There are two ways to get the best telescope for astrophotography for you.

Firstly, you can buy an all-in-one bundle that gives you a telescope and mount together. This is perfect for beginners who want to get into astrophotography with the minimum of fuss.

We recommend the Celestron Advanced VX 8″ SCT telescope as a great option for this.

Secondly, you could buy the telescope and mount separately. This can enable you to get better quality equipment but requires a bit more work and research.

We recommend this Sky-Watcher Doublet Refractor as a perfect astrophotography telescope for those that want to go this route.

Keep reading for other recommended telescopes and more details of what your options are and how to make your choice.

 

1. Best astrophotography telescope bundles

The easiest option for beginners is to buy a complete package with a telescope and mount.

You only need then to attach your camera to get going with your astrophotography (note, this may require additional adapters which can be bought).

Below are three great astrophotography telescope bundles:

 

Advanced VX 8" SCT

 

1. Celestron Advanced VX 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

This Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain is the perfect telescopes for those wanting to get into astrophotography (or astronomy in general).

It has a computerized equatorial mount, which is perfect for space photography.

This is the 8-inch version, that is powerful enough to view and capture images of planets and deep sky objects (galaxies, etc).

If you want different options to suit your budget, you can also explore the same model with slightly lower 6-inch aperture, or upgraded 11-inch aperture – remember, the larger the aperture, the more light is gathered.

To attach your camera to this telescope, you will need the Celestron T-Adapter and a T-Ring – see here for Canon cameras and here for Nikon cameras.

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain)
  • Aperture: 8 inches (203 mm)
  • Mount: Equatorial GoTo (motorized)

Advanced VX 8" SCT

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain)
  • Aperture: 8 inches (203 mm)
  • Mount: Equatorial GoTo (motorized)

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

 

Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G Computerized GoTo Refractor Telescope

2. Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G Computerized GoTo Refractor Telescope

Alternatively, this is an apochromatic refractor telescope and mount package offered by Orion.

It has a GoTo equatorial mount with a database of 42,000 objects in space to explore.

This is a telescope tailored for astrophotography with the key benefit of being small and portable.

To attach your camera to this telescope, you will need the Orion T-Adapter and a T-Ring – see here for Canon cameras and here for Nikon cameras.

You might need to buy a field flattener to improve your imaging of deep sky objects.

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Apochromatic refractor
  • Aperture: 3.1 inches (80 mm)
  • Mount: Equatorial GoTO (motorized)

Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G Computerized GoTo Refractor Telescope

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Apochromatic refractor
  • Aperture: 3.1 inches (80 mm)
  • Mount: Equatorial GoTO (motorized)

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Meade Instruments 0810-60-03 8-Inch LX200-ACF (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope

3. Meade Instruments LX200-ACF 8-Inch

This is a high performance telescope for those with a higher budget.

It would suit those who are ambitious with their astronomy and astrophotography and is one of the best telescopes available for amateur users.

It can locate over 145,000 objects in space in its database.

The 8-inch aperture will enable great imaging but there are also more powerful options available in 10-inch, 12-inch, and 14-inch apertures.

It uses an Alt-Azimuth mount, rather than an Equatorial one, but the addition of the Meade X-Wedge enables optimum astrophotography.

To attach your camera to this telescope, you will need the Meade T-Adapter and a Meade T-Ring – see here for Canon cameras and here for Nikon cameras.

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Catadioptric (Advanced Coma-Free)
  • Aperture: 8 inch (203 mm)
  • Mount: Alt-Azimuth GoTo (motorized)

Sale
Meade Instruments 0810-60-03  8-Inch LX200-ACF (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope
12 Reviews
Meade Instruments 0810-60-03 8-Inch LX200-ACF (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Catadioptric (Advanced Coma-Free)
  • Aperture: 8 inch (203 mm)
  • Mount: Equatorial GoTo (motorized)

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Best astrophotography telescope packages comparison table

Best beginners' package
Advanced VX 8" SCT
Great lightweight package
Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G Computerized GoTo Refractor Telescope
Outstanding capabiliities
Meade Instruments 0810-60-03 8-Inch LX200-ACF (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope
Advanced VX 8" SCT
Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G Computerized GoTo Refractor Telescope
Meade Instruments 0810-60-03  8-Inch LX200-ACF (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope
$1,739.00
$1,549.99
$2,449.00
Best beginners' package
Advanced VX 8" SCT
Advanced VX 8" SCT
$1,739.00
Great lightweight package
Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G Computerized GoTo Refractor Telescope
Orion Sirius ED80 EQ-G Computerized GoTo Refractor Telescope
$1,549.99
Outstanding capabiliities
Meade Instruments 0810-60-03 8-Inch LX200-ACF (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope
Meade Instruments 0810-60-03  8-Inch LX200-ACF (f/10) Advanced Coma-Free Telescope
$2,449.00

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

2. Best standalone astrophotography telescopes

The alternative to buying an all-in-one package is to buy everything separately.

The advantage is that you can usually get more advanced and specialist astro-imaging equipment (in the telescope and the mount).

The downside is that it requires more work to make sure you get what you need.

If you already have a good mount (or plan to buy one separately) then we recommend going for what’s known as an apochromatic refractor telescope for astrophotography.

These are telescopes with a lens system that features two (doublet) or three (triplet) pieces of glass. This works to reduce chromatic aberration, which is a form of distortion which can appear on the images.

Here are three great options:

 

Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope

1. Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope

This is a great value doublet apochromatic refractor telescope from leading manufacturer Sky-Watcher.

This model has 80 mm aperture, and there are also more powerful alternatives – with 100 mm and 120 mm apertures, which will increase the light-gathering potential.

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Apochromatic refractor
  • Aperture: 3.1 inches (80 mm)

Sale
Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Apochromatic refractor
  • Aperture: 3.1 inches (80 mm)

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Meade Series 6000 115mm f/7 ED Triplet APO Refractor Telescope

2. Meade Series 6000 115mm f/7 ED Triplet APO Refractor Telescope

This is a triplet refractor from leading manufacturer Meade Instruments.

This telescope is designed solely for astrophotography and is regarded by Meade as “the best telescope model we have for photography”.

It’s lighter than the Orion above at around 12 lbs, and so won’t be as demanding on your chosen mount.

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Apochromatic refractor
  • Aperture: 4.5 inches (115 mm)

Meade Series 6000 115mm f/7 ED Triplet APO Refractor Telescope

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Apochromatic refractor
  • Aperture: 4.5 inches (115 mm)

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Orion 09565 EON 130mm ED Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope (White)

3. Orion 09565 EON 130mm ED Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope

This triplet refractor offers improved viewing and imaging possibilities than the doublets above, but the extra quality is reflected in the price.

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Apochromatic refractor
  • Aperture: 5.1 inches (130 mm)

Orion 09565 EON 130mm ED Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope (White)

Key specifications:

  • Telescope type: Apochromatic refractor
  • Aperture: 5.1 inches (130 mm)

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

Best standalone astrophotography telescopes comparison table

Best beginner's option
Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope
Great lightweight telescope
Meade Series 6000 115mm f/7 ED Triplet APO Refractor Telescope
Best advanced telescope for astroimaging
Orion 09565 EON 130mm ED Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope (White)
Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope
Meade Series 6000 115mm f/7 ED Triplet APO Refractor Telescope
Orion 09565 EON 130mm ED Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope (White)
$565.00
$1,699.00
$2,999.99
Best beginner's option
Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope
Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope
$565.00
Great lightweight telescope
Meade Series 6000 115mm f/7 ED Triplet APO Refractor Telescope
Meade Series 6000 115mm f/7 ED Triplet APO Refractor Telescope
$1,699.00
Best advanced telescope for astroimaging
Orion 09565 EON 130mm ED Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope (White)
Orion 09565 EON 130mm ED Triplet Apochromatic Refractor Telescope (White)
$2,999.99

Last update on 2019-08-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

3. What do you need in a telescope for astrophotography?

We should start by saying that for astrophotography, you need three main things:

  1. A camera
  2. A mount
  3. A telescope

The focus of this article is on the telescope, but it would be incomplete to not cover these other things – in particular, the mount.

Most beginners probably won’t appreciate the importance of the mount but in many ways it’s as important as the telescope you get.

Let’s now cover each item briefly in turn.

 

Nikon D7500 20.9MP DSLR Camera with AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens, Black

The Camera

Firstly, the camera.

The main choice is really between a regular DSLR/mirrorless camera, or a specialist astrophotography camera.

Most people, especially beginners, will do best to just make use of a regular DSLR or similar camera. You don’t need a specialist astrophotography camera to start with.

We cover the best cameras for astrophotography here, so check that out if you want a detailed overview.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that you are planning to use a DSLR as your camera of choice.

 

Orion Sirius Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount

The Mount

Secondly, the mount.

A mount is a piece of equipment that fits between your tripod and telescope. It works by slowly moving where your telescope is pointing to compensate for the rotation of the Earth.

This allows you to focus on an object and track it in the sky for longer and allow you to focus on it and take longer exposures.

This means you can gather more light and take better pictures of the galaxies, planets, or whatever you want to shoot.

There are two main types of mount:

  1. Equatorial mounts, and
  2. Alt-Azimuth mounts.

The headline you need to take away is that equatorial mounts are more precise than Alt-Az mounts and therefore better suited to astrophotography.

The mount you use should also be motorized so that you don’t have to adjust it by hand. This is important as manually moving it causes vibrations and degrades your images. For astrophotography, your camera needs to be perfectly still for longer periods.

The third consideration in a mount is that you will probably also want GoTo functionality. This means that your mount has the ability to automatically find and track objects in space from a database.

This makes it much easier and quicker. Note though that some prefer to learn manually – the choice is yours. Manual mounts will generally be cheaper than GoTo equivalents too.

Therefore, the best mount for astrophotography will be:

  1. Equatorial
  2. Motorized
  3. GoTo

See the best mounts for astrophotography.

 

Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm Doublet APO Refractor Telescope

The Telescope

Thirdly, the telescope.

We recommend two different types of telescope depending on your circumstances:

  1. Telescope packages for beginners that include a GoTo mount
  2. Standalone telescopes for intermediate (or ambitious) users who want to buy a mount separately

If you want a detailed explanation of the different telescope types, see our overview here, but the TLDR is that there are three main types of telescope:

  1. Refractors
  2. Reflectors
  3. Catadioptrics

They each have their own characteristics but catadioptrics and refractors are generally smaller and easier to use.

The key specification to look out for is the aperture. The bigger this is, the better.

Larger apertures gather more light and therefore can take better astro images (see here for a detailed overview of different telescope specifications).

In researching this article, we reached out to the leading telescope manufacturers Celestron, Meade Instruments, Sky-Watcher, and Orion to get their recommendations on the best telescopes for astrophotography.

Their recommendations are taken account of in the list above, but you can see their full responses in the FAQs section below.

 

4. Astrophotography telescope FAQs

What is the best Meade Instruments telescope for astrophotography?

We asked Meade what they regard as their best astrophotography telescopes and here’s what they recommend:

“The best telescope model we have for photography would be our 6000 series triplet APOs. These are designed solely for astrophotography.

Our LX200 series are another good model line DSLR cameras as well as the LS 8” model. Another good series would be the LX85 on a German Equatorial mount.”

 

What is the best Orion telescope for astrophotography?

We asked Orion what they regard as their best astrophotography telescopes and here’s what they recommend:

“This Orion 8″ f/3.9 Newtonian Astrograph Reflector Telescope would be a good option.

For a complete package we would recommend the Orion StarBlast 114mm AutoTracker Reflector Telescope.:

 

What is the best Sky-Watcher telescope for astrophotography?

We asked leading telescope manufacturer Sky-Watch what they recommend as their best astrophotography telescopes:

“Depending on the users budget there are several choices.

The Esprit range of triplet refractors are the best.

Others to consider are: the Evostar-ED DS PRO Doublet Refractors, the Explorer-190MN Maksutov-Newtonian, the Quattro and Explorer-PDS series Newtonians.”

 

What is the best Celestron telescope for astrophotography?

Celestron didn’t reply to us (c’mon Celestron!), but our recommendation is the Celestron Advanced VX 8″ SCT telescope:

You could also consider:

 

What’s the best telescope for photographing the moon?

The moon is the closest and easiest space object to photography.

However, the right equipment can make a huge difference and you can aspire to take stunning images.

For photographing the moon, if the conditions are right (i.e. no clouds, dark moon, no light pollution), you don’t need as much power in your telescope as you would for photographing other objects that are much farther away (i.e. the planets and galaxies).

So if this is your focus, then you can get a lower-spec telescope (say 4-inch aperture) and get great results. The Celestron Nexstar 4SE could be a good option for a package.

 

What’s the best telescope for photographing the planets?

The planets of our solar system are much farther away than our moon, but much closer than far off galaxies.

For photographing the planets, you need a telescope with a larger aperture (say, 8-inches) as well as a long focal length.

The longer focal length is more important for planetary photography because you want to get as close as possible to the object you are shooting (a planet) and it is (relatively) small – at least in terms of space. Think of it as using a long telephoto lens to photograph a bird.

This is different from deep sky photography where you are shooting something that is ridiculously huge like a galaxy.

For context, our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains somewhere between 200 and 400 billion stars and least as many planets.

 

What’s the best telescope for deep sky astrophotography?

For deep sky imaging then, you are shooting something much larger and much farther away.

The best telescope is therefore one with large aperture and a short focal length.

This is because you are taking images for longer periods and need to gather as much light as possible. The larger the aperture, the greater the light gathering.

Also, larger telescopes with longer focal lengths put greater demands on your mount. This can lead to small tracking errors which are magnified with long focal lengths.

Therefore small (3 to 4 inch) apochromatic refractors (for example, the Sky-Watcher ProED 80mm) can be perfect for deep sky imaging, as can be catadioptric telescopes with large apertures (such as the Meade LX200-ACF).

 

What’s the best telescope for photographing the sun?

Photographing the sun is a separate practice altogether and requires strong filters.

It goes without saying, never look directly at the sun through your telescope or camera as you can do serious damage to your eyes.

Some telescope manufacturers offer specialist solar photography telescopes. See the Meade Instruments Cornado PST Personal Solar Telescope for example.

 

What’s the best beginner/entry-level astrophotography telescope?

For beginners, we recommend you get one of the astrophotography telescope bundles recommended above:

You could also get a telescope with a manual (not GoTo) mount.

This will make it harder, but may push you to learn and will generally be cheaper.

 

What’s the best intermediate or advanced astrophotography telescope?

For those who are already experienced in using telescopes and/or in astrophotography, we recommend to get a good quality mount and telescope separately.

The standalone telescopes we have recommended above, such as the Sky-Watcher Doublet Refractor are good options.

 

What’s the best portable or home astrophotography telescope?

If you want a compact telescope that is easy to store and transport, then your best options are either:

If you get a very light apochromatic refractor, you could also consider using it with a DSLR star tracker but you will need to check the payload capacity and combined weight of your camera and telescope.

This would then result in a very lightweight and compact astrophotography setup.  Although it will not have the GoTo functionality to be able to locate objects in space for you.

 

How to connect a camera to a telescope?

The best way to use a DSLR to take photos through a telescope is to attach the camera directly to the eyepiece of your telescope.

This can be done with the addition of two small pieces of extra equipment:

  • A T-Ring – this fits into your camera where the lens would normally go
  • A T-Adapter – this connects to your telescope eyepiece

Unfortunately, these items are not universal and you need to make sure you get the right T-Ring for the camera you have, and the right T-Adapter for the telescope you have.

To attach your camera to a Celestron telescope you will need the Celestron T-Adapter and a T-Ring – see here for Canon cameras and here for Nikon cameras.

To attach your camera to an Orion telescope you will need the Orion T-Adapter and a T-Ring – see here for Canon cameras and here for Nikon cameras.

To attach your camera to a Meade Instruments telescope you will need the Meade T-Adapter and a Meade T-Ring – see here for Canon cameras and here for Nikon cameras.

 

How to connect a smartphone to a telescope?

Adapters are available to connect smartphones to telescopes to enable you to take photographs with your phone.

The leading telescope manufacturers have their own smartphone adapters:

If you are interested in this then you might like to read our guide to smartphone astrophotography.

 

Final thoughts

Choosing a telescope to buy for astrophotography can be a bit of a daunting process, especially if you are a beginner.

Hopefully our guide has helped you out and the recommended telescopes are right for you.

If you want to read more about this then please see our comprehensive guide to buying telescopes and our beginners’ guide to astrophotography.

Please let us know if you have any thoughts on what we’ve covered here in the comments below, or if you have different views on what the best telescopes for astrophotography are.