As outdoor activities continue to balloon in popularity, the telescopes available on the market are also growing in number and variety. Once you get above budget-level pricing, the number of telescopes that appear in your search results can appear overwhelming. There are so many options.
How can you be sure you’re getting a good product? Is this a good deal for the price?
IN A HURRY? HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS…
These are common questions that come to mind, especially for those who are new to the field of astronomy. That is why we have taken the time to pick out the best of the best at this price point. These telescopes are not only great products, but they are also good deals. They offer a lot in terms of functionality, usability, and reliability and for a fair price.
Don’t let the pages and pages of telescopes turn you off or lure you into a bad purchase. Trust our knowledge and expertise to lead you to brands and bargains that will not disappoint.
Here are our picks for the best telescopes available today for less than $300.
Best Dobsonian Telescope Under $300: Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope
Dobsonian telescopes are becoming wildly popular and it is easy to see why. They are large, powerful, easy to use, and are able to offer years of enjoyment to the dedicated user. Dobsonian telescopes vary greatly in terms of price and they rarely fall to these price levels. That is why we jumped at the chance to include a full fledged Dobsonian on this list.
Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope Specs
- Type: Dobsonian
- Aperture: 6”
- Focal ratio: f/8
- Highest theoretical magnification: 400x
- Assembled weight: 34.4
The Orion SkyQuest XT6 is a classic Dobsonian design boasting a large and effective 6” diameter aperture. This large primary aperture allows this telescope to drink in as much light as possible. Magnification’s relation to light gathering ability is non-linear meaning that for each additional fraction of an inch added to diameter gives you exponentially more potential magnification power.
A difference in an inch in terms of aperture doesn’t sound like much at first but the difference is notable. This 6” model by Orion is going to be much more powerful than a similar 5” model. If you are interested in peering deep into the cosmos, then this Dobsonian is going to give you the best opportunity to fully explore that desire over the other telescopes on this list.
The difference in power won’t show up in a noticeable way when viewing something like the moon but if you stretch yourself to try and find some unique deep sky objects such as vibrant nebula, this telescope’s extra power is going to really shine.
In addition to some great deep space views, this telescope also ships with everything you need to get quickly set up and started. Some assembly is required in order to attach the optical tube assembly (OTA) to the base and get everything configured properly. In that way, it is not as simple as pulling it out and screwing it into a tripod but the little bit of extra effort is worth it.
It also comes with an eyepiece, a finderscope, focuser, and collimation cap which helps keep your telescope in focus and properly tuned over its lifespan.
Anyone looking to invest in their first Dobsonian-style telescope is going to love the performance and reliability of this scope.Check Latest Price
Best Computerized Telescope Under $300: Celestron – 80LCM Computerized Refractor Telescope
The other branch of astronomy that is rapidly growing in popularity and usability is the computerized telescope. The rise of more and more advanced technology in our lives has also made its way to the telescope market. You do not have to break the bank to come away with a fantastic computerized telescope that makes stargazing a breeze.
Celestron – 80LCM Computerized Refractor Telescope Specs
- Type: Refractor
- Aperture: 80mm
- Focal ratio: f/11
- Highest useful magnification: 189x
- Assembled weight: 14lbs
Celestron has a long history of innovation and they continue that tradition here with the Celestron 80LCM Computerized model of a refractor telescope. They have taken one of their tried and true refractor designs and upgraded it with their suite of advanced technology found in all of their star locating telescopes (SLT). That means you do not have to shell out big money in order to enjoy the benefits of Celestron’s latest and greatest stellar database.
This technology includes a database of 40,000 preprogrammed objects that you are able to ask the telescope to locate for you. Using Celestron’s proprietary StarAlign alignment package, your telescope will be able to locate itself using three bright sky objects for orientation. Once it is locked in, it will be able to automatically attempt to locate any of the over 40,000 items in the database.
This includes planets, moons, galaxies, nebula, and more. Want to see Jupiter? Just use the controller to select it and watch the telescope do the rest for you. It is really remarkable to see when it all works properly.
The SLT technology plus the inclusion of Starry Night and Celestron’s own Sky Portal app means that the entire visible night sky will be available for you to explore in amazing detail.
In terms of simplicity and potential, this telescope is one of the best hands down. Throw in the ability to outfit this refractor with any of dozens of available add-ons and accessories on the market and you have a truly versatile base on which to build the ultimate star finding telescope.Check Latest Price
Best Refractor Telescope Under $300: Orion 9024 AstroView 90mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope
The AstroView 90EQ Refractor is the second Orion telescope to make this list and for good reason. While it does not have all of the new technology that the Celestron refractor has, it is a smooth looking telescope that offers sharp, crystal clear high contrast images of your favorite planets and moons.
The best features of refractors, when compared to reflectors, are their portability, narrow field of view, ease of customization, and durability. There are those who are fans of refractors who just won’t have it any other way. If you are one of those people or someone who is interested in the benefits compared to a reflector, then the AstroView 90EQ is the best available at this price point.
Orion 9024 AstroView 90mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope Specs
- Type: Refractor
- Aperture: 90mm
- Focal ratio: f/10
- Highest theoretical magnification: 180x
- Assembled weight: 32lbs
This refractor is designed around offering super crisp views straight out of the box. It will not take much adjusting, assembling, or frustration to get the clear images you are looking for. If you have any interest in viewing the moon, the planets, and nearby celestial objects such as the constellations, then this telescope is a no brainer.
The focal ratio of f/10 combined with the high quality achromatic glass lenses and optics allows you to get some super high contrast views of things such as Jupiter and Saturn. The colors of these planets are going to pop and the differences in cloud bands and other subtle variations in detail will be apparent here where they wouldn’t be with other telescopes.
This focus on long form, high contrast, viewing is one of the reasons Orion decided to ship this telescope with an advanced equatorial mount. The included mount allows for easy slow motion manual tracking of your favorite objects across the night sky meaning you get stunning views in the eyepiece for longer.
Any backyard astronomer looking to get the most out of a high fidelity refractor will not be disappointed by the Orion AstroView 90EQ. It has everything one could want in pursuit of truly stunning views of our nearest night sky neighbors.Check Latest Price
Best On A Budget Telescope Under $300: Celestron Inspire 80AZ Refractor
Just because our price limit is $300 does not mean that every telescope on this list has to butt right up against that hard limit. What if you are looking for something in this range but can’t afford to shell out the full $300? You are going to want to look at the Inspire 80AZ by Celestron. This telescope is an all around great bargain that offers unmatched quality for a super awesome price.
Celestron Inspire 80AZ Refractor Specs
- Type: Refractor
- Aperture: 80mm
- Focal ratio: f/11
- Highest theoretical magnification: 189x
- Assembled weight: 17lbs
This telescope has the benefit of being durable and portable. You are able to easily unpack and pack up this telescope to take with you on the road. It is the perfect addition for any hiker or outdoorsman who truly loves the night sky.
It also has the added benefit of being great for terrestrial viewing as well. Take it to your favorite ledge, ridge, or mountain top and scan the horizon for spectacular views on Earth as well as in the sky.
If you are not interested in those potential extra uses, the Inspire 80AZ Refractor is still a great telescope for night sky viewing. It has a buttery smooth altazimuth mount that is a joy to use and makes scanning the sky for planets and comets a breeze.
Best of all, it comes with a built in smart phone adaptor which allows you to get some truly unique shots for social media. Once you place your phone into the adapter and line up the camera properly, your phone will be able to see what your telescope sees.
This allows you to snap some great pictures of the moon, Jupiter, and more right with your phone. You can then quickly edit and upload them for public consumption. This is a fun feature that adds a lot of use and functionality to this already great telescope.
If you are looking for a fun telescope for general use and do not want to spend hundreds of dollars to achieve this, then this telescope makes a strong case for purchase.Check Latest Price
Best Bundle Telescope Under $300: Gskyer 600x90mm AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope
If you are looking for an all around great bundle that will require no aftermarket purchases to truly make great, you are going to want to check out the Gskyer 90AZ Refractor Bundle. While some people love outfitting their telescope with extra accessories and buying extras, other people just want something that is going to work with a single purchase. This bundle by Gkyer does its best to make sure you do not have to buy anything else once you’ve settled on their telescope.
Gskyer 600x90mm AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope Specs
- Type: Refractor
- Aperture: 90mm
- Focal ratio: f/6.7
- Highest theoretical magnification: 200x
- Assembled weight: 18lbs
The base of this bundle is a solid refractor telescope. It features a full 4” aperture for good light gathering power. The OTA itself is pretty short, coming in at only 30”. Many other similar telescopes are in the neighborhood of 36”+ in length. This makes for an easy to manage and store tube that has a lower focal ratio than most refractors.
But the thing that puts this telescope over the edge is the number of extras that Gskyer has included.
First, all of the glass in this telescope is coated with high transmission coatings which are a huge plus. This is a feature not usually seen in lower end telescopes and really adds to the image quality. This helps to cut down on imaging anomalies that can sometimes plague refractor telescopes.
In addition to that, it also comes with three eyepieces, as opposed to two, a 3x Barlow lens, an adjustable tripod, a finderscope, a cellphone adapter for basic astrophotography, and a 12-month warranty. Other telescopes certainly feature some of these extras in their purchase price but very few include all of these things together and manage to stay under $300.
If you are looking for a great package or bundle that comes with everything you need to start star gazing right away without any hassle, this makes a strong play for the only bundle you need to consider.Check Latest Price
$300 and under is a great price range to shop for a telescope. The results can be overwhelming but there are some truly great scopes that exist here that perfectly straddle the line between affordable and advanced. You can still find some awesome bundles and new technologies packaged with crowd favorite OTAs.
We are sure that there is a perfect telescope for you out there and it might even be on this list.