Best Telescopes Under $200 For 2021 [Our Reviews and Comparisons]

Ahh, stargazing. For that, you need a telescope.

At one time, lens grinders could make quite a nice living since their skills were rare, and to do it right, you had to have talent. As a result, telescopes were exotic instruments, the building of which few could afford to commission.

Commercial lens grinding machines and automated manufacturing have brought the prices for good quality telescopes down tremendously. When we were kids in the 1970s, a decent entry-level scope other than a cheap children’s teaching telescope started near four figures.

That is no longer the case. There are many well-made and affordable scopes to scratch that stargazing itch.
Here we provide our list of the top five picks for good telescopes under $200. You heard that right, under $200.

Best Telescopes Under $200 For 2020 – Comparison Table

[Comparison Table HTML Code]

Our Best Affordable Telescope Reviews and Comparisons

1. Meade Infinity 102 mm Refractor (209006)

Product Highlights

The Meade Infinity 102 mm is a great achromatic refractor with lots of accessories and is an outstanding starter scope or for those stargazers on a budget.

The scope comes with three different eyepieces, a Barlow lens to boost magnification 2x, a red dot viewfinder, an Astrostar Suite Astronomer Edition DVD with more than 10,000 mapped celestial objects, and a standing height steel tripod with a basic alt/azimuth mount.
Wow! That’s a lot of stuff for less than $200.

Features

  • Aperture: 102 mm (4-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: f/5.9
  • Coated optics
  • Red dot viewfinder

What We Like About Meade Infinity 102 mm Refractor (209006)

The Infinity 102 mm has a maximum magnification of 204x and presents with clear, crisp images due to the use of optical coatings. The alt/azimuth mount allows for smooth tracking of slow-moving celestial objects.

Users like the fact that the alt/azimuth mount has fine-tuning knobs for more precise tracking. Many remarks that the red dot viewfinder makes sighting-in so much easier.

What We Don’t Like About Meade Infinity 102 mm Refractor (209006)

Some reviewers would like to see a finer focus knob. The slow-motion controllers can be a little wobbly unless you are using them gently.
There is no course vertical alignment knob; the telescope is held in position by the transverse bolt. Tripod is too low to use without squatting.

PROS

  • Red dot viewfinder
  • Six different lens combinations
  • Tripod with alt/azimuth mount
  • Celestial object DVD

CONS

  • No course vertical alignment knob
  • Tripod should be taller

2. Meade Polaris 130 Reflector (216006)

Product Highlights

The Meade Polaris 130 Reflector, like its refractor cousin above, comes with a host of accessories to make your viewing pleasure. It features a set of three objectives, a magnification-boosting Barlow lens (2x), a red dot viewfinder, an Astrostar Suite Astronomer Edition DVD with more than 10,000 mapped celestial objects, and a standing height steel tripod with a basic alt/azimuth mount.

Features

  • Aperture: 130 mm (5.1-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Coated optics
  • Red dot viewfinder

What We Like About Meade Polaris 130 Reflector (216006)

Users comment on the build quality of this very affordable telescope. The 130 mm aperture gathers light well and enables the viewing of even deep space objects.

The dust cover has a central plug that can be removed to use as a light filter for viewing the moon when it is bright.
The maximum magnification is 260x.

What We Don’t Like About Meade Polaris 130 Reflector (216006)

There are no collimation tools provided, but that is expected for a telescope in this price range. The focus knob is a bit coarse but can be managed with a light touch.

Some users report problems with internal optics alignment right out of the box, however, Meade customer support is very good and they will either help you realign the mirrors or offer a replacement.

PROS

  • Red dot viewfinder
  • Sturdy tripod mount
  • Great optics for stock lenses
  • Celestial object DVD

CONS

  • No collimation tools were provided to help with optics calibration
  • The focus could benefit from a finer focus knob

3. Celestron Astromaster 114 EQ Reflector (31042)

Product Highlights

The Celestron Astromaster 114 EQ is a 114 mm reflector telescope with a German-made equatorial mount on a standing-height tripod. It comes with two objectives, a finderscope (StarPointer red dot score), and a Starry Night software package with 36,000 mapped celestial objects.

Features

  • Aperture: 114 mm (4.48-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: f/8.77
  • Coated optics
  • Red dot viewfinder

What We Like About Celestron Astromaster 114 EQ Reflector (31042)

The slow-motion controls on the mount allow for tracking of slow-moving objects. The maximum magnification is 269x.
The build quality is sturdy and the tripod is very stable.

What We Don’t Like About Celestron Astromaster 114 EQ Reflector (31042)

The basic lens kit is workable but should be upgraded by purchasing the optional 1.25-inch eyepiece and filter accessory kit. The equatorial mount may be too complicated for novice users.

PROS

  • Red dot viewfinder
  • Sturdy tripod mount
  • Celestial object software

CONS

  • The equatorial mount may be too complicated for novice users (Dobsonian mount would be a better choice)
  • Stock optics are not that great

4. Zhumell 114 Reflector (ZHUS002-1)

Product Highlights

The Zhumell 114 Reflector differs from other telescopes in this list as it is a table-mounted scope. It uses a basic Dobsonian mount sitting on a lazy Suzan turntable to pivot your view.

Accessories included are a red dot viewfinder, two objectives, a dust cap, and a Phillips screwdriver.

Features

  • Aperture: 114 mm (4.5-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: f/4
  • Coated optics
  • Red dot viewfinder

What We Like About Zhumell 114 Reflector (ZHUS002-1)

The Zhumell telescope is very compact and portable since it lacks a tripod. It’s a very sturdy build intended for portability.
The alt/azimuth mounting is simple and will likely stand up to the wear and tear of transporting it to different viewing locations. The vertical mount frame has a built-in handle for easy carrying.

It is an excellent telescope to start out with if you are teaching kids about astronomy. Maximum magnification is 224x

What We Don’t Like About Zhumell 114 Reflector (ZHUS002-1)

Some units have been delivered with broken frames. Optics often need realignment.
These issues are likely due to inadequate packaging and careless shippers.

PROS

  • Very sturdy construction for portability
  • Simple controls
  • Simple Dobsonian mount with lazy Susan swivel
  • The standard 1.25-inch focuser can be upgraded with other manufacturer parts

CONS

  • No accompanying software
  • Some telescopes have been received damaged

5. Meade Infinity 80 mm Refractor (2009004)

Product Highlights

The Meade Infinity 80 mm Refractor is the sister to the Infinity 102 mm reviewed above. It features the exact same accessories: objectives, Barlow lens, viewfinder, and software on DVD.

Features

  • Aperture: 80 mm (3.1-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: f/5
  • Coated optics
  • Red dot viewfinder

What We Like About Meade Infinity 80 mm Refractor (2009004)

Comments from users are basically the same as with the Infinity 102 mm above. The main difference between the two telescopes, apart from obvious differences in magnification, is the weight (5.5 kg vs. 4.9 kg).

This difference in weight may be a consideration for you based on portability and where you plan to do your viewing. If you are climbing a mountain, every extra kilogram you can shave off your pack counts.

The maximum magnification is 160x.

What We Don’t Like About Meade Infinity 80 mm Refractor (2009004)

Users mention the same issues with the focus knob fineness and lack of course vertical knob as they did for the Infinity 102 mm telescope.

PROS

  • Red dot viewfinder
  • Six different lens combinations
  • Tripod with alt/azimuth mount
  • Celestial object DVD
  • Lighter to carry than the Infinity 102 mm

CONS

  • No course vertical alignment knob
  • Tripod should be taller

Latest posts by Sharon Carrell (see all)