How to Buy a Good Telescope

One Methods:More information

Buying a good telescope doesn't mean it has to cost a lot, but it helps substantially to know what you need.


  1. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 1
    Be sure that your telescope has enough aperture. You want it with enough to see, but not too large to use. Binoculars are a good starting tool, but sooner or later you will want a real telescope.
    • If you are lucky you may have a shop near by that you can go to, but for most of us this means going on line and buying sight unseen.
  2. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 2
    Find a local astronomy club. Laying your hands (and eyes) on a good telescope wielded by someone with experience will be very helpful.
  3. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 3
    Go to a star party.
  4. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 4
    Try to actually see some scopes, before buying.
  5. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 5
    Go to a web based forum. Something like Cloudy Nights. People at these sites will help you find and buy a scope that will fit your needs.
  6. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 6
    Research. Have some idea what you are looking for. While you might want to get it from a place that you can handle the telescope (or at least the box), you are still limited as to where you can get it. Buying one from a department store is not recommended.
    • These scopes have nice Hubble like pictures on the boxes, and claim high magnifications. Stay away from these.
  7. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 7
    Plan on spending $200 or more for a scope that will work right.
  8. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 8
    Don't buy a used scope sight unseen. This could lead to even more expense and an unusable scope. There are places to buy used scopes. Astro Mart, or Cloudy Nights to name a few. These are sites where astronomers deal, not yard salesmen or junk dealers.
  9. Image titled Buy a Good Telescope Step 9
    You will want at least 6" of aperture. That's the size of the scopes primary mirror or lens.
    • You will need a bigger scope than some-one who has been observing for years because you still need to learn to see what the scope is showing you. Larger scopes will show their images brighter, so are easier to use.
    • You don't want a scope that is too big, or you will not get it out and use it.
    • For a Dobsonian scope keep it 10" or under, but 6" or larger.
    • For a Newtonian scope mounted on a GEM (German Equatorial Mount) keep it 6" to 8".
    • If money isn't a problem an APO or ED refractor of smaller size will be great. 80mm as a minimum, and 102 at Max. Larger APOs cost way too much. These mount on either a GEM or an Alt/AZ mount. Alt/AZ (Altitude/Azimuth) scopes move left and right and up and down. Very easy for beginners. GEMs move around a line that is parallel with a line drawn through the poles and then in Declination from that line. It is a bit harder to learn, but will allow easier tracking once you get it down.

More information

  • There are a number of other scopes too. SCTs and Maks are compound scopes that give a lot of power in a small package. Many come with a mount and have computerized controls. They have a Go-To function that allows the scope to find and track the stars and other targets. BUT you have to align them first. You will need a power supply with these scopes too. And you are paying as much for the optics as for the electronics. Still a 6" or 8" SCT can make a good first scope. Only Meade's LS scope will align it's self at the flip of a switch. Top dollar but this does make it a great first scope.
  • Dobsonian scopes are a Newtonian scope on a Dobson mount. Newtonian scopes are scopes that use a parabolic mirror to gather the light and a smaller secondary mirror to divert the light to you eye. Dobsonian scopes are very easy to learn to use, have a very stable mount for a low cost, and thus give you the most aperture for the dollar.
  • After reading up on the various scopes, deciding what you think you want, and joining a few forums, you will find deals at many reputable dealers, and much advise on what will work best for you. Then and only then is it time to order.


  • Be prepared for 'The Astronomy Curse'. Once your new telescope arrives, the clouds will come in. You will get many nights where the only thing you can do with your scope is look at it. Don't worry it happens to all of us. Until you catch the astronomy bug, you think most nights are clear. As soon as you want clear nights, it seems most nights are cloudy.

Article Info

Categories: Astronomy