The Beginner’s Guide to Telescopes and Amateur Astronomy

by trg

Here’s a short and simple telescope buying guide for those of you looking to get into astronomy and stargazing. With so many choices of telescopes out there, it’s easy for newcomers into the field of stargazing or amateur astronomy to get overwhelmed and just duck out or quit stargazing before they’ve even begun. This guide will give you the basics on what you need from a telescope for beginners. Armed with this information, you’ll then have a good idea on how telescopes work and which ones to look for and avoid when it comes to buying a telescope.

First and foremost are the two most important things in a telescope: One, it has to have high-quality optics, and two, it needs a sturdy, yet smoothly working mount. These are very important factors in your telescope as the optics would determine what you will be observing with your telescope itself, ensuring a clear view of distant objects and events.  The steady mount comes in when you have to pan your scope around, especially when it comes to following an object’s movement like say a comet. Once you’ve got those down pat, you can then go ahead and check out the other important aspects of the telescope.

Another key feature for your telescope would be the aperture. The rule with apertures is the larger the aperture, the better for you to see the faint objects out there as well as the capacity to view it with a finer detail. Of course these factors are also affected by the lightness or the darkness of the area where one is conducting the act of stargazing itself, but regardless of lighting conditions, viewing the sky with a larger aperture is still best.
Telescope types should also be considered when purchasing a telescope. There are mainly three types: compound telescopes, refractor telescopes, and reflector telescopes. Compound telescopes are often compact and lightweight. Refractor telescopes have lenses at the front of the tube and are generally low maintenance, however, these also get really expensive as aperture size increases. Reflector telescopes on the other hand are generally cheaper, but would need constant readjustment as it has more delicate and sensitive parts.
Keeping these in mind, you should be able to find the best telescope out there for you. Choose very carefully as your first telescope is also your first step towards your journey to the stars as an amateur astronomer.

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