If you’re interested in exploring the cosmos, then you’ll need a telescope that can give you a clear view of distant planets and galaxies. There are many different types of telescopes available on the market, so it’s important to choose one that’s well-suited for your needs.
Our astronomy advisor, Richard J. Bartlett, reviewed a variety of telescopes for viewing planets and galaxies to find the best of the best. After looking at the pros and cons of each option, he chose the Orion SkyQuest XT6 as the best overall telescope for viewing these celestial objects. With excellent features and performance, this Dobsonian reflector telescope is a great choice for beginner and intermediate astronomers alike.
Our Expert’s Top 5 Telescopes for Viewing Planets & Galaxies
Here are the top picks from our astronomy expert. Compare the ratings and features of different models.
|Best Overall||Orion SkyQuest XT6||Reflector||Dobsonian||150|
|Best Budget for Galaxies||Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ||Reflector||Tripod||130|
|Best Budget for Planets||Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ||Refractor||Equatorial||114|
|Best for Galaxies||Celestron Advanced VX 9.25in Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope||Compound||Tripod||235|
|Best for Planets||Celestron CPC 1100 Starbright XLT GPS||Compound||Tripod||279|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
In This Article
Who Should Buy a Telescope for Viewing Planets & Galaxies
- Any amateur astronomer who wants to explore the planets and galaxies – If you want to explore the universe beyond our solar system, then you’ll need a telescope that is designed for such observations.
- Astronomy enthusiasts of all levels – Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced astronomer, a telescope designed for viewing planets and galaxies can offer some great views.
- Parents of kids who are interested in astronomy – A good telescope can be a great way to encourage your kids to take an interest in the night sky.
Who Should Not Buy a Telescope for Viewing Planets & Galaxies
- People who are not interested in astronomy – If you’re not interested in looking at the planets and galaxies, then there’s no need to buy a telescope designed this purpose.
- People who want a portable telescope – Most telescopes designed for viewing planets and galaxies are too large and bulky to be easily transported.
Research Tips (from an Expert)
As an astronomy expert, I often get asked about how to choose a good telescope for viewing planets and galaxies. Here are some tips and best practices to consider when purchasing this type of telescope. Be sure to do adequate research on the product you’re considering purchasing to look for key features and ask your friends, family, or any keen astronomers you know if they can recommend a suitable telescope.
- Aperture size – The aperture is the diameter of the telescope’s main mirror or lens. This is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a telescope for viewing planets and galaxies, as a larger aperture will allow you to see these celestial objects more clearly. Galaxies in particular are faint, so you need a larger aperture that will allow the scope to gather more light and therefore allow you to see fainter objects.
- Focal length – The focal length is the distance from the main mirror or lens to the point where the image is focused. A longer focal length will allow you to see distant objects more clearly, while a shorter focal length will provide a wider field of view. For the planets, it’s best to go for something with a long focal length. Planets appear comparatively small, so you want something that’ll produce a high magnification and longer focal lengths will do that.
- Mount type – The mount is the part of the telescope that allows you to point it at different objects in the sky. There are two main types of mounts: altazimuth and equatorial. Altazimuth mounts are simpler and easier to use, while equatorial mounts are more sophisticated and can be used for more advanced astronomical observations.
- Computerized vs. manual operation – Many modern telescopes come with built-in computers that can be used to automatically find and track objects in the sky. These can be great for beginners, but more experienced astronomers may prefer the challenge of finding objects manually.
How Much Do They Cost?
Between $300 and $4,000
In general, you can expect to pay between $300 and $4,000 for a good quality telescope for viewing planets and galaxies. Budget-friendly options can be found for under $500, while the more expensive models can cost upwards of $4,000. The huge variation in price is due to a number of factors, such as the type of telescope, the quality of the optics, and the features included.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Moon and Back
As an astronomy expert, I’ve spoken with many amateur and professional astronomers about the best telescopes for viewing planets and galaxies. The products were chosen based on a number of factors, including aperture size, focal length, mount type, and whether they are computerized or manual. I also considered the quality of the optics and the overall value for money. Of course, the more expensive models offer the best features and performance, but there are some great budget-friendly options out there as well.
The Best Telescopes for Viewing Planets & Galaxies: Full Reviews
The Orion SkyQuest XT6 is my pick for the best overall telescope for viewing planets and galaxies. This Dobsonian reflector telescope has a simple navigation system that makes it easy to use for the whole family. It’s great for beginners, but also has enough features for more experienced astronomers.
The XT6 has a large 130mm aperture that allows it to gather a lot of light, making it great for observing faint objects like galaxies. Other key features include a stable Dobsonian base, an EZ Finder II reflex sight for easy alignment, and a collimation cap that helps to keep the optics in alignment.
- Large aperture for seeing faint objects
- Simple navigation makes it great for beginners
- Stable Dobsonian base for vibration-free viewing
- Mount cannot be locked in place
- Some reviewers say the telescope is very heavy
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly telescope that’s powerful enough to view distant galaxies, check out the Celestron StarSense ExplorerDX 130AZ. This Newtonian reflector telescope has a 130mm aperture, making it great for gathering light and seeing faint objects. The telescope also comes with a Smartphone Dock that allows you to use your smartphone to automatically align the telescope and find objects in the night sky.
Other key features of this telescope include a red dot finderscope for easy alignment, slow motion control rods for tracking objects, and a full-height tripod for stability. Overall, it’s a solid option for newer astronomers who want to be able to find objects quickly and easily.
- 130mm aperture for seeing faint objects
- Smartphone compatibility makes it easy to use
- Red dot finderscope for easy alignment
- Some reviewers say the build quality is not great
- The app is not as intuitive as it could be
The Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ is an excellent choice for those who want a powerful telescope that’s easy to use – at a great price. This Newtonian reflector telescope has a 114mm aperture, making it great for viewing planets and galaxies. It also features fully-coated glass optics, a sturdy frame, and an equatorial mount for easy tracking.
This telescope is a good budget option for viewing planets thanks to its large aperture and high-quality optics. You’ll also appreciate the slow-motion control knobs, which make it easy to keep objects in your field of view.
- Large 114mm aperture for seeing planets and galaxies
- Fully-coated glass optics for clear images
- Sturdy frame for excellent stability
- Some reviewers say the materials feel cheap
- Customer service is not very responsive
If you’re in the market for a high-end telescope that’s specifically designed for viewing planets and galaxies, the Celestron Advanced VX 9.25in Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope is a superb option. This Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope has an impressive 235mm aperture, making it one of the largest telescopes on this list. It also features All-Star Polar Alignment for quick and easy alignment, as well StarBright XLT coatings for enhanced light transmission.
Other key features include a computerized mount, Starry Night Special Edition Software, and a dual saddle plate. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for experienced astronomers who want the best possible viewing experience.
- One of the largest and most powerful telescopes on this list
- Quick and easy All-Star Polar Alignment
- Enhanced light transmission with StarBright XLT coatings
- More expensive than many other options
- Some reviewers say the mount is unreliable
The Celestron CPC 1100 Starbright XLT GPS is a top-of-the-line telescope that’s especially good for viewing the planets. Along with a 279mm aperture and StarBright XLT coatings, this telescope features a fully computerized mount with internal GPS and database of 40,000+ celestial objects. This makes it easy to find and track objects in the night sky.
Other notable features include a 9×50 finderscope and an optical tube length of 24 inches. With its superior optics and easy-to-use mount, the Celestron CPC 1100 Starbright XLT GPS is a great choice for serious astronomers.
- Fully computerized mount with internal GPS and database of 40,000+ celestial objects
- 9×50 finderscope for easy alignment
- Optical tube length of 24 inches for superior optics
- Expensive for many budgets
- The mount can be difficult to set up
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