrial activities.
  • Super light for portability and easy storage

CONS:

  • Doesn’t have high magnification

Related: You want your telescope to be long lasting? Then you should purchase the Protective and Padded Telescope Carry Case. It is very durable and gives your telescope all the protection it needs.

Check the price on Amazon

Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope  Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope  

Price: Approx. $111

Weight: 17.99 lb

Dimensions: 3.94 x 5.12 x 14.96 in

Magnification: 45x, 90x

Aperture: 70 mm

Specific features: Quick and easy no-tool setup, permanently mounted StarPointer, erect image optics, pan handle Alt-Az control, optical lens diameter 2.6-in (70 mm)

Best use: Astronomical and terrestrial use

Description: In case you are into terrestrial observation or stargazing, the Celestron 21061 Astromaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope is your most solid option then. Combining high-resolution optics and an ergonomic build, the AstroMaster telescope can be utilized to deliver perfectly clear pictures of the moon and rings of Jupiter. In addition, the dual mode optics additionally enables the user of the scope to make exact terrestrial observations.

About stellar eyepieces, the AstroMaster is viewed as a good scope. Featuring two eyepieces, the Celestron AstroMaster can accomplish a 45x maximum magnification for the main eyepiece and for the second eyepiece, it can achieve 90x.

With the Celestron telescope, you’ll have the capacity to make exact moon observations, and additionally, watch rings of the Jupiter. As specified before, due to its dual-mode optics system, this scope is perfect for both terrestrial and ground viewing.

In spite of the fact that refractor telescopes are being disregarded by experts, in light of the fact that they do not have the ability to watch fresh details of more far off space objects, they’re a decent start for novice stargazers.

PROS:

  • This is an easy to use, lightweight refractor telescope that can be set up by anybody
  • This is a top quality telescope
  • It is one of the most popular telescopes around

CONS:

  • Tripod is a little short for adults

Related: If you want to observe the sun, you should check out the Astromania Solar Filter as well. It enhances your stargazing experience.

Check the price on Amazon

Celestron PowerSeeker 50 AZ Refractor Telescope Celestron PowerSeeker 50 AZ Refractor Telescope

Price: Approx. $41

Weight: 3.6 lb

Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 33 in

Magnification: 45x, 90x

Aperture: 70 mm

Specific features: Optical design: refractor, aperture: 50 mm, focal length: 600 mm, F-number: 12, finderscope: 5 x 24

Best use: Celestial viewing

Description: The Celestron PowerSeeker 50AZ Refractor Telescope is an excellent and top quality refractor telescope. It is one of the fairest priced telescopes from the whole Celestron family. Most times when a product is not expensive, it also implies that the product will be lacking in a few features. However, that is not the case here, as the Celestron PowerSeeker comes with many features which make this scope an excellent scope for beginner astronomers.

Like with all the telescopes made by Celestron, the optics has received a special attention. The completely coated glass optics produces clear and bright images. Also, the images have correct orientation (implies the objects do not appear upside down) because of the right images prism that is incorporated which makes the scope perfect for both celestial and night sky observation.

The finderscope incorporated is plastic, however, this is the situation with most telescopes in so as to make them affordable. In spite of this, it carries out its task and does not reduce the telescope’s general and overall quality. The three eyepieces incorporated alongside the Barlow lens are the thing that makes the PowerSeeker a value for its price due to the fact that most other scope packages have just 2 eyepieces and do not contain a Barlow lens.

In general, this is a scope with which you cannot go wrong if you are a beginner and intend on utilizing it periodically for terrestrial viewing and night sky gazing.

PROS:

  • Very easy to use
  • Small and lightweight.
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for night sky gazing and terrestrial viewing

CONS:

  • Definitely an entry-level telescope.
  • Somewhat flimsy

Related: You want a durable and long-lasting protective bag for your telescope? You should take a look at the Telescope Bag for Orion 09798. The case is softly padded which means you’ll be able to protect your telescope from any damages and will be able to transport it with ease.

Check the price on Amazon

Gskyer 60mm AZ Refractor Telescope Gskyer 60mm AZ Refractor Telescope

Price: Approx. $66

Weight: 4 lb

Dimensions: 4 x 7 x 18 in

Magnification: 14x, 35x

Aperture: 60 mm

Specific features: 60 mm aperture and 350 mm focal length, rack-and-pinion focuser, alt-azimuth mount, aluminum alloy tripod

Best use: Observing the Moon, planets and wildlife

Description: The Gskyer 60mm AZ Refractor Telescope has a wide planetary coverage, on account of its aperture of 60 mm, 350 mm focal length, and F5.8 focal ratio. It is very easy to get a clear and crisp image due to the fact that this telescope is outfitted with a Rack-and-pinion system which makes each object perfectly clear.

Aside from the 10 mm and the 25 mm eyepieces, the Gskyer 60mm AZ Refractor Telescope comes outfitted with 3 extra Barlow lenses, equipped for multiplying the magnification power of each eyepiece included in the package.

The Gskyer 60mm AZ Refractor Telescope comes with an altazimuth mount outfitted with a slow-motion lever, which makes it easy to track celestial objects. Concerning the entire assembly, it stands on a movable and aluminum tripod outfitted with vibration cushions.

PROS:

  • Very easy to set up
  • Very portable, thus it is easy to carry around
  • Very lightweight
  • Comes with very powerful optics;
  • Increased light gathering factor

CONS:

  • Tripod is unsteady
  • Plastic eyepieces

Related: You may also want to purchase the Gosky Universal Cell Phone Adapter Mount as well. It is a suitable mount for any kind of smartphone.

Check the price on Amazon

Meade Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope Meade Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope

Price: Approx. $77

Weight: 7 lb

Dimensions: 57 x 43 x 33 in

Magnification: 2x Barlow lens

Aperture: 70 mm

Specific features: Aperture: 70 mm, altazimuth mount, red dot viewfinder, includes astronomical software and instructional DVD

Best use: Land and celestial objects

Description: The Meade Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope is a truly extraordinary tool. It consolidates quality and convenience, and the outcome is a phenomenal telescope, by one of the greatest organizations at the market.

The 70 mm aperture gathers a sum of light which enables the viewer to see numerous celestial objects, outside and inside the planetary system. Also, the well-polished lenses are exceptionally sturdy and do not require any regular alignment. What’s more, the design of the closed tube of the telescope keeps the telescope from dirt tidy and makes the continuous upkeep of the scope to be very simple.

The telescope comes with an altazimuth mount, which implies that the scope can move it 2 axes – up and down and left to right. Usually, this sort of mount makes it a little difficult to track celestial objects, but it is a different case here though. It also features a slow-motion lever, so as to maximize tracking capacities. Anyway, simplicity is Alt-Az mount’s core advantage– and this is the thing that we are looking for.

PROS:

  • Easy to set up
  • Good for mobility
  • Lightweight
  • Comes with powerful Optics

CONS:

  • Comes with plastic eyepieces.

Related: Since this telescope is one that is rather easy to carry about, why not look at a storage/carry bag for it.  Meade makes a great one in the Meade Instruments Infinity Carry Bag.

Check the price on Amazon

Gskyer EQ901000 Astronomy Telescope Gskyer EQ901000 Astronomy Telescope

Price: Approx. $275

Weight: 24 lb

Dimensions: 12.9 x 8.46 x 39.7 in

Magnification: 40x, 100x, 200x

Aperture: 90 mm

Specific features: Superior optical glass-ZF4, angular field of view: 58″, accurate positioning

Best use: Stargazing

Description: The Gskyer EQ901000 Astronomy Telescope has a wide planetary coverage, on account of its aperture of 90 mm, 900 mm focal length, and F11.1 focal ratio. It is very easy to get a clear and crisp image due to the fact that this telescope is outfitted with a Rack-and-pinion system which makes each object perfectly clear.

Aside from the 10 mm, 25 mm, and 5 mm eyepieces, this telescope comes outfitted with 3 extra Barlow lenses, equipped for multiplying the magnification power of each eyepiece included in the package. What is great about this telescope that the eyepieces can be easily changed so you can get different clarity depending on what you’re observing.

The telescope comes with an altazimuth mount outfitted with a slow-motion lever, which makes it easy to track celestial objects. Concerning the entire assembly, it stands on a movable and aluminum tripod outfitted with vibration cushions.

PROS:

  • It features outstanding optics research tech
  • The lens is durable and firm

CONS:

  • No real cons to speak of

Related: Customers who bought this product frequently bought The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide. It is a book made for astronomers that features some truly stunning pictures of what might be visible with your telescope.

Check the price on Amazon

GEERTOP 90X Refractor Telescope GEERTOP 90X Refractor Telescope

Price: Approx. $34

Weight: 1.76 pounds

Dimensions: 8.27 x 3.94 x 17.32 inches

Magnification: 18x, 27x, 60x, 90x

Aperture: 50 mm

Specific features: Aperture: 50 mm, object lens focus: 360 mm, altitude-azimuth mounting, metal optical tube, aluminum tabletop tripod and 3 eyepieces

Best use:  Entry-level amateurs and children

Description: On the chance that you are searching for an efficient and powerful telescope that is portable and simple to operate, you might need to put the GEERTOP 90X Refractor Telescope into consideration. It is powerful enough for beginner astronomers to start observing celestial objects, and to see birds, animals, and beautiful views on the ground. The tripod is perfect for use on tabletops and counters and easily adjusts properly to give a steady base to the telescope.

Apart from the fact that this telescope comes with everything needed to start, it is very affordable as well. Alongside the telescope and tabletop tripod, this unit comes accompanied with three eyepieces; therefore it is very versatile also.

Versatility is one of the primary points of interest of this telescope. It has the capacity to deliver clear and crisp images in bright and low light, and the width of the view can also be adjusted. Make use of the eyepiece with lower magnification when you need a wide beautiful view or you need to watch the stars. When you need to see the surface of the moon, just use the higher magnification eyepiece. It is comfortable to view images at any angle due to the upright eyepiece, and this scope also comes with a green glass lens.

Despite the fact that this scope is powerful as much as necessary to enable you to see points of interest on the moon, as well as other planets, it still is built to be compact and portable. It weighs just a couple of pounds, therefore it is anything but difficult to carry, and it is also easy to pack and store, thanks to its compact size. Therefore, you can observe the night sky anywhere you are.

PROS:

  • Very easy to use
  • Very versatile
  • Not expensive
  • Portable

CONS:

  • Doesn’t provide a sturdy base

Related: GEERTOP Star Map Constellation Charts Star Finder will be a nice addition to this telescope as you’ll easily find constellations in just a couple of minutes which sometimes might be a problem, especially if you’re a beginner. Although, it’s plastic it comes with a 18-month warranty.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

Provided you have the best tools, astronomy is an awesome hobby. As a novice, picking a telescope is not as simple as it appears. With different models and makes in the market, knowing the right equipment to choose as a first timer may be too difficult.

telescope

Having reviewed each product, alongside their features and their pros and cons, we hope this article can help you choose the best refractor telescope for you or your loved one.

In the event that you have come across any of these telescopes before, do share your experience with us in our comment section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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