How to choose your first telescope

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So, you have just started as an amateur astronomer? Or maybe you have just advanced to the point where binoculars are not any more powerful enough for your stargazing needs? Whatever your situation is, it is vital to buy a telescope at some stage. It opens the whole new world in front of your eyes. It is amazing what you can see with the right equipment, and explore the space as well as its objects.

You don’t need to have the most expensive equipment available on the market despite the fact that these are often quite costly. Make an effort to do a price comparison prior to purchase. A decent beginner telescope can be obtained for somewhere around $400. It must have all the features which will provide you with a superb view of the sky and the stars.

Lots of things need to be considered from type to model and features. Nevertheless, there are several parameters that are common to all. Below, you will find basic guidelines on how to choose your first telescope.

Types of Telescopes

You will come across a number of different types of telescopes which can be differentiated by the mounts on which they are constructed, structure as well as the optical elements which they use.


The refracting telescopes are usually narrow and long tubes having an eyepiece on one end and a glass lens on the other.

These types could be on altitude-azimuth mounts that are harder for monitoring, but easier for pointing or equatorial mounts.

Top quality models are going to have a 2-piece or 3-piece compound lens whilst the inexpensive models will include one simple lens at the aperture.

The picture quality is much better with an increasing number of lenses since these extra lenses are correcting for an effect known as “chromatic aberration” in which the glass lens focuses different colors at different distances.

Obviously, in case the lens is more compound, its price is going to be higher. Most of refractors aren’t motorized even though some of the top quality ones can be.

Reflecting telescopeReflectors:

Reflecting telescopes make use of mirrors instead of an aperture lens for focusing the light. These may be short or long and in most cases, they come with an open aperture along with a mirror at the lower end.

Reflectors don’t have chromatic aberration and more light is collected with a bigger aperture producing a better image along with a superior resolution.

You can find Equatorial mount reflectors both in motorized as well as non-motorized varieties.


These are just like reflecting telescopes apart from the mount difference. They possess the identical features as other reflectors whilst providing considerably longer focal lengths as well as greater magnification capabilities.

Even though Dobsonians are usually not motorized many do include a computer paddle which lets you know which direction to maneuver it manually.


It is the ultimate “general” category which utilizes both mirrors as well as a lens for focusing light. Besides being pricey, these offer higher magnification potential, excellent image quality and are usually computerized.

Selecting a Telescope

There are several factors which you need to consider while you are prepared to buy your first equipment.


Budget is regarded as the main factor by the majority of the individuals, and this is sensible. When purchasing a telescope, price ranges from $100 to as much as $10,000! However, you shouldn’t run to a shop and purchase the least expensive one. Although economical, these cheap models typically include a shaky mount as well as low-quality optical elements.

Why is the mount so important?

Your experience is going to be really frustrating in case your observation equipment is constantly trembling and vibrating and does not stay aimed towards anything without moving. Consequently, it is essential to have a steady, sturdy mount. Plan to invest approximately $300 to $400 for the first telescope. It will aid you to get an excellent balance in size as well as quality for your first equipment.

Optical quality

Your viewing experience will be poor in case the quality of the lens or mirrors isn’t up to the mark. Models sold at department stores are usually made out of cheap glass lenses which provide more aberration as compared to acclamation. Avoid those at all cost.

You need a model which makes use of top quality mirrors or lenses. This is same with aperture size as well. Even though bigger is definitely better, bigger can also be more costly. There is a requirement to find a balance.

An aperture diameter in between 6 to 10 inches usually offers a reasonable overall performance for its price. Even though the majority of the refractors have got smaller apertures as opposed to the reflectors, they provide much better images in case you do pay for it.

For reference, galaxies are usually faint and planets tend to be bright. You can only view the galaxies with bigger apertures whilst planets are visible easily in virtually all telescopes.

Portable telescopePortability

Would you like to take your equipment with you or will it always be utilized at the same place? Are you going to use it yourself, or is it meant for your child?

Portability is a vital aspect to consider.. More durable mounts and bigger equipment are tough to move around and at times you must disassemble them in order to transport. Furthermore, the equipment might need an electrical source in case it has a computer or a drive motor.

If you are looking for an easy portable model, read’s review of Celestron Portable Travel Scope!

How often will it be used?

How frequently are you going to use it? Just once? Once per week? Once every month? In case it is used frequently, you might want to invest more on the quality. That usually means buying a bigger model and having a wide range of eyepieces. Do not invest in excess of $500 if you are using it only on occasions. Furthermore, stay away from spending over $300 if it is used a couple of times before the affinity for it dwindles.

Simplicity of use

Is it for an adult or a kid? How efficient are you at learning to make use of the new device? Simple models are usually much easier to work with as compared to the computerized ones although they might appear “too simple”. All you need to understand is how to point them making use of the axis knobs.

Nevertheless, you need to be acquainted with the night sky. It is possible to find things very easily by utilizing computerized, so-called GoTo telescopes, given that it is properly plugged in and also set up correctly plus a proper alignment has been performed. The user manuals of the computerized models are usually thicker.

If you have any questions or comments about choosing your first telescope and what you need, please leave a reply below!

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