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.
Here are some of the variables you should consider when selecting your first telescope:
ApertureThe 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.
Focal RatioThe 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.
MountThe 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.
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.
PriceAt 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 needsAmateur 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!
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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.
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