© Reeth Informal Astronomy Group unless otherwise indicated

  Reeth Informal

 Astronomy Group

covering the Northern Yorkshire Dales

Buying an astronomical telescope?

If you are thinking of buying a telescope there’s plenty of advice available on the internet (see the Links page).  A recent web search on “Buying a telescope”  returned  over  800,000 results!  So what do you do ? It all comes down to one question: are you interested in the night sky?

If the answer is yes then, as many of these articles suggest, it is a good idea to get in contact with your local astronomy society and get some advice. Shops are ok, just remember that they will try to make you buy things and probably try to pry your wallet open further than you like, or bamboozle you with technical jargon in an attempt to impress upon you the quality of the item that you must have.

When  making a decision on what telescope to buy consider the following factors: How much do you want to spend ? It is true that the better quality optics that will allow truly fantastic image quality will cost more, the only drawback  is that the larger the telescope the greater the weight.

So are you physically fit? If you intend to take your scope out onto the hills be aware that the combined weight of the mount, the tripod and the telescope tube could be 50 kilos. So if you have a bad back or other health problems a smaller scope would be better.

Manual or motor drive? With a manual mount you have to move the telescope yourself to find and follow a target, either directly or via slow motion control knobs. This is fine for a “quick look”. But remember that the earth is rotating and it can be surprising how fast a celestial object can move out of the field of view if you don’t keep following. When properly aligned, motor drives can track objects and with the latest computerised mounts a database of 20,000+ planets, stars, nebulae and such will be at your fingertips at the push of a button. But a motorised mount needs a power supply, yet more cost and weight.

Do you want salt and vinegar with that Sir?

The basic eyepieces that you get with your telescope will allow you to view some objects clearly, however you may find that looking at Jupiter and seeing a pinhead image is not for you, a better, higher magnification lens is required, of course Sir that will be.....£, a moon filter to cut down the amount of shimmer, a dew heater to stop your mirrors/lenses misting up and so on, beware of all the bits that can soon add up in price and before you know it you have spent the same amount as a brand new car.....I kid you not, I restricted myself to £1500 for a telescope, power supply, lenses and a camera and only just pulled that off. Any more upgrades and I am looking at another £700 on top !