A telescope is a perfect gift for children and teenagers who aspire to be astronauts and astronomers in the near future, as it allows them to get an up-close and real-life look at the moon, the planets in the solar system, and the heavenly bodies beyond. There are many brands out there that have manufactured different kinds of telescopes, but only some are considered the best brands not only for beginners but also for veterans who need to have a cheaper and portable alternative to their expensive telescopes.
One of the brands that produce high-quality telescopes is Meade, and the company typically focuses on creating telescopes that are simple to use so that they can be used by children. Here are a few of the best Meade telescopes for beginner stargazers who are younger than 12 years old.
Kicking off the list is arguably the most popular Mead telescope in the market, the Infinity 102mm Refractor Telescope. The Infinity has a focal length of 600mm and an aperture of 102mm that is sufficient for the user to see the surface of the moon and even nearby planets like Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
It also comes with an Altazimuth mount that is sturdy enough to carry the weight of the telescope, with its included tripod at the bottom providing steady placement of the device on the ground. The mount has a panhandle that can be controlled in slow motion so that you can accurately track a heavenly body without moving the telescope’s location.
The eyepieces that come with each package of the Infinity telescope are 26mm (Low), 9mm (Medium, and 6.3mm (High), and each eyepiece can be enhanced using a Barlow lens that doubles the magnifying capabilities of the Infinity. Near the installed eyepiece is a red dot viewfinder that you can use to pinpoint the object that you are going to view before using the telescope’s eyepiece.
Besides the 102mm telescope, the Infinity is also available in a variety of sizes, such as 70mm, 80mm, and 90mm. If you are planning to take the telescope with you during your trips and travels, it is recommended that you have the Meade Infinity Carry Bag that is compatible with the 80mm, 90mm, and 102mm versions of the telescope.
The second Mead telescope on the list is the StarPro AZ 70mm Telescope, which has an aperture of 70mm with a focal length of 700mm. Like the Infinity, the StarPro AZ also has three eyepieces that are set in different sizes and magnifying powers like high (6.3mm), medium (9mm), and low (26mm).
In addition, the package has two Barlow lenses to enhance the magnification of the eyepiece, and it also includes a smartphone adapter so you can mount your phone directly in front of the eyepiece so you can take photos or record videos of objects in space.
The StarPro AZ is mounted on the tripod using an altazimuth mount that has a slow-motion control rod similar to the Infinity mount, but its tripod is much narrower than the Infinity so that it won’t take too much space in the room or the garden.
Moreover, the StarPro AZ is relatively cheaper than the Infinity, so if you have a less expensive telescope that can offer almost the same quality of magnification as the Infinity, then you should purchase the StarPro. If 70mm isn’t enough for you to see more in space, there are also other sizes and variants like the 80mm, 90mm, and 102mm StarPro AZ telescopes.
The Meade LightBridge Mini 114 is the smallest and lightest telescope on this list, as it has dimensions of 12.2 x 12.2 x 24 inches, and it weighs only 10.8 pounds. However, the LightBridge Mini boasts a large aperture of 114mm, which is almost double the size of the StarPro AZ 70mm’s aperture.
Furthermore, the LightBridge Mini 114 comes with two eyepieces that are 26mm and 9mm that you can swap whenever you need low or high magnification for the telescope.
The only downside to the LightBridge Mini is that it doesn’t have a tripod, so you would have to place it on a sturdy desk or table to use it properly. However, it does have a 360-degree swivel mount so that you can rotate the telescope in any direction on the table.
If you want a smaller telescope, there is also the LightBridge Mini 82 that has an 82mm aperture, which is perfect for those who don’t have enough space to place big telescopes in their room or backyard.
For those who don’t have the budget to buy their children a cheap telescope like the StarPro AZ, there is a much cheaper option in the line of Meade telescopes, and that is the 80mm Adventure Scope that has an 80mm aperture.
In addition to the telescope, the package for the Adventure Scope comes with a tripod where you can mount the scope and a travel bag that you can use to carry the telescope around with you while backpacking or camping. The Adventure Scope is also relatively lightweight, as it only weighs 2.8 pounds, which is lighter than the LightBridge Mini 114.
From the smallest and cheapest telescopes, we are now going to discuss the largest and the most expensive Meade telescope, the StarNavigator 125mm Maksutov-Cassegrain, which has an aperture of 127mm and focal length of 1900mm, which is more than ten times the focal length of the LightBridge Mini 114.
The StarNavigator also has a GOTO mount that is single-armed and equipped with 90-degree prism diagonal DC servo motors that allow the telescope to rotate accurately and track objects in space precisely.
Instead of a refractor, the StarNavigator is installed with Maksutov-Cassegrain optics that provide higher quality magnification but for a high price, which is the reason why the telescope is quite expensive. Also, the StarNavigator has two eyepieces, which are 9mm and 26mm in size, that can be utilized for low and high magnification.
If you want the features of the StarNavigator without the expensive Maksutov-Cassegrain optics, you can also buy the telescope that has refractor optics for a lower price. The refractor telescope is available in 130mm, while the Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes come in 125mm and 90mm versions.
Parents who are planning to buy telescopes for their children who are beginners in the hobby should not settle with low-quality products that some brands are selling in hobby shops and online stores. Instead, they should purchase telescopes made by Meade and other popular brands that are known to manufacture telescopes that are less expensive but are higher in quality. Nothing can fuel a child or a teenager’s dream of getting a job at NASA and other space agencies better than by allowing them to own a good quality telescope.