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How to Select Your First Telescope

As you begin your search for the perfect first telescope you need to take into account the type of viewing that is of interest, how much you plan to invest and your lifestyle. Our quick test will help you pick the best fit, but be sure to come back and read about the other variables that are important to your selection. Click on the viewing style that best describes you.

  • You spend (or plan to) at least 3 hours per month observing
  • You are most interested in objects outside of our solar system but also enjoy throwing planets and the moon in view
  • You enjoy (or plan to get into) astrophotography or CCD imaging
  • You like getting telescope accessories for birthdays and holidays :-)
  • You are prepared to pay at least $500
  • If above statements describe you,
    click here

  • You spend (or plan to) at least 1 hour per month observing
  • You think, you might enjoy viewing planets, as well as the moon and deep sky objects
  • You do not plan on getting into serious astrophotography or CCD imaging
  • Value is important to you in a telescope
  • If above statements describe you,
    click here

  • You spend (or plan to) at least 1 hour per month observing
  • You enjoy viewing planets and the moon, as well as experimenting with color filters more than viewing the deep sky
  • You like to observe wildlife or distant ships in the ocean
  • If above statements describe you,
    click here

    Here are some of the variables you should consider when selecting your first telescope:


    The Number one factor to consider when choosing the first telescope is "aperture" (diameter of the mirror or objective). It determines the light gathering capacity of a telescope (larger apertures gather more light and produce brighter images).

    However, as the aperture increases, the portability of the telescope decreases, an important aspect for a beginner to consider.

    [C6 N-GT (Celestron telescopes)]
    C6 N-GT by Celestron
    Beware of telescopes that advertise based on their possible magnification! These telescopes generally have substandard optics and perform poorly!

    Focal Ratio

    The second most important factor to consider for your first telescope is focal ratio. Telescopes with higher focal ratios will generally lend themselves better to high magnification viewing. On the other hand, telescopes with lower f/ratios will generally operate better at lower magnifications.

    Whereas telescopes with lower f/ratios (f/3-f/7) are better for deep sky viewing, those with higher f/ratios (f/11-f/14) are more appropriate for planetary viewing. The telescopes with focal ratios in the middle of the range (f/8-f/10) are appropriate for viewing both planets and the deep sky.


    The mount needs to be stable to create a stable image in the telescope. Many department store telescopes are sold on shaky mounts which are not conducive for astronomy. Amature astronomers should avoid these mounts at all cost.

    The simplest type of mount is an altazimuth mount. It has two perpendicular axes of motion, vertical (altitude) and horizontal (azimuth). Because an altazimuth mount is in-expensive and easy to use, it is ideal for small beginner telescopes and is the mount of choice for terrestrial viewing.

    However, If you intend on finding objects by their celestial coordinates, an Equatorial mount might be the one to consider. With rotation along 2 axes (right assention and declination) and slow motion controls, the equatorial mount is generally the preferred type of mount for astronomy. This type of a mount, coupled with a motor drive on the right assention axis, allows for easy tracking of objects as they move across the sky.


    For a quality telescope, look for one that takes 1 1/4" eyepieces. Most department store telescopes are made to only take .96" eyepieces which generally have very small apparent fields, poor eye relief and low quality optical elements. [Celestron Omni Series Eyepieces]

    However, if you already have a telescope with .96" eyepieces, we have adapters available which would enable you to use 1 1/4" eyepieces with it.

    To start your collection of eyepieces, it is good to consider the two most popular designs: SMAs (Super Modified Achromatic) and Plossl They have high quality optics and they provide the best looking images and more eye relief than the less expensive economy eyepieces.

    Accessory Kits
    Accessory kits present an economic way to start your eyepiece collection. Celestron's Accessory kits pack $500 worth of accessories into one convenient kit, giving you eyepieces with a wide range of focal lengths, a barlow and filters.


    At The Sky Plus we would be happy to assist you with selecting a great telescope that is within your budget! We specialize in helping our customers find the best telescope for the best price. Our prices are well below those of other dealers and mail order catalogs. Please call for current prices.

    Types of telescopes for various viewing needs

    Amateur astronomers differ in their viewing preferences. Some enjoy observing planets, some prefer to gaze at the deep sky throughout the night. Some like both types of observing. It is important to take into account your viewing preferences when shopping for a telescope, so that you will be sure to select a telescope you will use!

    If you are interested in buying a telescope with the intention of being able to track the objects as they move with the Earth's rotation along both axes, it is important to choose an Equatorial mount. Newtonian reflector with an equitorial mount such as the Celestron C6 N-GT presents a simple, high performance design for the most cost-effective telescope.

    Please check our Frequently Asked Questions for more information!


    It's best to buy a telescope from a well-known manufacturer such as Celestron. The optics of Celestron Telescopes are considered by many astronomers to be among the finest in the industry.

    The Sky Plus is your authorized Celestron and Meade dealer - bringing the best equipment to you, with expert support and competitive prices!

    The Best Telescope for You!

    We sell Celestron telescopes, Meade telescopes. We will buy your Celestron telescope, Meade telescope

    Ultimately, the best telescope to buy is the one you will use and enjoy. Because everyone's budget and viewing needs are different, it is best to contact The Sky Plus to discuss the appropriate telescope for you.

  • Contact us to make an appointment or for a phone consultation!
  • For online catalog, Click Here

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    Celestron is a copyright held by Celestron International
    Copyright 2009 Meade Instruments Corporation
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