Beginner's Telescopes

This telescope buying guide provides information and equipment listings for all types of refractor and reflector telescopes for all levels, from budding astronomer to the more experienced astronomer looking for a larger, more advanced 'scope.

Binoculars and telescopes and other astronomy equipment and accessories are the core of amateur astronomy. A good pair of binoculars is what introduced me to the pleasures of stargazing many moons ago and only after a couple of years scanning the skies did I graduate to a telescope. That was one of the department store 60mm telescopes we're all warned about, but my folks didn't know any better, and to a 12-year old kid, it opened up the universe.

Telescopes


400x70mm Refractor Astronomical Telescope With Tripod Phone Adapter for Beginner
400x70mm Refractor Astronomical Telescope With Tripod Phone Adapter for Beginner

$39.92
3d 1h 4m remaining
Refractor Astronomical Telescope Optical Prism W Tripod Phone Adapter US STOCK
Refractor Astronomical Telescope Optical Prism W Tripod Phone Adapter US STOCK

$58.99
11d 2h 2m remaining
Portable Astronomical Refractor Telescope Travel Scope w BagSmartphone Holder
Portable Astronomical Refractor Telescope Travel Scope w BagSmartphone Holder

$54.95
15d 2h 51m remaining
Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ Telescope w Motor Drive 31042 OP 31042 OP DS
Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ Telescope w Motor Drive 31042 OP 31042 OP DS

$159.99
27d 21h 26m remaining
Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ Telescope with 3X Barlow Lens
Celestron Powerseeker 127EQ Telescope with 3X Barlow Lens

$110.49
19d 14h 29m remaining
40070 Refractor Astronomical Telescope With Tripod  Phone Adapter For Beginners
40070 Refractor Astronomical Telescope With Tripod Phone Adapter For Beginners

$66.50
20d 2h 23m remaining
Celestron National Park Foundation PowerSeeker 114AZ Telescope
Celestron National Park Foundation PowerSeeker 114AZ Telescope

$69.99
15d 10h 26m remaining
BARSKA 40070 Starwatcher Refractor Telescope w Case Tripod  Software AE10100
BARSKA 40070 Starwatcher Refractor Telescope w Case Tripod Software AE10100

$64.99
24d 17h 54m remaining
Zhumell Z8 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector Telescope WITH base stand
Zhumell Z8 Deluxe Dobsonian Reflector Telescope WITH base stand

$299.88
29d 11h 20m remaining

More telescopes here...

While cheap (in every sense of the word) telescopes are still to be found, recent years have seen the introduction of small but very affordable telescopes from manufacturers such as Meade and Celestron and, despite their small size, these telescopes have excellent optics that far outperform the cheap optics in my old 60mm scope from so long ago.

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Many of these small telescopes now come with GOTO features that allow you to select an object to view from an attached handset and the telescope will automatically slew to that feature in the sky. What the ads tend to forget to mention is that in order to use this facility, the telescope must be correctly set up and aligned beforehand.

Many scopes, unfortunately, lie gathering dust in corners and wardrobes because their owners couldn't figure out how to use the thing. It's not their fault - better, and simpler, instructions should be supplied with the telescopes. But for those who can work with such an instrument, a wealth of celestial objects are available for viewing that would be quite difficult to find otherwise.


GoTo Telescopes

Some old hands in astronomy societies have welcomed the new technology openly, others have decried its introduction as it stops newcomers from learning their way around the skies using star hopping. In some ways, they see that there must be a little pain in finding an object before you can have the pleasure of viewing it. I suppose it's a bit like the difference between being bussed to Machu Pichu or going on a five-hour hike up the mountain to see it. Which would you choose? If the hike is your cup-of-tea, then star-hopping is for you.

Personally, I think the introduction of GoTo Mounts has been a very positive development and has made the hidden beauty of the night sky accessible to many more people. If you've bought a small telescope with an integrated GOTO mount yourself, but are unsure of how to use it or the best objects to view, go along to your local astronomy society or club and ask their help. They'll be only too willing to lend a helping hand.

Read the Choosing a Telescope article if you'd like to know more about the different types of telescope that are available and what might best suit your needs.

Eyepieces


Telescope BINOVIEWER eyepiece set
Telescope BINOVIEWER eyepiece set

$55.00
28d 15h 7m remaining
Celestron telescope eyepiece 5mm Ultima Series multi coated
Celestron telescope eyepiece 5mm Ultima Series multi coated

$16.50 (5 Bids)
6h 15m remaining
965 Telescope Eyepiece 6mm 125 20mm 2x Barlow 90 Deg Diagonal
965 Telescope Eyepiece 6mm 125 20mm 2x Barlow 90 Deg Diagonal

$24.95
27d 13h 52m remaining
Orion Telescope 40mm OPTILUXE Eyepiece 20 for TelescopeJAPAN
Orion Telescope 40mm OPTILUXE Eyepiece 20 for TelescopeJAPAN

$19.99
5d 12h 51m remaining
125 9mm Kellner Meade MA 175mm 2x Barlow Telescope Eyepiece Add on Kit
125 9mm Kellner Meade MA 175mm 2x Barlow Telescope Eyepiece Add on Kit

$22.95
21d 12h 49m remaining
Orion Telescope 25mm ED EPIC Eyepiece125 for Telescope
Orion Telescope 25mm ED EPIC Eyepiece125 for Telescope

$9.99 (1 Bid)
5d 12h 5m remaining
Orion Telescope 95mm ED EPIC Eyepiece125 for Telescope
Orion Telescope 95mm ED EPIC Eyepiece125 for Telescope

$9.99 (1 Bid)
5d 12h 4m remaining
NEW 5 Meade telescope eyepiece filters 4 colored and one moon filter
NEW 5 Meade telescope eyepiece filters 4 colored and one moon filter

$31.88
29d 6h 47m remaining
Celestron 125 Eyepiece and Filter Kit  14 Piece Telescope Accessory Set
Celestron 125 Eyepiece and Filter Kit 14 Piece Telescope Accessory Set

$35.00 (1 Bid)
4d 14h 16m remaining

More eyepieces here...


Eyepieces

You should have a selection of eyepieces to use with your telescope to allow close-up views or wide-field views. Planets require small diameter eyepieces to see surface detail whereas larger subjects, like the Pleiades and other large star clusters require wide-field views. Pretty much any eyepiece can be used to get a good view of the Moon or close-up views of it.

Eyepieces range from about 3mm to 40mm (i.e. the glass in them, not the diameter of the eyepiece itself!) and come in three fittings: 0.965", 1.25" and 2" (for high-end telescopes). The 0.965" fitting is seldom used these days but older telescopes may have taken eyepieces of this size. There are also different types of eyepiece: Plossl, Erfle, Kellner, Orthoscopic, wide-angle, etc. The magnification an eyepiece provides depends on the focal length of your telescope - divide the telescope focal length by the eyepiece size to get the magnification. A typical refractor has a focal length of about 900mm. A 26mm eyepiece would provide a magnification of 34x with this scope. Used with a telescope with a 2000mm focal length, the magnification is 77x.

There's another feature of eyepieces called the Field of View. Basically, this is how big an area of sky is seen through the eyepiece. The bigger the field of view, the more can be seen. How much of the sky is seen depends on the eyepiece diameter and the focal length of the telescope. Wide-angle eyepieces (82 degrees field of view, for example) tend to be quite expensive. Average eyepieces, such as Plossls, have about a 50 degree field of view.

Binoculars


Day Night 60x50 Military Army Zoom Powerful Binoculars Optics Hunting Camping
Day Night 60x50 Military Army Zoom Powerful Binoculars Optics Hunting Camping

$47.99
28d 17h 28m remaining
Day Night 180x100 Military Army Zoom Powerful Binoculars Optics Hunting Camping
Day Night 180x100 Military Army Zoom Powerful Binoculars Optics Hunting Camping

$32.99
6d 8h 27m remaining
20x80 ORION ASTRONOMY BINOCULAR  PARAGON TRIPOD
20x80 ORION ASTRONOMY BINOCULAR PARAGON TRIPOD

$150.00
4d 5h 3m remaining
Bushnell Insta Focus NICE Binoculars Vision 10 x 50 WA 288ft at 1000yds
Bushnell Insta Focus NICE Binoculars Vision 10 x 50 WA 288ft at 1000yds

$39.95
29d 12h 16m remaining
10X50 Binoculars with Night Vision Rangefinder Compass Waterproof BAK4 Prism
10X50 Binoculars with Night Vision Rangefinder Compass Waterproof BAK4 Prism

$77.96
9d 7h 58m remaining
Kronos 20x60 russian binoculars with bag for astronomy or animal observation
Kronos 20x60 russian binoculars with bag for astronomy or animal observation

$200.00
23d 11h 50m remaining
Day Night prism binocular 20 50x70 Zoom Binoculars Hunting Camping
Day Night prism binocular 20 50x70 Zoom Binoculars Hunting Camping

$59.99
14d 19h 55m remaining
HUGE Day night Prism Zoom Binoculars 20 50x70 Ruby Lenses 50x MPN 1206
HUGE Day night Prism Zoom Binoculars 20 50x70 Ruby Lenses 50x MPN 1206

$50.50
12d 12h 9m remaining
Vintage E Leitz Wetzlar Mardocit 12 x 60 Astronomy Binoculars with Leather Case
Vintage E Leitz Wetzlar Mardocit 12 x 60 Astronomy Binoculars with Leather Case

$325.00
27d 22h 4m remaining

More astronomy binoculars here...


Astronomy Binoculars

While this discussion has centered mostly on telescopes, binoculars have a role to play in astronomy as well. A quality pair of binoculars costs less than a telescope and is a good entry point for someone familiarizing themselves with the sky. They don't offer the same magnifications as a telescope (but magnification isn't everything) but they do show a much wider field of view which makes it easier to navigate across the sky. Because of this wider field of view, you also get to see the 'big' picture. And, because you're using both eyes, there's less eyestrain.

You can get binocular viewers for telescopes and those who use them (even though they cost a few hundred dollars and you need two of every eyepiece) swear by them (rather than at them!). A typical set of binoculars will be 10x50s (front lenses 50mm across, with a 10x magnification). More powerful models are available - 20x60s are available from $150 upwards and you can get 20x80s for as little as $215.

These binoculars are quite heavy and you can tire easily pointing them skyward for any length of time. Also, because of their higher magnification, any shake in your hands will also be magnified and stars will dart around in the view. For long-duration viewing, you'd be advised to get a tripod and a binocular tripod adapter which lets you securely mount the binoculars on it.

Binoculars are also great for looking at large scale celestial objects such as comets. Looking at the Moon through 20x binoculars brings it close enough to see topography but also, you'll see it in three dimensions, something lacking when looking through the eyepiece at a telescope. You can whip out a pair of binoculars much more quickly than setting up a telescope so if you have very changeable weather where you live, they might be a better option for sky viewing. Of course, you can throw a pair of binoculars into your luggage very easily and view the sky from your holiday destination with ease.

Filed under: Astronomy News