Best Value Planetary Telescope.


I'm often asked...


by people who have read my Telescope buying guide 'Complete Essentials', the following question.

"I want to start with a good telescope. What would you recommend is the best value 'proper' telescope that I can buy that will show me all the wonders of the planets of the solar system?"
SkyWatcher Evostar 90mm EQ2 Refractor TelescopeImage Courtesy: SkyWatcher Telescopes

The simple answer is that if you're just beginning on your astronomical journey, and you know it's the planets that you want to observe mainly, you could do a lot worse than getting yourself a SkyWatcher EvoStar 90 on EQ2. (Pictured here). [Image thanks to SkyWatcher Telescopes]

This telescope will serve your solar system astronomy needs for many years.  This is a serious good-sized optically excellent refractor - Not a 50, 60 or 70mm 'child's first telescope'! 

It is bigger than the minimum size I would recommend for refractors (80mm), but it is such great value that you really should try to get the 90mm Evostar! 

The equipment level is good with two eyepieces and a Barlow lens (Giving 4 magnifications - More than enough to start with).  It is of such a size that it will show the detail that you will want to see.  The optics are very good in this model. 

The telescope is mounted on a proper equatorial mounting, with 'slow motion knobs', which is easy to set up and will allow you to follow the heavenly bodies easily (See my 'Equatorial set up' guide).    I would not recommend you try astronomy using an Alt-Azimuth or Go-to mounting.

This model is not too heavy to move in and out to the observing site even for young teens and it won't break the bank.  If you decide astronomy's not for you you can quote this guide when selling and you'll get a good price. :o)

Another good thing is that this telescope comes with a magnifying 6x30mm finderscope.   Much better than the throw-away Red Dot finders.

What Can We See?

This telescope will show you the basics of general astronomy and a good amount of detail on the planets.

Mercury and Venus will show their phases.
Mars will show some dark markings and the polar cap.
You can see at least ten Asteroids.
Jupiter will show two to four bands/belts (and, of course, its four Galilean moons).
Saturn will show its rings, including Cassini's division, and three to four moons on a 'still' night. 
Uranus and Neptune will be visible as tiny greeny / bluey discs.
(You can't reliably see Pluto even with a 150mm refractor by eye!  Currently in Saggitarius, just north of 'the Teapot' ! ) 
You will be able to explore the craters, mountains, rills and valleys of the Moon when it's in a phase, and the ray craters when it's full.

At the time of writing this telescope can be ordered new for £165.

It's not my place to tell you where to buy from - But if you search for SkyWatcher EvoStar 90 on EQ2-3 - You will find them.  Make sure it's the EQ model though, not Alt-Az or Go-To - I can't stress that enough!

If you find that you're hooked on astronomy the next step would be a SkyWatcher 100mm or 120mm Refractor - Or possibly the SkyMax 127.