Everyone has their own budget when they purchase an astronomical telescope. While it is important not to exceed this and cause yourself financial strife, it is also inadvisable to skimp on such products.
By aiming too low, you can end up with instruments that are of poor quality either optically or mechanically. And this is not something you want when trying to enjoy your new purchase.
This said, there are a great number of bargains that can be had and the internet has helped in this regard.
So, if you are limited in funds, do not be put off, just make sure you do your research so that when you see something you think seems like a good deal, it really is.
If you are starting out in the field and are planning to get an astronomical telescope, there is no point in splashing out on the priciest model you can find.
This is because if you are learning to identify constellations, for example, there will be many features on some devices that you will not need.
You must also bear in mind that when you purchase an instrument such as this there are extras that need to go with it, such as a mount and a tripod.
It is therefore crucial that you leave some cash to get these pieces.
As long as you avoid poor-quality telescopes and those that are too technical for your purposes, you should be fine and will be able to enjoy hours of pleasurable star gazing.
For anyone interested in astronomy, and tempted into buying a telescope you will probably have encountered a variety of different kinds of astronomical telescopes throughout your research. This can be quite daunting. However, it turns out telescopes aren’t actually as complicated as they first appear, and the various types are actually relatively easily explained.
Although there are many variations between telescopes, basically there are two main types of astronomical telescopes, each with clear advantages and disadvantages:
Very briefly, refractor telescopes use lenses to bend the light that they receive, causing convergence on a focal point near the eyepiece. This simple design has some obvious advantage of reflector telescopes (the other type.) Specifically, refractors are more durable than their counterpart, due to the fact that their parts are well enclosed, which also means that they are easy to use, and do not require frequent cleaning. This durability and ease of use makes them suitable for beginners, as well as those requiring sturdy equipment, such as for field work.
Reflector telescopes or Newtonian reflectors are more complicated affairs, and involve the use of mirrors to focus light towards an eyepiece. The increased amount of component parts, when compared with a refractor, means that reflectors are not as durable, and require frequent cleaning and recalibration. However, they are the perfect choice for observing deep-sky objects and practicing astrophotography, whilst also being cheaper up to certain sizes.
Astronomical telescopes truly come into their own when observing celestial bodies. However, although many of them come equipped with planet finding features, such as red dot finders or “goto” motors, if you truly want to be able to find your way around the sky quickly and easily you’re going to need to know were to look.
Firstly, the planets are generally going to be the brightest objects in the sky, and therefore locating, say, Venus (the morning star) shouldn’t be too difficult. Yet most of the planets aren’t even visible throughout the entire year, and for most of the year even planets like Mars or Venus are only viewable through telescopes.
When viewing Venus and Mars, the best time of year is the middle of July where you’ll see both planets in the sky at the same time; for Jupiter, look for the brightest star in the sky at the end of August; for Saturn look near to Venus during March, around dawn – the rings should be visible through astronomical telescopes.
Remember, astronomy is a very complicated business, so it would be helpful if you had a reference to hand throughout your observations, such as a star chart, and over time you will come to learn the positions of the planets, and their specific movement patterns; in a way this self-directed learning of the night-sky is one of the best pleasures of practicing astronomy and one of the definite advantages of using astronomical telescopes.
Should you crave some help locating the planets, however, a Celestron NexStar 4 SE would be a great choice of telescopes, being equipped with the latest in planet finding features and software.
The night-sky is a truly astounding place. However, much of its wonders lie just beyond the reach of the naked eye. A great and affordable solution for observing celestial objects, such the planets, is a decent pair of binoculars. Yet if you are desperate for the authentic astronomical experience, then there are a variety of high-quality beginner’stelescopes available.
Firstly, before indulging yourself with a telescope, it would be helpful if you had some clue in regards to finding your way around the night sky – otherwise you might just be stuck looking at the moon. Therefore, you should probably invest in a star chart, to learn the main constellations (by which the planets are located). Remember, when compared with the naked eye or even binoculars, a telescope has only a very narrow field of vision.
Telescopes are very technical devices, with a great deal of component parts, and therefore it can be difficult to work out exactly what you need for beginner viewing. For example, in order to find your way around the night sky a red dot finder and a motor are desirable, and these needn’t price you out of the market, with great beginner’s telescopes like the “SKYWATCHER EXPLORER-130M TELESCOPE” (a fabulous scope for the beginner and experienced alike) offering these features.
Finally, and most importantly, you should consider the viewing power of any potential telescope. Generally you should go for light gathering capability, which is more important than size for example, and is the great advantage of dobsonian telescopes such as the “HERITAGE-130P FlexTube™ 130mm (5.1″)” which has a 5.1 inch light refractor.
Quite obviously the moon can be observed with the naked eye. However, only through a pair of binoculars or an astronomical telescope does it truly spring to life, displaying its many features and contours. In order to maximize my viewing of the moon and to observe as many of its features as possible – what steps then can I take?
Firstly, the moon undergoes some striking visual changes depending on what phase it’s in. Therefore the viewing experience will be vastly different depending on the moon’s aspect. You may assume that when the moon is full, that its features would be most observable but this isn’t the case. Although astronomical telescopes will still be able to see many of its craters, during full phase the moon is so bright that any naked eye observing will not be able to see very much detail at all. Instead, it is best (especially when observing through binoculars or with the naked eye) to observe the moon during its other phases such as at quarter or half phase, when its contours are lit more delicately.
The next thing to consider is your viewing apparatus – whilst it is possible to observe the moon with the naked eye, it is definitely more satisfying to use binoculars or telescopes. Binoculars in particular are great for observing the moon as they have a wider field of view than an astronomical telescope, and are highly portable. However, if detail is what you want, then a telescope is also a fantastic viewing tool.
For owners of astronomical telescopes or naked eye observers, 2010 promises to be a fantastic year for astronomy, with celestial events ranging from eclipses to meteor showers, ensuring that your eyes will be fixed firmly toward the stars.
Already this year there have been some dramatic astronomical events. For example, on January 15 over Africa we saw an annular solar eclipse – the first of four eclipses this year. We have also seen our first meteor shower in the form of the Quadrantids at the start of January, which served as a portent to a truly dramatic year of meteor showers.
Don’t worry though; you’ll still have plenty of occasions to use those astronomical telescopes, as some fascinating astronomical events are set to occur later in the year. And 2010 is especially notable for its eclipses, most of which won’t be observable from the UK. However, toward the end of the year, on December 21st to be exact, you’ll be able to point your astronomical telescopes toward the night sky and be able to see a total lunar eclipse – from Europe.
As well as an eclipse there will also be a chance to observe that most dramatic of celestial events – meteor showers, either with the naked eye, or through astronomical telescopes. Specifically, you can expect to see them at mid April, at the beginning of May, around August 12th , at the end of October and November, and in the middle of December – so get those telescopes ready.