Best Telescope For Beginners Buying Guide

What is the Best telescope for beginners? Buying telescope is easy, but buying the right kind of telescope, which gives you most value, and best views of universe, isn’t always easy. Especially as there are so many telescopes for amateur astronomers on market.

Aspiring astronomers ask always which telescope they should buy, or if they already bought it, they ask if they bought the good one. To answer for the first question, we decided to write this Best Telescope for Beginners Buyers Guide. It should help you to choose the right one from the very beginning and it should help you to avoid wasting your hard earned money.  You should read this guide even if you are buying telescope for gift. Sure, you wish to get the best value for money in all cases.

Things that matter when choosing telescope

Important things to consider when buying telescope are for example aperture size, quality of optical components and tripod stability. Of course you should also pay attention to the price versus your goals, i.e. if telescope could meet your requirements.

Viewing magnification is not so important

Viewing magnification telescope offers is not so important. In fact cheap models are usually sold using viewer magnification power as a main selling point, do not go on that trap. If it offers up to 100x magnification, but lenses and mirrors etc. optical components are poor quality or aperture is small, you will see just awfully blurry views with high viewing magnification.

Aperture i.e. diameter of mirror is important

Aperture, size and quality of the main mirror is extremely important thing, as well as quality of other optical components used. Also, stability is important, especially mount. Unfortunately many manufacturers try cut costs packing poor quality tripods with their otherwise ok scopes, that combination results again to blurry and shaking views. Furthermore weak tripod makes it quite impossible to get nice photos through telescope.

Aperture, i.e. diameter of a telescope determines how much light the telescope can collect. More light means more crisp and detailed views. Bigger aperture means also that telescope can show more deep space objects, it can see more far away than smaller diameter equipment. Bigger aperture makes it possible to use also higher viewing magnification, giving you really amazing detailed views of object far far away in the galaxy. Every increase in aperture, no matter how small, will have an exponential effect on performance. Downside is that bigger diameter of course makes equipment harder to carry, and that is why many amateur astronomers have their main telescope with big enough aperture size and furthermore they have astronomy binoculars for traveling.

  • 60-80mm (2 – 3 inches) aperture telescopes are able to provide fine views of neraby objects such as moon and bright planets such as Jupiter and Saturn. You can view also easily a few of the brighter cloudy nebulas and star clusters.
  • 90-130mm (3.5-5 inches) aperture telescopes will provide much more detailed and clearer views of the same objects plus also allow viewing of more dim objects including more faint nebulas and star clusters in deep space.
  • 150mm (6 inches) and above aperture telescopes will provide extremely bright and detailed views of solar system objects such as planets. Furthermore these bigger size amateur telescopes, provide also nice views of most deep space objects such as sparkling star clusters and distant galaxies.

Size and portability

You should also pay some attention to size and portability, Some amateur astronomers like to take their telescope with them while traveling, or go from city area to better stargazing places. In such case, it is important to have equipment that you can actually take easily with you. Unfortunately this leaves telescopes with bigger diameter out of question. There is an old saying in amateur astronomy “the best telescope is one that is used often.” We agree 100%, but however, only partially. You should not compromise too much aperture size. Our advice is to buy the main telescope with big enough diameter. That is the telescope you do not carry with you. in addition you should get astronomy binoculars for traveling purpose. that’s quite perfect compromise.

Type of telescopes

There are three kinds of telescopes available for amateurs. Those are Maksutov-Cassegrain, Reflector, and Refractor type of telescopes. Generally speaking, it does not matter which one you choose. Those refers to the design of how specific telescope technically works. They are are able to deliver amazing views of universe at amateur astronomy level. However, it is good to know what those actually means, and furthermore there are some important differences between different types of telescopes.

Refractor telescopes

Refractor telescopes are the oldest classical design type, which uses lenses to collect and bend, or refract, light into a cone shape that is focused in an eyepiece. Refractor telescopes could also be used for terrestrial, nature observing. There are many accessories for day time use of refractors.

Optic components such as lenses are fixed, and can not be misaligned easily. That makes refractor type of telescope good choice also for traveling use. Furthermore refractors needs little or no maintenance at all and they are extremely easy to use, making them perfect for beginners.

Below are a few popular refractor telescopes suitable for beginner astronomers.

Reflector telescopes

Reflector telescopes are more complex than refractor types what it comes to design. They reflect light to a focus point by using mirror optics. Large dish-shaped parabolic primary mirror collects light and reflects if to a smaller secondary mirror, which guides the light to an eyepiece. Because of this design, they offers the most value for money as performance is usually greatly better compared to others.

Because reflector telescope design is more complex, they can be more easily get damaged or misaligned during transport. Reflectors need also maintenance, manual re-alignment, or collimation might be needed. But that is not so complex task at all, and you can easily to it by yourself after a little practice.

Reflector telescopes comes usually either tripod mounted or base-mounted. Later are known as Dobsonian”telescopes. That’s because of astronomer John Dobson introduced the base-mounted telescope in 1978.

Below are the most popular reflector telescopes suitable also for beginners.

Cassegrain telescopes

Cassegrain telescopes are a quite new design which combines elements from refractor and reflector telescopes. Cassegrain design bends and reflects light, giving long focal lenght in a compact size. There are numerous variations of Cassegrain telescopes available including Maksutov-Cassegrain, which includes elements of both Cassegrain and Maksutov designs. It offers excellent higher magnification of relatively cose objects such as moon and planets. Therefore it is the best choice if you are mostly interesting in observing narrow-field objects.

You can find some Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes we feel are worth considering for beginners listed below the next computerized telescope introduction.

Computerized “GoTo” telescopes for beginners

What it computerized telescope? That’s general term, which refers usually to some kind of automatic or computer aided tracking or targeting etc. It could be extremely useful especially when observing far far away objects in the deep space. Why? Because those objects are not visible without telescope, so if you wish to get a view, you need to know exactly where to point your telescope! And that is where computerized telescopes are good. You need just enter the target, and computer will show you where to turn the scope, or some motorized models could even automatically move the tube exactly to the right direction. That is extremely helpful for beginners, as you might not yet know how to read star charts etc. things. Of course these are nice features also for intermediate and advanced astronomers alike.

TelescopeStargazer.com’s advice is that you should consider computerized models, they could really lower learning curve, and give a smooth start. Of course these features costs, but not so much extra as you might think. Below are two excellent computerized telescopes, that are well suitable for beginners, and prices are very reasonable.

Astronomy binoculars for beginners

There are available several binoculars engineered especially for amateur astronomers. Compared to telescopes astronomy binoculars are easy to carry and lightweight. Furthermore high quality binoculars such as Celestron SkyMaster 15×70 deliver much better views than cheap telescopes.

Binoculars are actually quite good idea for the first stargazing equipment. If you buy high quality product, it will serve you well also when you have bought telescope. As mentioned, the most telescopes are not intended to be carried while traveling. In such situation astronomy binoculars are an excellent option. You can take them easily with you where ever you are going. Actually most telescope owners own also a pair of binoculars just for traveling purposes.

Below are the two most popular models used by amateur astronomers around the world. You can find links to our reviews, and as you see, prices are quite reasonable.

High end amateur telescopes

There are also high end telescopes available for serious amateur astronomers. These offer better optics and various other benefits compared to less expensive models. Views of the universe these high end telescopes give, are really amazing. If you are really serious about astronomy, and ready to invest in your equipment, below are two of TelescopeStargazer.com’s favorite models from Celestron.

Find out if you can attach DSLR easily

Astrophotography is very rewarding hobby, and it allows you to share amazing views with others. So, taking photos or videos of planets and other objects is something what you might want to do in addition to stargazing! However, when buying the first telescope, most of us do not think such things. Anyway, you should find out, how easily you could attach DSLR camera on telescope. Generally, it should be possible with almost all telescopes, but it does not cost anything just to be sure. Usually camera is attached using adapter ring or kit, which could include essential parts almost for all kind of telescope / camera combinations. You can buy adapter ring later, when you are ready to start astrophotography.

Invest in high quality amateur telescope

It is the best advice we can give: invest in quality. This does not mean that you need to spend hundreds and hundreds or even thousands, but do not buy the cheapest telescope available. It could be worse than not having telescope at all. There are numerous people who have lost their interest in this wonderful hobby, because they have bought poor quality equipment, and got very limited & poor quality views of planets and other objects in the space.

It is good idea to put some extra money on quality right on the beginning.  If you are serious about your hobby, and wish to enjoy amazing views of deep space or nearer objects such as moon, you really should invest in quality. Read our reviews, and choose safely any of reviewed telescopes, they are all fine for beginners, and most models perform well also at more advanced astronomy.

Hopefully this amateur telescope buying guide was helpful. If you have any questions about buying your first telescope, please don’t hesitate to send us a message!

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