Which Telescope is Best for You?
Asking “which telescope is best for you” is like asking “how long is a piece of string?” There are so many variables and options available that the ‘best’ telescope will vary from person to person, depending on every factor imaginable from height to location to the amount of time they get to use their kit. The only way to pick the best telescope is to work out your budget, what you want from it, and how you want to use the scope.
So, let’s go through this as a series of questions. First of all, what do you plan to use the scope for? Do you just want to check out the moons of Jupiter, or do you plan to map the NGC 3603 nebula? Decisions such as this one will determine the type, power, and overall cost of the kit that you end up with.
What environment will you be using the telescope in? Will you be in an urban area with plenty of light pollution? If so, you’ll need a solid refractor telescope to cut out the background light pollution – however, these aren’t so useful for deep-space work. If you’re out in the country, consider a reflector scope. These offer fantastic views, but are difficult to move around. Catadioptic scopes offer a mix of the two, are quite portable, but suffer from a fairly hefty price tag for a decent model.
Next up, what is your budget? A decent telescope can be picked up for around $100, while top-of-the-range models can cost anything up to $40,000. Before you start to panic at these crazy sums, remember – expensive never necessarily means the best. Look around several different vendors, tell them your budget, and listen to what they have to suggest. Look for the reputable, solid brands such as Celestron and Meade. Both offer high-quality budget scopes, as well as scopes for the serious astronomer.
In short, the choice really is up to you. Set down your guidelines, ask around, and try a few different options out. If friends have scopes, see how you do with those. Join a local astronomy club and discuss scopes with the members – they will be able to give you plenty of area-specific insights and suggestions as to where to shop. Never feel like you have to go into this hobby alone – amateur astronomers are a friendly bunch, generally willing to share their expertise with newcomers to the hobby.
Angled Spotting Scopes
Straight Spotting Scope