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Telescopes Binoculars and Accessories

Updated on August 29, 2013

Telescopes and Why We Need Them

When we look into the night sky, especially if we live in a rural area, the expansive nature of the universe unfolds as we stare at millions upon millions of stars. One of the most useful inventions ever created was the telescope which enables us to look at distant stars with a close-up view. There are a few things you should know before purchasing your first telescope regarding the size, brand-name, and the price that you should pay for your telescope.

One of the most popular telescopes in history is the Hubble telescope. It is actually outside of the Earth's atmosphere and this allows for extreme clarity that can only be found at the highest altitudes on the earth. Several websites online have shown the amazing photographs that the Hubble has brought back from deep space viewing. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford their own orbital telescope. Here are a few that you should consider if amateur astronomy is in your blood.

Meade telescopes are some of the most popular. Whether you get a 4 inch beginner telescope or a 10 inch diameter scope to view deeper space items, it will be well worth the money spent, especially if you get one that has a GPS coordinate system built in which allows you to type in exactly what stars or planets that you want to see.

Another popular brand of telescope is the Celestron telescope and even the Bushnell telescopes. These offer a wide range of useful items that you can add on to help improve your stargazing at night on a regular basis.

The most pointed reason for having a telescope is to realize that there is more to this universe then merely twinkling lights in the sky. Around these twinkling lights which are stars could be other planets which could also have other life forms. However, without the advancement in technology that allowed us to see beyond what is visible with the naked eye, we would have been still in the dark in regard to how large the universe actually is.

Telescopes are a fun way to spend an evening looking at the different star clusters and nebulas that occupy our nighttime sky. Choose your telescope wisely and make sure not to spend too much on your initial investment until you discover which telescope is right for you.

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Celestron 21045 114mm Equatorial PowerSeeker Telescope - Affordable telescope for beginning astronomer; portable yet powerful

Overall, the Celestron Powerseeker 114 is a budget priced telescope with good optical performance, especially when using the low power K20 eyepiece. If you're willing to spend a little more money, either Orion's SkyQuest XT4.5 or Celestron's Firstscope 114EQ will give you a sturdier mount, an improved finder scope, and better eyepieces. Also, for about the price of the Powerseeker 114, I like the dependable refractor design of Celestron's Firstscope 70EQ.

Celestron 21045 114mm Equatorial PowerSeeker Telescope
Celestron 21045 114mm Equatorial PowerSeeker Telescope

I had a chance to use this telescope at a friends house and I was impressed at everything that came with the telescope especially after he told me what he paid for it. First of all, it came with a 4.5" reflector and as a rule, aperture rules. A 4.5" telescope can deliver good planetary images and faint deep sky objects. When I first looked it over, it was a little shaky but I discovered that he did not tighten properly. After going through and tightening the screws and bolts, it was ready for use. The included eyepiece 20mm was great at 45x and with the use of the 3x barlow produced 225x. 225x I feel is too much. 225x is too much for most scopes and sky conditions.

With the 20mm 45x eyepiece, I can clearly see Jupiter with its moons and Mars with its ice cap. I highly recommend getting the accessory kits so that you can get various magnifications and get more visual detail.

The equatorial mount was a bonus as it made tracking the celestial and planetary objects easier. Once you have used a telescope, you will clearly see that having an equatorial mount is so useful.

This is a good starter scope for someone who wants more of an astronomical telescope. You get a lot of scope, brighter images than smaller 60mm scopes for not a lot of money.

 

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope - Computerized hand control with 4,000-object database

The popularity of Celestron's NexStar 114 models inspired us to go bigger! Celestron is proud to introduce NexStar 130 SLT. The NexStar 130 SLT has 30% more light-gathering power than our 114mm telescope. And the 114 SLT, like the other models in the SLT Series, comes with a fully computerized hand control. The computerized hand control gives you the ability to automatically slew to any of its 4,000+ objects, including over 600 galaxies, 300 clusters and dozens of beautiful binary stars. With its pre-assembled, adjustable steel tripod, the NexStar 114 SLT can be up and ready to use in a matter of minutes. The SkyAlign alignment technology and the included StarPointer Finderscope with a red LED makes aligning a breeze

Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope
Celestron NexStar 130 SLT Computerized Telescope

I got my Celestron 130 SLT last month and am extremely happy with it. For the price, it's a great scope and the goto software was pretty easy to get the hang of. The sky mapping software that comes with the scope is also a great help and easy to use. A few caveats: Buy the AC power cord....otherwise you'll need new batteries every night. You'll need to reset the date/time on the goto computer every night.....it doesn't remember date/time between uses. It takes a few tries to get proficient with the three star align....it works pretty well, but you need to make sure you've setup your location and the date/time correctly. This scope isn't weighted and is very light. This causes it to shake a LOT when you touch it (i.e. when you're focusing). It takes a few seconds for it to stabilize after any adjustment. Some people weight the tripod tray to add stability. The focuser could have a finer adjustment. It takes a very steady hand to get optimal focus. The scope doesn't come with a Barlow lens, which is a necessity for this scope. You'll want to get one right away. The scope does have a 2" eyepiece adapter, which is unusual and a really nice feature on a starter scope such as this. It's worth buying a 2" eyepiece for wide views. I didn't find the NexStar PC driver software very useful (after buying the $15 cable to use it). Instead, I downloaded a trial version of the pricey NexRemote software, which allowed me to operate the scope from my laptop much more easily. These caveats are all very minor, as this is a solid scope with better optics and software than the alternatives. In short, the scope was way better than cheap toy scopes I'd used and all reviews I read said it had great optics for the price with very few problems/annoyances. I got a great view of Jupiter and its moons the first night I used it. After I got the hang of it, I started checking out Messier Objects, including the brighter galaxies and nebulae, which are easily recognizable with this scope. I'm extremely pleased with it and I'm very glad I got this scope instead of comparable competing scopes, which all seem to have serious issues per the various reviews I've read.

 

What is your favorite Telescope or Binoculars?

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    • profile image

      Namsak 3 years ago

      For the time being binoculars suit me better. They are lighter and more convenient when I go camping in the hills.

    • bjj james profile image

      bjj james 4 years ago

      The older I get, the more interested I get in looking at stars.

    • profile image

      poutine 8 years ago

      Interesting to read about all thoe telescopes binoculars available

      these days.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      I didn't know you could see nebulae from a home telescope. Thank you for sharing.

      The Stars are shining down on you. Please pass them on to teachers and parents who enjoy playing games and doing activities with their children.