Most Powerful Telescope You Can Buy [14 & 16-inch Telescopes]

The best measure of the power of a telescope is its aperture – this is how wide the lens is, as this determines how much light the telescope captures.

The most powerful telescopes that you can buy to use at home are usually 14-inch or 16-inch aperture telescopes, although there are other, bigger options.

Below we give an overview of the best telescopes in this range and explain the differences between the main options and further on we investigate some man-size behemoth telescopes. Read on!

Most Powerful Telescopes IN STOCK

Right now in 2021, it can be hard to find large telescopes in stock due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains.

Models that are in stock right now:

Availability changes frequently. Last updated: December 1, 2021

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The Most Powerful Home Telescopes You Can Buy

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

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

  1. Catadioptric telescope package – This is the best option if you want something that you can easily setup up at home and get running quickly.
  2. 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.
  3. Dobsonian reflector telescope – These offer the best bang-for-buck in terms of power to price but they are very big and bulky.

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


Best 14 & 16-inch Catadoptric 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:


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.

Here’s an image of the Orion SkyQuest to give you an idea:

Orion 8968 SkyQuest XX16g GoTo Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope

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.

Sky-Watcher 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

Sky-Watcher 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

Key specifications

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

Orion SkyQuest 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

Orion 8968 SkyQuest XX16g GoTo Truss Tube Dobsonian Telescope

Key specifications

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

Explore Scientific 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

Explore Scientific 16-inch Dobsonian Telescope

Key specifications

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

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 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 user 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 wth 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.


Final word – What’s the most powerful 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 or 16-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 2021 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, 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.

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