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Beginners Guide To Choosing A Telescope

Last updated on May 26, 2020

It can be a tough task for beginners to shortlist a telescope for buying. With the sheer number of telescopes available in the market, coupled with the technicalities involved, it can get rather confusing for beginners. However if you follow the below simple steps before buying a telescope, your choice can be made easier.

  1. Decide the type of telescope you want

In all entirety, there are broadly 3 kinds of telescopes that you can buy.

Refractors – These telescopes are simple in design and use. There is a lens at the front of the optical tube and the eyepiece is at the rear end of the tube. These telescopes are easy to maintain and make for great viewing of objects in the solar system. However these tend to get pricier and bulkier with every small increase in aperture. They also tend to suffer from aberrations.

Reflectors – Reflecting telescopes use mirrors for gathering light. While these offer greater apertures in more compact designs and lower prices than refractors, these need a lot of work to maintain. Reflectors need regular cleanup, maintenance and realignment. But these are devoid of any spherical or chromatic aberrations, and are great to view deep sky objects.

Cadiatropics – These telescopes use both mirrors and lenses in its optical tube. These are much more compact in design than the above two types and the most preferred for personal use. Cadiatropics are diverse and low on maintenance as well. They have long focal lengths and short OTAs. Common types of cadiatropic telescopes include Schmidt-Cassegrain and Maksutov-Cassegrain. These are also the preferred types of telescopes when it comes to astrophotography.

  1. It’s all about the aperture

Aperture refers to the diameter of the primary lens in the telescope. It is the aperture that decides the clarity of the object viewed, because a greater aperture means it can capture a greater amount of light. However, telescopes with not-so-large apertures can also serve the purpose right. Sometimes telescopes tend to get bulkier and pricier with increase in aperture. Moreover as a beginner, you might not need a telescope with a very big aperture. But then again, you should choose one with at least 70mm aperture for astronomical viewing.

  1. Magnification is not everything

While magnification can seem like a very important factor, you should understand that a very high magnification is not required in a telescope. A good telescope should offer 50x magnification of the aperture.

  1. Look for a stable mount

The two types of mounts commonly available are Alt Azimuth or AZ and German Equatorial or EQ. AZ mounts need to be moved up-down, left and right as required. EQ mounts allows you to follow the rotation of the sky as the Earth moves on its axis. EQ mounts are a little expensive, but recommended.

  1. Consider your budget and research

The final decision should always be made depending on all above factors and your budget. Do your research for the best first telescope from reviews on the internet.