A good telescope does not have to cost a prohibitive amount of money. There are plenty of great options on the market for minimal sums that can fit a variety of niches and wants when it comes to backyard astronomy. Whether you are simply budget conscious or are looking for the best bang for your buck or a scratch and dent portable scope, there are more options than ever at an affordable price point.
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If you are looking for a new outdoor hobby and don’t want to dive straight into the deep end then there are some great telescopes on this list for you. If you want a budget telescope that you can experiment with without fear of damaging a very expensive piece of equipment, there is a telescope on this list for you.
Here are our favorite telescopes available for less than $100.
Best Portable Telescope Under $100:
Zhumell Z100 AZ Reflector
Being able to bring your telescope on adventures is a severely underrated part of casual astronomy. There is a dedicated fanbase who demands portability out of their telescope and for good reason. Finding remote, dark sky areas, can be a game changer for our appreciation and enjoyment of the night sky.
The Zhumell Z100 AZ Reflector is a compact, simple, and supremely portable telescope that offers a lot of upside. With a large 100mm aperture and a manageable weight of 6lbs, you will not find this kind of light gathering capability and size anywhere else on the market.
This table top telescope has the ability to offer you extremely high quality images and shots of distant objects. Stars pop, nebula come into focus and you can easily peer past the constellations into the deeper parts of space.
The flat bottomed base allows you to simply set this telescope down on any flat surface and start viewing immediately. There are no tripods or complicated mounts to deal with, only clear views. What you are getting with the Zhumell Z100 is a miniature Dobsonian telescope, which I think is absolutely awesome.
Zhumell Z100 AZ Reflector Specs
Aperture: 100mm (4”)
Focal ratio: f/4
Highest Theoretical Magnification: 200x
Assembled Weight: 6lbs
This telescope will sit easily on your desk, on your covered porch or patio, you can put it in your trunk and take it camping or to your favorite park, you can set it in a window sill, or put it away without having to worry about it. But unlike other miniatures or models, you still get all of the awesome functionality of a full sized unit.
The only downsides are that without a tripod, it can limit where you can effectively put this telescope during a viewing session. If you do not have a good flat area to set up, then this table top design could hinder your ability to see certain sections of the sky. Also, with a super low focal ratio of f/4, you are going to get very wide angled views and shots of the night sky meaning getting high contrast and crisp views of single bright objects are going to be difficult.
If you are looking for a compact and portable telescope that still packs a helluva punch, then you cannot go wrong with the Zhumell Z100 Miniature Dobsonian Telescope.Check Latest Price
Best EQ Mounted Telescope Under $100:
Celestron Powerseeker 80EQ
Many telescopes in this price range are equipped with simple altazimuth mounts. Normally, this is completely fine. Altazimuth mounts of smooth, easy to use, and offers many all the functionality they need out of their base. But some people want the finesse and control of an equatorial mount versus an altazimuth mount.
Luckily, there is a well made telescope by Celestron that ships with a great equatorial mount and still comes in under our price point. The Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ is a refractor telescope that ships with an equatorial mount, multiple eyepieces, a tripod, and a Barlow lens. This is a great value that offers everything you need to get started with interstellar object tracking.
The main benefit of an equatorial mount is the tracking ability that it offers over that of an altazimuth mount. Once you lock in the equatorial mount – aligned with the equator as the name suggests – with your chosen target, tracking it throughout the evening becomes an easy task.
Getting Celestron’s equatorial mount is a great value for many reasons. This is a great telescope to learn with as object tracking is an important skill for any astronomers who intend on pursuing this hobby in the long term. It also gives you the ability to do more long form viewing rather than short sessions.
Celestron Powerseeker 80EQ Specs
Focal ratio: f/11
Highest useful magnification: 189x
Assembled Weight: 17lbs
This is possible due to the super easy to learn and easy to use micro-adjustment controls which allows you to slowly move the aperture of the telescope along with any night sky object that you have properly aligned with. Once synced up with the rotation of the Earth, you only have to worry about moving the telescope in one direction, rather than many directions which simplify the process of keeping objects in the eyepiece.
The high focal ratio of f/11 plus the 80mm aperture means that you are able to get great views of objects such as Jupiter or Saturn. Having a mount that is able to keep track of those objects for long periods of time gives you the ability to keep them in view for longer which boosts the odds of getting some truly spectacular images of your favorite planets.
In addition to that, you are still getting a quality Celestron product. Celestron is a trusted and renowned telescope designer and has been for many years. Their line of PowerSeeker telescopes is highly regarded and often tops the charts for best beginner scopes, best telescopes on a budget, and best portable scopes. The Celestron PowerSeeker 80EQ fits into all of those categories.
This is the ideal beginner telescope or a perfect telescope for anyone who wants object tracking for an affordable price.Check Latest Price
Best Telescope Package Under $100:
Celestron 70mm Travel Scope Bundle
Some people just like getting a bargain. There is an undeniable rush when you feel like you are getting a lot more than you should for a given price. It is what makes BOGO deals so appealing. If you are someone who loves value hunting and getting that warm feeling of having one over on the corporations, you are going to love the Celestron 70mm Travel Bundle.
Simply put, this is one of the best telescope deals available on the market today.
The value is derived from the massive amount of extra uses this telescope ships with. It comes with a travel backpack that conveniently fits the telescope and all of its accessories so you can easily travel or store this scope. It comes with two eyepieces to get your inevitable collection started.
Then there are the little things that add a lot more functionality and value. All of the glass optics in this kit come fully coated. That is an upgrade that usually costs a bunch more money to obtain and really increases the image contrast and quality. The fact that all of the optics come fully coated should already get your attention at this price.
Then throw the tripod itself and a suite of high tech programs and applications that you get access to via Celestron and you have a complete set for a steal.
Celestron 70mm Travel Scope Bundle Specs
Focal ratio: f/5.7
Highest theoretical magnification: 165x
Assembled Weight: 4.2lbs
It also comes with an erect image diagonal. That allows you to use this telescope as a terrestrial scope as well as a night sky telescope. The image diagonal makes it so you can bring this telescope out to your favorite vistas and use it as a panoramic viewer, bird watching tool, hunting aid, or any other various activities in which a tripod mounted magnification device might come in handy.
Basically, you get two telescopes for the price of one. Other telescopes are not well suited for terrestrial use. Still, the super manageable weight of 4lbs and the handy backpack mean that you can easily take this telescope along for the ride almost anywhere and find a use for it.
Hilltop or mountain top views? Check. Spotting device for your favorite hunting field? Check. Great views of the moon at night? Check.
If you are looking for a versatile telescope for a great price that can do a whole lot for a small investment then you are going to love the Celestron 70mm Travel Package.
If you fall in love with this telescope, and there is a good chance that you will, it is also a fantastic base on which to build a customized accessory collection. The durable and flexible design of the refractor means you can kit this telescope out to be a perfect land based viewing device, a powerful night sky scanner, or something in between. The choice is going to be yours!Check Latest Price
Honorable Mention Under $100:
Orion SpaceProbe II
The last telescope on our list is a great honorable mention from the makers at Orion. The Orion SpaceProbe II is a solid telescope in its own right. For a very low price, usually right around $80, you get a capable reflector to tool around with. Many telescopes in this price range are refractors but this one offers you the functionality and views of a reflector for a basic refractor price.
This telescope is solid all around and is the perfect option for a family that wants to start stargazing or a beginner who wants a very basic reflector to get their feet wet with. It has an appealing design that stands out from the usual cast of plain black optical tube assemblies. Overall, it caught our eye and it will catch your eye too.
Orion SpaceProbe II Specs
Focal ratio: f/9.2
Highest theoretical magnification: 152x
Assembled weight: 7lbs
This telescope aims for the middle of the road and hits its mark quite well. The odd aperture size, 76mm, is a great compromise between the smaller 70mm and the larger 80mm models that you usually see. The focal ratio of f/9.2 is similarly average. It is not too low such as the other reflector on this list (f/4) and not too high like some of the refractors (f/11). This gives you a medium angled shot that is capable of getting high contrast images of the moon or distant star fields.
This kit also comes with a tripod, a moon map, two eyepieces, a reflex sight and a focuser. Everything you need to get started with your very first telescope comes right out of the box for less than $100.
The moon map is a nice touch. Not only will it educate you about our closest neighbor but also gives you some targets and landmarks to aim for. This will help you to familiarize yourself with how the telescope works and its capabilities which will, in turn, teach you if there are any upgrades or changes you want to make in the future.
Orion has delivered a great beginner product and a great all around budget telescope with their SpaceProbe II and anyone looking for a general telescope that touches on all aspects of the hobby for a low price, this one should be on your list.Check Latest Price
Whether you want a dual purposed travel telescope or a miniature Dobsonian with out of this world power, there are some great options out there at a price you can afford. All of the telescopes on this list are from reputable manufacturers with proven track records of customer service and quality control. These are not overseas knock offs or products trying to sell you a dream. They are the real deal and can offer some excellent values for your budget.
Do not let intimidating price tags keep you away from one of the most rewarding hobbies available. Backyard astronomy is fun for the whole family, great for beginners, and offers a great activity to do outside with ample room around you. One of these telescopes could be your first step into a wider world that can fascinate and educate for years to come.