"Caveat Emptor," as the saying goes, "Let the buyer beware." Don't be fooled by "sales." Choose carefully and you will have lots of fun with your new telescope.
- Learn as much as possible about telescopes before you start shopping. An informed shopper usually makes the best decisions. Read our Telescope Basics (Telescopes) and 6 Things To Know About How To Buy a Telescope articles.
- If possible, take an experienced friend with you, so you can both test the scope. While different eyes see things differently, a second set of eyes may spot a problem you miss.
- You'll want at least a 4" wide aperture for deep-space viewing.
- Give the telescope a light tap. (Not too hard, remember, "You break it, you buy it.") Be sure that it regains its balance within one or two seconds.
- A telescope does no good if it just sits in your closet. Be sure you can lift, transport it, and set it up by yourself.
- The higher the magnification, the harder it is to find what you are looking for in the eyepiece. Be sure your scope has a separate finderscope.
- It is good to have a variety of eyepieces, but make sure you have at least a 1/25" diameter eyepiece.
- Only purchase telescopes that come with a warranty.
- Try out the telescope you're thinking of buying during the day and also at night, if possible. If possible attend astronomy club meetings and star parties and ask if you can try the scopes of other attendees.
- Get the best scope that's in your price range.
- Try to shop from a reputable dealer, and not from a toy store or department store.
- The mount is almost as important as the telescope. While a motor is not a necessity, it can be very helpful, especially to track during prolonged viewing. See if your model comes with a battery-powered motor.
- As we've stated before, your scope does no good in the closet. If possible, be sure to get a case for convenient carrying.
What You Need:
- Know that "A good scope will not talk about its 'Power.'
- Know that "Refractor & Reflector each have advantages and disadvantages."
- Know that "Aperture size is the true key to the 'power' of a telescope."
- Know a Telescopes Focal Ratio.
- Know that "A good Mount is necessary for steady viewing."
- Know that "With eyepieces, power is not the object."
- Know that "It is almost always true that 'you get what you pay for.'"