The Best Telescope Under 1000 Dollars
If You're In a Hurry and Just Want a Recommendation for the Best Telescope Under $1000:
Our recommendation is the Celestron NexStar 6se (you can check out our full review here).
Bottom Line: The Celestron NexStar 6se is Schmidt-Cassegrain compound telescope that offers great stargazing for beginners and experienced observers alike. Celestron's StarBright XLT optical coatings provide crisp images in this descendant of one of the most popular consumer telescopes of all time. It makes finding and tracking objects across the sky easy, and can be done with very little setup. It's a good grab and go scope, and is easy to transport because of its easy setup and reasonably light weight.
It's Not Just About the Money
Whether you're seeking stars or just seeking the perfect gift for an amateur explorer, locating the best telescope under $1000 can be difficult.
A lot of astronomers seem to have the impression that, if you have all this money to spend, the whole process suddenly becomes that much easier. To a certain extent, there is some truth to this thinking. If you're buying at this price, it's more likely that you'll be able to find quality optics, and to be sure you can avoid a lot of the problems encountered in some of the low-end telescopes.
But it's not automatic that you're going to get the right scope. And the stakes are higher here. Make the wrong purchase, and the pain of having an annoying telescope that doesn't see what you want--or doesn't fit what you were looking for--is even more excruciating.
What to Look for in Telescopes under $1000
It's crucial to pinpoint your priorities. Depending on what you want to do, compactness, portability, and easy assembly can be just as important to an astronomical experience as coated glass eyepieces and suave slow motion-controlled mounts.
While you can get some really cool knickknacks, it's also key to remember that greater complexity often brings with it a steeper learning curve. If you're not ready to negotiate that steeper learning curve, you should look for a simpler telescope that you can set up more easily.
The optics at this price point are, of course, much better than those you might encounter at some lower levels. Chromatic aberrations aren't as problematic, and aperture sizes generally grow beyond the "looking at the cosmos through a straw" syndrome sometimes associated with smaller apertures.
So what you get is a much clearer and brighter image in a larger field of view. In some cases, the telescopes below are even classified as "rich field telescopes", so you're seeing a lot with great clarity even at some relatively high magnification levels.
All of that adds up to a more enjoyable viewing experience, which is what you would expect.
Mounts in the sub-$1000 telescope arena are often pretty stable. You won't get a lot of the wobble and vibration that you sometimes can see in less-expensive telescopes. Slow-motion tracking is also more frequent here, which means you can, in addition to plain astronomy, start considering astrophotography.
In addition to the German equatorial mounts and alt-azimuth mounts, you also start seeing some of the single-arm fork mounts that you see in some higher-end telescopes.
The other bonus you get in a lot of cases at this point is the ability to add computerized tracking and GoTo mounts. These allow you to just put in the coordinates of an object (or in some cases just pick the object from a list), and the telescope moves into position to view that object. Pretty fantastic.
Accessories and Eyepieces
These are the extras. While you don't absolutely have to have a bunch of accessories if you've got a good basic telescope, some of these can be nice.
The various eyepieces at different magnfications and Barlow lenses that sometimes get included can really transform your telescope's user experience. They give flexibility for looking at different types of objects under different conditions, which can be a lot of fun.
We always recommend choosing a telescope based on the scope itself. These accessories can be had a la carte at a later time if you decide that they'll enhance your experience in some specific way.
Our Picks for the Best Telescopes under $1000
Below you'll find top of the line scopes at surprisingly low prices. The best telescopes under 1000 dollars also happen to be some of the smoothest, simplest, and most educational devices on the market.
If you're buying for a child (or for the whole family), you will appreciate how many of these scopes boast rapid setup times and don't require sweat and heavy duty tools. Plus, many come with cool add-ons, like astronomy software for the discerning stargazer.
Celestron 127 EQ PowerSeeker Telescope
For more on the 127eq, check out our full 127eq review.
If you've been with us for a while, you know that they 127eq also made our list of the best telescopes under $200, which immediately tells you that you can get this really good telescope for quite a bit less than $1000.
Celestron's PowerSeeker series is marketed to beginning astronomers, but it offers a suite of features that satisfy even experienced hobbyists. The Celestron 127 EQ boasts a lightweight structure and a good-sized aperture, and can be set up in just a few minutes—without any tools.
With a 3.15" high quality objective lens and three different eyepieces, the universe is your oyster. From lunar topography to Jupiter’s bands to deep space objects, almost everything comes in with impressive clarity thanks to the PowerSeeker’s high-transmission coatings.
Its formidable German equatorial mount can be conveniently transformed into an alt-azimuth mount, allowing for both astronomical and terrestrial applications in one sleek package. The Celestron 127 EQ includes Level 1 TheSkyX planetarium software, with a 10,000 object database ideal for emerging astronomers’ perusal. The PowerSeeker is certainly one of the best telescopes under 1000 dollars.
Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope
Stargazing on vacation just got simpler.
This elegant, flexible 70mm refractor telescope was designed to travel. It fits easily into a softly padded, backpack-like carrying case along with its pre-assembled photographic tripod and all of its accessories.
The telescope features a smooth alt-azimuth mount and comes with both low and high power eyepieces. The 20mm eyepiece is great for daytime bird watching, and the 10mm eyepiece’s wide field of view makes it easy to observe entire star clusters at once.
As with the PowerSeeker, helpful first edition TheSkyX software is part of this telescope’s package. Those who love searching the skies (and also rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles) will likely call this Celestron model the best telescope under 1000 dollars.
Celestron NexStar 6se Telescope
Check out our full review of the NexStar 6se here.
Get used to seeing Celestron's name on this list, especially when they make products as great as the NexStar 6se. The NexStar is one of our all-time favorites, because it does so many things well.
If you want a stable telescope with a rock-solid mount, the NexStar line does that well. If you want a decent-sized aperture on a telescope with good magnification that you can use to look at all but the dimmest objects, the NexStar can do that as well.
The NexStar is a highly-portable compound telescope mounted on a single-arm fork to a computerized mount controlled by a handset programmed with over 40,000 objects.
With crisp, clear images coming from its superb objects on a "rock-solid" mount, the large aperture will give hours of viewing fun in a package that can quickly and easily be taken anywhere.
Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ Telescope w/ Motor Drive
For our full review on the 114eq, click here.
Celestron makes another appearance! The AstroMaster is an excellent gift option for a budding astronomer, or a whole family of budding astronomers.
Everyone will be crowding around this rugged Newtonian reflector scope, with its sturdy steel tube tripod and nifty mounted StarPointer for viewing ease.
Images are crystalline due to AstroMaster's coated glass optics. And a quick-release dovetail attachment means you won't need a single tool to assemble this telescope
The AstroMaster has a smooth German Equatorial mount with Setting circles; users will have no problem pinpointing and tracking deep sky objects.
Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Another entrant with top-notch optics that's supremely easy and fun to use.
The “ST” stands for short tube—at only 24 inches long, SpaceProbe’s compact tube enables fast f/5 focal ratio and easy transport.
The portable reflector telescope has a 130mm parabolic primary mirror with a focal length of 650mm, which widens the field of view and yields sharper, brighter images. This diffraction-limited mirror is similar to the ones you’d find on much bulkier, more expensive telescopes.
SpaceProbe comes with an adjustable tripod and 6x30 finder scope for even more convenience. Two different Sirius Plossl eyepieces are included, as well as Special Edition Starry Night software to help astronomers plan their sky explorations.
Orion 9024 AstroView 90mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope
It’s hard to find a telescope of this quality for this cheap.
The AstroView is an adult-sized achromatic refractor, delivering crisp, color-corrected images. Its 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece frames moons and planets.
When you’re ready to go in for a close up, the 10mm eyepiece will give you a detailed, high contrast view of craters, mountains, red spots, and other fascinating textures of the universe.
A powerful EQ-2 Equatorial mount helpfully tracks planets and stars at the touch of a slow motion knob.
Astronomy beginners and aficionados alike will appreciate the enclosed Starry Night planetarium software.
Meade Instruments Infinity 80mm AZ Refractor Telescope
Infinity's alt-azimuth mount is atypical-—in a good way.
Its fine-tuning control knobs allow for precision when tracking quickly moving objects in the sky. The red dot viewfinder helps viewers scope out these objects.
Images seen in Infinity are not reversed or upside down, so this telescope can be used during the day for more down-to-Earth observations.
Infinity comes with three eyepieces--low, medium, and high--to diversify your viewing experience. It makes a great starter telescope because it can be set up within ten minutes, stands on a sturdy tripod, and even includes a handy tray for accessories.
Orion 10015 StarBlast II 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope
Check out our full StarBlast II 4.5 review for more information on the StarBlast's optics and accessories.
StarBlast is small, light, and easily handled by children, but it’s no toy.
This wonderfully compact reflecting scope has a 4.5-inch aperture and fast f/4 local ratio--the perfect way to introduce entry-level astronomers to the wonders of the world.
Viewers will enjoy low power wide field views of nebulae and distant galaxies. Plus, the rapid box-to-backyard setup time keeps younger users engaged.
This family friendly comes with two Explorer II Kellner telescope eyepieces, an eyepiece rack, and a red dot viewfinder that can be used to target sky objects.
StarBlast is a superb first telescope for anyone trying to break into the world of astronomy. And did we mention its eye-catching teal color?
These are just a few inexpensive telescopes that will rock your world. Purchasing a telescope may require a little bit of research, but it doesn't have to be a pain. The above list can help get you started on your own journey to the stars (or moons, or nebulae).
If you're looking for more information and other telescopes at different prices, check out our buyer's guide to the best telescopes.