What kid doesn’t love to learn about the wonders of space? Whether they dream of being an astronaut or are just fascinated by the stars, moons, planets and the potential for extraterrestrial life, a telescope is a great gift for any stargazer.
If you are looking to help grow your child’s love of astronomy, buying your child a telescope is a great way for them to learn and explore space. Our list of the best telescopes for kids includes telescopes for every age space explore from elementary-age kids to teens.
Before we get to our top 10 choices of telescopes for kids, there are a few things you need to know including the types of telescopes out there, how to use a telescope, safety tips and more.
Types of telescopes
There are two main types of telescopes: refracting telescopes and reflecting telescopes. Reflecting telescopes use mirrors to focus on the light of the thing (such as a star or planet) you are viewing. Refracting telescopes, on the other hand, use glass lenses to bend the light in order to magnify what you see in space.
Mirrors tend to be much better than glass lenses. Why? In order to see an image far away in space, the glass lenses in a refracting telescope need to be large and thick. However, the mirrors in a reflecting telescope don’t need to be thick. Mirrors can be super thin, thus making a reflecting telescope much lighter than a refracting telescope.
There are some more complex telescopes called compound telescopes that use a combination of mirrors and glass lenses to see.
Parts of a telescope
Lenses and mirrors. As we mentioned before, there are two types of telescopes, refracting (lenses) and reflecting (mirrors). Refracting telescopes have two lenses: an objective lens and the eyepiece. Reflecting telescope has a convex mirror and another mirror to direct the light to the eyepiece.
Telescope tube. This is the main piece that holds the mirrors and/or lenses.
Finderscope. This smaller telescope is located on top of the main tube. Its purpose is to help find the object you want to view.
Mounting and tripod. This is what the telescope stands on. The mounting allows you to move the telescope up and down and side to side while the tripod is the 3 legged stand that supports the telescope.
A word on safety
Telescopes are relatively easy and safe to use. There is but one safety tip that we hope you will stress to your child.
Never look at the sun with or without your telescope!
Not even for a second. Not only can looking at the sun cause permanent eye damage of blindness, but it can damage the telescope too.
Top 10 Telescopes for Kids
Now that we’ve covered everything you and your child need to know about the parts of the telescope and types of telescopes, its time to talk about actual telescopes.
These 10 telescopes are the best one out there for kids and beginner star seekers. Some are better suited for older kids and we’ve made sure to note which ones they are.
1. Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ
- perfect beginners telescope: The...
- Navigate the sky with our refractor...
- ompact and Portable:This telescope for...
- Multiple Accessories: The Celestron...
- Unbeatable Warranty and Customer...
The Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ was made for beginner astronomers. This refractor telescope is easy to set up and comes at a very affordable price.
This telescope has a slow-motion rod, which keeps the telescope steady and allows the viewer to adjust the telescope up or down. It comes with a 4mm and 20mm eyepiece but with the included Barlow lens it allows each eyepiece to see 3x closer. Also included with this set is a 5×24 finderscope.
The frame is lightweight making the telescope easy to move. It’s also worth noting that the PowerSeeker can be used to view the night sky or the landscape around them as well. The included Celestron’s Starry Night Software will also help kids learn more about space and even print out sky maps.
- Easy to assemble. (No tools required.)
- Comes with educational software.
- Barlow lens magnifies each eyepiece 3x.
- Lightweight frame.
- Somewhat difficult for kids under 10 to use.
2. TwinStar AstroMark 50mm
- FEATURES: Our TwinStar Telescope has...
- FULL-SIZE TRIPOD: Altazimuth Mount and...
- KID"S ACCESSORIES: The Kids Pack also...
- LARGE 50mm OBJECTIVE LENS: Our telescope...
- POWERFUL EYEPIECES FOR UP-CLOSE VIEWING:...
Another affordable telescope for beginners, the TwinStar AstroMark 50mm comes with everything beginner viewers need plus some to start viewing the night sky. This lightweight telescope can be easily moved from place to place and is great for kids 6 years and older.
This set includes the 50mm telescope plus two eyes piece: 30x and 48x. The Altazimuth (also known as AZ) mount makes it easy for kids to search the sky for their target and lock it there. Also included with this set are a moon map, Ultimate Factivity Collection Space book, and 12 glow-in-the-dark star stickers.
The full-size tripod also means mom and dad can use it too for a family fun night gazing at the stars.
- 30x and 48x eyepieces included.
- Comes book, moon map, and star stickers.
- Full-size tripod grows with the child.
- Lightweight and easy to move.
- Instructions for assembling this telescope are somewhat difficult to follow.
3. MaxUSee Kids Telescope
- Portable Refractor Telescope with Finder...
- Kids Lunar Telescope F400X40 with Moon...
- Travel Telescope with Focal length 400mm...
- Educational Science Telescope Easy to...
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and Service...
Does your child want to see the moon? The MaxUSee makes it happen with its special moon mirror that screws onto the eyepiece to helps kids see the moon more clearly.
On top of the telescope is a 5×18 finderscope as well as a compass. The telescope can see 20x and 32x with the included eyepieces. The included tripod is short which means this telescope should be used on tabletops.
Also included with this set is a moon map and a star map so can kids can find out what they are looking at. This telescope is for kids 6 years and up.
- Included moon mirror for a clear view of the moon.
- Comes with moon map and star map.
- Compass attached to the telescope.
- Super easy to set up and use.
- Must be used on a table surface. Short tripod.
4. Celestron FirstScope
- High quality Dobsonian style stand with...
- Portable and lightweight tabletop design...
- FirstScope is very easy to observe with,...
- Stylish and decorative design makes...
Despite its compact size, this portable reflector telescope packs a powerful punch. A great addition to your child’s desk or to take on the road, the Celestron FirstScope is compact and very lightweight.
The Dobsonian-style telescope swivels to allow kids to easily point the telescope in whatever direction they like. This telescope comes with a 20mm and 4mm eyepiece allowing the viewer to see a 75x magnification. And to make viewing a little easier, an optical finderscope is also included.
And while style is not a top priority, it does stand out amongst other telescopes. The telescope pays a tribute to Galileo and other famous astronomers and scientist by including their names on the tube of the telescope.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Powerful magnification. (Can even see the rings of Saturn!)
- Modern design with names of astronomers and scientists on it.
- Base rotates for easy viewing.
- Limited to where you can place it.
5. Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club MoonScope
- SPARK MORE CURIOSITY! Encourage your...
- REAL, WORKING TELESCOPE: Explore Saturn,...
- 22-PAGE ACTIVITY JOURNAL: Eat your way...
- EVERYTHING BEGINNERS NEED INCLUDED:...
- SUPPORTS STEM LEARNING: Encourage STEM...
So who is Nancy B. anyway? Nancy Balter is the inventor of the MoonScape set and knows that encouraging kids, especially girls, to get involved in STEM projects is important. And that’s what this telescope will do. The Educational Insights MoonScope will help get your child interested in science, exploration and of course, space.
The MoonScope not only has a moon filter but a 4mm and 20mm eyepieces with 18x and 90x magnification to help kids see to the moon. The activity guide will teach explorers everything they need to know about the moon including lunar phases, as well as give activity, prompts for them to do such as writing a moon myth.
Also included is a glow-in-the-dark finderscope and a tripod with a red LED light. This telescope is great for kids ages 8 and older.
- Fun style.
- Activity book teaches and engages kids.
- Glow-in-the-dark finderscope helps kids search for an object to look at.
- Red LED light for nighttime viewing.
- Wasn’t great when using to view objects other than the moon.
6. Orion 70mm Go Scope
- Grab-and-go day and night refractor...
- Rugged, specially designed backpack...
- 400mm focal length telescope (f/5.7)...
- Includes 5x24 finder scope for easy...
- The included compact tripod can be...
Perfect for travel, the Orion Go Scope is a powerful little telescope that has a compact tripod. Everything packs away in the specially designed backpack for the space explorer on the run.
Not only is this telescope good for viewing celestial objects, but great for use during the day, like searching for wildlife in the distance. It has a finderscope and comes with a moon map to help kids locate spots on the surface of the moon.
Easy to set up and easy to pack up, this telescope is great for vacation and for beginner stargazers too.
- Great for vacation or on-the-go explorers.
- Comes with its own backpack.
- The compact tripod is easy to set up.
- Includes moon map book.
- Great for day and night use.
- Takes some practice on learning to focus on objects.
7. Meade Instruments Infinity 102mm AZ
- Aperture: 102mm(4"). Focal Length:...
- Altazimuth mount with panhandle and slow...
- Low (26mm), medium (9mm), and high...
- Red dot viewfinder helps you point your...
- Includes Astronomical Software and...
The Meade Instruments Infinity is for the older kids. And yes, we know this is a little higher priced than the other telescopes on the list, but if your older child has become quite the explorer, this is work the investment.
The slow motion controls on this telescope as well as the AZ mount with handle mean better control when focusing in on the object to observe. The Infinity telescope comes with 3 eyepieces for 3 levels of magnification (low, medium and high power). The set also includes an instructional DVD.
The view of the moon will amaze kids and adults alike. For the older child with some telescope experience, this will last him for years to come.
- 3 eyes pieces for 3 levels of magnification.
- Slow motion control and AZ mount with panhandle.
- Includes instructional DVD.
- Easy to assemble.
8. Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope
- SUPERIOR OPTICS: The Celestron 70mm...
- POWERFUL EYEPIECES FOR UP-CLOSE VIEWING:...
- LARGE 70MM OBJECTIVE LENS: Our refractor...
- BONUS BAG, TRIPOD, AND SOFTWARE: This...
- UNBEATABLE WARRANTY AND CUSTOMER...
The Celestron Travel Scope is another great choice for travel and stargazers on the run. The telescope, as well as the tripod, are lightweight and the set comes with its a backpack for easier carrying.
For better control when searching the sky, this telescope has an Alt-AZ control with panhandle. It comes with a 20mm eyepiece, a 10mm eyepiece and an erect image diagonal.
So whether kids set this up in their backyard or on a family camping trip, they will surely see moon craters, the rings of Saturn and more.
- Comes with a backpack.
- Comes with interactive astronomy software for the computer.
- Lightweight and portable.
- The adjustable tripod can be used on table top or full size.
- The lightweight tripod isn’t very durable.
9. TwinStar 60mm Compact Telescope
We wanted to keep things compact for kids, so we chose the TwinStar 60mm Compact Kids Telescope. It includes 2 eyepieces (6mm and 20mm), a 2x Barlow Lens, and an erecting eyepiece.
The full-size tripod is made of aluminum and is lightweight. And set up isn’t difficult thanks to the online assembly guide provides step-by-step instructions to make setting up the telescope a little easier.
- The full-size aluminum tripod is lightweight.
- Easy and quick to set up.
- Includes 2x Barlow lens and an erecting eyepiece.
- Great for beginners.
- A little difficult to figure out how to focus it.
10. Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope
- Clever tabletop reflector telescope can...
- Substantial 6" aperture optics reveal...
- 750mm focal length (f/5.0) optics...
- Compact design gives the Orion StarBlast...
- Includes IntelliScope Computerized...
The Orion StarBlast IntelliScope is another 360-degree swivel style telescope, but unlike the Celestron FirstScope, this one is much bigger, but still portable enough to move from room to room. You’ll need some space to set this up, but don’t let the size be daunting. It’s perfect for beginners and super easy to use.
This computerized telescope makes exploring the night sky super easy. The object locator allows kids to find celestial objects with a push of a button. The StarBlast IntelliScope can find over 14,000 objects in the sky!
Look, we know this telescope is a splurge but we had to include it on the list. It shows nebulas, clusters, and stars like no other telescope on this list. But for families with multiple kids (who are willing to share of course), the StarBlast 6i IntelliScope might just be worth with the high price and it is undoubtedly fun for the whole family.
- Computerized and can point to over 14,000 celestial objects.
- Powerful magnification.
- Easy to use. Just push of a button.
- Most expensive telescope on this list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does a telescope work?
A: Simply put, telescopes gather light and increase the size of the object by using curved lenses and/or mirrors.
For a more detailed explanation on how a telescope works, check out this video:
Q: What is aperture?
A: The aperture is the size of the main mirror or lens on the telescope. Usually the bigger the lens or mirror the better the viewing experience. Aperture will determine how bright or sharp the image is.
Q: Does my child need a star chart?
A: A star chart, also known as a star map, is a way to know which star is which. Once kids are comfortable using a telescope, providing them a star chart can help them become even better at using the telescope and learning more about the night sky.
Q: How do I care for a telescope?
A: Dust and moisture are the enemies. Make sure to store the telescope in a cool dry spot when not in use. Remember to always put the lens cap on it after each use.
If dust forms on the lens you can either blow it off with compressed gas or use a cotton cloth to gently brush off any dust. Do not use your breath to blow off dust. Droplets of your saliva will get on the lens and leave marks.
If the lens gets dirty, you will need to purchase a lens-cleaning solution, which can be found at your local hardware store or camera shop.
A telescope is a wonderful gift to help instill the love of space and astronomy in your child. For kids of all ages, the Celestron PowerSeeker 70AZ is a great choice. It’s affordable, easy to use and easy to set up making it perfect for the beginner astronomer and one of the best telescopes for kids!