Picking out a telescope for your 10-year-old kids can create a lot of questions in your mind. What kind of telescope should you be looking for? What features are important? How easy is a telescope to use? If you’ve wondered any of this, we’re here to help.
We recommend the Celestron 70mm Portable Refractor Telescope as a good starter telescope for kids. The Celestron features high-quality fully-coated glass optics and a user-friendly design. It also comes with a bonus accessory pack so your kids can take it everywhere.
In this article, we’ll share more info about the Celestron alongside several other scopes. These include:
- Gskyer Astronomical Refractor Telescope
- Orion 10034 GoScope II
- MaxUSee 400x40mm Kids’ Telescope
- MaxUSee 70mm Portable Refractor Telescope
Where to Begin When Purchasing a Telescope
If your kids are showing an interest in stargazing, the idea of buying a telescope can be a little daunting. After all, technical terms can be overwhelming for a beginner. The variety of options available can also leave you feeling lost quickly.
Here are some basic things to keep in mind so you can make the best telescope choice for your kids.
- Think of the Telescope as a Tool Instead of a Toy
There are plenty of options available out there of telescopes marketed for kids. It’s important to keep in mind most kids’ telescopes target those age six and under. Thus, a lot of the scopes you find in big box stores will be low in quality, tough to use, and won’t hold up over time.
That’s why you have to think of the telescope as a tool for discovery, not a toy which will end up collecting dust in the garage.
This doesn’t mean telescopes aren’t meant for kids, as using a scope can be an amazing experience at all ages. It’s more about the mindset when picking out a telescope. Parents know all too well how kids can get crazy with their toys. They need guidance when using real tools. Owning a telescope can also teach kids learn how to respect and take care of their possessions.
- Take the Telescope’s Features into Account
There are a few basic decisions you need to make when deciding on a kids’ telescope. First, consider if you want a refractor telescope or reflector telescope. Once you’ve made a decision on the type of telescope, look at the size of the aperture. Make sure you’re comfortable with the type of tripod and mount the telescope comes with as well.
- Refractor Telescopes vs. Reflector Telescopes
The most common type of telescope available today is the refractor telescope. This consists of a long tube with an eyepiece at one end and a large lens at the other. Refractor telescopes have a simple, easy-to-use design. This makes them great for planetary, lunar, and binary stargazing. The sealed tube protects the scope’s optics, and they need very little maintenance.
By comparison, refractor telescope use two built-in mirrors to gather and focus light. Reflector telescopes look very similar to refractor telescopes at first glance. However, the eyepiece on reflectors is built into the side of the tube rather than at the end. The large apertures make them perfect for viewing faraway star clusters or galaxies. It’s important to note reflectors need more maintenance due to the tube being open to the air.
- Aperture and Magnification
The refractor telescope is the most important feature of any telescope. The aperture of a telescope is the diameter of its main optical component. This is also known as objective lens diameter. In refractor telescopes, this will refer to the lens, while in reflectors it will be the mirrors. The larger the telescope’s aperture, the more light can come into it. This will give you a brighter, clearer image of the night sky.
The refractor telescope of the telescope you choose shouldn’t be the highest priority, as magnification isn’t a useful measure of viewing ability or quality. Instead, aperture should always be your number one consideration. If your telescope’s aperture is too low, the images you see will be very dark. Using a high magnification telescope will also change how much sky you can see, zooming in on a smaller area of sky.
- AZ Mounts vs. EQ Mounts
The type of mount a telescope uses is extremely important as well. The telescope’s mount allows you to follow objects moving in the night sky. There are two common types of mounts, altazimuth (AZ) mounts and equatorial (EQ) mounts.
AZ mounts let you to adjust the telescope manually. You can pull the telescope to the left or right as well as up and down. AZ mounts are the easiest to use when first starting out in telescoping. However, they require more work on your part to keep track of objects in the sky.
EQ mounts present a steeper learning curve at the beginning. In time, they will make tracking celestial objects much easier. These are designed to have one axis of rotation which is parallel with the Earth’s rotation. Slow motion controls move the scope in an arc across the sky following the stars’ direction.
- Don’t Forget the Tripod
It’s easy to overlook the telescope’s tripod when checking over all the other important features. Make sure your tripod gives you the most comfort and clarity. Tripods can vary from one telescope to another. They can be made of different materials as well and can include features to help with stability.
Some telescopes will come with a tripod included. With others, you will need to purchase them separately. Read over the specs of your telescope so you know what you’re getting before you buy.
- Provide Your Kids with Guidance at the Start
Select a telescope which will challenge your kid’s skill level and intellect. Using the scope shouldn’t be so difficult to use that they need your constant help. You also don’t want to pick a telescope so advanced your kids get frustrated and give up on the hobby.
You know them better than anyone. Make sure they’re comfortable with the complexity level the telescope presents.
- Be There to Offer Help and Show Interest
You’re going to need to be available to help your kids set up their new telescope and teach them how to use it. Even if they’re skilled enough to do it on their own, having you around for assistance will put their mind at ease.
If you haven’t used a telescope before, take some time to get acquainted with it before teaching your kids. You want their first experience with their telescope to be rewarding and educational. Watching you struggle with the equipment won’t be something which inspires confidence.
Support your kids in their new hobby to the fullest. Pick up a beginner’s guide to astronomy or stargazing. Join a local astronomy club so they can learn more about the science of the stars. Once you’ve shown them the basics, most kids should be able to work their new telescope on their own with ease.
Five Great Telescopes for Kids in Review
1. Celestron 70mm Portable Refractor Telescope
Our first and highest recommended product is the Celestron 70mm Portable Refractor Telescope. The Celestron features coated glass optics and a 70mm objective lens. It comes with both 10mm and 20mm eyepieces to provide low-power and high-power views.
One of the great bonuses of the Celestron is its generous accessory package, including the Starry Night Astronomy software bundle. This software will help your kids better understand the things they see in the night sky. The scope comes with its own travel backpack as well.
Another perk of the Celestron is its lightweight design. The scope and detachable tripod weigh in at just over three pounds. This makes transport a breeze and impromptu setups no problem.
- Designed with simple operating features to make it more user-friendly
- Assembles quickly and easily with no tools necessary
- Included finder scope allows the user to quickly center subjects in the eyepiece
- Some users have reported the AZ mounts do not adjust smoothly
- Others have made mention of issues with the tripod breaking or feeling flimsy
2. Gskyer Astronomical Refractor Telescope for Kids
Our next pick is the Gskyer Astronomical Refractor Telescope. The Gskyer is very similar to the Celestron, with the major differences being the optics. This telescope features a 400mm focal length with a 70mm aperture. It comes with two replaceable eyepieces measuring in at 10mm and 25mm. As an added bonus, an additional 3x Barlow lens is also included.
The Gskyer also has its own aluminum alloy tripod. This adjustable tripod gives you different viewing options depending on your location. When the kids take a break with the telescope, they can put all the parts in its own carry bag. Both the telescope and tripod fit easily within the bag for travel or storage purposes.
Perhaps the biggest perk of the Gskyer is its wireless control system. The scope comes with a smartphone adapter and a wireless camera remote. By placing your smartphone into the adapter, your kids will be able to take amazing photos of the stars.
- One-year warranty and lifetime maintenance coverage is included
- The scope is also a practical choice for nature watching during daylight hours
- Lenses can be swapped out easily, and can be fine-tuned for crystal clear viewing
- Assembly can be lengthy and some of the instructional text may be unclear
- Several users reported the scope missing pieces out of the box
3. Orion 10034 GoScope II
The Orion 10034 GoScope II is a versatile telescope designed for easy travel. This telescope is perfect for daytime nature watching and casual nighttime stargazing. It features a 70mm aperture and achromatic lens system. This gives the viewer high-resolution views of distant objects.
The GoScope sets up quickly and almost effortlessly. It comes with an aluminum tripod designed to hold the scope as low as roughly 18 inches or as high as 43.5 inches. This makes it a great choice for younger and older kids alike. It’s also very lightweight, coming in at just three and a half pounds. The GoScope also includes a specially designed backpack for simple portability.
- Grab-and-go design makes it a great scope for both daytime and nighttime viewing
- Comes with a 5×24 finder scope to help center objects in the eyepiece
- Includes the Orion MoonMap 260 to help the viewer recognize the sights of the moon
- Some users have stated the telescope’s resolution is low and things appear blurry
- Others have reported the included tripod being especially wobbly and loose
4. MaxUSee Optical 70mm Portable Refractor Telescope
The MaxUSee 70mm Portable Refractor Telescope offers a less expensive starting point for a telescope with some impressive features. This MaxUSee model comes with four different eyepieces – an H6mm for high magnification, H12.5mm for mid-range magnification, and an H20mm and K25mm for lower magnification but sharper viewing. These eyepieces give you plenty of options for any viewing situation.
This telescope comes with a tabletop tripod has a quick setup time. It requires no tools to put it together and is easy to transport around. The MaxUSee Portable Telescope is a fun, easy scope that will inspire the whole family’s sense of exploration and adventure.
- Features a 70mm aperture objective lens and 5×24 finder scope
- Magnification range of 16x-200x makes it a great starter telescope for kids
- Comes with a 3x Barlow lens and 1.5x erecting eyepiece for more magnification options
- Some users have reported they cannot focus on anything during nighttime usage
- Others were disappointed by the tabletop tripod due to it limiting where they can use the scope
5. MaxUSee Optical 400x40mm Kids Telescope
Finally, the MaxUSee 400x40mm Kids’ Telescope is the lowest-priced of the options we’ve covered. The 400x40mm is a perfect gift for young beginners who are just learning to observe the universe. It comes with a tabletop aluminum tripod for easy setup at the backyard patio table.
The 400x40mm also has a moon mirror to help with observation. There can be a lot of glare when the full moon is viewed through a telescope, but adding a moon mirror reduces glare and sharpens up details. The mirror simply screws into the eyepiece when in use.
One major difference between the 400x40mm and the other scopes we’ve looked at it is that the 400x40mm only has a 40mm aperture, compared to the 70mm aperture of the other models.
- Features a compass built into the telescope tube
- Comes with a moon map and star map
- Sets up quickly and transports easily
- Users have reported great difficulty in focusing on objects
- Other users have said the lack of magnification options leaves a great deal to be desired
As we’ve shown, the Celestron 70mm Portable Refractor Telescope is the best value when you consider viewing ability and included accessories. With its high-quality optics, travel pack, and software bundle, the Celestroncan turn almost any kid into a young stargazer.
Nicole Malczan is a content marketing writer and freelancer. She’s applied her knowledge of marketing and SEO to many clients over the years, ranging from food service to facilities management and currency exchange. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and music.