Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced astronomer, the most important instrument you need to view the objects beyond our planet and the solar system is a good telescope.
A good quality telescope does not come cheap and when buying a telescope, you must ensure that you’re buying one that is perfect for your needs.
So, how much does a telescope cost? In this article, we’ll take a look at the cost of various types of telescopes, depending on the quality of the telescope and who will be using it.
Ready? Let’s get started…
How Much Does A Good Telescope Cost: Short Summary
How much does a good telescope cost? The cost of a good-quality telescope can range between $300 to $3,000.
But the cost of the telescope depends on various factors, including the type of telescope, the brand, aperture size, features and technical specs.
There are telescopes available for less than $300, but these are usually of low quality and are generally for kids.
You get what you pay for as long as you choose a reputable brand. And, if you spend more, you can get a better telescope with a larger aperture that has better performance capabilities and offers better viewing.
Factors Determining The Cost Of A Telescope
When purchasing a telescope, it is important to consider a few factors, which also influence the cost of the telescope.
The diameter of a telescope’s lens or the primary mirror is known as its aperture. The aperture determines the light-gathering ability of the telescope and is the most important part of the telescope.
For instance, an 8-inch telescope will gather 4x light as compared to a 4-inch telescope, which means that with an 8-inch telescope, you can view a lunar crater much larger than what you will be able to view with a 4-inch one.
The aperture influences the definition of the image that you’re viewing through the telescope’s eyepiece. And in general, the larger the aperture of the telescope is, the more the telescope will cost.
The distance the light rays travel inside the telescope i.e., the distance between the aperture and focuser, is known as the focal length.
The shorter the focal length, the wider the field of view will be, but this will also make the object you’re viewing appear much smaller. This is good for astrophotography, as deep sky objects are generally quite large.
On the contrary, viewing with telescopes having a longer focal length offers a narrower field of view, but the objects you’re viewing appear much brighter and larger and this is ideal for observing the moon and planets.
The optical component of the telescope determines how the light is delivered to the eyepiece from the aperture.
There are different types of telescopes available that are equipped with different optical components i.e., lenses or mirrors. And, telescopes that use lenses are more expensive compared to the ones with mirrors.
Typically, entry-level telescopes meant for beginners and kids are quite inexpensive because they are made from cheaper materials. For instance, the tube may be made of plastic and the tripod of aluminum.
But if you’re an advanced user or you want to get the best views of the night sky, then it is best to buy a well-balanced and sturdy telescope and mount.
Using a cheap and wobbly telescope will not offer the best viewing experience. A sturdy telescope made of high-quality materials will come with a higher price tag.
The accessories that come with your telescope can enhance your viewing experience significantly. But accessories such as a high-end focuser or a good eyepiece can be expensive and can increase the cost of your telescope significantly.
When purchasing a telescope, choosing one from a reputed brand is important. Most telescopes available on the market are manufactured in China. These may then be sold in the US and European markets by resellers under different brand names.
Two telescopes sold under different brand names may be the same model produced in China. This may also mean that you may be getting the same telescope at different costs, depending on the brand that is selling it.
So, it is a good idea to do your homework about the telescope you plan to buy and its cost before purchasing it.
When purchasing a telescope, the shipping and handling cost can vary depending on the kind of telescope, its size, weight and shipping method. And this can add to the final cost of the telescope.
For example, the cost of shipping a beginner’s telescope will be quite inexpensive; however, if you’ve bought a 12-inch Dobsonian telescope equipped with a GoTo feature, then the cost of shipping and handling will be a lot more because the telescope will come in 3 separate boxes.
What Is The Cost Of A Dobsonian Telescope?
Best for observing the moon and planets, the Dobsonian telescope is a reflecting telescope. The optical components of the Dobsonian telescope are made of mirrors and so these telescopes are quite cheap because they are more inexpensive to manufacture.
A Dobsonian telescope allows you to get an instrument that has a wide aperture at a very affordable price. Typically, you can get a 4-inch tabletop Dobsonian telescope for around $100.
But if you’re looking for a regular size telescope having a larger aperture, then you can consider a 6-inch Dobsonian telescope, which costs around $300. The larger the Dobsonian telescope, the more expensive it will be.
For example, an 8-inch telescope will cost around $450, whereas the price of a 10-inch one will be around $600. The costs that we have discussed here are average prices for a classic Dobsonian telescope.
You can get more advanced models such as ones with retractable tubes, motorized mounts or models combining both these features, but these models are likely to be more expensive.
What Is The Cost Of A Good Refractor Telescope?
Generally, refractor telescopes are more expensive compared to reflector telescopes. Refractor telescopes have glass lenses, which are more expensive to manufacture compared to mirrors used in a reflector or Newtonian telescopes.
But nowadays, you can easily get an entry-level refractor telescope at extremely affordable prices. A good refractor telescope depends on the quality of glass used.
You can get achromatic refracting telescopes costing between $50 and $450. There are also apochromatic refracting telescopes that use special glass that can help to reduce chromatic aberrations better.
Some refracting telescopes may have up to 5 lenses, which can drive up the cost to around $800 to thousands of dollars. But these telescopes are perfect for serious astronomers and astrophotographers.
What Is The Cost Of A Good Telescope For Astrophotography?
Astrophotography involves taking clear and good-quality pictures of deep sky objects. And, in general, astrophotography is considered an expensive hobby because for this, you need state-of-the-art equipment and top-quality optical components.
Not only do you need a high-end telescope, but also a very good telescope mount.
An entry-level telescope suitable for astrophotography can cost between $800 and $1,500, and if you’re looking at buying an advanced, high-end model, then you can expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 and $3,000.
When it comes to choosing the best telescope for astrophotography, then small-sized apochromatic telescopes are the best because they offer a wide field of vision and are compact, lightweight and easy to use.
These telescopes are best for capturing beautiful pictures of star clusters, galaxies and nebulae.
Also, the glass of the lenses used in the telescope can affect the quality of your pictures immensely and so look for telescopes equipped with FPL-53 glass because they help to reduce chromatic aberrations more effectively.
What Is The Cost Of A Good Beginner Telescope?
If you want to do some star gazing or want to pursue astronomy as a hobby and are just starting, then there is no need to buy a high-end, expensive telescope costing thousands of dollars.
Because, as a beginner, you will not understand all the features of the telescope and may not be able to use it to its fullest potential. Also, depending on how you pursue this hobby, the learning curve can be rather steep.
So, if you’re a beginner, it is best to avoid purchasing an expensive telescope that is difficult to use. This may discourage you, causing you to lose interest in pursuing astronomy as a hobby.
The best is to buy a telescope that is sufficiently powerful so that you can see the moon and planets clearly in the night sky. You can opt for a Dobsonian telescope with a 4- to 8-inch aperture, as this is the perfect telescope if you’re new to stargazing.
Entry-level Dobsonian telescopes for beginners are very easy to use and can cost between $100 to $500. You can first use an entry-level telescope to familiarize yourself with astronomy and then move on to more advanced, expensive models.
What Is The Cost Of A Good Kid’s Telescope?
If you want to do some stargazing with your kid and introduce them to the wonders of the cosmos, then investing in a kid’s telescope is a good idea.
There is no need to look for a hi-end, advanced telescope with loads of features, a large aperture, good magnification power, etc.
A telescope with a 4-inch aperture should be perfect for your child. But when purchasing a kid’s telescope make sure that it is small, compact and lightweight so that your child can handle the telescope and carry it around easily.
Also, make sure that the telescope has a kid-friendly mount that allows your child to see through the eyepiece easily. Also, the mount should be stable and sturdy so that the telescope does not wobble when your child is viewing through the telescope.
You could choose a simple tabletop Dobsonian telescope that is not only easy to use but is lightweight and also quite inexpensive.
If you’re looking for a telescope for your teen, then you could look for a model that is a bit more expensive and allows them to navigate the skies easily.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kind Of Telescope Should I Buy?
The type of telescope you must buy depends on your location and what you want to use your telescope to observe. If you want to view the planets and the moon, then refractor telescopes are the best. But if you want to view deep sky objects, then reflector telescopes are the best.
What Size Telescope Should I Buy?
When it comes to purchasing telescopes, the bigger the aperture of the telescope, the more light is gathered by the device, resulting in a better, bigger and brighter image. But you must keep in mind the weight and size of the telescope, as this will determine how portable the telescope is and how much space you need to store the telescope when not in use.
Are There Any Cheaper Telescope Alternatives?
If you feel that a telescope is quite expensive or not right for you for some reason, such as it is too heavy or big for you, then there are a few other alternatives that you can consider, such as:
- Astronomy Binoculars: These are not only cheaper than telescopes but work quite well for astronomy too. They are smaller, compact and easier to use and you can simply pick the binoculars up and use them outdoors.
- Monoculars for Astronomy: These are small-sized handheld telescopes that are a lot cheaper than telescopes and work well for astronomy too.
- Spotting Scopes for Astronomy: These compact telescopes, usually used for purposes such as bird watching, are cheaper compared to telescopes and can be used for astronomy also.
Summary & Conclusion
In conclusion, if you’re an astronomy enthusiast, then a good-quality telescope can make or break your cosmos viewing experience.
And, if you were wondering how much a good telescope would cost you, then we hope that after reading our article, you have all the information you need to evaluate the various telescope options available on the market, vis-à-vis the cost and your requirement and purchase one that suits your needs perfectly.