Which Telescope is Right For Me?

by trg

There is no one specific telescope model that will answer all your stargazing needs. Stargazers should purchase a telescope based on their observing habits, and of course, how much they are willing to spend on a hobby. Buying telescopes used to be getting a 60 mm refractor at first, then upgrading to a 6” f/8 Meade telescope or Criterion telescope. After a while, those who stuck with the hobby eventually bought a bigger telescope, like an 8” Schmidt Cassegrain. During the 60s and 70s, Newtonian telescopes were all the rage among backyard astronomers. The 80s brought an influx of interest in portability, boosting Schmidt Cassegrain sales, making Meade and Criterion the biggest names in telescopes at the time with both companies trying to outdo the other with features.

Soon after, refractor telescopes made a comeback with the coming of ED and fluorite glass. Which brings us to today’s telescope market. Nowadays we see all three designs being used with equal popularity. You can find a telescope buying guide online that lists all the pros and cons of each specific model, but below, we have listed some of the other qualities and features of various telescopes.

As far as starting telescopes go, 4.5” to 6” reflectors make excellent choices. They provide hobbyists with a decent enough scope and aperture while still keeping it simple and portable. It also stays within a fair price range of $300 – $600 Should you go for a refractor, try to get an 80mm with a stable mount.

Of the different types of telescope, many find the Newtonian models as the most comfortable. One can stargaze for a longer period without any trouble. The eyepiece itself is almost always positioned at a convenient height, making it easy to look through. On that note, the most uncomfortable telescope to look through would probably be a Refractor.
If you’ve already read through a bunch of tips on buying telescopes, then you’ve probably already been warned about buying telescopes from department stores or toy stores. These telescopes are just one rung above children’s playthings under the guise of professional equipment. Many would be astronomers fell to this ploy only to be frustrated at their telescopes, abandoning what would have been a very rewarding hobby. Again, just to emphasize the importance of this reminder: do not purchase a telescope in a department store or toy store, it is better to buy a telescope in a reputable astronomy shop.

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