Buying your first telescope is an investment we want you to be happy with and so we’ve come up with some pointers for you to follow to help you to choose the right kind. Unlike binoculars, telescopes are not supposed to be solely for magnification, but instead to collect light which will then provide you with detail. Of course, magnification is also necessary in order to be able to see things which are far away, but it is only the amount of light collected that will affect how much detail you see.
Therefore, when buying any kind of telescope, but in particular astronomical telescopes you should focus on the aperture of the instrument rather than the power. The aperture is measured through the diameter of the main lens. The eyepiece is what determines the power and telescopes generally have optional eyepieces available to increase or decrease the power and magnification. You should generally have three eyepieces in your kit – for low, medium and high magnification.
There are three kinds of telescope: refractors, reflectors and catadioptrics. All three have their advantages and disadvantages for use as astronomical telescopes, so it really depends on what exactly you want to look at with them. For a beginner’s telescope, the best all rounder is a catadioptric and these are very compact and portable for carrying around. They are also generally cheaper than refractors and are also the best suited for any near focus work as well, should you want to use your telescope for that purpose also.