How To Buy a Telescope
So, you've been stargazing for a while with your
naked eye or binoculars and you want to move up to a telescope.
This is one of the biggest decisions for an amateur astronomer.
If you are not really sure how to buy a telescope, it can be a
daunting task. Follow these simple steps and we'll tell you how
to buy a telescope.
"Caveat Emptor," as the saying goes, "Let the buyer beware."
Don't be fooled by "sales." Choose carefully and you will have
lots of fun with your new telescope.
Time Required: 30
minutes to several hours
1. Learn as much as possible
about telescopes before you start shopping. An informed shopper
usually makes the best decisions. Read our Telescope Basics and
6 Things To Know About How To Buy a Telescope articles.
2. If possible, take an
experienced friend with you, so you can both test the scope.
While different eyes see things differently, a second set of
eyes may spot a problem you miss.
3. You'll want at least a 4"
wide aperture for deep-space viewing.
4. Give the telescope a light
tap. (Not too hard, remember, "You break it, you buy it.") Be
sure that it regains its balance within one or two seconds.
5. A telescope does no good if
it just sits in your closet. Be sure you can lift, transport it,
and set it up by yourself.
6. The higher the magnification,
the harder it is to find what you are looking for in the
eyepiece. Be sure your scope has a separate finderscope.
7. It is good to have a variety
of eyepieces, but make sure you have at least a 1/25" diameter
8. Only purchase telescopes that
come with a warranty.
- Try out the telescope you're thinking of
buying during the day and also at night, if possible. If
possible attend astronomy club meetings and star parties and
ask if you can try the scopes of other attendees.
- Get the best scope that's in your price
- Try to shop from a reputable dealer, and
not from a toy store or department store.
- The mount is almost as important as the
telescope. While a motor is not a necessity, it can be very
helpful, especially to track during prolonged viewing. See
if your model comes with a battery-powered motor.
- As we've stated before, your telescope
does no good in the closet. If possible, be sure to get a
case for convenient carrying.
What You Need:
- Know that "A good scope will not talk
about its 'Power.”'
- Know that "Refractor & Reflector each
have advantages and disadvantages."
- Know that "Aperture size is the true key
to the 'power' of a telescope."
- Know a Telescope’s Focal Ratio.
- Know that "A good Mount is necessary for
- Know that "With eyepieces, power is not
- Know that "It is almost always true that
'you get what you pay for.'"