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
- Celestron – AstroMaster 130EQ Newtonian Telescope – Reflector Telescope for Beginners – Fully-Coated Glass Optics – Adjustable-Height Tripod – BONUS Astronomy Software Package
- Meade Instruments 209006 Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope
- Celestron – PowerSeeker 127EQ Telescope – Manual German Equatorial Telescope for Beginners – Compact and Portable – BONUS Astronomy Software Package – 127mm Aperture
- Gskyer Telescope, 600x90mm AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope, German Technology Scope
- Celestron – NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope – Compact and Portable – Newtonian Reflector Optical Design – SkyAlign Technology – Computerized Hand Control – 130mm Aperture
- Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope (Black)
- Celestron – AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope – Refractor Telescope for Beginners – Fully-Coated Glass Optics – Adjustable-Height Tripod – BONUS Astronomy Software Package
- Celestron – NexStar 4SE Telescope – Computerized Telescope for Beginners and Advanced Users – Fully-Automated GoTo Mount – SkyAlign Technology – 40,000+ Celestial Objects – 4-Inch Primary Mirror
- Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope (Teal)
- Orion 8944 SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian 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.
15 Best Telescopes Reviews
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
The Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ is a compact yet sturdy beginner telescope. It’s relatively quick to set up and comes with two eye pieces (10mm and 20mm) and a few handy accessories, including a free astronomy software download to inspire your child further. To help your child get the most out of their telescope, you may need to buy an additional lens kit – unfortunately, this Celestron 130Q lens is not very powerful, and as your child’s curiosity builds, they’ll naturally be eager to see in greater and greater detail.Also, the Red Dot Finder scope (the finder tool that helps you align your telescope lens perfectly with an object by superimposing a red ‘dot’ on the glass) regrettably doesn’t seem to work well with this telescope. This may not be a huge deal-breaker for young beginners to astronomy, but it’s a disappointing feature flaw nonetheless. All in all, this is a decent quality starter telescope for the money – just bear in mind the possible need to upgrade the lenses down the line.
- Heavy-duty sheet metal construction
- Easy to set up
- Bonus astronomy software download
- Tri-pod stand doesn’t feel stable enough
- Red Dot Finder scope doesn’t work
The Meade Instruments refractor telescope is a cool piece of kit and a great introduction telescope for beginners to all things astronomical. This Meade telescope comes with 3 different eye pieces of 26mm, 9mm and 6.3mm powers of magnification to let your intrepid sky-watcher take his or her pick of the celestial wonders above. Thanks to the Meade’s precision Alt-azimuth mount with a slow-motion panhandle, even young children can keep track of objects once they spot them, and do so at a careful, steady pace.The only real negative points are the fact that the lenses do not offer the best quality or variety of scopes such as a FOV (field of view) lens, but this is really no surprise for the budget price. Another point is that the tripod stand may seem a little shaky when it has been fully extended, but then again, if you’re buying this mainly for a young (and fairly short) stargazer, then this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem!
- 3 magnification eye pieces
- Free astronomical software and DVD
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Slow-motion controls for precision tracking
- Tripod is a little unstable when fully extended
This Celestron PowerSeeker is quite a decent telescope for any beginner or intermediate stargazer. It’s compact and highly portable design makes it great for bundling away in the car for weekend camping trips or for when you’re on vacation. The less-than powerful lens may not offer the spectacular views that a more expensive model can, but make no mistake, kids will find this telescope to be quite a grown-up compared with others aimed at beginners.Kids can whet their appetite with the bonus Starry Night educational software on their PC and Celestron Sky Portal Planetarium app to help them locate celestial objects in real time. And once they discover something (Jupiter? Saturn perhaps?) the PowerSeeker’s equatorial mount will make sure they don’t lose it, thanks to a slow-motion guiding control to keep a close eye on their chosen target. The PowerSeeker reveals its beginner quality with a slightly unsteady tripod that causes the mount to vibrate as you operate it, which is a shame because this is an overall impressive beginner telescope.
- Lightweight and portable
- Budget price range
- Slow-motion control mount
- Free astronomy PC download and app
- Instruction manual is unclear
- Unsteady tripod
Beginners may find using the Gsyker Astronomical Refractor telescope a little difficult at first, but it is well worth persevering. For an entry-level telescope, the Gskyer offers incredible images of the moon (the high magnification eyepieces help you see the moon’s craters in stunning detail). Unfortunately, the scope itself is hard to keep in focus and the instruction manual is not the clearest for first-time users, so you may need to look to online tutorials to help your child get to grips with the basics of setting up, changing focus etc.Another issue is that the Gskyer is built almost too lightweight, as it doesn’t feel very stable when mounted on the tripod. Some customers have even remarked on how easily the telescope seems to swing out of place at the slightest touch. When you find a good image and need to tighten the scope to fix it in place, the overly lightweight design of the Gskyer means the telescope has a tendency to ‘swing’ out of place. For casual stargazers, this may not be a huge issue, but it could certainly be quite discouraging to young beginners if they keep losing sight of Saturn or Jupiter with every use.
- 3 eye pieces included
- Incredibly detailed images of the moon
- Lightweight, easy to transport
- Flimsy wand control leads to less steady focus
- Instructions aren’t beginner friendly
The Celestron NexStar telescope boasts an array of awesome features that would make a fantastic beginner telescope for kids (although its high-end price tag would not suggest your typical ‘beginner’ telescope). If budget is an issue, this could be something you could upgrade to once your little stargazer has shown continued interest in astronomy with a cheaper model. However, if cost isn’t a barrier for you, let’s dive into all the reasons you and your child may fall in love with the Celestron NexStar!First off, the Nexstar is built onto a computerized mount containing a database of over 40,000 galaxies, stars and more, and a handheld control works like your own personal tour guide to the night sky by locating and tracking the best objects in your area with astonishing accuracy. Furthermore, the NexStar comes with bonus PC and app software to keep kids inspired for their next discovery. If you’re looking for a show-topping beginner scope that they can take with them anywhere and feel like a pro astronomer in the making, then this could be the educational tool they need in their life!
- Crisp, clear images
- Computerized mount that finds and tracks objects for you
- Super compact – ideal for camping trips
- Bonus astronomy software
- Quite expensive
The young space lover in your life may find using this Orion 09007 Spaceprobe telescope a little frustrating at first. It offers many of the main features you’d expect from a decent telescope such as stunningly clear images and a compact, lightweight design. However, it’s hard to justify the higher than average price tag based on specs that are offered by better-designed telescopes on the market (at a 1/3 less of the cost of the Orion SpaceProbe).The mount design is very lightweight which is not always the best indicator of quality and makes aligning your scope with targets in the night sky more difficult than it should be. On its own, the telescope is compact and lightweight enough that you could transport it around with you, but add in the solid metal construction of the mount joints and heavy tripod stand and this isn’t something you can easily hop in the car with for a camping trip or quick night sky expedition. This thing can take a while to disassemble too. Considering the high-end price, we’d recommend shopping around for a better deal for their first telescope.
- Impressively clear images
- Easy to set up
- Not so easily portable
- Mount is too lightweight
- A pricey choice for a beginner telescope
- Poor instructions
Like other telescopes in the Celestron family, this AstroMaster 70AZ refractor boasts powerful clarity for a starter unit. The young space fanatic in your family will get a thrill out of seeing not only the moon in incredible detail, but getting a decent view of Jupiter and Saturn (and not just as blurry blobs either – the lens clarity is of such surprising quality at this price that Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s cloud bands are clearly visible through this thing too!
This AstroMaster telescope is also set up on an Alt-azimuth mount for smooth and accurate navigation. At such a budget beginner cost, this is a rare find – especially when you realize that veteran astronomers actually favor this mount over others! A noticeable downside is the awkward clutch system on the tripod, which makes it quite difficult to fix the scope on a moving object and easily re-position it as it moves. This may be a frustration for beginners looking to use their telescope specifically during meteor showers or while trying to rack a comet, but if this becomes a real issue, then purchasing a better tripod will improve things.
- Alt-azimuth mount for easier navigation
- Powerful lens clarity
- StarPointer finderscope
- Budget price starter telescope
- Awkward tripod locking mechanism
- Far distant viewing requires additional lenses
This Celestron NexStar 4SE is a telescope designed with young inexperienced stargazers in mind. Built with sky alignment technology, the NexStar 4SE is ready and waiting for its user to take their pick of the night sky wonders and the computerized mount can assist them from there. The mount is stored with an automated database containing more than 40,000 celestial objects and can help locate these for you. Just let your child center their scope on 3 bright objects and the NexStar scope will help them locate the best objects around.The bonus computer software in this Celestron NexStar package also allows your budding young astronomer to control their telescope set up and alignment via their PC. They can also use a multi-point alignment feature to sharpen their tracking accuracy and enjoy little astro imaging in their own time to keep them inspired. This is a fairly pricey telescope and the battery life (8 AA batteries required in total) leaves a lot to be desired, but the cool above mentioned computerized assistance may just be enough to forgive this.
- Computerized mount for location & tracking assistance
- Bonus astronomy software included
- Simple to set up
- Great detailed images
- Disappointing battery life
This attractive teal Orion StarBlast telescope is perfect for use at home on a bedroom desk or out in the big wide world. The ultra compact and tabletop stand design means doing a little stargazing when the mood takes you couldn’t be easier. No fiddly setup or time-consuming assembly with a mount and a stand here – just grab your telescope and go. This may be a huge positive point as far as your child’s attention span is concerned!If your young stargazer has a fascination with the moon (who doesn’t at that age?) then the Orion StarBlast will provide plenty of detailed moon imagery for them to fawn over. Unfortunately this doesn’t have the power to let you observe nearby planets and other far-flung celestial objects. The good news is that you can always upgrade the StarBlast with an additional lens kit for more variety and perhaps some additional eyepieces to let your kid squeeze the absolute most out of it. A very decent, if slightly expensive, entry-level microscope all in all.
- Tabletop base stand for ultimate portability
- Comes pre-assembled in the box
- Perfect for observing the moon in detail
- High-priced for an entry-level microscope
- Additional lenses required for greater detail
The Dobsonian model of telescopes is considered to be among the best around according to veteran astronomy enthusiasts, so for a pro introduction to observing the skies wonders, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better way to inspire your child than with this gift. This Orion SkyQuest model of the classic Dobsonian telescope boasts incredible lunar and planetary views thanks to its 6 inch diameter parabolic mirror. Its impressive light grasp also means that really taking it for a spin for deep-sky viewing of nebulas and star clusters is both a cinch and a delight.If that weren’t enough to entice eager young beginners into getting started, the Orion SkyQuest also arrives fully-assembled in the box, so any familiar cries of “Can I have a go yet?” will be minimum at best! The super slimline and compact design also means this telescope can be taken anywhere your child has a sturdy place to rest it. Just be wary that the scope can be a little tricky for first-time users to fine-focus in on their discovered objects, but online tutorials and message boards for Dobsonian models should soon have this figured out. A pricey but amazing starter telescope.
- Magnificent detail
- Sleek, slimline design
- Fully assembled in the box
- Nicely Portable
- Tricky to fine focus
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.