If you just bought the best telescope you could afford and thought you could stargaze out of the box, your first observation was probably a disappointment.
Accessories will enhance what you can see and may very well guarantee enjoyment.
These are the top accessories for telescopes that are consistently recommended to have on hand for those moments you need it most.
If it is just astrophotography accessories you are looking for, I would recommended reading our article dedicated to those.
Don’t be left in the dark.
14 Top Telescope Accessories
Most of the time, the stock eyepieces included with your telescope just won’t cut the mustard. And yet, they are usually the number one accessory that makes or breaks your observation. One word: upgrade.
If you can’t bear to trash the included eyepieces or they are the exception to the rule and prove to provide some worth, expand. Having a set made up of a 40 mm, 25 mm, 10 mm, and 6 mm can take you on a journey between the stars.
Eye-candy eyepiece recommendations:
2. Barlow Lens
A quality Barlow may be all that you need to get double or even triple magnification with a single eyepiece. It’s an insert that goes between the focuser and the eyepiece.
But it’s not the solvable solution for every problem as it could in fact provide too much power that your telescope cannot optically handle.
Like eyepieces, Barlows come in different sizes, glass quality, and prices. With some research, you could very well expand your eyepiece kit with just one accessory, get more power, and save money.
Magnify your sights with these Barlows:
3. Finder Scope
A finder scope is a must-have accessory as it provides little to no magnification and therefore the field of view is very wide. This enables you to locate objects faster and easier than using the telescope with a very narrow field of view even at its lowest magnification.
Unfortunately, many finders included with a telescope package are too small for practical use or they are very poorly made that they offer no use at all.
There are different types of finders to consider. Reflex sights have a red dot and no magnification. Optical tube finder scopes are like small refractors with 6-9x magnification and a crosshair. Then, there’s the Telrad that is the popular alternative to finders with its ringed aiming point that allows you to star hop.
Find your way through the skies with a finder scope:
4. Moon & Planetary Filters
Filters are an underestimated accessory, but the truth of the matter is that they can greatly improve your image quality. The moon and planets are bright objects, and without a filter, you may not be able to see surface details as well as you could be.
Moon filters can help to cut down glare and brightness while improving contrast. Planetary filters can help to accentuate clouds, belts, and surface details while reducing glare and possible chromatic aberration.
Improve your seeing with these filters:
- Orion 1.25” 13% Transmission Moon Filter/2” version
- Celestron 2” 12-pc Eyepiece & Filter Set
- Neewer 1.25” Planetary Filter Accessory Set
5. LPR Filter
A Light Pollution Reduction (LPR) filter is a must-have if you live in or near a city and cannot travel to a dark site to improve your seeing conditions.
These types of filters are also commonly called nebula filters. They help to block out wavelengths of light that do not emit from ionized atoms of oxygen, sulfur, and hydrogen that are found in supernova remnants and nebulae.
If you can only afford one LPR filter, choose an Ultra-High Contrast (UHC) or narrowband filter.
Improve visibility with an LPR filter for urban observations:
- Gosky 1.25” LPR Filter
- Celestron Narrowband Oxygen III
- SVBONY UHC Filter for Astrophotography
- Astromania UHC Filter for Nebulae
6. Dew Removal Accessory
Moisture condensation on your lenses will quickly kill an observation and wiping it off could mean damage to the glass. What to do?
Dew shields are common and may come with your refracting telescope, although different diameters and lengths will depend on the model and manufacturer. The extension also helps to keep stray light out. But it will not be enough if you still get dew forming on the finder and the eyepiece.
You could opt for heater strips/bands that wrap around the telescope and are commonly known as anti-dew heating systems. They come with different power supply requirements, cable lengths, and dew heater sizes to fit different parts of the telescope. You should be able to regulate temperature of each heating element to provide the right amount of heat needed to ward off dew.
Keep the dew at bay with an anti-dew removal accessory:
- Lens Heater w/Temperature Regulator
- DewNot Eyepiece Dew Heater Strip
- Orion Dew Zapper Pro 4-Channel Control Module
7. Red Flashlight
You’re fiddling and stumbling around in the dark trying to preserve your adapted night vision, but you can’t find a thing. Please don’t pull out the flashlight and ruin both yours and nearby stargazer’s adapted vision.
Get a red flashlight with the lowest emission specifically for this purpose as it helps to preserve your sight while still allowing you to see where you misplaced your goods or when you need to refer to your charts or telescope settings.
Preserve your night vision with a red LED flashlight:
- High Power One Mode LED Flashlight
- AR Happy Zoomable LED Flashlight 3-pk
- Orion DualBeam Astro Lantern
- Orion RedBeam LED Motion Sensing Headlamp
8. Telescope Covers & Cases
Telescopes are not waterproof instruments and should not be left exposed to the elements. If you’re leaving your telescope set up, you need to keep it protected and covered with a cloak or cover at the very least.
If you travel to a dark site often, you may do better with a carry case or bag. If you have an especially heavy setup, a case with wheels could help to distribute weight as you lug it to the top of the hill from the car trunk.
If you’re considering a bag or case, ensure that it has adequate padding to keep fragile components from being knocked around. There are generic, multi-purpose bags for telescopes, but you can also find bags with dimensions for your specific telescope designed by the manufacturer. You will also want to keep your accessories packed separately from the optical tube and mount.
Protect your telescope for storage, travel, and between uses:
- Orion Cloak Cover for Large Mounted Telescopes
- Monoprice Hard Case w/Wheels
- BagMate Multi-Purpose Telescope Bag
9. Star Charts
There are multiple types of star charts available and they’re invaluable to the beginner astronomist. They can help you locate objects, stay informed of what is visible at any given time of year, identify constellations, and more.
Some are more expansive and comprehensive, and others will be tailored specifically for beginners and are simple to understand and use.
Find your way across the skies with a star chart:
- Orion Star Target Planisphere
- 50 Things to See with a Telescope Book
- Celestron Glow-in-the-Dark Sky Maps
- Guide to the Stars Map
- The Night Sky Star Finder Map
- Turn Left at Orion Book
Telescopes versus binoculars? Who says it needs to be one or the other?
A good pair of binoculars will help to complete your telescope setup. After all, they are essentially two, small refracting telescopes put together to provide binocular vision. Without an inverted view and with a huge field of view, you can locate objects faster, monitor moving targets, and of course, observe terrestrial objects with ease.
Supplement your telescope setup with astronomy binoculars:
11. Laser Pointer
If you consistently stargaze with friends, a laser pointer or laser pen would be an extremely helpful tool as they can be used to unambiguously point to celestial objects and constellations.
The green laser is easily seen by the eye at night, can be seen from almost any position, and usually provides 5 mW of power.
However, you must be careful using the laser as it must not be pointed directly into the eyes as it can damage the retina. Be courteous when using the laser. Astronomers not part of your party may be annoyed by what may be a disruption to them as the laser is seen in the night sky.
Additionally, some countries do not allow laser devices that are over 1 mW in power.
Point out celestial objects with a laser pointer:
12. Solar Filter
Interested in observing the full duration of a solar eclipse?
Solar filters come in different types such as threaded, full aperture, and off-axis aperture, but for viewing a solar eclipse, you must use a full-aperture filter.
Why do you need them? They protect your eyes if you’re observing the sun and solar eclipses through your telescope. They must be mounted to the front of the telescope and must never be attached to the eyepiece. It must be ISO 12312-2: 2015 compliant to ensure ultimate protection for your vision.
When shopping for a solar filter, you must get the right size that will fit the aperture of the front of the scope. Because sizes will vary between telescope models and manufacturers, you must know the specifics of your telescope.
To view the majesty of a solar eclipse phenomenon, get the right filter:
- Astromania Deluxe Adjustable Solar Filter
- 12.13” ID Orion Full Aperture Solar Filter for 10” Dobsonians
- 12.31” ID Orion Full Aperture Solar Filter for 11” SCT
13. CCD Camera
At some point, it’s inevitable that you will discover the urge to dabble in astrophotography. While a CCD camera is not a must-have, it is a highly recommended type of camera for beginners to get into astro-imaging.
They’re very affordable at under $100 for webcam types and can run into the thousands for high-end professional systems. They’re more sensitive than standard DSLRs, are easier to learn with due to their shorter exposure times, and fast exposures may mean less hardware and equipment is needed.
If you want to learn the ropes to imaging, a CCD camera can help get you started.
Imaging CCD cameras worth considering:
- ZWO CMOS Monochrome Super Speed Camera
- Orion StarShoot G4 Monochrome Deep Space Imaging Camera
- Orion StarShoot G21 Deep Space Color Imaging Camera
14. Astronomy Chairs
Let’s face it, your tush needs to be comfortable if you plan on spending any amount of time observing. While you can take a folding chair or a stool, an astronomy chair would be better suited to the job.
These types of chairs are adjustable in height as it enables you to sit in a comfortable and convenient position for the various angles the telescope will be in.
While you can DIY your own furniture for the job, check out what the market has to offer.
Sit in comfort while you observe with an adjustable chair:
These are the obvious extras that you must have on hand. Because they’re standard, no-brainer accessories, they’re not usually mentioned when you’re educating yourself about what gets to come along and what stays at home. But a little bit of common sense goes a long way when you’re out for a long night.
- First aid
- Extra batteries
- Warm clothing
- Hand warmers
- Pen, paper, etc.
The Most Important Telescope Accessory. . .
Don’t forget to bring along friends! Stargazing with the other half and buddies makes it even more enjoyable as you have a common interest you can share with each other.
You may have the same telescope and accessories, can share pro tips, and compete with who can find what first.
But a friend can’t make up for a failed motor, a dewed-up lens, or a flimsy tripod unless they have replacements you need. It’s up to you to be prepared with must-have accessories.
Even so, there is no accessory that promises enjoyment like the company of good friends while you’re doing what you love best.