The Best Telescopes for Kids

There are few moments more magical for kids than getting a telescope. We've tested over 100 different products to find the best telescopes for kids. Get excited to put the timeless tradition of stargazing into the hands of the next generation!

Overview

Telescope TypesTelescope BasicsBest Telescopes for Kids under 6Best Telescopes for Kids over 6Leading Telescope Manufacturers

The Three Types of Telescopes

There are three common telescopes types: Refractor, reflector, and compound. All three are designed to gather lots of light from stars and other celestial objects but do it in different ways. Because of this, each type has unique advantages and disadvantages. We've summarized them for you:

Refractor Telescopes

Refractor Telescope

This is the most common telescope type. It has a big lens at the front which sends light directly into a mirror at the back and into then into the eyepiece.

PROS:

+ Simple design that’s easy to use.

+ Can be used for objects on earth.

+ Sealed tube protects optics.

+ Sturdy design, no maintenance.

CONS:

- Not ideal for faint objects.

- Can be heavy and bulky.

- Less value than reflector.

Reflector Telescopes

Reflecting Telescope

As the name suggests, a Reflector telescope has a mirror at the end of its tube which gathers light, before sending it through another mirror into the eyepiece. 

PROS:

+ Great for viewing faint objects.

+ Very high image quality.

+ More value than refractors.

+ Compact and light weight.

CONS:

- Open tube can collect dust.

- Requires some maintenance.

- Cannot be used for earth objects.

Compound Telescopes

Compound Catadioptric Telescope

This telescope type is also called catadioptric or "Schmidt-Cassegrain" telescope. It features two mirrors (one in the back and one in the front) plus a lens.

PROS:

+ Great for viewing faint objects.

+ Can be used for objects on earth.

+ Sealed tube protects optics.

+ Great for astrophotography.

CONS:

- Usually more expensive.

- Bulky appearance.

- Second mirror reduces brightness.

So many choices... which type should you chose? Well, first it's important to realize that all three types will do a great job when you stargaze. We'd suggest that you pick the right telescope type for your needs based on what you plan to do with it:

✔  I want a beginner telescope:  Refractor or reflector
✔  I want a rugged telescope that requires little or no maintenance:  Refractor
✔  I want to also observe objects on earth (e.g. birds):  Refractor or compound
✔  I want to view faint, deep sky objects:  Reflector or compound
✔  I want the best image quality:  Reflector or compound
✔  I want the biggest bang for my buck (value):  Reflector
✔  I want to do astrophotography:  Compound

✔  I want a beginner telescope:
Refractor or reflector

✔  I want a rugged telescope that requires little or no maintenance:
Refractor

✔  I want to also observe objects on earth (e.g. birds):
Refractor or compound

✔  I want to view faint, deep sky objects:
Reflector or compound

✔  I want the best image quality:
Reflector or compound

✔  I want the biggest bang for my buck (value):
Reflector

✔  I want to do astrophotography:
Compound

Quick Introduction: Telescope Basics

Telescope Basics
In Two Minutes

Here are the four basic terms you need to know when buying a telescope for kids.

Best Telescope

Aperture

Aperture is the diameter of your telescope’s mirror or lens. It's the most important factor for your telescope because it determines how much you'll be able to see. In general, the bigger the aperture the better! That's because a bigger telescope will let in more light (meaning your eyes can see faint objects better).

Takeaway: The bigger the aperture, the more can see. We recommend getting the biggest aperture telescope for your child, given your budget.

Telescope Review

Focal length

The focal length is the distance from the “focal point” of your telescope to it's mirror or lens. It's not as important than aperture. However, the longer your telescope's focal length, the larger objects will appear. Bigger is better in this case, so keep an eye out for this number. When in doubt, look for a larger aperture first.

Takeaway: Your telescope's focal length is less important than its aperture, but if available, buy a scope with a larger focal length for extra magnification.

Telescope Buying Guide

Magnification

Magnification is determined by your telescope’s focal length (see above) plus your eyepiece’s focal length. The eyepiece included when you buy your telescope is great to start with, so there's no need to worry about this. You can always upgrade to an even stronger eyepiece later.

Takeaway: Magnification, as the name says, determines how big objects appear. Get a long focal length telescope (see above) and use the included starter eyepiece. Later you can upgrade the eyepiece for more magnification.

Best Beginner Telescope

Computer Control

Some telescopes offer a build in computer which automatically points the telescope to interesting objects. This lets you track the celestial highlights you’re interested in, track moving objects, and more. It's This can be very useful, especially for beginners.

Takeaway: Computer control is the way to go for telescopes for kids over 6 years old. You can still manually find objects if you like, but computer tracking really helps to quickly find what you’re looking for.

The Best Telescopes for Kids Under 6

What makes the perfect telescope for kids under six years of age? A couple of things: The children's telescopes recommended here are designed specifically for young explorers, meaning they are smaller, can be adjusted to a lower height level, are solidly build to be more durable, and feature designs popular with younger children. Almost all children's telescopes are refractors. We selected the telescopes for kids that were rated highest by our experts and that were the most popular with children. All of them are very good telescopes for kids under six years of age.

Celestron 21036 PowerSeeker 70AZ

Refractor Telescope

Celestron 21036 PowerSeeker 70AZ

The Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ is the best beginner telescope for kids. It's quick to set up without tools and includes simple controls that move the scope slowly so that kids can operate it easily. The eyepiece is excellent, offering crisp 175X magnification which allows you to see details, like the rings of Saturn. You might want to spend a few extra dollars and also get a second, lower magnification eyepiece which makes objects move slower through the field of view. This telescope also comes with the great "TheSkyX" astronomy software, so that you can easily plan and print sky maps.

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Educational Insights 5351 Sky Gazer

Refractor Telescope

Educational Insights 5351 Sky Gazer

This telescope is perfect for very young kids because it looks like an interesting and fun toy while still being a very capable scope. It's meant to be used for general stargazing but especially to observe the moon. For the latter, it includes two high quality eyepieces with 18x and 90x magnifications (the perfect magnification levels to see a lot of the moon without it moving too fast through your field of view). More importantly, it also includes a moon filter which is very important for eye safety since the moon is a bright object! Plus, it comes with an amazing activity guide. We highly recommend it!

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TwinStar AstroMark 50mm Kids

Refractor Telescope

TwinStar AstroMark 50mm Kids

The TwinStar AstroMark 50mm has the classic, white "first telescope" design. It's high quality and comes with a lot of accessories, including a detailed map of the moon, astronomy computer software, a step-by-step telescope assembly guide, and glow in the dark star stickers. In short, it's a complete and very fun telescope package for children. Two eyepieces are also included (30x and 48x magnification). The tripod is adjustable and full-size so it can grow with your child. It also has a two-axis Altazimuth Mount which makes it easy to adjust and point at the right location. A great choice!

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Celestron 50TT Kids Telescope Set

Refractor Telescope

Kids Telescopes

Another excellent telescope for children from market leader Celestron. The 50TT features a shorter tripod that makes it easy to put the telescope on a table or next to a window and comfortably sit while gazing at the stars. It's easy to use, lightweight and compact, and also works great for observing far away objects during the daytime. Plus, it is incredibly affordable. If you want excellent value and good functionality choose the Celestron 50TT. For a more advanced telescope for kids, get the Celestron 21036 PowerSeeker 70AZ reviewed above. Either way, your child will have a ton of fun!

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Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Pink

Refractor Telescope

Best Telescope for Children

When we tested telescopes with a group of children, we noticed a lot of girls favoring this fun, pink Twinstar telescope. It comes with two eyepieces that offer 15x and 50x magnifications, an Altazimuth Mount (for easy, two-axis adjustments), and a full-sized tripod that makes it adjustable as your child grows up. Plus, of course, it's stylish and may be the perfect gift for girls who love both the color pink and science. You will notice the viewfinder on the side that makes it much easier to track down objects before observing them under higher magnification in the eyepiece. A great children's telescope!

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Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Black

Refractor Telescope

Best Telescope for Kids

The Twinstar 60mm kids' telescope also comes in a cool black color that many kids loved in our tests. Other than the color, it's identical to the pink version shown next to this. As mentioned, this is a great beginner telescope that kids had no issue using. The included tripod allows for many height adjustments, including bringing the telescope to a very low kids' height level. The viewfinder on the side of the telescope makes it easy for children to point the scope at what they want to see, which is a big plus and prevents frustration. Overall, it's very affordable and highly recommended!

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The Best Telescopes for Kids Over 6 

For children over 6 years of age and for parents who are looking for a telescope that can grow with your child, the best choice is to get a fully functional, modern telescope that offers great value. The telescopes for kids shown here all provide excellent views of the cosmos, and are of such high quality that your child can literally use them for a lifetime. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend them, even to adult buyers.

In our tests, children absolutely loved the many planets, stars, nebulae, and other celestial objects they could see with these scopes. We also made sure that each kids' telescope featured here has excellent online reviews from real customers. In short, you can't go wrong with any of these children's telescopes, and they will deliver joy and wonder well into adulthood. Get ready for big smiles and even bigger eyes!

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized

Compound Telescope

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized

If we had to choose the single, best telescope for kids, it would be the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope. It provides excellent, sharp views that are nearly five times brighter than those from  traditional telescopes. It also comes with an excellent computerized hand control that allows you to automatically point your telescope to over 4,000 objects in space. Looking for Saturn? Just click a few buttons and the NexStar 130 SLT magically moves it into view. This is incredibly helpful and convenient, especially for beginners. In short, if you're looking for a telescope that will work for life, this is it!

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Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker

Reflector Telescope

Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker

The Celestron 127EQ is one of the bestselling telescopes out there - and for good reason. It's very easy to set up (all telescopes featured here don't require tools to put together). It also offers great slow-motion controls so you can precisely track the sky. All Celestron telescopes have excellent coated glass optics that deliver sharp views of space. The included 3x Barlow lens adds extra magnification, which is great when looking at planets. This telescope doesn't have computer control, but some people prefer that and are looking to learn the position of stars and planets the good old-fashioned way. 

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Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ

Refractor Telescope

Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ

If you're looking for the classic design of a childhood refractor telescope, you've just found it. Meade is a leading telescope brand that's known for quality. The Infinity 70mm provides great views and includes a red-dot viewfinder that helps you point your scope at objects you want to observe. This makes it easy to point it precisely at the sky, without having to search through the magnified eyepiece. Being a refractor telescope, the image is always right-side-up so you can also use it for daytime viewing. This telescope comes with astronomy software and an instruction DVD. It's our top choice for kids' refractor telescopes.

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Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST

Reflector Telescope

Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST

The Orion Spaceprobe telescope is a great choice for any age group. It comes with a diffraction-limited parabolic mirror, the same type of mirror used in some more expensive telescopes. Why does that matter? Because it ensures sharp images. Its 5 inch aperture ensures that it gathers plenty of light for great views of the planets and Moon, as well as brighter galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. The telescope weighs only 25 pounds, so it's easy to transport. The little finder scope that you can see on the side of it makes it a breeze to quickly point at objects in the sky that interest you. Kids had no problem operating it, in part due to its forgiving, slow-motion controls and sturdy setup.

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Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope

Reflector Telescope

Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope

If your goal is to give your child a telescope that's the envy of even adult astronomers, the Orion StarBlast 6i is as great as it gets! It's a tabletop reflector telescope that offers a huge, 6-inch aperture and massive 750mm focal length. What this means is that it guarantees crystal-clear and contrast-rich views of deep sky objects, like galaxies, nebulae, planets, and sparkling star clusters. We were blown away by the image quality of this kids' telescope (if you can still call it that since the Orion StarBlaster would be an amazing telescope even for adults). It also comes with an excellent computer remote to automatically locate objects and a great manual aiming device on the side. A clear winner!

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Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope

Refractor Telescope

Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope

The Celestron 21035 70mm is an incredibly compact telescope that's designed for the road. It weights only a few pounds, measures only 14x18 inches and comes with an excellent, sturdy travel case. So if you're looking for a kids' telescope for your next roadtrip, vacation, or summer camp, there isn't anything better. It comes with two eyepieces for different magnification, Celstron's great "Sky X" astronomy software, and a side-mounted manual view finder. It's easy to set up, offers great optics, and is light, portable, and very affordable. We recommend it for kids who want to carry it with them and also for younger children because of it's low weight and great price.

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Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ

Refractor Telescope

Celestron 21061 AstroMaster 70AZ

The second refractor telescope we recommend for children is the AstroMaster 70AZ from telescope market leader Celestron. We like the "stick-handle" clutch that allows for smooth and accurate pointing. The permanently mounted red-dot star pointer is also great: Since it can't be moved, it will always be accurate, making it easy to quickly point the telescope at the right spot in the sky. As with all refractor telescopes, the AstroMaster can also be used for daytime viewing because its image is shown right-side-up. Lastly, we recommend it because of the smart "quick release" tripod mount that makes it very easy to set up and break down the telescope (especially when it's dark). It's a perfect beginner telescope for children that offers stunning views of the moon and space. Highly recommended!

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Celestron NexStar 4 SE Computerized

Compound Telescope

Celestron NexStar 4 SE Computerized

The Celestron NexStar 4 SE is small and portable but packs a punch. High quality optics, its "Maksutov-Cassegrain" (or compound) optical design, and two great eyepieces make for excellent nighttime viewing. Like some other higher-end Celestron telescopes, it includes the incredibly useful SkyAlign computer control which allows you to align it using any three bright celestial objects. Once that's done, the telescope can point itself to any of 40,000 stored objects in the its database. This is especially useful for beginners and parents looking for a kids' telescope that offers built-in guidance. Children and teenagers loved this telescope in our tests and were able to see spectacular views of the moon, the planets, and other space highlights. In short, it's a great beginner's choice and provides room to grow.

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Orion 09798 StarBlast 4.5 Equatorial

Reflector Telescope

Orion 09798 StarBlast 4.5 Equatorial

Last but not least, the Orion StarBlast 4.5 is a great general-purpose and beginner telescope that offers everything you need in a reflector scope. It provides a sturdy tripod, Orion's great parabolic reflector optics (which allow for a wide field of view), and two crisp eyepieces with 30x and 75x magnification. The included red-dot viewfinder allows you to point the telescope quickly at any object in the sky. The Orion StarBlast doesn't have computer control (like the Celestron NexStar 130 SLT), so it's meant for a more traditional, manual experience of exploring the night sky. For beginners, we would definitely recommend a telescope with computer controls which make it easier to find the many highlights in space - but for parents and children looking to discover the stars with a star chart or app, this does an amazing job.

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