Orion 10022 StarMax Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope
Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope
Gskyer AZ Mount Astronomical Refracting Telescope
BEST FOR BEGGINERS
SOLOMARK Astronomical Refractor Portable Telescope
BEST FOR GALAXY VIEWING
Sky Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor
You love looking up at the night sky and seeing the stars or pointing out the bright moon.
But imagine if you could get to see planets like Mars?
It’s exciting to be able to use a telescope to see the planets – it’s like someone has pulled the curtain of the sky open and given you VIP access to what’s going on behind it.
Therefore, to help you find the best portable telescope for viewing planets, here’s our list of the five best telescopes that don’t cost a lot of money. Take your backyard stargazing with you and to the next level with the best telescope for viewing planets: planet viewing doesn’t have to be expensive.
A telescope is a great instrument to help you see the planets and view more of their details, but they don’t come standard.
Based on the above, it’s not always easy to know if the telescope you’ve seen online or in a store will enable you to see the planets in all their splendor.
Best Portable Telescope For Viewing Planets – Reviews & Buying guide for 2022
Best Overall: Orion 10022 StarMax Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope
This is a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, which is considered to be the best telescope for viewing planets. It’s a striking maroon and black appearance looks like an instrument a professional astronomer would use.
It will give you the chance to see the moon and planets like Mars and Jupiter with ease. Here’s why it’s our number-one telescope.
- 90mm aperture
- EZ Finder 2
- Mirror diagonal
- With 90mm aperture to gather the light so that you can see images clearer, this telescope gives you more than enough brightness to view breath-taking images of the night sky.
- This telescope makes use of the EZ Finder II feature, which makes locating it onto what you want to see much easier. EZ Feature can be described as a simple device that enables you to point to the sky and it will find celestial objects for you. This, therefore, makes astronomy easier for you, especially if you’re a beginner.
- It has a 90-degree mirror diagonal. This ensures more comfortable viewing without you having to crane your neck and strain to see objects in the sky, so you’ll definitely benefit from it when you’re spending hours behind your telescope.
- The telescope has a 25mm focal length eyepiece that gives you 50x views. It therefore allows you to see a larger area of night sky.
- The 10mm focal length eyepiece can be used to increase magnification – it does this from 50x to 125x!
- Some people have reported issues with the EZ finder which doesn’t work as well as it should. One of the issues is that, while the red-dot finder does work well, the finder is uncomfortable to use. You have to contort your neck and move your body low enough to be able to look through it when the telescope is pointed high in the sky.
- This telescope only weighs around six pounds, so it’s extremely portable and easy to carry with you wherever you go without a hassle. It’s the perfect travel telescope!
- The telescope has a tabletop base so you can ensure it remains stable. This will prevent wobbling that can ruin your views of the sky.
- In the pack you’ll receive Starry Night Special Edition software that teaches you about how to use the telescope as well as provides you with sky simulations. This is great if you don’t know much about astronomy or you want to view the planets with your kids.
It’s so easy to transport this telescope to your favorite stargazing spot, plus it’s got loads of features you’ll love to use, whether you’re viewing planets for the first time or have been doing it for a while.
Runner Up: Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope
This is a telescope that’s a bit cheaper than the previous one on our list, but it has many high-end features. Let’s check it out!
- 70mm optics
- Alt-Az control
- 900mm focal length
- This telescope has 70mm optics so that you can see planets by night as well as terrestrial objects, like mountain landscapes, during the day. It’s also useful for viewing the moon at sunset, which is actually the best time to view the moon.
- It’s got 900mm focal length – this longer length enables you to achieve better views of distant planets and it’s a feature that’s a must-have in a telescope for planet viewing.
- It’s got a panning handle with Alt-Az control. This means that you can locate planets and stars with much more accuracy and smooth movements.
- If you’re keen to view planets, you’ll really love this telescope because it will give you detailed views of Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings. You’ll also be able to see the Andromeda and Orion Nebula in the deep sky.
- The tripod that comes with this telescope is of low quality as people have reported that it’s not as sturdy as it should be. In addition to that, it can be uncomfortable to use. People have mentioned that if the telescope is pointed to the sky you have to sit uncomfortably to be able to look through it.
- Although this is considered to be an example of the best telescope for viewing the moon and planets, some people have also stated that it’s difficult to see anything other than the moon with this telescope, citing that it’s more of a beginner telescope than anything else.
- You won’t have to sweat when trying to install this telescope because you don’t need any extra tools to assemble it.
- You’ll receive tons of extra items with your purchase, such as two eyepieces (one is 10mm and the other is 20mm), a travel tripod, and a red dot finder scope. You can also download Bonus Starry Night Basic Edition astronomy software that offers you sky simulations to learn more about what you’re seeing through the telescope.
- The telescope has an erect image star diagonal. This makes your viewing more comfortable because it means that images won’t be upside-down as they sometimes are when you look through a telescope.
This telescope’s got lots of features that you’ll love to explore, especially if you’re just starting out with astronomy, such as the panning handle that you’ll find extremely useful when tracking stars.
Alternative: Gskyer AZ Mount Astronomical Refracting Telescope
The Gskyer telescope comes with great features and perks, such as a Barlow lens. Let’s see why it’s an excellent alternative product to consider if you want to view the planets from your backyard.
- 400mm focal length
- 3X Barlow lens
- 5×24 finder scope
- This telescope has two eyepieces: one that’s 10mm and a second one that’s 25mm.
- It also has a 3x Barlow lens, which trebles the magnification of the eyepieces, and means that you’ll be able to see things in much more detail. Barlow lenses are not just beneficial for magnification purposes – they also offer eye relief when you’re looking at planets and stars with the greater magnification levels.
- It has a 5×24 finder scope that’s got a mounting bracket so you can locate planets much easier.
- Not only can you use the telescope to view planets, but you can also take pictures of what you see thanks to the smartphone adapter that’s included in the pack. You also get a wireless camera remote for even greater convenience.
- This telescope comes with an adjustable tripod for more comfortable viewing wherever you are.
- The telescope has a fully-coated optics glass lens with high-transmission coatings. This produces breath-taking images of the stars and planets, making it a must to purchase if you’re looking for a telescope that will open up the night sky.
- Some people who have bought this telescope have reported that the tripod is unstable.
- Others have experienced problems when using the smartphone adapter for planet viewing.
- You’ll get a carry bag to store and transport both your tripod and telescope for greater convenience.
This telescope is affordable yet offers high-end features that you’ll find on more expensive telescopes, therefore striking the perfect middle ground, especially for beginners.
Best Portable Telescope for Beginners: SOLOMARK Astronomical Refractor Portable Telescope
Although this telescope is marketed for kids, it’s actually the perfect telescope for beginners to use. You’ll be able to view the planets, moon, and star clusters with it. Here’s why you should purchase it.
- 70mm aperture
- Two 1.25-inch eyepieces
- Fully-coated optics
- This telescope comes with two 1.25-inch eyepieces included so you can enjoy 20x and 40x magnification.
- Like some other telescopes, this one’s got a 5×25 finder scope that has a mounting bracket for easier planet-finding.
- This telescope has fully-coated optics to create clear, sharp images while also protecting your eyes. Fully-coated means that all the glass surfaces and lenses contain a coating layer to reduce glare and ensure that the light is transmitted evenly.
- It comes with a light, adjustable aluminum tripod that’s easy to handle.
- Some people who have purchased this telescope have reported that its construction is not of a high quality. This can be seen with the finder that is loose and therefore proves difficult when using it to find celestial objects in the sky.
- Others have noted that the tripod does not work very well to keep the telescope as steady as possible, therefore causing blurry images.
- The telescope is very easy to set up, so it’s great for kids and adult beginners.
- Although you won’t be able to see high-resolution images of the moon and planets, you will be able to see extra details with this telescope, such as the moon’s craters.
- The telescope comes with a backpack included which makes it easy to carry around. It’s perfect for taking the kids on camping trips!
- You also get a smartphone eyepiece adapter with your purchase, which is a bonus.
If you have a child in the family who loves astronomy, this telescope will make the perfect gift for him or her. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a starter telescope, this one is a good choice.
It’s also much more cost-effective than some other telescopes on the market, and it has some appealing features to boot. An example is the inclusion of a smartphone eyepiece adapter.
Best Telescope for Planet and Galaxy Viewing: Sky Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor
This telescope is a bit more expensive than what we’ve reviewed so far, but it’s got high-end, quality features that make it the best refractor telescope for viewing planets. Warning: you might be tempted to break your budget and buy this!
- 10:1 dual-speed focuser
- 100mm aperture
- Color correction features
- This telescope is made of the finest glass to achieve color correction. In addition, the combination of glass, coatings, and lenses remove chromatic aberrations so that your views remain full of contrast with clarity and brightness.
- This telescope has metallic high-transmission coatings with minimal distortion on your images.
- One of the features that really makes this telescope value for money is that it can be upgraded in future. That means it’ll stay with you for years thanks to its versatility.
- It has a 10:1 dual-speed focuser. It doesn’t matter what camera or eyepiece you use because this telescope feature ensures that you can focus on targets with ease, therefore making your nights under the stars much more enjoyable.
- The telescope is a versatile optical tube assembly which is suitable for wide-field astronomy – you’ll be able to see a range of celestial objects, such as stars, star clusters, and galaxies, as well as planets.
- You’ll also be able to use this telescope for terrestrial views, which makes it versatile for a variety of different activities. If you see beautiful mountains in the distance, for example, simply whip out this telescope and you’ll get to see more of its stunning details.
- The large 100mm aperture on this model enables you to achieve better brightness and it serves to boost contrast as well as resolution.
- One of the drawbacks that’s been reported by people who’ve purchased this telescope is that its lens cap doesn’t always stay fastened.
- You will need to purchase a tripod to use with this telescope, and you must ensure that it has long legs to accommodate it.
- This telescope comes with many extras included in the pack. These include a 1.25-inch adapter, mounting rings, a foam-lined aluminum hard case, an 8×50 right angle correct image finder scope, and more!
- By making use of the mounting rings, you can adjust the position and orientation of the telescope to increase your comfort level when you’re stargazing for many hours at a time with less image distortion.
This top-notch telescope is a bit expensive, but it’s a quality model that will last you for many, many years, so think of it as an investment in your astronomy hobby.
If you’re passionate about looking at the stars and planets, this is a must to own because it’s the best telescope for viewing planets and galaxies.
Telescope For Viewing Planets FAQ
Maybe you want to purchase a telescope but you’re not quite sure what the ideal telescope should be like to ensure that you can see as many celestial objects as possible without spending a lot of money. Let’s check out some common questions about telescopes.
What to look for in a telescope for planet viewing?
You might enjoy seeing the moon from your backyard (it’s one of the easiest ways to start when learning to explore the sky!), but if you want to move on to view the planets, you might find that your current telescope is lacking.
What features should your telescope have in order to afford you stunning views of the planets?
Here’s the lowdown on what you should look for:
Magnification And Focal Length
If you use a telescope that has a shorter focal length you will be able to view some planets, but to be able to see ones that are further away, you’ll have to make use of a focal length that’s longer.
Now, focal length is linked to magnification because it determines the telescope’s power of magnification.
If you want to be able to see clear planetary images, you need to look for a telescope that has a large aperture. The aperture is basically the end of the telescope that gets pointed at the sky, so it needs to be able to collect as much light as possible.
The larger it is, the more light it will collect, and the clearer your views of the sky will be as a result.
A decent telescope should have a minimum aperture of 70mm, but as you can see in our list of reviews, this number can go much higher. An example can be seen with the Sky Watcher EvoStar 100 APO Doublet Refractor that has an aperture of 100mm.
One of the biggest issues that can get in your way when you view the planets with a telescope is shakiness.
You’ll need a good tripod for your telescope so that it will keep it steady and prevent blurry, shaky images from being produced. Make sure that the tripod gives your telescope enough room so that you can use it comfortably.
This is an important feature to look for in a telescope. A finder is basically a piece of equipment that sits on the scope so that you can find celestial objects.
It’s common to find a red dot finder in many telescopes, and this means that it uses a red dot that’s projected onto the sky. This can help you to locate and track stars as well as planets.
If you want to be able to take pictures of the planets you see, you’ll need to ensure that your telescope comes with a smartphone adapter. While you can purchase an adapter separately, choosing a telescope that includes one does make your life easier.
How strong does a telescope have to be to see planets?
When we speak about the strength of a telescope, we’re really talking about its magnification. You will need different magnification levels in order to see different planets, such as ones that are closer to Earth and others that are further away from it.
As we touched on earlier, the larger your scope’s aperture, the more resolution you’ll get. And, the more focal length in the scope, the more magnification, too – but that depends on the eyepiece.
The general rule is 50x magnification per inch of aperture, as Cloud Break Optics reports. What this means is that a 10-inch aperture will magnify 500x before the image loses its quality.
A magnification of 50x seems to be the general measurement that will afford you views of many planets, such as Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. In fact, this magnification will even allow you to see Saturn’s rings.
While it’s said that you should avoid boosting the telescope’s magnifying power because this can result in dimmer views, when it comes to viewing planets that are naturally bright, such as Mars, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter, you can use a higher magnification.
When viewing Uranus, you will need a higher magnification of between 100 and 150x, and the telescope should have an aperture of about 4 inches (100mm).
Neptune also needs around 100x, while Mercury needs magnification greater than 100x otherwise you’ll just see it as a star through your telescope.
What about the Barlow lens?
Don’t forget – you can also use a Barlow lens to increase your telescope’s magnification when viewing planets. A Barlow lens can double the telescope’s focal length, and sometimes it can even triple it.
This can be useful in some cases, such as when you want to see more details of Jupiter’s brown bands.
If that sounds interesting to you, you’ll probably be keen to purchase the Gskyer Telescope that we reviewed in our buying guide as it comes with a Barlow lens that will magnify what you see by three times.
What size telescope do I need to see the rings of Saturn?
If you want to view Saturn and its beautiful rings, you might assume that you need a high-end telescope with lots of magnification, but this isn’t true! Here’s what you need to know about viewing Saturn’s rings.
If you try to magnify Saturn’s rings too much, you will end up with a blurry image, so avoid the temptation to do so. Remember: high magnification isn’t always best!
To improve your viewing ability, the best telescope for viewing Saturn should have a four-inch or larger telescope at your disposal. But interestingly, you can see Saturn’s rings with a magnification that’s 25x.
However, if you choose a three-inch scope with 50x magnification, you’ll be able to see the rings as a structure that’s independent from the planet’s ball, as Sky And Telescope reports.
What kind of telescope do I need to see Jupiter?
If you’d like to see Jupiter with your telescope, you’ll have to ensure you have your telescope optics properly collimated.
Whatever telescope you choose, make sure that it’s a five-inch or six-inch reflector that’s got a strong and stable mount so that you can track planets with ease and see Jupiter’s details, as Sky And Telescope reports.
The thing about Jupiter is that it’s large and bright, but you should avoid the temptation of using high magnification to view it. Make sure that your eyepiece has high-contrast and provides clear views.
You should also get color filters as these will help to bring details into sharper focus via contrast. A pro tip is to choose a filter in a color that’s the opposite to what you want to see.
For example, if you want to see red or brown belts, you should use a blue filter; on the other hand, you can boost blue features by using a red filter.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry about purchasing a high-end telescope if you can’t afford one.
Even with the use of a cheap refractor telescope, you’ll still be able to see some cloud belts and four of the planet’s brightest moons, so that’s definitely an exciting start!
Can a telescope see the flag on the moon?
Imagine if you could see the flag on the moon with a telescope! That would be pretty amazing. Unfortunately, it’s not possible.
Even the Hubble Space Telescope isn’t powerful enough to view or capture images of the flags on the moon. Every item that’s man-made is below the space telescope’s resolution limit, as Astro Bob reports.
Interestingly, the website goes on to add that the flags, which were made of nylon, are probably not managing well in the extreme conditions that are experienced on the moon’s surface, such as when it comes to the harsh UV light from the sun that strikes it.
This causes the flag’s colors to fade over time, which makes the flag even less noticeable.
Can I see galaxies with a telescope?
Unlike with the flag on the moon, you can certainly use a telescope to view galaxies. However, you have to ensure that you choose the correct telescope that has the right features so that you’ll be able to see them because galaxies are so far away from us.
Here are some tips that you need to follow so that you can make the most of your telescope and view galaxies from your backyard.
- You must ensure that the telescope has an aperture of at least eight inches or more. In our buying guide, the apertures of telescopes are in millimeters so you’ll have to convert them to inches to see if they meet this requirement.
- When it comes to the telescope’s eyepiece, you should make sure it has a higher magnification to increase the contrast between the background and the galaxy.
- It can help to use a filter. This is because galaxies release light from different objects so the use of a filter helps to remove some of that light to boost the contrast of their colors and make them more visible.
Being able to see planets such as Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter is an exciting idea, and it can be something you achieve if you get your hands on the best telescope for viewing planets.
In this list of reviews, we’ve featured five of the best telescopes to buy, and best of all they’re not expensive.
We’ve also featured some important questions about telescopes and how to maximize their potential so that they will bring breath-taking planets into better view, right in your backyard.