Best Intermediate Telescopes 2021 [6 and 8-inch Aperture]

If you are an experienced astronomer – or just unafraid of a challenge – then an intermediate telescope with 6 to 8-inch aperture might be right for you.

Many beginners’ telescopes can be disproportionately expensive as they add features only useful for kids or first-time users. With an intermediate-level telescope, you can get a larger aperture and a more advanced mount to give you a better capacity for astronomical observing and astrophotography.

In this article, we recommend a number of telescopes that fit this bill for different budgets.

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Best Equatorial
Orion 9827 AstroView 6 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Best Tabletop
Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
Best 6-inch GOTO
Celestron NexStar Evolution Telescope
Best Dobsonian
Sky-Watcher Flextube 200 Dobsonian 8-inch Collapsible Large Aperture Telescope – Portable, Easy to Use, Perfect for Beginners
Best 8-inch GOTO
Meade Instruments 0810-90-03 LX90-ACF 8-Inch (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope
Make & model
Orion Astroview 6
Orion StarBlast 6i
Celestron NexStar Evolution 6
Sky-Watcher 8" Collapsible Dobsonian
Meade Instrument LX90 ACF 8-Inch
Type
Equatorial Reflector
Tabletop Dobsonian
Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain)
Dobsonian Reflector
Catadioptric
Computerized
Aperture
150 mm (6-inch)
150 mm (6-inch)
150 mm (6-inch)
203 mm (8-inch)
203 mm (8-inch)
Weight
37 lb (16.7 kg)
25 lb (11 kg)
38 lbs (17 kg)
55 lb (25 kg)
47 lb (21 kg)
Best Equatorial
Orion 9827 AstroView 6 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Make & model
Orion Astroview 6
Type
Equatorial Reflector
Computerized
Aperture
150 mm (6-inch)
Weight
37 lb (16.7 kg)
Check price & availability
Best Tabletop
Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope
Make & model
Orion StarBlast 6i
Type
Tabletop Dobsonian
Computerized
Aperture
150 mm (6-inch)
Weight
25 lb (11 kg)
Check price & availability
Best 6-inch GOTO
Celestron NexStar Evolution Telescope
Make & model
Celestron NexStar Evolution 6
Type
Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain)
Computerized
Aperture
150 mm (6-inch)
Weight
38 lbs (17 kg)
Check price & availability
Best Dobsonian
Sky-Watcher Flextube 200 Dobsonian 8-inch Collapsible Large Aperture Telescope – Portable, Easy to Use, Perfect for Beginners
Make & model
Sky-Watcher 8" Collapsible Dobsonian
Type
Dobsonian Reflector
Computerized
Aperture
203 mm (8-inch)
Weight
55 lb (25 kg)
Check price & availability
Best 8-inch GOTO
Meade Instruments 0810-90-03 LX90-ACF 8-Inch (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope
Make & model
Meade Instrument LX90 ACF 8-Inch
Type
Catadioptric
Computerized
Aperture
203 mm (8-inch)
Weight
47 lb (21 kg)
Check price & availability

Last update on 2021-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Best Intermediate Telescopes

Orion AstroView 6

Best Budget 6-inch Telescope

Orion 9827 AstroView 6 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

This AstroView telescope from Orion is a 6-inch aperture reflector with an equatorial mount.

The 6-inch aperture tube will act as a light bucket to give you great views of the moon, planets and deep-sky objects.

The equatorial mount is harder to operate than those others on this list, but is better for astrophotography once you’ve got the hang of it (because it can track objects in any direction, rather than just up-down, left-right like an alt-azimuth mount).

Pros

  • Cheap – great value for 6-inch aperture
  • The fast focal ratio and equatorial mount are great for astrophotography

Cons

  • No GOTO – you’ll have to find objects to view yourself
  • The equatorial mount is less suited to astronomical observing
  • It is a large and heavy piece of equipment once put together – make sure you’ve got the space at home to use and store it

This is a relative bargain in terms of price-to-power but is fairly large and heavy and the equatorial mount will take some getting used to.

Key specifications

  • Type: Reflector
  • Aperture: 150 mm (6-inch)
  • Focal Length: 750 mm (29-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: F/5
  • Weight: 37 lb (16.7 kg)
  • Mount: (Manual) Equatorial

Orion StarBlast 6i IntelliScope

Best Intermediate Tabletop Dobsonian Telescope

Orion 27191 StarBlast 6i IntelliScope Reflector Telescope

This telescope from Orion is a 6-inch aperture, GOTO tabletop Dobsonian reflector.

The 6-inch aperture will provide great views of the planets and deep-sky objects.

The GOTO/computerized functionality makes it easy to scan the night sky and find astronomical objects. This is directed with the hand controller.

It is a reflector OTA (the telescope tube) on a tabletop Dobsonian mount. This is much easier to use, smaller, and lighter than an equatorial mount, like with the Orion AstroView above.

Pros

  • Small, compact and relatively light for a 6-inch telescope
  • Easy to use tabletop dobsonian mount
  • The computerized/GOTO functionality finds objects in the night sky for you
  • Relatively cheap in comparison to most 6 or 8-inch GOTO telescopes
  • Comes pre-assembled, and so no need to follow instructions and set it up yourself

Cons

  • You’ll need a sturdy tabletop or similar flat surface to make the most of this (unless you buy a separate tripod)

Overall, this is great value for a 6-inch GOTO telescope. You just need to make sure that the tabletop design will suit where you will use it.

Key specifications

  • Type: Tabletop Dobsonian Reflector
  • Aperture: 150 mm (6-inch)
  • Focal Length: 750 mm (29-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: F/4.9
  • Weight: 25 lb (11 kg)
  • Mount: GoTo Dobsonian

Celestron NexStar Evolution 6

Best 6-inch GOTO Catadioptric Telescope

Celestron NexStar Evolution Telescope

There are a few telescopes in the Evolution range from Celestron and this is the smallest with 6-inch aperture, but also the cheapest.

The Evolutions are the premium of the NexStar range and give you a great package with a:

  1. Quality OTA (Optical Tube Assembly)
  2. Great computerized mount and tripod

This GOTO telescope can be controlled via an app on your phone when you connect directly to the telescope’s own wifi. It then scans the sky above you, tells you what is available to see, and then takes you to what you select.

The 6-inch aperture will open up many viewing opportunities and provide bright, clear views of galaxies, nebulae, and far-off deep sky objects. For the price, you can get larger aperture telescopes, but without the quality GOTO mount.

Pros

  • Powerful with 6-inch aperture
  • Quality computerized/GOTO mount
  • Wifi-enabled to be controlled via app on your phone
  • Good for astrophotography
  • Built-in battery rechargable via USB, so no batteries or AC socket needed
  • Relatively light and compact (in comparison to reflector models)

Cons

  • More expensive than manual mount models with the same (or larger) aperture
  • Need to add a equatorial wedge to progress to advanced astrophotography

Overall, this is a great mid-range computerized telescope with a good mount that’s easier to use than a manual equatorial one.

The Evolution package gives you a lot of what you’ll want in one without needing to add extra components for wifi and power like you would with the NexStar 6SE or 8SE – if you’d like to compare all these models see our article here.

Key specifications

  • Type: Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain)
  • Aperture: 150 mm (6-inch)
  • Focal Length: 1500 mm (59 inches)
  • Focal Ratio: F/10
  • Weight: 38 lbs (17 kg)
  • Mount: GoTo (Computerized) Alt-Azimuth

Sky-Watcher 8″ Collapsible Dobsonian

Best 8-inch Computerized Dobsonian Telescope

This telescope makes for a fantastically powerful piece of equipment for the enthusiastic amateur astronomer.

With 8-inch (200mm) aperture it provides serious viewing capabilities. It is on a Dobsonian mount which makes operation relatively easy (in comparison to an equatorial or traditional alt-az mount).

This model has a collapsible tube which reduces the size and weight and makes it easier to pack up, store and transport.

The same telescope is also available from Skywatcher in 10-inch and 12-inch aperture models. The larger the aperture the better the viewing, but also a higher cost, so see what your budget allows.

Skywatcher also offers the same telescope without computerized Go-To technology in-built, so you can choose whether you prefer manual or GoTo.

You’ll have to check prices as they vary but generally this will retail at a similar price to the Celestron Evolution above. The advantage of this Sky-Watcher model is the higher aperture, the disadvantage is the much larger and heavier gear which can be quite space-consuming and cumbersome.

Pros

  • High aperture at 8-inches
  • Quality GOTO dobsonian mount
  • Fast focal ratio for good astrophotography

Cons

  • Very large – it stands at over 4ft tall, so you should be sure that you have space for this at home (or wherever you will use it)
  • Very heavy
  • As a reflector telescope it needs to collimated occasionally

Overall, this is a great value option if you have the space to store and use it.

Key specifications

  • Type: Dobsonian Reflector
  • Aperture: 203 mm (8-inch)
  • Focal Length: 1200 mm (47-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: F/5.9
  • Weight: 55 lb (25 kg)
  • Mount: Manual Alt-Azimuth (Dobsonian)

Meade 8″ ACF LX90

Best 8-inch GOTO Catadioptric Telescope

Meade Instruments 0810-90-03 LX90-ACF 8-Inch (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope

The Meade LX90 is aimed at intermediate and advanced users who will be able to make the most of the serious astronomy viewing capacity that it provides.

The computerized telescope database can locate over 145,000 with great reliability. Alignment is taken care of via a GPS receiver.

It’s relatively small and light in comparison to similar telescopes in this bracket.

This model has a large 8-inch aperture. There are also more powerful 10-inch, 12-inch and 14-inch versions.

Pros

  • Large 8-inch aperture
  • Great GOTO fork mount
  • Relatively compact design
  • Good for astrophotography

Cons

  • More expensive than the reflector or non-GOTO models
  • Heavy

Overall,

Key specifications

  • Type: Catadioptric (Advanced Coma-Free)
  • Aperture: 203 mm (8-inch)
  • Focal Length: 2000 mm (79-inch)
  • Focal Ratio: F/10
  • Weight: 47 lb (21 kg)
  • Mount: GoTo (Computerized) Equatorial

What Makes a Good Intermediate Telescope?

More serious or ambitious telescope users will want a model that offers greater viewing possibilities while remaining reasonable in terms of cost.

For those who consider themselves in this bracket, reflectors and catadioptric telescopes make good options.

You can get more powerful viewing possibilities with these telescopes. Manual reflectors may take a bit more time and effort to learn and master but they can be perfect for the amateur enthusiast.

Alternatively, those with higher budgets may want to explore the very best options, namely GoTo catadioptric telescopes with large apertures.


What’s the Best Intermediate-Level Telescope?

In summary, if you are in the market for a 6 or 8-inch intermediate telescope then you should consider these options:

  1. The Orion AstroView 6 is great value and well suited to astrophotography if you can get to grips with the equatorial mount
  2. The Orion StarBlast 6 is fantastic value for a GOTO and the tabletop design is easier for many if you have a good surface to use it on
  3. The Celestron NexStar Evolution 6 is a great modern computerized catadioptric that you can operate from your phone
  4. The Sky-Watcher 8-inch Dobsonian provides good value for an 8-inch GOTO telescope but is very large and heavy
  5. The Meade LX90 8-inch ACF is the most expensive but the compact design may suit many and the GOTO mount is fantastic

Let us know your views in the comments below and if there are other telescopes you’d recommend for intermediate users.

Those who are looking for their first telescope to buy should check out our guide to telescopes for beginners, which also has a detailed overview of what the different specifications of telescopes mean.

Also, see the best telescopes for astrophotography if you want to advance your deep-sky or planetary imaging, and, if you want to find the biggest telescopes, then see The Most Powerful Telescopes You Can Buy.

You can also find more articles like this in our Astronomy hub.

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