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Best Telescope For Kids and Teens

Updated on September 19, 2014

Telescopes for Kids and Beginners

If you have a kid who is interested in space and astronomy, shelling out a little more to get a quality telescope that the kid can grow with is warmly recommended. Closeup views of the moon is something every youngster is curious about and almost any telescope for kids can provide this view.

Even cheap telescopes that border on toys have the ability to render the moon's surface in detail, a view that is fascinating and educational, but most of the simple instruments for K5 kids are better used for terrestrial viewing.

Best Compact Yet Powerful Telescope by Orion - A quality hobby telescope under $200

Orion Tabletop Cassegrain Telescope
Orion Tabletop Cassegrain Telescope

One of the best telscopes in the $200 range

The StarMax has a 1250mm focal length and comes with dual eyepieces that offer a visual 50x and 125x magnification! This type of telescope is very compact and easily fits on a desk but it still collects over 200% more light than a refractor telescope (the traditional long tube type).

The Orion Maksutov-Cassegrain Portable Telescope is a excellent telescope for older kids with a interest for science, astronomy and the natural world. The 6.5 pound package is light enough to be brought along on camping trips. Compact yet excellent telescope for kids and teens of all ages.

Tasco 49TN Refractor Telescope & Microscope
Tasco 49TN Refractor Telescope & Microscope

This is similar to what I got as a kid. I was very happy with it but soon migrated to a scope with more magnification and light gathering capability.

 

Telescope and Microscope Bundle for Beginners

My first telescope when I was 10 years old and it was a 60mm refractor tube similar to this telescope and microscope bundle. It was great fun and I used it for observing the moon as well as daytime land observations.

A great price on this combo but don't expect optical miracles..This kind of scope is better suited for terrestrial viewing rather than seeking out stars. Perfect for K-5 kids.

Is a Telescope a Good Gift For a Kid?

If you are wondering whether a telescope could be a suitable gift for a kid,.. the answer is a yes! It opens up a new world both in the sky and on land and is a excellent way to get kids interested in science hobbies.

Cheap Telescopes for Young Kids

Astro discovery tools under $50

A telescope relies on light gathering capacity and magnification to bring objects visually closer. With the basic complexity required of such a optical device, cheap is seldom good enough. If you have a kid who is old enough to know the difference between a plastic toy and a real product, you will probably be wanting to choose at least one step up from the gear shown in this section.

With this in mind, there are a number of telescopes that are specifically built for the younger Astronomer in the family. All of the scopes on this guide are better than pure toy telescopes for kids and should offer the child or teen a usable tool for science exploration.

A best seller is the Celestron FirstScope Telescope which offers a cheap way to see if astronomy is anything your kid may want to pursue. Celestron makes some of the finest telescopes for grownups and the First Scope is good enough to offer a glimpse into the world of space while also being perfectly usable for land observation.Best selling telescope for kids that offers 15x and 75x magnification

Another inexpensive counter-top scope is the FunScope Reflector Telescope which is a starter telescope that provides a modest 15x and 30x visual magnification which is adequate for viewing the Moon or land objects.

Like the FirstScope it looks wildly different from a traditional long tube refractor, but the upside is that the optical design makes them more light sensitive which is a plus. Offers low magnification, adequate for young K-5 kids

NASA Space News for Kids

A blurb about upcoming manned missions to mars. From the dedicated Nasa for Kids channel

Meade Instruments20218 NG-70SM 70mm Altazimuth Refractor Telescope
Meade Instruments20218 NG-70SM 70mm Altazimuth Refractor Telescope

he Meade NG-70SM shown here is a excellent example of a instep telescope that although cheap, is not a toy and is suitable for kids and young teens.

 

Optical Telescopes around $100

Offering 28x and 78x magnification, the 29 inch long Meade is a classic refraction telescope that would make a perfect gift for any fledgling astronomer.

When buying a telescope for your child, make your choice based on a) the kids age and maturity, b) prior interest/experience with binoculars or telescopes.

Most telescopes are also great for terrestrial viewing and are a great way to observe animals and distant landscape. You get what you pay for though, so choose a toy for a toddler and something a bit more capable for the older kid.

The Celestron 60mm Power-Seeker is a slightly smaller, 60mm telescope of similar design. It has very good ratings and offers better optics than one might expect from the very affordable price it has. This is a good entry level scope for sky and land viewing.

Both of the above are suitable for teens and very inexpensive while still providing a more useful experience than mainstream toy telescopes for kids on sale.

A science gift for the youngest kids

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope
Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope

The "telescope" on this kit is all plastic and only has 3X magnification (your smartphone has more), but it can be a inspirational toy for toddlers. The cool part is the educational facts and the viewing slides that are supplied. Slide in a image disk, view the magnified image through the eyepiece and start the recorded explanation of what you are seeing.

This is a simple yet exciting toy for 2 - 4 year olds.

 
BARSKA Colorado Waterproof Spotting Scope
BARSKA Colorado Waterproof Spotting Scope

20 - 60x magnification means you need to use a tripod, which is included.

 

Rugged Spotting Scope for Wildlife and Sport

A spotting scope is mainly used for target reading in for example archery, or for other land based objects such as bird-viewing, cityscapes etc.

Barska makes very high quality optics and you can certainly use this spotting scope to also view the moon in excellent detail.

A Big Telescope for The Grown-up Kid - For the Serious Astronomy Enthusiast

With a $$$$ price tag, and weighing in at 65 pounds, this is obviously not a kid's telescope. The Celestron CPC 1100 is a top of the line Schmidt-Cassegrain type telescope with a focal equivalent of 2800mm.

This is a semi-pro astro gazing lens of high quality that has the resolving power to show you Saturn's rings and moons, Jupiter cloud formations, very detailed closeup views of our Moon, and some of the best views of astronomical formations in the sub $5000 price group..

Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain 2800mm Telescope with Tripod and Tube
Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain 2800mm Telescope with Tripod and Tube

A dream telescope for the adult kid with a passion for astronomy. With this Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope you get excellent views of solar system planets and celestial objects like star clusters, neublae, etc

This telescope has a computerized tripod which aligns the viewing angle to thousands of different celestial objects.

 

Kids Brass Monocular Telescope

There are several types of "pirate" telescopes for sale but most of them offer about 3x magnification which is not much. Since the whole purpose of getting a telescope is to get you visually closer to objects why not go for something with a bit more power.

IOTC Science Purchase 78TELE15 Handheld Brass Telescope with Wooden Box
IOTC Science Purchase 78TELE15 Handheld Brass Telescope with Wooden Box

This is a fine gift for any kid. Comes in a wooden box and offers about 12x magnification.

Strong magnification means it takes a while before you get the hang of holding it steady or bracing it against something for a clear view. All part of the fun!

 

Have experience with telescopes? Share your tips!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've debated buying one for the last few years, but have been afraid of buying one that's too cheap. Thanks for sharing this selection.

    • profile image

      lilPinkfairy288 5 years ago

      We have one but it is broken now. My youngest son keeps on messing with it. I guess it is time to get him a new one.

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      These can literally open up a whole new world to kids.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 5 years ago

      Not yet. I haven't touched telescope even in museum or planetarium..

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