Teenagers are always looking for fun activities to keep their minds stimulated and there are only a few things in the world that are more stimulating than looking deep into the skies with a telescope.
- 1. Celestron Astro Fi 90 Refractor
- 2. Orion SpaceProbe II 76mm Newtonian
- 3. Meade StarNavigator NG
- 4. Levenhuk Skyline
- 5. Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector
- 6. Celestron NexStar 5SE
- 7. Astronomers Without Borders OneSky 130
- 8. Celestron Firstscope
- 9. Celestron NexStar 8SE
- 10. SkyWatcher Dobsonian reflector
- Final Words
Your kids can actually go beyond the clouds to see new planets and galaxies with their own eyes; all they need is a clear sky and a telescope that suits them.
In this article, we will take a look at the 10 best first telescopes you should buy for your teenager.
1. Celestron Astro Fi 90 Refractor
The Celestron Astro Fi is a new generation that is most suitable for those who are comfortable with digital devices, which makes it more ideal for teenagers.
Other telescopes come with special purpose keypads and microprocessor scopes that are run by several lines of code, but with the Astro Fi, your smartphone is all that you need.
After you have purchased your Astro Fi telescope, simply head to Google Play store if you are using an Android phone, or Apple store if you own an iPhone, and download Celestron’s free SkyPortal app.
Once you have installed the app on your phone, go ahead and pair the app with your telescope via Wi-Fi without needing to connect to the internet, The Celestron Astro Fi 90 acts as a network device, so even where your mobile device does not have cellular reception, your telescope will still work.
This means that you do not have to worry about your kid messing up their controllers or ruin their laptop port while trying to mount a cable from it to the telescope.
All they need do is point their mobile device towards the skies and tap the screen and the telescope will do the rest.
You may need to give the telescope a little push by aligning a few bright objects to the eyepiece, and you are good.
One of the cons of the Celestron Astro is its chronic aberration and low dispersion glass, but considering the cost of the device, it should hardly bother you.
The circular images are a little soft around the edges and the hybrid mirror produces high-quality visual effects.
2. Orion SpaceProbe II 76mm Newtonian
Astronomy is fun stuff and more people will be into it if they were not scared of the cost, but if you really want to get your kids a decent telescope without breaking the bank, then you may want to check out the Orion SpaceProbe II Newtonian.
This telescope is arguably the best astronomical device that delivers the right dose of sky-viewing experience on a low budget.
Of course, you may not get the biggest telescope or the most advanced camera, but you can always start with this and transition to something bigger.
This SpaceProbe II is designed according to Newtonian optical-path design and comes with two eyepieces that are 28x and 70x.
It is called an Altazimuth reflector because it moves up and down and left and right, which are motions you are already used to, and it is easy to move under the night sky.
The telescope contains a 76mm reflecting mirror at the bottom, which is big enough to capture big and bright sky objects.
On the side, you get a couple of other accessories. For starters, you get 2 eyepieces; a 25mm low power piece and a 10mm high power one.
A lot of people often get these eyepieces confused. They think that the 25mm is the high power piece because it’s a higher number, but it works the opposite.
You always start with the 25mm to get the first view, then you use the 10mm piece to zoom in.
You also have a finderscope on the side. It is a star finder that gives you an honest view of the stars.
As for the mount, there is no pulling necessary; you simply move the telescope in any direction that you want and lock it in your preferred position.
You lock it down in two places; one for up and down, and the other for left and right.
It has a little knob that is used to re-center an object to get an even finer view.
If you are looking to purchase a telescope for a teenager, one thing to consider is its ease of use. That, and its high-quality laboratory optics, are why the Meade StarNavigator is one of the most ideal telescopes for beginners.
It comes with a scope that has a diameter of 102mm, which is almost 4 times the size of Galileo’s original telescope.
The scope magnifies images by breaking up, which causes objects to seem to have colors at their edges, but this distortion is more bearable than what you’ll get from some other telescopes because the StarNavigator’s lens has been coated to be achromatic.
The Meade StarNavigator weighs about 25 pounds, which is quite heavy for a telescope, but it is part of what makes it stable when you use it to explore the skies.
Unlike a lot of telescopes, you don’t have to worry about spending lots of money on the sealed optical tube as it usually lasts a very long time without developing any faults.
Because the Meade works on the principle of altitude and azimuth, it is very easy to spot an image with precision whether it’s during the day or under the night sky.
While this telescope is not exactly difficult to operate, it does come with an instruction pack in video and audio formats.
You do not require any special device to operate it other than a laptop that has an aftermarket planetarium software and a Meade serial adapter.
It has soft cables that are just long enough to reach the custom-molded holder, though you must be careful with it because it can stress the cable strain relief if you move it about carelessly.
4. Levenhuk Skyline
The Levenhuk Skyline telescope is perfect for beginners, especially young ones, since it is simple to set up and even simpler to use.
It is lightly built, which makes it very comfortable in the hands of youngsters, but it is part of the reason it is unlikely to last for a very long time. However, it is far from being a bad choice for newbies and it doesn’t cost very much.
Of course, teenagers can be smart if they put their minds to it, but they get easily frustrated and getting them a complicated telescope will ruin the fun in it.
They’d want a telescope that they can set up quickly and view their first celestial object in no time, and the Levenhuk Skyline is capable of doing all these.
This telescope is made from thin plastic and light aluminum, and while these materials may not be the top pick for the most durable astronomy devices, they make it require little or no maintenance for the entire period of use.
Its accessory tray houses one built-in screw that is used to hold the telescope firmly to the tripod, 8 round cutouts for the eyepieces, and a 10mm wall to prevent some of the objects from rolling away in the dark.
The setting up process is neither easy nor difficult; it does require an extra bit of caution and light touches so as not to break anything before you can even use it.
Using it is certainly easier. The device has a bolted slow motion screw which you must loosen a bit so that you can achieve better precision.
Its finderscope fits in quite perfectly and it comes with metal adjustable screws which are bound to last longer than the plastic ones that usually come with most telescopes in this price range.
5. Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector
Not everyone is a freak about small digital devices that they can operate by tapping the screen of their smartphone or computer keyboard.
For a lot of people, their ideal telescope is a big analog object capable of producing larger and better optics without investing in fancy futuristic peripherals. If that’s you, then you will like the Orion StarBlast 6i telescope.
With this telescope, you get the largest reflector that your money can buy. The Orion StarBlast is made in different sizes based on price, but you will surely get what you are looking for.
Setting up the telescope is quite easy. In fact, it is almost as though you can use it right from the moment you take it out of the box.
One thing you will find with a lot of the bigger sized telescopes is that they come boxed in a lot of pieces, leaving the users to spend a lot of time assembling them before they can be deployed in the field.
Well, not this Orion telescope. John Dobson, the inventor, intended that the telescope be assembled right from the factory, so everything is intact and the only thing left for you to do is to use it.
However, you may need to adjust the optical mirror from time to time, but that should not be too hard to do, even for a teenager.
You’d expect that using an analog telescope will be tedious and uninspiring, but it is quite the opposite.
You will have only a few moments in your life that will be more thrilling than using this manual device to scope across the clouds, and when you discover something new, it will light you up with a sense of accomplishment that you have never felt before.
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6. Celestron NexStar 5SE
The Celestron NexStar 5SE is another automatic astronomical device that is apt for new beginners, especially because of its ease of use and all-round features.
For any beginner that is looking to get into the world of astronomy, getting a device that is easy to use and set up will help you get started quite easily.
Even if you are an advanced user, you’d still want a mix of features and functionalities and that’s exactly what the Celestron NexStar 5SE offers.
This telescope can meet both kinds of users needs to a sufficient extent.
Some telescope users may argue that as a first telescope, the NexStar 5SE might be overkill, and they are not entirely wrong.
If your kid is just getting into astronomy, it may not be the smartest idea to go for the most sophisticated equipment in the market, mostly because there’s a possibility that they may not like the hobby the next day and your huge investment will have gone to waste.
But if they are truly interested in it, then the Celestron NexStar is more than worth it.
Apart from being easy to set up, this telescope is light-weight, which makes it easy for kids to move about.
It also has a computerized guide that lets you in on all that you need to know about using it under the night skies, which is pretty important for teenagers who are just using a telescope for the first time; nothing is more frustrating than hitting a roadblock and not knowing what to do.
Another very special feature about this telescope is its equatorial wedge that allows you to run in polar mode, which is important for those who are interested in taking long range astral photographs.
7. Astronomers Without Borders OneSky 130
The Astronomers Without Borders OneSky 130 telescope is the product of a partnership between Celestron and Astronomers Without Borders, a non-profit organization, with the aim of using the profits from the sale of this telescope to fund astronomy education overseas.
When you first unbox this product, you will see that the scope is already set up and almost ready to go.
The telescope comes with a star finder. The star finder is not a finderscope so it doesn’t magnify objects, but it is perfect for finding just about any object in the sky.
There are three eyepieces with it. Two of them are optical lenses which are used for observation, while the last one is used to collimate the scope.
The 25mm eyepiece will bring the telescope up to about 26 power magnification and the 10mm eyepiece will bring the scope on up to 66 power.
The OneSky itself uses a standard altitude-azimuth styled mount and it comes with a handle. It weighs about 14 pounds, which makes it fairly easy to carry about, and it’s small enough to fit in the seat of a compact car or even the lap of a passenger.
It is about 38cm long with a truss tube style Newtonian reflector. You can pull out the mirror array to give you the full extent of the scope, which becomes about 66cm long.
One very important feature of this equipment is that it has a lot of eye relief, which is especially good for eyeglass wearers. It means that they can set their eyes exactly where they need to get the best focus.
Its aperture is about 130mm, which is pretty big for a telescope within its price range and this accounts for a sufficient amount of light gathering power.
8. Celestron Firstscope
The Celestron Firstscope is a telescope that will let your kids see a lot of amazing stuff from Jupiter to the moon.
It comes with a 76mm primary mirror, which is just about 3 inches, and a smaller secondary mirror on its top that bounces the light up into the focuser.
Its optical tube assembly has a wrap around it that contains the names of some of the most popular astronomers and scientists. On the body of the telescope, there are two screws attached that hold up the finderscope.
Unlike the larger aperture reflector telescopes, the Celestron finderscope doesn’t have collimation screws on the primary mirror, but it has one the secondary one, which means that you can only collimate the secondary mirror and not the primary one.
The telescope has a rack and pinion focuser that uses a rack that allows it to move in and out and up and down, and it doesn’t fit in a 2-inch eyepiece.
Its eyepiece is an H20mm type. These types of eyepieces are not the best ones in the market and are quite cheap. Celestron uses these types of eyepieces on the Firstscope just to keep the price down so that it is more affordable.
The eyepieces don’t give the best views. In fact, they give out a lot of filler views and aberrations, but you can easily change the eyepiece to one with a bigger opening and a wider field of view.
The telescope mount can move up and down or left and right, which makes it really easy to navigate objects in the night sky. You just have to point it at the object you want to see and it will do the rest for you.
For the best result, I would recommend getting a finderscope for this, but even if you don’t have one, you will barely notice.
The Celestron Firstscope is basically a giant finderscope.
9. Celestron NexStar 8SE
Once, Celestron 8SE was the bestselling Celestron telescope in the market. It is durable for amateurs, which is key because a lot of newbie astronomers tend to break some things in the process of using their device.
This telescope is an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain that is light-weight and picks up a ton of objects when it is pointed to the sky.
It can help you see even the most hidden objects, and with a focal reducer you will get even wider views.
It uses a hand controller, which is great for a lot of things, but especially that you do not have to buy a new controller even after using it for a while.
All you have to do to upgrade your hand controller is to connect it to the Celestron firmware manager via a cable and upgrade.
For the early NexStar 8SEs, Celestron used to include an equatorial mount that lets you align your scope equatorially, which would allow you to save a ton of money by not having to purchase one yourself.
However, you can put an auto guider on your telescope and tell the hand control to guide for you.
Apart from its single-fork arm design, there isn’t too much not to like about this telescope.
Overall, the Celestron 8SE is really reliable and durable.
10. SkyWatcher Dobsonian reflector
The Dobsonian telescope is a telescope that uses an altazimuth mount, otherwise known as a Dobsonian, which is named after John Dobson, who was known for promoting its use.
The altazimuth mount allows for both horizontal and vertical movements and over the years, many other telescopes have adopted similar movements.
This optical tube consists of a primary mirror, which is located at the bottom of the tube, the smaller secondary mirror which is mounted at its top, a finderscope, and focuser tube.
You can collimate the primary and secondary mirrors using the knobs at the bottom.
Some telescopes have fixed primary and secondary mirrors so you do not have to collimate them at any time, but the Dobsonian telescopes require collimation, especially before you use them, because they are sensitive to bumps and unsteady movements.
This scope has a finderscope that gives a low magnification view of the sky, which allows you to move your view slowly in the direction of the object that you are observing.
The finderscope often gets disturbed, especially during transport, so you must learn to align it occasionally.
To align your finderscope, you will need to locate a distant object and focus your low power eyepiece on it.
Once you have found your object, lock your telescope and center your finderscope to find the same object.
There you have it. These are the best set of entry-level telescopes and once you get one, the cosmos is yours to conquer.
Getting the first telescope for your teenage child basically depends on different factors, but I will recommend that you look for an entry-level telescope that is cheap and you can graduate from there.
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