Want to Build Your Own Telescope?

Getting started in astronomy doesn’t have to be costly or difficult. Try these DIY ideas to have you observing the heavens in no time.

Spencer Chin, Senior Editor

May 15, 2024

3 Min Read
A simple telescope can be built with inexpensive materials.
Simple, low-cost materials can enable anyone to build a telescope to observe stars and planets.Science Buddies

At a Glance

  • With a minimum investment in materials and a little time, you can build your own telescope for far less than buying one.

This Saturday is National Astronomy Day, the semi-annual event that celebrates the observation of the heavens. Science museums, universities, and astronomy groups have various events to pique public interest in the subject, which include providing access to telescopes. Those unable to attend such events may think about getting their own telescope, but buying the right one requires some knowledge about capabilities, and depending on features and performance a good telescope can get expensive.

For those willing to be a bit creative and learn how telescopes work, why not build your own? A few years ago, the site theselfsufficientliving.com published an article called 10 DIY Telescopes You Can Build On The Cheap.” While the performance of these homebrew telescopes comes nowhere close to that of a professional-level telescope, they are much cheaper, and hopefully pique future interest in astronomy with the possibility of building or buying a better telescope in the future.

Design News would like to thank theselfsufficientliving.com for providing the information in this article.

1. Wrapping Paper Tube DIY Telescope

Recycle a long cardboard tube from wrapping paper into a homemade telescope with these plans by savvyhomemade being shared here. Cut down the cardboard tube to the desired size, have the needed lens installed in each end, then embellish as desired.

Related:NASA’s James Webb Telescope: Exacting Design and Constant Testing

2. DIY Dobsonian Telescope

This is a large-size DIY telescope. Following these detailed instructions will show how to build a telescope by Instructables.  The article suggests setting this large telescope up in your backyard to allow solar system viewing anytime.

3. Galilean DIY Telescope

This homemade telescope by Space is considered ideal for a beginner’s telescope, or for a school science project. Easy and cheap to build, most of the components can be purchased at a local office supply store.

The article notes that while this telescope provides a limited range of view, it can interest a young astronomer to build a future telescope with a greater view.

4. Backyard  Dobsonian

Large, but lightweight, this DIY telescope design by Makezine can be built at low cost and provide hours of viewing pleasure for young and old alike. The written and pictorial instructions will walk one through each step of the building process so the end result will provide a clear view of whatever you are trying to view.

5. Under $200

While the cost of the materials used to build the various telescopes mentioned in this story varies, the article noted that the parts for building this powerful Newtonian-Dobsonian style DIY telescope by manmadediy can be found at a local building supply store for under $200. For that investment, DIYers will get a telescope capable of viewing solar flares, the auroras, stars and planets.

Related:NASA’s Planned Lunar Radio Telescope Will See the Universe’s Dark Ages

6. DIY Astronomy Project

Another low-cost telescope, this Dobsonian design comes with easy-to-follow instructions. It will create a homemade telescope by Popular Mechanics that will enable a budding young astronomer to get a better look at the solar system.

7. PVC Pipe Creates Digital Telescope

This high-range DIY telescope can be built with PVC pipe, recycled lens, and a webcam. These pictorial instructions show you how to make a telescope by Instructables that is set on a tripod and records what you have it pointed towards. The recorded footage provides easy-to-access documentation that can be viewed repeatedly and shared with friends and family.

8. Beginners Telescope

This beginners telescope by Instructables can be built for under $20. The telescope’s Kepler design is a tried and true design that will provide a clear image with a simple, stream-lined build.

9. DIY Replica of Galileo’s Telescope

While buying a telescope like the one used by Galileo would cost a small fortune, this DIY version is far less expensive, with the biggest expense being a few pieces of PVC pipe. The plans can be found at DIY telescope such as the one by popsci . The portable, pipe-based elescope can also be set on a tripod and spray painted to provide a high-end finish.

Related:Video: NASA Goddard's 40 Years of Non-Stop Hubble Operations

10. Kids Telescope

This DIY telescope by Gift Of Curiosity is assembled from an inexpensive kit that uses recycled materials. The kit is easy for kids to build with just a little parental help.

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News, covering the electronics beat, which includes semiconductors, components, power, embedded systems, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and other related subjects. He is always open to ideas for coverage. Spencer has spent many years covering electronics for brands including Electronic Products, Electronic Buyers News, EE Times, Power Electronics, and electronics360. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him at @spencerchin.

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