Watching the stars above can truly provide a cathartic experience, especially to those who follow astronomy religiously and understand its inherent themes. Likewise, our planetary system can provide a mystifying way to look at our lives from a deeper perspective. For those who want to take their star gazing to the next level, purchasing a telescope is a must. While you might think telescopes are reserved for scientists, professors, or even the wealthy, there is actually an assortment of reasonably-priced, high-quality models available on the web. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the best of the best. Astronomy class is now in session.

Best Overall Telescope

For a traditional refractor telescope with professional-quality specs at an inexpensive price, you should go with the Meade Instruments 209006 Infinity 102mm AZ Refractor Telescope. With an aperture of 102mm(4″), a focal length of 600m, a rack-and-pinion focuser, and an impressive f/5.9 focal ratio, this telescope gives you an ultra-clear magnifying picture during each use. It comes with three different magnifying settings: low (26mm), medium (9mm), and high (6.3mm), as well as a red dot viewfinder to better target what you want to look at. The telescope also features an altazimuth mount with built-in panhandle and slow-motion controls for precision tracking. And for beginners, the set comes with an Astronomical Software and instructional DVD to get you up to speed.

Best Portable Telescope

If you’re looking for something that’s a little more convenient to carry around, whether it’s just to a friend’s house or a location where you know the moon will be particularly bright, the Celestron – 70mm Travel Scope is the perfect option. This travel-friendly telescope features a 70-millimeter aperture refractor lens with light gathering capabilities, two additional eyepieces (20 mm and 10 mm), and fully coated glass optics for high-quality viewing sessions. It’s easy to set up and take down and the set even comes with a tripod, Astronomical Software, and travel backpack for your convenience.

Best Monocular Telescope

Let’s face it — not everyone is interested in the night’s sky. For those who prefer to observe birds during the day rather than stars in the evening, this 12X50 High Power Monocular Telescope from VIVREAL is an ideal choice. It’s made with full 12x magnification and 50mm object lens for a bright, clear image and contains a generous field of view of around 360ft. The scope also features a BAK-4 prism and a fully multi-coated lens for high contrast and resolution images. It comes with an updated quick alignment, smartphone holder and tripods and it’s compatible with virtually any smartphone on the market.