Watching the night sky is a pastime as innate to our human experience as cooking a meal or telling a story. From gazing at the stars and their constellations to watching the Moon rise and set in tandem with the Sun, nothing can bring a sense of awe and wonderment at the scale of our existence quite like watching the skies above us. If you want an even broader perspective on our universe, take your night sky viewing one step further with a professional telescope. It’s super easy to set one up in your own backyard, and you’ll be rewarded with crisp views of the craters on our Moon, the rings of Saturn, the storms on Jupiter, and even the dusty tails of the most distant galaxies and nebulae—something we could only dream of just a few decades ago.
Here are some of our favorite professional telescopes currently available.
This equatorial telescope from Orion is the perfect foray into professional astronomy for any curious skywatcher. Its price is kept relatively low thanks to its easy-to-use manual controls, with its 5.1-inch aperture providing fantastic views of the Moon and our other bright celestial neighbors. Simply line up the finder scope with the object in question using the crosshairs, and peer into one of the two included Plossl eyepieces to get up close and personal with your target.
The Celestron NexStar 8SE is hands-down one of the easiest telescopes to use thanks to its fully automated mount and a built-in computerized system that’s designed to automatically locate more than 40,000 celestial objects for you. The 8-inch aperture takes in more than enough light to bring you amazing views of distant details like the arms of galaxies and the rings of Saturn. If you’re looking for a truly endless and immersive stargazing experience, the Celestron NexStar will get you there.
The Orion StarBlast 6 is a portable tabletop telescope that sports a 6-inch aperture perfect for seeing craters in the moon, dust clouds in nebulas, and detailed views of objects both here in our Solar System and well beyond. Weighing in at just 23.5 pounds, the kit arrives pre-assembled and includes everything you need to get started including eyepiece mounting gear and two different Plossl eyepieces for viewing the sky at your preferred magnification level. This is a fantastic choice for amateur astronomers who want a versatile level of magnification in a portable form and at an affordable price.
This collapsible telescope from Sky Watcher is the ultimate in portable, high-magnification stargazing. Its light frame and collapsible lens assembly belie its robust 10-inch aperture, making it the best choice on this list for viewing the faintest objects in our night sky and one that hits the sweet spot between relative portability and extended functionality. It can be controlled and aimed easily thanks to its tensioned handles, and the included 25mm and 10mm eyepieces sit snugly and conveniently on the included accessory tray.