The Most Powerful Telescopes You Can Buy in 2023 (In-Stock)

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The most powerful telescopes you can buy to use at home will have an aperture of 8 inches to 12 inches.

This is the best measurement of the power of a telescope – its aperture. This is how wide the lens is, and this determines how much light the telescope captures and determines how good the views will be.

Right now, an 11-inch or 12-inch aperture telescope is the most powerful you can buy in a package that gives you all you need in one.

Therefore, our top pick for the most powerful home telescope available right now is the Celestron CPC 1100:

Our Pick
Celestron CPC 1100 Package

Celestron CPC 1100 StarBright XLT GPS Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope with Tripod

Pros:
  • Huge 11-inch aperture for amazing views
  • All you need in one package, with telescope, mount, and tripod
  • Computerized mount finds objects for you to view at a press of a button
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With this, you get a powerful 11-inch aperture telescope in an all-in-one package to be sure you have everything you need to get stargazing.

It includes a GOTO (computerized) mount, which means that it finds objects for you to look at at the press of a button on the handset (or via a downloadable smartphone app).

It is fairly compact in size and easy to operate and so suits someone looking for the best there is to buy straight out of the box.

This CPC 1100 model can excel for astrophotography – especially for planetary photography – but it does have some limitations.

Therefore, if you want something that has the capacity for advanced and deep sky astrophotography – and you have the budget – then we recommend the Celestron CPC 1100 Deluxe HD:

Best for Astrophotography
Celestron CPC Deluxe 1100 HD Computerized Telescope

Celestron CPC 1100 EdgeHD Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope with Tripod

Pros:
  • Huge 11-inch aperture optimized for astrophotography
  • All you need in one package, with telescope, mount, and tripod
  • Computerized mount finds objects for you to view at a press of a button
  • Used by Stephen Hawking
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This is a similar package to the CPC 1100 above, but the telescope tube has been optimized for deep-sky astrophotography with the EdgeHD correcting for distortion (coma) that can occur around the edge of images.

It comes at a higher price, but if you think you want to get into photographing galaxies and other far-off objects then this might be for you.

For something quite different – and for the big aperture at the best value price – the Celestron Starsense Explorer 10″ Dobsonian is a great option:

Beginners' Pick
Celestron Starsense Explorer 10" Dobsonian

10-Dobsonian Smartphone App-Enabled Telescope

Pros:
  • Perfect for beginners - attach your smartphone and let it guide you
  • Huge 10-inch aperture for great views
  • Great budget option in terms of price-to-aperture
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This telescope gives you a huge aperture at a much cheaper cost than the Schmidt-Cassegrain models recommended above.

However, there are some inevitable downsides to this:

  1. Large dobsonian telescopes are huge and heavy – think the size and weight of a grown adult – whereas Schmidt-Cassegrains are much more compact
  2. Dobsonians are great for viewing but not really good at all for photography

Therefore if you have the space at home to use and store a telescope like this, and you are mostly going to be using it for astronomy rather than astrophotography, then this is a great option as you get an extremely powerful telescope for a relatively low cost.

It is not computerized but instead has an innovative design whereby you attach your smartphone and an app scans the sky for you and directs you where to point it. This makes it much cheaper than having a GOTO mount.

Finally, a budget Schmidt-Cassegrain option is the 8-inch aperture Celestron Nexstar 8SE. This is possibly the most popular telescope package of all time:

Most Popular
Celestron NexStar 8SE

Celestron's most popular advanced GOTO telescope package

Pros:
  • Powerful 8-inch aperture
  • Easy-to-use computerized mount finds objects for you to view at the press of a button
  • All you need in one package, with telescope, mount, and tripod
Buy on Amazon Check All Stores

This is a relatively cheap all-in-one package but with a great 8-inch telescope and GOTO mount.

It is not as powerful as an 11 or 12-inch aperture model, but it provides the perfect balance of power to price, and in a compact package that is easy to use and would suit a beginner.

You can see other in-stock models below or read on for a more detailed analysis and explanation of the main differences.

Most Powerful Telescopes In Stock

Right now it can be hard to find large telescopes in stock due to disruption in global supply chains, but these models are in stock right now:

  1. Meade 14″ LX200 ACF – 14-inch catadioptric telescope package with a GOTO fork mount. Pretty much the only 14-inch telescope available right now.
  2. The manual Sky-Watcher 12-inch Collapsible Dobsonian and computerized Sky-Watcher 12-inch GOTO Collapsible Dobsonian
  3. Meade 12″ LX90 and Meade 12″ LX200 – Two Advanced Coma-Free catadioptric telescopes with GOTO fork mounts
  4. Celestron CPC 1100 – Celestron’s 11-inch telescope with computerized CPC fork mount
  5. Celestron CPC Deluxe 1100 HD – The EdgeHD astrophotography-optimized 11-inch telescope with the CPC fork mount.
  6. Celestron Starsense Explorer 10″ Dobsonian – 10-inch Dobsonian Celestron smartphone-enabled StarSense Explorer
  7. Sky-Watcher 10-inch Classic Dobsonian – Probably the cheapest model here. See also the Sky-Watcher 10-inch Collapsible Dobsonian for the collapsible version.
  8. Celestron CPC 925 – Celestron’s 9.25-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain OTA combined with the CPC computerized fork mount. See also the Celestron NexStar Evolution 925 for the same OTA with the Nexstar Evolution mount, the Celestron CGX 925 with the CGX mount, the Celestron AVX 925 with the AVX mount
  9. Celestron NexStar 8SE – One of the most popular telescopes of all time. An 8-inch GOTO telescope package that is great for beginners looking for a simple but high-performing model. Another option is the Celestron CPC 800, which is the same telescope tube with the improved CPC mount.

Availability for these changes frequently. Last updated January 3, 2023


The Most Powerful Home Telescopes You Can Buy

The most powerful home telescopes are 20-inch, 16-inch, and 14-inch aperture models.

There are a few different ways you can buy telescopes in this range. You can buy a:

  1. Dobsonian reflector telescope – These offer the best bang-for-buck in terms of power to price but they are very big and bulky.
  2. Catadioptric telescope package – This is the best option if you want something that you can easily setup up at home and get running quickly.
  3. Standalone catadioptric telescope tube (OTA) – This is buying just the telescope tube on its own. By doing this you may be able to save money by buying different parts separately.

Let’s now look at each of these categories in turn.


Best 16-inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescopes

These offer the best bang-for-buck in terms of power to price and can be substantially cheaper than the compound telescope packages covered above.

However, they are huge and bulky (sometimes perhaps 6ft tall), therefore requiring a suitable space to store and use them, which might not work for everyone.

They are also harder to learn and master how to use and so are more for the most enthusiastic astronomers.

Here are a few of the best models available:

Explore Scientific 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

Explore Scientific 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

This is the 16-inch Explore Scientific Dobsonian. This beast collects 2400x the amount of light compared to the naked eye and so makes viewing planets and deep sky objects possible from your backyard.

It comes with an easy-to-operate manual base and the Truss Tube design means that it reduces the weight in comparison to a regular Dobsonian.

You can get a good idea of the size of this telescope by watching the assembly video here:

Note, there is also a 20-inch version that is sometimes available to buy.

Key specifications

  • Type: Reflector
  • Mount: Dobsonian
  • Aperture: 16-inch / 406 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/4.5
  • Focal length: 1827 mm

Sky-Watcher 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

Sky-Watcher 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

This is Sky-Watcher’s 16-inch Flextube 400P SynScan Computerized Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope.

The 16-inch aperture will provide crystal clear views of both planets and deep sky objects in the night sky and the GOTO/computerized mount/base will locate what you want to see at the press of a button from a database of over 40,000 astronomical objects.

The collapsible tube means that although it is very large, it can shrink down for easier storage.

This is a high-quality 16-inch GOTO telescope from one of the best manufacturers in the world, it provides exceptional value for the price.

Key specifications

  • Type: Reflector
  • Mount: Dobsonian
  • Aperture: 16-inch / 406 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/4.4
  • Focal length: 1800 mm

Best 14 & 16-inch Catadioptric Telescope Packages

This is the best option if you want something that you can easily setup up at home and get running quickly.

The name catadioptric (or compound) refers to a category of telescope which is essentially a mix of the two main telescope types (reflectors and refractors).

All you really need to know as a buyer is that this makes them much smaller and less bulky, whilst retaining the power and viewing capabilities. The downside is that they are more expensive.

The best options here come from two main brands – Celestron and Meade Instruments – who are both leading telescope manufacturers. We’ll look at three of the best options now, as well as some alternatives.

Celestron CGX-L Equatorial 1400 Telescope Bundle

14-inch GoTo Celestron package

Celestron CGX-L Equatorial 1400 Telescope Bundle

The biggest Celestron telescopes are 14-inch aperture and there are two options:

  1. Celestron CGX-L Equatorial 1400 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (this one)
  2. Celestron CGX-L Equatorial 1400 EdgeHD Telescope (covered below)

This package features Celestron’s largest telescope tube (the C14 with a 14-inch aperture), with a 3910 mm focal length. The telescope has a focal ratio of f/11 but there is the functionality to remove the secondary mirror so that a camera can be attached directly (Celestron call this Fastar technology). This dramatically increases the focal ratio to f/2 to make it better for astrophotography.

It comes with a tripod and Celestron’s most advanced mount – the CGX-L. This is a computerized/GOTO mount that finds objects for you by operating with a hand controller.

In comparison to the model below, this lacks only the EdgeHD optics, but it has the advantage of being cheaper.

This telescope will give you mind-blowing views of the moon, planets, star clusters, or deep space objects. There are also 9.25-inch and 11-inch versions of the same model and package, but this is the most powerful.

Key specifications

  • Type: Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain) Telescope
  • Aperture: 14-inch / 356 mm
  • Focal length: 154-inch / 3910 mm
  • Focal ratio: f/11 as standard but f/2 when adapted with Fastar
  • Mount: Celestron CGX-L Computerized (GoTo) Equatorial Mount

Celestron CGX-L Equatorial 1400 EdgeHD Telescope Bundle

Celestron’s most advanced telescope package

most powerful celestron telescope

Like the above package, this is Celestron’s largest C14 telescope tube (14-inch aperture) with the CGX-L mount and tripod.

It boasts all the same specifications and features as the above model but, in addition, has EdgeHD optics.

This EdgeHD corrects for the field curvature and coma that occur in Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes. This makes it improved for viewing or photographing wide-field deep sky objects.

The EdgeHD, combined with the Fastar technology, make it unrivaled for astrophotography and our analysis shows it is one of the most successfully used telescopes in astrophotography competitions.

Having said that though, this is not solely a telescope for astrophotography (known as an astrograph), but also excels for visual astronomy and observing.

Like the model above, there are smaller 9.25-inch and 11-inch versions of the telescope tube with the same CGX-L mount package, but this is the top-of-the-range Celestron that you can buy.

Key specifications

  • Type: Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain) Telescope
  • Aperture: 14-inch / 356 mm
  • Focal length: 154-inch / 3910 mm
  • Focal ratio: f/11 as standard but f/2 when adapted with Fastar
  • Mount: Celestron CGX-L computerized (GoTo) equatorial

Meade LX200 14-inch Telescope Bundle

meade lx200 14-inch bundle

Meade offers a range of 14 & 16-inch telescope packages, we’ve outlined these below but this LX200 is the most affordable option and would be excellent for anyone wanting a top-of-the-range bundle.

It has OTA (telescope) with a 14-inch aperture and f/10 focal ratio.

The computerized mount that it comes with is excellent. It is lighter and easier to use than the German Equatorial Mounts that come with the Celestron models above and some of the other Meade packages below.

Key specifications

  • Type: Catadioptric Advanced Coma Free (ACF) Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope
  • Aperture: 14-inch / 356 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/10
  • Focal length: 140-inch / 3556 mm
  • Mount: GoTo Fork Mount

Alternative 14 & 16-inch Meade Telescope Packages (LX200 vs LX600 vs LX850)

Meade offers five different packages with 14 and 16-inch aperture telescopes, including the model above.

These are all Advanced Coma Free (ACF) Schmidt-Cassegrain catadioptric telescopes, but there are differences in focal ratio of the telescope and the mount, as well as the aperture:

  1. LX200 14-inch aperture f/10 focal ratio telescope with GOTO fork mount
  2. LX200 16-inch aperture f/10 focal ratio telescope with GOTO fork mount
  3. LX600 14-inch aperture f/8 focal ratio telescope with GOTO fork mount
  4. LX600 16-inch aperture f/8 focal ratio telescope with GOTO fork mount
  5. LX850 14-inch aperture f/8 focal ratio telescope with GOTO equatorial mount

In terms of these differences:

  • Aperture: Bigger is better in terms of light-gathering, although it will mean a heavier and bulkier telescope.
  • Focal ratio: Faster is better, in particular for astrophotography with a telescope. This is indicated by a lower number (i.e. f/8 is faster than f/10).
  • Mount: Fork vs Equatorial. This is a matter of preference but, for us, the geared fork mount is better and easier to use, as well as being lighter. Some prefer equatorial mounts thought, as that is what they are used to and it is also better suited to being used with different telescopes, so it adds flexibility. They

You can check prices and availability for all these five packages at different retailers using the links in the list above.


Best 14 & 16-inch Standalone Telescopes (Optical Tube Assembly)

The alternative option is to buy a standalone telescope – known as an Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) – and then build your own package with mount, tripod, and anything else you might want.

The advantage of this is that with careful shopping around and patience you may be able to save money by buying different parts separately and cheaper over time.

The downside is that you won’t have an all-in-one package you can just open up at home, and it requires a fair bit more research in buying all the component parts you need and making them work together.

The options available for 14-inch and 16-inch OTAs are those from the packages above:

Celestron 14-inch OTA

c14 ota

Key specifications

  • Type: Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain) Optical Tube Assembly (OTA)
  • Aperture: 14-inch / 356 mm
  • Focal ratio: f/11 as standard but f/2 when adapted with Fastar
  • Focal length: 154-inch / 3910 mm

Celestron 14-inch EdgeHD OTA

C14 edgehd ota

Key specifications

  • Type: Catadioptric (Schmidt-Cassegrain) Optical Tube Assembly (OTA) with EdgeHD optics
  • Aperture: 14-inch / 356 mm
  • Focal ratio: f/11 as standard but f/2 when adapted with Fastar
  • Focal length: 154-inch / 3910 mm

You can then buy the Celestron CGX-L mount separately for these Celestron OTAs:

You could also explore alternative mounts – see our guide to the best mounts for astrophotography.

Meade LX850 16-inch f/8 OTA

Meade LX850 16-inch f/8 OTA

Key specifications

  • Type: Catadioptric Advanced Coma Free (ACF) Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope
  • Aperture: 16-inch / 406 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • Focal length: 128-inch / 3251 mm

Alternative 14 & 16-inch Meade OTAs

There are four different 14 or 16-inch OTA options from Meade (including the above). These are:

This video from Meade gives some insight into their f/8 and f/10 OTAs:


The Very Biggest Telescopes You Can Buy

In addition, to these “regular” telescopes above that can be bought off-the-shelf, there are even bigger telescopes from specialist manufacturers for advanced users.

25-inch: Obsession Classic Dobsonian

obsession telecsope

We now move on to the specialist telescope manufacturers.

The first that we come across is the 25-inch aperture Classic Dobsonian from the manufacturer Obsession. These are custom-built for buyers and will set you back in the region of $19,995.

These large Dobsonian telescopes start to get pretty massive in terms of height and bulk. Some of them require the use of ladders to look through the eyepiece.

32-inch: Webster C32 f/3.6

webster telescopes C32

Even bigger is this 32-inch aperture telescope from Webster. It stands 118-inches (299cm) tall, although Webster boasts that it can be easily moved about by one person.

It is on wheels and, when tilted, it can slide through doorways, thereby suiting storage in a garage.

We spoke to Webster and they say that in recent years they have built 53-inch and 40-inch aperture telescopes for customers and that they can build anything up to 60-inches.

They also informed me that they once heard about a 73-inch aperture telescope being built in New Mexico but don’t know if it was ever finished!

Here’s a picture of a 28-inch Webster telescope:

webster telescopes C32

40-inch: Planewave 1 Meter Observatory Telescope

PlaneWave 1 Meter Observatory Telescope

Next up is this 40-inch (1-meter) aperture telescope from Planewave.

This is a bit different as it is designed for use in an observatory and not for home use.

In the video below you can see the documented process of installing one of these telescopes in an observatory in Chile:

50-inch: New Moon Big Guy

We now get to the 50-inch “Big Guy” telescope from New Moon.

Again, these are huge constructions and one of these will set you back a cool $155k.

65-inch: Optiques Fullum

Lastly, the biggest telescope we could find was this 65-inch aperture model from the Canadian manufacturer Optiques Fullum.

Here’s a video showing the installation of one of their 50-inch models:


How to assess telescope power? It’s all about aperture

The best indicator of the power of a telescope is its aperture.

Aperture is the measure of how wide the lens of the telescope is.

The wider (larger) the aperture, the more light it gathers, and the better images you will see (and photograph, if you wish).

Beginner’s telescopes might have apertures between 2 and 8 inches (60 – 200 mm).

These can work well for casual viewing and will allow you to see the planets of the solar system, other objects in the night sky, and but deep-sky objects like galaxies and nebulae may remain faint and hard to see.

Advanced telescopes from leading retail telescope manufacturers (Celestron, Meade Instruments, etc.) will then range from 10 to 20-inch (250 – 500mm). These will give much-improved viewing and brighter, clearer images. You can see examples of these in the list below.

The general rule though is that the higher the aperture, the higher the cost of the telescope.

There are other factors that influence this though, and you will see from reading on that you can get higher aperture telescopes for less money if you are able to handle something that is less user-friendly and extremely large in size.

After this, there are specialist telescope brands and retailers who sell giant and customized telescopes with apertures in the range of 50-60 inches. These can be huge and powerful and are generally more for the advanced telescope user.

See below for profiles of giant telescopes from companies like Obsession, Webster and New Moon. These are big beasts! There are some videos included in this article that you can watch to get a good idea of their size.

Limiting magnitude

There is another, more complicated measure of a telescope’s power, known as its limiting magnitude. This is a measure of the farthest object that you will be able to see with a telescope.

See here for a calculator that enables you to work out this figure for any telescope. For the sake of simplicity, we stick to aperture as the best measure of power in this article.


Conclusion: The Best Telescope You Can Buy

We went on a quest to find the most powerful telescope you can buy.

What we found is that these range from very powerful but regular-sized telescopes, to the ridiculously large bigger-than-a-person model.

If you are looking for the most powerful telescope you can buy off the shelf to use at home, then it’ll be a 14-inch, 16-inch, or maybe 20-inch telescope.

This is more or less the biggest size you’ll get from the major telescope retailers before you start getting into models suitable only for observatories.

Note, that it’s hard to find many of these telescopes in stock at the moment in 2023 because of disruptions to supply by the pandemic, and also an increase in people looking to buy telescopes due to spending more time at home. You therefore might need to shop around and check the availability at different retailers.

None of the telescopes in this article are what any normal person would regard as “cheap”. In fact, they can range from the price of a vehicle to the price of a house. If you want to see some cheaper options, then check out the best telescopes for beginners and for intermediate users.

In summary, you can have more user-friendly and compact telescopes like the catadioptric telescopes which you can keep in your home, or you can get much larger Dobsonian telescopes. With the Dobsonians, you will need a garage or somewhere similar to store them as they are man-sized and these will not suit the casual user.

If you really want a huge specialist telescope, then do some good research into the size and portability and think about how you will use it. It’ll probably be worth it – some of these telescopes cost as much as a house, so obviously be sure about what you are doing.

We hope that you found this research interesting. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Anthony Robinson founded Skies & Scopes in 2017 and has been practicing and writing obsessively about astrophotography and astronomy ever since. He has written for Amateur Astrophotography and Dark Sky Travels magazines. Skies & Scopes has also been featured in Forbes, Digital Camera World, Peta Pixel, and many other publications.

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