Brian Keating

Telescope Buyer’s Guide


I’m still reeling from my appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, a.k.a., the Episode of the Year #2023″ 😂. This week, it hit the #1 spot as the most popular podcast episode on Spotify, only to be pile-driven down to number two by none other than Hulk Hogan today!

But now, The INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE Podcast is in the top 100 podcasts on all of Spotify! I’m so happy, proud, and grateful to you brainiacs for catapulting us into the upper-echelons of between-the-ears stardom.

As promised, here is my “Telescope Buyer’s Guide”

The original observational astronomer, Galileo Galilei!

As in my video, “The $50 Gift That Made Me A Scientist”, I wanted to give you a few telescope options for budgets ranging from $50 to over $250.

While my first telescope, obtained in 1984, cost about $50, inflation (and not the cosmological kind 😀) has taken those costs to over $100 but at least with some of these instruments come with features scarcely imaginable 37 years ago, like ‘smartphone adapters’ and GPS receivers!

Here’s a quick list of options starting with the least expensive but still acceptable for beginners.

$55: This is the absolute cheapest option I will recommend. It’s compact, but I can’t vouch for much more. It comes with a smartphone adapter and has a decent number of 4–5 star ratings on Amazon.

For $55 this is what you can get nowadays!

$65: This scope is the closest to the one I used as a 13 year old kid…no frills, but a lot of fun!


$80: Slightly bigger and better than the scope above is this one, from Walmart: Celestron AstroMaster LT 70AZ. This comes with a Bluetooth Remote!

$200: The Celestron — PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope — is a Manual German Equatorial Telescope for Beginners with a 80mm Aperture. It is Compact and Portable — and comes with BONUS Astronomy Software Package

$270: This is an amazing instrument, but a lot more expensive than the previous options: Orion 10022 StarMax 90mm TableTop Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

$400: This instrument, the Celestron StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ Smartphone App-Enabled Newtonian Reflector Telescope is a serious 6″ diameter refracting (using a mirror, instead of lenses). It has a ton of features not available on the budget scopes above…and the price reflects that!

Once you have your new telescope in your little one’s hands, check out this ‘beginners’ guide to using your telescope’ from my friends at There’s even a helpful video you can watch while you wait for the sun to go down!

Lastly, for older kids, say 12 and up, make sure to get a simple “lab notebook” so your budding young astronomer can record his/her observations. Have them use good practices. A lab notebook is a complete record of procedures (the actions they take), the steps and tools used, the observations they make (these are the data), and the relevant thought processes that would enable another scientist to reproduce their observations. This generally includes an explanation of why the observations were done, including any necessary background and references. I did this every night, as I describe in my memoir, Losing the Nobel Prize.

It could even be closely scrutinized if it documents your kid’s claim to a new discovery. Long after your kids have moved on from the their first forays, their notebook will remain and may be referenced, eg by younger siblings! Others will be building on the research that you are doing now and it is imperative to treat what they do such that others can replicate what your kids have done. A proper notebook will allow those who come after you to do that. A poorly kept notebook will not. Ultimately, your lab notebook is how you will be remembered during this time in your career!

Send me a message — how did your kids (and you) react the first time you saw the moon or planets through your new telescope?

Now I need your help!

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🎧: Listen to the full JRE episode on Spotify here

We covered so much I can’t believe it “only” lasted 3.5 hours:

💥 When did the Big Bang happen?
👽 Do aliens exist?
🔭 How Galileo’s telescope changed the world
How the planets were discovered🪐

🧠 Joe’s thoughts on the meaning of life
🎙️ Joe’s advice to podcasters

And much more!

Stay tuned because in the coming days, I will share the whole experience with you — from leaving San Diego during Hurricane Hilary to arriving in 110º Austin, TX, to meeting Joe, Jamie, and the crew in the most remarkable studio I have ever been to!

The episode of the year!

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