The night sky promises wonders like the stars, the moon, and the planets. Interestingly, there are 5 planets visible with just our naked eyes if we know where to find them. We don’t easily realize this because, with just our eyes, they only look like the stars that we usually see up there.
The best way to appreciate these planets better would be looking at them using telescopes. A telescope of good quality will help you see these planets not only as blobs of light in the night sky. You get to observe their texture and surfaces. You’ll see their colors and maybe even their moons.
High-quality telescopes can get really expensive. One can cost you thousands of dollars, but the good thing is that there are still high-quality telescopes out there that can cost you less. Given that telescopes could cost thousands of dollars, an affordable high- quality telescope would be priced at least below $400.
Now if you are planning to get a new telescope for an upcoming planetary event or simply observe the planets on a regular basis, here are five affordable telescopes that will make you enjoy observing them better.
1. Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope
It is really what you should be getting if you’re running tight on budget. Priced below $200, this will already let you have a look at the color of Mars and Saturn’s rings when it’s tilted nicely.
This telescope included in the PowerSeeker series has a focal length of 1000mm and aperture of 127mm.
Generally, the aperture that will work best for planet observation would be from 101mm – 180mm (4–7 inches). It also comes with 2 eyepieces (4mm and 20mm) and allows you to use the zoom function up to 250x as its maximum good–quality magnification.
If you’re a beginner, this will be the most preferable option. Just remember to not use the 20mm eyepiece with the 3x Barlow lenses it comes with. If you do, you won’t likely see anything because that equates to 750x magnification.
2. Orion 10016 StarBlast 6 Astro Reflector Telescope
This is another good telescope to start with if you’re new to telescopes but don’t expect it to be similarly priced with Celestron’s PowerSeekers. This telescope is priced below $350. It promises to let you see Saturn’s major division, the Cassini Division, and observe the phases of Venus.
The focal length this comes with is 750mm and its aperture is 6in or 152mm. Even if this is something that you can start with, well-experienced sky observers actually find this great too. The size of its aperture not only lets you enjoy planet-viewing, but it also lets you see the moon and its surface. This is definitely worth its price.
It comes with 2 eyepieces – 10mm and 25mm, and also lets you use up to 300x clear magnification.
Setting this up is a breeze, which is mainly because it’s a tabletop telescope. This is best if you are into traveling for celestial events. It’s easy to set-up and travel with anywhere.
3. Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope
With the quality that this telescope can give you, its price of about $400 is still definitely affordable. After all, this is a mid-level computerized telescope and is already considered as a semi-professional tool.
This comes with 2 eyepieces (9mm and 25mm) and has a focal length of 600mm. The aperture is still within the ideal range for planet observation which is 130mm. It’s an SLT telescope, so it means that it has the star-locating feature with a database of more than 4,000 stars.
Another good thing with this is that it comes with a sturdy mount and a 2-year warranty. It’s portability and ease of use features make this something that could make your observation journey worthwhile.
4. SkyWatcher S11510 Maksutov-Cassegrain 102mm
Priced below $300, this is definitely on the low side of the price spectrum of high-quality telescopes. This is also great for observers who are always on the go.
This is pretty small but the image quality it will give you is still sharp with its focal length of 1300mm and aperture of 102mm. The eyepieces it comes with are 10mm and 25mm.
With its features, this is already good enough to show you colors and surfaces of the planets you’d like to observe.
5. Meade Instruments Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope
Priced below $250, this is another promising telescope not only for beginners but also for well-experienced observers. This already comes with a mount so you don’t have to think about getting one anymore.
The aperture it has is 102mm and its focal length is 600mm. It comes with 3 eyepieces (6.3mm, 9mm, 26mm), and 2 Barlow lenses. With its features, you don’t only get to see colors. You can observe the clouds of Jupiter and see the moon’s craters looking through it.
Knowing its price, you wouldn’t feel like good features were sacrificed. If you plan on getting into amateur-astronomy, this is something you might want to get.
A Few More Things to Consider
This list proves that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to obtain the satisfaction you want when it comes to getting to know the planets better. Aside from aperture and focal length, always consider the magnification capability of the telescope with the eyepiece it comes with.
Now, even if these telescopes are already affordable, always consider or spare a bit more budget for accessories that are not included in the package. You don’t really have to be stuck with what comes with it.
Before using any of these telescopes, always ensure that you familiarize yourself with the features they came with to ensure that you maximize or fully enjoy their functions. Shopping for a telescope doesn’t have to be stressful. You just really should consider why you’re getting one in the first place.