Best smart telescopes in 2024: Observe and image the cosmos

The best smart telescopes have revolutionized the way we explore the night sky by effortlessly merging imaging technology with astronomy. Smart telescopes come equipped with integrated electronics, connectivity features and are largely controlled via smartphone apps that enhance your stargazing experience. Designed for both novice astronomers and seasoned stargazers, smart telescopes cater to a wide range of users with different experience levels.

Although they often come with a steep price tag, smart telescopes are user-friendly, easy to set up and have a sleek, stylish design. They're not too complicated for beginners to use thanks to their simple interface, automation and extensive databases. Plus, they're powerful enough to see you through for years to come without the danger of outgrowing it as your skills grow. You won't end up buying a 'beginner telescope' and then having to upgrade a year or so later.

Smart telescopes are undoubtedly impressive, but if you prefer the more traditional approach to stargazing then you'll want to check out our best telescopes guide, along with the best telescopes for seeing planets and best telescopes for deep space. For more budget-friendly options, we have a guide to the best beginner telescopes and the best telescopes for kids for budding young astronomers.

The quick list

Here's a quick overview of all the products in this guide — if there's a particular smart scope you like the look of, click the picture or the 'read more below' and it'll take you straight to a more in-depth look.

The best smart telescopes we recommend in 2024

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Best overall

Best overall: This smart telescope offers simple astronomy powered by a clever smartphone app

Specifications

Optical design: Newtonian Reflector
Aperture: 4.49-inches / 114mm
Focal length: 450mm
Focal ratio: f/4
Highest useful magnification: 400x digital
Total kit weight: 19.8 lbs / 9kg
Mount type: Motorized GoTo alt-azimuth
Battery life: 11 hours
Resolution: 6.2MP
Database size: 37 million stars, 5000+ celestial objects

Reasons to buy

+
Simple, beautiful layout
+
Incredibly quick to view cosmos
+
Get enhanced astro photos
+
Smartphone app is reliable

Reasons to avoid

-
Average image resolution
-
Difficult to orientate in twilight
-
Focusing a little tricky at times
Buy it if

✅ You want a telescope you can grow with: This scope is good for users of all experience levels, so you won't need to upgrade.

✅ You live in a town or city: It has a Smart Light Pollution Reduction feature which is ideal for users who don't live near a dark sky site and want to use it in their backyard.

You want to do long nights of stargazing: It has the longest battery life on this list at 11 hours, making it a dream for long dark nights of stargazing.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want excellent moon views: Although we were impressed by the views of galaxies and deep space, we thought the lunar views were lacking.

❌ You're on a budget: You're unlikely to find a budget-friendly smart telescope and this one definitely isn't the cheapest.

The bottom line

🔎 Unistellar eQuinox 2: An easy-to-use motorized smart telescope that can locate night sky objects with the press of a button, the eQuinox 2 can have you exploring the stars in minutes with no prior knowledge. ★★★★½

Design-wise, the Unistellar Equinox 2 is incredibly sleek and stylish (but that can also be said about most smart telescopes), and it's almost identical to its predecessor, the Equinox. The simple design makes this scope incredibly easy to use, and having just one button on the telescope itself makes it a dream for beginners who might not have any experience with telescopes. We also noted in our full Unistellar eQuinox 2 review that the app is well laid out into three distinct sections — you can switch between telescope operation, engage with the astronomy community and monitor/change settings.

We found the app incredibly quick and easy to use, and the views come thick and fast once you're set up. You can navigate and search for various objects in the night sky and overall we thought the telescope performs very well. There's a Smart Light Pollution Reduction feature which is great for users who live in urban areas, and we were really impressed with the images it generated — we got stunning views of galaxies such as M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy, M82 the Cigar Galaxy and several star clusters. That said, we did think the lunar views were slightly unimpressive.

We'd definitely recommend buying the backpack if you plan to take it outside of the home with you, as we would've struggled without it. We were also a bit let down by the fact that it doesn't orientate until well after it's already dark — it would be useful to have it set up ready to go once darkness hits, but we had to navigate without the use of the finderscope to begin with, which wasn't ideal. That said, in the winter months and areas with a very dark sky, you'll be able to use the GoTo function effortlessly without encountering any issues at all.

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Unistellar eQuinox 2
AttributesNotes
DesignSlim, sleek, neat package.
PerformanceImpressive view of galaxies and nebulas.
FunctionalityDoesn't orientate until well after twilight, easy once oriented.

Best for larger budgets

Best for larger budgets: A sleek and smart astronomical instrument that astrophotographers will love

Specifications

Optical design: Reflector
Aperture: 4.5-inches / 114mm
Focal length: 450mm
Focal ratio: f/4
Highest useful magnification: 50x optical, 150x digital
Weight: 19.8 lbs (9kg) including tripod
Mount type: Motorized GoTo alt-azimuth
Battery life: 9 hours
Resolution: 7.7MP
Database size: 37 million stars, 5000+ celestial objects

Reasons to buy

+
Effortlessly simple setup
+
Stunning, sleek design is jaw-dropping
+
Nikon eyepiece for those who want it
+
App is well-designed and easy to control

Reasons to avoid

-
Extremely pricey, especially for new astronomers
-
May not appeal to purist telescope users
Buy it if

✅ You focus on astrophotography: For users who want to capture stunning images of the night sky, this is the scope to go for.

✅ You favor ease of use: This scope is incredibly minimalistic and simple to use, making it perfect for those who don't want to spend ages finding celestial objects yourself.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You don't have a large budget: Feels like an obvious point to make, but this scope is on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to cost, so users who don't have a big budget to spend may want to consider other options.

❌ You're not fussed about astrophotography: If you aren't bothered about capturing detailed astrophotos, then there are likely more suitable options out there that cost a lot less.

The bottom line

🔎 Unistellar eVscope 2: A fantastically designed telescope, brilliant for photographers who want to get into astronomy and have the budget or astronomers who want an all-in-one system that’s simple to use and set up. ★★★★½

The Unistellar eVscope 2 is a fantastically designed telescope with a minimalist feel and solid quality all around. As we mentioned in our Unistellar eVscope 2 telescope review, we could tell that every aspect of the telescope has been carefully designed. The eyepiece gives it more of a traditional feel, and we found it comfortable to use, although the soft rubber surrounding it does tend to trap dust and fibers.

Even if you have little to no astronomy experience or knowledge of the night sky, the Unistellar eVscope 2 is ridiculously easy to use and set up and it'll guide you to certain celestial objects with just the tap of your phone screen. It's beginner-friendly in every single way except the huge $5000 price tag. The telescope is operated solely through an app, so you'll need to make sure all your devices are fully charged before you head out or bring one of the best power banks out with you. 

We did find the image can be quite laggy, but the Explore mode is incredibly useful for astronomers of any level, showing you all the objects visible in the night sky accurately to the date and time you're using it, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of the experience.

For astrophotographers, the 7.7MP camera may not equal that of a traditional telescope with an eyepiece, but it certainly matches or outperforms many of the designated astrocams on the market. That said, we thought it was as close to perfection as you can currently get for budding astrophotographers.

Overall, there's no denying the $5000 price tag will render it inaccessible to many users, but when you think about the technology it possesses, not only for observing but also for capturing images (including a Nikon eyepiece), it's akin to one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market, so we think that although it's undoubtedly very expensive, it's worth the money if you can afford it. 

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Unistellar eVscope 2
AttributesNotes
DesignIncredibly stunning looks and solid telescope construction.
PerformanceObject go-to is intuitive and fast.
FunctionalityApp allows you to easily go-to celestial objects.

Best for resolution

Vaonis Vespera II

Best for resolution: A huge step up from its predecessor, the Vespera II has the highest resolution on this list

Specifications

Optical design: Refractor
Aperture: 2-inches / 50 mm
Focal Length: 250mm
Focal ratio: f/5
Highest useful magnification: Unstated
Total kit weight: 12.96 lbs / 5.87kg
Mount type: Computerized GoTo altazimuth
Battery life: 4 hours
Resolution: 8.3MP
Image database: 3400 celestial bodies

Reasons to buy

+
Great for nebulas
+
Very inexpensive
+
Produces brilliant, detailed images

Reasons to avoid

-
No good for planets
-
Decreased battery life
Buy it if

✅ You want detailed images: The 8.3MP sensor produces amazing images, with the ability to boost it to 24MP with Vaonis' Live Mosaic Capture.

✅ You want to travel with it: While only slightly heavier than the original Vespera, the Vespera II is still incredibly portable.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to see planets: The Vespera II is best suited for nebulas and deep space viewing.

❌ You want to do long sessions: The battery life has decreased to 4 hours, so it wouldn't be good for long stargazing sessions unless you have a power bank.

The bottom line

Vaonis Vespera II: An incredible smart telescope that is inexpensive, beginner-friendly and produces amazing images of nebulas. We were very impressed, although the short battery life is disappointing. ★★★★★

One of our complaints about the original Vespera was the underwhelming 2MP images. It was fine for beginners, but we definitely felt it could be improved, so we were thrilled to see the resolution in the Vespera II has been boosted more than four times to 8.3MP, which is currently the highest on this list. With Vaonis' patented Live mosaic capture, users can capture up to four times the field of view of the scope and boost the resolution to a massive 24MP.

One downside is the short battery life. Considering it's a fantastic option in terms of portability and how easy it is to carry and transport, it's a shame that the battery life is only 4 hours — especially when you consider the original Vespera had an 8-hour battery life. So you can technically take it out to remote dark sky sites, but you can't actually use it for any longer than 4 hours (without a power bank) once you're there. It also doesn't come with a tripod, so you'll need to fork out extra cash on top of the $1590 price tag, which is disappointing. Otherwise, it's a fantastic all-in-one, ready-to-go kit.

The Vespera II features live autofocus and live image enhancement which automatically gets rid of bad images and uses image-stacking to enhance clarity in real-time. Extra-low dispersion glass is used to ensure fantastic image quality across the field of view, and it saves the images as RAW files which you can edit in one of the best photo editing apps. It produces fantastic images of nebulas with incredible detail and clarity, although it isn't any good for planetary viewing, similar to its predecessor.

We are currently reviewing the Vaonis Vespera II and will update this list once our full review is published. So far though, we are mightily impressed, especially for the price and are rating it highly. However, there are a few quirks and limitations that prevent us from placing it higher on this guide.

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Vaonis Vespera II
AttributesNotes
DesignPortable and fairly lightweight, although it doesn't come with a tripod.
PerformanceProduces amazing images of nebulas, but isn't good for viewing planets.
FunctionalityBattery life has decreased to 4 hours.

Best for versatility

Unistellar Odyssey Pro

Best for versatility: A top-notch smart scope for all types of astrophotography that you can easily transport around with you

Specifications

Optical design: Newtonian Reflector
Aperture: 3.35-inches / 85mm
Focal Length: 320mm
Focal ratio: f/3.9
Highest useful magnification: Unstated
Total kit weight: 14.3 lbs (6.5kg)
Mount type: Motorized Alt-Azimuth
Battery life: 5 hours
Resolution: 4.1MP
Image database: 37 million stars, 5000+ celestial objects

Reasons to buy

+
Good for all types of astro
+
More lightweight than other Unistellar models

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Resolution isn't the best
Buy it if

✅ You're heavy into astrophotography: This scope can view the moon, planets and deep space, making it a great all-rounder for astrophotography.

✅ You want to travel with it: It's substantially lighter than the other models in the Unistellar range, so it's great for taking to remote dark sky sites.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: Although it's not a scope you'd need to replace any time soon, not everyone has the budget for a $3999 smart scope.

❌ You want super detailed images: If resolution is what you're going for, the Equinox 2 or eVscope 2 would be better suited.

The bottom line

🔎 Unistellar Odyssey Pro: An ideal blend of portability with stunning optical views, the Odyssey Pro is great for viewing all types of celestial objects and is light enough to take on stargazing trips with you. ★★★★

If you've been reading this guide and wishing there was a telescope with the optical prowess of Unistellar with the portability of the Vespera Vaonis, then you're in luck. The Odyssey Pro is the newest offering from Unistellar, and it seems to hit that sweet spot perfectly. 

Although it doesn't have the same resolution as the Equinox 2 or the eVscope 2 (in fact, the only scope in this list that has less than the Odyssey Pro is the Vespera), the advantage it has over its two siblings is portability. The total kit weight of the Odyssey Pro is 14.3 lbs (6.5kg), which, compared to the 19.8 lbs (9kg) of both the Equinox 2 and the eVscope 2, is much lighter and more manageable if you want to transport it to remote dark sky sites.

It does have a shorter battery life than the other Unistellar scopes, but we think 5 hours is still decent enough. Plus, if you want to do any longer stargazing sessions, you can always take a power bank with you. 

We're currently conducting a review of the Unistellar Odyssey Pro so we will update this guide once the review is published, but Unistellar claims on their website that it's 'excellent' for deep-sky and 'very good' for planets. In contrast, the eQuinox 2 and the eVscope 2 were only rated as 'good' for planetary viewing. One of the things we were disappointed about with the Equinox 2 was the underwhelming lunar views, so we are very interested to see whether the Odyssey Pro is any better for that.

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Unistellar Odyssey Pro
AttributesNotes
DesignSleek black finish, more lightweight than the other Unistellar models.
PerformanceVery good for viewing planets and excellent for deep space.
Functionality5 hours battery life is decent, but not as long as the other Unistellar models.