Whosoever said that the stars are too distant for the human eye to behold has never looked through a telescope. Astronomical telescopes are very old devices that bring the stars much closer to our eyes. People have been gazing through these telescopes for centuries, trying to unlock the mysteries of the universe without having to leave our home planet. Telescopes are cool, but buying one can be confusing. Beginners often have a hard time figuring out what to go for. Today, we’re going to talk about the best telescope for beginners. We’re going to be talking about what to look for in a telescope and at what point of the spectrum should you begin from.
Despite their simple look and functioning, there’s a lot that goes inside of these telescopes. A number of factors work together to determine the usability and capability of a telescope. These factors also leave beginner astronomists scratching their heads when they’re out shopping for their first telescope. The best way to approach your first telescope purchase is step by step. Start by dipping your toes in the water. Astronomy can be an expensive hobby, and the last thing you want is to buy an expensive telescope and realize that you aren’t as into it as you thought you would be.
Where Should You Start?
You’d be surprised to know that your first telescope doesn’t necessarily need to be an astronomy telescope at all. Experienced astronomists often recommend that beginners start with binoculars.
Binoculars are made for viewing far off objects. While their primary purpose isn’t to view the night sky, they are powerful enough to view nearby objects. A decent pair of binoculars will let you view the moon and even nearby planets such as Jupiter and Venus. They’re easier to use and won’t cost a lot either. You can carry them around rather easily and use them to explore astronomy. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect too much detail from what you can see through your binoculars. Once you’ve spent enough time with a pair of binoculars and acquainted yourself to stargazing, then you can move onto bigger things.
Joining an astronomy club is also a good option. Doing so will let you meet people who share your interests. Interacting with these people will let you learn more about astronomy. Developing a better understanding of stargazing will help you figure out whether you want to carry on with this hobby or not. It can also make the buying process easier for you.
What to Look For in Your First Telescope?
You’d want to go for something that isn’t overly expensive and at the same time is well-made enough to give you a smooth and enjoyable experience. Many people make the mistake of picking the wrong kind of telescope in the start. This gives them a bad experience that drives them away from astronomy. When you’re picking a telescope, there are a few elements that you should focus on.
The first and most important being the aperture of your lens. A telescope’s aperture is the diameter of its objective lens. It’s a really important factor since it determines how much light a telescope will be able to capture. A larger aperture means that a telescope will be able to produce a brighter image. It will also be able to view objects that are further away. You’d want a telescope with a decent aperture. Keep in mind that the bigger a telescope’s aperture is, the bulkier the telescope will become. It will also become more expensive.
Another factor that you’d want to take into consideration is the location from which you’ll be viewing the night sky. Location matters because it will determine the amount of light pollution that is interfering with your vision. Light pollution is common in populated areas, and it washes out the stars. It can considerably affect the clarity of what you’re viewing through a telescope. If you’re going to be stargazing in an area with more light pollution, you’re going to buy a telescope with a bigger aperture. There are other features as well that help counter light pollution. Some people use lens filters and eyecups to minimize any intrusive light. The location will also play a role in determining how big or small should your telescope be. If you plan on moving around with your scope, then you’d want one that it smaller and compact.
Your telescope’s magnification isn’t as important as some people think. However, it does have an impact on how much detail you can view in an image. The aperture of a telescope will determine how clear and bright a produced image is. The magnification is responsible for making the image bigger and easier to view. If you plan on viewing deep space objects, then magnification is going to be important for you.
Types of Telescopes
Astronomical telescopes come in three flavors; reflectors, refractors, and cassegrain (compound). The first two are pretty self-explanatory. Cassegrain telescopes combine elements of reflectors and refractors into one body. We’ve covered telescope types in detail in a previous article, along with
Reflector telescopes are the best telescopes for beginners. They make use of mirrors instead of lenses to project an image. This makes them cost-effective, and they manage to produce more or less the same image quality. Refractor telescopes are also shorter, and hence they’re easy to carry around.
Now let’s take a look at some telescopes that are perfect for beginner astronomers. These two telescopes won’t break the bank and will provide you with a great stargazing experience.
Best Telescope For Beginners
Celestron NexStar 130SLT Computerized Telescope
28 x 12 x 8 inches
Meade Instruments 209003 Infinity 70Mm Az Refractor Telescope
33 x 43 x 57 inches
These two certainly aren’t the best telescopes out there. However, they’re both great options for people who want to get into astronomy. Their prices won’t break your bank, and you’ll get an amazing window through which you will be able to explore the night sky. Also, telescopes like these are great for learning the ropes of astronomy. Their easy to use design makes interacting with them simple and frustration free. And their purely manual operation means that you’ll get to interact with these telescopes quite a bit.