Best Telescopes Under $100: Budget-Friendly Picks for Beginners

By: Justin | Date Posted: May 20, 2024

Stargazing has fascinated humans for centuries, offering a glimpse into the vastness of the universe and sparking curiosity about the celestial bodies above. For beginners, the idea of exploring the night sky with a telescope can be incredibly exciting, but the perceived high cost of quality telescopes often acts as a deterrent. Thankfully, there are many budget-friendly options available that allow newcomers to experience the wonders of astronomy without breaking the bank.

Choosing the right telescope is crucial for beginners to ensure a positive and enriching stargazing experience. A well-selected, affordable telescope can provide clear views of the moon, planets, and even some deep-sky objects, all while being easy to set up and use. By focusing on telescopes under $100, we aim to highlight models that balance performance and cost, making them perfect for those just starting their astronomical journey.

In this guide, we will explore the best telescopes under $100, providing insights into their features, benefits, and what makes them ideal for novice astronomers. Whether you’re a parent looking to inspire your child’s interest in science or an adult seeking a new hobby, our budget-friendly picks will help you find the perfect telescope to begin your exploration of the cosmos.

Investing in a budget-friendly telescope is a smart choice for beginners for several reasons. When starting, it’s essential to learn the basics of stargazing without committing to a significant financial investment. Affordable telescopes allow newcomers to get a feel for the hobby, understand how telescopes work, and discover what aspects of astronomy they enjoy the most.

Why Choose a Budget-Friendly Telescope?

Learn the Basics Without a Significant Financial Investment

One of the main advantages of starting with a budget-friendly telescope is the opportunity to learn the basics without a hefty price tag. Astronomy can be a complex hobby, with a learning curve that includes understanding celestial coordinates, aligning a telescope, and identifying stars and planets. An affordable telescope provides the chance to grasp these fundamentals without worrying about a large financial commitment.

Minimal Risk

For beginners, there’s always a risk that the hobby might not hold long-term interest. Choosing a budget-friendly telescope minimizes the financial risk, ensuring that even if your interest wanes, you haven’t invested a substantial amount of money. It also allows you to explore the hobby and decide if you want to pursue it further before investing in more advanced and expensive equipment.

Ease of Use

Many entry-level telescopes are designed with beginners in mind, offering simple setups and user-friendly features. These telescopes often come with detailed manuals and easy-to-follow instructions, making the initial setup and use straightforward. This simplicity is crucial for beginners, as it reduces the frustration that can come with more complex, professional-grade telescopes.

Portability and Convenience

Budget-friendly telescopes are typically more portable and convenient than their more expensive counterparts. Their compact size and lightweight design make them easy to transport, allowing you to take your stargazing sessions to various locations. Whether you’re heading to a local park, a campsite, or simply your backyard, an affordable telescope can be quickly set up and used without hassle.

Opportunities for Upgrading

Starting with a budget-friendly telescope does not limit your future in astronomy. As you become more experienced and your passion for stargazing grows, you can always upgrade to more advanced equipment. By beginning with an affordable option, you can better understand what features and capabilities are most important to you, ensuring that your next investment is well-informed and tailored to your interests.

In summary, choosing a budget-friendly telescope is an excellent way for beginners to enter the world of astronomy. It offers a low-risk, affordable, and user-friendly introduction to stargazing, allowing you to learn the basics and ignite a lifelong passion for exploring the night sky. Next, we’ll delve into the key features to look for when selecting an affordable telescope, ensuring you get the best value for your investment.

Key Features to Look for in a Beginner Telescope

Selecting the right beginner telescope involves understanding the key features that will provide the best stargazing experience. Here are the essential aspects to consider when choosing a budget-friendly telescope under $100:

Aperture Size and Its Importance

The aperture size of a telescope refers to the diameter of its main optical component, either a lens or a mirror. This size determines how much light the telescope can gather, directly impacting the clarity and brightness of the observed objects. For beginners, an aperture size of at least 70mm is recommended. While larger apertures offer better views, they also tend to increase the cost. Therefore, finding a balance between aperture size and budget is crucial.

Types of Telescopes: Refractors, Reflectors, and Compound

Understanding the different types of telescopes can help you choose one that best suits your needs:

  • Refractors: These telescopes use lenses to gather and focus light. They are typically durable, low-maintenance, and offer sharp images, making them great for beginners.
  • Reflectors: Utilizing mirrors to collect and focus light, reflectors generally provide larger apertures at lower costs. However, they require more maintenance, such as periodic mirror alignment (collimation).
  • Compound (or Catadioptric): These telescopes combine lenses and mirrors, offering a compact design with good optical performance. They tend to be more expensive and might not fit within the $100 budget.

Mount Stability and Ease of Use

A stable mount is essential for clear and steady views. Two primary types of mounts are:

  • Altazimuth Mounts: These are simple to use and move vertically and horizontally, making them ideal for beginners.
  • Equatorial Mounts: Designed to follow the rotation of the Earth, these mounts can be more complex but are beneficial for tracking celestial objects over longer periods. For beginners, an altazimuth mount is typically sufficient and easier to manage.

Portability and Storage Considerations

Consider the telescope’s size and weight, especially if you plan to transport it frequently. Compact and lightweight models are easier to handle and store, making them ideal for young astronomers or those with limited storage space. Portability ensures you can take advantage of dark-sky locations away from city lights, enhancing your stargazing experience.

Accessories and Additional Features

Accessories can enhance your observing experience. Look for telescopes that include:

  • Finderscope: Helps you locate objects in the sky more easily.
  • Eyepieces: Different eyepieces provide various magnification levels. A good starter telescope should include at least two eyepieces for versatility.
  • Tripod: A sturdy tripod ensures stability and ease of use.
  • Star Charts or Apps: These can assist in navigating the night sky and identifying celestial objects.

By focusing on these key features, you can select a beginner telescope that offers excellent value and a satisfying stargazing experience. Next, we’ll review some of the top telescopes under $100, highlighting their unique features and benefits to help you make an informed choice.

Top 5 Telescopes Under $100

ABOTEC Telescope

ABOTEC Telescope

The ABOTEC Telescope is a refractor telescope with an 80mm aperture and a fully coated optics lens. It offers high magnification capabilities, portable design, and easy assembly, making it suitable for astronomy beginners and enthusiasts.

Key Features:

  • Aperture Size: 80mm
  • Optical Tube Length: 500mm
  • Eye Piece Lens Description: Kellner
  • Magnification Range: 25X-250X (with 3 eyepieces and 3X Barlow lens)
  • Mount Type: Manual Focus
  • Power Source: Battery Powered
  • Included Accessories: Bag, adjustable tripod, 3 eyepieces (K6mm, K10mm, K25mm), 3X Barlow lens, phone adapter, wireless remote, finderscope
  • Compatible Devices: Smartphone


  • Large Aperture for Bright and Clear Images
  • High Magnification Range for Versatile Viewing
  • Portable Design with Bag and Adjustable Tripod
  • Easy to Assemble and Use, Suitable for Beginners
  • Includes Phone Adapter for Astrophotography


  • Manual Focus may require some adjustment for precise focusing
  • Battery-powered, so may require extra batteries for prolonged use

Ideal User Profile: The ABOTEC Telescope is best suited for:

  • Astronomy beginners and kids aged 8-12
  • Enthusiasts looking for a portable and easy-to-use telescope
  • Individuals interested in astrophotography with a smartphone
  • Those seeking a telescope with a good balance of affordability, features, and performance

This telescope is designed to provide an enjoyable and educational stargazing experience while encouraging a love for space exploration.

Starboosa Telescope

Starboosa Telescope

The Starboosa Telescope is an entry-level refractor telescope designed for beginners and enthusiasts interested in exploring the night sky and observing celestial objects. It features a 70mm aperture, a 500mm focal length, and a range of accessories to enhance your stargazing experience.

Key Features:

  • Aperture Size: 70mm
  • Optical Tube Length: 16.9 inches
  • Eye Piece Lens Description: Barlow (includes 4mm, 12.5mm, and 20mm eyepieces)
  • Magnification Range: 25x to 375x
  • Mount Type: Equatorial Mount
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4″D x 8.2″W x 5″H
  • Focus Type: Manual Focus
  • Included Accessories: Moon filter, 3x Barlow lens, star finder bracket, reflex finderscope
  • Compatible Devices: Smartphone


  • Beginner-friendly with a comprehensive installation manual and easy setup
  • Enhanced star navigation with a star finder bracket for precise object location
  • Upgraded tripod for stability and easy adjustments
  • Includes a range of eyepieces and accessories for versatile viewing
  • Compatible with smartphones for enhanced observation and astrophotography


  • Manual focus may require some practice for precise focusing
  • Equatorial mount may be more complex for beginners compared to altazimuth mounts

Ideal User Profile: The Starboosa Telescope is best suited for:

  • Beginners and enthusiasts interested in astronomy and stargazing
  • Individuals looking for a user-friendly telescope with comprehensive instructions
  • Those interested in observing the Moon, landscapes, and birds
  • Amateur astrophotographers want to use their smartphone for celestial photography

This telescope offers an accessible entry point into astronomy, combining ease of use with quality optics and accessories for an enjoyable stargazing experience.

SpectrumOI Telescope

SpectrumOI Telescope

The SpectrumOI Telescope, model SOITAZ3070400B, is a refractor telescope designed for astronomy enthusiasts of all ages. It features fully coated glass optics with Magnesium Difluoride coatings for exceptional clarity and sharpness. With a 70mm aperture and 400mm focal length, this telescope is suitable for a wide range of celestial observations.

Key Features:

  • Aperture Size: 70mm
  • Optical Tube Length: 380mm
  • Eye Piece Lens Description: Barlow (includes two highly transmissive glass eyepieces)
  • Magnification Range: Up to 120X (with 3x Barlow lens)
  • Mount Type: Altazimuth Mount
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3″D x 20″W x 7.5″H
  • Focus Type: Manual Focus
  • Power Source: Battery Powered
  • Included Accessories: Smartphone adapter, 3x Barlow lens, optical viewfinder
  • Ideal for: Astronomy enthusiasts, adults, kids 6-8, and educational purposes


  • Fully coated glass optics for unparalleled clarity and sharpness
  • Accessories included for easy smartphone connectivity and astrophotography
  • High magnification capabilities (up to 120X) for detailed observations
  • Suitable for a wide range of users, including adults and kids
  • Comes with a three-year warranty and technical support from a US-based brand


  • Manual focus may require some practice for precise focusing
  • Battery-powered, so may require extra batteries for prolonged use

Ideal User Profile: The SpectrumOI Telescope is best suited for:

  • Astronomy enthusiasts of all ages
  • Adults and kids (6-8 years old) interested in exploring the night sky
  • Educational institutions looking for telescopes for educational purposes
  • Individuals seeking a telescope with high magnification capabilities and easy smartphone connectivity for astrophotography

This telescope offers exceptional optics, versatile magnification options, and a user-friendly design, making it an ideal choice for both beginners and experienced stargazers.

Dianfan Telescope

Dianfan Telescope

The Dianfan Astronomical Refracting 80600 telescope is a high-quality optical instrument designed for stargazing and astronomy enthusiasts. It features a large aperture, high magnification capabilities, sturdy construction, and user-friendly controls.

Key Features:

  • Aperture Size: 80mm
  • Optical Tube Length: 600mm
  • Eye Piece Lens Description: Plossl (includes 25mm and 10mm eyepieces)
  • Magnification Range: 24X to 180X (with 3X Barlow lens)
  • Mount Type: Altazimuth Mount
  • Product Dimensions: 25″D x 7″W x 5″H
  • Focus Type: Manual Focus
  • Included Accessories: 3X Barlow lens, reflex finderscope, stable tripod
  • Ideal for: Stargazing, astronomy enthusiasts, home education


  • Superior optics with FMC multi-layer broadband high transmission coated lenses for clear and realistic views
  • Large aperture and high magnification range for detailed observations of celestial objects
  • Sturdy aluminum frame and stable tripod for durability and easy setup
  • Compact and lightweight design for portability and travel
  • User-friendly controls and a straightforward assembly process


  • Manual focus may require practice for precise focusing
  • Limited included accessories compared to some other telescopes
  • Requires careful handling and storage to prevent damage during transport

Ideal User Profile: The Dianfan Telescope is best suited for:

  • Astronomy enthusiasts seeking high-quality optics and detailed views of celestial objects
  • Individuals interested in stargazing and exploring the night sky
  • Home education purposes to develop hands-on and observation skills
  • Those looking for a durable and portable telescope for travel and outdoor use

This telescope offers excellent optical performance, versatility in magnification, and durability, making it an ideal choice for both experienced astronomers and beginners looking to delve into the wonders of the universe.

HOROX Telescope

HOROX Telescope

The HOROX Telescope is a high-quality refractor telescope designed for astronomy enthusiasts of all levels. With an 80mm aperture, 500mm focal length, and multi-coated optical lenses, it provides a larger and clearer field of view, enhancing your viewing experience of celestial bodies.

Key Features:

  • Aperture Size: 80mm
  • Focal Length: 500mm
  • Lens Coating: Multi-Coated
  • Focus Type: Manual Focus
  • Finderscope: Reflex
  • Compatible Devices: Smartphone
  • Included Accessories: Two Kenller eyepieces (K20mm and K9mm), backpack for convenient storage and transport


  • Larger aperture for a broader field of view and clearer images
  • Multi-coated optical lenses enhance light transmission and reduce chromatic aberration
  • Exceptional magnification range (25x to 55x) with quality eyepieces for detailed lunar observations
  • Easy installation and user-friendly design, suitable for beginners and experienced enthusiasts
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty and dedicated technical support


  • Manual focus may require practice for precise focusing
  • Limited included accessories compared to some other telescopes

Ideal User Profile: The HOROX Telescope is best suited for:

  • Astronomy enthusiasts of all levels, including beginners and experienced users
  • Individuals interested in observing celestial bodies with clarity and detail
  • Those looking for a user-friendly telescope with a larger field of view and easy setup
  • Gift-givers seeking an extraordinary present for anyone fascinated by the cosmos

This telescope offers exceptional optics, ease of use, and a generous field of view, making it an ideal choice for exploring the wonders of the universe and enjoying memorable stargazing experiences.

Tips for Getting Started with Your New Telescope

Setting Up Your Telescope for the First Time

  • Read the Manual: Before doing anything, carefully read the manual that comes with your telescope. It will provide specific instructions on assembly and initial setup.
  • Assemble in Daylight: Set up your telescope during the day when you have plenty of light and time to understand the parts and their functions.
  • Check All Parts: Ensure that all parts are present and accounted for. Familiarize yourself with each component and how they fit together.

Finding Your First Celestial Objects

  • Start with the Moon: The Moon is a large, bright, and easy target. It offers detailed views and is an excellent object to practice on.
  • Use a Star Chart or App: Utilize star charts or astronomy apps to locate planets and constellations. Apps like Stellarium or SkySafari can be very helpful.
  • Align Your Finderscope: Before using your telescope at night, align the finderscope with the main telescope during the day. Choose a distant object and ensure both the finderscope and the telescope are pointing at the same spot.

Basic Stargazing Tips for Beginners

  • Choose a Dark Location: Find a place away from city lights for the best viewing experience. Light pollution can significantly diminish the visibility of celestial objects.
  • Allow Time for Eyes to Adjust: Give your eyes at least 15-30 minutes to adjust to the darkness. This adjustment period will enhance your ability to see faint objects.
  • Be Patient: Astronomy requires patience. Spend time observing each object, allowing your eyes to catch more details as you continue to look.

Resources for Learning More

  • Books: Invest in beginner-friendly astronomy books that explain the basics and provide detailed star maps. Titles like “Nightwatch” by Terence Dickinson are highly recommended.
  • Online Forums and Communities: Join online astronomy forums and communities such as Cloudy Nights or Reddit’s r/telescopes. These platforms offer advice, tips, and camaraderie with fellow stargazers.
  • Local Astronomy Clubs: Many areas have local astronomy clubs that host stargazing events and offer guidance. Joining a club can provide valuable hands-on experience and support.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the wonders of the night sky with your new telescope. In the next section, we’ll discuss common mistakes to avoid, ensuring your stargazing experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Embarking on your stargazing journey with a new telescope can be incredibly rewarding, but beginners often make mistakes that can hinder their experience. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

Overlooking the Importance of a Stable Mount

A stable mount is crucial for clear and steady views. One common mistake is neglecting the importance of a solid, stable mount. A wobbly or flimsy mount can cause frustration as it makes it difficult to keep celestial objects in view. Ensure that your telescope comes with a sturdy mount, or invest in a better one if necessary.

Ignoring the Aperture Size

The aperture size of a telescope is one of its most important features, as it determines how much light the telescope can gather. Beginners sometimes focus too much on magnification power and overlook the aperture size. Remember, a larger aperture will provide brighter and clearer images. When choosing a budget-friendly telescope, prioritize aperture size over excessive magnification claims.

Expecting Too Much from an Entry-Level Telescope

While budget-friendly telescopes under $100 are excellent for beginners, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what you can see. These telescopes are great for observing the Moon, planets, and some bright deep-sky objects, but they won’t provide the same level of detail as more expensive models. Manage your expectations to avoid disappointment and enjoy the learning process.

Skipping the Manual and Not Learning How to Properly Use the Telescope

Many beginners are eager to start stargazing and may skip reading the manual or learning how to properly use their telescope. This can lead to frustration and missed opportunities. Take the time to thoroughly read the manual, understand the components, and learn how to set up and use your telescope correctly. This preparation will make your stargazing sessions much more enjoyable.

Neglecting Regular Maintenance

Telescopes, like any other precision instrument, require regular maintenance to function optimally. Beginners sometimes neglect this aspect, leading to poor performance over time. Clean your telescope’s lenses or mirrors as needed, protect it from dust and moisture, and store it properly when not in use. Regular maintenance will ensure your telescope remains in good condition and continues to provide clear views.

Using High Magnification Too Soon

It’s tempting to crank up the magnification to see distant objects up close, but using high magnification too soon can lead to blurry and shaky images. Start with lower magnification and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable with your telescope. High magnification also narrows the field of view, making it harder to locate and track objects.

Forgetting to Check the Weather and Sky Conditions

Clear skies are essential for a good stargazing session, but beginners sometimes forget to check the weather and sky conditions before heading out. Clouds, haze, and light pollution can significantly impact your ability to see celestial objects. Always check the weather forecast and choose nights with clear skies and minimal atmospheric disturbances for the best results.

By being aware of these common mistakes and taking steps to avoid them, you’ll enhance your stargazing experience and get the most out of your budget-friendly telescope. In the following section, we’ll conclude with a recap of the benefits of affordable telescopes for beginners and offer some final tips to help you make the most of your stargazing journey.


Choosing the best telescope under $100 is a fantastic way for beginners to dive into the world of astronomy. These budget-friendly options provide an accessible entry point, allowing you to explore the night sky without a significant financial commitment. As we’ve discussed, affordable telescopes can still offer remarkable views of the Moon, planets, and other celestial objects, making them ideal for novice stargazers.

By understanding the key features to look for in a beginner telescope, such as aperture size, mount stability, and included accessories, you can make an informed decision that suits your needs. Starting with a budget-friendly model allows you to learn the basics, develop your skills, and determine whether this hobby is something you’d like to pursue further.

Remember, the journey into astronomy requires patience and practice. Set realistic expectations, and don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. The excitement of discovering celestial wonders and the satisfaction of mastering your telescope will make the effort worthwhile.

To recap, here are some final tips to help you make the most of your stargazing experience:

  • Take Your Time: Spend time getting familiar with your telescope during the day, and don’t rush the setup process.
  • Start Simple: Begin with easy-to-find objects like the Moon and bright planets before moving on to more challenging targets.
  • Join a Community: Engage with online forums, local astronomy clubs, and other stargazers to share experiences and gain valuable insights.
  • Keep Learning: Utilize resources such as books, apps, and websites to expand your knowledge and enhance your observing skills.
  • Enjoy the Experience: Above all, enjoy the wonder and beauty of the night sky. Stargazing is a journey, and each step brings discoveries and joys.

With these tips and the right telescope, you’re well on your way to becoming an avid stargazer. Embrace the adventure, and let the stars guide your path to endless fascination and discovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Can You See with a Telescope Under $100?

With a budget-friendly telescope, you can observe several fascinating celestial objects:

  • The Moon: Detailed views of the Moon’s craters, mountains, and valleys.
  • Planets: Clear views of planets like Jupiter (including its moons), Saturn (with its rings), Venus, and Mars.
  • Stars and Star Clusters: Bright stars and some star clusters can be seen, although they may not be as detailed as with more expensive telescopes.
  • Bright Deep-Sky Objects: Some bright deep-sky objects such as the Orion Nebula or the Andromeda Galaxy may be visible, though details will be limited.

Are Budget Telescopes Worth It for Beginners?

Yes, budget telescopes are worth it for beginners. They provide a cost-effective way to learn the basics of stargazing, understand how telescopes work, and determine if astronomy is a hobby you’d like to pursue further. While they may not offer the same level of detail as higher-end models, they are sufficient for discovering and enjoying the night sky.

How Do I Maintain and Care for My Telescope?

Proper maintenance will ensure your telescope remains in good condition:

  • Clean Lenses and Mirrors Carefully: Use a soft brush or air blower to remove dust. For more thorough cleaning, use a lens cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth.
  • Store Properly: Keep your telescope in a dry, dust-free environment. Use a dust cover or store it in its original box when not in use.
  • Protect from Moisture: Avoid using your telescope in humid conditions, and ensure it’s completely dry before storing it.
  • Check for Alignment: Periodically check and adjust the alignment (collimation) of mirrors in reflector telescopes to ensure optimal performance.

Can I Upgrade My Budget Telescope with Better Accessories?

Yes, you can upgrade your budget telescope with various accessories to enhance your stargazing experience:

  • Additional Eyepieces: Invest in additional eyepieces with different focal lengths to achieve varying levels of magnification.
  • Barlow Lens: A Barlow lens can double or triple the magnification of your existing eyepieces.
  • Better Finderscope: Upgrade to a more accurate finderscope to help locate celestial objects more easily.
  • Filters: Use filters to enhance views of the Moon and planets by reducing glare and increasing contrast.

How Do I Align My Telescope Properly?

Aligning your telescope is essential for accurate viewing:

  • Set Up During Daylight: Start by aligning the finderscope with the main telescope during the day. Point the telescope at a distant object, such as a tree or building, and ensure the finderscope’s crosshairs match the telescope’s view.
  • Align with Celestial Objects: At night, use a bright star or planet to fine-tune the alignment. Center the object in the main telescope’s eyepiece, then adjust the finderscope to match.

What Should I Do If I Encounter Issues with My Telescope?

If you encounter issues with your telescope:

  • Consult the Manual: Refer to the user manual for troubleshooting tips and solutions.
  • Seek Online Help: Join astronomy forums or search online for advice from experienced stargazers.
  • Contact Customer Support: If the issue persists, contact the telescope manufacturer’s customer support for assistance.

By addressing these frequently asked questions, we hope to provide you with the knowledge and confidence needed to make the most of your budget-friendly telescope. Embrace the excitement of stargazing and enjoy the wonders of the night sky!

Thank you for reading!


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