The 4 Best Telescopes For Kids
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Starry skies are alluring to most kids, and as they learn about other objects in the solar system, a telescope is a useful tool to help them explore their new interests. The best telescopes for kids have an aperture of at least 70 millimeters for seeing planets and stars and are easy enough to set up and break down themselves.
Finding the best telescope for your child will depend on several factors, including how much you want to invest in what may be an entry-level telescope. There are generally three types of telescopes: refractor, reflector, and compound models. The one you’ll encounter most is a refractor telescope, a relatively affordable pick that uses a long tube to magnify objects in the sky and here on Earth. A reflector telescope, in comparison, shows clearer images thanks to a curved mirror instead of a lens, but keep in mind it can only be used to view objects in the sky. If you want to be able to view the occasional wildlife sighting in addition to celestial offerings, the refractor type is the way to go. A compound telescope is a combination of both that offers images with even greater clarity, though this pick is designed for professional use and generally not suitable for children — therefore, you won't find any compound models below.
Alright, here’s the most technical aspect to consider when choosing a telescope for your kid: aperture, aka how much light is gathered in its lens or mirror. The best telescopes for kids have an aperture of at least 70 millimeters so you can see bright objects in space, like planets, stars, and lunar details, with enough clarity. A higher aperture offers a better and more detailed look at objects that telescopes with a lower aperture may not capture, and that view often comes with a higher price tag. For older kids or the whole family, that may be a worthy investment.
If you want to be able to easily store and then set up your kid’s telescope or maybe take it with you on a family camping trip, be sure to keep a telescope’s portability in mind. Some telescopes weigh as little as five pounds and are designed to break down easily enough that a kid can do it on their own. Telescopes also sometimes come with convenient accessories like carrying cases or extra lenses.
With all this in mind, here are the best telescopes for kids, including one pick with over 13,000 reviews on Amazon.
1. The Best Refractor Telescope
The best refractor telescope for beginners is a bit of a cult favorite with over 13,000 reviews on Amazon, and it comes in at a reasonable price point for a starter telescope. Its 70-millimeter aperture offers lunar and planetary views, as well as landscapes on Earth.
This 6.5-pound telescope is conveniently lightweight and portable with its provided carrying bag. You'll also love the adjustable tripod and smartphone adapter with a wireless camera remote for taking pictures. Accessories also include low and high eyepieces for varied viewing, a Barlow lens to increase magnification, and a finder scope. Several reviewers noted that set up takes just 5 minutes.
A helpful review: “Great beginner telescope for my son and daughter!! They are obsessed with the solar system as of late, but we also use it to watch birds and deer in our backyard. Being able to also hook it up to a phone really helps my younger one see [versus] trying to get her to close one eye and peep into the telescope end. Overall, pretty impressed with the purchase and how sturdy it is for the price. Even comes with a great carry case to pack it all nicely away when not in use! Would totally recommend it for anyone with little kids interested in getting into telescopes!”
2. The Best Entry-Level Reflector Telescope
The best reflector telescope for beginners is a portable, lightweight, and affordable pick with an aperture of 76 millimeters. With over 1,300 reviews, several shoppers reported seeing Jupiter, Orion Nebula, and the moon in detail.
The table-top design of this telescope makes it easy to store it on a desk or table, and it weighs just 4.5 pounds so it's easy to bring along for a sightseeing trip, although this bundle doesn't appear to include a case. However, for $20 more, choose the telescope bundled with accessories like a moon filter to see finer details, extra eyepieces for increased magnification, and a carrying bag.
A helpful review: “This is a great first telescope for my 8 year old. He received this for his birthday and has been obsessed with using it to view stars and the moon. His interest in space and constellations has increased vastly and I love watching him as his mind works to try and make sense of what he is viewing. We did end up purchasing a finderscope which has made it even easier to use. I don't think this will be the last telescope we own, but I am glad that we chose this one as our first telescope!”
3. The Upgrade Reflector Pick
Is your kid ready to spend night after night searching for new things to see in the sky? This reflector telescope's 114-millimeter aperture offers sharper views of the moons of Jupiter, detailed looks at Saturn's rings, and more. It's powerful yet user-friendly with a quick setup requiring no tools.
Two control knobs move slowly and smoothly for precise adjustments during viewing. This pick comes with an adjustable tripod, two eyepieces, a finder scope, and access to an astronomy software program. This highly rated pick is designed for portability, thanks to a tripod that effortlessly folds up and a set-up that doesn't require tools, though this pick doesn't come with a carrying case. This telescope is geared towards older kids or younger children who have an adult's help since it weighs 17 pounds.
A helpful review: “[...] The night was clear, so I took it outside with my kids, and WOW! The moon was stunning - the half-moon had lots of detail, and was really impressive. We then looked at the brightest "star" in our backyard and we "discovered" Jupiter. We were able to clearly see Jupiter and its moons! [...]”
4. The Best Toy Telescope For Little Kids
For preschoolers curious about the solar system, the best toy telescope will help cultivate their interest with age-appropriate features. Designed for ages 4 and up, this 2-pound telescope comes with 24 images from NASA and more than 200 facts and questions about space. It's more of a projector or slide toy that looks like a big kid's telescope, and your little one will love that it speaks to them.
Set the telescope to English, Spanish, French, or German, and soon your kid can listen, watch, and learn more about outer space. They might even recognize the voice of Emily Calandrelli from Netflix's show, Emily's Wonder Lab.
A helpful review: “My kids (ages 3.5 and 5.5) love this telescope! They kept saying it’s so cool as they looked through all the different images of the space, planets and stars. They are at an age where they are starting to get really curious about the solar system so they ask a ton of questions. We love how this talking telescope teaches them 5 facts about each image. The telescope is the perfect size for preschoolers and it is the perfect way to introduce them to space. I love how after they have learned everything, there is a quiz mode (with 5 questions for each image!) that they can do. Also it is pretty cool that the audio can be switched to 4 different languages and the guide is also multilingual. The telescope is high quality and durable and I know my kids will be using this for a while. [...]”