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


Astronomical Reflector Telescope for Beginners Adults Kids Moon Planets AZ 76700
Astronomical Reflector Telescope for Beginners Adults Kids Moon Planets AZ 76700

$109.99
10d 14h 23m remaining
Gskyer Telescope Travel Scope 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Astronomical
Gskyer Telescope Travel Scope 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Astronomical

$94.99
5d 23h 47m remaining
Refractive Astronomical Telescope 114x1000mm High Definition Night Vision
Refractive Astronomical Telescope 114x1000mm High Definition Night Vision

$222.50
30d 22h 1m remaining
Questar 35 telescope with quartz mirror
Questar 35 telescope with quartz mirror

$3,600.00
4d 7h 35m remaining
360 50mm Refractive Astronomical Telescope Tripod Monocula Space Scope Refractor
360 50mm Refractive Astronomical Telescope Tripod Monocula Space Scope Refractor

$24.92
29d 10h 19m remaining
Telescope for Kids  Beginners 70mm Aperture 300mm Astronomical Telescope
Telescope for Kids Beginners 70mm Aperture 300mm Astronomical Telescope

$86.79
20d 6h 23m remaining
TELMU Telescope 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Astronomical Refracting Telescope
TELMU Telescope 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Astronomical Refracting Telescope

$102.47
15d 22h 2m remaining
70mm Refractor Astronomical Travel Telescope for Kids Beginners w Backback Moon
70mm Refractor Astronomical Travel Telescope for Kids Beginners w Backback Moon

$79.99
7d 10h 21m remaining
Gskyer Telescope 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Astronomical Refracting Telescope
Gskyer Telescope 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Astronomical Refracting Telescope

$158.99
12d 4h 26m 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.

[ReviewAZON asin="0521598893" display="inlinepost"]

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


125 Bresser 26mm Plossl Meade 97mm Super Plossl Telescope Eyepieces 2x Barlow
125 Bresser 26mm Plossl Meade 97mm Super Plossl Telescope Eyepieces 2x Barlow

$29.95
27d 1h 28m remaining
NEW Meade 2x telescope eyepiece barlow lens 126
NEW Meade 2x telescope eyepiece barlow lens 126

$30.88
30d 22h 40m remaining
SV105 125 Telescope Electronic Eyepiece 2MP Astronomy Camera indoor Hobby
SV105 125 Telescope Electronic Eyepiece 2MP Astronomy Camera indoor Hobby

$43.99
13d 15h 31m remaining
125 Plossl Telescope Eyepiece Set 4 10 25mm+2X Barlow Lens Kit for Astronomy
125 Plossl Telescope Eyepiece Set 4 10 25mm+2X Barlow Lens Kit for Astronomy

$44.99
19d 7h 30m remaining
Antares 2 inch 30mm Erfle Eyepiece for Telescope
Antares 2 inch 30mm Erfle Eyepiece for Telescope

$35.00 (9 Bids)
2d 3h 8m remaining
SVBONY 125inch 317mm Wide 62 Deg Eyepiece Lens 4mm Fully Coated FOR Telescope
SVBONY 125inch 317mm Wide 62 Deg Eyepiece Lens 4mm Fully Coated FOR Telescope

$13.99
14d 9h 39m remaining
Meade telescope eyepiece accessory aluminum case
Meade telescope eyepiece accessory aluminum case

$38.88
30d 22h 41m remaining
125HD 4 10 23mm Wide Angle 62Aspheric Telescope Eyepiece Set for Astronomy
125HD 4 10 23mm Wide Angle 62Aspheric Telescope Eyepiece Set for Astronomy

$27.99
14d 10h 23m remaining
TMB Stellar Series 10mm 125 Eyepiece for Telescope
TMB Stellar Series 10mm 125 Eyepiece for Telescope

$11.50 (2 Bids)
2d 3h 38m 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


Gosky Titan 20x80 Astronomy Binocular Phone Mount With Carrying Bag Read
Gosky Titan 20x80 Astronomy Binocular Phone Mount With Carrying Bag Read

$115.00
1d 12m remaining
Gosky Titan 20x80 Astronomy Binocular Phone Mount Protective Shield Carrying Bag
Gosky Titan 20x80 Astronomy Binocular Phone Mount Protective Shield Carrying Bag

$119.00
24d 34m remaining
Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Binoculars Binoculars for Astronomy or General Use
Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Binoculars Binoculars for Astronomy or General Use

$127.95
24d 6h 54m remaining
Zion PowerView 20X 280X60 Military Super Zoom Binoculars Bird Watching Spotting
Zion PowerView 20X 280X60 Military Super Zoom Binoculars Bird Watching Spotting

$74.99
23d 7h 5m remaining
100X180 Binoculars with Night Vision BAK4 Prism High Power Waterproof
100X180 Binoculars with Night Vision BAK4 Prism High Power Waterproof

$49.99
26d 9h 1m remaining
Orion 15x70 Astronomy Binoculars w Tripod Adapter and Carry Bag
Orion 15x70 Astronomy Binoculars w Tripod Adapter and Carry Bag

$79.80
12d 14h 1m remaining
Celestron SkyMaster Giant 25x70 Astronomy Binoculars
Celestron SkyMaster Giant 25x70 Astronomy Binoculars

$36.00 (8 Bids)
1d 7h 11m remaining
Rexing B1 Infrared Night Vision Binoculars with LCD Screen Video Recording
Rexing B1 Infrared Night Vision Binoculars with LCD Screen Video Recording

$179.99
19d 8h 46m remaining
Day Night Prism 20 50x70 Binoculars Zoom militaty style Hunting Camping optics
Day Night Prism 20 50x70 Binoculars Zoom militaty style Hunting Camping optics

$65.99
9d 10h 11m 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