- Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25
- Sky-Watcher Skymax 180mm Maksutov-Cassegrain
- Orion SkyQuest XX12i IntelliScope Truss Dobsonian Telescope
The night sky is full of stars and constellations that have captivated the minds of many over the history of our species. While the naked eye is enough to appreciate the night sky, you can see more with just a little help. Some large binoculars can be enough to get a great view of the moon and even to catch a glimpse of nebulae and our neighbouring Andromeda galaxy. For the best views though, you’ll want a telescope. A small one can be effective, but if you want to get detailed views or photos of more distant and dimmer objects, you’re going to need a large telescope. Unfortunately, large telescopes don’t come cheaply, the optics are somewhat difficult to make so precisely at such a scale. The results are worth it though, as the views and photos you can get are excellent.
To help you get a great telescope, we’ve drawn up a list of the best high-end telescopes in 2021.
- Schmidt-Cassegrain design
- Computerised Alt-Azimuth mount
- 10 hours of battery life
- Aperture: 235mm
- Focal length: 2350mm
- Lenses: 59x and 181x
The Celestron NexStar Evolution 9.25 is a computerised Alt-Azimuth mounted Schmidt-Cassegrain style telescope. It has wide 235mm aperture to gather lots of light and a huge 2350mm focal length. The two included lenses of 13mm and 40mm offer a 181x and a 59x zoom level respectively.
The computerised aiming system can be controlled via a free smartphone app and has a fantastic 10-hour battery life so you can rely on it out in the field. The use of an Alt-Azimuth mount does mean that long exposures may start to see stars nearer the edge of the view rotating, but centred objects can be perfectly tracked. One of the few downsides is that software updates need a serial cable that isn’t included and itself needs a USB adaptor to connect to modern computers.
- Dobsonian Design
- Collapsable for easier transport
- Manual aiming
- Aperture: 305mm
- Focal length: 1500mm
- Lenses: 60x and 150x
The Sky-Watcher Flextube 300 Dobsonian is a large telescope that is made portable because the tube collapses. While collapsing the telescope makes it easier or even possible to fit in a car, it still weighs a lot, even with the base separate from the tube. The 305mm main mirror is large enough to be able to see Pluto, if you know where to look.
While the appearance of the open tube is striking, it does make the main mirror more vulnerable to dust, dirt, and scratches. It also increases the telescope’s vulnerability to ambient lighting. While some may not like the lack of automation, it may suit those that want to learn to aim a telescope manually. For those who want the automation an automated GoTo version is available for an eye-wateringly increased price of $4400.
- Maksutov-Cassegrain design
- High transmission coatings on the corrector plate
- Relatively light weight
- Aperture: 180mm
- Focal length: 2700mm
- Lenses: 96x
The Sky-Watcher Skymax 180mm Maksutov-Cassegrain offers a huge focal length combined with a decent aperture size for planetary viewing. It only comes with one lens, that provides a 96x zoom level, significantly below the maximum useful zoom possible with this focal length.
The corrector plate both supports the secondary mirror – eliminating diffraction spikes – and corrects the spherical aberration from the primary mirror. This model doesn’t include a tripod, this helps to save some money if you don’t need one but is less helpful if you do.
- Collapsible Dobsonian design
- Cooing fan to reduce thermal equilibrium time frame
- Database of 14000 night sky objects
- Aperture: 305mm
- Focal length: 1500mm
- Lenses: 42x and 150x
The Orion SkyQuest XX12i IntelliScope Truss Dobsonian Telescope has a very similar design to the SkyWatcher Flextube above being a collapsible Dobsonian. It even has the same aperture and focal length so viewing will be relatively similar. It does come at a lower price point and includes an automatic aiming system with 14000 entries.
The collapsing and assembly process of the truss tube is significantly more complex than the Flextube. The open design comes with the same level of increased risk to the main mirror. To help the mirror to acclimate to the ambient temperature, a cooling fan is fastened to the back, this is powered by a 12V battery pack that requires 8 D-cell batteries.
That was our roundup of the best high-end telescopes in 2021. Have you recently bought a high-end telescope? Let us know what model you chose and what sold you on it, down below.