Telescopes for beginners – the best buyers guide

Purchasing a telescope for the first time can be quite an appalling experience. We’ve prepared you with the guidelines meant to help you better understand the features to look for while buying a new astronomy telescope.

Types of astronomy telescopes

The Newtonian reflector telescope is an all-rounded telescope highly recommended to beginners. The design with which it is built is uncomplicated, and it costs less compared to its six-inch mirror. The mirror provides the viewer with the best view of the galaxy.

The other most popular type of astronomy telescopes is the refractors. The refractors are best suited for astronomers that are interested in focusing on the moon and the stars. Refractors are built with a series of the lens that aid in bring whatever you are observing to focus at the eyepiece end of the tube.

Dobsonian is another type of telescope highly useful for observing dim and obscured objects. The large mirror found in Dobsonian telescopes assists capture plenty of lights that help bring dimmer objects into focus. The Dobsonian telescope is the best option for observing obscured galaxies and nebulae.

The other make is the catadioptric telescope. The advantage of the catadioptric telescope is their portability due to their compact size. They are also built with a high focal ratio making them most useful for observing lunar and planetary. The catadioptric telescopes make use of both corrector lenses and mirrors.

Buying the right telescope

Buying the right telescope means purchasing the telescope that meets your specific requirements. A refractor that is optically superb must be portable. A superb Dobsonian should be able to provide the best view for faint and dim objects. It is advisable to take sufficient time in consulting and researching on the best telescopes before making the final decision on the type of the telescope to purchase.

TelescopeAperture (mm)WeightPriceOur Rating (1-5)
Orion 9024 AstroViewOrion 9024 AstroView 90mm Equatorial RefractorTelescope90 mm24 lbs$$$4.8
Celestron 127EQ Power Seeker
Celestron 127EQ Power Seeker
127 mm21.4 lbs$$4.6
Celestron PowerSeeker 70 EQ
Celestron 70EQ Power Seeker
70 mm13.9 lbs$4.2
Celestron 70AZ Astro Master
celestron astromaster 70az
70 mm18 lbs$4.0

The meaning of the numbers indicated in a telescope

Telescopes are built with certain specifications that are crucial for a beginner to understand. The amount of light that can be captured by the lens of a telescope is dependent on the size of the front lens. The telescope lens comes in inches yet it is usually measured in millimetres. Bigger lenses can capture plenty of lights thus giving the viewer a perfect view even for objects that are distant.

The quality of the lens can be determined by observing objects at a distant during daylight. The superb quality lens shows crisp, clear edges to the objects in the field of view. It is important to anyone going to purchase a telescope for a first time to ensure the lenses are of a good quality.

The focal ratio of the telescope is acquired by dividing the focal length by the aperture. It is symbolized the ‘F number’ written on the telescope. Individuals interested in observing smaller field views should consider going for telescopes with a higher focal ratio as they are capable of providing a narrower field of view seen in the eyepiece. The focal ratio is also referred to as speed. Telescopes having a lower focal ratio are associated with high speed while those with a higher focal ratio are slower.

The power to produce a massive magnification should not be considered in the selection of a good telescope. Poor telescopes are also capable of producing high-quality magnification.

The mount

This provides the telescope with a solid platform to rest. The mount should be of a higher quality to provide the telescope with the required stability. The mount should be sturdy enough to avoid compromising the view of the sky at night. The two major types of mounts include the Altaz and the equatorial.

The Altaz is the short form for altitude and azimuth. The Altaz is built in a very simplified manner enabling the telescope move on a base that is parallel to the ground. The Altaz also enables the telescope move up and down in an altitude manner and left and right in azimuth.

The equatorial mount is built in a different way, and it is more complicated to use compared to the Altaz. The equatorial mount has two axes; one of the axes is located towards the direction of the viewer’s latitude while the other axis is parallel to the celestial equator. The equatorial mount can ascend to the right and decline. Newtonian telescopes usually come built with the equatorial mounts. They are the most convenient for astronomers since they are only needed to adjust the right ascension axis to be able to maintain the view of an object in the sky at night, unlike the Altaz where one would be required to adjust the two axes to maintain view of an object in the sky for a longer period.

The finder scope

This refers to the small microscope mounted on top of the bigger one. The finder scope provides the best field of view compared to the main telescope. It enables an individual to adjust the main telescope and be able to locate objects more easily. The finder scopes are mostly useful for locating celestial objects. The most popular finder scope is the miniature telescope that is attached by a bracket close to the eyepiece of the main telescope. The miniature consists of a low magnification thus offering a wild field of view. The finder scope is also equipped with crosshairs that resemble a gunsight. An object gets into the main telescope view when the finder scope is aligned accurately with the main telescope with the object centred in the cross hairs. Alignment of the finder scope and the main telescope should be ensured before making an observation. The main telescope needs to be aligned towards a distant object during the daytime. The observer should ensure their eyes are kept away from the sunlight as this could lead to harmful effects. High-quality finder scopes should be acquired. One should consider looking for optical finders with an aperture that is larger than 25mm and should appear well built.

The most common alternative is the reflex sight. The reflex sight directs a point of light to the background sky when an observation is made from behind. The reflex sight is the most preferred option by many people. The disadvantage with the reflex sight is that one gets limited to naked-eye objects since the reflex sight finder do not produce magnification hence there is no more light-capturing aperture apart from the pupil of the viewer.

The Aperture

The aperture is among the most crucial specifications of a telescope. This refers to the diameter of the lens or the mirror of the telescope. The ability of the telescope to capture plenty of lights and its resolving power are all determined by the scope’s aperture. A telescope with a six-inch mirror enables one get a superb view of objects. The aperture of the microscope does not determine the quality of the magnification. The aperture is involved in limiting the power that gives a brighter view with a certain instrument.

The eyepiece

The eyepiece for telescopes is usually available in two standard sizes, the two-inch and the 1.25 inch. The eyepiece is also designed in different ways including the orthoscopic, the Plossl and the Nagler. The eyepiece consists of the focal length that is measured in millimetres. An exquisite magnification usually comes with a smaller number of the focal length. To acquire a decent magnification from your telescope, one should acquire eyepieces with a focal length of ten millimetres or larger focal length ranging between 20-40 millimetres. Individuals interested in purchasing of only one eyepiece, they are advised to go for an eyepiece with a 20-millimetre focal length. It is also advisable to purchase eyepieces made of glass lenses since plastic lenses are not fully efficient.

The Go-to scope

Telescopes are sold with an inbuilt computer together with a database simplifying the location of objects. The mounts in the Go-to scopes are controlled by the built-in computer or by an external personal computer. The Go-to units enable the location of objects such as asteroids, star clusters and faint galaxies. The viewer is required to enter their geographical location, together with date and time before beginning each new session. This enables the calculation of positions of celestial objects. The telescopes tube must be levelled; it should point towards north or south in the southern hemisphere. The process of setting up the whole apparatus is usually mastered after frequent practice.

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