Gazing at the stars has been one of the greatest pleasures of mankind for millennia, which is why, thanks to massive technological advancements in recent centuries, telescopes have become very popular and sought-after pieces of equipment.
However, looking at the night sky through a telescope isn’t always the relaxing, thought-provoking experience one might expect - unless your idea of ‘thought-provoking’ involves wondering why you can’t find anything you’re looking for.
You see, a significant part of using a telescope is tied up in actually locating the objects or events you want to take a closer look at. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to do through the telescope itself.
This is because telescopes often magnify the part of the sky you’re looking at so much that it can make finding what you want to focus on a slower and more difficult process.
However, most stars, planets, and celestial events are also quite difficult to pinpoint with the naked eye, especially with precision.
This is definitely a frustrating issue, but did you know that there’s actually a very easy and often relatively inexpensive way of solving it?
A finderscope is essentially a mini telescope that can be attached to your primary telescope using a clamp or mount.
Finderscopes don’t magnify images as much as telescopes do, so they allow you to observe a wider field of vision in which to pinpoint your exact target rather than having to endlessly adjust the telescope.
Then, the crosshairs which usually appear through the finderscope lens help you to accurately focus on your target for precision viewing and/or photographs.
We’ve compiled a selection of the best telescope finderscopes on the market, so you’ll never have to struggle to find your astral target again!
The stars and skies wait for no one - if you’re in a hurry, here’s our top choice:
- 9x magnification
- 50 mm aperture
- Rotatable eyepiece module
- Non-obscuring illuminated crosshairs
- Small and lightweight
- Double-ring mounting bracket and hardware included
OUR TOP PICK
First up, from world-renowned telescope manufacturer Celestron, we have the Illuminated RACI Finderscope.
This finderscope has a 50 mm aperture and a magnification of 9x. These optics are very promising in finderscope terms.
The 50 mm aperture allows enough light to pass through the lens to pinpoint objects more clearly.
Meanwhile, the 9x magnification allows you to see these objects close enough to target them accurately while still providing a wide enough field of vision.
The right-angle design of the Celestron RACI finderscope maintains correct image angling and positioning, but the eyepiece can be rotated to help you find your perfect viewing angle.
An important selling point to mention for the Celestron RACI finderscope is the fact that the crosshairs are illuminated.
This isn’t just an advanced aesthetic development - it actually ensures that the crosshairs don’t obscure your vision while you’re trying to locate objects or events in the sky.
The crosshairs can also be focused separately from the finder itself.
Weighing just 2 lbs, this finderscope won’t add a lot of extra weight to your telescope carry bag or to your telescope when you need to adjust it.
Thanks to the 7.5 x 6 x 5.5 product measurements, it won’t take up a lot of space either.
In addition to the finderscope, your purchase will include the double-ring mounting bracket and hardware necessary for mounting to your telescope.
Mounting and detachment are quick and easy, so you can start using your new finderscope straight away once you receive it!
Ultimately, this is a very convenient little finderscope with advanced features that allow it to function with the utmost precision and ease.
- 50 mm aperture
- 9 x magnification
- Rotatable eyepiece
- Ergonomic right-angle viewing
- Illuminated crosshairs don’t obscure vision
- Compact and lightweight
- Includes mounting bracket and hardware
- No instructions included
Next in the category of best telescope finderscopes is the Orion 07212 Right Angle Correct-Image Finder.
With 50 mm of aperture and 9x magnification that enables a 5° visibility field, this Orion finderscope provides ideal targeting conditions in terms of brightness and field of vision.
These optics are further enhanced by the coating of the finderscope’s glass elements for crisper, brighter images.
The internal construction of this finderscope includes a correct-image prism that allows an upright oriented view, unlike many other finderscope models.
Because this finderscope has a right-angle design, you can easily find and target points in the sky using the crosshairs without needing to bend down or strain.
Focus and positioning are also adjustable, although some customers have reported these functions being ineffective when using an equatorial mount.
An aluminum mounting bracket with a standard-sized dovetail foot is included with this finderscope so that it can be mounted to the majority of standard telescope models.
The hardware is very minimal and easy to use, with just 2 thumbscrews and a spring-loaded tensioner (included) required for mounting.
- 9 x magnification
- 50 mm aperture
- Coated lens for clearer images
- Correct image alignment
- Ergonomic right-angle design
- Includes mounting bracket and hardware
- Quick and easy to mount
- Adjustability incompatible with equatorial mounts
This is another finderscope from Celestron and, just like the Illuminated RACI finderscope, this model is technologically advanced and extremely ergonomic to use!
However, its design and construction are actually very different from the previous Celestron model we reviewed.
The Celestron StarPointer Pro is a relatively affordable finderscope that, for the price, is impressively high-performing.
Although the aperture (40 mm) is perhaps not quite as high as some telescope users might like, it is still enough to allow you to see clearly and find what you’re looking for.
This is not a magnifying finderscope, which means it won’t target objects with quite the same precision as a finderscope with a magnifying lens.
However, the lack of magnification does allow for a wider field of vision which, especially for beginners, makes locating your desired focus in the first place a lot easier.
Instead of crosshairs, this finderscope uses a dual-circle reticle to pinpoint your target without obscuring your visibility. The bright LED of the reticle allows for daytime as well as nighttime use.
The dovetail mounting connection required to attach this finderscope to your telescope is provided for a simple, no-tools installation!
- Wide field of vision
- Non-obscuring dual-circle reticle
- Bright LED for daytime use
- Dovetail mounting connection included
- No-tool installation
- Not magnifying
This Finder Sight from Telrad is a finderscope with a bit of a twist.
Like the Celestron StarPointer Pro, this Telrad finderscope is non-magnifying, which means it won’t pinpoint your targets with as much up-close accuracy as a magnifying finderscope but will allow for a wider field of vision.
Where the Telrad finderscope differs from the Celestron StarPointer is that the Telrad incorporates an extra feature to help compensate for the lack of magnification.
This feature is a 3-ring lighting pattern that appears through the viewfinder. The smallest, central ring indicates what the telescope is currently seeing.
The largest, outermost ring outlines what would be seen through a standard, magnifying finderscope. Using this feature, you can easily adjust your telescope to match the alignment of the finderscope for accuracy.
Another bonus of the Telrad finderscope is that it presents imaging upright and continuously with the surrounding key, as opposed to the upside-down imaging of some other finderscopes.
A base is included for mounting, but this base can be easily detached for easy storage. Batteries are, however, required for the finderscope to work, and these are not provided, so they will need to be purchased separately.
- Wide field of vision
- 3-ring alignment lighting
- Correct, continuous imaging
- Mounting accessories included
- Detachable base
- Batteries not included
The SVBONY SV106 may not look too different from your average finderscope model, but it performs remarkably well! It also includes many impressive features for the price.
The first notable feature of the SV106 finderscope is that it has an aperture of 60 mm which is the highest aperture of all the finderscopes on our list and allows enough light into the scope for bright, clear viewing conditions.
Using the built-in 10 mm helical focuser, this finderscope can help you to focus on guide stars, which not only helps to maintain accurate tracking and targeting but also makes this model ideal for astrophotography because of the high-quality focus.
Moreover, the helical focuser can be adjusted using the digital markings for reference while maintaining image correctness because the adjustment rings move the focuser in and out rather than around.
You could also use this finderscope without the helical focusing function with the included 1.25-inch eyepiece, which can be switched out for a different eyepiece to achieve your desired magnification.
A protective copper circle is also built in to protect your eyepiece barrels.
This finderscope is mountable and adjustable using 6 thumbscrews, all of which are nylon-tipped for added precision.
These screws attach to the 6-point dovetail plate guiding scope ring, also included. You will additionally receive a dust cover and an objective lens cover.
- 60 mm aperture
- Built-in helical focuser
- Ideal for astrophotography
- Correct imaging
- Replaceable eyepiece
- Includes 6 precise, nylon-tipped thumbscrews
- Dust cover and objective lens included
- Some reported issues with focuser function
Best Telescope Finder Scope Buying Guide
We feel confident that any of the finderscopes we’ve reviewed in this article will perform well and effectively help you to locate your astral targets for telescopic viewing.
However, we also understand that every astronomer has different objectives and requirements and will be looking for slightly different functions and construction.
Therefore, we’ve put together this buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice based on the features and functions that are the most important to you.
Much like with a full-sized telescope, one of the most important features you can have on a finderscope is a decent aperture.
The aperture of a finderscope or telescope, for anyone who might be new to telescopic accessories, is expressed as the measurement of the objective lens diameter. This measurement dictates the amount of light that can enter the finderscope.
As is the case with telescopes, finderscopes need to let in enough light so that the images they produce can appear brighter and clearer. In the case of a finderscope, the bright imaging will make for easier and more accurate targeting.
In order to achieve this, you will need an aperture of at least 30 mm, but preferably more on your finderscope.
The finderscopes we’ve reviewed for this article range in aperture from 40 mm to 60 mm, so you can choose from within this range depending on exactly how much of a priority brightness and clarity through your finderscope is to you.
Before you purchase your finderscope, you will also need to check its magnification rating.
Some finderscopes do not magnify images at all, which produces a wider field of vision. This is great for actually being able to find what you’re looking for without too much (or any) adjustment, but non-magnifying finderscopes may lack the precision that magnified viewing can offer.
No magnification also means that what you see through the finderscope is consistent and continuous with the sky around the eyepiece, which makes the whole observation and targeting process much more intuitive.
If you would prefer a magnifying finderscope, you will have to decide what level of magnification you want. Standard magnification for finderscopes is about 8x, although some finderscope models reviewed above magnify 9x, and one even allows for eyepiece replacement so that, as long as you have the appropriate eyepiece to hand, you can control the magnification yourself.
Often, lower-quality finderscopes present images upside down due to the layout of their internal construction.
However, part of the reason why the finderscopes we’ve reviewed are the best is that they don’t reverse or rotate images, so what you see through the finderscope is positioned in the same way as what you will see through the telescope itself. This makes for much more accurate and intuitive targeting.
Angling and Reticles
The angling and reticles of a finderscope play leading roles in determining how easy and ergonomic the finderscope will be to use.
First of all, we recommend purchasing a right-angle finderscope if possible. Of course, some astronomers don’t mind a bit of physical exertion as part of their observations, and may even find it helps them to involve themselves more fully.
However, if you’re not keen on having to crouch down or crane your neck every time you need to look into your finderscope, a right-angle model will allow you to look directly into it from a comfortable position.
Reticles also contribute massively to an astronomer’s ability to use a finderscope efficiently. This is because a reticle pinpoints the exact focus of your lens for better accuracy.
However, some reticles like red dots and crosshairs can unfortunately obscure visibility. This is a problem we have aimed to eliminate through our list of best telescope finderscopes by choosing finderscopes with non-obstructive reticles.
An illuminated reticle will help to improve overall brightness and visibility through the finderscope and also isn’t as obstructive as standard crosshairs.
Alternatively, you could opt for a slightly different multi-ring illumination structure (more often seen on non-magnifying finderscopes) where each ring represents a different field of vision.
This system allows the user to judge what can be seen currently through the telescope as well as what would be seen through a magnifying finderscope.
Sometimes, finderscopes will double as guider scopes through the use of focusing technology such as helical focusing.
While a built-in helical focuser isn’t strictly necessary to get good use out of your finderscope, it can certainly help with the accuracy of your focus and allow you to focus more clearly on reference points such as guide stars.
The rotational ring-style focus adjustment on a helical focuser may prove especially intuitive for astrophotographers to use because it works in much the same way as a camera.
Mounting and Assembly
Of course, in order to use your finderscope, you will need to mount it to your telescope somehow. This will normally involve the use of mounting brackets and some form of hardware such as thumbscrews, nuts, and bolts.
Generally speaking, the fewer pieces of hardware the mounting or assembly process requires, the easier the process will be, and the less likely it will be to involve the use of tools.
Minimal screws and bolts will also make the finderscope much easier to detach from the telescope as needed for safer and more practical storage.
Telescope finderscopes don’t typically come with a lot of additional features or accessories outside of mounting and assembly hardware.
However, if you’re concerned about keeping your finderscope looking (and functioning) as well as it did out of the box for years to come, it may be worth selecting a finderscope model that comes with protective features such as a dust cover, objective lens cover, and/or protective copper ring.
All of these features can help to keep your lenses or eyepieces in good condition for longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need a finder scope for my telescope?
A finderscope isn’t strictly a requirement for using a telescope. In fact, many astronomers and sky-watchers regularly or exclusively use their telescopes without finderscopes, with perfectly satisfying results.
Rather than being a necessity, a telescope finderscope is a tool to make your stargazing endeavors easier and less frustrating.
While you don’t have to have one in order to make your observations worthwhile, using a finderscope is likely to speed up your tracking and targeting process, which is especially useful when you’re trying to focus on moving objects that may travel faster than you can adjust your telescope.
Ultimately, by investing in a finderscope, you’ll probably save yourself time and energy on your next astronomy mission.
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