The sky is full of wonders: shape-shifting clouds, twinkling stars, and the constellations hidden among them!
No wonder that children are fascinated by the unending space above us and ask questions to know the secret behind the beauty of the night sky. Should they ask you questions about the stars and moon, encourage their interest in it and do what you can to help them learn more. And one of the things you can do is get them a telescope.
The right telescope will not only let them stargaze but will also encourage them to explore the space beyond us. In this MomJunction post, we list down the best telescopes for kids, tips for choosing the right telescope and safety measures to follow when using one.
What Can Kids Learn From A Telescope?
A telescope is a great educational tool for kids who love astronomy. It can help them further their interest in the subject by letting them gain better visuals of the celestial objects. Kids learn the following with the help of a telescope:
- Universe: Give your child a telescope, and you allow them to explore the universe. With it, they could learn about the constellations, the Milky Way, the features of the moon, stars and much more. In short, the telescope gives them an idea of how vast and complex the universe is.
- Orientation to the outer space: Stargazing helps them to read the sky maps and learn about the features and names of distant objects.
- Instrument: They learn more about the telescope itself: the technical part of the telescope, the way it functions, and the essential components of the instrument.
- Calculations: To use a telescope, it is important to understand the basics such as the magnifying power of the lenses used in the instrument. It encourages children to learn the math behind it, to be able to choose the correct lens with appropriate power for locating a specific object.
- Create an interest: Stargazing is a great way to get a child interested in astronomy. It helps enhance their curiosity and fascination towards the subject and develop their knowledge about the universe.
There are a variety of telescopes in the market today. Which one would be the right one for your child? Find out next.
Types Of Telescope
A telescope is designed to collect the light from the different celestial objects and magnify it through the lenses to provide a clear image to the viewer. There are three common types of telescopes.
- Refractor: It is the most common type of telescope, with a big lens at its front and a mirror at the back. The lens bends the light, sends it first into the mirror and then to the eyepiece. Refractor telescopes have a simple and sturdy design and are easy to use. However, they are not very useful in viewing faint or distant objects.
- Reflector: This variety uses two mirrors, wherein the mirror at the front of the tube gathers the light and sends it to the mirror at the back and finally into the eyepiece. It can be used for viewing faint objects and provides high-quality images. These telescopes are also lightweight and compact, but high-maintenance and not suitable for terrestrial viewing.
- Compound: Also known as “Schmidt-Cassegrain” or a catadioptric telescope, this type has two mirrors, one at the front along with a lens and the other at the end of the tube. Such telescopes are excellent for astrophotography and can be used for viewing faint objects as well as terrestrial objects. It is heavier and more expensive than the other types of telescopes.
Keep reading to know which one you should get for your children.
How To Choose A Telescope For Children?
While purchasing a telescope for children, the first thing to look for is its optical design and then the type of the telescope. Here are some features of a telescope you must consider while picking one for your child:
- Aperture is the diameter of the main optical piece, or the objective piece, in the telescope, and is measured in inches or millimeters. The bigger the aperture, the better the view. An aperture of minimum 60mm is fine for getting a decent view of other planets and the satellites of our planet.
- F-ratio is derived by dividing the aperture by the focal length of the objective piece. A higher F-ratio for the same size of aperture gives better images.
- Magnification depends upon the focal length of the objective piece and the eyepiece. Though magnification means enlarging the size of an object, it may not necessarily guarantee image clarity. So while choosing a telescope don’t just go by the highest magnifying value, but choose one with an optimized magnification value.
- The eyepiece lens with the highest optimized value is the best. The common types of eyepieces available include Orthoscopic, Kellner(K), Symmetric Ramsden(SR), etc. Their function remains the same, but the focal length differs.
- The mount is another important aspect of a telescope. A telescope needs a mount more than a tripod to hold the tube in place. There are three common types of mounts available:
- Alt-azimuth: It works as a tripod and can be moved along the vertical and horizontal axes. A refractor telescope with alt-azimuth mount is considered the best pick for kids.
- Equatorial: This mount has two axes and remains tilted to align with the rotational axis of the earth. However, its operation is a bit complex and needs a better understanding of the device beforehand.
- Look for other features that make the telescope versatile, which means it must be suitable for both celestial and terrestrial observations. Also, its setup must be easy for a child to understand because advanced technical things may be a put-off for the young ones.
Unless you are buying a toy-like, low-end model for stargazing and not advanced space explorations, it is best to check all these features thoroughly and then make a pick. Next, we list the top telescopes you can consider for your child.
11 Best Telescopes For Kids
1. ToyerBee Telescope
The ToyerBee Telescope is a great pick for kids and entry-level astronomy enthusiasts. It comes with high magnification lenses that offer better and clear images of the celestial objects. The instruction manual is very simple to follow and enables quick installation.
- Offers a great view of the terrestrial and celestial objects
- Strong and adjustable tripod
- Comes with a moon filter for a clear picture
- 360° rotation
- Tripod may be very wobbly or stiff
2. Aomekie Telescope
It is an excellent kids’ telescope that makes astronomical explorations so much fun. The phone adapter feature offers real-time image sharing with friends and family. Unlike a few other telescopes, its finderscope offers sharp images to locate the target.
- Comes with a moon filter to get a clear view of it
- Photo adapter makes it easier to take and share photos
- Spin up and down to 90°
- Omnidirectional observation gives a better view of the earth and sky
- Fully coated lens for brighter and clear images
- Best suited for beginners
- The instruction manual comes with limited information
3. Orion 10015 StarBlast
A compact reflective telescope, Orion StarBlast is designed for beginners and intermediate level astro-science lovers. Its high-performance opticals offer bright and clear celestial images. Also, it comes in a pre-assembled format making installation simpler.
- Simple design and high performance
- Comes with a stable tabletop for smooth alt-azimuth motion
- Uses low thermal expansion borosilicate glass
- Comes with Starry Night astronomy software
- Cannot perform well when it is exposed to heat
- The collimation process takes time
4. Emarth Telescope
This refractor telescope from Emarth is good for terrestrial and celestial observations. It is a great pick for kids and beginners. Its coated glass opticals have been designed to give clear and sharp images of the objects.
- Compact, portable design
- Offers real HD Visual feast
- Bright and clear pictures
- Equipped with azimuth mounting for vertical movement
- It may take longer for kids to focus
5. Gskyer Telescope, EQ901000
This refractor telescope makes an ideal educational gift for kids who want to explore the sky. The fully coated optical glasses offer crisp and clear images of celestial objects. The lenses have high magnification power and produce bright pictures.
- Adjustable stainless steel tripod
- Quick and easy set up
- Finderscope locates the object faster
- Comes in a carry case
- Not suitable for intermediate and advanced users
6. TELMU Astronomical Refractor Telescope
It is a great refractor telescope suitable for kids and beginners who want to explore the outer space. It comes with azimuth control and rotates 360°. It comes with a finderscope and a rack-and-pinion focuser that helps in locating the images easily.
- Equipped with replaceable eyepieces
- Coated lenses to correct chromatic aberrations
- Comes with a 45° diagonal mirror for image correction
- Suitable for beginners
7. Celestron 21061 AstroMaster
It is a refractor telescope that offers a detailed view of Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, and many more celestial objects. This Celestron model also offers better terrestrial viewing. The images that it produces are clear and bright.
- Quick and easy to install
- Coated lens for clear and bright images
- Comes with an accessory tray for storing accessories
- The pre-assembled tripod offers a firm platform
- The mount can be sloppy and moves too smoothly, changing the focus from the object easily
8. MaxUSee Telescope
It is a refractor telescope that aims at focusing and finding the object easily and quickly. Its intuitive design inspires the whole family to explore the sky. The magnifying lenses offer a clear picture of the objects. The product is durable and made of high-quality materials.
- Portable and lightweight
- Easy to set up
- Intuitive design functions
- Tripod is short and not adjustable
- No case to carry
9. Barcaloo Kids Playground Telescope
It is an excellent playground telescope suitable for kids aged between 2 and 4 years. The design of the telescope ensures durability and offers long hours of outdoor fun for smaller kids.
- Compact and lightweight
- Non-metal body
- Quick and easy installation
- Not suitable for older kids
10. Merkmak Telescope for Kids
It is the perfect refractor telescope for kids and beginners. The lenses of this telescope have high magnification power, offering clear images. Kids can use it for observing the moon and stars closely.
- Easy to install
- A powerful spotting scope for terrestrial use
- Provides clear image in low light
- Bright image quality
- Tracking celestial objects may not be easy
11. Celestron 21035 Travel Scope
It is a refractor telescope that offers exceptional terrestrial and celestial views. It offers ample optical performance, producing high-quality pictures. Its adjustable tripod can be set to the desired height.
- Quick and easy set up
- Lightweight and portable
- Fully coated optics
- Comes along with free Starry Night software and SkyPortal Astronomy app
- Comes with travel backpack kit
- Use of more plastic components
- Tripod adds extra weight to the backpack
Safety Measures To Follow While Using A Telescope
Here are a few things you must ensure the child follows while using a telescope:
- A telescope should never be used to look at the sun as the rays can cause significant eye damage. So, when using it during the daytime, make sure to put the lens cap over the finder telescope.
- Before using the telescope, allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness for ten minutes to use the scope in the darker conditions. Once the eyes get accustomed to the light conditions, it becomes easy to focus on the objects clearly
- Use a red light torch at night to prevent loss of night vision, which can cause accidents that injure you or damage the instrument.
- If you are placing the tripod on the steps or near a pool, then makes sure to stay cautious. You can tape the tripod base tightly to the steps so that it doesn’t shake from the position, or you can build a fence around the pool to stay safe.
- A parent must accompany the child while setting up the telescope as mishandling can damage the optical components.
If you are planning to buy a telescope for your child, make sure to look into the features and the quality of the product. For a first time purchase, consider investing in a less-expensive one. If the child shows more interest, then you can go for an upgraded version later.
Did you buy a telescope for your child? How did you make your pick? Share your ideas and inputs with us in the comment section below.
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