What Type Telescope To Buy
and thank you for contacting the York Astronomical Society.
Unfortunately there is not a real easy answer to what type of telescope to
buy, but there are some good guidelines that can hopefully guide your
the first and foremost things that we always tell people is that the best
way to see what kind of telescope would be good for them is to actually go
out and see the different kinds of telescopes in action. That is why we
have a free public observing session every month at YCAS where we invite
members of the public to come out and see the different kinds of
telescopes that we have and that our members have and they can see which
ones might be good for them. You can check our YCAS
schedule on our web
site to find the date of the next one.. So here is some generic
best to stay away from the big box stores (i.e. Wal-Marts, Targets, etc.).
While they do offer a selection, most of the telescopes they sell end up
causing confusion and discouraging people from getting into astronomy.
That is not to say that you can’t get a perfectly fine telescope from
them, you just have to be very careful. My first suggestion is to visit
some sites on the internet where they have extensive articles about
choosing your first telescope. Here are some that we recommend:
See: How to buy an Astronomical Telescope PDF
See: Sky & Telescope
See: Astronomy Magazine
See: Orion Telescopes
See: Meade Telescopes
See: Celestron Telescopes
last three above are very reputable telescope manufacturers.
beginner telescope will range in price from $200 - $1000, the difference
being whether it is a “Go-To” telescope or not. The Go-To telescopes
have handheld controllers that, when the telescope is set up correctly,
allow the telescope to automatically point to lots (typically 10,000 or
more) different objects in the sky. On the surface this sounds like it
would be ideal for a beginner and they are when they work, but they need
to be set up correctly for that to happen and it is not a trivial task
(many of our own club members find this hard to do!). The cheaper they
are, the harder they are to get set up properly and have work properly. A
good one of these will run you ~$500.
can easily get a very nice telescope that is not a Go-To telescope for
about $200 that will show you amazing things in the sky….if you know
where to look. That is the hard part and that is the hard thing to learn
from a book. It is best to learn by having other people show you how to do
it. That is the main function of our astronomy club, to help our members
learn how to use their telescopes better and to show them how to find all
of those neat objects up in the sky. If you get one of these telescopes I
would strongly recommend that you start coming to some of our club
meetings and events where there will be lots of people ready and willing
to help you learn your way around the night sky.
size telescope is best to get? Stay away from anything that advertises
that is a 200X or 400X telescope. Telescopes are not measured by their
magnification, but rather by the amount of light that they can gather.
That is why telescopes are measured by the size of their main lens or
mirror. So you will see a telescope advertised as a 4.5 inch telescope or
3 inch telescope. Anything less than 3 inches will most likely disappoint
you in it’s views. They are useful for certain kinds of observations,
but people are typically not very impressed by them. A 4-inch or larger
will be able to show you great views of lots of things. Typically the
“kids scopes” from the reputable manufacturers are ~4-inch size
It is a very hard decision to make
which telescope is best and takes a lot
of research to figure out exactly what will be good for a particular
person. My advice is to search the web for reviews of telescopes that you
are thinking about. You will find a lot of great information out there
from all sorts of people. Start with one of the ones sold either by Meade
or Orion and see what people out there are saying about them. Over the
years I have seen far too many kids get very discouraged when trying to
use one of the “cheap” telescopes and lose all interest in science
because of it. Getting them a telescope that they can use and actually
find things with will encourage them to explore their interests in science
encourage you to come to our club meetings and events. We have people of
all ages who are very active in our astronomy club and we all like to
encourage their interests. Plus it is a place where you can get first hand
experience about all sorts of telescopes and observing techniques. This is
especially true if you do end up buying a telescope. We encourage people
to bring their new telescopes to our club meetings and we help them learn
how to use them better. Our public observing sessions also function
as “New Telescope Users Clinics”.
some of the links we have provided will help. If you have any more
questions, especially if you are wondering about a specific type of
telescope, please let us know. We may be able to provide you with
information that will help in your decision.
by Mike Wenz
If You Have A Question Concerning Telescopes, ask a YCAS Telescope expert using the E-Mail or better yet, come to a meeting!
Additional online information below.
For more information Call YCAS ( 717) 578-9109 )