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Stargazing New to astronomy, what telescope should I get?

  1. Oct 30, 2008 #1
    Hey all,

    I've been interested in the stars all my life and I know a bit about astrophysics from booklearning and what's been taught in school and whoud one day like to make a career out of it but i've never actually used a telescope before.

    A few weeks ago my parents saw me looking at some telescopes in a magazine and asked if i wanted one for christmas/my birthday (they're very close to each other). I said yes but I don't know which one I want. Actually I don't know anything about them really. Could anyone advise a good one? I need something that's not too expensive (If i put in some of my own money I can have a limit of maybe £110-£120 [$165-$180]) and something that's easy to use but that i can see things well through. I live in a small town so there's not much pollution and you can see the stars most nights.

    Anything helps. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2008 #2


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    The price range will make it very difficult to get a telescope with any quality - at least a new telescope. Is there an astronomy club somewhere near you that you can join? It would be a good idea to join and attend a few meetings, and talk to people. They can give you some guidance about what kind of gear you might want to get.

    As a bonus, many amateur astronomers are gear-hoppers, and buy, swap, sell, etc. You might run into someone who has a used telescope to sell, and the best part is that you will get to try out the gear before you buy it.
  4. Oct 30, 2008 #3
    yeah there is, but its quite a way away. I think I might just save up a bit more and repost this thread when i have more money. thanks anyway. :)
  5. Oct 30, 2008 #4


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    In your price range, you might be able to get a Dobsonian (alt-azimuth mounted) Newtonian telescope such as this. I hesitate to recommend such a purchase (though Orion has a pretty darned good reputation) because there is no way to know what kind of 'scope might be appropriate for you until you have had some experience viewing through them and trying them out.

  6. Oct 30, 2008 #5


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    My opinion is that if you're only going to spend money in that price range, it's not worth it getting a scope at all.

    Probably a much better idea would be a nice pair of binoculars and perhaps a book on amateur astronomy. These two items will probably afford you much more satisfaction than a piece of crap $150 telescope. The binoculars will be especially nice if you have any kind of tripod to use with them, but even without one they're still a good buy.

    I personally own a pair of these:
    Which I use whenever I'm too lazy to drag my dob out, or simply for spotting things before looking at them. I actually got them after the actual scope, but now realize that they would've been a better purchase beforehand!

    Also, whether or not this has any bearing on your situation I don't know, but between these binoculars and my 8" telescope, I can see basically the same things. This is owed to the fact that where I usually observe is HEAVILY light polluted. The resolution is greater with the 8", but there isn't a fantastic difference in ability to see things (Especially with extended objects eg galaxies, nebulae).

    I definitely second turbo-1's advice about a first scope though. The experience of actually using a scope before buying it is invaluable!
  7. Oct 30, 2008 #6


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    If they are determined to get you a scope, just remember this one golden rule:

    Magnification is nothing. Aperature is everything.

    Do NOT let them buy a scope based on a big mag number (which is how cheap scopes are flogged). Instead, look at the diameter of the objective lens.
    For a refractor (where you look in the end), it'll be around 3" - 3.5".
    For the same price, a reflector (where you look in the side) will be a little larger, 4"-5".
  8. Oct 30, 2008 #7


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    I agree with Nabeshin. My first scope was a 7x50 Zeiss binocular. It was [and still is] a fabulous instrument - easily the best bang for the buck I've ever used.
  9. Nov 6, 2008 #8
    try looking at the sky watcher 130m as they are highly regarded as the best starter scopes. I had one and it was great :D also bins are excellent. and a copy of turn left at Orion is a must
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