In addition to reading our complete reviews of the top telescopes for beginners, we encourage a new astronomer to take these other early steps to ensure a positive telescope buying experience.
- Consider attending a local star party first. This will allow you to experience what you will be able to see in various types of telescopes. The people at these parties love astronomy, telescopes and talking about both. They can help you make a good decision about what might be the best instrument for you.
- Consider more than just price. Reputable manufacturers make telescopes that can last for generations. They are known for holding their value. You won t be sorry if you invest in a good one. Also, a bad experience early on can sour a budding astronomer. Don t buy the cheapest instrument only to use it once and never again.
- Consider your expectations. Most telescopes, especially those for beginners, will not provide you with images like the ones you see in magazines and/or from NASA. Those images are produced using extremely sophisticated and costly equipment. A little research into what you might be able to see and when you might be able to see it is worth the effort. SPACE.com provides some excellent resources.
- Consider what you want to view with your telescope. Different scopes are made for different folks. For example, someone who would like to be able to do some daytime wilderness watching in addition to the traditional astronomical uses will want to find a scope that orients images left to right and up and down. Many scopes invert images, which would be annoying if you are studying a bird in the distance.
- Consider how often you would like to use your telescope. Telescopes for beginners should generally be light enough that they encourage rather than discourage usage. A larger and heavier scope may help you see more detail in distant objects but if you cannot fit it into your vehicle it might spend a lot of time in storage instead of pointed toward the sky. If you live in a place with little light pollution a heavier scope might make sense. Moving it far from home will not be an issue.
- Consider making your first astronomy tool a set of binoculars. You will probably want these to use in concert with your first telescope anyway. They will help you learn the sky. The more you understand about the location of your favorite celestial objects the more you will enjoy your first telescope.
- Consider aperture. You will be bombarded by numbers as you look at telescopes for beginners. Aperture, which reflects how bright objects will appear and how detailed, is one of the ones that actually matters. There are many factors involved but generally speaking the larger the aperture the more you will see. You want a telescope that can act as a light bucket, a term many astronomers use to indicate superior light-gathering abilities. Bigger is generally better unless you buy a telescope so big it becomes awkward to use.
- Consider the manufacturer. A reputable manufacturer is priceless for a new astronomer. A good manufacturer will offer customer support and a solid warranty to prove they stand behind their products.