Best telescopes for deep space 2024

Investing in one of the best telescopes for deep space will allow you to glimpse some of the wonders that lie outside our own solar system. These specialist scopes are designed with large apertures which absorb more light than traditional telescopes, making it possible to detect fainter objects that appear much further away from Earth. Since this tends to appeal to the real space enthusiasts, they often come with fantastic optics and some of the latest technological developments as well.

All of this can make these telescopes pricey (although we have been careful to include some more budget-friendly models) so it's worth exploring your options fully before deciding on such a significant investment. Our reviewers have tested a range of different scopes that are suitable for deep-space observation, including telescopes with smart technology that are easy to use for beginners as well as pro models for more experienced users. Check out our top picks below.

If you're after a more generalist scope, take a look at our guide to the best telescopes, and if you're more focused on viewing our own solar system we also have a list of all the best telescopes for seeing planets. Beginners may wish to check out our guide to the best beginner telescopes, and if you're working to a tight budget, we also have a list of all the best telescopes under $500.

The quick list

Below we've summarized our top picks of the best telescopes for deep space, including their main characteristics, who they might be suited for, and where to purchase them. If you're after more information, click the links to read more in the boxes below, and you'll be taken to more in-depth reviews.

Tom Kerss profile photo in front of aurora borealis
Tom Kerss

Tom Kerss F.R.A.S. is a London-based astronomer, astrophotographer, author and consultant. Having previously worked at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, he is the founder of Stargazing✦London, which delivers world-class online astronomy and space courses with subject experts. Tom is also the host of the Star Signs podcast, providing updates from the world of space news, as well as what to look out for in the night sky.

The best telescopes for deep space we recommend in 2024

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Best overall

Best overall: A best seller from Celestron, and a delight for astrophotographers

Specifications

Optical design: Schmidt-Cassegrain
Mount type: Computerized Altitude-Azimuth Single Fork Arm
Aperture: 8-inch (203mm)
Focal length: 2032mm
Focal ratio: f/10
Eyepieces included: 25mm
Highest practical magnification: 180x
Weight: 32 lbs (14.5kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Sharpness across the entire field of view
+
Good value for money
+
Highly portable

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive outlay
-
A little lag when slewing
-
Power hungry, mains power recommended
Buy it if

✅ You want a portable telescope: at just 32 lbs, this is one of the more lightweight models.

✅ You want excellent optics: this telescope provides sharpness across the entire field of view.

✅ You want to get the best bang for your buck: considering the quality you get with this telescope, it offers great value.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: while it's good value, it's not cheap, and the outlay is expensive too.

❌ You want the fastest speeds: there's a little lag while slewing which could get in the way for some.

❌ You're going to use it on the go: this telescope is so power-hungry we recommend you use it with mains power.

The bottom line

🔎 The Celestron NexStar 8SE is a fantastic telescope and one that would suit a beginner, intermediate or advanced skywatcher. Something simple enough for a beginner to get to grips with, but also please an advanced sky watcher is quite hard to come by. ★★★★½

Design: The Celestron NexStar 8SE is a beautifully designed telescope featuring high-quality Schmidt-Cassegrain optics, a motorized single fork arm mount and a tactile handheld remote control. It looks striking in Celestron's signature orange color and feels extremely sturdy and reliable, meaning it should last you for many years to come. The catadioptric construction (which incorporates both refraction and reflection) has allowed Celestron to fit a huge amount of power and a long focal length into a short tube, so the whole telescope is relatively compact for carrying with you to less light-polluted skies.

Performance: The large 8-inch aperture makes this telescope ideal for deep space since it can soak up a phenomenal amount of light. In our Celestron NexStar 8SE review we were seriously impressed by its optical prowess, which gave us consistently bright and sharp views across a range of different targets. Despite a short lag between pushing a button on the remote and the motor beginning to turn, we found the slewing and object tracking to be incredibly accurate, and its smoothness would make this scope fantastic for long exposure astrophotography as well.

Functionality: The scope is quick and easy to set up and align, even for beginners, and once aligned, the viewing experience is entirely automated. Simply select the celestial object you wish to view, punch the number in on the remote and the mount will automatically slew to your desired target. The only real downside is that it requires a whopping 8 x AA batteries, so we'd recommend kitting yourself out with a set of rechargeable batteries and a battery charger to keep the ongoing costs down.

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Celestron NexStar 8SE
AttributesNotes
DesignCompact and user friendly, although not the most lightweight.
PerformanceMotor is impressively smooth when slewing and tracking.
FunctionalityWe liked the in-built hand controller.

Best smart telescope

Best smart telescope: A powerful all-in-one system for tech fans, if you have the budget

Specifications

Optical design: Reflector
Mount type: Alt-azimuth
Aperture: 4.5-inch (114mm)
Focal length: 450mm
Focal ratio: f/3.9
Effective magnification: 50x optical, 150x digital
Weight: 19.8 lbs (9kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Effortlessly simple setup
+
Sleek design is stunning
+
App is well-designed and intuitive 

Reasons to avoid

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

✅ You're a beginner: the setup is really simple and effortless.

✅ You care about the looks: the design of this telescope is super sleek.

✅ You want a good app: this one is well-designed and intuitive.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: this telescope is one of the more expensive ones on this list.

❌ You're a purist: the smart functions and tech may not appeal to traditional sky-watchers.

❌ You are used to the highest quality: the 7.7MP resolution isn't as good as what you can get with traditional telescopes. 

The bottom line

🔎 Photographers will absolutely love the eVscope 2 because it looks and feels much more like a premium photography kit. Purist astronomers who are used to using finder scopes, alignment processes and slightly dated handheld control remotes may find it a little jarring to start with, but the speed and beauty of the eVscope 2 is definitely worth trying out. ★★★★½

Design: The Unistellar eVscope 2 is an incredibly sophisticated device that merges a telescope with a camera, so you don't need extra camera gear. It has a 4.5-inch reflector and a built-in camera with a 7.7MP image sensor, making it simple to take and share pictures.

We loved the sleek and minimalist design of this scope. There is just a single power button on the main body of the telescope, with the rest of the controls being accessed via the Unistellar app. It's an appealing option for those looking for an innovative way to view and photograph the night sky.

Performance: If you're primarily using the Unistellar eVscope 2 as an astrocamera, you might find its 7.7MP sensor a little restrictive compared to a true DSLR or mirrorless camera. You won't be able to blow up photos very large for display. That said, we've found that the eVscope 2 performs valiantly compared to many dedicated astrocameras, and using it is very straightforward, taking out a lot of the hassle. If you're a beginner astrophotographer, then, this is a great place to start.

If you prefer traditional telescope gear, you'll like the Nikon eyepiece that comes with the set. But if you're into modern tech, there's also an electronic eyepiece available. This one features an OLED screen similar to what you find on mirrorless cameras. It's different from the optical view and can't be swapped with Barlow lenses or other magnifiers. Still, we like using it because the screen is excellent quality, with fantastic contrast and deep blacks.

Functionality: The eVscope 2 is incredibly easy to set up. It aligns itself automatically once it's been powered up and connected to the app, so it requires no previous knowledge of the night sky. The app is intuitive, allowing for manual or automatic navigation via the Explore mode. The only downside for beginners is the price, as all this technology makes this one of the most expensive telescopes on our list.

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Unistellar eVscope 2
AttributesNotes
DesignVery sturdy tripod and simple telescope mount.
PerformanceObject go-to is intuitive and fast.
FunctionalityApp allows you to easily go-to celestial objects.

Best value

The Sky Watcher Classic 200P telescope against a white background

The Sky-Watcher Classic 200P is entirely manual but has a huge aperture for deep space observation. (Image credit: Amazon)

Sky-Watcher Skyliner-200P Classic

Best value: The most affordable and no frills way to explore Deep Space — a large aperture Dobsonian with quality optics

Specifications

Optical design: Newtonian reflector
Mount type: Dobsonian
Aperture: 8-inch (203mm)
Focal length: 1200mm
Focal ratio: f/5.9
Eyepieces included: 10mm (120x) and 25mm (48x)
Highest practical magnification: 406x
Weight: 52 lb (23.6kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Unmatched aperture-to-price ratio
+
Dual 1.25-inch and 2-inch focuser
+
Sturdy mount 
+
50mm optical finder

Reasons to avoid

-
No electronic go-to function
-
It can be uncomfortable at some angles
Buy it if

✅ You want great aperture on a buget: this telescope offers an unrivalled aperture-to-price ratio.

✅ You want a sturdy scope: the mount on this model feels particularly strong.

✅ You want immersive deep-sky views: this telescope accepts 2-inch eyepieces.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want electronic go-to functions: this telescope is not equipped with them.

❌ You want the most ergonomic telescope: it can be uncomfortable at some angles.

The bottom line

🔎 For those looking for high-quality deep-space on a budget, the Sky-Watcher Skyliner 200P Classic is a fantastic choice. ★★★★½

Design: A telescope with a slightly bigger aperture can gather a lot more light, making images appear brighter. For instance, an 8-inch mirror gathers 77% more light than a 6-inch mirror, even though it's only 33% wider. The Sky-Watcher Skyliner-200P is the best affordable choice for deep-sky stargazing in this category. It focuses on giving you great performance without unnecessary fancy features.

The Skyliner-200P is a weighty telescope at 24kg, but its compact footprint of 54cm makes it easy to fit in tight storage spaces when stored upright. It is also quick to set up and pack away compared to other telescopes of this size.

Performance:The telescope features a dual-size focuser, which can accept 2-inch eyepieces — a must for anyone seeking the most immersive deep-sky views. 2-inch eyepieces have the advantage of being able to achieve wider fields of view at lower magnifications, enhancing the vistas on offer for the specs. 

 Although the basic Dobsonian mount does not automatically locate or track celestial objects, its smooth movements make manual tracking easy. The 50mm finder, essentially a small telescope, can initially locate and center objects before observation with the primary mirror.

Functionality: If you want to explore deep space without breaking the bank, this telescope is a great deal. It's a sturdy, classic model that traditionalists will appreciate. But if you're interested in electronic features, you might want to check out the Flextube Synscan Go-To version of the same telescope. It has the same excellent optics but comes with user-friendly electronic functions.

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Sky-Watcher Skyliner-200P Classic
AttributesNotes
DesignQuite heavy at 24kg.
PerformanceDobsonian mount feels strong and sturdy.
FunctionalityNo electronic Go-To function.

Best premium telescope

Best premium telescope: A powerful home observatory that even sets itself up electronically

Specifications

Optical design: Schmidt Cassegrain compound reflector
Mount type: Single Fork Arm Altazimuth GoTo
Aperture: 8-inch (203mm)
Focal length: 2032mm
Focal ratio: f/10
Eyepieces included: 12mm (150x) and 40mm (38x)
Highest practical magnification: 480x
Weight: 40.6 lb (18.4kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Super all-round compact telescope
+
Completely automatic alignment with StarSense
+
Futureproof for astrophotography
+
Built in rechargeable battery

Reasons to avoid

-
It needs a more robust mount for serious long-exposure photography
-
Expensive for its aperture
Buy it if

✅ You want a portable telescope: this one is compact and easy to store.

✅ You want some smart features: you get automatic alignment with StarSense.

✅ You want to take it on the go: this telescope has a built-in rechargeable battery.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to use it for professional long-exposure photography: it needs a more robust mount.

❌ You want more aperture: this telescope is pricey considering its limited aperture.

❌ You're on a budget: this telescope is not the cheapest on this list.

The bottom line

🔎 If you're a serious amateur astronomer developing a deep understanding of both the sky and the telescope, then the Celestron Advanced VX 8 Edge HD is a good option. The telescope is as good as you could wish for in its size range. ★★★★★

Design: The Celestron Advanced VX 8 Edge HD features an improved Schmidt-Cassegrain optical design with additional lens elements intended to aid with astrophotography. Its computerized mount combines Celestron's NexStar firmware with a German-style equatorial mount that not only slews to your desired celestial object but is also compatible with a range of other cameras and telescopes using Vixen or Losmandy dovetails. This makes it an excellent choice for those who want to gain good views of the night sky with the option of dabbling in astrophotography at the same time.

Performance: The 8-inch aperture on this telescope offers extremely sharp views, even away from the center of the field. You'll be able to achieve majestic views of Saturn and Jupiter, see globular clusters resolved into stars and easily view Messier Objects. In extremely dark skies it can even bring out galaxies down to 12th magnitude. The supplied 40mm eyepiece offers 50x magnification but we'd recommend investing in an additional 20mm eyepiece with 100x magnification for general purpose and a 10mm eyepiece with 200x magnification for viewing the moon and planets.

Functionality: The equatorial mount finds and tracks objects extremely well, though it requires a bit of knowledge to be able to align it correctly, so it's aimed more at intermediate to advanced astronomers than beginners. It's fantastic for attaching all manner of cameras to for taking pictures of the moon, planets and deep sky objects. In our Celestron Advanced VX 8 Edge HD review we particularly enjoyed stacking images of Jupiter to produce a view that was even better than you could hope to achieve by eye. However, we think you'd need a heftier mount for any serious long exposure photographs of nebulas and galaxies.

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Celestron Advanced VX 8 Edge HD
AttributesNotes
DesignLightweight, rugged computerized mount.
PerformanceFinds and tracks celestial objects reliably.
FunctionalityGreat views of all types of celestial objects.

Best for serious observers

The Sky-Watcher flextube 400p synscan telescope against a white background

This telescope is enormous and increasingly difficult to find, but if you manage to get your hands on one, you won't be disappointed. (Image credit: Sky-Watcher)

Sky-Watcher Flextube 16-inch 400P Synscan

Best for serious observers: This huge Dobsonian gives astonishing deep sky views from a giant home telescope

Specifications

Optical design: Truss tube Newtonian reflector
Mount type: Go-to Dobsonian
Aperture: 16-inch (406mm)
Focal length: 1800mm
Focal ratio: f/4.4
Eyepieces included: 10mm (72x) and 25mm (180x) Plössl
Highest practical magnification: 799x
Weight: 72 lbs (32.7kg) (OTA), 105 lbs (47.6kg) (Mount)

Reasons to buy

+
Massive light grasp 
+
Unbeatable deep sky views
+
Built-in go-to and tracking

Reasons to avoid

-
Very large when fully assembled
-
Somewhat imprecise go-to and tracking performance
Buy it if

✅ You want smart features: this telescope has built-in go-to and tracking.

✅ You want great optical quality: the performance of this telescope is unbeatable, especially with deep-sky views.

✅ You want a portable telescope: this one is fairly light and easy to disassemble. 

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're a beginner: this telescope is quite complex and not the most intuitive.

❌ You don't have much space: this telescope is very large when fully assembled.

❌ You're after super precise kit: the tracking performance isn't the most accurate.

The bottom line

🔎 The Sky-Watcher Flextube 16-inch 400P Synscan will best suit seasoned astronomers who are well-used to handling complex pieces of kit and don't need very accurate tracking. ★★★★½

Design: When it comes to seeing the incomparable beauty of the deep sky, nothing compares with the experience of looking through a giant Dobsonian telescope — even if you need a step ladder to get up to the eyepiece! The imposing Sky-Watcher Flextube 16-inch 400P Synscan has a 16-inch aperture to give users an astonishing view of celestial objects in deep space. 

You can power it using a DC plug or an external power tank, and it provides pretty accurate location and tracking capabilities through the Sky-Watchers Synscan computer handset.

The telescope's truss tube design is really smart. You can dismantle it in around 20 minutes, and despite its size, it's not overly heavy. Also, you have the option to use a fabric shroud to cover the truss assembly, which helps block out extra light and keeps the mirrors safe and protected.

Performance: You likely won't find anything to rival this telescope in terms of optics. It's one of the best we've seen in terms of performance and offers spectacular views of the deep sky.

With built-in Go-To and tracking technology, you'd think the Sky-Watcher Flextube should be easy enough to use. But in fact, it's rather complex. It's not the most intuitive telescope on the market, so we wouldn't recommend it for beginners. Its tracking performance also isn't the best, and if precision is important to you, it's probably one that's best to avoid.

Functionality: With dual-encoder technology, you can slew the telescope manually without having to reposition it. Each axis remembers its position, so you can switch between celestial objects smoothly while keeping tracking intact. This telescope provides an impressive experience for viewing deep-sky objects, thanks to its large mirror, especially when you're observing galaxies and nebulas under dark skies.

Still, it's not as intuitive for beginners as some of the other options, so we'd say that it's probably best to start with something less complex and work up to this one if you catch the deep sky bug.

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Sky-Watcher Flextube 16-inch 400P Synscan
AttributesNotes
DesignVery large when fully assembled.
PerformanceUnbeatable deep-sky views.
FunctionalityIn-built Go-To and tracking.

Best compact smart telescope

Best compact smart telescope: Ideal for social deep space viewing — both beginners and non-purist veterans will love it

Specifications

Optical design: Apochromatic (APO) quadruplet refractor
Mount type: Motorized GoTo alt-azimuth
Aperture: 2-inch / 50mm
Focal length: 200mm
Focal ratio: f/4
Effective magnification: 33x equiv.
Weight: 11 lbs (5kgs)

Reasons to buy

+
Fully automatic operation from app
+
Social deep space viewing
+
Cuts through light pollution

Reasons to avoid

-
Images lack sharpness and resolution
-
Very expensive (as are the accessories)
-
Not a scope for traditionalists
Buy it if

✅ You want an automatic telescope: you can operate this one all in the app.

✅ You want social features: this telescope allows you to connect with other users.

✅ You live near a city: this telescope can cut through light pollution.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want the sharpest optics: what it has in smart features, this scope lacks in sharpness.

❌ You're on a budget: this is one of the most expensive telescopes on this list.

❌ You're a purist: if you're a traditionalist sky-watcher, this isn't the one for you.

The bottom line

🔎 The Vaonis Vespera is a new and impressive, albeit very expensive, way of glimpsing deep-sky objects such as galaxies and nebulae even from a light-polluted city. It's easy to use and exceptionally travel-friendly. ★★★★½

Design: The Vaonis Vespera Observation Station offers a sleek and modern twist on traditional telescopes, focusing on exploring deep space. It's essentially a camera that uses live image stacking to send images to up to five smartphones or tablets via the Singularity app, instead of using an eyepiece. This allows it to have a compact white body, weighing only 10 lbs / 5 kg and measuring 15 x 8 x 3.5 inches / 40 x 20 x 9 cm, making it easy to store at home.

It's fully automated and easy to use, making it a great option for beginners and those with less experience. The Vaonis Vespera is also a fantastic option for those who live in light-polluted cities to get a better look at the night sky, especially if you buy the optional light pollution filter for an extra $199/£158.

Performance: Despite claiming to be 'ultra HD', it's worth noting that the images produced by the Vespera are relatively low in resolution, with a maximum of 1920x1080 pixels. We also found the images a little soft and you won't be able to zoom in too close on the details. Still, for beginners and anyone on a budget, it's certainly adequate.

The Vespera's image sensor, a Sony IMX462, takes multiple images and stacks them on top of one another, and you can watch this whole process taking place through the app. The app will tell you how long you need to photograph your target to get the best results — this varies depending on the object you're targeting.  

Functionality: Setting up the Vaonis Vespera couldn't be simpler. Its star recognition software is incredibly advanced, automating the entire process. You'll just need your smartphone nearby, as it uses its GPS to calibrate itself. Plus, it automatically tracks targets and adjusts itself for the Earth's rotation while also determining the best focus settings for different situations.

Its price point means it's out of the budget of most beginners, unfortunately, but if you are a newcomer to astronomy who can stretch to its $1400+ price tag, you'll absolutely love how easy this telescope is to use. 

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Vaonis Vespera Observation Station
AttributesNotes
DesignSleek & futuristic design.
PerformanceCan't observe planets, but copes well with light pollution.
FunctionalityEasy to set up and has an excellent smartphone app.

Best for versatility

The Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 and accessories against a white background

A quality equatorial mount and Maksutov-Cassegrain catadioptric design makes the Skymax 150 a good choice for those wanting quality optics. (Image credit: Amazom)

Sky-Watcher Skymax 150

Best for versatility: This is a great all-round package for a reasonable price

Specifications

Optical design: Maksutov-Cassegrain
Mount type: Not included
Aperture: 6 in (150mm)
Focal length: 180mm
Focal ratio: f/12
Eyepieces included: 2-inch 28mm eyepiece
Highest practical magnification: 295x
Weight: 12.5 lbs (5.7kgs)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent optics
+
Quality equatorial mount
+
Suitable for long exposure imaging

Reasons to avoid

-
Narrow field of view
-
Heavy for some
-
Not always supplied with a tripod
Buy it if

✅ You want high-quality optics: this telescope renders no chromatic aberration or fringing.

✅ You want want an all-rounder telescope: it can do planetary and lunar observations as well as deep-sky observing.

✅ You want a lightweight telescope: at 12.5 lbs, this is one of the lighter models on this list.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You are a beginner: complete novices may struggle with this complex telescope.

❌ You want a wide field of view: this telescope has a smaller one than some others on this list.

The bottom line

🔎 The Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 is a versatile telescope offering excellent optics. For the price, it's a great mid-field telescope, suitable for seasoned sky-watchers. ★★★★

Design: The Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 is a versatile telescope perfect for observing planets, the moon, and deep space objects. Priced at under $1000, it provides fantastic value for good quality stargazing equipment. However, it's important to note that sometimes it comes with a tripod, and sometimes it doesn't, depending on where you buy it. So, it's a good idea to do some research before making your purchase.

Performance: The Skymax 150 excels in optics, delivering exceptional performance with no chromatic aberration or color fringing. The sharpness remains consistent across the entire field of view, and you can even achieve high-contrast images if that's what you're aiming for.

The main downside of the Skymax 150 is its somewhat narrow field of view. Although nebulas and clusters look amazing, getting them fully in view can be a bit tricky. Still, you can see galaxies and some planetary nebulas with it.

Functionality: As far as all-rounder telescopes go, the Skymax 150 does a great job of offering fantastic views thanks to its high-quality optics. It's super lightweight, too, which makes it a great choice for traveling with or taking out into the field. 

If you're a newcomer, there's a good chance you'll find the  Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 a little unwieldy to use. It's rather complex, and while it's not completely unintuitive, its lack of comprehensive instructions may be off-putting to beginners.

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Sky-Watcher Skymax 150
AttributesNotes
DesignNot always supplied with a tripod.
PerformanceExcellent optics are the standout feature.
FunctionalityNarrow field of view compared to others.