Land viewing telescopes are a fantastic way to observe your surroundings more closely. Whether you like to scope out wildlife, architecture, or something else nearby, a land viewing telescope is the best way to do so. Here’s a look at our top picks for these unique, refractory telescopes.
Our best overall pick was Sarblue Mak60 Catadioptric Compound Telescope.
Even though it’s a beginner’s kit, the telescope has the best balance of affordability coupled with sharp image quality to get you looking at the land around you quickly and easily!
|Celestron Regal Spotting Scope
|MaxUSee Refractor Telescope
Related post: Best Telescopes for Beginners (Kids and Adults!)
Best Telescope for Land Viewing
1. Best Overall — Sarblue Mak60 Catadioptric Compound Telescope
Sarblue Mak60 Catadioptric Compound Telescope
Great balance of portability and top-notch optical clarity.
The Mak60 Compound Telescope from Sarblue has a Maksutov-Cassegrain’s design. In a nutshell, it’s a mix of excellent clarity and portability. Quite important considering that you’ll easily get tired of the view from your backyard!
This 60mm f/12.5 telescope comes with a plastic tube that feels sturdy and the entire unit is well put together. You get a 20mm eyepiece that delivers sharp images along with a smartphone adaptor.
The maximum magnification level of the 3X Barlow lens is 120x. Way more than you need for land viewing! The other big advantage of the design is that the images are free from chromatic aberration or diffraction spikes.
One of the best features of this scope is its portability. The overall weight is just 5.25 lbs. and it comes with a travel bag.
On the other hand, the tripod is on the shorter side. That means you will need to hunch down which can get uncomfortable during long periods of observation. Users have found it easy to assemble though. As a bonus, you also get a one-year warranty on the product.
While it is designed with amateur astronomers in mind, the telescope delivers excellent results while land viewing. Overall, this is an awesome “entry-level” telescope that’s perfect for travelers as well as astronomy enthusiasts.
2. Best Premium Pick — Celestron Regal Spotting Scope
Celestron Regal Spotting Scope
A powerful beast yielding incredible colors and sharpness.
The Celestron Regal Spotting Scope is one of the very few top-class telescopes we found that are specifically marketed for land viewing. This puts it a little ahead of some of the other scopes, because the lenses for astronomical and land viewing can differ (see our frequently asked questions below).
Crafted from premium materials, the Celestron Scope is best for those who know they want to pursue land viewing as something more than a hobby, like photographers or scientists. It provides true-to-life colors, maximum light transmission, and can attach to a DSLR camera.
Additionally, this scope is waterproof and fog proof with a durable armored body, so it can stand up to being in the outdoors for long periods and even getting dropped. The dual-speed focusing mechanism means getting your subject in focus is easy and quick, so you never miss a moment.
3. Best Budget Option — MaxUSee Refractor Telescope with Tripod & Finder Scope
MaxUSee Refractor Telescope
Most affordable without sacrificing quality.
This company makes quality scopes, and the MaxUSee Refractor Telescope is no exception. Best for those on a budget or who aren’t sure if they’re fully committed to land viewing yet, this scope is portable and comes with a range of magnification levels.
Reviews on Amazon reflect that it’s a good telescope for beginners and is easy to assemble and use. It also comes with a phone adapter, so taking pictures of whatever you’re looking at is simple.
It comes with fully coated lenses and 4 interchangeable eyepieces. The magnification range is between 16x and 200x. A smartphone adaptor is included as well. Considering the price, the quality of the optics is impressive.
The large lens and finder scope makes finding your desired subject quick and the images you see crisp and clean. If you’re just starting out with land viewing, this is the scope for you.
4. Best Value for Money — Celestron Travel Scope 70
Celestron Travel Scope 70
You’ll get a scope for day and night, land and sky, as well as a tripod, carrying bag and proprietary software.
This traveling companion comes with fully-coated refractor glass optics and a lightweight aluminum frame that can be easily packed in the backpack you’ll get within the package. For better viewing, you get two eyepieces — 20mm and 10mm. In addition, it also comes with an adjustable tripod.
The eyepieces have 20x and 40x magnification powers. That makes it a great telescope for observing wildlife. You won’t exactly be counting the rings of Saturn with this unit. However, when you need to observe the landscape, it’s a great pick.
What makes it a great travel scope is its excellent portability. While the tripod isn’t the most stable in this category, considering the price tag, the kit offers excellent value as a starter scope.
5. Most Popular Pick — Gskyer 70mm Telescope
Gskyer 70mm Telescope
This scope packs a pretty powerful punch while being affordable, portable, and easy-to-use.
This product from Gskyer is one of the best-reviewed “entry-level” telescopes on Amazon and is a great option for beginners from all walks of life. No wonder it has almost 25,000 ratings as of this writing! The unit has a 70 mm objective lens and two 25 mm and 10 mm eyepieces.
In addition, it also comes with a 3X Barlow lens that can increase the magnification limits to 120x. That makes it powerful enough for newbie sky gazers and also for landscape viewing. Obviously, serious astronomers will need a larger aperture than 70 mm.
The accessories include an aluminum tripod and a carry bag. A smartphone adapter and a wireless camera remote are also included.
However, the tripod is too light and needs careful handling to minimize vibrations.
6. Best 3-in-1 — Levenhuk Starter Kit
Levenhuk LabZZ MTB2 Starter Kit for kids
Great introductory 3-in-1 telescope kit for children.
The Levenhuk Starter Kit is a perfect telescope to start young kids out with. It comes with a telescope, microscope, and binoculars, so especially if you have multiple children who all want to play at once, they can each have an interesting part of the kit and take turns.
The kit also comes with more than 20 accessories, including tools to conduct experiments with the microscope and prepared slides. The telescope comes with magnification that reaches 120x. Plenty for your child to explore the world around them!
Amazon reviews mention the tripod might not be the most stable, but with adult supervision and balancing, your budding nature observer should be able to see whatever they set their minds to. Broaden their experience with curiosity-driven questions about their subjects!
7. Best for Kids — Emarth Astronomical Refractor Telescope with Tripod and Finder Scope
Emarth Astronomical Refractor Telescope
Recommended for those who want quality without a huge investment.
The Emarth Telescope is a great next step if you have a curious kid but are not quite ready to sink your money and time into something like the Celestron Regal Spotting Scope. It’s another option that’s below $100 but comes with high magnification and easy setup.
It’s portable and compact design means it’s another scope that’s easy to travel with. It’s also a good option if your budding child land viewer has graduated from their kids’ telescope and is ready for a better challenge.
Utilize this scope if you want crisp images, a lightweight but stable construction, and durable parts.
8. Best for Mid-Level Watchers — Gosky 20-60×80 Spotting Scope
Gosky 20-60×80 Spotting Scope
This one’s ideal for outdoorsy wildlife observers. Waterproof and fogproof!
To be honest, telescopes are not specifically designed for terrestrial viewing. So, if you’re past the beginner phase, a top-grade spotting scope can be a better option.
The Gosky 20-60×80 Spotting scope offers a multi-coated 80 mm objective lens and 20-60x magnification at an affordable price. The BAK4 Porro prism optics ensures crisp images and better light transmission.
The scope also has a wide field of view which makes it great for landscape screening. If you’re a sports fan, this is a great device to carry along as the portability is excellent. Even with a viewing distance of 200 yards, the image quality remains sharp.
In addition, the device is waterproof and fog-proof which makes it ready for the rough outdoors. It has a solid build quality with a rubber armor. The package also includes a smartphone digiscoping adapter and a tabletop tripod.
9. Honorable Mention — Orion StarBlast II 4.5
Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Brief product description here, highlighting the key selling points and main benefits of the product.
The Orion Starblast II is a great choice when you are looking for a top-grade telescope for daytime as well as nighttime observations. The fact is, top-end telescopes are super expensive. However, this model strikes the right balance between superior optical quality and affordability.
The telescope comes with a 114 mm objective lens and a 4.5-inch diameter reflector tube. That means it draws enough light to make good observations in low-light conditions. Since this is a Newtonian reflector, chromatic aberrations are also reduced.
Included in the kit are high-quality 25mm and 10mm Sirius Plossl eyepieces that deliver sharp images. It also comes with an equatorial mount with slow-motion controls. That means when you point it at the night sky, the star clusters and nebulae are distinctly visible.
This device will need some precise adjustments before you start using it. But considering the image quality, it is worth the effort. Besides, the convenient portability also makes it a good choice for a travel telescope.
What to Consider When Buying a Land Viewing Telescope
Make sure the telescope you’re looking at is designed for terrestrial use. While you can go land viewing with a scope that’s designed for celestial purposes, sometimes the lenses, magnification, or tripod set up aren’t optimal for land. Double-check that the item says “land,” “terrestrial,” or “daytime” use before you buy.
If you’re buying a telescope for a child, it will be a vastly different purchase than the one you buy for a skilled viewer. Make sure whatever you choose is designed for the appropriate age group. If you’re buying for a child, look for durability and ease of use at an affordable cost. If you’re buying for an expert, look for higher quality, more features, and better lenses.
By “practicality,” we mean how and where the scope will be used. Will you use it up on your roof, in which case it needs to be very light and with a stand designed for angles? Will you use it hiking through forested areas, in which case it needs to be portable and durable? Or will you use it in flat areas but want to take stellar photos of what you’re looking at? The “how” and “where” will make a big difference in your selection of telescope.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is land viewing?
Land viewing is basically exactly what it sounds like—viewing the land around you through a telescope. These scopes can be used in bird watching, studying flora in an area, or looking close-up at boats that are far away on the ocean. Any time you want to have a closer, detailed look at the environment around you via a telescope or even binoculars, that’s land viewing.
What is a refractor telescope and why are land viewing scopes different from celestial?
Refractor telescopes, as opposed to reflector telescopes, use lenses as opposed to mirrors, respectively. They typically collect less light than reflector telescopes, making them ideal for daytime or land viewing, as you don’t need to try to collect the light of a far-off star to see it. They also typically have slightly clearer images than reflector telescopes.
Due to the different ways the two telescopes work, they’re optimized for their intended purpose. Land viewing telescopes have three lenses to view the image and then turn it right side up. Celestial telescopes have two lenses plus their mirrors to collect more light, and the image is usually upside down (that doesn’t matter so much when you’re just looking at stars).
Is land viewing a STEM activity?
It can be! If you want to turn land viewing into a STEM activity, either for yourself or your child, consider adding other elements. Take a local bird book to a park nearby and see how many different types of birds you can spot, then learn about their habits. You can also use land viewing to teach about types of architecture (engineering), rock formations (geology), or wind and wave patterns (environmental science). With a little ingenuity, the possibilities for turning land viewing into an educational STEM activity are practically endless.
Last update on 2023-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API