TELESCOPES

Travel Telescope: Watch the Stars on the Go

nikon telescope
Mike Benton
Written by Mike Benton

Considering going on a camping trip somewhere remote and want to enjoy the starry night? See the stars without the flooding lights of the city? Then you should consider getting yourself a traveling telescope.

Travel telescopes are an excellent choice for people that want to explore the night sky on remote places, but do not have the luxury of having a full-size telescope with them. Many manufacturers have been introducing specific models with options tailored for travel and other appropriate features for the traveling astronomers.

Most important thing when packing your bags for your next adventure is the size of the gear you plan on taking with you. So, the limited space available also limits the size of the telescope you can bring limiting the aperture to about 3 to 4 inches.

Product NameDimensions/Weight Design and Features Aperture Price
Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope 14 x 7 x 18 in
3.3 lb
Refractor design,
all coated glass optics, erect image diagonal, alt–azimuth mount
70mmCheck price on Amazon
Meade Instruments 80mm Adventure Scope 49 x 25 x 29 in
2.8 lb
Achromatic refractor design, two eyepieces, lightweight aluminum tripod, finder scope, backpack80mmCheck price on Amazon
Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector 9.5 x 9.5 x 14 in
6.2 lb
Reflector design, two eyepieces, EZ Finder II aiming device, Starry Night astronomy software100mmCheck price on Amazon
Celestron National Parks TravelScope 60 18.5 x 11.9 x 6.6 in
5 lb
Refractor design with coated glass optics, custom backpack, full-size tripod, and alt–azimuth mount60mmCheck price on Amazon
Gskyer 70mm AZ Refractor4.9 x 8.3 x 26 in
5 lb
Refractor design,
metal construction, aluminum mount and adjustable tripod stand, custom backpack
70mmCheck price on Amazon
Celestron NexStar 4SE32 x 27 x 13 in
30 lb
Maksutov – Cassegrain design, StarBright XLT high transmission coating, StarPointer finder scope,100mmCheck price on Amazon
Gosky 70mm AZ Astronomy 6.5 x 13.4 x 16.5 in
6.5 lb
Refractor design,
400 mm focal length, multi-coated green film optics, two eyepieces, tripod, smartphone adapter, backpack
70mmCheck price on Amazon
Aomekie F400x70mm Terrestrial Refractor8.7 x 3.9 x 18.1 in
4.3 lb
Refractor design,
two eyepieces, 45 degrees erect diagonal, 3x Barlow lens, tripod stand
70mmCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

When choosing a travel size telescope, what is most important is the size, of course. But you still have to be able to see something through the telescope, so some other features are important too. We’ll look into some of them, and after that, we’ll make a review of the top rated products on the market today.

Style

For smaller aperture, the reflector design telescope with a mirror at the bottom of the main tube is the least expensive choice. The reflector telescope has some limitations because of its design, and it requires adjustment of the optics if it is moved around or bumped.

The refractor design telescope is a more suitable choice and is more stable and does not require adjustment of the optics, but it can get very expensive very fast with larger apertures.

telescope

The compound telescope design uses a combo of lenses and mirrors and is made in compact tubes with light weight. Two famous compound design telescopes are the Schmidt–Cassegrain and Maksutov–Cassegrain telescopes.

Mount and Stand

No telescope is very usable without a proper stand. This, however, has its limitations, as the stand is one of the heavier and bulkier parts of the telescope gear. For a travel size telescope, you can easily use a camera tripod, as many manufacturers produce their models with a single screw for mounting.

Although a camera tripod is a very stable stand for taking still photos with a camera, the usage with a telescope can be a little tricky. For it to work properly, the stand has to be heavier than the telescope to a ratio of at least 2:1. Another issue is the high magnification, as it requires a very stable mount. Also, the bigger aperture telescopes tend to be heavier and they need a proper stand.

telescope on a tripod

The proper alt-azimuth stands tend to have a dovetail attachment plate and a swivel mechanism. The equatorial mount has a more elaborate mechanism and it is heavier, bulkier and more complicated. These properties make the proper telescope mount a bit unsuitable to carry with a traveling telescope.

Aperture

Often called the objective, aperture is one of the main things you keep in mind before buying a telescope, so checking out the specification on the telescope, either on the box, front of the tube, or near its focus place, is the first thing you need to do.

It’s usually expressed in millimeters, although many manufacturers started to use inches also, so make sure that the telescope you’re buying has at least 70 mm (or preferably more) aperture or 2.8 inches minimum.

Telescopes under 100 dollars

Why is important to keep this in mind is that the larger aperture of a telescope is the finer details you’ll see.

Portability

When you are planning your trip, it is smart to plan your luggage ahead. That way you will know the exact space available, and you can decide if you are taking your travel telescope with you.

If the trip is done by car, you do not have excuses not to take the telescope along, especially if you are going somewhere with dark skies perfect for observing brighter celestial objects. This way, you will be amazed at what you can see with a smaller aperture telescope.

If your trip is done by plane, then you should seriously consider putting a fragile thing like a telescope in your check-in luggage, as the luggage handlers are not that careful and your precise optical gear can easily get damaged.

F10 focal ratio telescope

Another way you can bring a telescope with you on your trip is if you ship it ahead. If you plan to stay longer somewhere, ask the hotel/place where you are staying to hold a package for you or if possible take advantage of packaging stores that can hold packages for a small fee, which is always better than to have to carry a telescope with you on a plane and explain it to the airport and customs officers.

Accessories

You will also need some additional gear to go with your telescope, like eyepieces, Moon filters, some basic tools, star maps and the like. Many of the travel telescopes come with appropriate custom cases, with space for suitable accessories.

You will note that certain telescopes come with more eyepieces and such.  Others will have an accessory kit available for separate purchase.  Sometimes you will have to pick up pieces piecemeal, make sure you consider the cost of any of these extras into your budget.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Above, we have mentioned some basic things you need to consider when planning to purchase and bring a traveling telescope on your trip. Now, we’ll get the top-rated products of this kind into more detail.

Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope Telescope
Celestron 21035

Price: Approx. $48

Aperture: 70 mm

Dimensions: 14 x 7 x 18 in

Weight: 3.3 lb

Specific features: All coated glass optics, erect image diagonal, alt–azimuth mount with aluminum tripod, custom backpack style carrying case

Best use: Celestial and terrestrial observation

Description: The Celestron 21035 70mm Travel Scope Telescope  is an excellent choice for the traveling astronomer. This travel scope provides high quality, crisp images due to its high-quality glass optical elements.

It is designed with the traveler in mind, meaning that it is constructed from lightweight, but sturdy materials. The refractor design has a compact shape and portable design. It can be used for both celestial and terrestrial observation.

Its aperture is 70 mm, which is a good size for a compact travel telescope; its focal length is 400 mm. It comes with two eyepieces – one 20 mm and the other 10 mm; the first offers 20x magnification and the second 40x magnification. It also has a 45° correct image prism, so your images will be correctly oriented.

The light weight and low price mean that this telescope has some plastic parts, but even with these it still allows for good images and easy focusing. It also comes with an alt–azimuth tripod mounts on an aluminum tripod stand. Although this is a full-size tripod stand, due to its light weight it can get a bit wobbly if fully extended, so it is recommended it is used as a table top stand.

There is also the SkyX software, which is included with this purchase, and is great for beginners and stargazing enthusiasts because it virtually transforms your computer into a planetarium. The telescope and accessories all fit into a padded backpack style carrying case.

PROS:

  • Inexpensive, portable
  • Good quality glass optical elements
  • Padded backpack style carrying case
  • Two eyepieces

CONS:

  • Lightweight stand gets a bit wobbly
  • Some plastic parts

Related: If you go with the Celestron 21035 70mm travel scope, you might also want to consider the 50 Things to See with a Small Telescope book. It has some excellent advice about planets, stars, constellations and the like that you can see through a small telescope. Another interesting purchase is the Everything Kids Astronomy book, which is a great way to introduce your child to astronomy.

Check the price on Amazon

Meade Instruments 80mm Adventure Scope Telescope Meade Instruments 

Price: Approx. $99

Aperture: 80 mm

Dimensions: 49 x 25 x 29 in

Weight: 2.8 lb

Specific features: Achromatic refractor design, 80 mm aperture, two eyepieces, lightweight aluminum tripod, finder scope, backpack

Best use: Terrestrial observation during the day

Description: The Meade Instruments 80mm Adventure Scope Telescope  is a good choice for the adventurer who wants to be able to have the sky in closer view on the go. But this scope can also be used for terrestrial observation during the day.

It comes with a large aperture of 80 mm, which offers great views. It comes with two eyepieces for various magnification powers. Also included are an erect picture diagonal and a red dot finder scope for easy location of objects.

The overall weight is relatively small, and the telescope and all the accessories fit into a rugged backpack that makes it easy for you to take this with you on the go. It comes with an aluminum tripod so you can enjoy the night sky anywhere, from dazzling sky and a view of the majestic countryside around you (including the meadows and trees) to the Moon, stars and planets, this telescope will surely exceed your expectations.

PROS:

  • Large 80 mm aperture
  • Lightweight
  • Included tripod stand and backpack
  • Two eyepieces

CONS:

  • Some plastic parts
  • Not suitable for deep sky observation

Related: When considering getting yourself a travel size telescope, it is smart to invest in some adequate literature to get you started. The Everything Kids Astronomy book is the proper choice as it has some amazing information to set any kid up for stargazing.

Check the price on Amazon

Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope

Orion SkyScanner 

Price: Approx. $109

Aperture: 100 mm

Dimensions: 9.5 x 9.5 x 14 in

Weight: 6.2 lb

Specific features: Tabletop design, two eyepieces, EZ Finder II aiming device, Starry Night astronomy software

Best use: Low-power viewing of deep sky objects such as the Milky Way

Description: The Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope  is a good choice for a beginners reflector telescope. It features 100 mm primary parabolic mirror and focal length of 400 mm. With it, you can easily see the craters of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn’s rings.

It has a tabletop design equatorial mount and is very lightweight, so you can easily take it with you on your trip. It comes with two 1.25 inch eyepieces, one 20 mm for 20x magnification and the other 10 mm for 40x magnification.

The Orion EZ Finder II reflex sight allows for easy aiming of the SkyScanner telescope. As this is a relative entry-level telescope, you can only see large objects in brighter settings, however, if you take the Orion SkyScanner in a darker environment, you could also see other objects in the Milky Way.

This telescope comes with two eyepieces, EZ Finder II reflex sight, threaded adapter for tripod mounting and Starry Night Special Edition astronomy software that enables you to learn the constellations, stars, and other celestial objects.

PROS:

  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Table top design mount
  • Glass lenses

CONS:

  • Low magnification
  • Has to be put on a table or a stand

Related: If you are considering buying the Orion SkyScanner 100mm telescope, it would be very good to invest in a suitable Moon filter, such as the Orion 1.25 Inch Moon Filter for reduction of glare so you can easily observe the Moon. It transmits only 13% of the incoming light, giving a more contrasting image of the Moon. Another interesting purchase is the Orion Shorty 1.25 Inch 2x Barlow Lens, which doubles the power of the eyepiece.

Check the price on Amazon

Celestron National Parks TravelScope 60 Telescope
Celestron National Parks  60 

Price: Approx. $80

Aperture: 60 mm

Dimensions: 18.5 x 11.9 x 6.6 in

Weight: 5 lb

Specific features: 60 mm aperture, refractor design with coated glass optics, custom backpack, full-size tripod, and alt–azimuth mount

Best use: Travel telescope, large objects observation

Description: The Celestron National Parks TravelScope 60 Telescope  is a proper travel size telescope. It comes with coated glass optics and 60 mm aperture for clear, crisp images.

It has the special edition National Park Foundation design, and it comes in dark green color. The mount is alt–azimuth design and allows for easy pointing of the telescope. It also has the full-size tripod so you can easily install the telescope anywhere you want and enjoy the close-up views of the Moon, planets comets and more.

There are two eyepieces provided, one 20 mm and the other is 8 mm for different magnification powers of the telescope. Other accessories included are the compass, red dot scope, LED flashlight and a downloadable National Parks Guidebook.

Everything stores well in a custom backpack for easy carrying on your camping adventures. By purchasing the National Park Foundation Celestron Tel TravelScope 60 Telescope, you support the National Park Foundation and its mission for the preservation of the National Parks of America.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Alt–azimuth mount and full-size tripod
  • Coated glass lenses
  • Included custom backpack

CONS:

  • Bit difficult to focus
  • 8 mm eyepiece is not very good

Related: If you seriously consider getting a travel size telescope, you should definitely consider another scope from the same limited edition – Celestron National Parks Foundation FirstScope Telescope.  It’s portable and lightweight, with no-tool setup design that will make observations for beginners easy and in no time.

Check the price on Amazon

Gskyer 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope Gskyer AZ Refractor

Price: Approx. $99

Aperture: 70 mm

Dimensions: 4.9 x 8.3 x 26 in

Weight: 5 lb

Specific features: Great quality coated glass optical elements, metal construction, aluminum mount and adjustable tripod stand, custom backpack

Best use: Travel telescope, terrestrial observation

Description: The Gskyer 70mm AZ Refractor Telescope  is a very good choice for a travel size telescope.

The lens is made from superior ZF-4 optical glass and is coated with a special multilayer blue–green coating for 99.5% light transmittance, offering crisp, clear images and protecting the vision even after prolonged use.

The optical tube assembly or the body of the telescope is made from lightweight metal using German technology, with environmentally friendly paint. The whole assembly is lightweight, sturdy and durable.

The mount is alt–azimuth design, made from aluminum and comes with a full-size aluminum alloy tripod stand. The telescope comes with two eyepieces – one is 25 mm for a 16x magnification, and the other is 10 mm for 40x magnification. There is also a 3x Barlow lens included that triples the magnifying power of the eyepieces.

Another accessory that comes with this telescope is the 5 x 24 finder – scope. All the accessories, telescope and tripod fit into a custom backpack for easy carrying with you on your next camping trip or outdoor adventure, so you can enjoy the night sky up close. The telescope comes with a 1-year warranty and lifetime maintenance.

PROS:

  • Lightweight, durable, sturdy
  • Superior glass lens and lens coating
  • Two eyepieces, 3x Barlow lens
  • Finder scope, alt-azimuth mount

CONS:

  • May have difficulties focusing
  • Made in China

Related items: if you plan to get a small telescope for yourself or as a present, it is good to get the Gskyer 25×50 Monocular. It’s a nice retro compact monocular that functions fully as a telescope. This hand-held gold, aluminum scope comes with a wooden box and a limited lifetime warranty and will be a great addition to any pirate or maritime collection.

Check the price on Amazon

Celestron NexStar 4SE Telescope Celestron NexStar 4SE 

Price: Approx. $499

Aperture: 100 mm

Dimensions: 32 x 27 x 13 in

Weight: 30 lb

Specific features: StarBright XLT high transmission coating, StarPointer finder scope, SkyAlign computerized mount, Quick – release fork arm mount, 40000 objects database

Best use: Taking short exposure images and visual observing of the Moon and planets

Description: The Celestron NexStar 4SE Telescope offers great images of the night sky and is easy to take with you on the go. It has a Maksutov–Cassegrain compact design with 100 mm aperture and amazing magnifying power.

It comes with a standard 25 mm E-Lux Plossl eyepieces that have a 53x magnification, with which you can easily observe the Moon, Saturn, and some detail on Jupiter. You can always purchase additional eyepieces to increase the magnifying power of your telescope and see additional details.

The NexStar 4SE telescope comes with a computerized alt–azimuth mount with a database of 40000 objects, and a handheld computer controller. There is also the adjustable tripod made from steel for sturdiness and durability.

This is a good portable telescope, and the SkyAlign option allows for easy alignment anywhere, and even taking some photographs of the Moon.

PROS:

  • Small, quality built
  • Computerized mount for easy tracking
  • Great optical elements
  • Stable tripod

CONS:

  • High battery consumption, batteries not included
  • Not suitable for deep space observation

Related: If you consider buying the Celestron NexStar 4 SE telescope, you should also consider the Celestron 2 Amp AC Adapter. This will help greatly as it powers the Celestron computerized mount from any AC outlet and you can enjoy the night sky without having to rely on batteries. Another item that goes well with the NexStar 4ES telescope is the Celestron Accessory Kit, containing five superior grade, fully multi-coated Plossl eyepieces, 2X Barlow lens, six colored planetary eyepiece filters, and a Moon filter.

Check the price on Amazon

Gosky 70mm AZ Astronomy Telescope

Gosky AZ Astronomy 

Price: Approx. $77

Aperture: 70 mm

Dimensions: 6.5 x 13.4 x 16.5 in

Weight: 6.5 lb

Specific features: 70 mm aperture, 400 mm focal length, multi-coated green film optics, two eyepieces, tripod, smartphone adapter, backpack

Best use: Shooting, birding, and stargazing

Description: The Gosky 70mm AZ Astronomy Telescope  is a nice choice for beginners, children or the travel enthusiasts. It has multi-coated green film optics for crisp, bright images. The clear optics offer great views of terrestrial and celestial objects.

The telescope comes with two eyepieces – one 20 mm low magnification eyepiece, and a 9 mm high power eyepiece. It also comes with a 3x Barlow lens that gives more magnifying options.

The Gosky telescope comes with an alt–azimuth mount and a tripod stand, so you can carry it and use it on the go. It also comes with a finder scope for easy locating the desired object.

An interesting feature of this telescope is the eyepiece with smartphone adapter, and you can easily take pictures through your telescope on your phone. The whole telescope, mount, tripod, and accessories can be neatly packed into a custom backpack for easy carrying. It’s well built and the quality is very good.

PROS:

  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Smartphone adapter
  • Two eyepieces, 3x Barlow lens

CONS:

  • Not suitable for high magnification
  • Poor quality tripod

Related: If you think about getting this travel size telescope and you simply love taking pictures, then it is smart to get the Gosky 1.25″ Universal Camera Extension Tube. This 1.25 inch camera adapter will provide your camera attach directly to any Gosky telescope.

Check the price on Amazon

Aomekie F400x70mm Terrestrial Refractor Telescope

Aomekie  Terrestrial Refractor 

Price: Approx. $65

Aperture: 70 mm

Dimensions: 8.7 x 3.9 x 18.1 in

Weight: 4.3 lb

Specific features: Refractor design, large 70 mm aperture, two eyepieces, 45° erect diagonal, 3x Barlow lens, tripod stand

Best use: Suitable for beginners, observation of celestial bodies

Description: The Aomekie F400x70mm Terrestrial Refractor Telescope  is a nice choice for the beginner telescope enthusiasts and people that want to use a telescope on their outdoor adventures.

It has a 70 mm aperture that gathers more light and offers good performance in celestial observation. The glass elements have optical coatings for increased light transmittance.

The telescope comes with two eyepieces, one 20 mm and the other is 9 mm. it also comes with a 3x Barlow lens that enables more magnification from your eyepieces. Another feature is the 45° erect diagonal mirror so you will get a correctly oriented image.

The targeting is facilitated by the use of a 5 x 24 finder scope. The telescope is mounted on an alt-azimuth mounts on an adjustable aluminum tripod stand. It also comes with a small cleaning cloth. The telescope and all the accessories fit into a custom backpack for easy carrying.

PROS:

  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Two eyepieces, 3x Barlow lens
  • Tripod and backpack

CONS:

  • Lightweight and prone to shaking
  • Tripod poorly made

Related: If you’re looking for something “lighter/smaller”, something that will be perfect for the kids, then we advise you check this Aomekie F300x70mm Tabletop Refractor Astronomy Telescope. It’s perfect for beginners and can be a great gift for kids and a perfect way to open up the wonders of the Universe to little astronomers.

Check the price on Amazon

 Wrap Up

Above, we have made reviews to the most popular travel telescopes. It is always more fun to have a telescope or even high-powered binoculars on your next camping trip or outdoor adventure. As always, the one you will choose has to fit your needs, style, and budget.

If you are considering getting yourself one, now you know the basics and what to look for. Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Benton
Mike Benton

Mike is a hunter since he was 6 years old and his father would take him to Alaska or British Columbia. He realized that the difference in gear that you have might have a big impact on how much game will you carry home. Later he decided to share his valuable experience with our readers to help you to choose the proper gear for hunting and outdoors.

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