Rating Astronomical Telescope Brands
By the Astronomy and Photography Online Staff
This article uses a simple to understand "star" rating system. One Star (*) is poor, Two Stars (**) is average, Three Stars is good (***), Four Stars (****) is very good and Five Stars (*****) is Excellent. We use a plus to indicate top of the category status. These star ratings are based on a combination of optical quality, physical quality, quality control (product uniformity) and retail price. They are not based on clear aperture, although large telescopes are naturally more expensive to manufacture and sell than smaller scopes. Naturally, all such ratings are to an extent subjective and debatable, but at least this list provides a starting point.
We have tried to include a majority of the better-known telescope brands, but if a brand is not included, it does not mean it is no good. There are many small companies making fine telescopes in very small numbers, most of which we are unfamiliar with and therefore unable to rate.
Some of the larger telescope companies, such as Celestron, Meade, Orion, Skywatcher and Vixen, market multiple telescope lines, ranging from inexpensive entry level to expert/professional instruments; these are broken-down by line, type, or models where possible. Department store brands and Shopping Channel brands are listed collectively, since there is little difference between any of them and they are generally inferior to all the other telescopes on this list. We give them a strong "Don't Buy" recommendation. The telescope brands on the list that follows are listed in alphabetical order.
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