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If you are reading my blog regularly, then you already know that I have written articles about the Best Telescope Under $200 and the Best Telescope Under $500. In this article, I want to focus on those of you that have a bigger budget for buying their first telescope, or you already have a cheaper one, and you want to upgrade.
The best telescope under $1000 is the one that you will fully utilize for your particular situation and interest in astronomy. It is impossible to recommend one telescope because every part of the astronomy requires different specifications of the telescope. So because of that, I will break this article into different situations, and I will give you my recommendation on what telescope under $1000 is best for you.
Best Telescope Under $1000 For Visual Astronomy
This is a broader section, and what I mean by the visual astronomy is that you want to enjoy your telescope for visual observing with a manual mount. In this case, you can spend the majority of your budget on the biggest telescope you can get under $1000 without the motorized mount. However, this requires you to live in a dark location away from the city, or you have no problem to travel to the dark location. There are no shortcuts if you want the most from your telescope- you need dark skies to see the wonders of the universe.
Here you can only focus on the aperture of the telescope, which is the diameter of the primary mirror or the lens. So you need the biggest light bucket you can fit into $1000. Therefore you have to look for a Newtonian reflector that uses a big mirror to collect light. This situation is not favorable for refractors, and if you want to know why, you can read my article Reflecting VS Refracting Telescope.
Now when we know we are looking for a reflector telescope, we need to decide on which mount it will be. I said before, the motorized mount is not necessary if you know or want to learn the position of the object on the night sky, and it would only eat a big chunk of the budget. And you can always use some stargazing apps to help you locate what you want to see. So the options are Equatorial mount, Azimuthal mount, and the Dobsonian mount. The Dobsonian telescope mount is the winner here because it is cheapest, and despite the price, it can carry a heavy telescope. The assembly and handling are also very easy with these mounts.
So far, we know that the best telescope under $1000 for visual astronomy is the Dobsonian telescope. There are many options you can choose from, but to save your time doing the research, I recommend to buy Sky-Watcher 12″ Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope.
Sky-Watcher 12″ Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope
It is a huge light bucket here. The diameter of the primary mirror is 12 inches, so it is one of the biggest telescopes you can buy. And I mean it, it’s massive. Take this into account because you will need some stool to stand on to reach the eyepiece in some situations. For example, when observing objects near the zenith. But what this telescope will show you will blow your mind.
It is a flex tube design, so the telescope is collapsible, which is perfect for transport when you travel to go under the dark sky. If you live away from the city, the ideal situation will be to have it in your backyard, because it is heavy to carry around by one person. The shipping weight is 60 pounds! But it is the ultimate telescope for visual astronomy. You can also connect a camera to this telescope and take some pictures or videos of the moon and planets, but this is not a telescope for deep-sky photography. You can also go for smaller versions 10 inches or 8 inches if you think that the size of this monster will be a problem for you.
- The diameter of the Primary Mirror is 305mm
- Focal Length: 1500mm
- Eyepieces (1.25″) 10mm & 25mm
- 1.25″/2″ Crayford Focuser
- High-Quality Parabolic Primary Mirror
- 9×50 Finderscope
- Direct SLR Camera Connection
- Telescope Tube Length 144cm (Extended), 92.5cm (Retracted)
- Dobsonian Mount with Accessory Tray
- 44% more Light Gathering than 10-inch Mirror
Best Telescope Under $1000 With Motorized Mount
If you are a beginner or just a casual observer, and you don’t know the night sky well, you should look for the telescope with a motorized mount. We are still talking about visual astronomy, so all the requirements that I mentioned above are the same here. The best option here is the Dobsonian telescope as well, but with the motorized mount.
The motorized mount will help you locate and see the objects fast without the need to know astronomy or to just save time during the stargazing session. Additionally, it will track the object for you to keep it in the field of view of the telescope. Because the earth rotates, the sky rotates as well, so you need to compensate for this movement manually or with the help of the motorized mount. The rotation is pretty obvious using the high magnifications.
The control units of these mounts contain a catalog of thousands of objects that telescope can point at. It is a neverending experience, and you can also choose the automatic tour of all the brightest objects for a given night. All you need to know is the position of the brightest stars to setup up the mount, and you are ready to go. I have made an article that will help you with the use of the motorized GoTo mount.
My recommendation is almost the same as for the best telescope under $1000 with a manual mount. But on top of that, this one will be equipped with the GoTo system.
SkyWatcher S11800 GoTo Collapsible Dobsonian 8-Inch
This is the same telescope with flex tube design but with the GoTo mount. It is, of course, smaller because you are paying more for the motorized mount, and you have to downgrade the aperture a little bit to stay under $1000. But an 8-inch aperture is still a big mirror to show you the best of the night sky. Also, it will be easier to transport because of the smaller dimensions and weight of the telescope.
Even with the computerized mount with the ability to track the objects, this telescope is not suited for deep-sky astrophotography. However, you can take breathtaking pictures and videos of the moon and planets if you connect the camera to the eyepiece holder.
- Aperture: 8-inch/200mm
- Focal Length: 1200mm
- Eyepieces: 10mm & 25mm
- 1.25″/2″ Crayford Focuser
- High-Quality Parabolic Primary Mirror
- 9×50 Finderscope
- Direct SLR Camera Connection
- Dobsonian Mount
- SynScan GoTo Computerized Mount
- 42,900+ Object Database catalog
Best Telescope Under $1000 For Astrophotography
This section needs more research and attention because when you want to do astrophotography, you need some experience with telescope operation. It is a huge topic! The best idea would be to buy the optical tube and the mount separately. I have articles about that called The best Telescope For Astrophotography and The Best Telescope Mount For Astrophotography.
But this article is about the best telescope under $1000, so I will give you my recommendation if you want to try it. Astrophotography is an expensive hobby, and if you are looking for a top tier setup to make amazing deep sky images, you have to spend way more than $1000. And I’m not counting the cost of the astrophotography camera or accessories.
It can be done on the budget, as I proved in my article Budget Astrophotography With DSLR and Telescope. But I have a lot of experience with telescopes, and I don’t recommend it for a beginner, but if you are up to the challenge, you can try it.
The most important part of the astrophotography setup is high quality motorized equatorial mount. Then, if you choose to go with refracting or reflecting telescope, it is up to you. They have differences, but in general, any good telescope will do. So let me give you my recommendation that will fit the $1000 budget. (Remember, you will still need a DSLR or dedicated astrophotography camera.) The best option you have is to combine Orion 6 Inch f/4 Newtonian Astrograph Reflector Telescope with Sky-Watcher EQM-35 – Fully Computerized GoTo German Equatorial Telescope Mount.
The mount is sufficient for astrophotography, and you can always upgrade it later for something better, but for a start, it’s good enough. The telescope is made specifically for astrophotography, so you can’t go wrong here. And the final price combining this telescope and the mount is under $1000, which fits in the budget.
Best Telescope Under $1000 For City Apartment
I bet that many of you reading this article lives in the city apartment with a small balcony, maybe. And currently, this is the exact situation for me. I have moved from the house with a backyard to the city apartment with a small balcony. So, I had to adapt to a new situation with a limited field of view of the sky.
Now you have a few options here. You can use the astrophotography telescope only if you see the Polaris from your apartment. Without that, you want to be able to do the star alignment for the computerized mount. Despite the light pollution of the night sky in the city, it is still possible to do astrophotography with light pollution filters or Hydrogen Alpha filters.
Unfortunately, I can’t see the Polaris from my balcony, but I wanted to have a GoTo mount. So, if this is also your situation, here is my advice. The Alt-Azimuth computerized mount is the only option. You won’t enjoy the deep sky object like nebulas or galaxies from the high light-polluted area, so you don’t need the big aperture. What you can enjoy visually, if you are not planning to do astrophotography, is the moon and the planets.
The significant factor here is to have a telescope with the long focal length providing high magnification to enjoy the details of the moon craters and to magnify small planets. So the best solution is catadioptric design like Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The advantage of the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope is the size. It is very small and compact, and it has a long focal length providing high magnifications. Mounted on the computerized mount- perfect choice for a small city apartment. You can read more about the design HERE.
Celestron NexStar 8SE Computerized Telescope
The NexStar lineup from the Celestron is the best selling category. Schmidt-Cassegrain design with a focal length of 2032mm in a small package. It is also a good all-rounder even if you don’t live in the city. Very easy to use with a large aperture of 8 inches to provide a high-quality image. It is frequently on sale under $1000 on Amazon.
You can control this telescope from your smartphone using the Celestron SkyPortal wifi module.
- Aperture: 203 mm / 8 inch
- Focal Length: 2032 mm /80 inch
- Single Fork Arm Altazimuth Mount
- Eyepiece: 25 mm (0.98 in)
- Highest Useful Magnification: 480 x
- Optical Tube Lenght: 17 inch (431.8 mm)
- Telescope Weight: 24 lb (10.89 kg)
- Mount Weight: 9 lb (4.08 kg)
Best Telescope Under $1000 For Solar Observing
You can transform any telescope to Solar telescope using a solar filter but never ever point the telescope to the Sun without this filter. It will damage your eyes permanently and the telescope optics as well.
Using a solar filter will give nice views of the Sun and dark spots on the surface, but it is not a breathtaking sight. To see more like protuberances, the granulation on the photosphere, and more, you need to use special solar telescopes with filters. You need to filter a lot of light to see it. These filters are Hydrogen-Alpha filters built into the telescope. So, if you want to enjoy the Sun views, I would invest in the proper solar telescope.
The best example here is the Meade Instruments Coronado PST. It can be found under $1000, but solar telescopes can go over $2000 depends on the setup. The downside here is that you can use this telescope only for solar observations.
My final tip for the best telescope under $1000 is to do your research, try some telescopes at your local star parties or simply take my advice and pick the right telescope for your situation and location. And don’t worry, if you end up loving astronomy and telescopes like me, you will end up with few telescopes for every purpose. Clear skies!
Here are some of my favorite gear
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you learn more about telescopes. Here are some of the gear I use and recommend.
Beginner telescope: This is by far the best beginner telescope you can buy. The Orion SkyQuest XT6 is the perfect telescope to start with. The aperture is big enough to see almost every object in the night sky and on the other hand, the price is so low for what this telescope can do.
My astrophotography telescope: I use only a newtonian telescope to do astrophotography. I use an 8" newtonian astrograph telescope.
If you want more recommendations please check my recommended gear section.