There are some important things you need to consider before buying your first telescope, and because those could be quite expensive we at TelescopeStargazer.com wrote this short guide for first-time buyers. We’re going through a few basic things in general because otherwise, you might end up in poor choices or frankly expensive one.
The first recommendation is quite simple: know your needs. What kind of observation are you planning to do? Would this be a long-term hobby? What kinds of celestial bodies or celestial phenomena are you going to track and observe? Do you want computerized GoTo telescope or just basic reflector telescope? As you see, there are some technical terms you need to know at this stage.
A quite good idea would be to make a list of your needs, and questions, and bring them to the dealer near you or ask questions online. You can do so also here, just post your questions below! List of your specific needs will help determining what kind of equipment would be a good fit for you.
Another option is to buy telescope online and save quite remarkably. In such case, you can just take a look at our telescope reviews and compare different models. With this information, you can’t go wrong when purchasing online!
Consider joining local astronomy group and visit star parties
You can join local amateur astronomy community or organization that focuses on astronomy. These groups would be able to help you make informed advice on how to make the most of the value of your money when you finally buy the telescope. Those communities are also great places to network with other amateur astronomers and hobbyist! Furthermore, there might be star parties near you, which are gatherings of amateur astronomers, and great places to learn a lot from others.
Get basic knowledge about star charts
Now, before you buy and start stargazing, you must also familiarize yourself with the celestial heavens. So, another recommendation would be to buy yourself a good reference to stargazing. These publications come in book form, or you can consult regular, peer-reviewed journals on the topic. Doing so would also increase your general knowledge about astronomy. For example, you will learn how celestial coordinates work, etc.
Do not buy telescope from the nearest mall
Another recommendation: avoid buying from your favorite local mall half a block away. Chances are, the telescope you would be buying would be overpriced and not so good.
Buy a telescope from a dealer, from a store that specializes in the equipment or buy online based on reviews. Remember: optical equipment are not toys. They are actually scientific equipment. And you don’t buy scientific equipment from a mall. You get it from a specializing store where you can get better deals and better guarantees. Having a specializing store would also allow you to have someone who can repair or bring your equipment back to the manufacturer in case something happens to it. Of course, if you know what you are looking for, it’s always a good idea to buy online.
A good telescope will last for more years, than a cheap model. This is an important point to remember before we delve deeper. Telescopes are fascinating scientific instruments available to all people, and the cheap products in toy stores often get more people out of astronomy than they put in.
So, if you are seriously interested in amateur astronomy, it is much better to get proper instruments right from the beginning than wasting your money on “toys”. A high-quality amateur telescope will give you amazing views of moon, planets, and universe in general.
The three main things remember when buying a telescope
Often cheaper telescopes are advertised with great magnification, and it is used as a strong selling point. It is a natural inclination to believe that magnification is important. After all, you want to see something far away, the magnification is what you want. But, with astronomy, things work differently.
For example, think about a picture you may take digitally, a picture on the computer, etc. As you make that image bigger, it gets more blurry. This is same as what happens with magnification in telescopes. I.e. you do not want a model that magnifies your view, at least too much, or you end up observing blurry views.
The most important aspect of how good the images you see through the device, is due to the lens and/or mirror, depending on the type. For example with Newtonian reflector telescopes, the size of the mirror is what is important.
Physical size of telescope
The actual size of the eqipment is another consideration that is often overlooked. A telescope may seem small, but in use, it can take up much more space than at first thought. Most telescopes are not suitable for travel use as those are heavy and big, and furthermore, those are sensitive instruments, which can be damaged quite easily. So, you need to know how much you have space for storage, and how much you have space available where you are going to use it. Furthermore, if you are considering traveling with your equipment, it is essential to select compact models such as Celestron 70mm Travel Scope or high-quality binoculars for astronomy!
The Tripod And Mount
The tripod and mount are also essential considerations. Without a stable tripod, the best model will only be an average in use. Look for a sturdy tripod that does not move if the breeze hits it or if you accidentally tap it. Most cheap models come with extremely poor tripods as manufacturers try to cut costs there. Luckily tripod is easy to change for better in the most cases. For more information read our post about how to improve telescope.
At the first, it is, of course, fascinating to do just stargazing and zoom into wonders of the universe, but quite soon you will find that you really need at least some basic knowledge about astronomy to advance as an amateur astronomer.
It is better to start familiarizing yourself with astronomy basics even before buying a telescope because ultimately there is no astronomical use for even a most advanced eqipment if you do not know where things are in the universe! There are some great books, charts and computer software & apps which can help a lot.
Hopefully, you found some helpful ideas from this post! If you have any questions or comments about buying your first telescope, please leave a reply below!