How to buy a telescope - the rules to follow when choosing a telescope

This article will show you how to buy a telescope. The rules I give you here are for anyone fascinated by the night sky who loves to gaze at stars (and the occasional planet), and is choosing a telescope. You need to carefully weigh your options when choosing a telescope. They are not toys and you should not be tempted to buy a telescope from toy stores or department stores. There are definite rules you should consider before you commit to buying your first telescope.

How to buy a telescope rule number 1

What do you want it for? You need to be clear on what you actually want your telescope to do and realistically what you are experienced enough to use it for. You may have an expectation that your telescope will provide you with a clear view of the Pleides, for example, and are likely to be sorely disappointed. You, therefore, need to do your research on what different telescopes can accomplish and what you can realistically expect from different types and sizes of telescopes.

How to buy a telescope rule number 2

How experienced are you? Your experience level is an important consideration in deciding on a telescope. While it is certainly true that telescopes with larger apertures are more versatile in terms of what you can see, they can be difficult to use and cumbersome. Research has actually shown that people use smaller telescopes far more often than larger ones even though they do not give the best images.

How to buy a telescope rule number 3

How much can you afford to pay? The price you are able to pay for your telescope is going to influence which telescope you can buy. Once you have considered the first two points you can compare what you can buy with what you need which will automatically exclude a lot of brands and types of scopes. You will then have a short list of telescopes to choose from.

Differences in telescopes

To make your final decision, you will need to understand the difference between telescopes. The most important things you need to know about telescopes are:

  • Optical Quality. A small telescope with excellent optical quality will see more than a large telescope with poor quality optics.
  • Aperture. Although the above is true, when we are comparing apples to apples, the size of the aperture makes a big difference. Generally speaking, the size of the aperture is directly proportional to the size and clarity of the image. Where aperture is concerned, larger is usually better.
  • The Telescope Mount. The mount is often a neglected part of the purchase of a telescope. However, according to many experts the mount is as important as the telescope. If you do not have a strong and steady mount you will not be able to focus properly. You need to try the scope with the mount and spend some time playing with it before buying. A mount can look good and yet be completely inadequate.
  • Refractor Telescopes. If you are looking for an introductory telescope for viewing the moon and the closest planets, small refractor telescopes can serve your purpose well. They are relatively inexpensive and portable and provide sharp, clear images.
  • Newtonian Reflector Telescopes. If you are more interested in distant nebulae and galaxies, however, a Newtonian reflector telescope is a more suitable choice. They tend to be affordable compared to aperture size and are still fairly portable.

These are basic guidelines for how to buy a telescope for new amateur astronomers. If you take the time to become informed on the subject, carefully and honestly evaluating your own expectations, needs and experience against the cost of various telescopes, you will be in the best position to choose the best telescope you can afford for your purposes. See, it's not hard to learn how to buy a telescope after all.

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