Best Telescopes Under $1000

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At $1000, we are moving past simple telescopes and into the realm where you are expecting to be impressed. A grand is a lot of money by any stretch, so anything you are going to drop that much cash on better be something special. Telescopes in this price range not only need to offer stunning views, great usability, and durability, but they also have to bring something fresh and new to the table.

IN A HURRY? HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS…

Best Refractor
Sky-Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor – Compact and Portable Optical Tube for Affordable Astrophotography and Visual Astronomy
Best Dobsonian
Zhumell Z12 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector Telescope
Best Computerized
Celestron - NexStar 8SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000+ Celestial Objects - 8-Inch Primary Mirror
New Technology
Celestron – StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ Smartphone App-Enabled Telescope – Works with StarSense App to Help You Find Stars, Planets & More – 130mm Newtonian Reflector – iPhone/Android Compatible
Honorable Mention
Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000 plus Celestial Objects - 6-Inch Primary Mirror
Product
Sky Watcher EvoStar 100
Zhumell Z12
Celestron - NexStar 8SE
Celestron – StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ
Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope
Optical Design
Refractor
Dobsonian
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Reflector
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture
100mm
305mm
203.2mm
130mm
150mm
Focal Length
900mm
1500mm
2032mm
650mm
1500mm
Focal Ratio
f/9
f/5
f/10
f/5
f/10
Go-To
Best Refractor
Sky-Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor – Compact and Portable Optical Tube for Affordable Astrophotography and Visual Astronomy
Product
Sky Watcher EvoStar 100
Optical Design
Refractor
Aperture
100mm
Focal Length
900mm
Focal Ratio
f/9
Go-To
Best Dobsonian
Zhumell Z12 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector Telescope
Product
Zhumell Z12
Optical Design
Dobsonian
Aperture
305mm
Focal Length
1500mm
Focal Ratio
f/5
Go-To
Best Computerized
Celestron - NexStar 8SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000+ Celestial Objects - 8-Inch Primary Mirror
Product
Celestron - NexStar 8SE
Optical Design
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture
203.2mm
Focal Length
2032mm
Focal Ratio
f/10
Go-To
New Technology
Celestron – StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ Smartphone App-Enabled Telescope – Works with StarSense App to Help You Find Stars, Planets & More – 130mm Newtonian Reflector – iPhone/Android Compatible
Product
Celestron – StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ
Optical Design
Reflector
Aperture
130mm
Focal Length
650mm
Focal Ratio
f/5
Go-To
Honorable Mention
Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope - Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users - Fully-Automated GoTo Mount - SkyAlign Technology - 40,000 plus Celestial Objects - 6-Inch Primary Mirror
Product
Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope
Optical Design
Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture
150mm
Focal Length
1500mm
Focal Ratio
f/10
Go-To

There are a lot of good telescopes, and even great telescopes, on the market for markedly lower prices than these. That is why we have handpicked the best of the best. Telescopes at this price point have special upgrades, unique features, and out of this world performance that is sure to amaze.

Here are our favorite telescopes available today for less than $1000.

Best Refractor: Sky Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor

Sky Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor

The EvoStar 100 APO is a refractor that is steeped in attention to detail. If you have any appreciation for the glassworks on refractors or appreciate the ancient and meticulous design of refractor telescopes, you will love this one. The Sky Watcher EvoStar 100A APO Refractor takes all of the best parts of the refractor telescope and elevates it to an eleven.

This telescope was designed with the image enthusiast in mind. Everything about it has been carefully manicured to produce the absolute best images around. All of the glass in this scope is double coated with proprietary Metallic High-Transmission Coatings (MHTC). This enhances all color and color correction while cutting down on many potential aberrations.

The results are simply stunning.

Sky Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor Features

  • Type: Refractor
  • Aperture: 100mm
  • Focal ratio: f/9
  • Highest theoretical magnification: 236x
  • Assembled weight: 9lbs

This is a perfect telescope for anyone looking to do some serious astrophotography. We have our picks for some of the best astrophotography cameras on the market right now as well. The image quality of this scope makes astrophotographs truly pop. The borders are crisp and clear. Boundaries and colors are fully realized. If you want to take that next step into astrophotography, there are few telescopes out there that will give you such high fidelity images for cameras.

Even if you are not into astrophotography if you like the idea of grabbing super crisp and clear images of things like the cloud bands on Jupiter or the rings of Saturn, this telescope will deliver in spades.
The one downside is that it does not come with a base. There is no tripod included with this telescope, you only get the optical tube assembly. That means you will have to furnish your own tripod or similar base, which could up the price of this telescope by a little bit.

Minus that, this telescope comes with everything you need to hit the ground running, including a hard-sided case to protect your investment. If you are someone who is looking for image quality above all else, you will be hard pressed to find another telescope in the same league as the Sky Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Refractor.

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Best Dobsonian: Zhumell Z12 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector

Zhumell Z12 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector

If you prefer quantity over quality, you are going to love the Zhumell Z12 Dobsonian Telescope. Where the Sky Watcher Refractor excels in the purity of image quality, the Zhumell Z12 has the chops to give you an unimaginable amount of images. This ability is derived from this telescope’s absolutely massive aperture. At twelve inches, a full foot of diameter, there are few telescopes available to the backyard enthusiast that are this large.

This massive size gives this telescope an unmatchable amount of light gathering power, which opens up the cosmos to further and more distant viewing than ever before. With each inch of aperture size added, telescopes get exponentially more powerful. That means the Zhumell Z12 is far more powerful than a similar ten inch Dobsonian.

Zhumell Z12 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector Features

  • Type: Dobsonian
  • Aperture: 12” (305mm)
  • Focal ratio: f/5
  • Highest theoretical magnification: 600x
  • Assembled weight: 75lbs

With a magnification ceiling of 600x, this is by far the most powerful telescope on this list. What that means is that some of the most distant and far off objects possible to be seen by a hobbyist astronomer can be reached with this telescope. If the likes of Mars and Andromeda bore you and you want to trawl the depths of space for new and interesting sights never before seen by your friends and family, this is the scope to do it with.

You are not only getting a massive Dobsonian telescope with the Zhumell Z12, but you are also getting a fully equipped telescope kit with everything you need to enjoy the night sky for one sum. The deluxe moniker in the name is not just there for show but is an accurate description of this telescope.

This kit comes with a ton of rarely seen included upgrades such as a large laser collimation cap, a cooling fan to keep the mirrors cool during use, and a large smooth Crayford focuser. All of these things ensure that your telescope stays calibrated, focused, and sharp during use where other telescopes might suffer from temperature warp or misalignment.
The only true downside to this telescope is the sheer size of it makes it unwieldy. At seventy five pounds, there is no easy way to move or store this thing. It does come apart into two sections, but assembly and disassembly raise the risk of harming the fragile telescope innards and is not recommended. If you want a portable telescope, this is not it.

However, if you are in the market for a truly massive telescope that is capable of providing truly unique and stunning views of deep space, then there is no better telescope on the market. As Dobsonians get more popular, this one is simply one of the best Dobsonian telescopes ever designed.

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Best Computerized: Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope

Celestron - NexStar 8SE Telescope

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is equipped with some of the most complete and state of the art computerized features available in any telescope on the market today. In addition to simply being a stunning and easy to use telescope, it also boasts a massive preprogrammed database of over 40,000 celestial objects with a full goto mount system. This means that, given the right sky conditions and location, you can simply punch a combination of buttons and your telescope will be able to locate, identify and track any one of those 40,000 objects.

The technology in action is an incredible sight to behold and is guaranteed to astound you. This makes finding all manner of exciting and unique deep space objects easier than ever before. No more endless manual motion, alignments and focusing needed.

Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope Features

  • Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain
  • Aperture: 8”
  • Focal ratio: f/10
  • Highest theoretical magnification: 480x
  • Assembled weight: 33lbs

The backbone of this system is Celestron’s proprietary suite of technology which includes SkyAlign and the database which makes using these features easier than ever before. You hardly need any experience with telescopes to get the most out of this system.

The eight inch aperture is large enough to give you the power you need to make the most out of this database. Smaller telescopes are going to struggle to see all of the included 40,000 objects but this telescope has the chops to really put this list through its paces.

The result is a crisp and smooth telescope experience which is able to produce amazing high contrast images of any one of thousands of objects, automatically. When it comes for visual bang for your buck, you aren’t going to find many better than this telescope. No other computerized telescope is as complete and well paired as the NexStar 8SE.

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Best New Technology: Celestron – StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ

Celestron – StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ

Smart telescopes are just over the horizon. Unsurprisingly, Celestron is at the forefront of the next generation of highly technological telescopes. Their StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ is one of their newest endeavors which brings all of the new technology they are developing to the forefront.

Soon, smart telescopes will be as common as smart phones but until then, this is the next best thing. Using a combination of telescope power and cell power, Celestron has created a telescope set up that runs off the power of your smartphone.

Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ Features

Type: Reflector
Aperture: 130mm
Focal ratio: f/5
Highest theoretical magnification: 307x
Assembled weight: 18lbs

Using one of their most popular and powerful reflectors as a base, Celestron has made this telescope fully integratable with your smartphone. Simply drop your phone into the included cellphone tray and load up the app to get started. Once the app is loaded it will generate a list of the best visible objects in the sky for your exact location, weather conditions and time of year.

Once the list is loaded, simply click on your desired object and the app will tell you exactly how to position your telescope to get the best views of the object. Like a navigation app for the night sky, it will guide you to where you want to go step by step until the object comes into view.

The app will then give you some extra information about the object in question as you view it through the eyepiece. Right now, this process is done by hand but in the future it can definitely be automated once cellphone integration is something that has been completely implemented.

In the meantime, if you want to try your hand at the latest and greatest in telescopes this is the scope to consider. The reflector is powerful and gives you enough excellence in magnification and image quality that you should be able to get the most out of the Celestron app.

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Honorable Mention: Celestron – NexStar 6SE Telescope

Celestron - NexStar 6SE Telescope

If you do not want to spend up to the full $1000 you can easily downgrade many of the telescopes on this list to smaller or less equipped models without a noticeable drop in quality. For example, the Zhumell Z12 also comes in a Z10 and a Z8 model which cut the size and the cost. Similarly, the NexStar 8SE comes in this smaller model, the NexStar 6SE.

Celestron NexStar 6SE Telescope Features

Type: Schmidt-Cassegrain
Aperture: 6”
Focal ratio: f/10
Highest theoretical magnification: 354x
Assembled weight: 30lbs

For a stepdown telescope, there is none better than the NexStar 6SE. The 8SE is one of the best telescopes ever made and that level of quality and detail is present here as well. You still get all of the amazing NexStar computerized features here, including the database and goto mount system. The only thing you are sacrificing is the size of the aperture, which is two inches smaller.

While this does reduce the magnification potential compared to the 8SE, the difference is negligible considering how much space this telescope can cover with ease. This telescope still has enough in the tank to keep you entertained and informed for years to come, and it comes in at a much better price in case you cannot afford the fully upgraded 8SE model.

For those reasons, that is why the Celestron NexStar 6SE gets the honorable mention spot. Many of these telescopes do have slimmed down models for less money. If that is something you are interested in, be sure to check out their sister products and make the best decision for you and your budget. Never be afraid to take a look at similar or smaller options, you might be just as happy or happier with a different configuration.

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Verdict

No matter what kind of astronomer you want to be, an astrophotographer, a deep space explorer, or a tech savvy pioneer, there are new and amazing telescopes out there for you. This list has a telescope for every kind of astronomer. New technology, huge apertures, sharp images, and awesome accessories.

There are tons of telescopes out there for you to choose from but you will be hard-pressed to find any that match these in terms of quality and functionality. These are the absolute best telescopes available for less than $1000.