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The Best Telescope for Astrophotography in 2019

Last Price Update: 2019-03-20

Astrophotography is a daunting hobby. There’s so much confusion around what the best telescope is for photographing the stars. The good news is we did the research & broke down the 5 best telescopes for astrophotography in 2019. The Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope on Amazon is far and away our favorite. It’s beginner friendly, allows enthusiasts enough bells & whistles to be satisfied, and it’s budget conscious. There’s over 4000+ celestial objects to explore in their database, with proprietary tracking technology that makes it easy to pinpoint what object you want to view. It also comes in a compact and portable footprint, perfect for camping trips & outdoor adventures. The NexStar will grow with you as you add additional equipment over time. Even without every bell and whistle, the Celestron Nextar 130SLT is our pick for the best telescope for astrophotography in 2019

NoteWe recommend doing your own research to ensure you make the best choice for your circumstances.  Take these telescopes as suggestions only.

Editor's Pick

Budget

Beginner

Enthusiast

Expert

Best Telescope for Astrophotography

Expert Pick: Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain 2800mm on Amazon

Finding the best telescope for astrophotography is almost impossible to answer. There’s a ton of factors that make a telescope good for astrophotography. 

Our guide is aimed at astrophotography from several budget & skill levels, including our editor’s pick, a budget option, best for beginners, ideal for enthusiasts, and a telescope geared toward experts.

As always, we recommend saving up a few months and buying something good instead of making an impulse buy now. Too many people buy a telescope on a whim, figure out it isn’t as good as they thought, and realize they wasted a bunch of money. This is a very discouraging alternative and we hope you make the best decision possible for your interest & skill level. Astrophotography can be an unbelievably rewarding & satisfying hobby if a few precautions are taken. 

Note: We recommend buying used or 2nd-hand mounts if you can. They often perform as well as new mounts at a fraction of the cost. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to accurately answer.

Editor's Pick

1. Editor's pick for the Best Telescope for Astrophotography in 2019

Last Product Update: 2019-03-20 | Current Price: $399.95 | Reviews: 415 Reviews | Rating: 3.9
  • Price
  • Light, compact & portable
  • Wide field views
  • Easy to calibrate mirror
  • Can use for simple astrophotography
  • 10,000 object database with printable skymaps
  • Flimsy battery compartment
  • Short battery life
  • Sensitive to vibration

The Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope is far and away our favorite astrophotography telescope in 2019. 

The setup can be a little finicky, but once you do it correctly, it’s truly spectacular. Our 2 favorite features with the Celestron 130SLT is the auto-tracking which allows you to select from a database of over 4,000 stars, galaxies, nebalue, and more. Once you select which object to view, the auto-tracking will align with surprisingly good accuracy and automatically track it.  

Our 2nd favorite feature is its computerized tripod mount. It takes all the frustration out of trying to keep an object in view, including trying to locate something in the vast night sky. The tracking works great as long as you have fresh batteries. We personally recommend using an app to help locating objects too. Admittedly, the hand controller does take some time to adapt & learn to. Menu nav can be clunky. But you can use Celestron’s SkyPortal app to control your scope (if you have the WiFi module). 

The 130 SLT is very portable. It’s fantastic for camping trips by car. We don’t recommend hiking or carrying it in a backpack. But otherwise it’s much more portable than alternative options in this price range. 

Conclusion: The NexStar 130SLT is a feature rich astrophotography telescope that tracks solar & celestial objects very well. Albeit there’s a learning curve, but we think that adds more fun. It comes with an adequate manual, and there’s even a Celestron forum you can chat with other owners if you have any questions. We believe the NexStar 130SLT is the best astrophotography telescope in 2019!

Budget Conscious

2. Budget pick for the Best Telescope for Astrophotography in 2019

Last Product Update: 2019-03-20 | Current Price: $309.99 | Reviews: 227 Reviews | Rating: 4.0
  • Versatile
  • Sturdy mount
  • Beginner friendly
  • Useful Starry Night SE Software
  • Large footprint
  • Not motorized

The Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST is our favorite budget telescope for people that want a beautiful and easy telescope to use for astrophotography.

Our favorite aspects of the Orion 130ST is its large aperture (for viewing dimmer objects like galaxies & nebulae, including surface detail on planets). We’ve seen users online have great success viewing Jupiter, including bands and the Great Red spot. It’s also capable of deep space viewing with the right eyepieces and lens. Additionally, we’ve seen users report fantastic results viewing the Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, Saturn rings, cloud belts, craters on the moon, and much more. 

The mount is sturdy and reliable + very easy to use. Optics are easy to adjust also. The 09007 is not a very portable mount. It has a big footprint, and it’s surprisingly big once it’s fully assembled. So overall this is not a very compact telescope. Since most people use it for astrophotography, portability isn’t a huge issue. 

Conclusion: Overall the Orion 130ST is a fantastic beginner telescope with advanced features, with budget conscious enthusiasts in mind. For the features you get, the 130ST is easily one of the best telescopes for astrophotography on a budget. The 130ST isn’t just great for viewing planets & the moon, but celestial objects, stars, galaxies, and nebula too. 

For Beginners

3. Beginner pick for the Best Telescope for Astrophotography in 2019

Last Product Update: 2019-03-20 | Current Price: $599.99 | Reviews: 21 Reviews | Rating: 4.5
  • Easy setup & instruction manual
  • Well made & sturdy build quality
  • Great for deep field views
  • Heavy design but still portable
  • No auto-tracking feature

The Orion 9005 AstroView 120ST Equatorial Refractor Telescope is our favorite beginner telescope for people that want a simple setup for astrophotography. Granted, there’s no auto-tracking feature, but it’s really not needed unless you want to auto-track celestial objects. Most beginners want to view planets, the moon, and a few galaxies, so auto-tracking is usually not high on a beginner’s list.

Our favorite features include the accurate & excellent quality scope that makes viewing objects lik the Orion nebula very easy. Even Saturn at 120x is a fine view. Planets are great to view also, coming in crisp all the way up at 250x. 

The entire telescope, including equatorial mount and counterweights, is only 36 pounds. It transports fairly easily in either the back seat or trunk. It also has a 1/4′ x 24 screw for an external camera (located on one of the mounting rings). 

You’ll have to get the filters and a few extra lenses (like the Orion 05662 on Amazon for viewing the moon) but it’s just what you need for easy viewing of planets and larger objects outside of the solar system. The view finder is excellent, too.

ConclusionOverall the Orion 9005 120ST is a fantastic telescope for astrophotography with beginners in mind. Yes, there’s no auto-tracking feature, but for beginners, that shouldn’t be an issue. It has a surprisingly high quality scope for the price, and stars, planets, and much more easily viewed. It’s fairly lightweight & is compact enough for portability. This is our pick for the best beginner telescope for astrophotography in 2019.

 

For Enthusiasts

4. Enthusiast pick for the Best Telescope for Astrophotography in 2019

Last Product Update: 2019-03-20 | Current Price: $1,199.00 | Reviews: 438 Reviews | Rating: 4.1
  • Easy setup
  • Portable, not very heavy
  • Great for planet viewing
  • Big aperture for deep sky objects
  • Some vibration
  • Unclear setup instructions & manual

The Celestron Nexstar 8 SE Telescope is a fun, heavy, but powerful telescope with a fantastic scope for astrophotography. It’s our favorite telescope for detail oriented enthusiasts that want amazing optics at a strong price point. The Celestron Nexstar 8 SE is an unbelievably good general purpose scope money can buy, in our opinion.

The 8SE is wonderfully clear, has excellent tracking (even for novices), and can locate heavenly bodies and planets with ease! The built in computer database is vast and offers hours of enjoyment and entertainment. Our favorite feature is the “tour” button that cycles through their database @ random to show currently available objects in your viewing area. We’ve seen users report viewing Mars and Saturn with ease. Views of the moon are spectacular. Viewing deep space objects can be fairly difficult (but still do-able) if you’re in a light-polluted area.

We like that the hand & motor controllers are firmware upgradeable now. A big improvement over previous models that didn’t have the option to upgrade from Celestron.

Conclusion: This is a substantial telescope. It’s heavy and has fantastic build quality. For it’s price, it does what the same or better compared to a telescope over 2x it’s cost. It’s great for astrophotography with its auto-tracking capability & beautifully crisp scope.  

 

For Experts

5. Advanced pick for the Best Telescope for Astrophotography in 2019

Last Product Update: 2019-03-20 | Current Price: from $1,667.00 | Reviews: 59 Reviews | Rating: 4.1
  • Stunning build quality
  • Sharp & high quality scope + lens
  • Great performance across the board
  • Heavy
  • Longer setup time

The Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain is our favorite astrophotography telescope for advanced users that are willing to spend a little extra to get a lot extra. The CPC 1100 has a fully computerized dual fork arm mount with internal GPS built-in and a staggering database of 40,000+ celestial objects. One of our favorite features is the built-in GPS.  Forget having to manually input your latitude and longitude. The GPS automatically determines the date, time, and your telescope’s exact coordinates—even in remote locations. No cell service needed. CPC 1100’s proprietary SkyAlign system allows you to auto-align your telescope by centering any three bright celestial objects in the eyepiece. StarBright optically coats their lenses, notably improving image sharpness & brightness. 

 

The StarBright XLT has a big footprint, sitting at 92 lbs. The size and weight alone indicates how high quality this astrophotography telescope is. Is it portable? Sure, but certainly not compact. Don’t expect to backpack or hike with this.

Conclusion: There’s something to be said for a scope that you can carry and set up in a less than 30 minutes. That’s the only real drawback with owning a larger telescope like the CPC 1100. The image quality alone more than makes up for the longer setup time.  The Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain is without a doubt our favorite advanced-user telescope for astrophotography in 2019!

 

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