Young girl is using a telescope with mother watching and smiling in dawn

Best Kids Telescope – Buyer’s Guide by Exoplanet Science

Astronomy // Telescopes

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Young girl is using a telescope with mother watching and smiling in dawn


Silhouette of little girl looking through a telescope at the stars backgroundIf you want to buy the best telescope for kids but don’t even know where to begin, read on. I’ve got quite a story prepared for you.

“The universe is constantly expanding son, and there is so much to know, so much to observe and so much to wonder at.” was one sentence my father would often repeat.

He would take me by the hand to Big Bend when I was little, set up his telescope and point to the distant constellations telling me about their names and origin.

Much of my love for the various mysteries of outer space came from my father. But I would be lying if I said that my own curiosity and the telescopes I had as a child did not play a part in it.

Though I may not have made a career in astronomy, stargazing has always been a passionate hobby of mine which I continuously look to instill in my kids as well.

But to make this experience a fun and educational one for a child, the right telescope is required.

And with so much variety to pick from, it can get quite hard for any parent to select the best telescope for kids.

Hello! This is Dennis and to help your search today I bring you 7 of my favorite kid’s scopes, which I am confident will appeal to you as much as it appealed to me.

You will notice that there are some models of the usual well-known brands, but there are also a few models from manufacturers that specialize in telescopes for kids only.

Go to my beginner telescope buyer’s guide if you are just starting with astronomy.


1. Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope

In the category of ‘toddler telescope’ the Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope has been somewhat popular among kids of 5 years and below.

I discovered this scope some time ago when I was surfing the net to find a suitable model for my 4-year-old daughter. She loves toys that speak or makes sound, and frankly, I was pretty lucky to get hold of a scope that actually spoke.

The planetary insights of Emily Dawn Calandrelli are quite educational, and through her voice, she tries and makes the experience as fun and as captivating as possible.

Standout features

  1. Education made fun: the scope comes with 24 amazing images of space along with 240 cool facts and trivia about some celestial bodies.
  2. Has double eyepieces so that your child has an easier time looking through it.
  3. The voice of Emily Dawn Calandrelli teaches kids about space objects and planetary phenomena.

How was my experience?

The Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope, is all about orienting the curious young minds into the beautiful world of stargazing.

I wanted to introduce a love for space into my daughter just like I did with my son, but I wasn’t able to find the right telescope to do it with. I needed something that looked fun, could function as a toy, and still be able to teach her about the various mysteries of outer space.

This scope was able to provide me with just that and more. The voice of Emily Dawn Calandrelli (host of ‘Xploration Outer Space’) was indeed the icing on the cake. And along with the images from NASA, the scope made the learning process for her rather enjoyable.

The 24 images of planets, stars and space came with their very own trivia. Each one of them having 5 facts and 5 questions each.

My daughter was also able to choose between Fact and Quiz mode as she saw fit, and as days went by, I noticed that she got more and more engrossed with it. So much so, that after the first week, she started quizzing me about Jupiter and all its various moons.

However, the telescope is very fragile and prone to wear and tear. Most of the negatives about it online are about receiving broken parts due to faulty shipping methods, and it’s not surprising why that is the case.

Pros

  • Contains images from space with their very own trivia.
  • Has two separate Fact and Quiz mode.
  • Emily Dawn Calandrelli teaches about objects in outer space.
  • It orients the young mind into astronomy.

Cons

  • Fragile body construction, prone to breakage under rough use.

Verdict

If your kid is around 6 or below, I would highly recommend this telescope. Though it might not come with a high magnifying power or durable build, it is guaranteed to make your child fall in love with the beauties of outer space.



2. Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope

Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope

One of the most unique aspects of this reflector scope is that it’s made not just for kids, but for adult beginners as well. It’s a very popular model, which has won several awards in 2009 for being the no.1 scope of choice for amateurs.

The Celestron was the one that I decided to gift my son Jared last fall. He was pretty much outgrowing the previous one that he had, it’s focus wasn’t as good as the latest models, and the magnification was lacking as well.

Hence, the Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope was the one I decided on as it provided better picture detail but was still relatively easy to use.

Standout features

  1. Stylish design with easy to use features, makes the scope very attractive and inviting for all class of stargazers.
  2. Portable and tabletop design allows it to be very quickly set up and carried around if you wish to go on a field trip with it.
  3. Comes with two eyepieces of 20mm and 4mm which along with the aperture allows a magnification of up to 75x.

How was my experience?

The Celestron 21024 FirstScope, is by all means and purposes a very simple Newtonian reflector telescope whose design was inspired by Galileo’s very first models.

The scope comes with an optional FirstScope Accessory that has an optical finderscope, which will make it effortless for your kid to locate moving celestial objects.

Its ease of use is what made Jared love it so much. After initially showing him the setup and the object navigation, he didn’t have a single problem using it by himself afterward.

The scope even comes with a rotating table top, which makes it rather convenient to view through the eyepiece. It’s very portable as well, and carrying it around is not going to be an issue at all.

Jared would often take it to the Big Bend Park, and with the help of the two eyepieces and the 76mm optical tube he would set up the scope to view the rings of Saturn.

This is one past time that he is absolutely fond of, and would submit to, every moment he got.

However, where most reflectors have the ability to collimate the optics automatically, it is not the case with the FirstScope. You will need to align it with respect to the eyepiece, as there is no way to move the primary mirror.

Though this did not bother Jared much, it can still be rather inconvenient for a lot of users.

Pros

  • Light, portable build.
  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Comes with two eyepieces of 20mm and 4 mm with 75 magnification.
  • Attractive design with excellent picture clarity.

Cons

  • Doesn’t automatically collimate.
  • The primary mirror is immovable.

Verdict

Jared is absolutely fond of his new telescope. He was always a big fan of the Beehive Clusters, and seeing them in a better detail fills him with joy and curiosity each day. And with this scope’s fantastic user versatility I would recommend it for all age groups, even adult beginners. 



3. Educational Insights GeoSafari Omega Refractor Telescope

Educational Insights GeoSafari Omega Refractor Telescope

This scope made by Educational Insights is the one that my friend Rob gifted his son Eric during his 8th birthday. Rob often has to travel a lot with his family to his relative’s places for the holidays; to suburban areas which lack a lot of kid-friendly diversions.

But fortunately enough Eric loved stargazing, and he would carry his telescope around wherever he went. But the one he had, broke recently during one of those trips, and the GeoSafari Omega Refractor was the one that Rob went for as a replacement.

I had the opportunity of using this telescope myself when Rob invited the family and me over for dinner one night. And I must say, that for a kids scope it’s somewhat surprising. So here are some of the things that took me by surprise:

Standout features

  1. A powerful 700mm all glass optics that gathers more light and makes the image of the stars as bright and as detailed as possible.
  2. The telescope supports the STEM learning feature that will allow your child hands-on experience with this scientific tool.
  3. Comes with various magnification ranges of 30x, 60x, 120x and 240x magnification for deep space viewing.

How was my experience?

What impressed me the most about this scope is the 700mm optics which is just fantastic for a kids telescope to have. And the reason why I say this is rather simple.

As children’s telescopes these days are much more educational and focus more on orienting the young minds, it’s pretty rare to find a scope that provides spectacular deep space images.

And this is something that the GeoSafari Omega Refractor achieves rather effortlessly. With a ‘60mm objective lens, 3 U.S. standard 1.25″ eyepieces, 2 Barlow lens, 5 x 24 mm finder scope, and 2-element achromatic objective lens’ it provides detailed images of distant constellations.

The Orion Nebula is Eric’s favorite, and with the different variations in magnification, he can set his scope to view it from wherever he wants.

And best of all, this scope is amazingly lightweight and portable as well; Eric now looks forward to traveling to the suburbs, away from the city, where the skies are much clearer.

But using the scope is not as convenient as I had hoped. The viewfinder is placed pretty close to the lens, hence using it can get somewhat awkward at various positions. And the Barlow lens, which is required to double the focus power, needs a step tool to reach for younger kids.

Pros

  • Has impressive image quality, perfect for deep space viewing.
  • Light and portable design.
  • Durable build makes it ideal for long distance hiking trips.
  • Has various magnification ranges for improved versatility.

Cons

  • Not as convenient to use.
  • Not recommended for younger kids below 6 or 7.

Verdict

If your child is a little older than 7 and is a rather serious star gazer; trying to jot down notes about planetary positions whenever he/she can, then this scope will suit him/her perfectly. But I will not recommend this for smaller kids; it’s better to get it for those who have a bit of experience in stargazing.



4. Celestron Astro Fi 90 Wi-Fi Refractor Wireless Refracting Telescope

Celestron Astro Fi 90 Wi-Fi Refractor Wireless Refracting Telescope

I don’t mention this much to people when they ask me for telescope recommendations, or even when I am doing a review, but I have quite a history with Celestron and their scopes.

Starting from my grandfather, my family has owned generations of Celestron scopes over the years. And I myself have a Nexstar 8, which I am very fond of.

The Astro Fi 90 is one of their latest additions which is specially tailored to teaching a young mind about the various celestial object that they can view in the sky. Not only does it track the objects automatically but even displays its information through the app on a smart device.

Standout features

  1. The scope can be easily controlled remotely through an integrated WiFi using the Celestron SkyPortal app, which is available for all smart device platforms.
  2. Comes with a 25mm and 10mm eyepiece along with convenient accessories like a star diagonal, a finderscope, and a smartphone adapter.
  3. Tracks space objects automatically while displaying their information on the app at the same time.

How was my experience?

I had the chance of trying out the Astro Fi 90 in one of the science conventions that my son’s school hosted last year. And I won’t be lying if I said that this scope did make me feel a bit nostalgic.

Its shape and design reminded me a lot of the Celestron that my father used to carry around with him when he took me to the Big Bend every weekend. And those are still some of the fondest memories that I share with him.

But leaving my biased opinions aside, if I were to look at this model objectively, then I would say that for a ‘telescope for kids’ the Astro Fi 90 is quite impressive.

Though it’s a bit on the expensive side than most of its competitors, the amazing functions and features it possesses are unique.

The tracking feature and the information guide was by far the most attractive to me. Sure! The software may seem a little complicated at first for a kid to grasp, but once your child gets the hang of it, the potential of the scope is indeed remarkable.

However, the model is a bit flawed when it comes to using it as a table top scope. It cannot be removed from the stand, which is somewhat disappointing considering that the scope is so lightweight and portable.

Pros

  • Auto tracking with information display.
  • Light, portable and easy to set up.
  • 90mm refractor with excellent light transmission.
  • Has a convenient accessory tray.

Cons

  • A rather expensive model.
  • Can’t be used as a table top scope.

Verdict

It won’t be safe to say that the Astro Fi 90 is for all ages. The features can be a bit hard to get used to for smaller children, especially the app. So if your kid is a bit older and enthusiastic about stargazing, and you don’t mind the price, then give this scope a go.



5. Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club MoonScope

Educational Insights Nancy B's Science Club MoonScope

It’s quite a well-known fact that every stargazers journey as a child, more often than not starts off with studying the moon. Focusing its craters through the telescope, charting all of its phases and lunar cycles, fills one with excitement that can seldom be described with words.

The case was the same for me as well. And I distinctly remember, as a 9-year-old there were moments when I stayed up many nights just to study the different aspects of a full moon.

Nancy Balter understands this very excitement of a curious young mind, and that is why with the Science Club MoonScope, she has come up with a model that encourages independent and parent-free learning.

Standout features

  1. Comes with STEM support that will allow your child to learn and play through scientific exploration and hands-on experience.
  2. A 22-page activity guide that can make the educational experience very fun.
  3. To help out the beginners, the scope comes with accessories such as a MoonScope with 18x and 90x magnifications, along with a 4mm and a 20mm all-glass eyepieces, a finder scope and a moon filter with a tripod.

How was my experience?

I encountered the Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club MoonScope, at the same convention as the Astro Fi 90. This is another beginner’s scope on my list today, and the reason why I put it in my top 7 “best telescope for kids” list is rather simple.

The scope uses STEM-based learning to help ‘kids develop the skills and experience they need to succeed through technology.’

A STEM learn and play is quite unique in its approach to educating young learners. It deals in four specific disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to create opportunities for individual discovery and education through play.

The scope specifically caters to beginners; children who don’t know much about space or its objects but are curious about discovering the unknown will absolutely love this scope.

The activity guide is constructive and extremely fun to use at the same time. It details the various phases of the moon along with information of its surface and craters, thereby helping the younger minds slowly understand the wonders of outer space.

Though the scope is versatile enough to be suitable for a broad age group (around 4 to 12), I wouldn’t recommend it for older kids. As the tripod that comes with the scope is non-adjustable and short, using it can be inconvenient for taller kids.

Pros

  • Uses STEM-based learning, making science fun for kids.
  • Comes with an educational 22-page guide.
  • Equipped with specific 18x and 90x moon viewing magnifiers.
  • Versatile enough to be used by a broader age group.

Cons

  • Short non-adjustable tripod.
  • Lacks an accessory tray for all the lenses.

Verdict

Because of the non-adjustable tripod, this scope can be a no-go for a lot of customers. But with tabletop capabilities am sure that it’s not going to much of a problem for any kid to use. Its STEM-based learning comes highly recommended from my side.



6. Celestron 21036 PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope

Celestron 21036 PowerSeeker 70AZ Telescope

If you and your child love going on camping and trekking trips ever so often, then I suggest that you give the Celestron 21036 PowerSeeker a try. This scope is specially built with outdoor stargazing in mind, and as it has a light yet durable design. So, taking it over long distances is not going to be an issue.

With so many amazing portable features, the PowerSeeker can indeed be the Globetrotters best friend. And with a varied range of magnification, it’s suited not just for stargazing, but wildlife viewing and bird watching as well.

Standout features

  1. Comes with ‘The Sky Astronomy’ software which automatically corrects the image prism and helps you track the object you want to view.
  2. Among the 20mm eyepiece, the 3x Barlow lens, the 1.25-inch telescope eyepieces, and the 25mm Plossl eyepiece, the magnification is varied enough to suit both stargazing and wildlife viewing.
  3. The Alt-Azimuth mount included with the PowerSeeker is quite unique for a scope of that range to possess.

How was my experience?

The Celestron 21036 PowerSeeker is the one that my neighbor’s daughter uses. She has a lovely little comfy treehouse in the backyard, where she spends most of her time.

Ever since her visit to the planetarium, she has just fallen in love with stars and the various constellations that make up our very own Milky Way. With the portability of the PowerSeeker, she was able to move around with the scope whenever she wanted and gazing at Saturn, and her rings soon grew to be her favorite past time.

I was once again able to try the PowerSeeker out when she had brought it over to play with my daughter. Truth be told, regarding features I wasn’t expecting much from it, but on using it, I found that for a kid’s telescope the optics were surprisingly good.

The 20mm eyepiece along with The Sky software allowed me to get a fantastically detailed view of the moon and her craters. The Orion nebula looked quite mesmerizing through it as well, while the Alt-Azimuth mount made the scope all the more comfortable to use.

The Alt-Azimuth mount, unlike the Equatorial mount, can be maneuvered much more comfortably. However, it doesn’t track the stars and planets automatically, and the object in view can shift from focus due to the Earth’s rotation and can be quite problematic for newcomers to the stargazing field.

Pros

  • One of the more portable scopes on the list.
  • Easier to use Alt-Azimuth mount.
  • The Sky software will help your child learn as he/she explores.
  • Great image quality with versatile magnification options.

Cons

  • Doesn’t track objects automatically.

Verdict

For kids who have a love for science but enjoy staying outdoors, camping and stargazing, then the PowerSeeker should be the scope of choice. But the Alt-Azimuth mount may not make this scope convenient for those who don’t know much about outer space.



7. Black Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Telescope

Black Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids Telescope

When it comes to ease of use and assembly, not many scopes are as convenient as the Black Twinstar 60mm. Just ‘point and shoot,’ is the motto behind its design, and Twin Star has done a great job of providing their scope with some of the most child-friendly features and utilities.

Apart from the 60mm objective lens and the basic overall design, this refractive scope is a lot similar in function to the Celestron PowerSeeker (but perhaps not as portable).

Standout features

  1. A long 300mm focal length integrated into the scope helps it achieve versatile magnification ranges between 15x to 50x.
  2. One of the easiest to assemble telescopes in the current market. Just screw in the telescope, attach the finder scope, insert the eyepiece and you’re all set.
  3. Comes with a Kid’s Lunar Bundle, which consists of Twinstar’s The Moon Map, an Ultimate Factivity Collection Space book, and 12 Glow-in-the-Dark Star Stickers.

How was my experience?

Right of the bat, let me just say that the 60mm objective lens and the 300mm focal length is what makes the scope an excellent value for money for a child’s telescope. The views of the Moon through it is indeed outstanding, and the clarity of the Beehive cluster that the scope can provide is not something many children’s scopes in that price range can compete with.

Additionally, the ‘point and shoot’ design of the scope is what can make it so very reliable for your child to use. It’s amazingly simple to put together, and if your kid is indeed having problems setting it up, then the Black Twinstar website comes with a colored picture guide that details every aspect of the process.

The adjustable tripod makes the scope suitable for use for kids of all ages and sizes. It even comes with a tabletop feature, and you can prop it up on a desk in the attic if you ever feel the need for it.

The Kid’s Luna Bundle and the BackPack Bundle is what makes this scope so very popular with kids today. The backpack is fully customizable and will let your child carry the scope around wherever he goes.

But much like the PowerSeeker, the problematic part of the Black Twinstar lies with the Alt-Azimuth mount. Though it can make the scope significantly easier to use than the Equatorial mount, but the lack of auto tracking can be quite inconvenient for the amateur stargazers.

Pros

  • The scope has one of the easiest setup processes.
  • Comes with two separate attractive bundles.
  • Alt-Azimuth mount makes the scope easy to use.
  • Adjustable tripods allow the scope to be suitable for all ages.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have the auto-tracking feature.

Verdict

The Black Twinstar is one of the more compact kid’s scope you can go for if you’re looking for a model that your child can enjoy when he is at home or staying over at a friend’s during a slumber party.



Things to Keep in Mind to Choose the Best Telescope for Kids?

mother with daughter and telescope points at the night skyHowever, before you go about picking a telescope that you’re sure your child will fall in love with, there are certain things you should keep in mind.

Apart from determining what you want to observe, or how often your neighborhood bears a clear sky, here are some of the things you should look out for:

Telescope Aperture

The aperture of a telescope to me is its most important aspect. Being able to view a celestial object and observing it with utmost clarity and detail is what makes or breaks a great telescope.

The ‘Diameter of the telescope’s main optical component,’ is known as its aperture. Sounds rather complicated, doesn’t it?

But let me try and simplify it. The aperture of a telescope is the most essential factor which determines the scopes resolving power, which is the image sharpness, as well as its light-gathering ability (brightness).

Learning everything about the aperture of a lens is one of the things that my father taught me when I was a child.

He showed me how the surface area of a 6-inch lens is 4 times that of a 3-inch one and as a result gathers up to 4 times more light. A 3-inch may be perfect for viewing the craters on the moon, however for deep space viewing the 6-inch is the best choice to make the galaxy brighter and much more vibrant.

Magnification (not what it seems)

little kid is watching trough a telescope over a grayish backgroundHere is one myth about magnification; according to popular belief, it is thought that the eyepiece power of the telescope is what determines its magnifying capabilities.

But that is simply not the case. Over the years what I learned was, any telescope can provide the user with an infinite range of magnification. Mind boggling isn’t it?

Well, it’s the aperture that determines the magnifying power. As the magnifying range solely depends on the eyepiece, you can zoom onto the object as much as you want, but to discern it from just being a blurry mass you will need the right atmospheric conditions and the right aperture.

However, the scope lens is very limited when it comes to housing the required amount of detail for the image. Hence, an optimum magnification is needed to detail the image without spreading it out too much.

This is precisely why a lot of stargazers use a low powered scope with a larger aperture to view the more distant objects.

Atmospheric Conditions

Atmospheric conditions are one of the biggest nemesis to stargazing enthusiasts, and it’s also one of the primary reasons behind making kids fall out of their love for astronomy.

Beautiful blond girl in a school uniform in the park looking through a telescopeThere are no technological solutions to this, and it’s also one of the few problems that baffles a lot of amateurs into thinking that their expensive scope is broken.

On certain nights, even the most high powered and expensive telescope will give you blurry images.

And I bet your child won’t be happy about seeing distorted moon crates, especially when he has friends over to show off his cool new telescope.

He will soon find a new interest, and the scope will be left beside the window, gathering dust.

Hence, it’s important to be aware of the earth’s turbulent atmosphere and teach your child to train his/her eyes better to catch steady air.

This will keep his/her interest growing while at the same time learning something new each day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best telescope for a child?

The following 7 telescopes are my kids all-time favorites (in random order):

  1. Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking
  2. Celestron 21024 FirstScope
  3. Educational Insights GeoSafari Omega
  4. Celestron Astro Fi 90
  5. Educational Insights Nancy B’s Science Club MoonScope
  6. Celestron 21036 PowerSeeker 70AZ
  7. Black Twinstar 60mm Compact Kids

What do I look for in a kids telescope?

When picking a telescope for a (grand)child, you need to think a bit differently than usual.

Aperture might be the most exciting feature for adults. However, you need to think about this from the child’s perspective.

When purchasing a telescope for kids, you have to focus on positive aspects but also keep an eye on negative aspects. It means you have to get a telescope that is age-appropriate.

For younger children, you can buy something small, cheap and comfortable so they can see craters on the moon and the brightest planets in our galaxy. Give the same telescope to a teenager, and they’ll get bored very fast.

You know the child that will receive the telescope from you best, so you have to decide which model fits the best for his or her needs.

Conclusion

The various wonders and mysteries of space are something that can engage any curious young mind for hours.

Not only is it a very educational experience, but it bolsters one’s curiosity towards science and scientific learning. But the proper step into the field of astronomy always begins with the right scope.

Hope you found my guide on the best kids telescope helpful today.

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