Learning about space is an exciting topic for just about any kid.
Children are awed and inspired by the vastness and beauty of space but, unfortunately, they can only see so much with their naked eyes.
Now, instead of having them read dry facts about space in their school textbooks and maybe see a few images on Google, you can take their exploration a step further by introducing them to telescopes that are suitable for kids.
Telescopes made for kids can help them explore the stars and planets and are an excellent STEM learning tool for fostering critical thinking and problem-solving as well as stimulating the imagination.
There’s also something very special about scopes; they turn far away stars and supernovas into something kids feel they can almost touch. And the good thing is they let your kids explore the boundless universe without leaving the comforts of your backyard.
Telescopes for kids are not very different from other scopes on the market, but when shopping for one, understand they differ in several aspects from regular telescopes.
Of course, if you’ve never used a scope before, getting one for your kid is challenging, but with our buying guide below, ordering your kid’s telescope will be a breeze.
Here, we’ve rounded up the top five models in the market and included a buying guide to help with the selection.
Table of Contents
The Best Telescopes for Kids For The Money
#1 Celestron FirstScope 76 Tabletop - EDITOR'S CHOICE
Our top pick, the Celestron FirstScope, is a light, portable, and easy to use scope, perfect for kids under ten years of age.
It has a fantastic optical performance too, so it can double as a beginner option for those looking for casual stargazing experiences.
Here’s why we think it will suit the observing needs of your young ones:
Features and Benefits
Ease of use
What we love most about this scope is the ease of use.
We bought it for our eight-year-old granddaughter, and we are impressed that she can use it all by herself with minimal assistance.
There’s no need to set it up since it comes assembled straight out of the box; a fantastic feature for impatient youngsters who aren’t keen on regularly assembling a scope.
Under adult supervision, even kids under five years can use it. Simply set the scope for them, and they can start using it right away with ease.
The Celestron FirstScope seems to be put together fairly well and will hold up to the usual abuse from kids.
I feel it could be a great teaching tool since it easily survives accidental drops, dings, and knocks.
Despite the low cost, the built quality is awesome, and as a prime example, the scopes’ plastics don’t feel glossy or cheap when compared with other scopes within a similar price range.
It’s a great pick for average astronomers who are in it for just fun, and families wanting to make lasting memories under the stars.
Portability is a critical element for a kid’s scope, and the FirstScope doesn’t fail in this department.
It’s a great little scope, weighing a mere 4.5 pounds.
My granddaughter doesn’t have any challenge picking the scope up, and it’s nice for quick, easy viewing sessions.
With an aperture of 2.99 inches, the Celestron has decent optical performance and offers fuss-free observation opportunities especially for casual viewings of the night sky.
Kids can easily pick out bright solar system targets, including the moon, Venus, Jupiter, and other luminous deep-sky targets.
However, with the eyepieces that are supplied, which offer magnifications of 75x and 15x, your kids might not get hugely close up sights of targets such as atmospheric bands.
Nonetheless, it’s still easy to pick out craters and Jupiter’s moon.
The only real drawback with the scope is the absence of a finderscope, which can help navigate the night sky.
This means kids might have a challenging time aligning the scope with the chosen target, something that might frustrate them.
The Celestron FirstScope, built for little hands, comes complete with a host of accessories for the perfect observational experience, including two eyepieces and a basic edition of the Starry Night astronomy software.
#2 Handheld Brass Pirate Navigation Telescope with Wooden Box - Best Nautical Scope for Kids
If your child is a big fan of pirates or ship captains, the Handheld Pirate Telescope, modeled after old-style eyepieces, will be a great addition to any pirate-inspired collection.
The Handheld scope is a fully functioning telescope with a fun, pirate-themed design that your kids will be sure to love.
Features and Benefits
The Brass Pirate Telescope itself is fantastic, but the box alone is worth it.
The scope comes in a beautiful shellac box that is stunning to look at, and, more importantly, offers a secure holding location for the scope when not in use.
However, it’s not the most durable box because there are reviews that it feels fragile and tends to splinter on the edges.
Some users were also disappointed because the wooden box came without the brass anchor emblem as advertised.
But that was not a problem for the majority of users, considering that kids love the scope and the box as they come.
As its name suggests, the Handheld Brass Pirate Navigation Scope is a thrilling purchase for pirate and maritime-obsessed kids.
It’s a cute option, and perfect in every way, from its overall look, beautiful packaging, and pirate “motifs,” to its optical telescoping abilities.
The Brass Pirate has a fun look and theme, allowing your kid to act like they are real pirates, while still gazing up at the sky to look at stars and other things.
The scope is such a wonderful product and will make the perfect gift for children.
And although it’s true there are many different scopes for kids, this option is in our list of the best because of its functionality and aesthetics.
I even found it a great addition to my home décor!
With a total weight of 12 ounces, the Brass Pirate Telescope is one of the more lightweight and portable options on the market.
It’s a perfect pick even for kids under five to grab and take the scope outside without requiring any help.
Plus, it measures a mere 6.5” x 2.8” x 1.8” so it’s fairly compact and won’t take much space in your kid’s toys room or when you decide to put it on display.
We also love that the telescope can compact own from six inches to three inches when put in the box, which is why many consider it highly practical.
It’s also easy to use, and unlike a table or tripod-mounted option, this scope is a handheld pick requiring no set up whatsoever.
Given its price and size, the optical dimensions of this scope aren’t really the best.
Still, it has excellent magnification, and the images are pretty clear.
The focuser works well, but you’ll need to extend it about 80% of the way to get an enlarged view.
#3 Educational Insights Nancy B's Science Club MoonScope - Best for Kids Under Seven
Consider the Educational Insights Nancy B’s scope if you’re in search of a first-time telescope for your hands-on learner.
This scope puts your child into the driver’s seat as they take a tour to the heavens and explore all that the skies that have to offer.
Features and Benefits
The Educational Insights, available in colorful designs, are super cute aligning with many kids’ aesthetic orientation.
However, we’d prefer the scope was available in a “boy” color, or, rather, in gender-neutral colors.
The purple color scheme somehow feels more appealing to girls at a young age, and while my eight-year-old granddaughter did not dislike the color, I wish they made another in a different color that may appeal more to both genders in that age group.
While I appreciate anything that helps science appeal to girls, both my granddaughter and nephews feel the scope doesn’t look like something a real astronomer would use. It would be nice for the folks are Educational Insights to realize girls look beyond pretty and a more realistic color scheme may appeal more.
Educational Insights is made with adjustable pieces that can be swapped out for different kinds of stargazing.
Yet, the adjustment process is straightforward enough that your kid can take control of the lenses, filters, and tripods.
My only concern was that the eyepiece isn’t adjustable meaning you have to hunch over it to see out of it.
The main draw of the Nancy B is its “moonscope,” which comes with different eyepieces and two magnification settings, allowing you to zoom in on every lunar crater.
Your kids will be fascinated by how easy it is to observe the moon, planet, and stars. It’s a great starter for your kids to astronomy.
Even on foggy nights, your children can fiddle with their telescope like real astronomers and figure out the best settings for the job.
There are also other things to like about Nancy B.
For example, this scope comes bundled with a special filter that can be added if celestial objects are too bright for the naked eye.
The thing that I loved most, though, was the 22-page activity journal.
For kids with limited astronomical experience who are new to stargazing, the journal has different activities that explain what they’re seeing and why.
It’s a fun, STEM-based educational feature that brings realism to the stargazing experience and will help kids better understand the celestial system.
#4 Celestron 80 mm Refractor Scope - Best Travel-Friendly Option
The Celestron 80 MM travel scope is a lightweight and portable refractor telescope that works well for viewing deep space objects and more Earthly targets.
It’s an ultra-light scope, which I find perfect for travel needs.
Features and Benefits
The scope weighs a mere 3.3 pounds when fully assembled, so it’s light enough for your child to carry without any help.
As a result, I feel the scope would make the perfect option for the family whose kids may want to take their scope camping, hiking, or on longer adventures.
And as with any true “grab-n-go” telescope, this Celestron kit is bundled with a custom backpack that can hold the scope and all other accessories, including the tripod, eyepieces, and smartphone mount.
The backpack makes it easy and comfortable to carry your telescope wherever you go.
The Celestron’s design is created to accommodate the optical needs of your young one.
A smaller scope, or rather a finder, is attached to the main scope, which is an important feature for telescopes in general, but can be quite beneficial for kids.
When observing through a scope, the smallest movement can cause you to lose sight of the target. And, unless you’ve got a sophisticated scope that can be oriented according to specific coordinates, it is challenging to locate distant celestial objects when looking through a scope.
Fortunately, the finderscope on this Celestron scope makes it easy to locate objects. It’s easier for your kids to find their target with the finder scope and then fine-tune the direction their instruments point to through the main scope.
With an 80mm aperture, the Celestron has sufficient light-gathering capabilities for both casual astronomers and kids.
Of course, it’s not possible to see deep space as detailed as you may want, but for kids, it has ample capability.
It’s easy for your child to make out the moon, planets, planetary details, and several other celestial bodies.
Aside from encouraging your kid’s blossoming interest in astronomy, this scope can also be a great pick for entry-level astronomers with limited stargazing experience.
The scope also comes bundled with an adjustable height tripod. It’s perfect for mounting the scope in different locations, starting on a table, on the ground, or anything in between.
Users love the tripod’s flexibility as it makes the scope especially appropriate for traveling with kids.
Even the shortest of your kids can have the tripod adjusted to a comfortable height for viewing the sky and the Earthboud objects.
#5 Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ - Best for Experienced Kids
If your kids have already shown some interest in astronomy and have some experience handling telescopes, the AstroMaster 70AZ should be a great pick for them.
It makes a good starter instrument for stargazers above seven years, particularly those that prefer not to stoop down to use a tabletop telescope.
Features and Benefits
Easy to use
As with many of the starter telescopes on our list, the AstroMaster is easy to use and doesn’t require any tools for setting it up.
Set up is a cinch, and many kids won’t have a problem using the scope.
Once you set the tripod’s scope, you can either use angled eyesight or straight sight to view.
The AstroMaster comes bundled with a host of accessories your kids will need to kick-start their hobby.
The package includes two eyepieces, an erect star diagonal, and a battery-operated red dot finderscope.
But, what I love most in the package is a download of the Starry Night Basic software, which features a database of 36,000 targets to explore.
So, whichever way skywatching pans out for your budding astronomer, this scope has a lot to offer in terms of observable objects, and it’s hard to outgrow the scope.
The AstroMaster has a decent build, though there are more plastic features than we would have liked.
But, given the cost, the scope is good by any standards and will last for many observation sessions to come.
It can stand up to a few knocks and accidental drops, but you should be wary of giving it to kids who are unlikely to respect the delicate optics.
The included steel tripod is adjustable to different heights for a comfortable observing experience, even for shorter kids.
We were pleased to find out that the Alt-az mount operates smoothly during our handling, without any stiffness.
It’s a great feature to have for kids who need something they can operate effortlessly.
With a 70mm aperture, the AstroMaster’s optical performance is amazing.
It’s possible to make out bright, clear views of different celestial bodies, including the moon, Jupiter, and Venus.
With sufficient fine-tuning of the focuser, you can also get a glimpse of other details such as craters, Jovian moons, and a hint of Jupiter’s cloud bands.
Best Telescopes for Kids Buying Guide
In the text below, we shall look at the different elements to consider when selecting a telescope for children.
But first let’s consider the following:
Is it worth getting a kid a telescope?
When deciding whether to purchase a telescope, the first thing to consider is whether it’s your idea or theirs.
If it’s the child’s idea, it’s definitely worth getting one. Supporting their wish to learn, explore, and imagine is one of the best things you can do.
On the other hand, if it’s your idea because you want to stimulate interest, first test the waters by exploring space, wildlife, or other environments in other ways.
If you’re still on the fence about whether to go for it, ask around to see if anyone has a scope suitable for kids you can borrow. Alternatively, you can choose to buy an inexpensive option to test the water and upgrade to a more sophisticated model if they show interest.
How to choose the best telescope for kids
Once you’ve decided whether it’s worth getting a child a telescope, the next thing is knowing how to choose the best scope for them.
Here, you need to consider several factors that make a scope appropriate for use by your kid.
The factors include:
The child’s age determines the type of telescope and features it has.
For example, for kids under the age of seven, it’s best to get them a scope that provides good, clear images, but is not too complex or expensive.
If they can’t get clear images of interesting objects, they’re likely to get frustrated pretty fast.
But for kids above seven years, consider getting them a more sophisticated scope that can show more details.
However, understand that many kids don’t need a fully-working, high-powered telescope. They simply need something they can get used to looking through, which entices them to continue with astronomy for a long time.
Also, keep in mind that all kids are different. For instance, some kids wouldn’t necessarily enjoy the same telescope that a teenager or more mature teen could benefit from.
Ultimately, it’s all about parenting. Think about what would be best or right for your kid. Are they still developing a basic understanding of planets? Or are they advanced enough to enjoy seeing the real details on the celestial bodies?
What does your kid want to see?
If your kid is simply interested in watching wildlife or isn’t sure what they’re interested in, a refractor telescope is the way to go.
However, if they have already developed an interest in space and yearn to explore the deeper regions of it, a reflector would be a better choice.
Only when you’re sure that your kid’s wish for a telescope is more than just a passing fancy should you go for a compound telescope.
The location you’ll be using your telescope in will determine the type of mount you’ll choose.
If you’re planning to use the scope in a yard, you want an option that can be mounted on a tripod.
On the other hand, if your kid wants to take their scope to camp or away from the comfort of home, you need to ensure the scope is portable.
Telescopes often require several accessories, including mounting systems, travel cases, software, eyepieces, and so much more.
When looking for a kid’s telescope, consider what comes bundled with the scope and what you might want to purchase later.
Ease of use
Simplicity and ease of use are important for the best telescope for kids.
Don’t go for telescopes with tons of features that can be a real pain to set up and use.
Kids aren’t normally all that patient, and if a scope takes a long time to adjust and align, they’re less likely to get out at night.
Size and portability
This again gets back to the ease of use.
The ideal telescope for kids should be lightweight and compact.
It shouldn’t pose any difficulty in moving it from one location to the other.
Kids want something small and light to grab from their room and walk out into the yard.
We’re aware everyone has a budget when choosing a telescope, but understand that high-quality optical instruments don’t come cheap.
However, at the same time, don’t get tempted into splurging out on a scope without knowing for certain whether your kid will fall in love with astronomy.
Don’t go cheap either though, because you might just end up purchasing a toy. Anything less than $100 won’t be a good telescope and is likely to quickly make its way into a dusty corner of the garage.
A word on safety
When purchasing a telescope for kids, you must brief them on several safety tips before allowing them to use the scope on their own.
For starters, a scope should never be used to look at the sun directly without solar filters as it can cause serious eye damage. But rather than telling the forgetful kids to never look at the sun, educate them on how to view the sun safely.
Second, when using a scope at night in a remote or dark area, we recommend having some red light torches at hand to help navigate the dark and prevent falls and injuries.
Finally, a kid shouldn’t be allowed to use a scope near a pool or a large body of water unsupervised. They tend to get easily absorbed in what they’re viewing and may forget about their surroundings and side-step into the water.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
After our review, we feel there’s a lot to love about the Celestron FirstScope 76 Tabletop.
It’s a nice stargazing instrument which seems to be perfectly tailored for kids.
It has awesome optical features that won’t bore your kids as it lets them make out most of the celestial bodies with ease.
It’s also easy to use the telescope without much fiddling, even for youngsters with no stargazing or telescoping experience.
More importantly, it’s sturdy and will survive everything that comes its way.
And did I mention that it comes at a reasonable price, too?