The best telescope for kids

Don't enter this hobby thinking you'll be able to find the American flag on the moon -- a home telescope is a fun and exciting tool that encourages wonder, but it doesn't produce observatory results.
Don't enter this hobby thinking you'll be able to find the American flag on the moon -- a home telescope is a fun and exciting tool that encourages wonder, but it doesn't produce observatory results. (BestReviews)

At some point, many people become curious about outer space. For some, it may only be a fleeting fascination, while for others, it can turn into a lifelong passion. The only way to discover which it is for your child is to give them the means to explore that curiosity. Purchasing an affordable beginner’s telescope for kids is the best first step.

Our favorite entry-level telescope is Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ. This quality model is manufactured by a company that's been in business since 1960, so they know what you need in order to have that great first telescope experience. For more information on telescopes for kids, keep reading.


What to know before buying a telescope for kids

How does a telescope work?

If you tried to enjoy a book from across the room, the text would appear too small to read. However, when you move that same book closer, suddenly, the text becomes easy to read. The size of the text never changes, but the image is closer to your eye, so it appears larger. A telescope simply uses lenses and mirrors to focus a faraway image on a mirror that’s only a few inches from your eye. Once the image is close, like the text in that book, it appears larger and becomes easier to see.

Types of telescopes

The difference between telescopes is how they focus the image on the mirror that’s just a few inches from your eye. While some explanations can seem confusing, the difference actually comes down to the number of mirrors a telescope has. As long as you can count to three, you can quickly learn the difference between a refractor, a reflector and a compound telescope.


Refractor (one mirror): This telescope is long and thin. The light enters through a lens at the front of the telescope and is focused on a tiny mirror at the back, where the eyepiece is located. While it has some drawbacks, for the beginner, this is a good, low-maintenance option.

Reflector (two mirrors): This shorter, thicker telescope has an opening that allows the light into the unit at the front. The light bounces off a curved mirror at the back of the telescope and focuses it on a mirror near the front, where the eyepiece is located. While a reflector telescope is a step up from a refractor telescope, it requires the most maintenance.

Compound (three mirrors): A compound telescope is similar to a reflector telescope, only it features a lens at the front with a curved mirror to better refine the image when it bounces it back to the eyepiece located at the rear of the telescope. These models can be extremely compact, making them easy to transport. However, a compound telescope is often pricier, which may not be best for a beginner who could lose interest.

Telescope for kids features


The weakest link in many beginner telescopes is an inferior tripod. If this component isn’t of good quality, it will be nearly impossible to lock on a distant object and bring it into focus, no matter how good the telescope is.



The eyepiece is where you look to see the image on the mirror in the telescope. Most beginner telescopes feature two eyepieces — each with a different magnification level — for more diverse viewing.

Barlow lens

Some beginner telescopes may include a Barlow lens. In short, this component increases the magnification level to enhance the viewing power of your telescope.

Finder scope

It can be extremely difficult to target an object when looking through a telescope eyepiece. The finder scope allows you to quickly aim the telescope to alleviate frustration.

Telescope for kids cost

The most affordable telescopes for kids cost less than $80. These models may or may not be much more than toys, so be careful when shopping in this price range. Between $150-$250, you can find higher-quality telescopes that feature better tripods and greater magnification but are still considered beginner models.

Telescope for kids FAQ

What is collimation?

A. There are several components inside of a telescope that allow you to clearly see objects that are a great distance away. Collimation simply means aligning every single component so you can have the best viewing experience. Consult your manual to learn the best way to do this for your particular model.

How can my child get the most out of their telescope?

A. Besides learning how a telescope works, to get the most out of astronomy, first spend some time learning about the constellations. You can't find something if you don't know what you're looking for.

Which telescope for kids should I get?

Best of the best telescope for kids

Our take: This powerful telescope from a respected manufacturer offers a balance of quality features and value, making it an excellent choice for a young astronomer.

What we like: Comes with two eyepieces and a 3x Barlow lens, which can triple the power of each eyepiece for a wide range of magnifications. The Starry Night Astronomy Software Package helps users learn what to look for in the night sky.

What we dislike: This advanced telescope may require a little practice to achieve impressive results.

Best bang for your buck telescope for kids

Our take: A highly comprehensive beginner's telescope kit at a very reasonable price.

What we like: Besides featuring an easy setup and low price, this telescope comes with all the expected components, plus a cellphone mount and a backpack. The company also offers a two-year warranty and lifetime maintenance.

What we dislike: While the cellphone mount is a convenient feature, it needs a few tweaks before it can be considered impressive.

Honorable mention telescope for kids

ECOOPRO Telescope for Kids: available at Amazon

Our take: An affordable telescope that features a quick and easy setup along with simple operation, making it ideal for kids.

What we like: The company has upgraded a number of elements on this telescope, including the finder scope and the angle of the diagonal mirror, to make it easier to assemble and more comfortable to use.

What we dislike: While the telescope is of decent quality, the tripod is wobbly enough to be problematic.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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