How to Choose an Astronomy Telescope


Amateur astronomy telescope          Telescopes are the best astronomical tools the amateur astronomer has at his or her disposal to view the stars. Astronomy is a great hobby that you can share with your entire family. Telescopes come in many shapes and sizes. The key to finding the best telescope for your needs is to understand all the different styles available and match one to your goals in astronomy. Whether you are a newbie amateur stargazer or a seasoned astrophotographer, there exists a perfect telescope for you.

Step 1

RefractorBeginners have a wide range of telescopes to choose from. If you are on a tight budget then a small aperture refractor telescope may be right for you. The cheapest refractors are ones that are less than 4 inches in diameter. A refractor telescope collects light through a primary lens that is coated with chemicals to enhance light transmission. The light is directed through to an eyepiece at the end of the telescope which does the job of magnification. Refractors are great for viewing the moon and planets, but do not have enough light gathering ability to view nebulae and galaxies.

Step 2

ReflectorIf you are more interested in deep space astronomy, then a reflecting telescope may be for you. A reflector is a telescope made up of a primary lens and secondary mirror. The eyepiece of the telescope is found on the side of the telescope as opposed to the rear of the telescope as in a refractor. Reflectors are generally larger in diameter in order to gather more light from the starts and get better views. A good starter reflector is a 4 or 6 inch model. Larger diameter aperture reflecting telescopes are greatly suited for the seasoned astronomer. They will bring into focus the deeper nebulae and star clusters that smaller telescopes cannot resolve.

Step 3

TelescopeIf you want the light gathering ability of a reflecting telescope and the magnification and color contrast of a refractor then choose the hybrid model telescope. This is a Schmidt Cassegrain type telescope. A Schmidt Cassegrain telescope has some of the benefits of the previous 2 styles mentioned. It is generally more expensive than a reflector or refractor of similar diameter but allows the astronomer to view not only the moon and planets in great detail but also the stars, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies. Schmidt telescopes from 8 to 12 inches in diameter are portable enough to move around. However anything larger than 12 inches needs to be mounted in an amateur telescope dome.

Step 4

Choose a set of eyepieces of various magnifications for your astronomy viewing. Look for a discount on an eyepiece kit that comes with several different magnification levels. Remember you do not need high power magnification. The higher the magnification you use the more distortion you will see. So there is a limit to how high magnification you can use in your telescope and still be able to view successfully.

Step 5

Research the many telescope accessories out on the market today. There are many additional toys you can buy such as telescope warmers, hood covers, portable batteries, and tripods.


Additional Advice

                   Use your telescope in areas where there is little or no light pollution. If you live in a big city you will not be able to see much with your telescope because the light from the city will interfere with the light coming from the stars.

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