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.

Smart telescopes tend to be much more expensive than their traditional counterparts, however. While they offer fantastic user-friendly features such as straightforward setup processes and app support, they're often out of the budget range of true astronomy beginners. That said, we have included a range of price points in our round-up, with prices starting from around $500.

A smart telescope can be seen as an investment as their powerful capabilities mean they remain relevant for years, with no real need to upgrade as your skills develop — as is often the case with a more traditional telescope.

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

Why you can trust Space.com Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test and review products.

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 (although 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 thought the app was super fast and simple to use, and once you're all set, the views just keep coming. You can easily move around and search for different things in the night sky, and overall, the telescope works really well. One great feature is the Smart Light Pollution Reduction, which is perfect for people in cities and urban areas. We were blown away by the images it produced — we saw breathtaking galaxies like M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy), M82 (the Cigar Galaxy), and several star clusters. However, we weren't too impressed with the lunar views; they seemed a bit lackluster.

If you plan to take the Unistellar eQuinox 2 out and about, we'd highly recommend buying the dedicated backpack, as it's a bit of a struggle to carry otherwise. Our only other quibble is that it doesn't orientate until it's already dark, so if you like to get set up in advance before the sun sets, you might have to rethink your schedule. In the winter months, however, and when you're in areas with a very dark sky, the eQuinox 2's GoTo function works wonderfully and effortlessly.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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.

If it wasn't for the eVscope 2's eye-watering price tag — $5,000 — we'd recommend this as one of the best smart telescopes for beginners. It absolutely is, thanks to how easy it is to set up: It's operated solely through an app, so with just a tap of your phone screen, it'll guide you to certain celestial objects. But very few astronomy newcomers will have such a large budget. If you do? Look no further.

Since you'll need to rely on your phone for Unistellar's compatible app, make sure you come prepared with a fully-charged battery — or bring one of the best power banks out with you. 

We noticed that the image can sometimes lag, but the Explore mode is super helpful for astronomers at any skill level. It accurately shows you all the objects visible in the night sky based on the date and time you're using it, which makes the whole user experience much less guesswork.

For astrophotographers, the 7.7MP camera might not be as good as a regular telescope with an eyepiece, but it's definitely on par with or even better than many specialized astrocams available. We think it's pretty much as close to perfect as you can get right now for beginner 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. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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. ★★★★★

We rather liked the original Vespera, but our main complaint was its underwhelming images: only capable of taking 2MP images that lacked clarity and detail. It was fine for beginners, but given the price point of the Vespera, it was seriously disappointing. Thankfully, with the release of the Vespera II, Vaonis has boosted the megapixel count by over four times: It's now capable of taking 8.3MP images — the highest of any smart telescope on this list. Better yet, Vaonis' patented Live Mosaic capture can boost the resolution to a massive 24MP.

One drawback is its short battery life. It's super portable and easy to carry around, but it's a shame that the battery only lasts for 4 hours. Especially when you compare it to the original Vespera, which had an 8-hour battery life. So, technically, you can take it out to remote dark sky spots thanks to its portability, but you'll only have 4 hours of use (without a power bank) once you're there. Plus, it doesn't include a tripod, so you'll have to spend extra money on top of the $1590 price tag, which is kind of disappointing. Other than that, it's a great all-in-one kit that's good to go right out of the box.

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 in this guide.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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, then you're in luck. The Odyssey Pro is the newest offering from Unistellar, and it seems to hit that sweet spot perfectly. 

While it doesn't match the resolution of the Equinox 2 or the eVscope 2, the Odyssey Pro stands out for its portability. Weighing just 14.3 lbs (6.5kg) for the complete kit, it's noticeably lighter and easier to handle than both the Equinox 2 and the eVscope 2, which weigh 19.8 lbs (9kg) each. This makes it a better choice if you want to take it along with you to remote dark sky locations.

It does have a short battery life when compared to the other Unistellar telescopes in this guide. It'll last around five hours after a full charge, and so if you're planning a long night of stargazing you'll want to pack a power bank into your kit.

We're currently conducting a review of the Unistellar Odyssey Pro so we will update this guide once the review is published. Based on the information on Unistellar's website, however, we're expecting the telescope to be 'excellent' for deep-sky viewing and 'very good' for planetary observations. That's in contrast to Unistellar's own rating of the eVscope being only 'good' for planets. We were disappointed with the lunar views from the Equinox 2, so we're very intrigued to see if the Odyssey Pro performs any better in that area.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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.

Best for portability

ZWO SeeStar S50 smart telescope

Best for portability: A fun and affordable smart telescope that's perfect for carrying around thanks to its small stature

Specifications

Optical design: Apochromatic (APO) triplet refractor
Aperture: 2-inches / 50mm
Focal length: 250mm
Focal ratio: f/5
Total kit weight: 19.8 lbs / 9kg
Mount type: Alt-azimuth
Battery size: 6,000mAh
Resolution: 2MP
Database size: Unstated

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Intuitive app
+
Easy to set up
+
Portable and easy to store

Reasons to avoid

-
Low megapixel count
-
Short battery life
-
Can only take images in portrait
Buy it if

✅ You want something portable: Relatively light and easy to store, it's a great choice if you need something to move around with.

✅ You're on a budget: This is one of the cheapest smart telescopes on the market, so it's a great place to start with the tech.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want good quality images: It's only capable of 2MP images, so they're not going to be the best quality.

❌ You need a long-lasting battery: Its 6,000mAh battery lasts around six hours, but you can at least attach a portable battery.

The bottom line

🔎 ZWO SeeStar Z50: Affordable and lightweight, the ZWO SeeStar Z50 is a great beginner smart telescope. Its short battery life and low megapixel count mean that expert users might want to look elsewhere - but you won't find a better option in this price range. ★★★★½

If you're a beginner astronomer or looking to make the jump to a smart telescope for the first time, the ZWO SeeStar S50  is a great choice. There's an awful lot to like here: it's budget-friendly, it's small and portable, it's easy to set up and it has intuitive app support.

Costing around $499, it's a fraction of the price of some other smart telescopes on this list, and that alone is going to be attractive to newcomers. For that price, you're getting a very capable telescope that auto-aligns with the stars after a very easy setup process.

It can be used to create long-exposure images of deep-sky objects, but the ZWO SeeStar S50 can also be used for solar astronomy and even in daylight, making it a very versatile choice.

Thanks to its carbon fiber tripod, the SeeStar S50 is relatively lightweight, and with an included carry case, it's easy to pack away and carry around. Its design is one of the most compact on this list, which makes it a great choice for users who want to take it on a hike with them. In our ZWO SeeStar S50 review that will be published shortly, we remarked that it's small enough to fit in a backpack and can even be grasped with just one hand.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ZWO SeeStar S50
AttributesNotes
DesignSmall in size with a solid build quality
PerformanceEasy to use with a function that auto-aligns with the stars
FunctionalityThe SeeStar app is intuitive and easy to use, although its 'Recommended' section is lacking

Best budget

Best budget: A small and lightweight smart scope, ideal for beginners and veterans alike

Specifications

Optical design: Apochromatic (APO) quadruplet refractor
Aperture: 2-inches / 50mm
Focal length: 200mm
Focal ratio: f/4
Highest useful magnification: 33x equivalent
Total kit weight: 11 lbs / 5kg
Mount type: Motorized GoTo alt-azimuth
Battery life: 8 hours
Resolution: 2MP
Database size: Unstated

Reasons to buy

+
Fully automatic operation from app
+
Creates shareable images
+
Cuts through light pollution

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't observe planets
-
Basic images of the moon
-
Images lack sharpness and resolution
Buy it if

✅ You're on a budget: ...relatively speaking. Compared to traditional scopes it seems expensive, but it's the cheapest smart telescope on this list, so as far as smart scopes specifically go, this is the one to get if you can't stretch your budget very far.

✅ You want something lightweight to travel with: It's also the lightest option on this list at just 11 lbs / 5kg, making it a great option to take with you to dark sky sites without breaking your back.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to view the moon and planets: It's more suited to deep-sky viewing, so it's best to avoid it if you want lunar or planetary views.

❌ You want good quality images: While the images it can capture are acceptable, they lack sharpness and resolution.

The bottom line

🔎 Vaonis Vespera Observation Station An easy-to-use and futuristic-looking solution for beginners in light-polluted cities, the Vaonis Vespera Observation Station features impressive live image-stacking for galaxies and nebulas but it lacks resolution and can't image planets. ★★★★½

The Vaonis Vespera is one of the smallest smart telescopes on the market, standing at just 15 inches/40cm tall and weighing only 11lbs/5kg. It's a sleek-looking piece of equipment, sporting a futuristic, curved design and a very minimal appearance: There's nothing much to see, physically speaking, just one button and a motorized arm.

Our main complaint in our full Vaonis Vespera review was that the images it produces are low resolution: they're 2MP, or 1920x1080, which is pretty underwhelming. For beginners and those wanting to take casual images of the night sky, it's probably enough, but for astrophotographers and astronomers wanting to capture detailed, technical images of the night sky, you'll want to look for a smart telescope with a higher pixel count.

We thought it coped really well with light pollution, making it a great contender if you live in an urban area, although it's not the best choice for viewing planets or the moon.

Setting up and calibrating the Vaonis Vespera was incredibly easy. You just put it on the ground, unfold it and wait for it to calibrate itself. For beginner telescopes, we would definitely recommend the Vaonis Vespera without hesitation because of its affordability, ease of use and user-friendly features.

We are currently reviewing the newer Vespera II — it has more megapixels and is only marginally more expensive than the original Vespera, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Vaonis Vespera Observation Station
AttributesNotes
DesignFuturistic curvy design.
PerformanceCopes well with light pollution but can't observe planets.
FunctionalityEasy to set-up.

Best for light pollution