The mysteries of our universe are already beautiful to the naked eye. Imagine being able to get an up-close and personal view through a powerful telescope! Throughout history, man has curiously looked to the stars for answers. Since the very first telescope was invented centuries ago, these optical devices have continued to get more capable. Today, you’re not just limited to narrow views of a nearby constellation or the lunar surface. Modern telescopes for deep space objects let you go even farther!
But, you can’t do with any old telescope. You need one that’s specifically engineered for deep-sky objects. Check out our collection of some of the best telescopes for deep space objects, galaxies, and nebulae. Don’t forget to read our buying guide below to learn more about what these optical devices have to offer!
Best Telescopes for Deep Space Objects Reviewed
This Gskyer Telescope is ideal for children and beginners, and it has many features that you will appreciate. It is a high-quality optic with a fully coated glass lens that is ideal for beginning astronomers who want to explore the stars and moon. It also includes a wireless remote, a smart phone adapter, and an adjustable tripod, which allows for a wide range of viewing angles, which I enjoy.
- Quality Optics
- Wireless Remote
- Wireless Remote
Check out this high-tech telescope from Celestron! This is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a fully automated mounting system. The included remote lets you dial into your target in seconds. The system has a database of more than 40,000 celestial objects to view. Many of them are deep-sky objects!
Thanks to the ultra-wide aperture, this telescope provides clear views. It also has a long focal length. But, the optical tube is relatively compact. While it does have some weight to it, the small size makes it great for travel.
- 8 inch aperture
- 2032mm focal length
- Computerized mount
- Compact footprint
- Large database
- Red dot finder scope
- Comes with software
With up to 661X magnification, you’ll have no problem at all getting personal with the cosmos! Pair that with the 11-inch aperture and you’re getting a telescope with a lot of capabilities.
The telescope features a motorized mount complete with Celestron’s sizable database of targets. But that’s not all. This unit has integrated GPS technology. As a result, you don’t have to dial in your current coordinates. Just turn the telescope on and let the GPS system tell the telescope where you are in relation to objects in the sky!
- 280mm aperture
- 2800mm focal length
- Premium optical coating
- Internal GPS
- Powerful finder scope
- Computerized mount
The Dobsonian reflector from Sky Watcher has a lot of features to give you the clearest image possible. The optical tube is massive! It has a 10-inch wide aperture and a good focal length of 1200mm.
Not only that, but the optics inside are treated and carefully engineered to reduce distortion. The primary parabolic mirror has a 94 percent reflectivity coating to maximize light. Furthermore, the positioning of the optics reduces diffraction, light loss, and spherical aberration.
- 254mm aperture
- 1200mm focal length
- Multi-coated optics
- Resists image distortion
- Smooth Crayford focuser
- Two eyepieces
- Easy assembly
Here’s another worthy option from Orion. This model has a lower focal length and overall magnification level than some others on this list. But, the wide aperture more than makes up for that shortcoming.
In fact, the shorter focal length paired with the wide aperture results in a wider field of view. You can get a bigger picture of distant galaxies and nebulae.
This unit is also sporting a smooth equatorial mount and a durable tripod. Setup is a breeze and you can continue tracking your target for hours.
- 5.1-inch aperture
- 650mm focal length
- Compact footprint
- Equatorial mount
- 2X Barlow lens
- Comes with tripod
- Includes reference material
Here’s a telescope that can serve both seasoned astronomers and novice hobbyists alike. This is a Newtonian reflector telescope with a sizable aperture. The design of the optics inside offers enough light-gathering capabilities to view planets, star clusters, and even deep space objects.
The coolest part of this model is the computerized GoTo mount. Like other Celestron NexStar telescopes, you have access to a large database. You can hone-in on specific targets or set the system to take you on a tour of the night sky. There’s also the SkyAlign system. All you have to do is point the telescope at three bright objects to calibrate the system.
- 130mm aperture
- 650mm focal length
- GoTo computerized mount
- SkyAlign technology
- Red dot finder
- Portable design
If you’re looking for a telescope for serious star-gazing, this model may be for you. This is an advanced optical device with a lot of power. From the moment light enters the telescope, it’s treated to provide the best image possible. There’s a doublet objective lens with several high-transmission coatings. It’s also sporting some great color-correcting lenses to give you a true-to-life picture.
One area where this telescope excels is light rejection. It has a baffle system that prevents stray light from entering the optical tube and ruining the view.
- 120mm aperture
- 900mm focal length
- Doublet objective lens
- Multiple coatings
- Dual-speed focuser
- Light baffle
- Includes mounting rings
- Comes with several accessories
The AstroMaster 130EQ is a Newtonian telescope that’s built to deliver brilliant images of deep-space objects. It’s more capable than standard refractors, so it’s ideal for those with a little bit of experience with stargazing.
Celestron made a behemoth of a telescope! It has a massive 130mm objective lens. While that wide opening might seem like overkill, it’s perfect for viewing distant objects. The wider optical tube allows as much light as possible to enter the eyepiece. This results in a brighter and clearer image.
Another cool feature is the equatorial mount. Not only does it make up for the Earth’s rotation, but it’s easy to adjust. Slow-motion knobs help you make slight adjustments without throwing things out of whack.
- 130mm objective lens
- Fully coated optics
- Red-dot finder
- Equatorial mount
- It comes with two eyepieces
- Stainless steel tripod
- Starry night software
- It weighs 26.5 pounds
Coming in at only 20 pounds, this telescope from Celestron is perfect for those late-night hikes up to your favorite viewing spot. Don’t let the low weight and compact optical tube fool you. This unit is perfectly capable of deep-sky observation.
The telescope has a Maksutov-Cassegrain design. As a result, it bounces light multiple times to achieve an impressive 1500mm focal length. This model can magnify images up to 300 times!
- 127mm aperture
- 1500mm focal length
- Computerized mount
- Database of over 4,000 targets
- Compact optical tube
- Two Plossl eyepieces
- Red dot scope
The Gskyer brand isn’t as well-known as some of its competitors, but it’s quickly becoming a heavy-hitter. It’s particularly popular among astrophotographers and new hobbyists. Take this refractor telescope as an example! It has all the features you need to start stargazing immediately. Best of all, you can take some killer photos right out of the box.
All you need to do is grab your smartphone! This telescope comes with a smartphone adapter and a wireless remote. Get set up, and you can see what the telescope sees through your smartphone screen. With a press of the remote, you can save memories.
The telescope itself is surprisingly robust. It has high-transmission coatings, a massive aperture to let light in, and versatile eyepieces.
- 90mm aperture
- 600mm focal length
- High-transmission coating
- Includes three eyepieces and a 3X Barlow lens
- Collapsible aluminum tripod
- Smartphone adapter with wireless remote
- Easy-to-adjust altazimuth mount
When you’re ready to bring out the big guns, this Dobsonian telescope from Sky Watcher has you covered. This large telescope is sporting a very unique design. It’s comprised of two separate optical tube assemblies held together by steel struts. The telescope collapses for easy transport. But, the strut system allows you to reassemble the unit without having to worry about collimation issues.
This telescope also has one of the widest apertures you can get on a consumer telescope. Measuring about 12 inches in diameter, it allows you to get an ultra-bright image.
- 305mm aperture
- 1200mm focal length
- Multi-coated optics
- Reliable strut system
- Tension control handle
- Two wide-angle eyepieces
- Right-angle finder scope
The Orion Spaceprobe 130ST reflector telescope is ideal for a serious beginner or intermediate stargazer such as myself. With the included EQ-2 mount and stable tripod, this 130ST provides excellent stability for clear views of deep-sky objects. It has a manual rather than an electric mount, but good enough to track celestial objects as they migrate across the night sky. I do like the speed of the slow-motion hand controls.
- Great Views
- A Versatile Telescope
- Includes a Sturdy Mount
- Includes two 1.25 inch Sirius Plossl eyepieces
What Makes a Deep Space Telescope Different?
Standard telescopes are great for viewing nearby star systems. High-powered models may even give you a glimpse of planets like Jupiter or Saturn, which are hundreds of millions of miles away from the Earth’s surface. But even then, those telescopes don’t hold a candle to deep space devices.
Ultimately, the difference between standard telescopes and deep space telescopes comes down to capabilities. The best telescopes to observe distant galaxies and nebulae are those that offer extremely high magnification power and better light-gathering abilities.
There’s no exact definition for “deep space.” But in the telescope hobby, deep space objects are celestial targets beyond our own solar system. To put it into perspective, the nearest star system to planet Earth is Alpha Centauri. The main star is visible to the naked eye and looks beautiful through a traditional telescope. It’s about 4.367 lightyears away.
The nearest nebula to our planet? That would be the Helix Nebula, also known as God’s Eye. It’s an eyewatering 700 lightyears away! The nearest galaxy is the Andromeda galaxy. It’s 2.537 million lightyears from us!
Traditional star-gazing telescopes won’t be able to help you see those targets. But, a deep space model will.
That’s because they’re designed to gather a lot of light. Even from millions of lightyears away, the light from deep-sky objects eventually makes its way to Earth. The problem is that most telescopes aren’t able to collect it or manipulate it efficiently.
A deep space telescope usually features an ultra-wide aperture and some carefully engineered optics to make those distant targets more visible than ever before.
What Does a Telescope for Deep Space Objects Need?
There are a few important specifications to consider when choosing your deep space telescope. Telescopes can vary widely in terms of design and capability. The following specifications will have the biggest impact on what a telescope can view.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s important to understand the difference between core designs. There are a few main telescope designs you’ll encounter.
The first is the refractor telescope. It relies on a series of lenses to manipulate light and magnify the image. There are several sub-categories that telescopes can fall into, but they all still rely on lenses.
The second type of telescope available is a reflecting telescope. These telescopes harness the power of mirrors to create the image. Like refractors, you can get specialty designs. Some options include the Dobsonian reflector and the simpler Newtonian reflector.
Lastly, there are Cassegrains. Cassegrain telescopes are technically reflectors. But, they also use lenses to bounce light uniquely. These models primarily utilize curved mirrors. Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes use a convex mirror with a corrector plate for a high-quality image. Meanwhile, Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes use spherical lenses and weak meniscus lenses.
So, which one is best? All core designs are good for deep-sky viewing. What matters most is the key specifications like aperture and focal length.
The aperture is the diameter of an optical device’s outermost lens or primary mirror. Refractors have an objective lens. It’s the very first surface that refracted light hits as it enters the telescope. For mirror-based telescopes, the aperture measurement reflects the diameter of the primary mirror.
A wider aperture is key to viewing deep celestial objects. The light that emits from those objects is fainter, so you’re going to need all the help you can get to guide it into your telescope. A wide aperture lets light flood in, which can ultimately improve the clarity and overall brightness of the image.
Long Focal Length
The focal length is the distance that light has to travel within the telescope before creating the image on the focal plane. With a refracting telescope, the focal length is the distance between the objective lens and the focal plane. Usually, the overall length of the optical tube coincides with the focal length.
Refractors are a bit trickier because they bounce light several times before it reaches the focal plane.
Either way, the focal length is a very important measurement for deep space astronomy. This is because it directly impacts magnification power! A higher focal length means that you’re getting more magnification.
Higher Focal Ratio
An easier way to gauge a telescope’s capabilities is to examine the focal ratio. Sometimes referred to as the F-ratio, this is a single number that indicates both focal length and aperture. It’s simply the focal length of the unit divided by the aperture.
A higher focal ratio is best, as it means that you’re getting better magnification. But, the higher ratio also means that you’re getting a narrower field of view.
It’s not easy to get a wide field of view when you’re looking at far-off targets, so this is to be expected. But, it’s still something you should keep in mind.
Other Important Considerations
Beyond the basic specs, you need to take a look at everything a telescope has to offer before committing. Telescopes are complex devices. One low-quality feature could ruin your entire experience as you gaze up at the night sky!
The mounting system is going to play a big role in pointing your telescope in the right direction. We’re not talking about a tripod or base here. The mounting system is what connects the optical tube to your base.
A simple altazimuth mount is just fine for deep-sky viewing. It lets you move horizontally and vertically. For greater precision, look for mounts that have some sort of slow-motion control.
If you want to view the object throughout the night, you may be better off getting an equatorial mount. These mounts have an integrated counterweight and a unique positioning angle. They account for the Earth’s rotation, making tracking your target a cinch.
Finally, there are computerized mounts. As you can guess, these mounts are fully automated. They take out a lot of the guesswork so you can spend less time lining things up and more time enjoying the view.
Speaking of computerized mounts, advanced technology in your telescope is always a plus! If you’re an amateur astronomer, GPS technology and sky tracking systems can help you find targets in minutes.
Some brands even have large databases filled with thousands of objects to find. Just dial in your target and let the telescope do the rest!
A finder scope is the small optical device that attached to the primary optical tube assembly. With lower magnification levels, you can use the finder scope to point your telescope in the right general direction.
Red dot finders take things a step further. With specially coated glass, you can use the scope to line your target up perfectly.
Some additional accessories are always welcome. You can get complete kits that have everything you need to start observing the universe. At the very least, we recommend getting telescopes that come with a tripod and protective carrying case.
Having multiple eyepieces is beneficial, too. Different eyepiece sizes and magnifying Barlow lenses can help you get a crystal-clear image.
If you’re a fan of astrophotography, you can also get telescopes with smartphone or camera mounts!
Tips For Viewing Galaxies and Nebulae
For astronomy hobbyists, viewing deep space objects is something that many strive for. It’s easy to point your telescope at the moon. But finding deep space objects and making them clear enough to view? That’s no easy task!
Luckily, the best telescopes for nebulae and galaxies are built to take care of a lot of the hard work for you. That said, there are still some tips and tricks you can follow to get the best results!
Wait for Clear Weather
This tip applies to all stargazing activities. But, it’s even more crucial with very distant targets. Even the slightest cloud covering will get in the way. You need as much light as you can get, so wait until you have a clear and dark night to enjoy the cosmos.
Adjust Your Eyes
Believe it or not, your eyes will continue to adjust after a few minutes. For most people, the pupils dilate enough to let more light in after about 15 minutes. But, your night vision will keep developing for another 90 minutes or so.
When your eyes are adjusted to the dark skies, you can see objects much clearer. Those faint objects become more visible, allowing you to enjoy a better view of all their glory.
For the best results, let your eyes adjust for at least 30 minutes before you start setting your telescope up. Once you have everything aligned and ready to go, your eyes will be ready!
Find the Closest to Complete Darkness You Can Get
This goes without saying, but you need to get as far away from light pollution as possible. We’re not talking about turning off porch lights and going into the backyard. We’re talking about going to a distant hill or hiking up to a mountain.
Light pollution will interfere with the image in your telescope. Make a trip out of it! Go hiking and camp out in an area that’s free of city lights, car headlights, and any other form of illumination.
Use Telescope with Optical Coatings
Many brands these days have telescopes with optical coatings. Anti-reflection and transmission coatings can do a lot to improve the final image. Some of the best transmission-based coatings will allow up to 99.99 percent of all light to come through.
As we mentioned earlier, you need all the help you can get when it comes to light collection. Multi-coated optics will make all the difference.
You don’t need access to the Hubble telescope to view deep space objects! There are many great telescopes on the market to help you appreciate the universe on your own time.
Thanks to advancements in optical technology, stargazing devices are only going to get better. Until then, check out one of our recommended picks to see what galaxies and nebulae you can see!