Buying a Telescope

I’ve been blessed to be able to teach one of my favorite subjects – Astronomy.  In doing so I’ve been asked many times by single folks and folks with kids, “Which telescope would you recommend for around ___________ dollars…”   I just got done answering another email on the question and I wanted to go ahead and include the email in this page as it would be of help to others interested in buying a first scope worthy of spending hard-earned money on.

———————— to Paul C. ————————

I would highly suggest something electronic that is considered a “go to” scope.  you align it, and then set and forget it.  it takes out a lot of the unfun work of finding things you simply can’t locate because our skies just aren’t dark enough.  with the goto ability you can at least let the scope find the object and you can narrow in on it.  my old suggestion would’ve been to buy a big dobsonian (after all bigger is better, and a dobsonian is extremely great value considering dollar to mirror area you can buy — but!!) but after having a year with the goto scope, it’s totally opened up a new world of the sky.

I use Meade scopes, not out of choice, but because several of them were donated to me and I just kept buying meade equipment to support them.  I do not recommend meade software, the autostar suite of software blows, however their hardware is some of the best in the industry.  remember it’s not a big industry, so improvements are few and far between…  I’ve ordered lots of things from Optics Planet and have been pleased with the service.  http://www.opticsplanet.com/telescopes.html

meade or celestron, whatever you can afford man:

http://www.opticsplanet.com/celestron-nexstar-90slt-computerized-telescope.html

you’ll need some sort of AC adapter or a battery power source, this is normal for scopes to not come with AC adapter.

you don’t need a million lenses, you only need a 25mm, an 11 mm or a 9mm.  you might want a 2x enlarger barlow, and probably a right angle prism.  most of this comes with a scope anyway, but you don’t need to invest in filters and all that stuff.

http://www.opticsplanet.com/meade-astro-etx-90-maksutov-cassegrain-telescope.html

I have this meade telescope and can vouch for it, it’s very very good.  if you’ve got the money, that’s the one I’d get man.  it’s not cheap, but this is a scope you’ll never really need another one AND you can take it everywhere, it’s extremely portable and rugged.

d

——————- UPDATE ———————–

I just received a Meade Polaris 114 Equatorial mount, it’s an older model but they still make it apparently and it was handed to me completely disassembled with a couple of parts missing.  I assembled it over a few days (I said completely…) and I was pretty impressed that this scope was indeed quite durable.  Nearly every piece is metal and will last a long time, this particular scope is at least 10 years old, probably more.

So, I looked into two brands of this style telescope and would recommend them based on durability, size and price (around $150).  They have equatorial mounts which is pretty sweet, they are not motorized however.  For a beginner non-motorized good quality scope that will last, I’d pick the Meade or the Celestron:

http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/reflecting-telescopes/meade114eqarequatorialreflector.cfm

 

http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/reflecting-telescopes/celestronastromaster114eqreflector.cfm