Mankind has looked up at the stars ever since we could see. The heavens above us have always been a source of mystery, wonder, and incredible beauty. We trace shapes in the stars, wait for hours to see a meteor, and gaze in awe at the tails of comets and the rings of Saturn. Because purchasing a telescope can be confusing, many people wind up with a scope that sits in their closet year after year gathering dust because it is too big or too hard to use.
Fortunately, there are a lot of good beginner telescopes on the market. These smaller scopes are not necessarily smaller in power. Even the most basic telescopes will let you see the rings of Saturn, craters on the moon, and far off galaxies. Enjoying the night sky does not have to be expensive or confusing. Let’s look at what makes a good beginner telescope.
There are three types of starter telescopes. One is the standard long tube telescope that you are familiar with which is called a Refractor telescope. These scopes usually feature higher magnification and are great for looking at objects that are within our solar system. Another type of scope is the Reflector telescopes which is shorter and fatter than the Refractor.
A Reflector telescope has less base magnification but captures a lot more light than a Refractor. This allows it to see dim, far-off objects like galaxies and nebulae. The third type of beginner telescope is the Dobsonian, which looks like a longer version of the Reflector and offers a good balance between viewing near and far objects.
You will choose between the three types listed above based on what your interests are. If you want to watch the red spot of Jupiter or the rings of Saturn, then a classic Refractor would be for you. If you want to see the Andromeda galaxy or the nebula in Orion’s belt, then a Reflector is what you are looking for.
Once you have chosen what type of telescope you are looking for, then you want to find one that offers the most user-friendly features for a small price. For your first telescope, you do not want to go out and spend a whole lot of money. These items are not for everyone, and people often buy one and then quickly lose interest. Because of this, you do not want to spend several hundred dollars on your first telescope.
You will also want to find a telescope that is lightweight. While a 70-pound reflector scope might offer some amazing visions of the sky, it is so heavy that most likely you will never take it out and use it. If you can find a lightweight scope that you can carry in and out of the house easily, you will use it more often and get more for your money.
Finally, you want a telescope that is easy to use. Many modern scopes offer automatic star finding but the scope has to be calibrated properly for that to work and doing so on a night can be difficult for a starter. For your beginner telescope, all you need is one that will fit on a tripod or a sturdy mount and has a decent finder scope to make it easier to center objects like the moon in the main eyepiece.