There are plenty of telescopes at Best Buy — but it’s not always easy to pick out the best deals and discounts from the pile. Especially as Black Friday deals have now started emerging, contributing to the ever growing number of ‘discounted’ models available on the site. That’s where this guide comes in. Here, we pick the ones that are really worth your money.
The best beginner telescopes are very popular this year as, amid supply shortages, manufacturers are buying those in bulk to expand the astronomy market. Happily, a lot of folks are joining the amateur astronomy community. It’s the perfect social distancing event because you always hold these star parties outdoors and with distance in between the telescopes to optimize seeing.
If you’re after something more specialized, we’ll keep a sharp eye out for you. Shortages are severe, but with research you may be able to avoid paying full price on models for intermediate and advanced astronomers.
If you’re open to buying from other companies, we also have a more general guide to the best Black Friday telescope deals. You’ll find that it’s mostly Celestron deals at the moment, but we’ll be updating it with more brands and models as they roll in.
As a final note, we only recommend brands that we’ve tested. When you’re browsing on Best Buy, you’ll see a few telescopes from smaller companies – as we can’t confirm the quality of the optics, we haven’t included these below.
- Related: Best Black Friday space deals
- Check out our best telescopes guide
- Need an instrument that’s easy to use? Read our best telescopes for beginners
- Not ready for a telescope? Read our best binoculars guide
- Shopping for a young skywatcher? Check out the best telescopes for kids
Today’s best telescope deals at Best Buy
There are three basic types of telescopes: refractors, reflectors and catadioptrics. Refractors are great for highly magnified views of planets and moons, while reflectors offer better views of deep sky objects, star clusters and galaxies. Catadioptric telescopes correct some of the visual problems found in these older styles – such as chromatic aberration – but they tend to be a little more expensive.
Reflectors are usually either Newtonian or Dobsonian in design. Newtonian telescopes are good for a wide range of viewing targets and often useful for astrophotography – however, they require a lot of maintenance and can be complicated to set up, whereas Dobsonians are more straightforward.
This type of telescope is ideal for beginners, offering a straight-forward assembly and lower price point. They do, however, tend to suffer from chromatic aberration, where bright objects appear to have a kind of halo. This doesn’t ruin the viewing experience, so don’t let this put you off too much.
Catadioptric telescopes fall into two broad categories: Maksutov-Cassegrain and Schmidt-Cassegrain. Schmidt-Cassegrains traditionally have bigger apertures, while Maksutov-Cassegrains usually have small apertures. As such, the Schmidt-Cassegrain is usually better for astrophotography and for broader views, while the Maksutov-Cassegrain is great for sharp views of planets and moons. Both types often come with a computerized GoTo system, which can work out which way the telescope is pointing and automatically adjust it to align with chosen targets.
Choosing a telescope
With all these variations, it can be tricky to figure out which telescope is best for you. We recommend taking two main things into consideration: personal budget and what you’d prefer to view in the night sky.
Lower budget models will usually be reflector or refractor telescopes, while catadioptrics are more expensive. If you’d prefer high magnification views of planets and moons, go for either a refractor or a Maksutov-Cassegrain design. For views of deep sky objects, star clusters and galaxies, opt for a reflector or a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. And if you need more detailed guidance, have a look through our piece on the best telescopes, which goes into more detail on all of the above.
Ruth has worked across both print and online media for five years, contributing to national newspaper titles and popular tech sites. She has held a number of journalist roles alongside more senior editorial positions, and is currently acting as a commissioning editor for Space.com.