Best Portable Telescope: Top 6 Options To Take Anywhere, Anytime

Best Portable Telescope: Top 6 Options To Take Anywhere, Anytime

14 min read

All astronomy travelers love journeying to the dark sky and distant locations, leaving light pollution behind.  

If you are one of these people, you need a lightweight, compact, and portable telescope that is easy to unpack and ready to be set up in minutes. It will ensure a fantastic experience for your astronomy holiday.

Ease and portability are significant elements for a travel telescope. You do not want to be lugging around heaving equipment as it will ruin the experience.

You may have an astronomy trip that requires you to go far, which means your telescope should be suitable to be taken on flights either as hand luggage or in the baggage hold.

Besides the compactness and lightness of the telescope, you will have to ensure that the views of the night sky are breathtaking. You should not settle for mediocre views after you have put in an effort to transport your compact refractor across an entire continent.

To be a little specific, every astronomy traveler has his own views regarding the features, weight, and dimensions of a portable telescope to be ideal to be taken on hikes or for camping or flying across a continent.

However, we believe that a portable telescope should fit in a shoulder carry bag or a backpack, weigh less than 20 pounds, and the aperture should not be larger than 4.7 feet when fully assembled. These qualities will provide you with a compact telescope that is easy to take with you wherever you go- whether it's for a camping trip, backpacking, or simply a nightly trip to watch the stars.

How We've Selected the Best Portable Telescopes

You can get a portable telescope that offers a great astronomy experience for up to $800 and more. While not reaching that high, we wanted to create a budget mainly less than $300. We looked for the most portable and compact telescopes at the lowest end. These telescopes had good focal lengths and didn't require frequent collimation.

In the mid-budget range, we looked for better telescopes in terms of focal length and collimation frequency and offered the optimum diameter of the front lens, ensuring both quality and portability. At the highest end, we looked for the best portable telescopes that your money can buy and that you'll be able to rely on.

We were able to narrow down the portable telescopes in accordance with the customer reviews. We selected the ones which were most trusted by the customers and had an overall good rating. Finally, we shortlisted the six best portable telescopes that we will now review.

6 Best Portable Telescopes

1. Celestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope

Why We Love It

The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is a refractor telescope that is user-friendly and powerful. It comes with a red dot finder scope with fully coated glass optics and a full-height tripod.

This Celestron telescope allows you to observe land-based targets like landscapes during the day and celestial objects at night (also great for wildlife observations) as it features a 70mm glass optic objective lens which is powerful and fully coated.

Without any requirement for tools, it's also very easy and quick to set up, as it comes with an Alt-AZ for a planning handle and a lightweight and sturdy frame that offers accurate and smooth pointing.

The telescope also comes with a star diagonal and 2 (20mm and 10mm) eyepieces included in the accessories.

Another important reason to pick this telescope would be the reliability of Celestron as a brand. This brand is well-established and trusted in the telescope market and has been in business since 1960. Celestron is known for not compromising the qualities you're looking for in a portable telescope. It also offers a 2-year warranty and limitless support from its team.

What You Should Know

There have been a few complaints about the mount on the tripod being too hard to rotate, both vertically and horizontally. Due to its stiffness, some may find it hard to focus on the chosen target. It will shoot past it sometimes as you apply a little pressure to overcome the friction.

2. HEXEUM Refracting Telescope

Why We Love It

Hexeum is a high-performance telescope that will help you explore and appreciate the wonders of space like never before. It has a 600mm(f/6.7) focal length and 80mm aperture, so the telescope allows more light in for a brighter, clearer image.

You'll be able to see the moon up to 72 or 180 times with two replaceable eyepieces (25mm & 10mm) for 24X & 60X magnification plus a 3x Barlow lens to treble each magnifying power. Spotting objects is easy with the help of their 5x24 finder scope.

With Hexeum, you can easily transport, set up, and use it in no time for a crystal-clear precision view of nature's wonders.

It features a wireless remote control and an adjustable aluminum tripod, so you'll get the most out of your astronomical travels. Peak through the lens and capture amazing moments and sharp images that will stay in your album for years. Plus, for added portability, it also includes a carrying bag, making it easy to grab and go!

Its phone adapter allows you to share while recording special experiences you may have never seen. And don't be concerned if you don't have the technical know-how; no tools or complicated setups are required! Just align the telescope correctly with what you wish to observe, then take hold of Hexeum's easy and quick focus capability — letting adventure begin!

This powerful equipment will unlock a whole new world in the stars for kids and adults alike.

What You Should know

Some customers have expressed some issues with the quality of their telescopes. Some reported that they were not getting the same top-notch visuals or even noticed it wouldn't stay put – definitely a nuisance! Hexeum offers lifetime maintenance, so feel free to reach out if this happens to you!

3. Celestron - NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope

Why We Love It

Offering a database of around 4,000 objects, galaxies, nebulae, stars, and more, the Celestron - Nexstar 130SLT is a computerized telescope that has a light-gathering power of more than 30% compared to its 114mm telescope. It has a great ability to track and locate objects with pinpoint accuracy. It also comes with a computerized mount.

It is your ideal scope for astronomical use, providing color-corrected and high-quality optics of deep space objects as it comes with a 130mm large primary mirror located at the heart of its Newtonian reflector optical design.

With the 130SLT, you can automatically slew to dozens of beautiful binary stars and any 4,000+ objects and 300-star clusters. These include over 600 galaxies. This exceptional ability is enabled by its fully computerized NexStar+ hand control.

It's also very easy to assemble and can be easily transported almost anywhere you would like because of its compact form factor and adjustable, preassembled steel tripod. It is up and ready to use in no time.

It provides a stable and simple alignment as it comes with a StarPointer Finderscope, an LED red dot finder, and Celestron's SkyAlign alignment technology. So, you won't be needing frequent collimation.

The NexStar SLT very simply aligns with the night sky. All you have to do is to center any three bright objects in the eyepiece, and it'll be ready to locate what you're looking for.

The quality and power of this computerized telescope ensure an exceptional view of the details of the polar ice caps on Mars, the rings of Saturn, the cloud belts on Jupiter, the lunar surface, and a number of the Messier objects, such as the Great Nebula in Orion (M42) or the globular cluster in Hercules (M13).

What You Should Know

For better use, make sure the tripod is not extended fully. The telescope is not completely removed from vibration and movement that way. There will be a lot of wobbling if the location you are using it on is windy, which can be a little annoying.

4. Celestron - PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope

Why We Love It

The Celestron's PowerSeeker refractor telescope is something you wouldn't want to just pass by.

This telescope is the perfect tool to help uncover fascinating celestial and terrestrial objects! It is packed with highly user-friendly features and technology that you'll love, making it an easy-to-use yet powerful telescope.

It will allow you to obtain crisp views of the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's Galilean moons, and the moon itself because of its easy-to-use controls and powerful magnification. Its slow-motion rod and durable German Equatorial mount provide accurate and smooth pinpointing.

It also comes with a free download of its Starry Night Basic Edition astronomy software and an accessory tray so you can conveniently store your accessories.

What You Should Know

There have been complaints about the finder scope seeming a bit cheap and difficult to adjust with any sort of precision.

5. Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian Telescope

Why We Love It

Orion's 8" diameter reflector telescope lets you get up close and personal to star systems far away. The incredibly powerful optics will let you peek into the hearts of galaxies, nebulas, and clusters - faint details will suddenly become as clear as day. It's really amazing what kind of wonders you can uncover!

The telescope has a 2" Crayford Focuser right out of the box, which can accept both 1.25" and 2" telescope eyepieces. They also include a 25mm Sirius Plossl eyepiece, so you can immediately jump into exploring the vastness of space.

This telescope comes equipped with the EZ Finder II sight, allowing for accurate aim at any object in the sky. This is especially useful when it comes to calibrating and centering alignment stars, making your star gazing journey that much easier! Plus, no matter your skill level, anyone can point this amazing scope in the right direction with ease.

It has an innovative 203mm (8") aperture and a 1200mm focal length Dobsonian reflector telescope, so you'll be able to observe even the faintest details in deep sky objects.

With its 46" enameled steel optical tube gliding along its sturdy Dobsonian base, Orion weighs 30 pounds, so it is lightweight enough to move between observing locations comfortably, but not for everyone.

What You Should Know

If you're looking for a lightweight telescope that you can put in your backpack and won't weigh down your stargazing adventures, then this one may not be the best fit!

6. Pankoo Monocular Telescope

Why We Love It

Pankoo is a powerful, HD monocular scope that is designed to let you explore like never before. The 40mm large objective lens gives you the ability to look farther and see wider than ever before. They've also added astonishingly clear FMC broadband coating and premium BAK4 prism for a truly verisimilar imaging experience. Now, you can observe distant subjects like an expert and feel like you're right there alongside them.

This HD monocular telescope is equipped with an advanced BAK-4 optics prism and FMC (Fully Multi-Coating) lens that will provide you with a clear, sharp image from great distances away. Its transmittance technology means less unnecessary light reflection, allowing you to observe even the most elusive sights.

Plus, it's incredibly lightweight and portable, so you can easily take it on your next expedition without weighing yourself down.

What You Should Know

If you're planning on viewing the solar system and observing star clusters, this monocular telescope can't take you there - it's designed to bring the solar system closer to home!

How To Choose The Best Portable Telescope

In order to choose the best portable telescope, size may be the most important factor. However, there are various other elements to consider to make the best choice.

For optimal performance, most telescopes are built to remain stable and static, which makes it hard to ensure the balance between the portability and power of the telescope.

Let's take a look at the things to consider for choosing the best portable telescope for yourself.


The aperture is one of the key features to consider when selecting the right telescope. Usually given in millimeters, it's the front lens's diameter. Telescopes with small apertures would not perform as well as those with big ones, given that the build quality is similar.

This is where the balance between portability and power becomes crucial. You would want a large aperture size as it will ensure great quality for the telescope, yet it may increase its size and weight too. So, the opportunity cost of aperture size is its increase in weight.

If you want a portable telescope that does not take up a lot of space, isn't too heavy or inconvenient, and ensures great quality, we recommend you go for an aperture between 70mm and 12 mm. However, for hiking purposes, you may have to pull that range further down to 50 to 90mm since you have to carry it on your back.


Weight and portability have an inverse relationship because the more the weight, the less portable the telescope is likely to be.

The key element to consider for the weight of a telescope is its tubes which are made of various materials. While most of these are made out of metals like steel and rolled aluminum, others are made with fiberglass or carbon fiber, and some even use plastic.

So, considering that portability and weight should be optimum, aluminum seems to be the best option.

Carbon fiber is expensive and does not bring much of a difference (although it provides a great durability-to-weight ratio). On the other hand, plastic may be light, but it's flimsier.

Moving along, the mount and the main mirror are also key factors that influence the weight of a telescope. The aperture scales volumetrically as it grows, which means that the weight of the lens or mirror can increase quickly. For instance, a single 127mm main telescope mirror can weigh up to 1 KG. If that does not seem a lot to you, it's because you're not considering all the parts which add up to a high accumulated weight.

In the case of mounts, aluminum would be the best choice.


When it comes to portability, size is and will be one of the most important elements. However, if you're looking for something that'll provide a good stargazing experience, prioritizing a small size could take a hit on the quality of stargazing.

This is mainly because of the focal length, as the longer the focal length, the better images it will be able to provide.

So, if you're looking for a sophisticated telescope, it's likely that your options will be narrowed down to those types having a straightforward focal length (equal to the tube), much like the refractor telescopes. However, you may want to look for a compound telescope that provides a longer focal length while being sophisticated and having a compact body.

Weather Conditions

After you've picked a telescope that agrees with your portability preferences while giving you the ideal experience, it's important to know which weather conditions are not preferable for telescope use and how to keep up with its maintenance.

You might want to put it off in cases of heavy rain or snow. Bringing your telescope to those conditions when it consists of electrical components such as computerized mounts can be damaging.

However, if you decide to take your telescope despite unfavorable weather conditions, ensure to carry it in an impermeable travel bag and use a cover. You won't be able to get the best view because of cloud blockage, but the telescope will be usable in those weather conditions.


Good maintenance is important if you want to avoid wasting time on your trip to get things right. Maintenance of a telescope is "collimation", which is the re-alignment of the mirror every once in a while.

Moving the telescope more often requires more frequent collimations as the alignment will frequently be out of place. So, if you want to ensure portability in this area, you need to go for telescopes that do not require frequent collimations despite moving a lot.

Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Telescopes

Here are the most frequently asked questions about portable telescopes.

Are reflecting telescopes the same as refractor telescopes?

Reflecting telescopes and refractor telescopes are both types of optical telescopes. A reflecting telescope uses a mirror to reflect light from an object into an eyepiece or onto a detector, while a refractor telescope uses a lens to collect the light and bring it to focus.

Each type of telescope has its own advantages and disadvantages. Reflecting telescopes are typically less expensive than refractor telescopes, but they can be more difficult to keep clean. Refractor telescopes have a wider field of view than reflecting telescopes but are more prone to chromatic aberration.

What is the best focal ratio for a telescope?

The best focal ratio for a telescope really depends on what you plan to use it for. Telescopes with a higher focal ratio are better for astrophotography, while those with a lower focal ratio are better for viewing objects in space. So it really depends on your needs and what you're hoping to get out of your telescope.

What is the best size telescope for viewing planets?

Generally, the larger the telescope, the more detail you can see on planets. However, you should consider a few things when choosing a telescope size for viewing planets.

The first is your budget. Telescopes can range in price from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The second consideration is the type of telescope. There are three types of telescopes: refractors, reflectors, and catadioptric. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The third consideration is how much experience you have with telescopes. If you are new to astronomy, starting with a smaller telescope that is easier to use and doesn't require as much maintenance may be wise.

What is the most powerful small telescope?

There is no definitive answer to this question since it depends on what you consider to be a "small telescope". Some people might say that any telescope with a diameter of fewer than 10 inches is considered small, while others might consider anything smaller than 6 inches to be a small telescope.

That said, some of the most powerful small telescopes are those that have a magnification of 30 or more. Telescopes with this magnification level can see very faint objects in the night sky. So if you're looking for a small telescope that can provide stunning views of the cosmos, then something with a magnification of 30 or more would be your best bet.

Which telescope is best for planets from home?

A few different types of telescopes are good for viewing planets from home. A refracting telescope is a great option because it has a large aperture, which means that it can collect more light and provide a clearer image. Additionally, a reflecting telescope is also good for viewing planets because it has a larger aperture than most refracting telescopes. So whichever type of telescope you choose, select one with a large aperture size to get the clearest view possible.

What magnification do you need to see the rings of Saturn?

You need a telescope with at least a 4" aperture to see the rings of Saturn. However, the larger the telescope aperture, the better the view will be. If you want to see the rings clearly, go for an aperture of at least 8 inches. You might also want to use a telescope with an adjustable focus to adjust it for different distances.

What Option of Portable Telescope Is Best For You?

In the end, it is all about what the consumer wants.

We hope this article has helped clarify what portable telescope you want in your home. All of the options we presented can be great options for you and your family; it just comes down to personal preference.

What works for one consumer may not work for another, so everyone must do their own research before making a purchase.

Thank you for reading, and we hope this was helpful!

Items reviewed:

1. Celestron - AstroMaster 70AZ Telescope

2. HEXEUM Refracting Telescope

3. Celestron - NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope

4. Celestron - PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope

5. Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian Telescope

6. Pankoo Monocular Telescope

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