The Hubble Telescope cost $1.5 billion to build back in 1990 and there have been lots & lots of upkeep costs since then.
I’m betting that you’re not looking to buy a telescope like the Hubble, though. So, let’s look at some more practical answers to that question in a different way…
Can You afford a good telescope?
We know that it can be a challenge to buy or find a great telescope set that’s right for you. However, it is a myth that you can’t get a quality telescope without spending a small fortune.
The truth is that you can spend as little as $150 to $200 and see the rings of Jupiter. The reality, however, is that “decent” is anything less than $250 while “great” is in the plus $675 range and the “sweet spot” or “good”, is right around $300 to $500
We’ll get more into price in a little bit, but first…
Let’s Talk About The Right Telescope Brands
Celestron has been a leader in the industry for multiple decades. In 1970, Celestron pretty much revolutionized the hobby telescope market by producing the C8 for $1,000. For that day and age that was a great price to pay for the ability to have backyard telescope. It landed in science classrooms around the USA and the world, as well. They celebrated 50 years of “creating innovative optical equipment” in 2010. Today, Celestron provides a wide variety of up-scale and hobby telescopes.
Celestron Price Points:
|Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope||$169.95||Celestron|
|Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope||$89.95||Celestron|
|Celestron NexStar 130 SLT C||$499.95||Celestron|
|Celestron 31045 AstroMaster 130 EQ||$279.95||Celestron|
|Celestron NexStar 127SLT Mak Computerized||$549.95||Celestron|
Established in 1984 by Barry Pemberton in a garage, no less. Orion prides itself on simple but quality designs as is evident by their website. They are keenly focused on the role that their microscopes play in education and businesses as well as cutting-edge science projects. Like Celestron, they make far ranging telescopes as regards to price and capability.
|Orion 10012 SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope (Burgundy)||$109.94||Optronic Technologies, Inc|
|Orion 11043 SpaceProbe 3 Altazimuth Reflector Telescope (Teal)||$109.99||Optronic Technologies, Inc|
|Orion 9024 AstroView 90mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope||$319.29||Orion|
|Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope (Black)||$309.99||Optronic Technologies, Inc|
|Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope (Teal)||$205.99||Optronic Technologies, Inc|
Meade Instruments is less “bashful” about their expertise than Orion but that doesn’t mean they are any less efficient at what the products they put out. They are consistently considered as leader in innovative design, dynamic and the company that made “amateur” astronomy fun and affordable to the many. Founded in 1927, the company was actually begun as a mail order supplier run by one man. It’s amazing how far innovation and perseverance can get you when there is a large, passionate market to sell to.
Various Meade Prices for Scopes:
|Meade LX200-ACF 10-Inch Telescope||$3,499.00||Meade|
|Meade Instruments Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope||$249.99||Meade|
|Meade Instruments Infinity 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope||$99.99||Meade|
|Meade ETX 125 Observer Telescope 205005||$699.00||Meade|
|Meade Instruments ETX80 Observer Achromatic Refractor Telescope (Kit)||$299.00||Meade|
Like the rest of the companies on this list, Sky-Watcher touts its humble beginnings and the ability to bring telescopes to the masses where as before they may have only been affordable to the more well off. The founder of SW, David Shen, wanted only to allow more people to “gave further”. Their Sky-Watcher USA is the “fastest growing telescope brand” while their global site touts SW as the “World’s largest telescope manufacturer.
Sky-Watcher Price Points:
|SkyWatcher S11520 Maksutov-Cassegrain 127mm (Black)||$425.00||Celestron|
|Sky-Watcher ProED 100mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope||$769.00||Celestron|
|SkyWatcher S11600 Traditional Dobsonian 6-Inch (White)||$305.00||Celestron|
Okay, now back to price…
First, know this: It’s cliche but, just like most anything you buy, you get what you pay for. So, while their may seem to be great bargains and deals out there, you should be wary of the telescopes that you buy at “great prices”. The brands above are certainly trusted but there are, of course “knock off” manufacturers trying to make a quick buck on novice astronomer’s inexperience.
Getting the best value for your money means that you’re getting a good telescope for the price and not just a great price for an over-sized magnifying glass with a cool name and casing.
It goes without even saying that you should not rush into deciding which the best deal is for you.
How Much Should You Spend on a Telescope Set?
The very first thing that people think about when thinking of buying a telescope is a big price tag. Telescopes have long been in-line with NASA, military, university, astronomy, etc. They were fields that mean that any equipment came with big price tags. That’s just not true anymore, though. Thanks to the brands above there are now a wide assortment of astronomy tools that almost anyone can afford.
Some other things that you should take into account:
- How much power does your telescope need to have to be able to see what it is that you want to see?
- Do you plan on being mobile with your telescope and taking it along to hillsides with other astronomy hobbyists?
- Is your plan to simple set your new telescope up to look out your bedroom window into the night or keep it outside on the front porch staring into the heavens?
Only after having determined the special features you can’t do without and which particular purposes you’re going to be using you new telescope for can you be sure that you have narrowed down your options accordingly. Make sure that you include all the set criteria within your research, so as to make the most of your findings.
Top Telescope Features You Should Look for:
- Focal Ration
- Focal Length
- Set up difficulty
- Target Database
- Auxiliary Computer Port
One of the major features you should be looking for is none other than the aperture of the telescope set. The larger the aperture, the better the views offered to you.
Speaking of aperture size….
Regardless of what anyone tells you: Dobsonian Telescopes are the Top Notch, Bee’s Knees of the Telescope World!
The only scope that you can get with bigger aperture than a 12″ is a Dobsonian. They’re a lot more expensive but with that extra aperture size you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck.
Dobsonians are simple, point and shoot telescopes that show you a lot of the sky. They’re not made for adding luxury extra items such as cameras or tracking motors. There are great reflecting and refractor scopes on the market but if you want simplicity where all of your money is going into the only thing that really counts..aperture…then the Dobsonian is the way to go.
Dobsonian Telescope Price Points
|Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian||$379.99||Orion|
|Celestron 21023 Cometron FirstScope||$59.95||Celestron|
|Meade Instruments 1005-05-03 LightBridge Dobsonian||N/A||Meade|
|New, Sky Watcher 10 Inch Dobsonian Telescope||N/A||Sky Watcher|
|Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope||$49.95||Celestron|
Another thing that you ought to clarify is whether or not the telescope comes with a tripod. It is a matter of convenience and flexibility, making it a personal choice but comes in handy when you’re taking your new scope for rides.
The focal ration and focal length, the terrestrial views and the option of astrophotography, these are all special features that add to the overall quality of the telescope set you are about to buy.
Along with those considerations, you should also check out the weight of the telescope and the setup process, the target database and the option of an auxiliary computer port.
Last but not least, you should see whether or not there is any warranty upon purchase. This can save you a lot of distress along the way.
So How Much Does a Good Telescope Set Cost?
Having all that in mind, you can get a good telescope set for as little as $300. While some telescopes could be above and beyond what you’re wanting to pay, it is important to remember that the a higher the cost then, usually, the more power, bells, whistles and frills that you’re new telescope is going to have.