I have been researching telescopes and really, I am just lost. It seems as if I'm just as well off with a really good pair of binoculars unless I plan on going ahead and making a major investment. Is this true? If you have experience with telescopes, I would love some advice. Are the basic telescopes marketed toward newbies worth anything? If so, is there a particular one you would recommend?
I have more than a passing interest in astronomy, so this is not a passing phase, if that makes any difference in the response to the question.
Decent telescopes are costly, most off the shelf stuff is not very good. Not only that, the cost in accessories and eyepieces will more than double or triple the total cost.
Would you suggest just really good binoculars?
Yes, to start with. I would highly recommend doing a lot of research into telescopes before making any financial commitments.
Cloudy Nights forum is a great place to learn.
Do a lot of research. There should be consumer reviews on Sky & Telescope. There are also local astronomy groups in most parts of the world who can give excellent advice and often have loaner scopes to let you get a feel for it.
I have a wee TeleVue Pronto that I love, but it's not a modern scope and lacks the auto functions that will now aim it for you. Nowadays I would've bought one of the two following:
My semi-educated recommendations for a beginner telescope are the ever-dependable Meade ETX in its modern incarnations (there's tons of models now -- back when a family friend first bought one there was just one!) or -- although these are more expensive, but you can sometimes get great discounts on Amazon -- a Celestron NexStar 4, 5, or 6 depending on your budget.
If you go much cheaper than a Meade ETX you probably won't be able to see much. For the last 15 years or so I would've said some kind of Meade ETX -- it really revolutionized backyard astronomy by making it relatively easy to see stuff with a budget scope of good quality -- but I have been ogling NexStar scopes lately and being tempted.
My brother Dennis was quite the science nut, and he had a very nice telescope. You could actually look at the flat surface of the moon with it. But, planets that were further away, would only appear as a tiny ball. On very clear night we were able to see Jupiter. That was something that always got him excited. I think my dad got it really cheap at an auction. I don't know what the brand name is though.
You may be able to find one in a thrift store. I have seen two at goodwill. It's funny because my brother was eyeing the telescope which was a big one for $150.00. With a lens as big as a softball. And, this woman is standing by it, going oh my god! I want it, I want it! And, my brother says, yeah that telescope is a really good deal at $150.00. And, she looks at him and says. I wasn't talking about a telescope, I was talking about that beautiful wedding dress!
And, she steps up and pulls this very fancy wedding dress off from a near by clothing rack, and says, I'll bet this dress is worth more than that lousy telescope. And he says I highly doubt it. The dress was $300.00!!! at Goodwill! But, the lady said she was a seamstress, and the dress was probably well over $1,000 retail, maybe more. So, you can bet, she bought it.
I thought that was really funny!
It's possible that the brand name might have been Howell? or Bell?
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