Best Refractor Telescope

Jason Loomis
Written by
Last update:

What’s the Best Refractor Telescope for the money?

The best refractor telescopes are the most durable type of telescope that can survive the toughest, roughest environments.

An easy to use telescope that is easy to set up and is easy to control.

Is an affordable refractor telescope possible.

A great refractor telescope should have wide angle eyepieces that give you a great view of the sky as well as zoom in to see the finer details.

An ideal refractor telescope should also come with quality instructions, as well as be of good quality so it will last you a lifetime.

Is it possible to find a budget refractor telescope that is both affordable and a great telescope?

The answer is yes. It is mainly a matter of finding the right refractor telescope. You also don’t want to end up buying some junk and regretting the purchase.

Below find a review of the best refractor telescopes for 2022.

NameCategoryProduct
Celestron – AstroMaster 70AZ TelescopeBest OverallCelestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope
MaxUSee 70mm Refractor TelescopeBudget PickMaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope
Orion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor TelescopeUpgrade PickOrion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope

1. Celestron – AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope

Our rating: 9 / 10

Celestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Compact & portable
  • Three eyepieces
  • Contains SpaceNavigator
  • Affordable for the quality

Cons:

  • Tripod is a little wobbly
  • Expensive for what it is

The Celestron 70AZ refractor telescope is a great first refractor telescope for budding astronomers.

It’s an aperture of 70mm with a focal length of 800mm which means that you’re going to be able to see some celestial objects in all their clear and detailed glory.

If you’re looking for a real bang for your buck, the Celestron 70oz is it.

2. Telescope for Kids Beginners Adults

Our rating: 7 / 10

Telescope for Kids Beginners Adults

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • 70 mm aperture with 600 mm focal length
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Ideal for beginners and kids
  • Portable and lightweight

Beginners or Adults.

Are you a novice or just looking for a fun activity to do with your family? With a 70 mm aperture and 600 mm focal length, the 70 mm telescope for beginners is the ideal gift.

This easy to use telescope comes with a tripod for comfortable viewing. It is easy to transport and requires minimal assembly. Diagonal lens for comfortable viewing is also included with this telescope.

3. MaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope

Our rating: 7 / 10

MaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Great for kids/beginners
  • Accurate tracking
  • High-quality tripod that is easy to adjust and holds a strong, stable position
  • Comes with a replacement lens cap
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • A little difficult to balance
  • Prism is a little scratched up
  • No instructions on how to level the tripod
  • Tripod legs are not centered, so swing side to side when trying to keep it still

The first thing you’ll notice about this telescope is that it’s pretty compact, but still looks cool. At approximately 8.5 inches, it’s lightweight. Despite its small size, it still offers well-defined views with detailed, clean optics.

The MaxUSee comes with a tripod for easy viewing. The tripod is adjustable, which makes it a snap to use. When you’re ready to set it up, it’s quick and easy to set up, even if you’ve never had a telescope before.

The tripod is nicely designed, with a lazy susan design that lets you adjust the inclination of the telescope, and a hook for a camera tripod.

4. Meade Instruments 234004 Star Pro AZ 102mm Refracting Telescope and Smart Phone Adapter

Our rating: 7 / 10

Meade Instruments 234004 Star Pro AZ 102mm Refracting Telescope and Smart Phone Adapter

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Made with high quality materials
  • Built-in compass – find that perfect viewing spot
  • Includes a specially designed adapter for smartphones
  • Silver coated objective lens for improved performance
  • Easy to use; comes fully assembled
  • Folds for convenient storage and transport

Cons:

  • The zoom is limited with this telescope
  • Lower magnification means it’s not as clear as higher magnification telescopes

Meade is known for making some of the most affordable telescope kits in the world. The Meade Instruments 234004 Star Pro AZ 102mm Refracting Telescope and Smart Phone Adapter is one of their most popular products.

This telescope is made with heavy-duty material, including a sturdy plywood tripod. It features a silver-coated lens that increases brightness and image quality. The lens also has a 95% light transmission rate.

This telescope is known for its smartphone adapter. It is compatible with most Android smartphones. It’s a simple, but genius idea. This is an excellent starter telescope because it’s both affordable and easy for beginners to understand and use. It also folds up easily, which adds portability to this product.

5. Gskyer Telescope

Our rating: 7 / 10

Gskyer Telescope

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Using a 45×90 zoom telescope eyepiece, you can enjoy a magnifying effect up to 600x
  • 3 piece tripod with a 2 inch stainless steel screw, providing a more stable use of the telescope
  • It is noiseless and lightweight, and the ease of use is perfect for all ages
  • Power for the 45×90 zoom telescope eyepiece is adjustable, although the power of the scope is limited
  • The telescope is equipped with a zoom eyepiece, which can be adjusted up and down to change the magnification easily. You can zoom in to view objects with high magnification, yet zoom out to view wide-field objects
  • It is home for a variety of celestial sights

Cons:

  • The telescope sometimes operates slowly
  • The 45×90 zoom telescope eyepiece offers better magnification
  • Using the 30W LED lighting makes it easier to view, although the eye protection shield provides good news as it adds additional magnification and doesn’t distort the image
  • The eye of the telescope is plastic, yet it still has a coating that prevents reflection when you are using the telescope.
  • The tripod of the telescope extends to about 6.56 feet, but if it is extended to maximum, the telescope can be as high as about 6.79 feet

6. Orion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope

Our rating: 6 / 10

Orion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • 4.6 Star Rating
  • Good for beginners
  • Satisfies more advanced stargazers
  • Great value and low price
  • Sturdy tabletop tripod
  • Quality build with good features for a reasonable cost

Cons:

  • Polaris alignment is a little tricky
  • Batteries leak in the hand control
  • Slow motion controls are a little stiff
  • May be difficult to assemble at first
  • The tripod and mount may need adjustment

If you want to step away from the Moon, the Sun, and the occasional planet, and move on to the stars and constellations, you are in the right place. We picked the Orion Observer 80ST for its rich capabilities, value, and overall potential.

The telescope comes equipped with a red dot electronic sight, and LED illumination and collimation tool. It’ll provide you with superior views of the Moon and the brighter planets.

Compared to the previous model, this one provides sharper images and more articulate views of deep space. It’s lightweight and durable with its sturdy aluminum tripod and EQ-2 equatorial mount.

7. TELMU Telescope

Our rating: 5 / 10

TELMU Telescope

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to setup
  • Accessible to all-levels of experience
  • Available at two sizes
  • Great for kids and adults
  • Affordable
  • Comes with backpack for easy storage and transport
  • Can be used for several different kinds of stargazing and astronomy
  • One-year warranty

Cons:

  • Some people found the directions to be somewhat confusing to follow
  • The telescope comes with some repair parts that are necessary, but they are not as effective and easy to work with as the original parts
  • It can sometimes be hard to focus, especially on high-level targets like a bird or airplane

The TELMU telescope is an ideal option if you are a beginner or intermediate stargazer looking for something lightweight – less than 3lbs. For many people, this telescope could be an excellent learning tool.

Instead of needing a telescope book to learn how to look through an instrument, this one provides a basic manual which is thorough enough that beginners can learn without any trouble.

This is an ideal medium-level tool for adults and kids alike. It provides an excellent balance between a strong, durable build that’s going to last and the ease of use that is ideal for beginners.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who makes the best refractor telescope?

As far as telescope quality, there is one name that makes the most reliable telescopes for beginners: Celestron. When I was first introduced to stargazing, I remember my excitement after looking through a coworkers telescope that was a Celestron. I kept my eye out for one, and when the opportunity came up, I jumped on it. I love the 150mm refractor that I have now. It’s definitely a quality scope, as are all of Celestrons. I’d recommend the NexStar 6se for anyone who’s starting out in astronomy.

Is a refractor telescope better than a reflector?

Refractor telescopes are often preferred over reflectors because they are generally more compact, and often less expensive. On average, they also offer greater light-gathering ability than reflectors with mirrors. That all being said, all telescopes work the same: they gather light and magnify it. The telescope you need will depend on the specifics of your situation: like whether you are looking for a beginner telescope, or looking for a gift, or the type of viewing you plan to do.

What is the best refractor telescope for beginners?

With refractors being the most common telescope in use, they are truly the choice for when you want to scope out all manner of far away and interesting things, including the night sky. It is important to understand, however, that all refractors have one significant drawback: they don’t collect as much light as other types of telescopes such as reflectors or catadioptics. So makes sure you keep that in mind when looking for a refractor telescope, which is why the Orion Astronomical Telescope below is actually a good choice for a beginner. This telescope can be used for stargazing but is still very capable for for daytime viewing. It comes with a 50mm refracting scope, and also a 3x Barlow lens, a collimator, a telescope eyepiece and an instruction manual.

Which type of telescope is best?

If you are purely interested in astronomy and highly price sensitive, then a refractor telescope is the one you want. If on the other hand, you want something to last you through multiple generations and are willing to pay a little more, then a reflector telescope is the better choice.

Conclusion

Getting a refractor telescope is an excellent idea, if you’re interested in the skies. Unlike their reflector telescope counterparts, refractor telescopes do not use the mirror in order to magnify the light coming into the lens. Rather, they rely exclusively on lenses to collect light and magnification is due to the simple physics property of lenses. Here’s a guide to help you choose the best refractor telescope for your needs.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Celestron – AstroMaster 70AZ TelescopeBest OverallCelestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope
MaxUSee 70mm Refractor TelescopeBudget PickMaxUSee 70mm Refractor Telescope
Orion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor TelescopeUpgrade PickOrion Observer 80ST 80mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope