This page is to provide a list of recommended vendors for telescopes and other astronomy and astrophotography equipment and software.
I (John) launched the page with some links to vendors in the United States. If you have helpful information, particularly about vendors outside of the US or specific to your geographic location, please feel free to add them to this page. Also feel free to expand on other entries to add details (e.g. this site's prices tend to be higher than average, but they have better service, etc...). This is a group effort, so the more we put in, the more helpful this tool is to us all.
- 1 United States
- 1.1 Nationwide Online Retailers
- 1.2 Storefronts
- 2 Canada
- 3 European Union
- 4 United Kingdom
- 5 Australia
- 6 India
- 7 Japan
- 8 South America
Nationwide Online Retailers
Astronomics is another reliable supplier of equipment. Located in Norman, OK, they have a wide range of equipment, from low-end to high-end.
Their in-house brand is Astro-Tech, which is mostly made by GSO.
Astronomics is the primary sponsor of the Cloudy Nights website.
Another reliable supplier of telescopes and astronomy equipment, based in Montague, NJ
Their in-house brand is Apertura, yet again made by GSO.
Another reliable supplier of telescopes and astronomy equipment, based in Lakewood, CO, just outside of Denver. MHA ships nationwide by UPS.
OPT has one of the largest selections online in the United States. Previously based in Oceanside, CA, they have recently moved to nearby Carlsbad. Their equipment ranges from low-end beginner stuff to some of the highest-end equipment available. They also have fairly knowledgeable staff. They are a reliable supplier of amateur astronomy equipment, if not the cheapest.
Their in-house brand is Third Planet Optics or TPO (which is, of course, OPT backwards). Most of the TPO stuff is made by GSO.
Orion is one of the top two vendors of telescopes; the other being Celestron. Orion's equipment is primarily made by Synta in mainland China; Celestron and SkyWatcher gear is made in the same factory. The quality of Orion's equipment is just as good as any of the other mass retailers (Celestron, SkyWatcher, Meade), which is quite high - - because it's all made in the same factory, and then painted different colors for the different vendors. And they have very good customer service as well.
However there are two big negative marks against Orion. One is that much Orion-branded astrogear is priced higher than equivalent equipment labelled with different brand names. There are a number of examples of this, including telescopes, eyepieces, and mounts.
A second is that Orion will not service or provide any support whatsoever to third-parties. To Orion, a third-party is anyone who hasn't bought Orion equipment from Orion itself, or an authorized dealer. In other words, if you buy used Orion gear from a fellow amateur astronomer, Orion will not lift a finger to help you with this gear in the slightest - if you need a part, if you need information. Nothing. It is the only major vendor that has this policy.
This is a small web-based outfit selling lots of parts and accessories. One of their specialties is mounting hardware, including dovetail plates and tube rings as well as piggyback mounting hardware. They have great customer service and maintain their own database of details on a wide variety of scopes and what is needed for mounting them. If you don't now what you need, contact them and they can usually figure it out for you.
This guy has a wide variety of used scopes and parts. He has a huge list of items available, and a lot of stuff isn't on the list. If you're missing a part or need a repair part, he's a great source, particularly for Orion, Celestron, and Meade.
While Amazon does carry a large number of telescopes from various brands, caution is strongly recommended when purchasing via Amazon.
First, a lot of the products sold on Amazon are sold by other vendors through the Amazon interface. These vendors are known as resellers - they typically buy astronomical equipment from a reputable seller (listed here), and then sell it to you. While Amazon regulates this to some extent, if you're not buying FROM Amazon themselves, you may run into trouble with shipping and fulfillment as well as quality. Some buyers have reported issues with incomplete items (e.g. buying a Dob and either only getting the tube and not getting the base or only getting the base and not the tube). Others have had items damaged or lost in shipping. While Amazon typically works to make things right, often by refunding the purchase, this can be a serious hassle.
Second, most of the stuff carried on Amazon is lower-end equipment targeted at a poorly-educated retail market. In other words: lots of "department-store telescopes." A good example here is the Celestron PowerSeeker line (which is nearly entirely poor quality) is promoted and shows up prominently in search results.
Third, if you buy from a reseller, you have no warranty protection whatsoever. The vendors (Celestron, Orion, TeleVue, etc.) will not honor your purchase from a reseller. Therefore, you will have no recourse if there's anything wrong with your scope.
Lastly, the reviews on Amazon are often a very poor indicator. This is due to widespread abuse of the review system and outright fraudulent entries to boost search result positioning. This leads to lousy telescopes like the PowerSeeker 127eq receiving very high ratings and, with them, a prominent position in search results.
These problems, along with the lack of informed support from the vendor (most good vendors have informed and reasonably knowledgeable staff that can answer questions), make Amazon a very questionable source. This isn't to say you can't get decent equipment off Amazon, but that you should be extra-careful before ordering from them.
No storefront, online only
89 Hangar Way Watsonville, CA 95076, (831) 763-7000
10555 S. De Anza Blvd. Cupertino, CA 95014, (408) 255-8770
9797 West Colfax Avenue #3vv, Lakewood, CO, 80215, 877-279-5280
1925A Richmond Ave. Houston, TX 77098, 713-364-0260
11049 Bandera Road San Antonio, TX 78250 210-684-7373
A German online telescope and other optical instrument retailer, also operates a storefront in Landsberg am Lech, Germany. Ships anywhere in Europe, and to most of the world, where commercial parcel deliveries are available.
Has an in-house brand Omegon, mostly sources optics from GSO and Synta.
Another well-known German online telescope and other optical instrument retailer, located in Ebersberg, Germany. Will happily ship to pretty much anywhere in the world, for a reasonable price.
Has an in-house brand Teleskop-Service, or just TS.
Probably the largest UK-based optical instrument retailer, but also will happily ship anywhere in the EU and to most of the world, operating from Exeter, Devon, UK.
Not to be confused with the Orion Telescopes & Binoculars of the USA side of the world. This manufacturer and retailer mostly sells their own branded instruments, but also carries stock of other popular brands.