Stargazing could be a rewarding activity for beginners and professionals. There is something really relaxing in watching the stars and the planets and imagining all sorts of possibilities regarding life and what happens beyond our horizon. Ever since the earliest stages of life people have been fascinated by the sky and its wonders, so it comes as no surprise that we decided to invest much in technology in order to create more powerful tools to finally decipher the mysteries of the universe.
I am sure you have thought about buying an awesome telescope to see galaxies but you are not entirely sure which one to pick or how to choose one that will best fit your interests. Below you will find a comprehensive shopping guide with all the features you must definitely keep an eye on when choosing a new scope for your hobby.
Size and shape
There are countless scopes on the market to suit different purposes. If you’re a beginner we suggest to choose a reasonably-priced product that won’t cost a fortune but still will be able to provide some cool and clear images of the sky and the stars.
It is best to start with beginners telescopes or the ones that are easily mounted and don’t require a full instructions manual to use properly. Hand telescopes have the great advantage of being lightweight and extremely portable, so you can carry them around anywhere and catch a glimpse of the planets, the moon, the sun or some of the brightest stars. They can also be used both during the day and the night, so you won’t miss any show in the sky.
If you’re looking for a sturdier item, why not opt for the quality Cassegrain telescopes? Go through some online reviews and check out what other newbies bought, and receive inspiration for your new item from the Internet.
Types of telescopes
There are primarily three types of telescopes, each coming with its own perks and downsides. You will mainly have to choose between reflector telescopes, refractor telescopes, and compound telescopes. The reflectors gather the light by using a mirror at the end of the item’s main tube. These are some of the least expensive items you will come across on the market but are perfect for beginners or those who have just started to adjust with the terms and technology behind telescopes.
You will have to adjust the optical alignment on these ones every once in a while but they are mainly suitable for people who don’t really take care of their items and tend to bump them every now and then.
On the other hand, refractors come with a lens attached to the front of the tube and they are the most common types of telescopes. They are similar to the ones you usually find in observatories and can gather light quickly and deliver a steady image in all lights, including during the day. These types of telescopes are easy to look after and also make great items for beginners. Although a regular model won’t cost you more than a couple of hundred dollars, these telescopes will fastly become more expensive once the aperture increases.
Last but not least, compound telescopes are the ones that use a unique combination of mirrors and lenses. They are often designed as compact tubes and are pretty lightweight, which allows them to be easily carried around. The Cassegrain telescopes fall into this category.
This is definitely the most important feature to look for in a telescope, so you need to be careful when choosing it. The aperture mainly refers to the diameter of the objective lens on a refractor or the objective mirror of a reflector telescope. As a general rule, a telescope should have over 3 inches aperture to be considered a reasonable item.
The larger the aperture the finer the details of the images you are about to see through your telescope. However, seeing clear images doesn’t depend only on the aperture size, but on a wide variety of factors. For instance, if you’re in a dark location, you will be able to see clear images of the Milky Way galaxy with the help of an aperture not bigger than 3.1 inches. However, if you live in the suburbs and want to learn more about other surrounding galaxies, you will require a telescope with a bigger aperture.
Aperture and magnification rate go hand in hand and you will require good performances on both these features in order to have a clear, bright, and detailed picture of the sky. As a general rule, you should avoid choosing a telescope solely based on the advertised magnification rate. If the product offers you a 500x magnification rate, you will require at least a 12-inch aperture size to be able to fully benefit of that magnification rate and enjoy clear images of the planets and the galaxies.
Last but not least, the materials used to manufacture these telescopes are also of great importance. For instance, a new computerized telescope should not be made of plastic but rather of metal or other sturdy materials. The lenses should also be of superior quality.
The telescope should also have a full waterproof exterior coating to ensure visibility and decent watching conditions even during the rainy days.