The 5 best telescopes for planet viewing in 2024

The 5 best telescopes for planet viewing in 2024

Of all the things you can see through a telescope, the most stunning things to see are the planets in our solar system, and galaxies located much farther away. But if you want to see more distant, faint objects, you’ll need a different type of telescope. An average beginner’s telescope may let you see the moon and some of the brighter planets, but if you want to look farther than that, you’ll need a different kit. Thanks to advances in technology like smart telescope features, this aspect of stargazing is still open to beginners, who can use apps to help view these beauties. You can also find more affordable telescopes capable of deep sky viewing if you look at options like light buckets, which have large apertures but aren’t necessarily very expensive.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular options for telescopes for viewing planets and galaxies to help you find the right telescope for you. But if you’re just starting out, you might want to check out the best telescopes for beginners too, or if you’re looking for something that can work with technology like your smartphone, check out our list of the best smart telescopes, too.

The best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies in 2024

  • Buy the Explore Scientific ED127 if you want to see the planets in our solar system.
  • Buy the Celestron 11069 NexStar 8SE if you are using a computerized telescope.

  • Buy the Sky Watcher Classic 200 Dobsonian if you want to watch the stars from your backyard.

  • Buy the Celestron Advanced VX 8 Edge HD if you want to see objects in deep space.

  • Buy the Unistellar eVscope 2 if you want a smart telescope.

Discover Scientific ED127

The best telescope to see the planets in our solar system

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Positives cons
Great for viewing planets and some deep space objects No mountain
Portable
Amazing Photos

When you’re looking for a telescope powerful enough to image solar system objects, as well as some deep space objects, the Explore Scientific ED127 may be just what you’re looking for. It captures clear, attractive images thanks to its 127mm aperture, and with an optical tube length of 41.75 inches and a weight of 18 pounds, it’s portable enough to take with you if you want to set up in a quiet location. It also has a handle for easy carrying, but it doesn’t come with a stand so you’ll need to supply your own.

It’s great for looking at planets, and can handle some deep-sky objects like galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae, too. Enthusiasts love this telescope for its bright, well-contrast images and its reasonable price given its capabilities. If you’re hoping to get great views of Saturn’s rings or admire the beauty of Jupiter’s striped planet, this telescope is a great choice.

Celestron 11069 Nexstar 8SE

Best computerized telescope

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Positives cons
Automated system A mountain can be trivial
Catalog of thousands of objects beloved
Easy to work with for beginners

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is a beast of a telescope that will capture stunning views not only of objects within the solar system like the Moon and planets, but also of farther away objects like galaxies and star clusters. With its huge 203mm aperture, it’s a powerful set that can capture views of even dim sky objects, and its variable gimbal means you can set it to any orientation you like – although the gimbal can be a little finicky to operate.

The big advantage this telescope has for new astronomers, and perhaps also for more experienced audiences, is its computerized features. It works with a huge catalog of over 40,000 celestial objects, so you can select the object you want to observe and the telescope can locate and track it for you. It uses a technology called SkyAlign which requires seeing three bright objects, with which it can align itself and find the objects you want to observe. It also has a direct controller on the telescope, rather than a smartphone app, which may be preferable to those who want an easy-to-use interface.

Skywatcher Classic 200 Dobsonian

Best telescope for stargazing at home

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Positives cons
Beautiful pictures so heavy
Powerful for deep sky objects
Show dim objects

If you plan to do your observations from home, and weight and portability are not a major concern for you, you should consider the Dobsonian telescope. This pattern, also known as a light bucket, does a tremendous job of capturing light from even dim objects. This means you can use it to look at deep sky objects like galaxies and gorgeous panorama thanks to the large aperture at a relatively small price.

The downside to this style of telescope is its weight, and the Sky Watcher Classic 200 comes in at 45 pounds when fully assembled. This means it’s not really practical to take outside with you, although it can fit in the trunk of a car, so it’s possible to take it with you if you’re going somewhere accessible by car. However, the best place for this type of telescope is at home. If you enjoy a dark environment around your home, you can get exceptional views with this style of telescope. This special edition has a huge 8-inch aperture and focuser with accessories such as focus with adapter, two eyepieces and a finder scope.

Celestron Advanced VX8 Edge HD

The best telescope for observing objects in deep space

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Positives cons
Computerized jobs beloved
Very capable
Suitable for astrophotography

This powerful telescope, the Celestron Advanced VX 8″ Edge HD, is a favorite choice among serious astronomy enthusiasts due to its huge aperture that allows you to observe deep space objects like galaxies and nebulae. For an 8-inch aperture size, it’s relatively light at 30 pounds, so it’s more portable than other telescopes of this power. However, this is still a lot of weight to balance on top of the included tripod, so some people may find the setup difficult to operate.

This model is particularly suitable for those who want to try their hand at astrophotography, as the mount can be used with a range of cameras to capture amazing views from the telescope. The two included lenses allow for a range of focal ratios to help you capture those difficult, faint objects. One useful feature is the ability to connect to the Celestron app, which has a database of thousands of objects and allows automatic alignment to help you quickly locate objects of interest.

Unistellar eViscope 2

The best smart telescope for observing planets and galaxies

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Positives cons
Control using the application Less manual control
Telescope and camera combined beloved
Good for dealing with light pollution

If you’re a technology enthusiast and have the budget, a smart telescope can be a great way to enjoy astronomy. Unistellar is known for its smart telescopes, and the eVscope 2 is the best of their offerings for serious astronomers. You’re not only paying for the hardware but also for the smart software in this device, which is especially useful for dealing with light pollution – like you’d normally find in a big city. If you’re hoping to see some faint objects even though there’s not ideal ambient lighting around you, the telescope’s Deep Dark technology can help filter out the light you don’t want to reveal objects that may be hidden.

The telescope works with an app for iOS or Android that helps you locate objects and align itself automatically. Once you find what you’re looking for, the telescope includes an imaging device so you can easily capture and share photos of what you see. This makes it well-suited for beginners, as it requires less complex setup and in-depth knowledge than a traditional hand-held telescope and camera kit. Dedicated astrophotographers may want the more precise control a separate camera can provide, but if you’re looking for an easy-to-use telescope that can see faint objects in deep space like galaxies and nebulae, this is a great option that makes it easy to find the things you’re looking for. .

How we chose these telescopes to view planets and galaxies

With the world of astronomy, most home enthusiasts set out with appropriate telescopes to view the Moon and some of the brighter planets in the solar system. But if you want to see the faintest, most distant planets — or especially if you want to look beyond the solar system and into deep space — you need an instrument of a different kind. Telescopes suitable for deep space observations would have to be much more powerful, and therefore more expensive, than the types of telescopes used to observe the Moon or Mars. But if you’re determined to get a great view of amazing objects like galaxies, star clusters, or nebulae, there are plenty of telescopes that can do just that. Just remember to take into account some specific factors that are important for making this type of observation.

Hole size

At the most basic level, a larger aperture generally means more ability to observe faint objects. Larger aperture telescopes are usually more powerful and therefore more expensive than their smaller counterparts, and they tend to be heavier as well. However, getting great views of distant galaxies isn’t just about the size of the lens aperture. You also need to consider the telescope’s focal ratio, which is the relationship between the aperture size and the focal length. Doing this correctly is essential to capture the faint light coming from these distant objects. You’ll need a low focal ratio telescope, also called a fast telescope, to capture these faint objects.

Portability and weight

Larger aperture telescopes tend to be heavy pieces of equipment. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with low light pollution and often clear skies, you can get great views right from your backyard. You might also consider getting a Dobson-style telescope, or a light bucket, which is a heavier piece of equipment but offers a large aperture at a lower price. Having a large, heavy telescope is not a problem if you are only moving it from your home to your garden.

However, if you want to go out with your telescope on camping or hiking trips, you need to be more selective. Carrying huge weights is often not possible on long trips, so size and weight should be a consideration for you. You can find powerful telescopes that are more portable, but you may need to compromise on build quality, in terms of thinner and lighter materials used in the telescope.

Smart and automated features

For some, half the fun of getting into astronomy is slowly and methodically setting up the telescope and pointing it in the right direction to find the object they want. A fully manual telescope can be a tangible object of joy, it can serve as a connection across generations and an excuse to step away from the technology-driven lives that most of us live. For these people, there is nothing better than a fully manual telescope. However, other people will skip the setup process as quickly as possible so they can get straight to Notes. For these people, especially those who are new and just starting out in the hobby, a telescope with smart features or computerized automation can be ideal.

Many high-end telescopes now come with apps that let you use your smartphone for object recognition and easy setup, or have other computerized features like automatic alignment. Some even include imaging technology inside the telescope to capture images that can then be shared with family, friends or on social media.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends editorial team.

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