Are you looking for a way to spark your child’s interest in the fascinating world of astronomy? A telescope might be the perfect tool to ignite their passion and inspire a lifelong hobby. Sure, you could get them one of the best binoculars for stargazing, but a telescope will provide them with a whole different experience. Imagine the look of wonder on their face as they peer through the lens and discover the beauty of the stars, planets, and galaxies. It’s a priceless sight that you’ll remember for life.
But with so many telescopes on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your child. What features do you look for? Should you buy additional parts/accessories?
We’ve created this guide to help you navigate the world of telescopes and find the perfect one for your little stargazer.
We’ll cover the vital factors you need to consider when purchasing a telescope for your child. Plus, we’ll give you examples of telescope brands that make products suitable for people of young age. Below is an easy-to-follow guide for selecting the best telescope for kids.
Telescope Types Suitable For Children
There are several types of telescopes that are a good fit for children, each with its own set of features and capabilities. Here are a few to consider:
These telescopes use mirrors to gather light and are a great option for kids who are interested in exploring deep-sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae. Examples of reflector telescopes that your child could use include the Celestron 31045 AstroMaster Telescope, which features a wide field of view and easy-to-use mount, making it easy for him/her to track and view celestial objects. Another option is the Orion 10015 StarBlast 4.5 Astro Reflector Telescope that is designed for kids to have a great time observing the night sky.
These telescopes utilize lenses to gather light and are a great option for kids as they are easy to use and maintain. One good refractor telescope option for kids is the Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope, which is compact and portable. Your child can take it on camping trips or to the backyard. The Orion 10034 GoScope II 70mm Refractor Telescope, with its compact design and easy-to-use features, is another candidate for being your child’s next telescope.
Dobsonian telescopes are similar to reflector telescopes, but they have a unique design that makes them easy to use and set up. Examples of kid-suited Dobsonian telescopes include the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Classic Dobsonian Telescope, which works great for exploring deep-sky objects like galaxies and nebulae. The Sky-Watcher Collapsible Go-To Dobsonian Telescope is also a great option for kids. With its compact and easy-to-use design, your child should have no problems using it on a daily basis.
These telescopes come with a built-in computer that can automatically locate and track celestial objects. Examples of computerized telescopes that are suitable for kids include the Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope, which is easy to use and comes with a variety of features that make it perfect for them to explore the night sky. Meade StarNavigator NG 114mm Reflector Telescope, which has a computerized GoTo mount and easy-to-use interface, is another one to consider.
Note that safety and durability should be at the top of your mind as you shop for a telescope for your child. Besides, you want to consider telescopes that are easy to use and maintain, as well as those that are designed to be used by people of smaller stature. The telescope should be easy to set up and use, as well as include easy-to-understand manual or instructions.
Things to Consider When Buying a Telescope for Your Child
Here are a few things you need to consider before you order a telescope online or visit an optics devices shop to get a telescope for your child:
Consider Observation Needs and the Environment
When choosing a telescope for your child, it’s important to consider their level of interest and where they plan to use the telescope. If your child is just curious about the stars and wants to watch wildlife, a refractor telescope is a great choice. This type of telescope is easy to use and maintain, making it a great option for children who are just starting to explore the world of astronomy.
On the other hand, if your child has already developed an interest in space and wants to explore deeper regions, a reflector telescope is a better choice. This type of telescope is great for observing faint objects and producing high-quality images, making it a great option for children who are more advanced in their stargazing pursuits.
If you know for certain that your child’s interest in a telescope is more than a passing fancy, then a compound telescope might be the best option. This type of telescope combines both lenses and mirrors, making it great for focusing on dim celestial objects and distant geographical details.
When considering where your child will use the telescope, it’s also important to consider whether they will be using it at home or taking it with them on camping trips or other outings. If they plan to take the telescope out of the house, you’ll want to ensure that it is easily portable and can be mounted on a tripod.
Avoid Buying a Toy Telescope
When it comes to finding the right telescope for your child, it’s important to consider the quality of the telescope and its suitability for your child’s age. Many telescopes marketed towards children, particularly those found in toy stores, may not be of the best quality and may be difficult for your child to use. However, investing in a telescope from a reputable brand known for producing high-quality optics can be a worthwhile investment for your child’s interest in stargazing.
In addition to investing in a telescope, introducing your child to non-optical astronomical resources such as books, publications, DVDs, and star atlases can be a great way to nurture their curiosity and interest in astronomy. Even with a telescope, pointing it towards the night sky can only reveal so much. It’s important to start with the basics and encourage children to explore the night sky with their own eyes.
Choose a Telescope That Will Grow With Your Child
As a parent, it can be difficult to determine if a child’s interest in a particular subject is just a passing phase or a genuine passion. When your child expresses an interest in astronomy and wants a telescope, it’s a good idea to invest in a mid-priced option that offers both affordability and good quality. This way, even if your child’s interest in stargazing doesn’t turn out to be a lifelong hobby, you haven’t spent too much money.
For children who are six years and older, a fully functional telescope that will work well enough for them to enjoy stargazing is a great option. A great advantage of mid-priced telescopes is that they are often made to be compatible with higher quality telescopes, making it easy to upgrade as your child’s interest and skill level grows.
When upgrading, it’s important to keep in mind the cost of mounts. Many telescopes come with tripods or mounts, while some smaller scopes only have a mounting block that allows them to be placed above a camera tripod with a single screw. Be aware that a camera tripod might not be stable enough for astronomy and that it may be better to choose more durable rings or plates on mounts made exclusively for telescopes.
Go For a Scope That Your Child Can Navigate With Basic Guidance
When choosing a telescope for your child, it’s important to not only consider the quality and cost of the telescope, but also the level of complexity that it will present to your child. While a telescope that is too basic may not be engaging enough to hold your child’s interest, a telescope that is too advanced may be frustrating and difficult for them to use.
A great option is to choose a telescope that will challenge your child’s skills, such as the World Gadgets refractor telescope. This way, your child will be able to learn and grow with the telescope, rather than becoming frustrated and giving up on their new hobby.
Consider Accessories That Might Come in Handy
In addition to the telescope itself, consider the various accessories that your child may need. Things such as tripods, eyepieces, smartphone brackets, and travel cases can enhance the stargazing experience and make it easier for your child to use their telescope. Additionally, software can also be a valuable tool for children who are looking to learn more about astronomy.
Keep in mind what comes included with the telescope and what may need to be purchased separately in the future. This will help you make an informed decision and ensure that your child has everything they need to fully enjoy their telescope and continue to learn about astronomy.
When shopping for a telescope for your child, consider the factors we’ve listed above to make the best purchase decision. You could buy an inexpensive telescope as a trial before upgrading to a more advanced model later on.
Additionally, provide your child with the support and resources they need to make the most of the telescope. One way to do this is by purchasing a beginner’s guide book telescope which can help them learn the basics and understand the mechanism behind the optical device. Joining a local astronomy club can also be a great way for your child to connect with other stargazers and learn more about how to use their telescope.
And if you’re interested in buying one for yourself, check out our in-depth guide to choosing a telescope.