Best telescopes for deep space 2024

Are you looking for one of the best telescopes for gazing into deep space? We've rounded up the best currently on the market right here. These telescopes provide the means to see far away celestial objects that more basic scopes wouldn't allow for you to see.

Thanks to have larger than normal apertures, the best telescopes for deep space let in more light than most, bringing distant objects more into focus — including those from outside of our own solar system. 

The very best telescopes for deep space can cost thousands of dollars, but they don't all have to break the bank. Of course, features and quality will vary somewhat depending on what you're able to spend, but we've included a range of deep space scopes from across different price points to suit different budgets.

You'll also find more traditional telescopes and those with built-in computers and other smart technology here. Smart telescopes are often better suited to beginners while experienced users will often appreciate a traditional experience requiring manual alignment.

We've selected the best telescopes for deep space with the help of our expert reviewers. Many of the scopes we've featured here have been extensively reviewed, and you'll find links to our reviews for more information. 

If you're looking for a more generalist telescope, check out our guide to the best telescopes overall, and if you're only really interested in viewing our Solar System, you may find a more suitable option in our guide to the best telescopes for seeing planets. Those who are new to space observation may wish to explore our guide to the best beginner telescopes, and we've also rounded up a list of the best telescopes under $500 for those who are shopping on a tighter budget.

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

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.

The best telescope for deep space 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 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and one that tops our list as the single best scope for deep space gazing. Its distinctive orange body is typical of the Celestron brand and looks neat. Its small size and relatively lightweight are particularly impressive: Despite having a large aperture and long focal length, its catadioptric construction keeps it somewhat transportable. It comes with a motorized single fork arm mount, and its controller is tactile and very easy to use. Its large buttons are straightforward to operate in the dark, and we had no problem using them even when wearing gloves.

Performance: Undoubtedly, one of the best aspects of the NexStar 8SE is its superb optics. In our Celestron Nexstar 8SE review, we could get extremely sharp and bright views of the surface of the Moon, and it's capable of viewing much more distant objects, too, in the right conditions.

We found some lag between pressing a button on the controller and the motor beginning to turn. Still, the motor is incredibly smooth when slewing and tracking objects, so it would be ideal for anyone wanting to do long-exposure deep-sky astrophotography.

Functionality: The NexStar 8SE is easy and convenient to set up and take down, making it a good option for anyone short on space at home. Celestron's SkyAlign technology makes it simple enough to align without prior knowledge. Once aligned, the motorized mount can automatically slew to your chosen target, making it very beginner-friendly.

It's worth noting that the NexStar 8SE requires a whopping eight AA batteries, so you'll probably want to invest in rechargeable batteries or connect this power-hungry beast up to the mains. However, this is a slight downside to an otherwise excellent telescope that impressively caters to beginners and experienced sky-watchers alike.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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.

The 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 a sophisticated device combining a telescope and imaging equipment into one unit, eliminating the need for separate camera equipment. It has a 4.5-inch reflector and an in-built camera with a 7.7MP image sensor, allowing you to capture and share images easily.

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 a purist telescope user, you'll appreciate the Nikon eyepiece included in the box. But if you're happy to keep up with technology, there's also an electronic eyepiece. This one uses an OLED screen, which resembles an electronic viewfinder on a mirrorless camera. In that sense, it's not a true optical view or interchangeable with Barlow lenses or other magnifications. We like using it, though: The screen is excellent quality, with great contrast and deep blacks.

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.

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.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
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.

The best value telescope for deep space

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

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 slightly larger telescope aperture can gather significantly more light, resulting in brighter images. For example, an 8-inch mirror collects 77% more light than a 6-inch mirror, even though it is only 33% wider. The Sky-Watcher Skyliner-200P is the most budget-friendly option for deep-sky astronomy at this level, prioritizing performance over 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: 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.

The telescope also 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. 

Functionality: For those looking for quality deep-space viewing on a budget, this offers fantastic value for money. This is a solid traditional telescope that will suit purists, but if you're looking for electronic functions, we'd perhaps recommend looking at the Flextube Synscan Go-To version of the same telescope. It features the same brilliant optics but with those easy-to-use electronic functions.  

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

The best premium telescope