View Full Version : Telescopes: what's best?
I'm about ready to take the plunge and buy a telescope.
Can anyone make some much needed suggestions?
I live in a rural area, with minor incidental lights.
Take a look at: http://www.telescopes.com/
Manufacturers tend to be nationally based (rather than international) but this will give you some idea. As a first scope, with easy setup and maintainance, I'd go for a refractor (lens) scope of around 3" (70-80mm) objective aperture. A lightweight model with all the accessories (including several eyepieces and tripod) in the one package would be most suitable. This should deliver quite reasonable images of the Moon, Planets and easier steller objects for around ($US 2/300)? ;)
If you are feeling rich, then there are any number of 6"+ reflecting (mirror) or catadiopteric scopes (lens/mirror combos) with sophisticated motor drives and computer controls. These are better suited for deep-space work and photography (galaxies, nebulae etc.) They have a price and often weight(!) to match their quality. })
Beware of scopes smaller than the above or very much cheaper. They are of limited use atronomically and you won't be able to detect poor quality optics with a casual look. Buy from any well-known manufacture and you cannot go far wrong.
I'd go along with all that Macavity says. I bought a cheap refractor and it's of very little real use other than for the Moon. I've had a fair amount of trouble simply getting it to sight on a planet let alone 'capture' it through the eyepiece. It tends to be more luck than anything else.
I will probably buy something on the lines Macavity describes when I retire and can devote some real quality time to it. But the message is, 'Don't go for the cheap end' and definitely ignore any sell based on magnification. What matters is the light that the telescope admits. 400X magnification is no use if the image is just too dark to make out. 60X with a bright image is much, much better.
Lots of numbers...
(a big weakness for an English Major)
700mm focal length
60mm objective diameter
SR4mm, H12.5mm, H20mm eyepieces
(35x to 117x power)
5x24 finder scope
Metal tripod with slow-motion control rod
for vertical micro-adjustment
Is this kind of what your saying, overall?
I can get one by V-optics new for $100.
(list $260, but I'm looking at overstock.)
There is a better model that comes with
Sun & Moon filters ~ are these needed?
For a family Christmas present, I bought a refractor scope that is 150 (diameter) and 1000 (focus) with additional eye pieces (including filters).
Sometimes I use the moon filter (when it's a full moon and it's very bright).
I did a fair bit of research before buying and I found some websites that showed pictures of what you could expect to see with various different scopes.
Let me know if you want me to track down those websites for you.
If you need to stick to a budget, my advice would be to go for a better scope now, and accessories later.
Better still, try and find some astronomical societies near you. Usually there are lots of people that are willing to share their knowledge and advice and you can look through their scopes and see which ones you like for yourself.