Kids can be especially awed by the power of a telescope. Instead of reading dry facts about space in their school textbooks, they can turn astronomy into a living subject right before their eyes! If you want to start or nurture your child’s interest in space, consider buying them a telescope. You don’t have to be a technical genius to shop around for the best telescopes for kids or cool astronomy gadgets. In fact, with this buying guide, ordering a children’s telescope will be a breeze. Let’s get started!
Types Of Telescopes
Before you can buy the perfect telescope, you’ll need to understand the different types. They’re usually broken down into three categories:
This is the most common kind of telescope. It’s basically a long tube attached to a lens, and it can be used for magnifying objects both in the sky and on the ground. If you’re looking for a telescope that you can use for birdwatching after your kid is done stargazing, you’ll want a refractor.
– Easy to use
– Can be used for both space and earth objects
– Not strong enough for very distant space objects
Reflector telescopes use a mirror instead of a lens. They offer great clarity and quality, and they can see distant objects much better than refractors, but the trade-off is that they aren’t ideal for earth viewing. They’re not as multipurpose as refractors.
– Great for faint or distant objects
– High image quality
– Not ideal for earth objects
Also known as “catadioptric telescopes,” compound telescopes offer the best of both worlds. They can be used for both space and earth objects, and they offer sharp, clear images thanks to a dual combination of lenses and mirrors within their tubes. Their only downside is that their professional-level quality also comes with a professional-level price tag, and they might not be suitable for very young children.
– Can be used for both space and earth objects
– Good image quality
– Complex design
Now that you know the different types of telescopes and what they’re used for, let’s dive into the basics of telescope use.
Most amateur telescopes are built with the same parts:
– Optical tube. This is the biggest, most obvious part of a telescope. If it’s a refractor, it will have a lens; if it’s a reflector, it will have a mirror. Where it’s a compound, it will have both.
– Tripod. The tripod holds your telescope still. For kids, you’ll want an adjustable tripod that can accommodate their growing heights.
– Eyepiece. This is the part of the telescope that you actually use for viewing. Different eyepieces have different magnification capabilities, so a lot of telescopes will include multiple eyepieces that you can swap out.
– Finderscope. A finderscope is a mini-telescope attached to a bigger one. It’s an assistance tool that can help you line up your angles and eye lines properly.
We could spend all day talking about the various functions and features of telescopes, but if you just want a quick rundown on the things that you’ll see mentioned with children’s telescopes, here are the three terms that you’ll want to know:
– Aperture. This refers to the size of the telescope’s mirror/lens. A bigger aperture will let in more light, so it will allow you to see more distant nighttime objects.
– Focal length. This describes the length between the telescope’s mirror/lens and the focal point of the optical tube. The bigger the focal length, the bigger that objects will appear in your eyepiece.
– Magnification. This is measured in units like 10x, 20x and 30x. As with aperture and focal length, bigger is usually better.
Best Telescopes For Kids Under 7
If your preschooler is showing an interest in space, you’ll want a simple, durable telescope that can be carried by small hands or adjusted for low eye lines. You don’t have to sacrifice things like magnification rate, but you can make sure that everything is accessible for your little one. Here are just a few telescopes for kids under seven!
This bright, colorful telescope is great for young children who like to do things on their own. It’s made with adjustable pieces that can be swapped out for different kinds of stargazing, but it’s straightforward enough that your child can take control of the lenses, filters, scopes and tripods.
The main draw of the Nancy B is its “moonscope.” It comes with two different eyepieces (4 mm and 20 mm) and two different magnification settings (18x and 90x) so that kids can zoom in on every lunar crater. Even on foggy nights, they’ll be able to fiddle with their telescope like a real astronomer and figure out the best settings for the job.
There are other things to like about the Nancy B as well. There’s a special filter that can be added to the lens if celestial objects are too bright for the naked eye, and little LED lights will keep you appraised of power levels. There’s even a 22-page activity journal where kids can draw, compare lunar phases, record their nighttime observations and learn fun facts about the stars.
Consider the Nancy B if you’re looking for a first-time telescope for hands-on learners. It will put your child into the driver’s seat as they explore the night sky and all of its wonders.
– Adjustable lenses and eyepieces
– Good magnification range
– Simple, kid-friendly design
– Can only be adjusted to predetermined magnifications
The Oumoda Telescope might not look like a starter telescope, but don’t be fooled by its sleek, high-tech appearance. The controls are very simple, and the construction was made to last. This is a telescope that can take a lot of banging as the kids clamor to set it up during a camping trip.
Once everything is in place, you’ll be dazzled by the quality of the Oumoda Telescope. It has a 50mm aperture with a 360mm focal length, and by switching between eyepieces, you can look at everything from crows to comets. Its magnification is particularly impressive. You can adjust its controls to see in 18x, 27x, 60x or 90x.
There’s also a 1.5x eyepiece that can be added to the telescope for extra-distant viewing. If you’re trying to see a glimpse of a far-flung planet on a cloudy evening, this is the telescope that you’ll need to get the job done.
The Oumoda Telescope doesn’t have any bright colors or cool stickers, but it can still be an effective stargazing tool for kids under seven. It’s the kind of telescope that they can grow into and use for years!
– Multiple magnification settings
– Can be used for both earth and sky objects
– Durable aluminum tripod
– Lots of small parts
– Might require adult assembly
Unpacking the Solomark Telescope for Kids is a bit like unwrapping a present on Christmas morning. There are lots of goodies in the box:
– Sun shade
– 3x Barlow lens
– Finder scope
– 20mm eyepiece
– 9mm eyepiece
– Smartphone adapter
As for what your child can do with all of these pieces, it depends on their particular interests. For the kid that likes stargazing, it’s easy to set up the 9mm or 20mm eyepiece for nighttime observation. If they want to see animals on safari, they can use the Barlow lens to get up close and personal with a tiger’s stripes. If they like taking pictures and videos, they can hook up their camera to the smartphone mount. The sky is the limit with the Solomark Telescope for Kids!
You don’t have to be intimidated by all of these pieces, however. The Solomark Telescope for Kids is a “grab and go” product that can be used right out of the box; everything else is optional.
Consider the Solomark Telescope for Kids if you’re looking for a telescope that’s simple and versatile at the same time. Your toddlers can use its most basic form; your older kids and teenagers can add the accessories whenever they’re ready. It’s a telescope that can provide entertainment for the whole family.
– Lots of add-ons
– Bright, clear optics
– Includes backpack for carrying all of its accessories
– Many small parts
The GGIENRUI Kids Telescope is a light, portable telescope that you can use during everything from camping trips to backyard sleepovers. It’s easily set up on a low-level tripod so that little astronomers can operate it from their own heights, and it has a tough, durable construction that won’t break even when operated with extreme excitement.
As for its specs, the GGIENRUI Kids Telescope comes with three different eyepieces that offer 20x, 30x and 40 magnification. Just pop on the eyepiece that you want and peer through the lens. There are no fiddly controls or computerized parts that require a parent’s touch. Your child will be the master and commander of their own stargazing experience.
The only flaw of the GGIENRUI Kids Telescope is that it’s more of a toy than a piece of real scientific equipment. The resolution isn’t the best, so if you’re looking for sharp, high-def images of celestial objects, this might not be the telescope for you.
All things considered, however, the GGIENRUI Kids Telescope is a great way to get your children interested in astronomy. They’ll be amazed at all of the things that they can see through its lens, and as a bonus, they’ll be able to take pride in operating the telescope on their own.
– Basic, straightforward design
– Small tripod height for children
– Three different eyepieces for 20x, 30x and 40x magnification
– Image clarity isn’t the best
With a 60mm objective lens that offers a 300mm focal length, the Twinstar Compact Kids Telescope offers a surprising amount of power for a child’s telescope. You can swap out different lenses and eyepieces according to your observational needs, and you can view objects in space with a magnification range of 15x to 50x depending on the accessories that you attach.
You don’t have to worry about the Twinstar Compact Kids Telescope being hard to use, however. Despite its technological prowess, it can be assembled in less than five minutes. A lot of its design is intuitive, but there’s also a full-color instruction manual if you or your child need help.
Another great thing about the Twinstar Compact Kids Telescope is that it can be ordered with extras. The “Backpack Bundle” includes a carrying case for all of its parts, and the “Kid’s Lunar Bundle” is stuffed with activity sheets, moon maps and glow-in-the-dark stickers.
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly telescope that still packs a punch, consider the Twinstar Compact Kids Telescope. Its specs are excellent, but it’s still easy to own and operate for astronomers of all ages.
– Easy assembly
– Many magnification options
– Comes in multiple colors
– Extras only available in special bundles
Best Telescopes For Kids Over 7
When your child is ready to graduate from toy telescopes to the real deal, they’ll need something with increased technological capabilities that’s still easy to operate for school-age children. Here are just a few suggestions for telescopes for kids over seven years old.
The Celestron AstroMaster has a lot of fancy features, but they aren’t prohibitive to young or inexperienced astronomers. For example, the scope has a red dot “StarPointer” to help you find objects in the night sky, and the knob that turns the telescope wheel is clearly marked with notches so that you can keep track of its movements.
The Celestron AstroMaster is also compatible with Starry Night software, so if you want to keep the learning going even after you’ve packed up the telescope, you can download the program on your phone or computer. It offers more than 10,000 celestial objects for you and your child to go through together.
Two eyepieces (10mm and 20mm) control image depth and quality. A tripod can be adjusted at multiple angles for following stars or finding constellations. If your child is interested in astrophotography, you can order the telescope with a smartphone mount.
All things considered, the Celestron AstroMaster is a good telescope for the intermediate crowd. It’s a step above the very simple telescope models that are meant for young children, but it still comes with user-friendly features that make it easy to stargaze.
– 6x – 33x magnification
– Fully adjustable knobs and controls
– Compatible with Starry Night software
– Not the best at viewing terrestrial objects
Offering a 102mm aperture, the Infinity 102 Telescope is ideal for zooming in on faraway objects. It doesn’t matter if you’re hoping to see the rings of Saturn or the speckled eggs of a bird’s nest; the Infinity 102 Telescope can get the job done.
Part of its power comes from the fact that it offers low, medium and high magnification eyepieces. You can also double the magnification of each eyepiece with the help of the included Barlow lens.
Another nice thing about the Infinity 102 Telescope is its altazimuth mount. It’s fully adjustable with panhandle controls and slow motion tracking so that you won’t miss a single moment of an eclipse.
The Infinity 102 Telescope is the largest and clearest telescope in the Infinity series made by Meade Instruments. If you’re going to buy one, get the best one!
– 102mm aperture
– Three different eyepieces of various strengths
– Red dot viewfinder for tracking objects
– Lots of fiddly parts that might be lost or swallowed by smaller children
Measuring just 22 x 13 inches, the Celestron 22030 Travel Scope lives up to its name as a travel-friendly telescope. Not only is it portable, flexible and lightweight, but it also comes with a backpack to store all of its parts when not in use.
Two eye pieces (10 mm and 20 mm) can be exchanged for different levels of depth and magnification. The adjustable tripod can be used as a tall freestanding mount or a compact base that sits atop a desk or picnic table. An erect image diagonal will make sure that everything looks good in your lens.
The Celestron 22030 Travel Scope is a telescope that will suit the whole family. Kids will appreciate the fact that it can be modified to fit their height; parents will love its laser starfinders and panhandle controls.
If you’re looking for a telescope that everyone can enjoy, the Celestron 22030 Travel Scope is here to answer your prayers. It might not be perfect, but it’ll let you observe every twinkling star in the galaxy, and that’s all that you can really ask of a telescope.
– Strong magnification in multiple eyepieces
– Precision panhandle control with up/down and left/right movements
– Includes smartphone adapter
– Tripod can be a little unstable
– Image quality isn’t always the best
The Celestron PowerSeeker is another one of those telescopes that has a lot of optional features for advanced users while still being user-friendly for newbies. This makes it ideal for kids who are growing up with an interest in astronomy: They can explore the various functions and features of the telescope as they get older and more practiced with it.
For example, the Celestron PowerSeeker comes with two eyepieces that measure 4mm and 20mm. You can use them to look at stars, planets like Jupiter – Saturn – Venus, constellations and nebulae without any extra effort.
If there’s an object that’s eluding your view, however, you can also attach a 3x Barlow lens to either eyepiece to triple its magnification. This is basically like having four different eyepieces to experiment with, and their range is extraordinary. You can magnify objects between 150x – 450x!
The Celestron PowerSeeker is probably better suited for older children than very young ones, but it’s still a nice telescope for beginners. It will give your kids the tools that they need to explore the universe in their own unique way.
– Wide magnification range
– Fully adjustable controls
– Compatible with Starry Night software
– Falls out of collimation easily
The Orion StarBlast II is perfect for young astronomers. Its tripod can be adjusted between 32 – 54 inches, so it can grow along with your child as they gain both height and skill with the telescope. It also has a full range of controls for things like tracking, positioning and aligning the lens with the stars.
The clarity of the Orion StarBlast II is probably its greatest asset. A 450mm focal length will let you discover everything from gigantic planets to tiny craters on the moon, and two eyepieces with 18x and 45x magnification will keep them all in focus. You can also employ the equatorial (EQ) mount if you need a little help finding that faraway galaxy cluster.
One disadvantage of the Orion StarBlast II is its size. Measuring 18 x 10 x 54 inches and weighing 20.7 pounds, it isn’t a telescope that your kids will be able to move around on their own. They’ll need mom and dad to set it up.
Once you have the Orion StarBlast II in place, however, it will deliver mighty reflections of the night sky. If your children are intrigued by the subject of astronomy, this is the telescope that will feed their interest like a buffet.
– Great optics
– Suitable for all kinds of celestial objects
– Comes with EQ mount
– Some assembly required
We’ve already covered the Solomark Telescope for Kids, but this is a more grown-up version of the same product. It comes with glass optical components, sleek aluminum tubing and highly sensitive controls for brilliant nighttime views.
It isn’t completely inaccessible to children, however. The Solomark Telescope 70EQ has an easy-to-use design that’s great for amateur astronomers, so the controls aren’t hard for little fingers to figure out. There are slow motion features to help them track objects in the sky while the planet rotates. There’s even an accessory tray to hold all of their telescope parts. Stop worrying about your kids losing the extra eyepiece!
If your child loved their first Solomark telescope but are ready to move onto bigger and better things, give them an upgrade with the Solomark Telescope 70EQ.
– Two eyepieces measuring 10mm and 20mm
– Fully adjustable tripod
– Includes EQ mount
– Many small parts
Great for both celestial and terrestrial viewing, the Celestron AstroMaster will let you marvel at all of the wonders of the land, sea and sky. Its glass mirrors are coated with aluminum and SiO2, so you’ll enjoy crystal-clear magnification, and you can switch between eyepieces depending on the distance of the object that you want to observe.
You’ll also appreciate the rugged steel tripod of the Celestron AstroMaster. Even though it’s mobile and flexible, it comes pre-assembled with strong tube legs to ensure safety and stability, and its non-slip feet will keep it firmly anchored to the ground so that vibrations don’t disturb your viewing.
The Celestron AstroMaster might not be the biggest or fanciest telescope on the market, but it’s great for kids in the elementary and middle school range. It isn’t too complicated for a child to master, but it’ll still offer the power that they need for crisp, clear images from outer space.
– Can be used for both earth and sky objects
– Stable tripod with steel legs and accessory tray
– Strong magnification
– Not the most portable
Best Telescope Brands
Ask six different people about telescope brands, and you’ll receive six different answers about which one is best. If we’re talking about bestsellers, however, there are a few brands that you’ll see over and over again:
These are all popular, well-known brands with good reputations for quality. They’re mostly famous for their adult telescopes, but many of them have branched into children’s telescopes as well.
You should still read reviews before you buy something from them, of course. You should still compare and contrast between their products to find the right telescope for you. Generally speaking, however, you can trust these brands. They’re bestsellers for a reason.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kid’s Telescopes
Do you still have questions about buying a children’s telescope? Here’s a quick FAQ that might help.
Can adults use a telescope meant for kids?
Sure. A children’s telescope is still a fully-functioning telescope; it’s just designed to be more comfortable and convenient for kids. As long as you don’t expect it to have the same image quality as a professional telescope, you can enjoy it right along with your little ones.
Can you take pictures through a telescope?
The short answer is yes. Just stick your camera against the eyepiece and take a picture of whatever is being reflected there. If you’re having problems with your optics, however, or if your telescope shifts too much whenever your camera bumps it, you can look for a telescope with a smartphone adapter.
What’s a Barlow lens?
A Barlow lens is a special kind of magnification lens that can be attached to various eyepieces. You’ll find it included with a lot of children’s telescopes because it’s a quick and easy way to boost magnification range. If you have two eyepieces and one Barlow lens, you basically have four eyepieces.
Do you really need a tripod to use a telescope?
Yes. Vibrations can drastically reduce your image quality when looking through a telescope, so you’ll want to avoid shaky hands, strong winds, flapping jackets and anything else that might knock your telescope’s crosshairs off-kilter. A tripod is the best way to keep everything steady.
What’s the difference between celestial and terrestrial?
These are terms that refer to a telescope’s ability to see sky objects or earth objects. “Celestial” means that it’s good for stargazing. “Terrestrial” means that it can be used for things like birdwatching or seafaring.
Why should you buy a children’s telescope instead of a regular telescope?
There are lots of benefits to buying a kid-friendly telescope for your littlest stargazer.
For starters, they won’t have to struggle with highly technical controls. Most children’s telescopes are simple enough to just point and shoot. Children’s telescopes are also made with smaller tripods and larger buttons, so they’re easier for kids to handle on their own.
Additionally, children’s telescopes might be painted with fun colors to get your child excited about using them. They might come with extras like stickers, backpacks, moon maps, star charts and activity books.
Long story short, children’s telescopes are more convenient for kids than telescopes meant for adults. They’re usually more fun, too!
Children’s Telescopes: Educating and Entertaining All At Once
Telescopes are a great gift for kids who are interested in space, astronomy or just science in general. Even when their feet are on the ground, a telescope can send them throughout the universe! Use this guide to find a good children’s telescope and help your kids understand the full majesty of the night sky.