Why Choose Spotting Scopes Over Land Viewing Telescopes?

Why do people choose spotting scopes over land viewing telescopes?

Spotting scopes or Telescopes front cover

Spotting scopes, the perfect cross between a telescope and a pair of binoculars in terms of magnifying powers. Why choose spotting scopes over land viewing telescopes? We are here to show you the reasons why people choose spotting scopes over telescopes for land viewing purposes; and when telescopes will be the preferred choice.

The major advantages of a spotting scope:
  1. Variable Zoom Eyepiece

Spotting scopes all come with a variable zoom eyepiece. Using the Celestron Regal M2 ED glass spotting scopes as an example, there are 3 models. Depending on the aperture of the spotting scopes the variable zoom ranges are mostly 16-48x, 20-60x and 22-67x. The zoom eyepiece brings significant convenience to the users as there is no need to switch out eyepieces, 1 eyepiece is able to provide all the different magnifications you need for observations. On the other hand, telescopes come with static eyepieces with the option to change into zoom eyepieces.

Celestron Regal 80ED 100ED 65ED Spotting Scope

Pictured: Celestron Regal 80ED Spotting Scope with 20-60x zoom power

  1. Compact

Spotting scopes are compact and travel friendly, most of them come with a soft carrying bag for you to take around such as the Kowa Prominar 880 series spotting scopes and the Celestron Ultima series. Although some land viewing telescopes are also compact in nature, they don’t come with a carrying bag. Therefore, in terms of size and portability , spotting scopes are the better choice. That’s another reason why choose spotting scopes over land viewing telescopes.

Celestron Spotting Scope Carrying Case

Pictured: Celestron Spotting Scope Carrying Case

  1. Your choice of tripod.

Most spotting scopes don’t come with a mount or a tripod. Users have the flexibility to add on whatever tripod that’s better suited for them. You can choose to have no tripod, a compact car window mount tripod, a table top tripod or a conventional full-sized tripod.

Celestron Astromaster Tripod Vanguard Alta+ 263AP Tripod
Celestron Astromaster Tripod Vanguard Alta+ 263AP Aluminium Tripod
The major advantages of a telescope:
  1. Larger aperture (higher light gathering power)

Generally spotting scopes have an aperture of up to 100mm. That’s not the case when it comes to telescopes, the aperture of a telescope can get much larger especially in astronomy telescopes. For example, a 120mm aperture telescope (Saxon 1206AZ4) will have a better light gathering power than a 100mm spotting scope and hence more brightness for the images.

Saxon 1206AZ4 Refractor telescope land viewing

Saxon 1206AZ4 Refractor Telescope

  1. You have the option to go for higher power magnifications.

With telescopes, a higher magnification can be achieved when you switch to shorter eyepieces (6.3mm, 4mm, 3.5mm etc.). A normal land viewing telescope can achieve magnifications of 100x plus. This feature is not present in a spotting scope where there is a limited range in magnification given the zoom eyepiece range. Saxon Granduer telescope

Saxon Plossl 6.3mm Eyepiece
Saxon 3.5mm Super Wide Angle 68 Degree Eyepiece Saxon 6.3mm Plossl Eyepiece


  1. Flexibility to explore astronomy

If you own a land viewing telescope but you also want to explore beginner’s astronomy there is no issue at all. With the Saxon 1206AZ4 or the Saxon Granduer for example, you will be able to see the moon, some planets and of course, the stars. A higher magnification eyepiece can then be used to see these astronomical objects in more detail.

Saxon Granduer 80mm Refractor Telescope

Saxon Grandeur 80mm Brass Refractor Telescope

Overall, both spotting scopes and land viewing telescopes are here to help you see further. Whether you would go for one or the other a lot of the time can be a personal preference. In general, the major attraction for spotting scopes would be its compactness, and the major attraction for a land viewing telescope is the option to do astronomy.







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