Best beginner telescope: Celestron FirstScope

The Celestron FirstScope is the best pick for an absolute beginner level telescope. Most entry-level scopes are crap, and most useable scopes start at $300. Since the FirstScope costs only $42, you might be tempted to dismiss it as more useless junk. But I’ve been using the FirstScope, and it is sweet. It needs a sturdy chair or table to perch on, but otherwise is easy to handle. It is compact for storage; it can fit onto a shelf — and it is the perfect size for a small kid. Pretty durable, too. With its 3-inch mirror you can see moons of Jupiter, ring of Saturn, and lunar craters. (I missed that recent comet.) Many other buyers mention that if you substitute decent eyepieces (from another scope) it improves the view tremendously. With one of those you can view a few bright galaxies. It will also focus as close as 30 feet away; we’ve used it as a terrestrial telephoto lens to scan the wildlife on the mountain behind our house.

This is an adequate first telescope to try out sky watching for a small investment. If you want to invest into a higher quality telescope, I recommend Ed Ting’s reviews at ScopeReview. It was Ed Ting’s raves about this little gem that turned me onto the FirstScope in the first place. - Kevin Kelly

Celestron 21024 FirstScope Telescope $42


  1. Also, be sure to check out Craigslist in your area – a lot of people are just looking to get rid of old scopes that are just as valuable as they ever were. I picked up a 6″ Newtonian that simply needed a cleaning for $75.

  2. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a house in my subdivision has a little observatory behind it. Hm.

  3. Ed Ting moderates expectations for beginners by suggesting they will not get a Call of Duty experience with astronomy.

    1. Jupiter in scope: Achievement Unlocked!Asteroid 4 of 5 sighted:
      Asteroid 5 of 5 sighted: Objective Complete.
      You have new Mission Objectives.
      They’re called shooting stars for a reason! Get to Cover!

    2. Yeah, I used Ed’s website eons ago when picking out my fist scope.  Now I own an 18″ f/4.5 Obsession – once you get bit by that aperture fever, there is only one cure.

    1.  Less than you’d expect, but you have to drive for an hour to get to the grocery store.

  4. I have a pair of those giant Celestron binoculars that were on a tripod that fell over and now they see double.  Where to get that repaired?

    1. Try using the retailer locator on the Celestron site to find a retailer near you.  If the retailer doesn’t do repairs themselves, I’m sure they could recommend someone reputable.  It is my experience that people in telescope stores (like people in comic book stores) tend to love the product they sell.

      Another solid option is to get in contact with a local astronomy club. They too would likely to be happy to recommend a place to get your optics repaired.

  5. We looked at this scope for my daughter but ended up with a sky-watcher heritage scope.  We haven’t been disappointed.

  6. This is now $33.06 on Amazon.

    I resisted the impulse and just added it to my Amazon wishlist.

  7. Not even close – I’d take a 4.5″ Newt,, either the Skyquest or the Starblast, both by Orion over that Mak.  Both will show a LOT more detail and light grasp, cool down faster, and don’t have that shaky tripod.
    Oh, and both are cheaper too =-)

  8. I’m looking to upgrade from the toy store version!  It was a joke gift, but my kids are fascinated.  I always was but never found time.  But checking out the great and infinite beyond is an immense pleasure!

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