The Best Telescope for Kids


Learning about space is an exciting topic for almost any kid! They’re awed and inspired by the vastness and beauty that is space. While most kids will just read about it and maybe see a few images on Google, why not take it one step further and encourage your children to explore the universe by buying them their telescope? 

If you’ve already introduced them to a microscope or binoculars, a telescope is an excellent way to further teach kids about scopes, prisms, and distance. As you’ll know, STEM learning fosters critical thinking and problem-solving. While raising the next generation of innovators, a telescope for kids is undoubtedly essential.

Celestron Astromaster 70AZ Telescope for Kids

Celestron Astromaster 70AZ

With the AstroMaster 70AZ, kids will be able to view the moon in fine detail, but they’ll also be able to see Jupiter’s moons and cloud belts, Saturn’s rings, and Mercury’s phases. Beyond our solar system, you can view the Orion Nebula or even double stars. The AstroMaster 70AZ can also be used to view large birds of prey or distant landscapes during the day. 

  • Best Overall –  Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ
  • The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is an awesome telescope for kids for many reasons. It’s easy to set up and use, lightweight, and easy to carry around, which makes it great for beginners. It has really good optics, so you can see the moon, planets, and other cool things in the night sky well. And it has an affordable price tag! Overall, the Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is a great choice for kids who want to explore the universe’s wonders!
  • Best Reflector –  Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ
  • The Celestron PowerSeeker 127EQ is the best reflector telescope for kids because it has some truly cool features. It uses a special mirror to focus the light, which is great for looking at galaxies and nebulae. The special mount helps you follow objects in the sky as they move, and it has different eyepieces making it easier for you to see things in more detail.
  • Best Value for Money – Celestron Travel Scope 70
  • The Celestron Travel Scope 70 is the best value-for-money telescope for kids because it has many features that make it a great tool for exploring the night sky at an affordable price tag. Its size lets in a lot of light, making it possible to see the moon, planets, and other cool things in the sky. Compared to most other telescopes, the Scope70 is impressively affordable when taking into consideration the practicality and functionality that it offers.

How Does a Telescope Work?

To understand how a telescope works, we first need to understand how our vision works when looking at an object far in the distance. A distant object appears smaller than it is. For our eyes to see the object clearly, more light is needed to bounce off that object and reach our eyes for us to see it. Our ability to see things far away relies on our eyes gathering as much light as possible and increasing the object’s apparent size. 

Therefore, you can think of a telescope as a tool that collects a lot of light for our eyes to see the image and increase the object’s size through magnification. The telescopes collect this light from the distant object and amplify it so that the object appears brighter than what our eyes could see on their own. 

But how does it do that?

Well, that depends on the type of telescope. There are three types of telescopes: a refracting telescope, a reflecting telescope, and a compound telescope.

How Refracting Telescopes Work

This type of telescope is called a refracting telescope. It’s the same kind that Galileo used, and it’s what binoculars also use. With a refracting telescope, the light passes through curved, clear glass called lenses. The lenses bend the light passing through them, making faraway things seem closer.

The problem with refracting telescopes is that the amount of light they can gather depends on the size of the objective lens; this means that the lens needs to be very large, which makes the telescope very heavy. The lens must be made with absolute precision, without flaws or bubbles, or it will negatively impact the image.

How Reflecting Telescopes Work

Telescopes have come a long way since Galileo’s time, and thanks to Issac Newton, many of today’s telescopes use mirrors rather than lenses. Telescopes with mirrors are known as reflecting telescopes. Reflecting telescopes work by having a concave mirror at the bottom of the tube. The mirror reflects light from the bottom to the top of the tube to a second mirror, redirecting the light to the eye. 

Reflecting telescopes avoid the problems of refracting telescopes and are much lighter and easier to make. However, reflecting telescopes have issues of their own. Because of their design, you must clean the mirror periodically. After cleaning, the mirror needs to be realigned again. You’ll have a blurry image if the mirrors aren’t correctly aligned. Originally, reflecting telescope mirrors were made using a silver coating that tarnishes and requires polishing. Today’s reflecting telescopes are aluminum-coated and need little polishing or cleaning, but you must replace the coating.

How Compound Telescopes Work

Compound telescopes, called catadioptric telescopes, use a combination of lenses and mirrors to gather and focus light. Like the reflecting telescope, they have a large curved mirror at the bottom of the telescope. This curved mirror reflects light upwards into a smaller mirror at the top. The smaller mirror reflects the light into a lens before the telescope, creating an image. Compound telescopes can be used to view objects close by and far away and are often used for astrophotography.

Here is a diagram to further explain how refracting and reflecting telescopes work:

How do Telescopes Work?

What is the Best Type of Telescope for My Child?

We’re going to talk about both refracting and reflecting telescopes. Why? Because each type has its advantage depending on what you’d like to use it for. These advantages and uses will affect which one is best for your children and why. 

Refracting Telescopes

Refracting telescopes are great for viewing earth objects like birds and mountains. They can be used for viewing the planets or moon but aren’t ideal for faint objects. Refracting telescopes are simple, easy to use, and require almost no maintenance. If you want a fuss-free and lower-cost telescope, we’d recommend a refracting telescope.

If you are using your telescope to view earthly things while hiking or traveling mostly, consider reading up on the differences between a telescope and binoculars to see which one will fit your need the best. 

Pros and Cons of Refracting Telescopes: A Comparison Table

Note: These pros and cons are generalizations and may not apply to all refracting telescopes.

Pros of Refracting TelescopesCons of Refracting Telescopes
Produce sharp, high-contrast images with little to no maintenance requiredCan suffer from chromatic aberration (a distortion of colors)
Have a sealed tube that protects the lens from dust and dirtTypically offer a smaller aperture (diameter of the lens) for a higher cost than reflecting telescopes
It can provide excellent views of nearby objects, such as the Moon and planets in our Solar SystemMay require a longer physical length for higher magnification, making them less compact
Can provide excellent views of nearby objects, such as the Moon and planets in our Solar SystemCan have a narrower field of view than reflecting telescopes
Pros and Cons of RefractingTelescopes: A Comparison Table

Reflecting Telescopes

Reflecting telescopes are ideal for viewing faint or deep-sky objects like galaxies. They are more expensive and require more maintenance than refracting telescopes but produce higher-quality images. Reflecting telescopes are also lighter and more compact in design. We recommend a reflecting telescope to get the most bang for your buck.

Pros and Cons of Reflecting Telescopes: A Comparison Table

Note: These pros and cons are generalizations and may not apply to all reflecting telescopes.

Pros of Reflecting TelescopesCons of Reflecting Telescopes
Great for observing faint objects in the sky, such as galaxies and nebulaeIt can be more portable and easier to transport than larger refracting telescopes
Typically offer a larger aperture (diameter of the mirror) for a lower cost than refracting telescopesThe mirrors can be heavy and difficult to move or adjust
Don’t suffer from chromatic aberration (a distortion of colors) like some refracting telescopes doIt may require collimation (alignment) of the mirrors for optimal performance
Can be more portable and easier to transport than larger refracting telescopesThe mirror at the bottom of the telescope can collect dust, reducing image quality
Pros and Cons of Reflecting Telescopes: A Comparison Table
telescope for kids

What is a Good Age to Start Using a Telescope?

With supervision and guidance, around five or six is a good age to start using a telescope for kids. Kids can look into the eyepiece at this age and understand and appreciate their viewing. Younger kids and toddlers might not comprehend what they are looking at and might not focus enough on being interested or learning anything. A telescope is suitable for independent, unsupervised use for children aged seven or eight. At this age, they should be able to handle the telescope correctly and carry it around themselves.

Teach Your Kids How to Use a Telescope Correctly

Using a telescope can be exciting, but teaching kids how to handle one correctly to see objects is important. Below are a few steps to help them with the process:

  • Set the telescope up on a flat surface away from any trees or buildings that might obstruct the view. Ensure that the stand or tripod is stable and planted firmly. 
  • Correctly focus the telescope on a distant object, like a tree or building, using the eyepiece and focus knob for proper alignment. This will also help you to find objects in the sky.
  • Choose the eyepiece with the correct magnification for the object you want to look at. Lower magnification eyepieces will provide a wider view, while higher magnification gives a better close-up view.
  • Use the focus knob to adjust the focus until the object you’re looking at is clear and sharp. 
  • If you’re focused on astronomy, use a star chart or astronomy app to help you find objects in the sky. 
  • Remind your kids to take a break now and then. Looking through a telescope for extended times can cause strain on your eyes. If observation is done at night, remind them to give their eyes enough time to adjust to the dark. 

Seeing the Universe in a Whole New Light: A Guide to Telescope Filters

Telescope filters help us to better observe and study objects, especially in the night sky. Telescopes collect and focus lights from distant cosmic objects to produce a picture. However, the collected light can be affected by several factors, such as atmospheric conditions and surrounding light pollution.

Using different filters helps to block certain light wavelengths, which can improve our ability to see specific features and details. They also protect the observer’s eyes from dangerous light levels, such as when observing the sun during solar eclipses.

Remember that not all filters are compatible with all telescopes, so always check the manual or research before buying filters. Below are some of the most commonly used telescopic filters, which will greatly enhance your kids’ learning experience:

  • Moon Filter: This filter reduces the moon’s brightness, making observing and studying its surface details easier.
  • Sun Filter: A special filter is required for viewing the sun to protect the eyes. It can be used during solar eclipses or to observe sunspots.
  • Light Pollution Filter: This filter blocks light pollution from streetlights and other sources, enhancing the contrast of faint objects in the night sky.
  • Color Filters: Different color filters can enhance the contrast and visibility of specific features on planets, such as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
  • Nebula Filter: This filter enhances the visibility of faint nebulae and other deep-sky objects by blocking out certain wavelengths of light.
  • Polarizing Filter: This filter can reduce glare from the moon or planets and improve the contrast of their features.

FilterDescription ProsCons
Moon FilterThis filter reduces the moon’s brightness, making observing and studying its surface details easier.Reduces the brightness of the moon, making it easier to observe and study its surface detailsCan sometimes reduce the overall image quality or color accuracy
Sun FilterA special filter is required for viewing the sun to protect the eyes. It can be used during solar eclipses or to observe sunspots.Allows safe observation of the sun during solar eclipses or to observe sunspotsMust be used carefully to avoid eye damage or blindness
Light Pollution FilterThis filter blocks out light pollution from streetlights and other sources, enhancing the contrast of faint objects in the night sky.Blocks out light pollution from streetlights and other sources, enhancing the contrast of faint objects in the night skyIt can be expensive and may not always be necessary, depending on observing conditions.
Color FiltersIt can sometimes reduce the overall image quality or color accuracyIt can be expensive and may only be useful for more advanced observersEnhance the contrast and visibility of specific features on planets, such as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
Nebula FilterIt may only be useful for more advanced observers or those with a specific interest in planetary astronomy.Enhances the visibility of faint nebulae and other deep sky objects by blocking out certain wavelengths of lightBrightness or image quality can be reduced.
Polarizing FilterIt can sometimes reduce the overall image quality or color accuracyReduces glare from the moon or planets and improves the contrast of their featuresIt can be expensive.
Comparison of the Different Types of Telescope Filters and Their Pros and Cons

Reach for the Stars: A Buyer’s Guide to Finding the Perfect Telescope for Your Kids

With many options available when choosing a telescope for your kids, it’s always good to know what important factors to remember before picking one.

Determine the Child’s Age and Experience Level

Age and experience greatly affect the type of telescope you should consider. Younger kids might be best suited to starting with something simple and more intuitive. In contrast, older kids and teenagers might show more interest in telescopes with advanced features and accessories.

Decide on the Type of Telescope

As you already know, there are three types of telescopes: Refractors, reflectors, and compound telescopes. Reflectors might be better suited to younger kids as they are generally easier t use. At the same time, refractors and compound telescopes work well with older or more experienced kids.

Consider the Aperture and Focal Length

While there are many parts and features to a telescope, the three main elements you need to be aware of when buying a telescope for kids are:


The aperture of a telescope is the diameter (size) of its light-gathering lens or mirror that allows light into the telescope, also called the objective lens. Most of the time, it’s measured in millimeters, and anything larger than 60mm will give you a decent view of planets and satellites. However, the higher the telescope’s aperture is, the more light can enter the telescope; a telescope with a larger aperture will see objects more clearly.

Focal Length and Focal Ratio

While the aperture, the telescope’s light-gathering ability, is an essential feature, it’s not the most important thing when looking for an excellent telescope to view planets. This is because planets, as well as the moon, are the brightest objects in the sky.

If all the light comes from a small sky area, your telescope doesn’t need to gather light from a wide area. Therefore, instead, you want to have a ‘slow’ telescope. Essentially, this means a telescope with a small field of view. A longer focal length would be best to get a smaller field of view. Focal length refers to the distance between the optic lens and the plane where the image comes into focus. 

The focal ratio value refers to the ‘speed’ of the telescope’s optics. A lower focal ratio will provide a lower magnification with a wider field of view and a brighter image; this is best for viewing planets. You calculate the focal ratio of a telescope by dividing the aperture by the focal length.


The higher the magnification, the larger the image. However, having a high magnification isn’t always the best. When a telescope’s magnification gets too high, the picture dims and loses contrast. 

Avoid telescopes that use their high magnification level (600x) as their only selling point when purchasing a telescope. The highest useful magnification level is twice your telescope’s aperture (millimeters, 50x for inches). To get a good image with 600x magnification, you’d need a 305mm (or 12-inch) wide telescope.

Portability and Ease of Use

A telescope for kids should be easy to transport and set up. Consider models that are lightweight with standard controls and adjustments. Tripods and other mounts will provide additional stability.

Choose Appropriate Accessories

Accessories like eyepieces, cameras, and filters will help enhance your kids’ observation experience.


The price range for a telescope can range from under $100 to thousands of dollars. When buying a telescope for kids, consider your budget and choose one that offers you the best value for money based on your and your kids’ needs.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Two Most Important Properties of a Telescope?

The two most important properties of a telescope are aperture and magnification. See our section “Features to Look for When Buying a Telescope for Kids” for more detail.

What is the Best Telescope for Viewing Planets?

Did you know we can see at least five planets in our solar system with our naked eyes alone? If our eyes can see them, any telescope can see them. However, if you want to get the best image, there are two main factors: focal length and magnification.

Should You Buy a Kid’s Telescope Instead of a Regular Telescope?

Any telescope that will be powerful enough for kids to get a clear view of planets or other celestial objects will likely be regular. Avoid telescopes made solely for children unless you buy them for your toddler. They are likely too weak to provide a clear image, resulting in a bored and frustrated child. If you want to kill their budding love for astronomy, that’s a quick way!

What is the Difference Between a Terrestrial and Celestial Telescope?

Celestial telescopes are designed for viewing objects in space like the moon, planets, and stars. On the other hand, terrestrial telescopes are intended for viewing objects on Earth. They’re suited for bird watching or looking at other wildlife and landscapes.
With reflector telescopes, the images appear upside-down. While this doesn’t matter when viewing objects in space, it will certainly matter when viewing birds and other land objects. Therefore, reflector telescopes are not recommended for land use.
On the other hand, refractor telescopes will also produce an upside-down image, but you can use a diagonal to flip it right side up. For this reason, refractor telescopes are best suited for terrestrial viewing and can also be used to view celestial objects.

What’s the Best Type of Telescope for Kids?

Some telescopes can be used during the day to observe terrestrial objects such as birds, landscapes, and buildings. However, it’s important to use a solar filter if observing the sun to protect your eyes and the telescope’s optics.

How Do I Maintain and Store My Child’s Telescope?

It’s important to keep it clean and dry, store it in a cool and dry place, and protect it from dust and debris. Regularly inspecting the telescope and keeping it in a protective case when not in use can also help prolong its lifespan.

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