As an astronomy educator and amateur astronomer of thirty years’ experience, I often get asked to recommend telescopes for Christmas and other holiday purchases. These suggestions are for parents wishing to obtain a holiday gift, or classroom teachers who wish to obtain equipment to use with students.
In the document is a list of nice, introductory telescopes. They are all sold by Orion Telescopes
, and range from around $200 to $340 dollars. These are real telescopes, unlike what is offered at department stores such as Walmart or Target. I recommend Orion Telescopes because they cater to amateur astronomers and are knowledgeable about the hobby.
Each of these packages include everything necessary to begin observing, including eyepieces and a finder device. These telescopes are relatively simple to set up and operate. They are NOT go-to instruments that find objects using a computer-controlled mount. I do not recommend any go-to instruments in the price range stated above.
These telescopes employ good optics that will reveal wonders of the sky such as the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and craters and mountains on the moon. They can also reveal faint galaxies, star-clusters, and nebulae, such as are included in the famous Messier Catalog
Beyond observing the moon and bright planets, these introductory telescopes will require some knowledge of the night sky. But that is part of the fun of astronomy! Learning the night sky is a life-long pursuit. Good luck, and happy holidays!