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10 Best Telescopes for Astrophotography in 2022 (Our Top Picks)

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Picking the best telescope for astrophotography isn’t easy. Telescopes are big and expensive items that take up a lot of space. That’s why it’s a good idea to take your time getting to know what options are available when seeking the best telescope for astrophotography.

We’ve tried to highlight an astrophotography telescope for everyone. Taking photos of the night sky and our solar system is more accessible than people realize. There are even telescopes to see planets!

A telescope in the foreground of a campsite

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10 Best Astrophotography Telescopes

Here are the best telescopes for astrophotography to consider. We’ve included a few budget-friendly telescopes for beginners, along with models for advanced enthusiasts. If you’re unsure what to look out for, skip to the buying guide at the end of the list. Otherwise, Celestron telescopes are an excellent place to start looking!

10. Gskyer Telescope 70mm (Budget/Kids)

  • Refractor
  • 70mm aperture
  • 400mm focal length
  • f/5.7
  • 16x and 40x Kellner eyepieces, 3x Barlow lens
  • 5×24 finderscope with mounting bracket and cross-hair lines
  • Alt-azimuth mount
  • 16x to 120x magnification
  • 5.71 lbs

There’s no doubt that astrophotography can be pretty expensive. But what if you’re on a super-low budget and still want to try taking photos of the moon or the stars? Then the Gskyer 70mm telescope is the best option for you. The Gskyer is one of the cheapest options you can find online. But is it any good for astrophotography? The answer is yes if you’re a beginner.

In our opinion, the Gskyer is the most reasonably priced telescope that produces decent images. Its 400mm focal length is enough for you to take photos of the moon. This telescope also includes a phone mount and remote control. So if you want to try astrophotography with your mobile device, this is the way to go!

Since the Gskyer is quite affordable, you may see some chromatic aberration every once in a while. That just means you may find fringes of colors around the moon or other celestial objects. It’s the reason why it’s at the lower end of our list. But the good news is you can quickly fix it in post-production if you want.

It does include a 45° diagonal, a smartphone adapter, a wireless camera remote, an adjustable aluminum alloy tripod, and a carry bag.

Pros:

  • Ideal for kids or first-time buyers
  • Works best as a daytime spotting scope

Cons:

  • No user manual
  • Awkward viewing of objects more than 40° above the horizon
  • Reflections on the lens from nearby light sources

one of the best telescopes for astrophotography option Gskyer 70mm

9. Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope Kit

  • Reflector
  • 114mm aperture
  • 450mm focal length
  • f/4
  • 6mm and 17mm Kellner eyepieces
  • Red-dot finder
  • Alt-azimuth mount
  • 16x to 228x magnification
  • 13 lbs

Need a beefier telescope than the Gskyer? Then consider getting the Orion Starblast 4.5. It costs about three times more. But it has better features than the Gskyer and already comes preassembled. You can use it right away as soon as you get it out of the box.

The StartBlast has a focal length that is 50mm more than the Gskyer. Its f/4 aperture lets in a lot of light. That easily translates to you capturing photographs faster than other options. Furthermore, it comes with an optional moon filter. You wouldn’t need to get another filter for your camera.

The Orion Starblast doesn’t come with a tripod. Instead, it comes with a tabletop base. You may find it convenient if you’re a beginner since you can quickly set it up on a table. But for obvious reasons, you’ll find it challenging to use if you’re taking photos in remote areas.

It includes two eyepieces, a collimation cap, a reflex sight, and an eyepiece rack.

Pros:

  • Fantastic for kids and first-time buyers
  • Wide field of view
  • Light
  • Convenient tabletop base
  • User-friendly
  • Low focal ratio

Cons:

  • Incompatible with a DSLR camera
  • Not suitable for detailed planetary close-ups
  • Poor eyepiece
  • Poor value
  • Scarce accessories

telescope for astrophotography option Orion StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope Kit

8. Sky-Watcher Evoguide 50ED APO Refractor (Beginner)

  • Apochromatic refractor
  • 50mm aperture
  • 242mm focal length
  • f/4.8
  • No eyepieces
  • No finderscope
  • No mount
  • Up to 100x magnification
  • 1.9 lbs
  • No accessories

It’s always nice to save some money on equipment. But when you have a cheap telescope that produces distracting chromatic aberration, is it worth it?

If you want a simple telescope without spending a lot of money, then you should consider the Sky-Watcher Evoguide. It doesn’t have as many add-ons as the others. But it’s a fantastic and reasonable price for a high-quality piece of equipment.

It doesn’t look as impressive from the outside compared to its competitors. But in our opinion, when it comes to performance, it belongs in the top-tier.

The Evoguide is a triplet APO refractor. As you’ll see in the buying guide below, that means it has the necessary optics to correct any chromatic aberration that may occur. Its simple design also makes it easy for a beginner. It just looks like any regular telescope, and you can use it right away after you attach your camera.

Pros:

  • Ideal for stargazing, lunar and planetary observation
  • Bright viewing of deep-sky objects
  • Works for astrophotography
  • Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass
  • Suitable for all levels

Cons:

  • No accessories
  • You can’t use a diagonal

one of the best telescopes for astrophotography, Sky-Watcher Evoguide 50ED APO Refractor

7. Orion ED80T CF Triplet Apochromatic Refractor (Affordable/Beginner)

  • Apochromatic refractor
  • 80mm aperture
  • 480mm focal length
  • f/6
  • No eyepieces
  • No finderscope
  • No mount
  • 12x to 160x magnification
  • 5.5 lbs

The Orion ED80T is an affordable option for beginner astrophotographers. The scope’s small size and lighter weight lets you get plenty of use out of it—both practically and photographically.

It is a popular choice due to its high-quality imaging performance. Plus, a built-in dew shield protects your telescope for those overnight shots.

It also includes a dual-speed (11:1) 2-inch Crayford focuser, a 2 to1.25-inch step-down adapter, a dovetail finder scope base, a 0.25 to 20-inch mounting block doubling as a Vixen-style dovetail bar, a carry case, and Starry Night astronomy photography software.

Plus, the extra-low dispersion (ED) glass combats chromatic aberration. Consider the Orion ED80T as your first telescope, and you can’t go wrong.

Pros:

  • ED glass
  • High resolution
  • Good for astrophotography
  • Small and light

Cons:

  • It doesn’t include essential accessories

Orion Sky-Watcher telescope for beginner astrophotographers

6. Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ Newtonian Telescope (Budget/Experienced)

  • Newtonian reflector
  • 114mm aperture
  • 1000mm focal length
  • f/5
  • Two eyepieces
  • Red dot finderscope
  • Manual equatorial mount
  • 16x to 269x magnification
  • 17 lbs

What if you’re experienced in astrophotography but don’t have enough money for an expensive telescope? Then the Celestron AstroMaster is for you. It has most—if not all—the features that only more expensive options offer for a low mid-range price.

With an aperture of 114mm, it’s perfect for photographing planets and constellations. It also features an equatorial mount with two slow-motion control knobs, ideal for fine adjustments.

The only downside of the Celestron AstroMaster is that it’s not a telescope for a beginner. It’s challenging to set up and use even without a camera. In other words, you need to be familiar with telescopes to use them to their full potential.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy it even if you don’t have the experience. After all, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a good piece of astrophotography equipment early on. It includes a tripod and Starry Night astronomy photography software.

Pros:

  • Perfect for deep-sky imaging
  • Low focal ratio
  • Light
  • Easy to use

Cons;

  • Missing or unclear instructions
  • Lack of accessories
  • Quality control issues
  • Alt-azimuth mount would be more suitable

one of best telescopes for astrophotography Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ Newtonian

5. Celestron – NexStar 127SLT Computerized Telescope (Budget/Beginner)

  • Refractor or Maksutov-Cassegrain catadioptric
  • 127mm aperture
  • 1500mm focal length
  • f/12
  • Two eyepieces
  • Red dot finderscope
  • A computerized GoTo alt-azimuth mount
  • 18x to 300x magnification
  • 18 lbs

Are you a beginner with some money but don’t want to break the bank? Then you might want to take a look at the Celestron NexStar 127SLT. It’s quite an advanced telescope that you can buy for less than a thousand dollars!

So what makes the NexStar 127SLT different? The SLT stands for “star locating telescope.” That means it has a built-in computer, so you don’t have to guess where any planets or constellations are in the night sky. All you have to do is enter which celestial object you want to track, and this device will find it for you. Now that’s quite an advantage, especially if you’re not familiar with astrophotography yet.

The NexStar comes in two telescope types—the refractor and catadioptric. Its 127mm aperture is ideal for deep-sky imaging. It will enable you to take photos of constellations and even observe Saturn’s rings!

It includes a star diagonal, SkyAlign, and Starry Night astronomy photography software.

Pros:

  • Sturdy
  • GoTo mount with database of 40,000 objects
  • Good for planetary viewing
  • Light and portable telescope
  • SkyAlign helps to align telescopes using common objects in the night sky
  • Battery power makes it easier for travelers

Cons:

  • Wobbly tripod
  • The software can be tricky to use

 

Celestron - NexStar 127SLT Computerized Telescope for astrophotography

4. TS-Optics PHOTOLINE 80mm f/6 FPL53 Triplet APO (Good Value)

  • Apochromatic refractor
  • 80mm aperture
  • 480mm focal length
  • f/6
  • 2-inch Crayford eyepiece (threaded connector, 1:11 micro-mount)
  • No finderscope
  • No mount
  • Up to 260x magnification
  • 6 lbs

The Photoline 80mm is perhaps one of the best telescopes out there for around 1,000USD. But what truly makes it unique from other options is that it’s purposely built for astrophotography (hence the Photoline title).

Photoline is perfect for astrophotography beginners and veterans because it’s so easy to use. It’s also relatively compact at 37.5cm, and it only weighs 6 pounds. So if you want to travel around to take photos of celestial objects, this is your perfect partner.

Of course, we can’t forget the quality of the photos the Photoline 80mm produces. It’s a triplet APO means it doesn’t have nasty chromatic aberrations. Its sharpness also compares well with its more expensive counterparts. So if you want both superior performance and affordability, this is the best option for you.

It includes a CNC aluminum tube with rings and a dovetail bar, a 2.5-inch RAP focuser with a dual-speed transmission, a 1.25-inch reducer, a  mounted finder shoe, and an aluminum case.

We know the Photoline 80mm is still quite expensive. But if you consider all the value it brings to the table—this telescope is a great deal!

Pros:

  • Good color correction
  • High contrast
  • Compact
  • Retractable dew shield

Cons:

  • Needs flat-field corrector

TS-Optics PHOTOLINE 80mm f/6 FPL53 Triplet APO telescope for astrophotography

3. Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope (Mid-Range)

  • Newtonian reflector
  • 130mm aperture
  • 650mm focal length
  • f/5
  • 10mm (26x) and 25mm (65x) Sirius Plossl eyepieces
  • 6×30 finderscope
  • Equatorial mount
  • 19x to 260x
  • 27 lbs

Orion is a quality brand of telescopes. It has tons of products that are pretty expensive. But it also has budget-friendly options that are perfect for astrophotography beginners. The one that we like the best is the Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST.

What makes the SpaceProbe 130ST special is its quality materials. Plus, it has a mid-range price. That’s significant, especially since astrophotography demands high-class optics—which Orion offers!

The SpaceProbe has a 5.1-inch aperture that lets you view and photograph distant planets and even nebulas. Its 24-inch tube makes it portable and ideal for long trips. The whole set also only weighs 27 pounds, which isn’t substantial for telescope equipment at all. That means you can take it to remote areas without struggling too much.

Another great feature of the SpaceProbe worth mentioning is its equatorial mount. It allows you to track stars manually with precision. It includes a 1.25-inch rack-and-pinion focuser, a tripod, a tripod accessory tray, tube rings, a collimation cap, and Starry Night astronomy photography software.

Pros:

  • Fast focal ratio
  • Excellent for bright, deep-space objects
  • Wide field of view
  • Portable telescope

Cons:

  • Poor instructions leading to a one-hour set-up time
  • Lightweight mount vibrates
  • It needs another lens for higher magnification (planetary observation)

Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector telescope for astrophotography

2. Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope (Advanced/Expensive)

  • Schmidt-Cassegrain catadioptric
  • 203.2mm aperture
  • 2032mm focal length
  • f/10
  • 25mm eyepiece
  • Red dot finderscope
  • GoTo tabletop mount
  • 29x to 480x magnification
  • 33 lbs

This telescope is one of the most expensive ones on our list. But it’s also one of the best. It has excellent optics and computerized GoTo tracking. The Celestron NexStar 8SE is definitely for advanced astrophotographers since they need a long focal length for a narrow field of view.

The Nexstar 8 SE comes with a simple red dot finderscope and a basic 25mm eyepiece. To take full advantage of the telescope’s excellent optics, you should add a few good eyepieces.

The Celestron NexStar 8SE has a fully-automated, built-in GoTo mount that automatically locates and tracks objects for you. It also features a database of more than 40,000 celestial objects!

Perhaps the only issue with the Nexstar 8 SE is its focal ratio of f/10. That means it doesn’t let in very much light for your camera. In other words, you may have to use longer exposure times when taking pictures. In contrast, other options have a focal ratio of f/4, which is much better for astrophotography.

But it’s light, portable, and straightforward to use. And it includes a star diagonal, database, and SkyAlign software.

Pros:

  • Large aperture
  • High resolution
  • Ideal for both planets and deep-sky objects
  • GoTo mount

Cons:

  • It can be unstable enough to affect image quality
  • Short battery life
  • May require long exposure astrophotography

Celestron - NexStar 8SE Telescope for astrophotography

1. Takahashi FSQ-85ED (Intermediate/High-End)

  • Apochromatic refractor
  • 85mm aperture
  • 450mm focal length
  • f/5.3
  • No eyepieces
  • 6×30, 8° finderscope
  • No mount
  • 11.6x to 178x
  • 7.9 lbs

The Takahashi FSQ-85ED is a refractor telescope and is a perfect take-anywhere telescope. It has a 44mm diameter imaging circle, capable of accepting medium format CCD or DSLR cameras.

Its impressive features include a premium doublet extra-low dispersion (ED) design. As a result, it keeps the color tones from the earth’s atmosphere low. Its wide-field telescope is for intermediate users. Some of the features are a lot more involved than beginner telescopes.

One thing we like is the built-in camera rotator. It allows camera rotation of 360° without loss of critical focus. It also includes a 72mm rack-and-pinion focuser, dust caps, a retractable dew shield, and a built-in camera angle adjuster.

Pros:

  • Good color correction
  • Razor-sharp imaging
  • Crisp contrast
  • Suitable for deep-sky and wide-field photography
  • Sliding dew shield
  • Portable telescope
  • High build quality

Cons:

  • Eyepiece, mount, tripod, tube holder, and finderscope not included

Takahashi FSQ-85 as the best telescope for astrophotography

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Right Telescope for You?

It’s easy to say the best astrophotography telescopes are the highest quality or most expensive ones. But in reality, not all of us can afford a piece of equipment that costs thousands of dollars.

Astrophotography doesn’t have to be a rich person’s hobby. Think of our list above as a guide to help you decide which telescope fits your budget and your current needs. You’ll be surprised that some more affordable options can compete with the more expensive ones.

You may have to struggle with a few issues with some of them, such as lack of tracking. But as long as the lens produces beautiful results, that’s all you need.

Cool time lapse astrophotography of the moon's movement across the nights sky

Considerations for an Astrophotography Telescope

You can always start with one of the cheaper telescope options on the list. Learn the basics first before you invest in more expensive telescopes. Then, take your time to save money for a better telescope. Giving yourself time to become familiar with astrophotography will help you learn how to use even more complicated equipment.

You can also find good deals on used telescopes. Just make sure you get detailed information about their condition. You don’t want to be using items with defective components and dirty lenses.

The first step is to decide what you want to photograph. That will determine precisely what you need. Then, consider your budget and choose an affordable astrophotography telescope for you.

Stunning deep sky photography shot of a galaxy

Cameras for Astrophotography

As well as the telescope, you’ll need a camera for astrophotography. Surprisingly, any camera will do as long as you have the correct adapter. You can even use your phone if you like. However, if high-quality optics are essential, it would be best to use a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.

A full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera will give you the highest resolution. But even an entry-level crop-sensor camera will work well. Many astrophotography enthusiasts prefer them since the crop factor of the sensors allows them to get just a bit closer to their subject.

Stunning deep sky photography shot of a galaxy

What is the Best Telescope for Astrophotography?

Practicality and usability are two keywords you should bear in mind with astrophotography. Finding the best model for your needs will help you develop your passion, not ruin it.

So what is the best telescope for a beginner? There are plenty of candidates out there, and they come in all different shapes and sizes. There are two main types to consider: refractor telescopes and reflectors. Let’s discuss each style and see which one is suitable for you.

Apochromatic Refractors

An apochromatic refracting telescope uses an objective lens of extra-low dispersion (ED) glass to produce crisp images without chromatic aberration. Many consider an “APO” the ultimate telescope for photography and planetary observation.

These telescopes are also compact, lightweight, and portable. They have excellent color correction, adjust to temperatures fast, and easily focus. We recommend a refracting telescope if you are an entry-level astrophotographer.

Meade LX200 telescope for astrophotography
Discontinued high-end Meade LX200 telescope

Reflectors

A reflecting telescope (also called a reflector) is a telescope that uses a single or a combination of curved mirrors. These reflect light and form an image.

Reflecting telescopes produce other types of optical aberrations. But it’s a design that allows for large-diameter objective lenses. In other words, it’s perfect for doing “close-ups” of planets as opposed to deep-sky astrophotography.

One popular kind of reflector is the catadioptric telescope. There are two types—the Schmidt-Cassegrain and the Maksutov-Cassegrain—and they both use curved mirrors to improve error correction.

Person standing with two telescopes for astrophotography

Accessories

Apart from a camera and a telescope (or “optical tube assembly”), there are a few other pieces of equipment you will need:

  • Diagonal—an angled mirror or prism that allows you to see celestial objects the right way up
  • Finderscope—helps you aim your telescope like the sights on a rifle
  • Tube rings and a dovetail bar—adjustable rings for the finder and a bar for attaching extra equipment
  • Field flattener/reducer—helps prevent spherical distortion
  • Carrying case—protects the telescope during travel and storage

Many of the telescopes that we feature in this article already have most of these accessories. However, you may still need to buy a field flattener as they don’t usually come as a standard throw-in.

Conclusion

Astrophotography is quite an expensive hobby. But we hope that it doesn’t stop you from exploring this fantastic pastime. You’ll learn a lot from it, not just from a scientific perspective but also from a creative point of view. We hope this article helps you find the best telescope for astrophotography!

If you want to put your astrophotography telescope to good use, try out our Shooting Skies e-book to capture stunning night skies!

The images in this article are partly provided by Jumpstory. Get a 25% discount on their plans with our code: EXPO25

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